Politics of the Plate


by Barry Estabrook

There’s Gotta be a Catch(share)

Wherever they have been implemented, so called “catch-share” management programs—which essentially give each fisherman an ownership stake of his quota of the legal catch instead of setting a fleet-wide annual limit—have proven good for fishermen, the fish they catch, and those of us who consume seafood. Catch-share systems have been shown to reduce the decline in fish populations in all areas of the world. So it was good news late last month when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) approved a catch-share plan for bottom-dwelling species caught off the Pacific coast.  

The old laws promoted what the industry calls “derby” fishing, where captains would race out to try to catch as much as possible as quickly as possible, regardless of weather or market conditions. The method was also wasteful, encouraging sloppy practices that led to large rates of bycatch (unintended and unmarketable species) and harvests that exceeded the legal limit. In a catch-share system, each fisherman is assured a certain amount of the catch. He can fish when and where he chooses. For consumers, it means a steady supply of local fresh fish, rather than a glut of seafood that has to be frozen or trucked to distant markets.  

Continue reading

Posted in Food Politics

Health vs. Profits in School Lunches


An interesting story about a study that indicates that – somehow – obesity and the National School Lunch Program are linked. Do school lunches cause obesity? Or are obese kids more inclined to participate in the program? Good question, evidently.  

Another observation is that those in the School Breakfast Program tend less towards obesity, and at least one researcher feels that even a not especially nutritious breakfast may incline people towards healthier eating habits. The key here may be that lunch offers more “a la carte” options, meaning kids can buy more junk to “supplement” the Program’s offerings.  

Continue reading

Posted in Food Politics

This Week’s Minimalist: Southwest Potatoes

When it comes to Southwest Potatoes with Cheddar, Corn, and Black Beans, a little patience goes a long way.

Posted in Produce

Weekend in Review


A variety of interesting posts that accumulated over the long weekend.  

First, more horrors in the world of the international food supply. It seems things are getting worse more quickly, and that the 2008 food crisis was not a blip but a portent.  

A long (too long, and too, well, British) but well-assembled BBC radio story that links peak oil and cows.  

An interview  with Lester Brown about natural disasters and their effect on food prices.  

Plus: How do soldiers from different countries eat in the field? A photo essay from the Times’s Week in Review.  

Finally, Paul Greenberg’s Week in Review piece responding to the “good” news that there have been strides in raising bluefin tuna in captivity. (Hint: It’s not as simple as all that.)

(Photo Credit: Ashley Gilbertson/VII Network, for The New York Times; food stylist, Maria Washburn)

Posted in Behind The Scenes

Sunday (or Monday) Supper: Grilled or Broiled Leg of Lamb

Start with my Grilled Lebanese Flatbread from this week’s Minimalist, add grilled or broiled leg of lamb and a minty yogurt sauce, and you’ve got one seriously good Sunday (or Labor Day) Supper. Adapted from How to Cook Everything.

Grilled or Broiled Butterflied Leg of Lamb

Makess: At least 6 servings

Time: About 40 minutes

There’s really little point in grilling a bone-in leg of lamb, especially since butterflied leg is now often sold in supermarkets. It’s not cheap, but it’s not that expensive either, and it’s delicious, tender, and easy to cook. Even the uneven thickness is an asset: Cook the thickest parts to rare and you also get meat that is cooked to medium, which is still quite moist and tender, so everyone’s happy.

One to 3- to 4-pound butterflied leg of lamb

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Minced fresh parsley leaves for garnish

Lemon wedges for serving

1. Heat a charcoal or gas grill or the broiler until quite hot and put the rack at least 4 inches from the heat source. (Delay this step until you’re just about ready to cook if you choose to marinate the meat.) Trim the lamb of any excess fat. Mix together the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and some salt and pepper; rub this mixture well into the lamb, being sure to get some into all the crevices. If you have the time, let the lamb sit for at least an hour (refrigerate if it will be much longer).

2. Grill or broil the meat (best done in a roasting pan with a rack) until it is nicely browned, even a little charred, on both sides, about 20 to 30 minutes; the internal temperature at the thickest part will be about 125°F; this will give you some lamb that is quite rare and some that is nearly well done. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing thinly, as you would a thick steak. Garnish and serve with lemon wedges.


Minty Yogurt Sauce

Makes: 1 cup

Time: 3 minutes

1 cup yogurt, preferably whole milk

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 chopped fresh mint

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Freshly squeezed lemon juice if necessary

1. Combine the yogurt with the garlic, mint, a pinch of salt, and a grinding or two of pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding some lemon juice if necessary.

2. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to a few hours; bring back to near room temperature before serving.



Posted in Recipes

Crazy Cukes


By Kerri Conan 

These are the best field cucumbers ever. Fighting words to be sure. But after growing lemon, Armenian, bush champion, sweet marketmore, and Mideast prolific Sean and I know what we like. And this summer we’re high on Poona Kheera

The pulp-to-flesh ratio is not too important to us, since we remove the seeds before eating anyway. Overall crispness is way more valuable. And any cuke that keeps cranking all summer long—despite the heat, the beetles, and the threat of disease—will be our BCF. The Poona (which comes from India) fires on all cylinders: You can eat them when they’re pickler-size or when they grow to over a pound. The flavor is clean and slightly sweet (like limestone spring water) and the texture is super crunchy. So they’re a lot like eating melons. 

Continue reading

Posted in Produce

How to Cook Everything iAPP Now Only $1.99


Starting today at 3pm (EST) and ending Monday, you can buy the best-selling How to Cook Everything iPhone application for only $1.99 (down from it’s normal $4.99). The whole book (2,000 recipes) for $1.99? You do the math.

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Mark Bittman Books

Amazon Con?


I’m a heavy user of Amazon. It’s not that I like them, but I find them invaluable – the combination of nearly everything I ever want at decent prices with “free” shipping just makes it the most convenient way for me to shop.  

But this right here is bad. The big, powerful, 14-cup Cuisinart food processor has a list price, per Cuisinart, of $279. Amazon is selling it for $254 – okay, fine, you’re not going to get a better deal than that. But they claim the list price is $500, so you think you’re saving almost 50 percent – and you’re not.  

This follows on the heels of Virginia Heffernan’s musings about whether Amazon displays different prices to different customers.  

Not that we should expect any more of Amazon than of any other retailer, which is to say they’ll get away with whatever they think they can get away with. I’m just saying: Heads up.

Posted in Behind The Scenes



By Edward Schneider

Look at the pictures above, of the chicken house at Flying Pigs Farm in upstate New York. 

Now read this.

Do you see why those who have recently been deriding “locavores” as cranks are missing the point? It isn’t always about carbon footprint or ideology: it is often just about plain good food.

Posted in Farming