ARCHIVE

New York City: Put Down the Chicken, Pick up the Seitan!

There has ostensibly been a dialogue among New York City legislators around food, as seen through Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s Food Works resolution, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s (at the moment dormant) NYC Foodprint legislation, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s Blueprint for Sustainable Food System initiative. But there has yet to be a watershed policy that explicitly acknowledges and addresses the connection between “cool foods” and reducing the effects of climate change. Read more

EPA Intern Offends Sensitive Meat-Industry Souls

An iron-clad rule for government bureaucrats of all ranks: thou shalt not question the American habit of eating more than a half pound of meat per day. The folks responsible for churning out millions of pounds of steaks, chops, nuggets, and burgers–and vast, toxic manure cesspools–are sensitive souls. Hurting their feelings is … mean! From the Hill:

The Farm Bureau is none too happy with the EPA today for publishing a blog post urging Americans to give up meat. Read more

A Culinary Confession

I blame Bakesale Betty.  If the blue-haired Aussie-American Alison hadn’t lured me into her store with lamingtons and sticky date pudding I would never have succumbed to the charms of her legendary fried chicken sandwiches, which cause perfectly sane people to line up on Telegraph Avenue in North Oakland. For a sandwich. I kid you not.

It also doesn’t help that Bakesale Betty is on my way home from my editing gig and I’m often ravenous as I drive by, doing a quick scan to see if there’s 1. a line snaking down the street or 2. any parking.

If the parking gods and queue karma are on my side, I’m in and out with one of her sandwiches before you can say hello hypocrite.

Let me explain. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 17, when I gave up meat in what my mum, a good cook, viewed as just another one of my rebellious teenage acts. Despite growing up in a meat-loving land, where the backyard barbie rules, I became a greens and legumes kinda gal. Read more

The Radical Necessity of Cooking: Mollie Katzen, Vegetablist

Vegetable expert and bestselling cookbook author Mollie Katzen’s handwritten and illustrated cookbook, The Moosewood Cookbook, (not to mention The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and her cookbooks for children, Pretend Soup and Honest Pretzels) introduced many to the love of cooking. She was inducted into the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame in 2007 and her most recent book, Get Cooking, was recently nominated for an International Association of Culinary Professionals Award. Beloved by many, new to some, Katzen continues her clarion call for taking back our food system one delicious meal at a time. I recently spoke to Mollie about vegetables, the new Good Food Movement, and the radical necessity of cooking. Read more

An Erstwhile Vegetarian Learns the Art of Butchery

I grew up in Kansas – the land of corn-feed beef, boneless, skinless chicken breast, and pork: the other white meat. I never gave much thought to meat except whether it was low in fat and calories, so when I told my family I was becoming a vegetarian, I was met with blank stares and a heated disagreement surrounding my anemia (with the lack of red meat, the family was concerned about my iron levels). My shift towards vegetarianism began slowly with Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation followed by Peter Singer’s The Ethics of Eating Meat, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and eventually, I found myself reading Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s The Face On Your Plate. For three years, I was vigilant about my food, checking the labels of grocery store purchases and grilling restaurant servers about the ingredients in each dish. It took me nearly 6 months to go completely meatless and only one In-and-Out cheeseburger, three years later, to fall off the proverbial wagon. What happened? How did I devote such a significant amount of my life vegetarianism only to be tempted by a cheeseburger? Read more

The Year in Meat: 2009

I can’t believe I missed it: the Meat Industry Hall of Fame’s first-ever induction ceremony occurred in Chicago on October 27. And what a night it was: headlined by the illustrious Bill Kurtis—the former CBS anchor who currently narrates criminal justice shows for the A&E Television Network.

Meat industry luminaries including Don Tyson, Jimmy Dean, and the late Frank Perdue were inducted that evening, along with litigious feedlot owner Paul Engler, who you might remember for suing Oprah Winfrey over mad cow disease and getting spanked in court. By all accounts, it was a truly magical evening, what with Kurtis’ gripping keynote address offering up a 30 minute history of the American meat industry.

Despite the glitz, an undercurrent of worry pervaded the event. See, the meat industry was in the midst of its most horrific year on record, being seemingly besieged by all sides. Robert “Bo” Manly, CFO of pork titan Smithfield Foods put it best: “Anything that breathed lost money.” Read more

Hospitals Make Small Changes for a Big Difference

Hospitals around the country have taken a crucial first step toward building a sustainable meat production system by joining the Balanced Menus Challenge. Launched in late September, the Balanced Menus Challenge is a voluntary commitment by healthcare institutions to reduce their meat and poultry offerings in patient meals and hospital cafeterias by 20 percent in 12 months. Balanced Menus is a climate change reduction strategy that also protects the effectiveness of antibiotics and promotes good nutrition. Fourteen hospitals are already participating in the national challenge, which was developed and piloted by the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility and nationally launched in partnership with Health Care Without Harm’s Healthy Food in Healthcare Initiative. Read more

Tongue Tied Cook

So last summer, my husband and I bought a quarter of a cow. Hung, butchered, wrapped, and frozen, it filled our entire chest freezer. Most of it wound up as ground beef, but a few less-than-choice cuts come with the territory. Thus far, we’ve tackled beef liver and beef tongue.

The liver was, to put it succinctly, a bust. We soaked it in milk for a few days, on the theory that this would dull some of the, well, livery taste. (It’s a good theory, since, as Matthew Amster-Burton explained in his column on milkshakes, the fat in dairy can flatten out sharper flavors.) Then we pan-fried it, ate a few bites, looked at each other, and gave the rest to the cat.

It was just too strong a taste for us. And, heck, we like liver, at least the kind that comes in poultry; we’re happy to pan-fry that stuff and spread it on bread any day. But this? This was overwhelming.

At least, until I unwrapped the beef tongue. Holy cow. Holy cow. Read more

Protein 101: Dispelling the Myth Surrounding Meatless Meals

It is disappointing to see members of the media spread misinformation due to their own ignorance, gullibility, or, worse, disinterest in digging for the truth — especially when it has to do with the health of children. Case in point, a reporter from a South Dakota talk radio show apparently believes that Baltimore City Public Schools’ Meatless Monday meals are lacking in protein. Read more

A Julia Child for the 21st Century: Meet Lorna Sass

Nora Ephron’s effervescent Julie & Julia has evidently sparked a mad dash to snap up Child’s epic Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Butter’s back, and margarine’s been marginalized. Three cheers for real food! After all, as Joan Gussow says, “I trust cows more than chemists.”

Any film (or book) that gets Americans psyched about cooking real food can only be a good thing, of course. But when Julie Powell hatched the Julie & Julia Project, latching on to Child’s old-school continental cuisine to lift her out of a dreary day job, she hitched her blogger bandwagon to a diet dominated by meat, eggs, and dairy.

Back in the day, that was OK: in Child’s era, phrases like “manure lagoon,” “gestation crate,” “battery cage,” or “bovine growth hormone” would have sounded even more foreign than “boeuf bourguignon” or “sauce béarnaise.”

But a half century or so later, I’m less excited about dishes that require preheating the oven to 350 degrees than I am about recipes for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to 350 parts per million (ppm). That’s the level of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere that scientist James Hansen and Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, agree that we need to achieve to avert catastrophic climate change. We’re at nearly 390 ppm now.

We won’t get back to 350 on a diet of denial and duckfat; a better blueprint for eating green would be meals centered around foods grown through photosynthesis, not fossil fuels–i.e., fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains. But before you can say “Bittman, ” I’d like to nominate someone less well-known, but uniquely–and supremely–qualified to be this century’s Julia Child. Read more