Thursday, December 24

Sorry, Vegans: Brussels Sprouts Like to Live, Too

An article from the NY Times online, starting off as a musing about ethical eating but getting into some interesting facts about plant defenses. Brings back the food web mapping we did on the tree video.

Article: here.


Wednesday, December 23

Pets worse than SUVs for the environment...?

Border Collie looking "sheepish" about riding shotgun in a gas-guzzling pickup.

In a new book, two scientist claim "yes" - and it comes down to the particulars of the ecology of food and trophic levels. ABC News reports that the new book "Time to Eat the Dog? the Real Guide to Sustainable Living" is causing a stir, but environmentalists like Lester Brown explain:

"Dogs and cats are carnivores so they consume meat, which means they live rather high on the food chains." "Much higher than the typical person in the sense that most of us -- even those who are omnivorous -- eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and cereals and other things."

Of course, being critical of "man's best friend" can cause its own controversy:

"I think the first instinct should be to look at our own diet and not push off the global warming causes to domesticated animals," Pacelle told "If this is their primary thesis, it's an example of over magnified concern and we need to look to our own behaviors, not just energy consumption and transportation, but also our diet."

But isn't our diet their diet? We are co-domesticates, after all.

Of course certain nasty and daft habits increase that carbon footprint even more...!


Tuesday, December 15

"Oh Lardy!" - NY health ad show us soda

The Department of Health in New York has gone all the way in helping us understand how our daily diet practices contribute to our overall and long-term health. It is one of those things you simply have to watch - a picture is worth a thousand words, after all:

Here is a little NY Times blurb on it


Monday, December 14

"We have better things to export!"

On a recent trip to Switzerland I cam across this flyer advocating citizens to vote "yes" on a referendum that calls for a ban on Swiss arms exports, which is a significant part of this politically neutral country's economy.

Shaped like a tank, this block of "Swiss cheese" points to the fact that the Swiss have other things they can notably export for income( Although to be fair, they could just sell the cheese to rounds and I'm sure it'd still be popular? ) :)


Saturday, December 12

"Gal Farmers"

The kawaii girls are going to make farming cool again!

"Shiho Fujita, a 24-year-old model, has led a group of kawaii (cute) 'gal farmers' to do their bit to revitalise rural Japan, where many farms have closed as their owners have aged and their children have run off to the cities.

Her biggest problem so far: she didn't like the clothes. "

I guess there's hope after all!
My roommate says that she can do a better job with the clothes. :)

-- georgi p

Thursday, December 10

Hello Food Class!
I couldn't remember if we watched this video or not or I just watched it before
Thought I would post it just in case. This is a very different take on the the Milk issue. Our readings we read mostly said milk was good for us but this guy thinks other wise...Just another opinion. I love milk even if it isn't good for me I don't think I could stop drinking it. This is an interesting video tho.


40 year old pound cake!

Food engineering knows no bounds!


Wednesday, December 9

New food labeling

A consumer advocacy group is proposing new rules to American food labels (see link):


Tuesday, December 8

Friday, December 4

imperial monsanto

what i've come to realize is that any major multi billion dollar company is a sign that SOMETHING is wrong. sure, it's what capitalism strives for, what every company dreams of, creating an empire and reaching a level of power. however, that should not be the main driver for a company, especially a company that engineers the world's food. understood that it did start out as making pesticides and moved on to engineering crops, i think monsanto's corporate identity is more imperial than anything else. it seeks to make monetary profits from their clients as a priority rather than providing the best of service to ensure satisfaction with their clients. and taking something so powerful in an culture such as agriculture and turning it into a major source to gain profit is perverse. however, monsanto's research has certainly opened new doors to many possibilities in genetic modification. however this technology should focus more on environmental impacts and how it affects the overall picture. for instance the creation of super weeds and pesticides. how can these gm products affect the species around it? i feel these questions need to be answered thoroughly before we go on to mass produce them.

So about the GM crops....I have a very hard time with all this. I am generally against the GM crops. Mostly because Monsanto is so shady about their way of doing business. If they laid everything out on the table and were honest with the farmers then I think I could accept these GM crops more. I am also scared of the whole idea that Monsanto is controlling so much already, what does that mean for the future? I don't like when we become so dependent on one company. I feel that distribution IS something the world needs to work on more rather than making all these hormones and GM crops. The Jamaica documentary made me so depressed seeing all those farmers with so much to give and they cant export. Seeing how much better their cows seem to be treated and all the milk going to waste. Their are so many hungry people in the world that they wouldn't care if the veggies didn't meet the size requirement. Just sickening. I think GM crops are more trouble than they are worth. Having to have more irragation and pesticide and causing bug resistance. I don't think we really realize what we are getting into. The scientists and companies know that they can do these GM things and see the good reasons why and see money but I think maybe they get a bit blind from they other side of things the negatives. I am worried about what will happen in the long run if GM crops keep being used. I wonder and worry if we will have mutations and ailments from consuming GM crops for generations. I worry about the dependency on large corporations like Monsanto. 
I think there needs to be more research done on GM crops if they are going to continue but I would like to see better distribution and economic reform in developing countries that could be an active and vital player in the global economy.


