Eric Burkett

Eric is a food writer, freelance journalist, and professional cook in San Francisco. He has worked for newspapers in California and Alaska, where he covered Sarah Palin's city hall back when she was still mayor of Wasilla and no one had any clue what lay in store years ahead. He blogs for and is a regular contributor to He writes about cooking on his own blog at, and hates the texture of mushrooms. Really.

Well done

New safety guidelines for poultry producers won’t change much

(USDA photo) If you’ve ever fallen ill with a case of food poisoning, Big Food would like you to know that it’s probably your fault. A few weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued new safety compliance guidelines for the poultry industry. They’re notable for several reasons: they drastically reduce the allowable levels of salmonella present and, for the first time, they address the issue of campylobacter, the second leading cause of food-borne illness in the United States after salmonella. Current standards, for example, allow for up to 20 percent of poultry carcasses to carry salmonella. If adopted, the …

Trust busters

Voters want less government, but more from the FDA

I’m tired of the government interfering in my life. I want less government. I want smaller government. Oh yeah, and I’d like someone to oversee the use of words like “natural” on processed food labels and limit the amount of sodium in them. That’s the schizophrenic message being sent by the average American, new food-industry polls reveal. Americans’ faith in Congress’ ability to solve the country’s problems is at an all-time low: about 20 percent, according to the Pew Research Center for People and the Press. Meanwhile, a poll released last month by FoodMinds, a marketing analysis firm based in …


Food as America’s newest religion

Meanwhile the eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated. Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’ Christians …

Green giants

When the big guys want to do the right thing

How green are those Cheerios? Well, no — you’re right — Cheerios shouldn’t be green, but I mean green green. Increasingly, restaurants and food service companies are weighing the need to green their operations and products but the results are often not what they anticipated. According to stories in this week’s issues of two food service industry magazines, QSR and Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN), greening up the kitchen is an effort fraught with as many potential pitfalls as it is possible benefits. Equally as frustrating to customers as it can be for the companies attempting to clean up their acts, …

The shmeat of the matter

An omnivorous chef ponders test-tube meat

Future rancher of America? Well, ick. That was my first reaction, anyway, to news that the search to produce animal-less sources for meat are moving, if not right along, at least in the direction of progress. The story I read is actually an editorial in Capital Press, an agricultural newspaper published for farmers in the western United States.  “[T]he landmark experiments Dutch scientists are undertaking could open the door to a brave new world of food production,” the editorial states. In other words, test-tube meat: it could soon be what’s for dinner.  As someone who likes food and frequently eats …

Salt of the dearth

Food giants pile on salt to tart up flavorless dreck

Piled on my desk on either side of my computer are several packages of convenience foods and one chocolate bar. The foods range from instant macaroni and cheese and cornbread mixes to canned soup, canned tuna, canned beans, and a Styrofoam container of instant, microwaveable macaroni and cheese. Of the eight items, only two – the tuna and the chocolate bar–have sodium levels in the single digits. Of the double-digiters, only two have sodium levels less than 20 percent. I’m looking at sodium content not because I’m watching my salt intake–although that’s hardly a bad idea–but because I wanted to …

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