Not quite CSA

Julia Moskin at the New York Times – When Community-Supported Agriculture Is Not What It Seems:

“Do consumers even know that when they sign up for one of these fake C.S.A.s, sometimes it doesn’t benefit local farmers any more than if they shop at the supermarket?” Ms. Kaplan-Walbrecht asked.

Probably not. The organic farm boxes you buy online may or may not be local. Local farm boxes may or may not be organic. The farmers may or may not be paid more than wholesale prices. And customers may or may not care.

The whole point of the CSA is to directly support (and pay) your local farmer. You may want more goods in your produce box, but be vigilant and be aware of what you’re getting.

On deliciousness

David Chang at Wired – The Unified Theory of Deliciousness:

Joshua told me he wanted to make a version of a Bolognese, the Italian meat sauce. I told him that was fine, but he had to use only Korean ingredients. I often set these kinds of limitations, because I’m a big believer that creativity comes from working within constraints.

Anyway, that meant he would have to find a way of re-creating the sweetness, umami, and pungency of Bolognese without the onions, celery, carrot, tomato paste, or white wine. He ended up using scallions, red chiles, ground pork, and fermented bean paste. Instead of using milk to provide that silky mouthfeel, I encouraged him to add in some whipped tofu. And rather than pasta or gnocchi, he served it with rice cakes that looked like gnocchi. We called it Spicy Pork Sausage & Rice Cakes, and when most people taste it, it reminds them—even on a subconscious level—of a spicier version of Bolognese.

I often find that with our food constraints, much of what we cook tastes the same, and very familiar. This is good in one sense, since by now we know what our son likes and dislikes and can guess whether he’ll like the food or not. But it’s bad in another sense, where I feel that we’re limiting him and not presenting a wider range of flavours and textures the we want him to experience.

Chang’s attempts at recreating familiar foods with different ingredients shows that in some instances he can re-imagine familiar dishes using unfamiliar ingredients. We are trying to do that every time we make a new dish, having to replace ingredients with others that are safe. Unfortunately it’s only too easy to fall back on the tried and true recipes. Time is the overriding constraint.

Hospital food gets an update – only after the managers try it out

Elizabeth Payne at the Ottawa Citizen – Ottawa Hospital managers, after eating the food for a week, say changes are coming:

Getting food managers to eat three meals of hospital food a day for a week, he said, brought the point home that much of the food being served was bland, institutional and not what people would normally eat.

No kidding.

Report on free school meals left unpublished

Clare Salisbury for BBC News – Free school meals: Report on struggling small schools ‘not published’:

The Department for Education told the BBC: “We are not going to publish the Small Schools Taskforce report.

“It wasn’t published last year because of the Spending Review and by the time that was complete, the report was out of date and much of it was already in existence.”

If much of it was already in existence, then it’s easy enough to highlight the parts that they implemented, isn’t it? Unless they didn’t actually implement anything.

Also listen: Food Programme podcast School food: An uncertain future

GMO labeling will soon be coming to the US

Chris Prentice for Reuters – U.S. GMO food labeling bill passes Senate

The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would for the first time require food to carry labels listing genetically-modified ingredients, which labeling supporters say could create loopholes for some U.S. crops.

The Senate voted 63-30 for the bill that would display GMO contents with words, pictures or a bar code that can be scanned with smartphones. The U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) would decide which ingredients would be considered genetically modified.

The measure now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass.

Three ways to show whether the food in the package is GMO?
Alan Guebert for the Lincoln Journal Star – Farm and food: the land of non

First, explains the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the companies can place a “barcode or QR code”—a quick response code—on its food labels. Those codes, however, “require consumers (to) use a smartphone to find more information about a product.”

So no smart phone, no food info; that’s so dumb it’s clever.

Second, a company can use “a symbol on the package” to denote its contents are GMO. What symbol? The one “to be created by U.S. Department of Agriculture.” That shouldn’t take long, eh?

Or, third, the food company can place “an actual on-package statement that the product contains GMOs.” A simple, uncomplicated label? Brilliant!

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

And of course, Marion Nestle, on her blog Food Politics – The FDA weighs in on food labeling:

The Senate bill is decidedly corporate-friendly.  It is decidedly not consumer-friendly.

Clearly, I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Of course. Who would have thought they wouldn’t be?

Maybe carbohydrates aren’t that bad after all

Julia Belloz at Vox – We’ve long blamed carbs for making us fat. What if that’s wrong?

The main scientific model behind the low-carb approach is the “carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis,” which journalist Gary Taubes, Harvard professor David Ludwig, and others have extensively promoted. It suggests that a diet heavy in carbohydrates (especially refined grains and sugars) leads to weight gain because of a specific mechanism: Carbs drive up insulin in the body, causing the body to hold on to fat and suppress calorie burn.

But what’s often lost in all the boosterism around the low-carb approach is that it is still an unproven hypothesis in science.

So they did a study to show whether a low-carb diet can actually help to reduce weight. 17 overweight or obese men in a metabolic chamber for 4 weeks and fed either a high carbohydrate diet or ketogenic diet with the same number of calories. Results? No increased body fat loss with the ketogenic diet.

But as Bazinet points out, “The study … doesn’t see any [relationship between a decrease in insulin and an increase in fat loss]. Show me a better study that supports this.”

There isn’t any, he added.

Ah. Conclusions?

Tobias urged dieters not to lose sight of the bigger picture. “Low-carb versus low-fat should not be the focus for people selecting a weight loss diet.” The focus, she said, should be on improving the quality of food that people eat instead.

Recipe: Pressure cooker chicken and chickpea masala

This is not my recipe, and I had to make some changes due to our allergy food avoidances. It turned out fantastic nonetheless.

Serious Eats – Pressure cooker chicken and chickpea masala

– Substitutions:
– Vegetable oil for butter (no dairy)
– Swiss chard for the spinach (sensitivity to spinach)
– Thai Kitchen coconut milk for the heavy cream (no dairy)
– No cilantro (while I don’t have an aversion to cilantro, my partner hates the taste)

– we use McCormick’s spices – as noted elsewhere in the allergy food world, they are well known to have good food-handling procedures in their plants, and allergen-free spices. (If only we could get their spices in bulk or in larger amounts, so that they would be cheaper and so we don’t have so many glass spice containers laying around…)

Aaaannd I bought a pressure cooker…

The madness begins.

I’ve been wanting to get a pressure cooker for at least, oh, 5 years or so but have never built up the courage to plonk down the cash for one. Also, I had to convince my partner to be on board with getting another cooking implement. As if we don’t have enough pots and pans already.

The thing the changed her mind? Canning – or more specifically – pressure canning. In our efforts at preserving more and more of our summer harvest and CSA share foods that we cannot possibly eat when the abundance comes in, canning of the low-sugar and low-acid foods was looking to be a better and better solution.

So, on a whim, I dropped by the local shop to see what they had. There was a sale. And the size and heft and build quality of the unit they had in stock left me very impressed. So there goes $300… I bought the Fissler Vitaquick 8L.  I compared it to the Fagor Innova 8 quart, which they also had in stock, but I didn’t like the fact that it had the rotary knob/switch (another thing to go wrong, imo) and the feel/sound of the switch wasn’t very good. The lid also went on with a nasty scratching sound. Those issues could have just been due to the floor model being kicked around though.

Anyways, so far I’ve cooked chickpeas and a curry with the pressure cooker. So far so good. Next comes pork shoulder.