Thursday, December 3

That Birdhouse Isn't So Innocent

Scientists believe that bird-feeders put out in home gardens alter the "evolutionary path" of birds. The article talks about "reproductive isolation" - in reference to the birds mating with birds in the same area. The scientists think this is a positive change, it seems.

BBC News: Changing Evolution

- George

Monsanto debate response

In the debate on Friday, many good points were raised, but even the judges couldn't decide because if it was an easy issue there wouldn't be such tension. My biggest worry in the Monsanto debate is the future; this might mean that all of our future food is owned by one company. As an artist, it is hard to say they should not be rewarded by for their progress, but that is way too much control for one company. The most reasonable response would be for the government to buy the patent and then distribute it to privatized companies. If Monsanto was to keep the patent it would be too much domination for a privatized company. I recently saw a commercial in which Monsanto tried to portray themselves as a farmers organization and very pure. Monsanto can mean great things for the future, but first their needs to be much more honesty and work on food regulation. The population is expanding, but there are third world countries that need job production and have accurate climates to do so. If the government would regulate things better than there would be enough food and people would be sustained with jobs and food. I think there needs to be honesty to the people growing the food and on the labels. If Monsanto is so proud of their work creating genetically modified items than what would be the harm in sharing that with the world. Most people have no idea that they are eating genetically modified food, and with food allergies that could be seriously dangerous. If people knew that what most of they consume was modified and that is made food more sustainable and cheaper than they might change their impression of it. I think there is a meeting point for these issues, if people stopped being so greedy alot of these issues could be resolved. I think after watching Life and Debt, my impression changed greatly. On one side you are hearing that these hormones are needed to produce enough milk and on the other you're seeing these Jamaican dairy farmers dump gallons of milk. There needs to be a great deal of reform, and it definetly needs to start with the USA, because of their economic position.

Ghastly! Poisoning the river to rid Asian Carp

I peeked over at my neighbor's RedEye in the El today. A man-made Chicago waterway was poisoned to get rid of the invasive Asian carp species (remember them?).

"The fish has entered the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal — a man-made link between the Mississippi River system and the Great Lakes — and is knocking on the door of Lake Michigan. Once inside a Great Lake, the carp would have free rein in the world's largest freshwater ecosystem, imperiling the native fish of the lakes and a $7 billion fishing and recreation industry."

But so far, all the dead fish (90 tonnes expected) that have floated to the surface of the water have been native carp and shad. The toxin used is a naturally-occurring toxin that prevents fish gills from absorbing oxygen. The dead fish will be collected and dumped in a landfill. I imagine that it must be a horrible sight.

While it seems like a necessary step to remove the Asian carp from the system, I wonder if the disappearance of the other native fish in this canal will have any effects on the ecological system.

More here

-georgi p

Sunday, November 22

Galco's Soda Pop Store

This is a video of John Nese the owner of Galco's Soda Pop Store in LA. This store offers over 500 different sodas and the owner really knows his stuff. I was just thinking about it in relation to the articles we read earlier in the semester about high fructose corn syrup.

-Olivia S.

Fast Food Meals Get a Gourmet Makeover!

This food blog provides recipes to turn fast food meals into gourmet dishes. Check it out, it's pretty amazing.

-Olivia S.

Friday, November 20

The GMO Debate - Your point of view?

Ok, so that was a good debate in class! But clearly we didn't have the proper amount of time to discuss it all as we should together, which is a shame the GM food issue is so critical.

So: I want us to continue the conversation over the next two weeks on our blog! How would you address the resolution yourself personally?

I am asking everyone to post their personal reflection on the issue here. In the comment line of this post.

You can come down one side or another, but you can also be undecided or less black and white. Wither way, please say what you are thinking and WHY. What arguments and rationales in the debate do you find most or less compelling? If you are Pro or Anti, what concerns on the other side might be legitimate (but in the end may be of low priority to you or perhaps fixable?)

Or, perhaps the resolution itself is poorly formulated and leads us to oversimplifying conclusions? What is a better way to think about the issue? What questions still remain that need to be answered?

Write to out here thoughtfully and drawing from all the various forms of arguments and evidence we've come across (I'd say a minimum of 150 words). Please sign your name too so we know who's thoughts we are reading!

As a consumer, voter, and cultural producer it is important to have a point of view on GM as it is likely to only between a larger issues in the years to come in our daily lives and globally....

The risks of GM foods outweigh the purported benefits and should not be allowed to be sold and planted.

Meanwhile, feel free to continue posting to blog items of relevant and interest!


Thursday, November 19

the ecology of frogs as food

In the past few years there has been a mysterious and devastating decline in global amphibian populations. Among the major factors, scientists have identified infective fungus ("chytrid') as one. But how has this devastated different populations worldwide at the same time? Some belive it is linked to the food trade in...frog legs.

I $40 million dollar industry, the global movement of their meat might be spreading the pathogenic fungus. If true, it is a fascinating case of how food ecology and animal ecology are interacting in complex ways. Go here for an article.


That's not your canola!

Related to the question of patenting of seed, enforcement and Monsanto, consider the story of Percy Schmeiser: Sometimes justice prevails?


Bacon sketch begins around 2:00


Wednesday, November 18

Critical Dialogue

So, don't hate me but it was just to good, and here might be the other side of the argument for meat.


