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Food Network star Alton Brown adds a pinch of sustainability to the pot

Alton Brown: Boy meets salmon. Photo: Studio Chambers The Portola Café and Restaurant, the fine-dining venue within the Monterey Bay Aquarium, is an airy, light-filled space surrounded by windows on three sides. The soothing, understated interior showcases a breathtaking view of Monterey Bay, where one can watch otters wrap themselves in kelp while cormorants swim and dive nearby. It is here that I have the chance to talk with Alton Brown, creator and star of Good Eats on the Food Network. Alton combines his background in film and video with his culinary training -- he attended the New England Culinary …

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Rotten tomatoes

Latest health scare exposes a frayed food-safety net

Salmonella-infected tomatoes have made headlines over the course of the last week, but there's nothing new about the problem that tainted tomatoes reveal.This outbreak has put more than 25 people in the hospital and sickened hundreds, but it is just the latest in a long line of sickness and recalls. Salmonella in tomatoes, spinach, and lettuce, eColi in peanut butter, beef from downer cows; all throw into question the legitimacy of agency claims that the U.S. has the best food safety apparatus in the world. The facts are clear: after years of budget and staffing cuts, America's food safety net …

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Corn utensils not helpful without widespread public composting

As an alternative to non-recyclable plastic and Styrofoam, some restaurants have begun offering corn-starch-based utensils and takeout containers. But does cornware really provide a guilt-free way to eat your vegesustainorganaturalocal meal? Though touted as compostable, corn-based utensils can't just be thrown into your garden; they don't biodegrade unless professionally composted at high temperatures. Thus, customers who take corn utensils away from restaurants usually end up contributing to landfills anyway, since they're unlikely to bring cornware back to the establishment to be dealt with properly. And trying to boil 'em down yourself doesn't work, as restaurant manager Casey Anderson can attest: …

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Umbra on the never-ending diaper ado

My Sweet Umbra, The diaper debate continues! I've read Grist's position, and I even saw the same answer posted in your FAQs, which means I'm not supposed to be asking you about it again (all change has been effected by those of us who challenge the system!). The thing is, I disagree vehemently with your assertion that cloth diapers are as evil as disposables, and here's why: We use organic cotton diapers on our daughter. Sustainably harvested, pesticide-free, unbleached cotton. I bought them from a local vendor to support my local businesses. I also use diaper covers made from wool, …

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Encore! On Gore!

Hear a Grist clip of the Inconvenient Truth opera

Re: the Inconvenient Truth opera that will open in 2011. Hilarious: NYT's John Tierney shares a letter from opera composer Giorgio Battistelli to Al Gore about creative differences. Listen Play An Inconvenient Opera Hilarious-er: Grist's own Tod(d) Hymas Samkara shares his vision for the opera (from the June 5 podcast). Huge thanks to Production Intern Jon Volkman who did all the sound editing.

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A test of six green dish soaps

Clean for a day. Ah, dish duty. Who hasn't ignored it, dreaded it, rock-paper-scissored over it? But there comes a time in each eater's life when dishes must be done. Happily, today's generation of eco-detergents makes it a less-toxic task than in the past -- though not completely pure. When I set out to test six "eco" dish soaps, I had little idea of the sudsy morass I was about to wade into. For the most part, green-cleaning companies have worked hard to eliminate scary stuff, including phosphates and ammonia, from their detergents -- and unlike mainstream companies, they're happy …

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Oprah off the meat-free wagon

The all-powerful talk-show host ends her vegan cleanse

Well, Oprah is no longer a caffeine-free, sugar-free, gluten-free vegan. She says her "21-day cleanse" has been "enlightening." I will forever be a more cautious and conscious eater. That's my commitment for now. To stay awakened. Hopefully along the way she's also enlightened some of her million-bajillion faithful followers.

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Umbra on wedding registries again

Hi Umbra, I'm getting married in August, and I've registered on Heifer International, but am looking for other ways to offer gift-givers a way to buy socially conscious and green gifts. Since "green," fair-trade, and organic are all the rage, could you recommend any good online places to find eco-friendly products other than the obvious (Whole Foods, REI, etc.)? I want to be sure I support the right places instead of the wannabes. Charla Seattle, Wash. Dearest Charla, Congratulations. I hope all the wedding advice and tips in the Grist archives have been helpful to your event planning. I know …

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Honda produces new fuel-cell car

Honda Motor Co.'s hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity rolled off the line Monday and will be leased to high rollers in California. The Clarity -- an update of Honda's original FCX, a handful of which were leased in 2005 -- runs on hydrogen and electricity, emits only water, and is twice as fuel-efficient as a gas-electric hybrid. Actresses Laura Harris and Jamie Lee Curtis, filmmaker Christopher Guest, and Little Miss Sunshine producer Ron Yerxa will be among those leasing the Clarity this year; Honda hopes to lease 200 of the cars within three years and, if all goes well, have them mass-produced …

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This will break your heart

Alternate universe Google News.

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