Monday, October 31, 2011

Meatless Monday: Celebrating Food Day with the Best Chef in the World

To be totally truthful, René Redzepi and I did not exactly celebrate Food Day together. But we were in the same place at the same time for an hour and a half on October 24th. He was at the front of the lecture hall on Yale’s Old Campus, and I was way at the back. But I could see him, and hear him. He had slides, and I even got to taste some of his food! The time flew by. Chef Redzepi is a real raconteur. 

He is the owner of Noma, a restaurant he opened in Copenhagen in November, 2003, named the World's Best Restaurant in both 2010 and 2011. Chef Redzepi was in the States last week as part of a Danish cultural delegation. It was the first time food was represented in such a group, and it is difficult to imagine a better ambassador.

In a land where, by Chef Redzepi’s account, pigs outnumber people four to one he has built a Nordic cuisine on hyper-local foods supplied by farmers, foraged, hunted, or harvested from the sea by hand. Much of what is foraged is pickled for later use. He brought trays of pickled elderflowers, rose petals, and the crunchy seeds of Danish ramps for us to taste. [I loved the elderflowers and the seeds, the rose petals not so much.]

Chef Redzepi regaled us with tales of his love of chicken, of transforming a very old carrot into a delicacy, and of discovering spicy flavors amidst rotting seaweed.

He also spoke of the Nordic Food Lab and the annual MAD (the Danish word for food) Foodcamp (Symposium), and described one of the Lab’s current projects — naming the 150 kinds of horseradish he and the other “Gastronauts” have discovered while “exploring Mother Earth for edible food.”

Chef Redzepi truly must work magic from these found ingredients, for yearly there are over 600,000 requests for 5,875 tables in this 40 seat restaurant. I discovered a wonderful blog where a long-awaited meal at Noma is described in minute detail accompanied by exquisite photographs. Pickled elderflowers [one of the items I sampled] can be seen nestled in between the carrot leather and seabuckthorn served as an appetizer.  You can read what others have to say here

When asked about what other ingredients he used during the harsh winter in which he braised, in his words, “the shitty carrot,” Chef Redzepi described resorting to “trash cooking” and how he came to include such items as reindeer tongue on his menu. 

Much as I admire the innovation in these winter meals, I’m thinking an early summer seating.  Maybe there would be seafood and some fresh vegetables from a farm along with the less familiar items. Did I mention the price? A recent reviewer spoke of the price of the meal as being expensive but worth it — 800 € for two for 12 courses with wine. That comes out to just over $1,127 US dollars. And then, there's the airfare. But my cousin lives in Denmark… I can dream, can’t I? 

Happy Halloween. Unplug your vampire devicesHave a good week, and come again soon.
I often blog on food or food issues on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal  health and the health of our planet.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fishy Friday

There is an old adage that fish is good food for the brain. Whether or not that is true, I have had fish on the brain all week. Here are four of the reasons why.

At New Haven Green Drinks on the 19th, Theresa Labriola, senior associate from the Northeast Fisheries Program of the Pew Environmental Group, spoke on the topic of Missing Menhaden in the hopes of rallying support for the Plan to Save the Menhaden. The menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus) is a small fish, less than a foot long. A critical food source for wildlife, birds, dolphins, whales, and fish including striped bass and bluefish, the menhaden plays a vital role in the ecosystem of the Eastern Seaboard and has been called the “most important fish in the sea.”

In the late 1970s I came to know this fish as the “bunker,” something you bought by the pail as bait for snapper blues during their late summer/early fall run just off the shore in Connecticut. An odoriferous and oily fish, a bunker creates a slick when dropped into the water, and if you touch one with your hand, the fragrance lingers. 

Dr. David Starr Jordan, author of American Food And Game Fishes (1905) stated, “The menhaden is the most abundant fish on the eastern coast of the United States. Several hundred thousand have been taken in a single draft of a purse-seine. A firm at Milford, Connecticut, captured in 1870, 8,800,000… In 1877… the town of Booth Bay alone took 50,000,000.”  He also wrote of the menhaden’s fecundity, stating that more than 140,000 eggs had been taken from one fish. What were the commercial uses for the menhaden in the 1880s? They will sound very familiar if you read on: oil, fertilizer, and fish meal to feed domestic animals. In fact, the menhaden has been used as fertilizer since the Native Americans buried the fish with their seeds when planting mounds of corn, squash, and beans. But there was one huge difference between then and now. This turn-of-the-last-century volume estimated “the total number of menhaden destroyed on our coast by predaceous animals at a million million of millions, compared with which the number destroyed by man is scarcely more than infinitesimal.” Still, even back then, some fishermen began to object that the number of fish was in decline. In answer, Jordan wrote, “This, however, has not been proved, and many intelligent observers deny that any appreciable decrease has really occurred.”