The World According to Monsanto

If anyone is looking for more information about Monsanto there is a French documentary called The World According to Monsanto that might be useful.  It can be found in bits and pieces on YouTube and around the internet.  I'm pretty sure Monsanto had it removed from Google Video. Here is the article.

Other documentaries:

Food, INC.  - trailer
A Silent Forest - a must see documentary about GE trees, featuring Dr. David Suzuki

Monday, November 16

Another Scary Monsanto Video!

Ok this was a suggested video when I was watching the Indian Suicide Farmers videos.
This is really scary! Watch it! This is another anti-Monsanto video with good reason.
The more learn about Monsanto the more I don't want to eat anything.

Watch this:  Monsanto/Fox/Milk 


Tuna fishy...

Tsukuji fish market, Tokyo

With Atlantic tuna population estimated to be at only 15% of its pre-industrial levels and worries are that our favorite fish is reaching the end of its (fishing) line according to a recent report.

The organization that is responsible for protecting this valuable fish stock, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, has apparently wimped out on the best strategy for preserving them: rather than put a temporary ban on the catching of this lovely and tasty fish, ICCAT decided to go the route of lowering catch quotas by 1/3, a measure many say is not only largely unenforcible, but will likely increase illegal fishing of prized catch.

This report dovetails with the class reading on the USDA ruling on Monsanto's new GM soybeans that make omega-3 fatty acids, and which they claim may take pressure off of already overfished species like tuna. But is it the insatiable nutritive lust for omega-3's driving the appetite for big game fish? Seems somewhat of a fishy bit of reasoning considering our growing global love for sushi, and in Japan in particular. Not only has ICCAT been criticized for a while now as supporting unsustainable fishing practices that may drive tuna to extinction.

Indeed, if you go to the world's largest fish market Tsukiji, in Tokyo, the haul is evident. They move over 4 million pounds of seafood a day, and the tuna auction is the biggest there is.

Here is a video I took this last summer of some tuna staying cool in the July heat under smal blocks of dry ice, post-auction, at a smaller retailer at the emarket:


Friday, November 13

big chinese pumpkin

this is actually an old story, came out 2 summer's ago,
but china has sent seeds into space, brought them back to earth
and planted them to find a significant change in size:
Another thing to think about is growing the food in space or in orbit,
nasa is involved in preliminary efforts to this: outer space growing

the informant

this movie related somewhat to the food industry and biochemical engineering / GM foods, and the corruption in agricultural industries.

"Mark Whitacre has worked for lysine developing company ADM for many years and has even found his way into upper management. But nothing has prepared him for the job he is about to undertake - being a spy for the FBI. Unwillingly pressured into working as an informant against the illegal price-fixing activities of his company, Whitacre gradually adopts the idea that he's a true secret agent. But as his incessant lies keep piling up, his world begins crashing down around him." Written by The Massie Twins


Thursday, November 12

The Results of Posting Food Labels

The effects of posting calories at food-chain restaurants has been reported. Seems that the poorer the neighborhood, the less effect it had on people's decisions.

New York Times

- George

Wednesday, November 11


Thought this was interesting and sort of fit in to our Gen. Mod. Food readings. This is good news if you really like soft shell crabs!


Crustacean and Economics

Which Crops Have The Smallest Footprints?

An article on Slate answered someone's query as to which fruits and vegetables are the least damaging for the environment. The writer talks about pesticides and organic vs. conventional produce.


- George

Sunday, November 8

Fat! so?

“We're kind of a popular punching bag,” said Marilyn Wann, author of “Fat! So?”

As of yesterday, a truly sweeping and historic bill overhauling the US health system narrowly passed the House of representatives (now on to the Senate).

Among all the controversy and concern over health right now and our own class discussions and readings on nutrition, obesity, and health, one important thing to consider is the generalized association of "fat" with "unhealthy."

For example, in an article this week Peggy Howell, the public relations director for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, says: “We believe that fat people can eat healthy food and add movement to their lives and be healthy. And healthy should be the goal, not thin.”

As the Times article continues:

"That idea is gaining strength and popularity among a segment of the overweight population that feels as though traditional dieting to lose weight does more harm than good, ultimately benefiting the $30 billion weight loss industry, not the public"

Knowing that not only body weight itself, but susceptibility to weight related diseases is a complex interaction between environment and genetics, it is interesting to consider the categories of health that we use and their powerful, but perhaps also prejudicial and oversimplifying, extent.


Saturday, November 7

algae and fuel

In class the other day we got into a discussion about algae, and so I found some information on it.




king of corn

The other day I watched this documentary, it covers some of the materials we talked about but under the guise of corn.
King of Corn


Friday, November 6

another way to look at the world

similar to the previous post i added on world atlas's / maps, this particular website also manipulates the size of the countries based on world statistics. however, this site is a lot more interactive and in depth. it provides more information, links to other resources, and you can leave comments and feedback. you can also look individually at the united states and japan for some reason, but not other ones. i assume the ngo got information from these countries easier.


Thursday, November 5

Doughnut mornings in Chicago Public Schools....

