My browser’s blowing up again with interesting tidbits from around the web. Time to serve up another platter of choice nuggets.
• I’ve been obsessing over a New York Times blog post on "The 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating," which originally ran way back in June but was recently revived because of its popularity. The choices have been declared by nutritionist Jonny Bowden as packed with nutrients. They’re also all extremely flavorful, and (with one exception) economical.
Most of them carry a kind of unearned stigma. Beets, for example, are one of our most glorious vegetables, but their reputation has been ruined by deplorable canned versions that prevailed in the ’70s. Why don’t Americans revere cabbage? I can’t imagine a better way to consume something fresh and crunchy in the winter than a red-cabbage salad, dressed simply with lemon juice and olive oil. Canned sardines? People tend to recoil from this nutrient-dense, abundant, and, yes, delicious fish. I used to despise them, too; now I can’t remember why. (Check out this recipe I conjured up for pasta with sardines a few years back.) And prunes (delicately called in the article "dried plums")? Fantastic — and unjustly scorned. In an ideal world, this sort of list would be getting hung up in school-cafeteria kitchens across the land, where skilled cooks would debate about how best to teach children to love them. In our own fallen world, school-cafeteria kitchens barely exist (they been replaced by reheating centers for churning out Tyson chicken nuggets), and skilled cooks have long since been sent packing.
• Speaking of school kitchens, no one has done more to expose their dismal state in the Anglo-American world than the British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. He’s a massive star in the United Kingdom — his analogy here would be Emeril or Rachel Ray. In contrast to them, Oliver has consistently used his celebrity to raise awareness of the ills of industrial food. His latest campaign: exposing the plight of confined hogs.
• And speaking of ideas for improving your ways in the kitchen, Bon Appetit has come out with a pretty good "50 Ways to Eat Green piece."
• I don’t have a MyFace page (or whatever that stuff is called), so I’m flummoxed by this Burger King campaign to convince people to "defriend" each other. Before I could get a handle on it, the fast-food giant unceremoniously ended the program. What just happened?
• On a more ag-nerdy note, the Wall Street Journal recently published an important article about the vast, Hydra-like agribusiness Cargill. As a privately held company (the nation’s largest), Cargill doesn’t have to publicly report financial results. It does release bare-bones reports though, and its profits in its most recently reported quarter jumped 25 percent. The article talks through how commodity-trading firms like Cargill, in contrast to their stock-trading counterparts, can legally trade on inside information. Given the firm’s global reach and massive scale, it deftly uses inside info to profit, regardless of whether ag commodity prices go up or down.
• The U.K.-based Economic and Social Research Council has come out with a study that found, "Cattle and sheep grazed on natural grasslands help maintain biodiversity and produce tastier, healthier meat." The study concluded, "pasture-based farming is good for the environment, the consumer and the producer but needs stronger support from British policy makers if it is to realise its full potential."