In 2011, menhaden decline can no longer be denied. According to statistics provided on a Pew handout, menhaden historically made up 70% of the striped bass diet in the Chesapeake Bay. Now they account for just 7% and the bass are showing signs of malnutrition and decline. According to Pew, the number of menhaden is at a record low — just 10% of their historic levels. Billions (not millions) of Atlantic menhaden are being hauled in and ground up — destined to become fertilizer, pet food, dietary supplements [menhaden are rich in Omega-3], and feed for farm-raised animals and fish. One company, Omega Protein, is responsible for taking in 3/4 of the entire East Coast catch — more than 410 million pounds.

On November 9, at the meeting of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Atlantic Menhaden Management Board will vote on an addendum to the Atlantic Menhaden Fishery Management Plan, which proposes new fish population targets and fishing limits for the menhaden fishery. This is the plan to rebuild the menhaden population that Pew was promoting at Green Drinks. You have until this coming Sunday, October 30, to lend your support. Check out this link to the Pew site to learn more and to sign their petition. But please do it soon!

More fish news…
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has taken emergency action to increase the amount of skate that fishermen can land this year — from 31 million to 48 million pounds, based on new scientific information showing an increase in the overall skate population. The 56-percent quota increase will be effective on November 28 and remain in effect through the end of the current fishing season which ends on April 30, 2012. Eric Shwaab, assistant NOAA administrator of NOAA’s Fisheries Service stated, “We recognize that these are difficult economic times for many fishermen and are working hard to increase fishing opportunity wherever possible…The quota increase will boost revenues for many fishermen and related fishing businesses, while maintaining our responsibility to important conservation objectives.” In the past a “trash fish,” skate wing is now featured on a wide range of restaurant menus.

Paul Greenberg Discusses Four Fish
Yesterday I had the opportunity to hear this best-selling author talk about and read excerpts from Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food. Greenberg, a very entertaining and polished speaker, recounted a number of anecdotes from his quest to study the four fish in his book: salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna. He began by explaining why he chose to write about these particular four fish and then moved on to the particulars of each of these fish “archetypes” [not to be confused with species]. As a Connecticut resident, I found the salmon section particularly relevant. Wild salmon, we were told, once played a major part in Connecticut local culture. But over time, myriads of dams were built along New England’s rivers (5000 in Connecticut alone), each one blocking a salmon run. According to Greenberg, the construction of the dam in Turner’s Falls, Massachusetts in 1798 is what brought an end to the days of wild salmon in the state. Greenberg also outlined the history of the selective breeding of salmon and pointed out that Atlantic salmon is commercially extinct. All fish sold as Atlantic salmon is farmed. 

I also related to the comments on cod. As a native of Massachusetts I know this fish, as a delicious food to purchase and prepare, and as a catch to watch being unloaded at the Chatham fish pier each summer. I had watched the cod catch numbers fall and the price rise over the years. It was interesting to hear that the discovery of sonar and polymers in WWII were main driving forces behind the change in the way fish such as cod are caught. 

Greenberg also shared a story which has particular relevance since today is Friday. He recounted that the Filet o’ Fish sandwich was invented by the owner of a fast food chain who couldn’t sell any burgers on Fridays. The fried cod fillet placed inside his hamburger buns were just the ticket for his Roman Catholic customers! Of course, the fish is now Alaskan pollock, except at Denny’s where it is tilapia. But that is another story.

Greenberg was emphatic that with the amount of farmed fish now equal to the amount of wild-caught fish brought to market each year, there is no going back. He spoke hopefully of some new and better practices evolving in aquaculture, and of species of fish that might be better candidates for farming, such as the arctic char. He also proposed that the bluefin tuna be preserved as the last wild fish. 

I have been reading Four Fish in my “spare time.”  Snow is predicted for tomorrow, so I might just have the time as well as the inspiration to finish this thought-provoking volume. 

New Haven Has its Own Chef to the Stars
New Haven chef Bun Lai, owner of Miya’s Sushi has had quite a week. Known for his experimental Invasive Species Menu, Chef Bun had the opportunity to prepare a meal for René Redzepi (Owner of Noma, voted the best restaurant in the world) on Monday and for Paul Greenberg on Thursday. Wow! 

