More on Chicken

Screen Shot 2013-10-19 at 3.45.55 PMIn the wake of the salmonella Heidelberg outbreak in chicken, which I wrote about on Wednesday, here are some updates:

Food safety advocates are demanding to know why there has been no recall of Foster Farms chicken. The U.S.D.A.’s Assistant Administrator for F.S.I.S. Field Operations, Daniel Engeljohn, talks about the current state of the inquiry.

Consumer groups are calling on the U.S.D.A. to strengthen its inspection program to prevent contaminated poultry products from being sold to consumers.

Read the rest of this column, here.

Posted in Food Politics

Should You Eat Chicken?

I tell this friend about the latest salmonella outbreak, and she asks me, “Should I stop eating chicken?”

It’s a good question. In recent weeks, salmonella on chicken has officially sickened more than 300 people (the Centers for Disease Control says there are 25 illnesses for every one reported, so maybe 7,500) and hospitalized more than 40 percent of them, in part because antibiotics aren’t working. Industry’s reaction has been predictably disappointing: the chicken from the processors in question — Foster Farms — is still being shipped into the market. Regulators’ responses have been limited: the same chicken in question is still being sold.

Read the rest of this column, here.

Posted in Food Politics

How to Feed the World

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 7.52.48 PMIt’s been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy spoke of ending world hunger, yet on the eve of World Food Day, Oct. 16, the situation remains dire. The question “How will we feed the world?” implies that we have no choice but to intensify industrial agriculture, with more high-tech seeds, chemicals and collateral damage. Yet there are other, better options.

Something approaching a billion people are hungry, a number that’s been fairly stable for more than 50 years, although it has declined as a percentage of the total population.

“Feeding the world” might as well be a marketing slogan for Big Ag, a euphemism for “Let’s ramp up sales,” as if producing more cars would guarantee that everyone had one. But if it worked that way, surely the rate of hunger in the United States would not be the highest percentage of any developed nation, a rate closer to that of Indonesia than of Britain.

 Read the rest of this article, here.

Posted in Food Politics

What We’re Reading Now

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Nicholas Kristof brings some promising news from the developing world: Illiteracy and AIDS are receding, ancient diseases such as Guinea worm and polio are on the way out, and child mortality is dropping.

Less encouraging: One of the many troubling consequences of the federal government shutdown is the suspension of the F.D.A.’s food safety inspection program. Speaking of food safety: The Chilean farmed salmon industry uses more than 300 million grams of antibiotics a year. And this salmon gets infected with parasitic sea lice, which (as demonstrated by this photo) you don’t want in your salmon.

Read the rest of this column, here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Stuff Yourself

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Dolmades or dolmas — better known as stuffed grape leaves — have long been a fixture of Mediterranean-style appetizer spreads. They’re one of those foods that just seem to materialize magically from supermarket cans or specialty-store containers; we eat them happily, but most of us have never endeavored to make them ourselves. Truth be told, sometimes we don’t even know what’s inside them.

Until recently, I tackled dolmas exactly once: in a forlorn upstate New York town that had some vineyards. But since then, I’ve made the project routine, because D.I.Y. dolmas are not only doable but come with a significant advantage: choice. Whether they are from regular grocery stores (not great) or Mediterranean markets (much better), dolmas are typically the same: grape leaves stuffed with soft rice, sometimes lentils or meat and whopped with lemon. Making them yourself means you cannot only play around with the flavors of the fillings, but you can also use other grains and leaves as well.

Read the rest of this article, here.

Posted in Recipes

Why Won’t McDonald’s Really Lead?

Every McDonald’s executive I’ve met who happens to be a parent says something like this: “I don’t let my kids eat at McDonald’s all the time. It’s a treat; we know that.” Yet these same executives, in literature and in public, say that they’re “championing children’s well-being.”

Big Mac is confused. It remains among the world’s most envied brands, yet its unique position means it must — or at least should — lead within the industry. But despite the company’s claims, its tardiness in marketing real, healthful food solidifies Big Mac’s public image as a pusher and profiteer of junk food, incapable of doing (or unwilling to do) the right thing. Envied by the competition, beloved by at least some customers, McDonald’s is reviled by those who see it as setting undesirable eating patterns in children, patterns that remain for life.

Read the rest of this column, here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Shrimp Is Having Its 15 Minutes

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 4.34.02 PMShrimp is now the most popular seafood in America, and there is no wrong way to eat it. Wild shrimp from the Pacific or the Gulf of Mexico is a treat if you can find it. Fresh local shrimp from Maine or the Carolinas is an even rarer gem. (These are all preferable from a sustainability perspective.) A vast majority, of course, is farmed and frozen, but you might as well buy it frozen and thaw it yourself to get the freshest shrimp possible. If you buy it ‘‘individually quick frozen’’ in resealable bags, you can take out only as many as you want and thaw them by leaving the shrimp in the fridge for 24 hours or running them under cool water for an hour or less.

Read the rest of this article, here.

Posted in Seafood

Is Natural Gas ‘Clean’?

The question is whether the natural gas “revolution,” which is a real thing — production is up about a third since 2005 — is also a good thing.

One reason natural gas is called “clean” is because it emits 50 percent less carbon dioxide than coal when you burn it. Thus it’s seen by some as a “bridge” fuel until zero-carbon-producing renewables can take over. But natural gas isn’t clean in the way that solar is clean. It’s clean-er than coal. It’s better than the worst; that’s all.

And the situation is actually too dire for a bridge fuel: experts say we must stop adding carbon into the air within the next 30 years [1] or face a climate “feedback loop” in which global warming continues regardless of subsequent activities, a point at which we would be able to make things worse but not better. If switching to natural gas long delays the dominance of renewables, it’s not doing us much good.That’s why action now is important.

Read the rest of this column, here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Going Vegan, if Only for a Day

Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 9.32.18 AMIt’s not worth trying to persuade anyone to become vegan, for a couple of very good reasons: one, it’s a losing battle, and two, it’s far from certain that a diet with no animal products is best for everyone. It’s increasingly evident, however, that a part-time vegan diet — one that emphasizes minimally processed plant food at the expense of everything else — is the direction that will do the most to benefit human health, increase animal welfare and reduce environmental impact. The remaining challenge, an undeniably big one, is to figure out how to make such a diet, which you might also call “flexitarian,” the standard.

My own diet, which I call Vegan Before 6 (and wrote a book about), is one way of tackling part-time veganism, but it isn’t the only way. An intelligent adaptation of the Mediterranean diet, one of the popular “fast today, feast tomorrow” diets or even a so-called paleo diet — one that stresses vegetables rather than animal products (our great ancestors, after all, were gatherer-hunters who saw meat not as routine but as an occasion to feast) — can put you on the right track.

Read the rest of this article, here.

Posted in Vegan

Rescuing Tartare From the Stuffy, Old Power-Lunchers

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 10.04.11 AMIn the go-go ’80s, “tartare” pretty much meant a pile of raw, well-seasoned chopped beef topped with a raw egg yolk. It was seen as food for the carnivorous power-lunch crowd — tartare even had a cameo as a status symbol in “Wall Street”— and for old-fashioned people who ate at old-fashioned restaurants.

I’m not sure what the first nonbeef tartare was, but I do remember getting a chuckle when my friend and co-author Jean-Georges Vongerichten introduced me to beet tartare sometime around 1990. In any case, tuna tartare has far surpassed beef in popularity, lamb tartare is fashionable and carrot tartare is expensive. In short, the field is wide open, and it’s time for home cooks to forge ahead.

Read the rest of this article, here.

Posted in Recipes, Seafood