Food

Kelp on the way

Seaweed is the best garden amendment, hands down

My wife and I have been living in a beach house for the last two weeks, and have been blessed with an incredible run of perfect summer weather. The exclamation point came with the passing of tropical storm Hanna on Saturday whose winds piled fresh seaweed high on the beach — a literal windfall for this organic gardener. I collected sacks of it. Any gardener living near the Northeast or Northwest coast, where kelp grows, ought to consider collecting some. It’s the best seaweed for the garden. It’s a trick I learned from my grandparents which helps me grow enormous …

Slow Food Nation interview: Raj Patel

Stuffed and Starved author on the myth of consumer choice

Raj Patel, author of the searing book Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System, is one of the most trenchant critics of industrial food. According to Patel, one billion people in the world don’t have enough to eat, while another billion suffer from the consequences of too many low-quality calories. The phenomena are the result of a food system rigged to work for a few multinational corporations. In the video interview below, Patel talks about the deceptive nature of the food system as experienced by most people living in developed countries:

Slow Food Nation was magnificent in many ways, but overshot its mandate

Photo: karmacamilleeon Slow Food Nation — that grand, sprawling culinary event that seemed to permeate San Francisco over Labor Day weekend — has passed. Now we can ask: What was it? A brazen display of foodie elitism, as some critics charge? A transformative moment in an ongoing effort to overthrow the industrial food system, as its organizers sometimes hinted? Slow Food Nation’s Taste Pavilion. Photo: Eater SF First, the grandeur of the gathering — organized by Slow Food USA — has to be acknowledged. Slow Food Nation’s Taste Pavilion, dramatically located at San Francisco’s bay-side Fort Mason, deserves a place …

Slow Food Nation interview: Dan Barber

New York chef urges people to get back in the kitchen

Dan Barber is one of the most highly regarded chefs in the United States. Back in the late 1990s, his small Manhattan restaurant Blue Hill got lots of buzz for Dan’s innovative cooking. But even while he was dazzling diners with his technique, Dan was already haunting Manhattan’s Union Square Greenmarket for ingredients, before many New York chefs bothered. He was also bringing in produce from his family’s farm in the Berkshires. In 2004, Dan launched what must be any ingredient-obsessed chef’s dream — a restaurant on a beautifully run, diversified organic farm. Stone Barns, situated on 80 acres of …

Mooo-ve over, FDA

Consumers demand market rejection of food from cloned animals

Consumer market rejection seems to be the ongoing theme of U.S. food politics in the waning days of Bush’s inept Food and Drug Administration. Given FDA’s repeated failure to protect our nation’s food supply or to respond quickly and appropriately to outbreaks of food-borne illnesses, consumers have turned to food companies and demanded that they now take the lead in safeguarding our nation’s food. Public opposition to milk and meat from clones has caused 20 major food companies, restaurants, dairies, and supermarket chains to refuse to produce, use or sell food from clones. These companies have taken action despite FDA’s …

Slow Food Nation: Whole Foods to pay up for tomatoes

Benitez of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers says deal imminent with Whole Foods

I’m a lame blogger when it comes to breaking news at conferences, when my brain typically reaches explosion point with all the information zooming in. I should have live-blogged this Saturday, while I was taking in Slow Food Nation’s “Toward a new, fair food system” panel: Coalition of Immokalee Workers leader Lucas Benitez revealed that Whole Foods is on the verge of agreeing to pay an extra penny per pound for the Florida-grown tomatoes it buys. As part of its “Campaign for Fair Food,” CIW is urging all major corporate buyers of Florida tomatoes to agree to the extra-penny-per-pound deal. …

A few thoughts on an amazing event — and a recipe for a delectably slow-cooked pasta sauce

Say cheese: a sample of Slow Food Nation’s Taste Pavilion. Photo: Russ Walker It’s going to take me more than just a few days to fully understand the effects and implications of the first Slow Food Nation, held in San Francisco over Labor Day weekend. The brain power on display was impressive enough: Wendell Berry, Vandana Shiva, Michael Pollan, Winona LaDuke, Carlo Petrini, Raj Patel, Eric Schlosser, and other luminaries took center stage at panels. Add to that the myriad of other events and mind-blowing food, and you get a truly unforgettable event for the thousands who attended. Despite the …

Under pressure from Big Canned Tuna, FDA lax in mercury regulation

Under strong pressure from Big Canned Tuna, the Food and Drug Administration is crazily lax in regulating mercury in tuna. Among many examples: In 2000, a draft advisory to pregnant women listed canned tuna as a product highly contaminated with mercury; after FDA officials met with the three largest tuna companies, the final advisory left tuna off the list. When the FDA’s fish mercury guidelines were revised in 2003, canned light tuna was put in the low-mercury group — mainly, according to an FDA official, “in order to keep the market share at a reasonable level.” The FDA doesn’t require …

Slow Food Nation: Farmworkers at the table

Schlosser: Food industry abuses workers as matter of course

Of all the panels I attended at Slow Food Nation’s series, the most powerful for me was the one convened by Eric Schlosser on creating a “new, fair food system.” It featured labor-rights advocates from California and Florida — the poles of industrial fruit-and-veg production in the U.S. Working conditions get little play in sustainable-agriculture discussions. Organic standards make no mention of labor practices; and when foodies swoon over heirloom tomatoes or a fabulous wine, they’ve learned to obsess over where the fruit was grown — but they rarely consider the folks who actually picked it. Schlosser — author of …