That’s a wrap! TGIF.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meatless Monday: It’s Food Day Today!

Happy Food Day! Yes, today, October 24th, is a very special Meatless Monday. The goal of this first annual Food Day, sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is “to bring together Americans from all walks of life to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.” Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) are the Honorary Co-Chairs for Food Day 2011. There are events large and small scheduled to take place around the country. Click here to find an event near you.  

In my city of New Haven, CT there will be lots of things happening over the course of the day. Here are some highlights:
  • In a morning event, second graders from New Haven’s Columbus School will walk to the Chabaso Bakery Farm for a teach-in with New Haven Public Schools Food Director “Food Dude” Tim Cipriano and his colleague, dietitian Sarah Bourque. The students will be the first to taste Chabaso Bakery’s new “Ollie Bread,” made with all natural ingredients and whole grains such as wheat, honey, raisins, millet, flax, and rye. The bread will be served in New Haven public schools.
  • At 5 pm on the Yale campus, Chef René Redzepi, owner of Noma restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, named the “world’s best restaurant” in both 2010 and 2011, will present a talk co-sponsored by the Yale Sustainable Food Project and the Yale Agrarian Studies Department. Redzepi goes beyond the usual farm to table route to source everything locally: he is a forager. The story goes that on one particular day during a very harsh winter, the only hyper-local ingredients he and his team could procure were some dark blue carrots which had wintered over in an icy field. Redzepi is reported to have turned the leathery carrots into a delicious dish after braising them for hours in goat’s butter and serving them with fresh chamomile tips and sorrel.  For more, check out Dishes from Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine
  • At 6 pm the public is invited to the City’s Barnard Environmental School for some healthy snacks and a screening of What’s On Your Plate? “a witty and provocative documentary produced and directed by award-winning Catherine Gund about kids and food politics.” Admission is free. There will be door prizes! City Seed’s New Haven Cooks will be available for purchase.

Even if there are no scheduled events in your area, you can still observe Food Day. Here is a link to send a message to Congress asking for support of Food Day's goals. Here is another to special Food Day recipes. 

Wherever you are, whatever you do today, be well and eat well. Happy Food Day. Have a great week.

I often blog on food or food issues on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal  health and the health of our planet.”

PS Please don’t forget about the frozen beans from China. The petition count is still rising, but at a slower rate than it has been, still going for 500. If you are interested in signing on, you will find my widget one post back. Thanks.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Meatless Monday: Food Deserts

Do you know what one is? Do you live in one?

The term “food desert” has been in use since it was coined by researchers in the UK in the 1990s (according to Wikipedia). In brief, a food desert is a low-income census tract, either urban or rural, where a substantial number or percentage of residents lack ready access to healthy and affordable food.

Food deserts have been much in the news of late. As part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, the proposed Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) will expand the availability of nutritious food to food deserts by developing and equipping grocery stores, small retailers, corner stores, and farmers markets with fresh and healthy food.The HFFI is a partnership between the Treasury Department, Health and Human Services, and the Agriculture Department (USDA). An Interagency Working Group from the three departments, along with staff from the Economic Research Service (ERS/USDA), developed a definition of food deserts to be used with other data to determine eligibility for Federal funds.

In a 2009 report to Congress, supermarkets and large grocery stores were used as proxies for sources of healthy and affordable foods. Based upon these data sources and measures, the report described characteristics of people and households residing in areas with limited access to healthy and affordable food such as the number of poor people, the number of children or older persons, and the number of households without vehicles.

A tool known as the Food Desert Locator was devised with these objectives:
  • to present a spatial overview of where food-desert census tracts are located;
  • to provide selected population characteristics of food-desert census tracts; and
  • to offer data on food-desert census tracts that can be downloaded for community planning or research purposes.
For the purposes of this tool, to qualify as a “low-income community,” a census tract must have either: a poverty rate of 20 percent or higher, OR a median family income at or below 80 percent of the area's median family income. To qualify as a “low-access community,” at least 500 people and/or at least 33 percent of the census tract's population must reside more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store (for rural census tracts, the distance is more than 10 miles).

The USDA released the online Food Desert Locator in May of this year. Simply click "find address" and then enter an address or zip code and click “find” to determine if your location of interest is in a food desert.

By entering my zip code I learned that while I do NOT live in a food desert, many in the outlying areas of New Haven do. 

The tool has a number of critics including Mayor Bloomberg. The locator has 26,000 New Yorkers living in neighborhoods without fresh food. The mayor claims the number is closer to 3 million and fears that supermarkets using USDA data will not come to Manhattan. Federal officials counter that the tool is a work-in-progress and will be updated next year.