Kendall Bess, right, reaches for a toaster pastry as Ameenah Saleh, left, maneuvers the breakfast line with her donut at Faraday Elementary School on the West Side. The girls. both 6, passed up the apples. (Chris Walker, Chicago Tribune / October 27, 2009)

An article in the Chicago Tribune this past week examines the food options given to Chicago Public School students, and nutritionists are a little concerned. Offering free breakfast to the students is a new policy to be lauded on many levels, but does the nutrition add up?
CPS says, hey, we are follwing USDA guidelines!

Chicago schools' food service director Louise Esaian defended the breakfasts, saying: "All of the menus served in Chicago Public Schools meet the requirements established by the (U.S. Department of Agriculture). In the majority of our schools, students are offered a choice at breakfast." She, however, did not mention that those choices include sugary pastries.

And here the ecology of information, consumer choice, and semantics rolls right in:

In fact, Chicago parents could be forgiven for not knowing doughnuts are ever served in school. That's because the word doughnut never appears on any city school breakfast menu the Tribune examined. Instead, the menus say MVP Breakfast, the product's brand name. City school officials did not respond to questions about why they use such an unrecognizable term on the menu.

But Kimberly Schwabenbauer, dietitian and marketing manager for the manufacturer, Pittsburgh-based Super Bakery, made it clear that she doesn't like to use the d-word when referring to her company's product: a round, sweet, cakey pastry with a hole in the middle. When she absolutely had to say "doughnut," she prefaced it with "quote unquote."

What does this say about education, much less nutritional education? The doublespeak is worrisome if we are trying to teach kids to be smart and critical thinkers, as well as healthy.


Wednesday, November 4


JPG mag is back from the brink of death! (For those who haven't heard of JPG, it is a magazine-online and print- that was built by photographers for photographers, amateur and pro from the ground up. Anyone can submit photos and possibly become part of the mag). Every month they post the chosen themes for the next issue and you, the audience, get to submit your work and the best photos make it into the magazine!

This month they have posted Sustainability as one of the themes.
From the site:
For this photo challenge we want to see what strides people are making toward becoming sustainable. Whether it's a big change in your community or a small tweak to your daily routine, photograph something that has the goal of sustainability.

This challenge will close on Thursday, November 12th.

How rad is this? I think its brilliant. Go check out the site and see what other people have submitted as their ideas of Sustainability.
**Check out this image of a Wave Power Generator. (Andy can you explain how this thing works?)


"Smart Choices" perhaps a Dumb Choice

In our ongoing conversation about food labeling the the ecology of information, consider the "Smart Choices program" of select nutritional labels that food manufacturers have designed and prominently posted on the front of many foods.

Selling the sense of nutrition? Food companies say they are trying to do their part in helping consumers eat according to USDA nutritional guidelines; critics say they are trying to play with the visual language and authority of quantitative data to make things like Fruit Loops seem healthy for you. As one NYU nutritionist put it:

"The point of this program is to make processed foods look healthy when what you want is people to eat foods that have been as minimally processed as possible"

The companion video segment sums it all up quite well.

As it turns out, six weeks after first being reported on widely, federal regulators have stepped in and shut the program down saying that such systems could mislead consumers, which indeed seems like the whole point of the scheme...


Tuesday, November 3

Depression Linked to Processed Foods

A recent study in Britain showed a correlation between depression symptoms and processed food consumption.

Links here and here.


Saturday, October 31

Happy Halloween!

check out this creepy food animation. i found it a while back but was saving it for today.


ben k

Friday, October 30

It all has meat!


New Leaf Natural Grocery

Here is the link to NewLeaf grocery that I mentioned in class. They have produce boxes (which can be customized to include just fruits, just veggies or for raw foodies!) and they start at $15 a box. They also have a newsletter to let people whats in season, info from growers, etc.

Newleaf Natural Grocery is dedicated to providing an affordable alternative to overpriced organic produce by offering weekly organic produce boxes at the lowest cost available.

In each produce box, you can expect a wide variety of the freshest produce. From new lady peaches, to sunburst squash, to savory spinach, our boxes are bursting with flavor and affordability. They start at just $15 pickup and home delivery!

We are strong advocates of local family owned farms, and strive to fill our produce boxes and our shelves with as many local goods as possible - a practice which strengthens the sustainability of our community.

Because we're independently owned and operated, we're free to promote and support the organic movement by keeping our community and customers informed and involved through petitions, newsletters, and lively conversation. And we enjoy the same! Our customers keep us updated daily on new issues and events.

The contents of our boxes change weekly, but to give you an idea of the quantity, listed below is a sample $25.50 box.

5 Kiwi
4 Bananas
4 Minneola Tangelos
3 Small Mangoes
4 Medium Fuji Apples
1 Romaine Lettuce
2.5 lbs Gold Beets
1 Cucumber
4 Medium Red Onions
1 Bunch Swiss Chard
1 lb Carrots
2.5 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes

New Leaf Grocery
cheers, christina

Thursday, October 29

Obesity Is Infectious?

I always wondered what our friends food habits did to our own habits, and it turns out, it matters.
The greatest peer pressure threat may be how and what we're eating.
Try telling your friends that you don't want to drive to Wendy's at midnight. It's a battle.

