Monday, April 26

Community Supported Agriculture available to chicago residents

Hey everyone,
I came across this CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program that this farm called Genesis Growers who are located in St. Anne, IL have. I was looking into doing a CSA for the summer and signed up for these guys one. I figured id post their website if anyone was also interested in signing up for one themselves, they offer summer,fall, spring, and all year round options ! Its a great way to directly support your local farmers and get the freshest produce available, weekly. They also sell at Green City Market farmers market which is open every other week now, but will be open every week during the summer ! yumyum!


Prison Cookery

Last weekend I attended "Prison Cookery," a talk/demonstration by chef Brinton Holland, organized by the curatorial team It Takes Two to Stereo (IT2TS) and hosted by the Op Shop, an experimental art and community space in Hyde Park.
Prison inmates get $55-75 every two weeks to spend on various (mainly) snack foods from the prison commissary. Brinton showed us how to make a few recipes, derived from his interviews with ex-convicts, that inmates in Texas prisons have devised using these foods as ingredients. The recipes included the "Prison Burrito," which consists of crushed-up ramen noodles, ramen flavoring, and potato chips (in several flavors) mixed together with hot water and kneaded into a burrito shape, and "Prison Cheesecake," which consists of a filling made of powdered milk, Sprite, and fruit jelly in a graham cracker or cookie crumb crust.
Brinton talked a little about the reasons inmates make these dishes; one big one is simple boredom. Another is that prison cafeterias are staffed by prisoners, and rivalries or vendettas (gang-related or otherwise) can mean you might not get served enough food, or that the food you are served is unsafe or unhygienic. He also made and ate this food for a month and a half to get a feel for what it was like, and said that the dishes actually started to taste like the foods they were supposed to represent (burritos, pizza, tamales, casseroles), and that they were more filling than the individual snack foods eaten separately, but that the experience left him feeling sick and exhausted—not surprising, considering the ingredients.

More info and pictures in these posts on the IT2TS blog: Prison Cookery at the OP Shop, Prison Cookery pictures


Fish Chocolate

I was at Wallgreens today and I came across these Dark Chocolate Squares. These squares seem to be fortified with heart healthy Omega 3 fats obtained from fish such as Sardines and Mackerels. I was going to pick it up but I decided to go home and look up reviews for the product first.(since it was kind of expensive-$15)

I'm very glad I did! Most reviews I read said the chocolates were inedible. It also said that the fish oil they were using weren't distilled like it is in fish oil capsules. Maramor's failure is very unfortunate because if there really was an omega 3 supplement that tasted like chocolate I would be very willing to purchase it!


The Saga of Salmonella in Pringles

In what may be the largest food recall ever, the FDA is asking for a recall of products including Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, or "HVP"

As the FDA reports, the HVP in question was manufactured by Basic Food Flavors, Inc., in Las Vegas, NV.

"HVP is a flavor enhancer used in a wide variety of processed food products, such as soups, sauces, chilis, stews, hot dogs, gravies, seasoned snack foods, dips, and dressings. It is often blended with other spices to make seasonings that are used in or on foods."

The extensive "sprinkling"of this flavor enhancer in the food system points to the difficulties of food safety today. Stephen Colbert points out the strange way this affects particular foods, like Pringles...

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Consumer Alert - Pringles
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News


Raw Milk > Paralysis?

The purported health benefits of unpasteurized milk versus the risks weighed in the recent case of a Pennsylvania man...

If you can't see the video, go HERE


Sunday, April 25

Salty Problems

A new report recommends the FDA release and enforce new guidelines for salt in processed foods (to download the PDF of the actual report, click HERE).

It claims Americans consume an average of double the recommended daily allowance of salt, a pattern that they claim lead to increased rates of stroke and heart attack, and thus major expense to the US healthcare system.

A brief video lays out the basics - watch the CBS News Videos Online

Data from the report certainly lays out the increase in salt intake over the last few of decades:

Maybe throw that extra dash over your shoulder for good luck rather than on your dinner, yeah?


Saturday, April 24

Meat Industry Introduces New Easy-Tear Perforated Beef

Now that is what I call a product of the industrial and processed food system!

From this reputable news source


Wednesday, April 21

info about farming!

dear class,
thank you so much for listening to our presentation during last class!
if you have any comments or questions about our project, please ask.

here is the link to the garden/farm that we are volunteering:
(every saturday from 10-1pm, off sheridan red line stop)

here is the link to the urban gardening festival that we will going to visit this coming saturday
( april 24, 2010) at the garfield park conservatory:
(starts from 10 to 3pm, free admission)

and here is the link to the green festival at navy pier on may 22-23, 2010:
(free admission with student id, want volunteer? here)

hope you will join them.
lets "farm out"!

by misato and georgi go to kenya

Tuesday, April 20

The Ultimate Cake Off

The greatest cake artists in the world go head to head in competition to build the ultimate cake. Each week, three renowned cake decorators lead their teams to build cakes over five feet tall, weighing hundreds of pounds. These cakes are themed to fit a marquee event where the winning cake will be showcased as a centerpiece.