For a concise look at just where in the country food deserts are, and who in the US lives in them, check out this post on the website of Patchwork Nation, a reporting project of the Jefferson Institute that aims to explore what is happening in the United States by examining different kinds of communities over time. FYI the Patchwork Nation community type for New Haven is “Industrial Metropolis.”

I know this is a denser than usual post, but with Food Day coming up on October 24, I thought I’d share a little background on this important issue. 

Have a good week, and come again soon.

I often blog on food or food issues on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal  health and the health of our planet.”

PS Please don’t forget about the frozen beans from China. The petition count is still rising, but at a slower rate than it has been, still going for 500. Thanks.

Friday, October 14, 2011

On My Radar 10.14.11

Passings. News. Happenings. Fall Clean-up Tips…Here are some of the items on my radar.


Steve Jobs died on Wednesday, October 5, at the age of 56. The news spread instantly on devices of Steve’s design, and the world paid him homage in ways that would have been impossible without his vision. We mourn his passing and wonder what more would have been in store if Steve’s life had not been so short. On the day after his death it was reported that former Yale SOM Dean Joel Polodny had been recruited by Apple and Steve Jobs to plan a training program in which company executives will be taught to think like Jobs, “in a forum to impart that DNA to future generations.”

Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai died on September 25. In an era where women in Kenya were not educated and had little power, she was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree, and in 1977 founded the Green Belt Movement which has planted an estimated 45 million trees around Kenya. Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, reminds us to honor Wangari’s life by remembering what one person can achieve.


On October 8, Denmark’s new “fat taxwent into effect. The nation imposed a tax on fatty foods, including butter, believed to be the first such action in the world, as an additional step to raising life expectancy of Danes. Denmark, as well as some other European countries, already has higher fees on sugar, chocolates, and soft drinks. 

Faster than the speed of light? A new discovery, if proven true, may upend our understanding of the universe and our concept of timeResearchers working underground in Italy in one of the world’s largest physics laboratories recorded neutrinos traveling at a fraction of a second faster than the speed of light, an event that is impossible in Einstein’s theory of special relativity.


While New Haven is still no shopping mecca, it is no longer a shopping desert.

New Haven’s Apple Store opened on September 24 to jubilant High-5s from all the new employees. The first 1000 visitors received a commemorative black t-shirt.

New employees of the Elm City Market have begun stocking the store's shelves........ A soft opening is promised for members (currently at 688) later this month as soon as all the permits are in order. The Market still has job openings and is in particular need of a meat cutter. Members, there is a $50 gift certificate in it for you if you recommend the person who is hired. 

Common Ground High School raised $2,551 at the Community Day at Whole Foods in Milford last month. All of those funds will be invested in their core programs. That figure represents 5% of the net sales at that one store on September 21. That’s a whole lot of shopping!

New Haven’s Wild, Wild West. A query about wildlife sitings in Westville and Beaver Hills  (for those who don’t know, just a couple of miles from downtown) yielded a remarkable number of results including: plenty of woodchucks, the occasional deer, 4 wild turkeys trotting down the sidewalk, turtles, an opossum who ate all the baby robins from a nest right outside a window, and a red-tail hawk who swooped down and caught a squirrel at a busy corner. The woodchuck I reported earlier in the summer on the east side of town has not been seen since shortly before Hurricane Irene (at least by me).

On September 24, people around the world by participated in Moving Planet. In New Haven there were a number of events, including the planting of 44 fruit trees in Edgewood Park,  awarded to Friends of Edgewood Park as a prize for winning a national Communities Take Root contest sponsored by Edy’s Fruit Bars and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation. A large part of the day’s theme was the celebration of alternative forms of transportation, and hundreds rode their bikes (and people-powered vehicles) through downtown streets, beginning and ending on the historic New Haven Green.

Even with the recent expansion of the City’s ambitious tree planting campaign and the new fruit trees in Edgewood Park, we are in the red this year. New Haven lost 1,250 trees during Hurricane Irene, and several were felled recently on Trumbull Street in preparation for the new storm sewer, one a very old London planetree. We watched with sadness as each limb was crudely sawed off… 

The new Connecticut chapter of Slow Food USA, Slow Food Shoreline, held its first event, a happy hour at Zinc, on Tuesday, October 11. You can follow them on Facebook  or Twitter. Now is a good time to join Slow Food USA. Through October 15, membership is give-what-you can, and the gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the generosity of a Slow Food USA board member. 


