Where Will Big Food Put 1.5 Trillion Calories?

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By Michele Simon

[I met Michele Simon last year, at a panel discussion at NYU – she’s a powerful advocate and speaker, and as you can see here, a terrific thinker. I believe that if you read this piece and its links, plus Tom Laskawy’s, you’ll understand why so many people are critical of Let’s Move and especially the “cooperative” industry response to it.

Ms. Simon is also an author: check out her book, Appetite for Profit, and her site. – mb]

Recently, 16 major packaged food companies “pledged” to Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign that they would somehow remove 1.5 trillion calories from the U.S. food supply by the end of 2015. As I wrote here, there are many reasons to be skeptical about this announcement. Since my post others have chimed in with their own doubts. For example, see business writer Melanie Warner’s excellent analysis, Food Industry’s Calorie Reduction Pledge: Smart Marketing, but Dumb Nutrition. Continue reading

Posted in Food Politics

Politics of the Plate

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By Barry Estabrook

Superherbicides vs. Superweeds

Last week I noted that agribusiness giant Monsanto was scaling back its profit projections in the face of generic competition for its weed killer Roundup. Now, it turns out that the popular herbicide is getting some stiff competition from the weeds themselves.

Monsanto has profited greatly from selling “Roundup Ready” seeds. These varieties have been genetically engineered (GE) to survive being slathered in the company’s pesticide, which kills competing weeds. For years environmentalists have warned that the near-universal use of the herbicide in corn, soybeans, and cotton would eventually give rise to races of superweeds that also could survive Roundup—call them “Roundup Resistant.” Sure enough, that now is happening all over the farm belt. Continue reading

Posted in Food Politics

Cooking with the Kids: Vegetables Pancakes

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By Daniel Meyer

For the past year or so I have been working with an organization called the Sylvia Center, a small New York-based non-profit that teaches kids, largely from underserviced communities, the pleasures of farming and cooking. Early in the spring we began the first of a year’s worth of ten-week cooking classes at the Ingersoll Community Center in Brooklyn. The kids come to the center from a small handful of neighborhood schools. Every Tuesday and Thursday after school we cook: ten kids, three “grown-ups,” one recipe (always vegetarian), and zero chance of a dull afternoon.

Last week we cooked vegetable pancakes. The kids (ages seven to twelve) all agreed that those were two words that had no business next to one another. Nevertheless they remained diligent, chopping onions, grating carrots and potatoes, and whisking eggs. The oozy combination of vegetables, flour, and egg elicited their customary groans of “eeewwwwwww” and “that’s nasty!” I don’t blame them.  Continue reading

Posted in Food Politics

Tribute to a Working Woman

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By Clotilde Hryshko

Jim’s grandmother, Earline, recently passed away. This is said not to elicit a reaction but to explain my current thoughts and possible obsessions.

Simply put, she worked. She was a college educated woman who became a mill worker. She and her husband enjoyed gardening. They subscribed to Organic Gardening, planted an apple orchard and a blueberry patch. They earned extra income tending a market garden and selling the produce to The Woodstock Inn in Woodstock, Vermont. All this before these activities were fashionable or part of a marketing campaign.  Continue reading

Posted in Produce

An Endive Experiment by Way of Spain

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By Edward Schneider

Jackie and I hadn’t had a Spanish-type rice dish (I daren’t say paella lest it be pointed out that I am misusing the word) in a while, and when I was thinking about one on the way home it occurred to me that whole heads of Belgian endive might cook nicely if nestled into the rice and other ingredients. So I bought a couple. In addition to rice, the ingredients into which I slipped them were previously cooked pork shoulder, red bell peppers, vegetable stock and the usual p**lla aromatics: strongish flavors, all, especially with the sprig of rosemary I tossed in.

