It’s almost impossible to remember Life Before Yelp–that far away time when finding a nearby restaurant or shop required a travel guide, phone book, or recommendation from a friend. Now it’s easy to pinpoint exactly what you’re looking for online, whether it’s a budget-friendly pizza place that takes credit cards or a wine bar with small plates and a back patio.
When Moose Koons offered to buy overripe, misshapen, and undersized fruit from farmers in Palisade, Colorado, their reactions were all the same. “They thought we were nuts!” he recalls.
The recent sale of Applegate Farms to the giant food conglomerate Hormel came as a surprise to many in the food world who saw Applegate as an important alternative to corporate-run meat production.
But the sale wasn’t unique; in fact, it was part of a much larger pattern. From Kashi to Stonyfield, and Celestial Seasonings to Honest Tea, big food companies, hoping to capitalize on increasing consumer demand for organic and “natural” foods, have been snapping up small operations for years.
Second-generation organic peach grower David “Mas” Masumoto describes the difference between a farming disaster and a crisis this way: A disaster is when he harvests nothing, while a crisis is when he’s not making any money. Four years into California’s worst drought in history, and like many West Coast farmers, he’s in crisis mode.
This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told food manufacturers to stop using partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the major source of artificial trans fats in processed foods ranging from nondairy creamers, to baked goods, margarine, and microwave popcorn. The move, the FDA said, “is expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year.”
Catch up on this week’s food news with stories that caught our attention.
Three Simple Rules for Eating Seafood (The New York Times)
Paul Greenberg wrote American Catch and Four Fish, two important books that exposed most of us to the complexities of modern industrial fishing. In Sunday’s NYT, he distilled his research into three rules for eating seafood, a la Michael Pollan’s “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Greenberg’s rules starts with, “Eat American seafood.”
Timothy Burke describes his trick for making spring rolls with rice paper, which is notoriously difficult. With a bit of translation from his mom, the shy eight year old said, You dip them in a wide plate of hot water, and turn them, then take them out of the water and place them on another plate before they get soft. Then you add the vegetables and roll it up fast. Easy.
Amina Harris has a sweet job. Literally. As Director of the Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at UC Davis, her day-to-day tasks involve curating a honey library and hosting honey tastings. But this “sensory scientist” would prefer we move away from the word “sweet.”
For the Chesapeake Bay, a region synonymous with blue crabs and a diversity of native fisheries, the blue catfish is like Shiva the Destroyer. In the last 40 years, the invasive fish has devastated a long-established indigenous ecosystem, crippling local economies that depend on crabs and other marine fauna for their livelihoods.
The Wide Net Project is an effort to reverse the damage already done by one of the area’s most insidious environmental threats. Founded by food systems experts Wendy Stuart and Sharon Feuer Gruber, the young nonprofit works to build a market for blue catfish, while providing free fish to hunger relief organizations in the process.
Kernza’s arrival has been a long time coming. The new grain variety from the Land Institute is derived from an ancient form of intermediate wheatgrass, a perennial that is actually a distant relative of wheat. And there’s a widespread team of researchers hoping their work will pave the way for an entirely new form of food.