E-Cycling for New Haven Residents
City residents can bring old electronics (any item can be plugged in, with the exceptions of light bulbs, batteries, and equipment containing refrigerants) to the Transfer Station (260 Middletown Avenue) Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am - 12:00 noon. All electronics collected during the month of October count toward New Haven's total tonnage in a statewide competition that rewards the community recycling the most electronics per capita during the month of October. The first prize is a $3000 scholarship for New Haven schoolchildren.

Community Shredding
If you live in CT, you can go online to locate shredding events in your area. 

Helping Hands Community Thrift Store & Furniture Bank is in particular need of beds and offers free pick-up in New Haven. Click here for a list of what they do and do not accept as donations. 

October 29
National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
Last year nearly 4,000 state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the nation participated in drug take-back  events, collecting more than 309 tons of pills. You can enter your zip code here to find a collection site near you. 

October 29
Last Fall collection day at HazWaste Central (Collections will resume mid-May, 2012) Free to residents of Bethany, Branford, Cheshire, East Haven, Fairfield, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Milford, New Haven, North Branford, North Haven, Orange, Wallingford, West Haven and Woodbridge, CT. For details click this link.


October 15
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Common Ground - 358 Springside Avenue in New Haven
Common Ground - 358 Springside Avenue in New Haven
The Voodoo Fix, an LA-based genre-bending rock band with roots in blues, soul, and funk, is bringing their national Tour-Ganic to Common Ground. All proceeds from the concert will help CitySeed and Common Ground get good, local, affordable food to our neighbors who need it most. $10 suggested donation.

October 16
11 am - 2 pm
Cabot Creamery Cooperative Open Farm Sunday
If you live in NE or NY, check this link to locate a farm near you

October 19
5:30 pm -7:30 pm
New Haven Green Drinks
The Red Lentil, 25 Temple Street, New Haven
Theresa Labriola, Senior Associate, Northeast Fisheries Program will speak at 6:30 on the topic of the program’s campaign to implement new, more conservative, catch limits on menhaden, which have dropped to less than 10% of their original population.

October 24
First Annual Food Day 
Food Day seeks to bring together Americans from all walks of life to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way. We will work with people around the country to create thousands of events in homes, schools, churches, farmers markets, city halls, and state capitals.” Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) are the Honorary Co-Chairs for Food Day 2011 which is sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Click here to find an event near you.

October 28
Critical Mass Halloween Ride
Gather at the flagpole on the New Haven Green at 5:30
There will be costumes. Wear a helmet. Have a working light.

October 29
CT NOFA’s 2011 Annual Meeting
Noon - 4 pm, Common Ground High School
Special Guest Rep. Richard Roy will speak about his efforts to label GMO food in CT


I have had several visits from readers from Mississippi. I now have all 50 states, and every continent except Antarctica. Thanks.

Over 135 people have signed my petition requesting that Stop & Shop use American grown green beans in their Nature’s Promise line. I am trying to get to 500. Please click if you have not done so already.

TGIF. Have a great weekend. Come back soon.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Meatless Monday: Latest Market Find of the Week…

… is the Ground Cherry (genus Physalis).  

Inside these papery, pagoda-shaped packages are a tiny, sweet fruit resembling a small cherry tomato. Those of you who know the tomatillo may find it looks to be a mini version of that fruit, also a Physalis.

The ground cherry, known also as the husk tomato or cape gooseberry, is a member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae) which includes tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. It is not to be confused with the true gooseberry (Ribes), which grows naked on a  bush with prickly thorns. Ground cherries are high in Vitamins C and K, niacin, potassium, and fiber. Native to Central and S. America, the fruit can be propagated from seeds to maturity in 90 days and is a high yielder. The plants need no fertilizer and tolerate poor soil. 

In early autumn you may be lucky enough to find ground cherries at farmers’ markets. They are a bit pricey: you can expect to pay about $4/pint. The husked fruit can be eaten raw by itself or as a salad garnish, dipped in chocolate, cooked down into preserves, or baked in a pie. Popping the fruit from the husks will make your hands dirty, but the fruit inside is clean. [I would still wash before using in a recipe.] It takes a bit of work (as well as cash) to pop out the 2+ cups needed for a pie, but since we love a good pie at my house, that’s what I did. [Ground cherry pie is not a good candidate for the Slow Food $5 Meal Challenge unless you grew the cherries yourself.] 