From a technical standpoint, the endive worked beautifully. It was cooked but not at all mushy – still slightly crisp in fact. Nice and juicy, with good bitterness down at the stem end and that almost-sweet mildness toward the tip. Fun to eat, too.  Continue reading

Posted in Spanish

Sunday Supper: Simply Grilled Steak

This week on KitchenDaily I sing the praises of arugula–along with two great recipes. One is for a simple salad (with strawberries and balsamic vinegar), and the other is for my favorite chimichurri sauce. It’s peppery, spicy, tangy, and all around fabulous–especially when served on a perfectly grilled steak, like the one below. Check it out.

Adapted from How to Cook Everything

Grilled Steak

Makes: 2 to 4 servings

Time: About 10 minutes

A gas grill simply will not do the trick for the best grilled steak. If you want your steak crisp and slightly charred on the outside and rare inside, you need a blazing hot fire and no cover; use real hardwood charcoal if at all possible.

2 beef strip, rib-eye, or other steaks, 8 ounces each and about 1 inch thick, preferably at room temperature

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Build a medium-hot charcoal fire; you should not be able to hold your hand 3 inches above it for more than 2 or 3 seconds. The rack should be 3 or 4 inches from the top of the coals.

2. Dry the steaks with paper towels and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Grill them without turning for 3 minutes (a little more if they’re over an inch thick, a little less if they’re thinner or you like steaks extremely rare). Turn, then grill for 3 minutes on the other side. The steaks will be rare to medium-rare.

3. Check for doneness; if you must, make a small slit and look or use an instant-read thermometer. (With practice, you’ll know by sight and touch.) If you would like the steaks better done, move them away from the most intense heat and grill for another minute or two per side; check again. When done, sprinkle with more salt and pepper if you like and serve.

Posted in American, Recipes

It’s Easy Being Green When It Tastes This Good

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By Kerri Conan

The only bottled dressing I have ever liked was Wish-Bone’s Green Goddess, which I ate in the 1960s. I grew up in California with a nightly salad—iceberg (torn, never cut), cukes, tomatoes, and sometimes raw mushrooms—tossed with olive oil, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, and salt and pepper. For company, Mom would make a classic Caesar in front of the guests, and I clamored for the soggy leftovers at the bottom of the salad bowl after she cleared the table. Bottled dressing was sheer heresy in our house.

Back then my Dad took clients out to lunch a lot and developed a serious lust for trendy Green Goddess, a creamy, peppery emulsion with the color—if not the flavor—of fresh herbs. Suddenly a curvaceous bottle appeared in the door of the fridge and proved irresistible. One or two nights a week we’d opt out of oil and vinegar or pour a shot on our grilled steaks or baked potatoes. The goddess is long gone, but each summer I duplicate the naughtiness of that dressing with a little number I call Green Ranch.  Continue reading

Posted in American

Rhubarb Goes Out with a Jam

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By Cathy Erway

Rhubarb came and went, flooding the farmers’ markets and our food media (including this great savory application) for a few weeks of spring – like a sudden bout of hayfever, only more welcome. Then, it was gone, while new arrivals like strawberries took the spotlight. I had no reason to think that I’d see rhubarb again before next year, until an overnight package from an exceedingly generous acquaintance with a home garden in Massachusetts arrived at my door: Rhubarb: five or six pounds of the juicy, pinkish green stalks.

Such an overload for a one-person dwelling requires swift action. That weekend, I made an enormous pie, piled inches deep with rhubarb — just rhubarb, no room for strawberries here — and covered with a crust that bowed like a circus tent. That used up about a fourth of them. A week rushed by and I worried that the rest of them would get claimed by the compost, but a rainy day proved to be their salvation. Continue reading

Posted in Produce

The Fight Over Salt: Big Food vs Us

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By Tom Laskawy

[This piece by Tom, originally posted over at Grist, was exactly what I was thinking when I read Michael Moss's article: Salt isn't the problem; processed food is. But poor Alton! What a mistake. Anyway … - mb]

The biggest loser in Michael Moss’s New York Times exposé of the food industry’s fight against salt restrictions isn’t the food industry. It isn’t government, either. It’s Alton Brown.

With salt under attack for its ill effects on the nation’s health, the food giant Cargill kicked off a campaign last November to spread its own message. Continue reading

Posted in Food Politics