Chunky Chester, a great Indiana baker, created this edible green creature entirely out of fondant and cake.


Monday, April 19

Garbage Diet - literally!

For small animals eating can be hazardous given the vast quantities of garbage humans dispose of in the ocean. A report this week by scientists and their analysis of a beached whale's stomach content in Seattle grimly attest to this fact:

" had a large amount of garbage in its stomach — ranging from a pair of sweat pants to a golf ball. The scientists say most of the whale's stomach contents was algae — typical of the bottom-feeding mammals. But they say a surprising amount of human debris was found. Besides the pants and golf ball, there were more than 20 plastic bags, small towels, duct tape and surgical gloves."


if you know how to raise pigs, you know how to raise Enviropigs!

Developed at the University of Guelph, in Guelph, Ontario Canada.

" a trademark used to designate a genetically modified line of Yorkshire pigs that produces phytase in the salivary glands (parotid, submaxillary and sublingual), and secretes the enzyme in the saliva... Since the Enviropig™ is able to digest cereal grain phosphorus there is no need to supplement the diet with either mineral phosphate or commercially produced phytase, and there is less phosphorus in the manure."

They claims that the Enviropig has two benefits:
1) it reduces feed cost
2) reduces the potential of water pollution

Read more about the Enviropig's...

Here is an article about the Enviropig in
Genetically engineered meat close to your table” November 22 2008, Toronto Star

Cathy Holtslander, community organizer with Saskatchewan-based Beyond Factory Farming, says "The model of high-intensity large-scale hog production hasn't worked even from the point of view of profitability and survival of the hog industry. So it's a failed model, and introducing a genetically modified pig to a failed model is not going to be beneficial, it's not going to solve that problem, and I really wonder about the impact.”


rBGH & Puberty - preemptive strike

Dangers of rGBH "Wal-Mart Milk" @ Snopes
Somatotropins (growth hormones) are not the same as gonadotrpins (sexual development hormones), and they don't cross functions, especially when applied to different species.

...this hormone isn't a steroid like estrogen, and it's destroyed too quickly during digestion to have any real effect on the human reproductive system. Right now, the biggest culprit seems to be the super-sized American diet. The rate of obesity in children ages 2 to 11 has nearly tripled over the last few decades [source: CDC]. Fat cells produce estrogen, as well as the hormone leptin, which can stimulate the release of the hormones that trigger puberty.

On average, African American girls show signs of puberty, with breast development and chemical changes in their bodies, almost two years sooner than white girls, at age 8.8. This is according to the largest study on precocious puberty, involving over 17,000 girls, by Marcia Hermann-Giddens of the University of North Carolina, published in 1997 in the journal Pediatrics.

So it's not the milk and it's probably the fatty diets, though we can't rule out pollution from plastics in some cases. And based on what I know about the regrettable history of women and the medical profession, I wouldn't be surprised if puberty isn't starting earlier at all - we're just looking for it.


Sunday, April 18

Portion Control

I came across an interview that was mainly about how this couple managed to save money. There was a section of the interview that caught my eye and it briefly talks about the amount of food we eat rather than just buying organic food.

Aside from driving less and being happy with a smaller house, what other significant things we should cut back on?

Eating lower on the food chain, for one. I try to spend only a dollar a pound on food. It's a myth that it costs more to eat healthy. You can spend a lot, but when you think about the kinds of things we should eat the most of--whole grains, legumes, and produce--they tend to cost less per pound than things that are bad for us like red meat and many processed foods that are high in trans saturated fats. I encourage people to eat more meals at home. Forty-five percent of the average U.S. family food budget is spent on food prepared outside of home. And they cost an average of 80 percent more than preparing the same food at home. There's a lot of waste, too. According to the USDA, about 25 percent of food is thrown away, so arguably you could reduce your spending here by 25 percent simply by being smarter about food storage and portion control.

You write a lot about the relationship between being frugal and environmentally conscious on Any takeaways?