WIRED: Infectious Obesity

Purpose Prize

Purpose Prize

Watch this video! My amazing high school history teacher Mr. Will is doing great things, he's helping Appalachian farmers learn about sustainability, etc. Check out the video!

Vegetables protect babies-to-be from Diabetes? claim this recent study. Not clear what the biochemical mechanism for this could be, but intriguing!

Recall, Type 1 Diabetes is the kind in which the body no longer produces insulin (in contrast to Type II we've discussed in regards to nutrition and developing insulin insensitivity).


Wednesday, October 28

Have Ya'll Met Grok?

What's A Grok?

This guy Mark Sisson blogs all about the paleolithic diet (and why he thinks it's still important).
He's a knowledgeable dude, though I don't know anything about his credentials.
He's in crazy shape for his age though, so I've wasted a few good hours reading the blog.

Oyster wars

Is there are middle way between the often conflicting concerns of food systems, safety, and satisfaction?

In the Gulf of Mexico a fight is brewing over their $500 million oyster industry. New guidelines for treating oysters to remove a potentially deadly bacteria are raising the hackles on many small oyster fishers, who claim the new measures are unnecessary, but also so costly that it may run them out of business.

Some 15 people die of bad oysters a year, but some see the whole thing as needless governmental intervention on food production and consumption:

Some oyster sellers say the FDA rule smacks of government meddling. The sales ban would take effect in 2011 for oysters harvested in the Gulf during warm months.

"We have one man who's 97 years old, and he comes in here every week and gets his oyster fix, no matter what month it is," said Mark DeFelice, head chef at Pascal's Manale Restaurant in New Orleans. "There comes a time when we need to be responsible. Government doesn't need to be involved in this."


Tuesday, October 27

of mice and men? getting hooked on J.F.

When fed a diet of high-fat, high-calorie food, the "pleasure centers" in the brains of mice apparently become less sensitive, feeding into (pun intended) a feedback lop of over-eating. So says research just released on the topic.

"Not only did we find that the animals' brain reward circuits became less responsive as they continued to overeat and become obese," said senior author Paul J. Kenny, PhD, of the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Fla., "but that decrease in responsiveness was similar to what our laboratory has seen previously in rats as they become addicted to cocaine or heroin. The data suggest that obesity and addiction may result from common neuroadaptations," he said.

The implication that food can act as a kind of drug (biochemically as well as metaphorically) is clear...

Seems like a lot more work would need to be done, but an interesting finding. I am wondering why in the experiment they seem to make the healthy food option "unpalatable"? Perhaps I am reading this wrong, but sems like that is the fundamental assumption that healthy good dones't taste good needs to be challanged more even in this reasearch(?)


Microprocessors, Macropatties


Operating systems and Burger King Cheeseburgers?

If you don't see the obvious connection, perhaps you need to fly over to Japan and eat this 7-patty burger in honor of the release of Windows 7.

The advertisement mentions that the 13cm "American Size Buns" the patties are perched on (!)


For a little more, go here.

(funnily enough the blurb mentions their editor "Andy Yang"- I assure you, no direct relation)


Compare/Contrast Sandwiches of America

Ryan's sandwich post just reminded me of something.

As well as the nutritional facts for Subway, Quizno's, Jimmy John's and Potbelly.  It looks like you create your own meal to determine the amount of calories, fat, sodium and so on, yourself for JJ's  and P-Belly.  I don't know if I really need to post ALL the links for burger places, but I took the liberty of getting McDonald's nutritional information as well.  Sometimes it is amazing what you can learn when you play a little compare and contrast.

I obtained all this information easily, just by visiting each website and clicking on a few links.  This shows me that all the necessary information is out there, and in order to be well informed consumers, all we have to do is look for it.  Simple.


Monday, October 26

Slim Sandwiches

Dear fellow gluttons,

I want to make a Dagwood. Yes, a sandwich piled so high you can't see the top slice of bread. Roast beef, pastrami, and freshly cooked honey ham. Bacon, eggs, and hash-browns. Two types of peanut butter four types of jam. Three types of lettuce, and twelve types of cheese. I want tomatoes, pickles, onions, carrots, olives, and peppers. Green peppers, yellow peppers, red peppers, and orange, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, chili peppers, and more. That's right if its a sandwich ingredient, please slap it on. I want a steak section, vegetarian section, vegan section, and glutton free section. My sandwich will be a sandwich to top all others, and I want it to be named after its height and weight. Four feet six inches twenty two pounds. Using three freshly baked loaves of bread, end pieces and all. And most of all I want to eaten without worry. No more weight gain, or money loss fears. No my sandwich will supersede that.

But... until I can make my Dagwood the way I want, success is yet to come.

As of late my sandwiches average out at 1.5 inches and 2.2 ounces. They are usually mistaken for two slices of bread smashed together. A slim sandwich.

Nobody likes a slim sandwich, but its the price you pay for being poor. Or rather, the price you don't pay for being poor. Scrounging around to set something, anything on that stale bread sucks. I'm lucky if I find chicken or turkey, but usually its just peanut butter and jelly. The worst part is the rationing. Trying to figure out how many toppings I have until my next pay check, makes me terribly depressed. Remember, I lust after that four foot six inch twenty two pounder. In reality, I end up with one slice of turkey some mustard and maybe a tomato if its not molded yet. Assembled, its barely a sandwich.