I used an “Old Mennonite Recipe” for Ground Cherry Pie with Crumb Topping which you will find all over the internet in identical form. 

Requirements: One, unbaked pie shell; 2 and 1/2 cups of ground cherries, husked and washed.
Ingredients for the filling: 1/2 cup packed brown sugar; 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour; 2 tablespoons of water
Ingredients for the topping: 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour; 3 tablespoons of white sugar; 2 tablespoons of butter

Preheat oven to 425° F

Place washed ground cherries in bottom of pie shell. Mix brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of flour and sprinkle over cherries. Sprinkle water over top. Stir together white sugar and flour, and cut in butter until crumbly. Top cherry mixture with crumbs. 

Cover the edge of the crust with foil before putting in the oven.

Bake at 425° for 15 minutes.

Lower the heat to 375°, remove the foil and continue to bake for 20-25 minutes more. The pie will be done when the filling is bubbly.

This pie is delicious when served warm, either unadorned or topped with a bit of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. It does not require much, particularly if your crust is made with butter.

Happy Columbus Day and please come back soon for more food facts or my latest produce discovery. Thanks for reading.

I often blog on food or food issues on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal  health and the health of our planet.”

For those of you who are following my Green Bean Petition, I am making good progress towards the 200 mark, on my way to 500. Thanks to all who have signed so far. Let’s keep it going and growing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Farewell, Steve

When I posted a few weeks ago that long-lost video of Steve Jobs unveiling the first Mac to the world, I had no idea that we would be bidding him farewell so soon.

Apple is collecting reflections on the life of Steve Jobs (

Here is what I sent their way.

With your extraordinary power to think differently and to bring your visions to life, you gave each of us the tools to turn dreams into reality. You re-defined how we work and play, and you set young people who grew up with your products (and celebrating with you at countless Macworld Expos) on paths to careers their parents could never have imagined for them. Thanks, Steve, for making the world a better place. You will always be in our hearts.

Elaine, Mac user since 1985

Monday, October 3, 2011

Meatless Monday: Stuck at 90

It's been a week since I started my petition asking Stop & Shop supermarkets to stop using produce grown in China in their Nature's Promise line of frozen vegetables.

Enough people signed the petition in the first couple of days that I upped my target total to 500. As I write, I am stuck around 90. You can see the current total on the widget.

Signing the petition elicited an emailed response from Ahold, the parent corporation of  Stop & Shop. Here is an excerpt from the message: “… We appreciate knowing of your concerns regarding imported produce and the country of origin. Based on seasonality, we source locally and internationally in order to provide our customers with a large variety of the freshest produce. For specific information on how produce is sourced, we make an effort to include this information in our advertisements, as well as on the produce signs in our stores. Our signs and ads generally indicate if an item is ‘imported.’… Your produce manager is very knowledgeable and can always assist you with specific questions about specific products. We are dedicated to providing safe, fresh and wholesome fruits and vegetables. We have strong quality control processes and our produce inspectors and quality assurance teams are excellent. In addition, under FDA guidelines regarding the monitoring and safety of produce imports, imported produce must meet the same safety standards as that grown in the United States …”

My petition is not, however, about produce in the produce section. It is about ending the practice of outsourcing the farming of vegetables commonly grown in the US to foreign countries for processing and sale to the American consumer, and then denoting the country of origin in tiny print on the bag. 

Stop & Shop is my local supermarket. I have spent many thousands of dollars in the chain over the years. I was there on Saturday and decided to read some more frozen vegetable bags. I discovered that while organic peas do come from the US, conventional green beans come from Mexico, asparagus comes from China, and grilled zucchini comes from Italy! Why are peas American but not zucchini? This is a mystery.

An article by Bill Saporito in this week's Time Magazine gives me hope that change may come soon even without this petition. Jarden Corp. of Rye, NY is "insourcing” the production of some of its household goods, including mops, canning jars, and matches which it had been “outsourcing” to China. Rising wages and benefits for Chinese workers coupled with an increase in fuel and shipping costs is driving the return of some manufacturing jobs to America. Perhaps the same will soon be true with agricultural products — particularly if American consumers vote with their forks (and wallets).

As I said last week and in my petition, “It makes no sense to be purchasing green beans from a half a world away. For reasons of food safety and security, as well as to lower the carbon footprint for transportation costs, American farmers should be the ones growing the majority of produce Americans consume.” 

Let's help the cause along. I still need 410 votes to reach my goal. It's easy. Just click on the bag of green beans. Thanks.

I often blog on food or food issues on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal  health and the health of our planet.”