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Kurt Michael Friese's Posts

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The Age of Asparagus dawned in Roman times, but the time to eat it is now

Asparagus may be associated with spring, but there's nothing new about it. It's been gracing tables -- to the joy of some diners and the horror of others -- for at least two thousand years. In the earliest known cookbook, De Re Culinaria (circa A.D. 100), proto-foodie Marcus Apicius recommends pounding asparagus tips with black pepper, lovage, coriander, savory, onion, wine, oil (presumably from olives), eggs, and a kind of fermented, fish-flavored sauce -- all then to be baked, then seasoned with more pepper. Look who's stalking. Photo: Kurt Friese Sounds like a sort of dip, ancient Rome's answer to …

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Responding to a wrongheaded assault on Slow Food

The March, 2008 issue of Metropolis focuses on the overarching idea of localism and its relationship to sustainability. It is as always a beautiful and well-written issue, but in it one particular columnist, Bruce Sterling, has taken Slow Food to task -- accusing us once again of that old canard, elitism. It is not true, nor is it always such a bad thing anyway. Bear in mind that most of the great social movements throughout history were begun by the so-called "elite" (witness abolition and suffrage, not to mention that Ghandi was a well-to-do attorney). But the places Mr. Sterling …

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Warm up over a bowl of chili — while planning your spring vegetable patch

Editor's note: Welcome to the first installment of Chef's Diary, a new biweekly recipe column by Iowa-based chef Kurt Michael Friese. Follow the seasons with a professional chef -- and get tips for cooking at home. Seeds of our content. Photo: run dorkas run As the last of last fall's bounty comes out of the larder at my Iowa City restaurant, my wife Kim has been poring over seed catalogs, trying to shake the chill of a particularly nasty prairie winter. Eagerness to plant supplants many other priorities as she rifles through each newly arrived issue like a 12-year-old boy …

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Gathering around a table as environmental advocacy

Gazing over the muddy brown expanse that the abating snows finally revealed in mid-March, it has been hard for me to imagine the lush greenery and flavorful bounty that our gardens will yield in just a few short months. But even by the time you read these words, radishes and spinach will have sprouted again. The curly tendrils of spring's first sweet peas will be stretching, aching for a grip on a trellis and an arc of precious sunlight. The warmth will return, as it always does, and with it, the promise of a table full of delicious food surrounded …

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Why the USDA wants to stop local food

This is one of those "in case you missed it" kind of posts. In yesterday's New York Times, Minnesota farmer Jack Hedin wrote an op-ed that shows very clearly how the federal deck is stacked against small, sustainable, local farms and in favor of Earl Butz's "get-big-or-get-out" mentality. The commodity farm program effectively forbids farmers who usually grow corn or the other four federally subsidized commodity crops (soybeans, rice, wheat and cotton) from trying fruit and vegetables. Because my watermelons and tomatoes had been planted on "corn base" acres, the Farm Service said, my landlords were out of compliance with …

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Haagen-Dazs says CCD could interrupt your ice cream fix

As I and many others have pointed out, the loss of as much as 70-80 percent of the US honeybee population to Colony Collapse Disorder is a far greater concern than missing that spot of honey in your lavender soy chai. Premium ice cream maker Haagen-Dazs has joined in to sound the alarm about CCD and the impact it could have on our food supply Haagen-Dazs is warning that a creature as small as a honeybee could become a big problem for the premium ice cream maker's business. At issue is the disappearing bee colonies in the United States, a …

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Schmeiser to play David to Monsanto’s Goliath again

Most of you will recall the high-profile battle fought by Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser when he was sued for growing their GM seed without tithing to the corporation for the privilege. Schmeiser insisted that Monsanto's patented DNA blew onto his land, but he lost an acrimonious fight in Canada's Supreme Court anyway. Now Percy's back for more. Schmeiser has filed suit against the agribusiness giant in his Bruno, Saskatchewan, small claims court for C$600, claiming damages when Monsanto's GM seed blew onto his land, which he had to pay to have removed so that he could plant mustard. His contention …

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Livestock registration, pitched by feds as voluntary, is creeping toward mandatory

You have read, in this space among many others, of the sinister nature of genetic modification and the patenting of seeds. I have ranted endlessly about the dangers of the food system being in the hands of just a few corporate land barons. No reason to stop now. For about five years now the USDA and many large corporate interests have been pushing a program called the National Animal Identification System. NAIS is touted as an effective tool in battling the spread of livestock diseases such as cattle tuberculosis and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow. It provides …

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It’s not always just Monsanto screwing with the food system

Creating a food system that is "good, clean, and fair" involves more than the buy-local mantra and the anti-Monsanto-ADM-WalMart rhetoric I and so many others constantly chanting. Sometimes even more evil and insidious obstacles lie in our way. Witness what's taking place in Kenya: The political crisis in Kenya is now turning into a food crisis. Some of the areas hit the hardest by violence -- among them the Rift Valley, Coast Province, Nyanza Province, Western Province and Nairobi -- are considered to be the eastern African nation's "bread baskets." They are also the areas in which many of Slow …

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An Iowa chef takes issue with Time’s Joel Stein

Regarding the article Tom mentioned yesterday, Joel Stein's Time article, "Extreme Eating": while Mr. Stein is of course free to eat whatever type of food he chooses, I must take exception to his contention that "Dodd was basically telling the Iowans that every night they should decide whether to accompany their pork with creamed corn, corn on the cob, corn fritters or corn bread. For dessert, they could have any flavor they wanted of fake ice cream made from soy, provided that flavor was corn." I am forced to question whether Mr. Stein has actually been to Iowa (outside of …

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