So what do I do. I dream.
Yes I too have a dream. I have a dream, that one day, this nation will rise up, and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths self evident that all sandwich toppings should be created with grade A quality and affordable price. I have a dream that the presence of the sadwich, the slimwich, the cheaply made wich will be eradicated. As ludicrous as this may sound , Im standing up for sandwich rights. I want to bring forth a day of the manwich, the megawich, the überwich, the dagwood. I envision the world having a quality sandwich pandemic. Too many sandwiches.

But how is this done? With global food prices and shortages only rising, will we ever see a day of the überwich? There are skeptics that say no. There are people that say we must limit our intake. But I disagree. Once again lets just beat science. Lets put our brains together not to deflect the inevitable but rather bypass it. Science has saved us in the past, and in the name of sandwiches Im calling on science to save us again. Yes I'm almost positive, if we can design a Dagwood that is ecologically, and environmentally friendly, with an exemplary price, healthful outlook, and wonderful taste, I can promise you we will be well on our way to solving the worlds problems. Stop sending your money to save the rain forrest and the ice caps and please start sending it to save the sandwiches. Together we can make one hell of a good sandwich.

Signed yours truly,
The most gluttonous glutton.

P.S. For some good sandwich resources please refer to a blog i wrote previously on the definition of a sandwich. And here is a great resource for scouting out sandwiches in New York.
And please let me know if you have suggestions on how to create an überwich.

Ryan I

Saturday, October 24

Noodles, street style

A Chinese noodle maker. Sometimes even the best homemade food come from odd kitchens.....

Sourced from National Geographic


Meatless Mondays continued....

Here is a follow-up to Gianina's post on Meatless Mondays. A CNN segment of the idea of meat-free days for kids in Baltimore Public Schools:

Embedded video from CNN Video

Coca-Cola on the Nutriotnal (or at least marketing) Prowl....

On the issue of nutrition, who might be a better resource than the American Academy of Family Physicians? Some are beginning to doubt....

The organization just accepted grant money from Coca-Cola to develop educational web content. As ABC News reports:

Dr. Lori Heim, president-elect of the AAFP, said in a statement that the organization was looking forward to working with the soda maker "and other companies in the future on the development of educational materials to teach consumers how to make the right choices and incorporate the products they love into a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle."

Critics are calling the deal a "embarrassing conflict of interest," and I think I may ageee. Clearly there should be some place for food companies to make a positive contribution, but I wonder if that could be as much in the food they design, rather than the marketing angles they may be working through other organizations and the audiences they have acess to...

Along these lines, consider Tom Colicchio, the guru of Top Chef, who is also collaborating with Coke in an :Eat Tastefully: campaign:

“Great taste doesn’t need to be overly complicated. For me, it’s always been about keeping it simple and adding personal touches that create a lasting impression,” said Chef Colicchio. “Sometimes, that means simply pairing the right meal with a straightforward flavor you enjoy – like a Diet Coke, which has a distinctive taste without the calories.”

Fine food is just a soda away!

You can see Tom work it on YouTube as par tof the campaign.


Friday, October 23

guilt free meat!

i remember reading this fascinating article in the nyt a long time ago. its about growing meat artificialy in a lab from stem cells. imagine, ground beef, grown on your counter in a bread-box like machine.

i also learned about this cool australian art colaborative who made a small frog steak for their project 'disembodied quinine'. they work on other cool proects like victimless leather, etc.

and, in 2008, PETA offered a $1,000,000 prize for the first reasearch group to develop a comercialy viable artificial meat.

its coming. just imagine the implications!

i find these developments both disturbing and fascinating. i dont know if i would be comfortable eating artificail meat. but it is very likely that i will at some point in my lifetime. and you probably will to.

ben k

The Meat Industry Gets Upset About Meatless Monday

Obama has been pushing Meatless Mondays, and the meat industry is upset. It is strange that they would get upset about not having meat on day of the weke when so much of the government subsidation goes to help the meat industry.

The Article


Standards for School Lunch

This article discusses how the lunches don't restrict the calorie intake or match up with the government's dietary suggestions (food pyramid). I think this is interesting to think about along with the article we read about German schools encouraging water. Obesity in Children is a bigger issue than most think. The second link I am going to post is a great alternative,and happening in a public school.

Free Lunch Program

A Healthy Alternative


Blue Zones: Ikaria, Greece

The island in Greece my family is from was featured on CNN:
Apparently they pretty healthy peeps.