For most Americans, the greenest thing you can do is consume less, which probably means spending less. I think there's some hypocrisy in the current green movement, even though I've been an ardent environmentalist my whole adult life. I fear that the so-called green movement is catching on now because there's a bunch of cool, expensive green stuff we can by. It's become what I call a "cause de stuff." Much of the current environmental movement in the U.S. seems to be built around the very thing it should be seeking to combat ... rampant consumerism. Take green cleaning products. They tend to be more expensive than the toxic products. But you can clean almost everything with baking soda and vinegar, which are safer for the environment than green products and cost less than any other cleaning products, green or toxic. Hybrid vehicles are another example. It's cool now to own a $35,000 Prius, although driving a gas guzzler to work instead is better for the environment IF you carpool with four friends. Sure, the greenest choice would be to carpool in a hybrid, but I don't see Americans being that committed to environmentalism. We're really mostly committed to buying cool, expensive, green stuff. That's the hypocrisy I'm talking about.

You must make big purchases every now and then. What's your strategy?

I'm a big believer in the Consumer Reports approach to shopping. Buyer's remorse is at epidemic proportions. How is spending money on something we'll regret later a good thing? It makes us poorer, and clearly hasn't made us happy. My advice is to have a mandatory waiting period. Wait at least a week after you see something in the store that you want. I guarantee that half the time, you won't go buy it.

Once or twice a year, I look at the things I've spent more money on, and ask myself one simple question: "If I had it to do over again, would I have spent that money?" I call it a 'what heck was I thinking? audit." Maybe you'll see that you spend a lot on restaurant meals that you regret. I noticed that when I had a regular 9-to-5 job, when I was stressed at work, I'd often buy things I regretted later. It's a way of helping you learn from your mistakes and change your spending behavior.


for the full article, please see this:

Also, Mark Bittman also mentions about eating less in this TED talk. I'm not too sure if this has been posted but it relates to this:


Friday, April 16

Relaunching Lunch in Chicago Public Schools

A Chicago Tribune feature from this week discusses groups working in schools to improve student nutrition and education around food, a video here on an apple experience.

and pictures of CPS kids getting into cooking...

A couple weeks back the Chicago Tribune reported on local students speaking out about the food they are served at school:

One by one, they enumerated the "slop" they are served in school cafeterias and implored officials to change the contract guiding food services at the district. Specifically, they lamented the nachos, pizza and burgers offered almost daily.

"Access to nutrient-poor, calorie-rich food is the norm," said Brian Damacio, a sophomore at Social Justice High School. "If we're lucky, the cheese looks normal."

And a few local parents and activists are exploring CPS lunch first hand, including the blog Fed Up with Lunch: The School Lunch Project

Some particularly interesting ones of late include:
Day 60: Popcorn Chicken

French School Lunch


Putting your Money Where your Mouth Is?

Some physicians are criticizing the choice by major life and health insurance companies to invest heavily in Fast Food resturant chains, claiming it is contradictory for major health providers to be so heavily supporting food industries known to be unhealthful:

"If the insurance industry is willing to invest in products known to be harmful and/or kill people then, prima facie, this is not an industry that actually cares about health and well-being."


Tuesday, April 13

French Documentary " The World According to Monsanto" shows the company in a grim light

I came across this french documentary about Monsanto when looking more into GM foods. After watching the trailer, it looks very promising and quite interesting. It specifically covers GM foods and their impact globally on farmers. Also, I was talking to my roommate about GM foods and she told me that lots of dairy companies were sued a few years ago by Monsanto in her home state, Maine. I found this article in the The Portland Press Herald about Maine farmers opposition to this agribusiness giant:


Monday, April 12

India-Genetically Modified Eggplant

An Indian-based firm Mahyco backed by the American seed giant Monsanto applied for approval of introducing bt-Brinjal in India.

If sown, it shall sprout to become world’s first-ever genetically modified vegetable.

Paying little or no heed to yet to be concluded worldwide debate on playing with the genes or as technically called the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), the Biotechnology regulatory body in India - Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) recommended bt-Brinjal to its parent ministry.

However, the most recent decision (as of April 13th in the Hindu Newspaper) has stated that

"In the wake of strong views in favour and against allowing commercial cultivation of genetically modified Bt brinjal, the government on Thursday sought to take a middle path by putting the report in the public domain for wider consultation."


Botany of Desire


This comes in book form, but for those of us who are students and not only taking Ecology of Food and may not have time to read the book right now, it also comes in DVD form. It's probably not as in-depth as the book, but it's pretty good. It's put out by PBS and you can get it through the i-share catalogue.



Kilgus Farmstead Milk

Last week we were talking about milk and where we get it and the price, etc. I just wanted to share about this local milk that I've been buying recently. I looked up the farm and they seem to be doing good things (pasture-feeding their cows, for one) and the milk is good too. It's alittle pricy ($3.50/half gallon) but I think it's worth it for supporting a local producer and for the product that you're getting - as we know, "Happy milk comes from happy cows". It can be purchased at this nice local foods store downtown, Chicago's Downtown Farmstand, which has local food all year, and also at the Green City Market.


