Not really local

Great reporting on restaurants that tout “locally-sourced” food by Laura Riley at the Tampa Bay Times – At Tampa Bay farm-to-table restaurants, you’re being fed fiction:

This is a story we are all being fed. A story about overalls, rich soil and John Deere tractors scattering broods of busy chickens. A story about healthy animals living happy lives, heirloom tomatoes hanging heavy and earnest artisans rolling wheels of cheese into aging caves nearby.

More often than not, those things are fairy tales. A long list of Tampa Bay restaurants are willing to capitalize on our hunger for the story.

While I understand the difficulty of sourcing, (especially in a city that’s cold and snowy for much of the year, much unlike Tampa Bay, Florida), it’s false advertising.

Be sure to read part two on farmers’ markets:

Does she say all produce in their booth is their own?

“In passing conversation, we say yes. If people stop and ask if it’s ours, we say yes, it’s ours, because most people don’t have knowledge about what is grown in Florida.”

Disgraceful.

Bacon recipe

Really, I don’t have a bacon recipe to post. There are billions to be found on the internet. (Here’s one.) This is just to say that home-made bacon is better than most anything you can buy. I make my own, partly because it’s so good, partly because it avoids us having to deal with potential food contamination (like so many other things).

1 slab pork belly
Curing salt*
2-3 Tbsp Sugar (optional)
Herbs (optional)

Notes:
* I use Readycure from Canada Compound Corporation, where the ratio is between 20 g per 1 kg of meat, to 12 g per 1 kg meat. Use the lower ratio if you want a less salty end product.

 

Glyphosate – carcinogenic or not?

Kate Kelland at the Globe and Mail – To spray or not to spray: Is your weed killer carcinogenic?:

In March 2015, an IARC monograph concluded that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic.” Yet seven months later the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), an independent agency funded by the EU, published a different assessment, saying glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.”

It sucks when politics and ideals gets in the way of science. I don’t know who is right, but we need to get this sorted out. There’s also two issues I see with the use of this product – the risk to human health, and the risk to the environment. For example, bee colony collapse disorder (CCD) has been linked to glyphosates, but I’m not sure if the findings are definitive.

Cow milk allergy and calcium in children

Kathryn Doyle at the Globe and Mail – Kids allergic to cow’s milk may have low bone density: study:

Kids with cow’s milk allergy had lower bone mineral density than others, and 6 per cent had low bone mass, while none of the kids in the comparison group had low bone mass, according to the results in Pediatrics.

“The important message is that these children should be followed preventively to be sure that they take sufficient calcium and vitamin D to have strong bones and avoid bone problems,” Des Roches said. “Otherwise, these kids are in very good health.”

Less than half of kids with cow’s milk allergy were taking calcium and vitamin D supplements.

As a parent of a child with many allergies, it’s been difficult to find a good replacement for the milk/dairy that is recommended in all food guides. We eat plenty of vegetables, but perhaps we also need to find a supplement.

The EWG’s dirty dozen

I’m not sure what to make of the dirty dozen list of fruits and vegetables tested to have the highest level of pesticides, as reported by the Environmental Working Group. Certainly there needs to be constant monitoring of the industry and the products to ensure their safety. But I’m a bit skeptical of their presentation.

From the EWG FAQ:

Shouldn’t I try to buy everything organic?

EWG recommends buying organic whenever possible. Not only is it smart to reduce your exposure to pesticides, but buying organic sends a message that you support environmentally-friendly farming practices that minimize soil erosion, safeguard workers and protect water quality and wildlife.

However, we know that organics are not accessible or affordable for everyone, so we created the EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ to help consumers make the healthiest choices given their circumstances.

EWG always recommends eating fruits and vegetables, even conventionally grown, over processed foods and other less healthy alternatives.

Don’t organic food producers use pesticides as well? Do they use less pesticides than conventional food producers?

More:

Do we know enough about the effects of pesticide on people?

No. Americans are likely polluted with far more pesticides than current studies report. Agribusiness and pesticide companies are not required to determine whether their chemicals are present in people, not even for compounds that widely contaminate the food supply. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national biomonitoring program has likely only scratched the surface in its efforts to determine the human body burden of pesticides.

“likely”. Yes, it’s worth being skeptical about the use of pesticides. But the EWG report does not give any information about the tested levels found in produce, nor how it compares to the limits for human consumption.

The US EPA provides some information on the human health risk assessment they perform on pesticides.

 

Fat vs sugar

Ian Leslie at the guardian – The sugar conspiracy:

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, in a 2008 analysis of all studies of the low-fat diet, found “no probable or convincing evidence” that a high level of dietary fat causes heart disease or cancer. Another landmark review, published in 2010, in the American Society for Nutrition, and authored by, among others, Ronald Krauss, a highly respected researcher and physician at the University of California, stated “there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD [coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease]”.

Many nutritionists refused to accept these conclusions. The journal that published Krauss’s review, wary of outrage among its readers, prefaced it with a rebuttal by a former right-hand man of Ancel Keys, which implied that since Krauss’s findings contradicted every national and international dietary recommendation, they must be flawed. The circular logic is symptomatic of a field with an unusually high propensity for ignoring evidence that does not fit its conventional wisdom.

Japanese curry spice mix recipe

I was surprised to find out that Japanese curries were made using generally the same spices as Indian curries, considering that the flavours end up being so different. Anyways, here’s my take on an allergen-free Japanese curry mix, from base spices. (Allergen free since the boxed curries usually have dairy and wheat ingredients and possibly other allergens.)

Ratios
3 parts Turmeric
2 parts Coriander
1 part Cumin
1/2 part Cardamom
1/2 part Cinnamon
1/4 part Black Pepper
1/4 part Chili Powder

 

Junk food for plants

Anne Biklé and David R. Montgomery at Nautilus – When Good Plants Eat Junk:

It’s undeniable that crops raised on fertilizers have produced historical yields. After all, the key ingredients of most fertilizers—nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K)—make plants grow faster and bigger. And popular insecticides and herbicides knock back plant enemies. From 1960 to 2000, a time when the world’s population doubled, global grain production rose even more quickly. It tripled.1

But there is a trade-off. High-yielding crops raised on a steady diet of fertilizers appear to have lower levels of certain minerals and nutrients. The diet our crops eat influences what gets into our food, and what we get—or don’t get—out of these foods when we eat them.

More on GMO labeling

Marion Nestle for the Guardian – No amount of ‘free from’ labeling will make processed food good for you:

Let me add something about companies labeling their products GMO-free. In my view, the food biotechnology industry created this market – and greatly promoted the market for organics, which do not allow GMOs – by refusing to label which of its products contain GMOs and getting the FDA to go along with that decision. Whether or not GMOs are harmful, transparency in food marketing is hugely important to increasing segments of the public. People don’t trust the food industry to act in the public interest; transparency increases trust.