Blue Zones

Why are the lessons from the Ikaria, Greece Blue Zone so important? Our team has discovered that over one-third of everyone in the northeastern end of Ikaria reaches age 90. They suffer 20% less cancer and half the rate of heart disease. And there’s virtually no dementia. In other words, they’re living the good years many of us are missing. Years we could possibly have by just adjusting a few simple habits, including:
  1. Wild Greens - Greens are abundant in fields and roadsides, Ikarians frequently eat wild green salads and pies. Some contain more antioxidants than green tea or wine.
  2. Herbal Teas - The common herbal teas consumed here contain compounds that lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of heart disease and dementia.
  3. Low sense of time urgency - Feeling less obligation to one’s schedule and day is shown to lower heart-harming stress hormones.
  4. Daily naps - Taking a 30-minute nap at least five times a week can decrease the risk of heart attack by 35 percent.
  5. Mountain living - Here, every trip out of the house occasions a mini workout. People get their daily exercise without thinking about it. Studies show the mountain people have lower cardio vascular disease.
  6. Strong sense of community - Family and village support create strong social connections, which are proven to promote longevity.
  7. Goat's milk - 80 percent of all people over 90 have consumed goat’s milk many times per week throughout their life. It is rich in blood-pressure lowering tryptophan and antibacterial compounds.
  8. Ikarian diet - The Ikarian variation of Mediterranean Diet is high in vegetables, beans, and low in meat and sugar. Uniquely, though, it’s lower in grains and fish, but high in potatoes.

101 Cookbooks - Healthy/Pretty/Natural

101 Cookbooks focuses primarily on natural, whole foods and ingredients. Heidi Swanson is the cook and she photographs all her "work." A nice way to get hungry by looking at your computer screen.

The Subsidized Food Pyramid

Mom, I want muscles like Popeye,
but spinach is just too darn expensive.

Health vs. Pork: Congress Debates the Farm Bill

The Farm Bill, a massive piece of federal legislation making its way through Congress, governs what children are fed in schools and what food assistance programs can distribute to recipients. The bill provides billions of dollars in subsidies, much of which goes to huge agribusinesses producing feed crops, such as corn and soy, which are then fed to animals. By funding these crops, the government supports the production of meat and dairy products—the same products that contribute to our growing rates of obesity and chronic disease. Fruit and vegetable farmers, on the other hand, receive less than 1 percent of government subsidies.

- George

who is alice waters?

The Romantic, Impractical,
Often Eccentric,
Ultimately Brilliant
Making of a Food Revolution

(a book i started reading...)

"a chronicle that begins with the seat-of-the-pants opening night of the "counterculture" venture in 1971, and ends 35 years later with Waters's restaurant an American institution--one credited with birthing California Cuisine, a style devoted to simplicity, freshness and seasonality. The book also limns, with tasty gossip, the ever-evolving Chez Panisse family, including the cook-artisans uniquely responsible for dish creation; follows the attempts, mostly failed, to put the restaurant on sound financial footing; shows how dishes and menus get made; and of course pursues Waters as she broadens her commitment to "virtuous agriculture" by establishing ventures like The Edible Schoolyard and The Yale Sustainable Food Project."

(amazon review)


Missing Link Between Fructose and Insulin Resistance

Missing link between fructose, insulin resistance found

3. March 2009 22:11

A new study in mice sheds light on the insulin resistance that can come from diets loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, a sweetener found in most sodas and many other processed foods.

The report in the March issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication, also suggests a way to prevent those ill effects.

The researchers showed that mice on a high-fructose diet were protected from insulin resistance when a gene known as transcriptional coactivator PPARg coactivator-1b (PGC-1b) was "knocked down" in the animals' liver and fat tissue. PGC-1b coactivates a number of transcription factors that control the activity of other genes, including one responsible for building fat in the liver.

"There has been a remarkable increase in consumption of high-fructose corn syrup," said Gerald Shulman of Yale University School of Medicine. "Fructose is...



"Water is probably one of the most precious resources and vital for everyone’s everyday life. In spite of this obvious fact, people use large amounts of water: drinking, cooking and washing, but even more for producing things such as food, paper, cotton clothes, etc. One of the most important research papers in this field is Chapagain, A.K. and Hoekstra, A.Y. (2004), »Water footprints of nations«, Value of Water Research Report Series No. 16, UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands. Designer Timm Kekeritz created a poster, visualizing parts of their research data, to make the issue of virtual water and the water footprint perceptible. The water footprint of a person, company or nation is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the commodities, goods and services consumed by the person, company or nation. The idea of the water footprint is quite similar to the ecological footprint, but focussing on the use of water."


Thursday, October 22

Food Deserts; City Gardens; Wal-Mart; Chicago

The concept of "food deserts" has been taking root recently, with Chicago being a recent site for close study on the lack of accessible supermarkets and healthy food resources in poor and minority communities in urban areas. The most comprehensive report on food deserts in Chicago can be downloaded here.

More broadly, we see the USDA on the federal level is also taking notice of this issue.

Projects are trying to address food deserts on various levels, one of them being vegetable gardening with raised beds in abandoned lots in Washington Park. Public participatory engagement, reduction of food miles, and nutrition all issues that come up in this video segment:

For more interviews on this topic, go here.

Though community gardens are a wonderful way to address this issue in part, many point out it may never be enough in terms of general access to more nutritious low cost food, or to certain kinds of jobs. To this, many argue allowing "big box" stores like Wal-Wart into the Chicago market, and especially the South Side, would address economic issues as well as that of its food deserts. Indeed, Wal-Mart & it supporters are very well-organized in their campaign. But issues of workers' rights and living wages are the other side of the story. This NPR piece gives a short synopisis; and this one is the follow-up.

What is the right balance between urban living, social justice, nurtition, and the issues of food systems in the context of chain distributors like Wal-Mart?