Food Resources from Huffington Post

I was looking at news on Huffington Post and saw a link to their food page. I believe it's new, and I excitedly clicked on it to check it out. It has a lot of articles, links, images, and pages, including many that are relevant to topics we have discussed and things that we've looked at in class.


Intelligent Design and Natural Selection

Interesting video on intelligent design and natural selection, covers DNA and complexity of cells.

Sunday, April 11

Future Food

If you have heard of the innovative, and expensive restaurant, Moto then you may have heard of the TV show Future Food that focuses on the crazy things that are made in the lab... I mean kitchen.

Here is a link to a video clip of the show.

I don't know anything about their food ethics, such as where they get their meat or if they use organic products but I do know that have an edible menu.


Monday, April 5

Food Regulation in the News - Toys in Food; Street Vendors in Minneapolis

In following up on our conversation from this last week about the government regulating food, a recent poll published a couple days ago seems to show Americans are not that interested, taking the view they know what is best:

For example Americans polled overwhelmingly (82%) rejected that the government should regulate the use of toys in kids meals as an anti-obesity measure. overall, 93% said the parents know what is best for a child's health, not the government.

I think the latter poll question itself poses a problematic and false dichotomy in the way it is asked - perhaps parents could/should know best, but is that to say that the government or its regualtions couldn't substantially help?

In other food law news....

A report from this week on how Minneapolis is could "spice up" its culinary options by relaxing street vendor laws, but just to what extent the city will really allow it is still up for debate...


Carnivorous Plants Getting Sick on the Flies?

That is the suggestion by UK scientists trying to find answers to the global decrease in carnivorous plants worldwide. Such plants still do photosynthesis, but typically live in nutrient poor soils where supplementation from insects is a benefit. Researchers are wondering though if flies contaminated with heavy metals like cadmium are poisoning these otherwise autotrophic creatures, as the metal appear to stunt plant growth....


Friday, April 2

"slimming soybeans" ?

We were talking this past week in class about food nutrients(specifically trans and monounsaturated fats) that differ in how they help us regulate cholesteroal and fat metabolism, as well as affect inflammation.

This report today discusses a peptide (short protein) found in soybeans that seems to be beneficial in terms of down regulating inflammation and enhancing metabolism in positive ways.

Interestingly the research was done at the University of Illinois, but funded by Monsanto. Perhaps the futre (as the article suggests) is the creation of "nutriceuticals" like this peptide to help with helath and weight loss? The fountain of youth in a bean....


Pork Chop as a Whale Dish? Complexities of the global food chain...

white-sided dolphin hunt in the Faroe Islands

A recent report is querying whether Iceland is exporting ground up whale meat for use as a deitary protein supplement for livestock in Europe. Cows are herbivores by nature, but it doesn't mean you can't slip other things into their feed, making the whole issue of trophic food webs that much more complex...

Most countries now do not support commercial whaling, with Iceland, Norway and Japan being notable and controversial exceptions. This is especially true for Japan and their whale hunt that continues to draw aggressive protests and lots of media attention. The recent movie The Cove has highlighted the dolphin hunt in a small fishing village in Japan, raising the ire not only of animal advocates but health ones as well; considering the high levels of mercury found in their meat, many think eating whale simply doesn't make nutritional sense.

And perhaps not good culinary and business sense either, as owners of the California sushi restaurant, The Hump, recently found out when they were busted for illegally serving whale.


I just came across an interesting educational game about globalization that demonstrates how to build a McDonald's from the ground up. It includes an animated web of interconnections necessary to create products like the hamburger and brand identity such as "demolishing a village to create pasture land to raise cattle" or "demolishing a village to grow soy beans".

Food Revolution (in America?)

I briefly mentioned British chef Jamie Oliver's campaign to change the quality and nutrition of school lunches in England - and now he's started his project here in the US - "Jamie's Food Revolution."

In fact at this site you can even watch the first two episodes of the show, which I highly recommend. It highlights the issues of nutritional guidelines, the American industrial food system, and food culture in amazing and disturbing ways.

Not everyone thinks the show will be a success, including fellow TV Brit Ricky Gervais:

"His heart's in the right place, but he's got no chance. No way. They know what's making them fat -- it's all the pies. They know, so that so if you go, 'Those pies are fattening,' they're not going, 'Oh really? I thought it was the jogging.' Fat people don't get fat behind their own backs. ... They know why they're fat and they like it."But the show is supposed to be the end-goal in itself, but a component a a bigger revolution, hence the online petition he is asking people to sign. A little vague in what it sems to be going for, but it will be interesting to see just how many sign on to the possibility of not only improving school food, but also advocating that cooking skills be re-integrated into school curricula.

Check it all out...