Food

Sushi shenanigans

New York teenagers identify weak link in seafood chain

For anyone who missed it there was a good post in the blog two weeks ago on how to choose sustainable seafood. However, this article from The New York Times (hat tip CC) suggests that about one out of every four fish you eat isn’t the kind of fish you thought it was. It could even be an endangered species. Sort of like finishing a meal at a Chinese restaurant and finding this ominous note in your fortune cookie: “That was not chicken.” I use a simple surefire method. I don’t eat ocean fish. That fits somewhere in the middle …

Grist goes to Slow Food Nation

Sandwiched between the two political conventions, a slice of food politics from San Francisco

Starting Friday, I’ll be reporting from Slow Food Nation, a big, multifaceted food confab in San Francisco. What exactly is it? I’ll let you know when I figure it out. The event features both Slow Food royalty (Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, Carlo Petrini) and Slow Food critics (like Brahm Ahmadi of Oakland’s People’s Grocery, who recently penned cogent critique of Slow Food’s approach to diversity.) SFN includes everything from wonky policy talks to tastings to blow-out dinners, and I’ll be taking in as much as possible of all of it. Partnering with Participant Media, I’ll be doing interviews with various …

Colleges forgo cafeteria trays to save water and energy

Colleges around the country are ditching cafeteria trays to lower water and energy use and to prevent wasted food. “If a college is looking to go ‘green,’ they need to start looking in the dining facility,” said Sodexo spokeswoman Monica Zimmer; the food-service company expects 230 of the 600 colleges it serves to stop using trays. Skeptics worry about broken dishes, and some students worry about balancing their plates in bustling cafeterias, but it’s hard to argue with the savings. The 18,000-student Georgia Tech went trayless in response to last year’s drought, saving an estimated 3,000 gallons of water each …

Crunch time for 10 health-food-store potato-chip brands

Chip shot. Photo: Maria Falgoust As a cook, I gravitate toward fresh, whole ingredients. I prefer whole foods as an eater, too — unless there’s an open bag of potato chips nearby. My usual strategy is to avoid proximity to open bags of chips. But because of my lamentable chip-love, I couldn’t resist this assignment: taste-testing health-food-store potato-chip brands. I figured finding green-ish chips would be easy — just walk down the snack aisle of a natural-foods supermarket and plunk all the bags marked “organic” into the cart. But on a recent trip to Whole Foods in Chapel Hill, N.C., …

Masanobu Fukuoka, 1913-2008

Long live ‘do-nothing farming’

I was aiming at a pleasant, natural way of farming which results in making the work easier instead of harder. "How about not doing this?" "How about not doing that?" — that was my way of thinking. I ultimately reached the conclusion that there was no need to plow, no need to apply fertilizer, no need to make compost, no need to use insecticide. When you get right down to it, there are few agricultural practices that are necessary. The reason that man’s improved techniques seem necessary is that the natural balance has been so badly upset beforehand by those …

Dispatches from the Fields: The trouble with small-scale farming

Can sustainable farming provide a sustainable living?

In “Dispatches from the Fields,” Ariane Lotti and Stephanie Ogburn, who are working on small farms in Iowa and Colorado this season, share their thoughts on producing real food in the midst of America’s agro-industrial landscape. —– Should small-scale farmers who grow organically and sell locally or regionally be able to make a middle-class living with farming as their sole source of income? I’ve always answered this question with a fervent “yes,” at least from a philosophical perspective. But the answer to the follow-up question — “do they?” — is nearly always a resounding no. Sure, there are exceptions. In …

Genetically modified diplomat

U.S. foreign policy: GMO all the way

About a week ago, The New York Times ran a brief interview with Nina V. Federoff, official “science and technology adviser” to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Not surprisingly, Condoleeza Rice’s science czar has a special place in her heart for genetically modified organisms. In the Times interview, Federoff defends GMOs: There’s almost no food that isn’t genetically modified. Genetic modification is the basis of all evolution…. The paradox is that now that we’ve invented techniques that introduce just one gene without disturbing the rest, some people think that’s terrible. Right; GMOs merely mimic nature, …

Notes on a recent trip to Mexico

In Mexico, a milpa is a garden patch, usually kept by several families, to grow a substantial portion of a year’s sustenance. Milpas are typically dominated by corn — first domesticated in present-day Mexico thousands of years ago — but also contain stunning agricultural and nutritional diversity. In addition to corn for tortillas, traditional milpas grow squash and beans of many varieties, avocados, melon, tomatoes, chile pepper, sweet potato, jicama, amaranth, and a medicinal herb called mucana, claims journalist Charles C. Mann in his 2005 book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. “Milpa crops are nutritionally and environmentally …

We waste a lot of food and a lot of water, says report

The world grows more than enough food to sustain the global population, but half of that food is wasted — and thus half of the water used in food production is wasted as well, says a new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, International Water Management Institute, and Stockholm Water Management Institute. In developing countries, food spoils or is damaged by insects; in developed countries, it’s more often just tossed out. The United States and other industrialized countries throw out some 30 percent of their food each year, says the report: “That corresponds to [10.6 trillion gallons] …