Related: work on photodocumenting the lives of rural black farmers in the US

Monsanto, Michael Clayton and toxic waters

A clip from the film Michael Clayton in which the the acting lawyer deals with a case involving a killer herbicide that leeks into neighboring farms water supplies and destroys everything.  Turns out we have a real life corporation that does nearly the same thing... Monsanto.  

These days most people have heard about Monsanto and have some idea of what they do, but I will provide you with a quick refresher.  We have Monsanto to thank for the destructive chemical Agent Orange, RoundUp, RoundUp Ready seeds and Supreme Court cases such as Monsanto v. Schmiser.  To put it simply, Monsanto wants to take over the world with, what they call, sustainable agriculture.  This really means that they control the seed market so all farmers must purchase seeds from Monsanto.  A binding contract is then signed forcing the farmers to, from that point forward, purchase only Monsanto manufactured herbicides,  pesticides, insecticides, fungicides and any other "icides" you can come up with (because I'm sure Monsanto already has).  Since all seeds that come out of Monsanto are genetically modified, and most carry a gene called the "terminator gene," which renders the plants infertile and essentially useless after one full crop rotation and fruit producing cycle, this means that farmers must continue to purchase more seeds year after year, season after season.

I was at the climbing gym earlier today and a local radio station was playing over the PA system.  An advertisement came on that was all about creating communities of sustainable agriculture through biotechnology, feeding the world, and putting an end to starvation.  The ad is, of course, sponsored and paid for by Monsanto Corp.  I'm not sure how any company can even attempt to end starvation when some of their own products contain something caller  the "terminator gene."  After a few quick internet searches I discovered this ad is being played on NPR stations all across America.  I am having a hard time finding an actual audio clip of the ad online but I assure you, it was an invigorating piece of propaganda.  I did, however, find this Democracy Now! show addressing more issues of toxic water, similar to Michael Clayton.

Here is a link to yet another Democracy Now! show in which a Monsanto spokesperson and Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Biotech Century; Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World, debate.  The "terminator gene" is mentioned in a segment about bio-safety.  This segment begins in the second half of the show, after the part about Malcolm X.


Ensuring food security- to what extent?

The fluctuating prices of food in the past year have led investors from rich countries (Arab states like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Libya, S.Korea, Taiwan, Japan) scrambling to safeguard their food interests by acquiring and developing farmland on other territories. Food prices fluctuate with imported food due to see-sawing exchange rates and times of drought or natural disasters that hurt harvests. Last year, food prices rose due to over-speculation, increased demand from developing nations, high oil prices and the increasing use of biofuels. According to Jacques Diouf, director-general of UN's Food and Agriculture Organization based in Rome, 105 million more people, as compared to last year, are undernourished. He attributes this to the current economic crisis and overwhelming increments in food prices.

In November last year, Daewoo Logistics, a South Korean firm, reached an agreement to cultivate 1.3million hectares of farmland in Madagascar for nothing - only promising employment for the citizens of the impoverished island in exchange for the untouched land. Daewoo would develop the infrastructure- roads, irrigation and grain storage facilities. This was a move to ensure that South Korea could fall back on the corn harvested in Madagascar in the event of a food crisis.

Alas, it was not to be! The then-President, in part due to disagreements with the country's citizens about the deal, resigned in May. People had protested to leasing half of Madagascar's arable land to Daewoo, condemning it to be a form of "neo-colonialism". (read more here: Madagascar Axes Land Deal with Daewoo)

"If we have another world food crisis, and you have a poor country where food is produced by foreign investors and then repatriated, that is ethically and political tricky"
- David Hallam, head of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization's Trade Policy Service in TIME.

In Singapore, land is painfully scarce, with more than 4 million people living on 274 sq.miles. Less than 1% of the land is arable, so farming of about 5% of Singapore's vegetable supply, is done on high tech farms, such as hydroponics or agrotechnology farms. Most of its fresh food supply is imported from its neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia. When food prices rose last year, due to the food crisis and inflation, it hit lower-income families the hardest. With limited land for farming, Singapore has no way to ensure its food security, or does it?

Earlier this month, a Singapore-based firm, Vita Grain, signed a deal with the government of Mauritius to produce a hybrid variety of low GI rice on leased land in Mozambique. Mauritius believes that it will help them to boost their food security.... while Vita Grain had also said, "its priority will be to support stock-piling of rice in Singapore – which imports about 330,000 tonnes of rice a year – if the need arises." (The article did not mention what Mozambique stands to gain in this agreement)

The cultivating of land by foreign corporations is highly controversial for many reasons. Its benefits for both parties- the country whose land is cultivated (mostly poor, in the case of Madagascar, 600,000 people are fed by the World Food Programme) and the corporations, which much of the time are backed by the government of the country where they are based- are highly debatable. Fairness, ethics and politics come into play- who gets to control the food supplies-its citizens or rich foreign corporations? Who gets fed during a food crisis? Is the arable land being depleted with such leases?

As of now, Japan is looking to draw up a set of "investor principles" to guide such deals.

Today's news:

Here's more information if you are interested in the topic:
Blog by GRAIN, an NGO, on the leasing of farmland abroad
"Food Security, Putting Food on Plates" an article by Andrew Jarvis

-- georgi p.