Digest: Beef basics, ethanol dilemma, red-wine cure, grape gripes

Slate: What makes a steak taste good? In this well-done primer on beef — a must-read article for meat lovers — Mark Schatzker delivers an overview of the effects of marbling (how the USDA determines the grade), breed, feed, hormones, and aging. And then he conducts a taste test with USDA Prime "conventional" beef (wet and dry-aged), Wagyu, Niman naturally raised grain-finished, and grass-fed steaks. Guess what wins?

New York Times*: Depressing story about Midwestern farmers who, after suffering $2/bushel prices for corn for four decades, have staked everything on collectively building their own ethanol plants. Agribusiness and fly-by-night investors are pestering them to sell, and despite a forecasted drop in ethanol prices, they won't. They might want to read Tom Philpott's article in last week's Victual Reality about how they're going to get screwed all over again.

New York Times*: Resveratrol, a natural substance found in red wine, has been demonstrated to offset the negative effects of a high-calorie diet in mice and to extend their lifespan. It could be working by activating the SIRT-1 gene, which regulates metabolism and can be triggered by a low-calorie diet. So, the gist is, drink red wine, eat as much fat as you want, and live long and prosper? That would explain why this is the most e-mailed article today on the NYT -- but before you start uncorking the Cab, note that in order to mimic the amounts of resveratrol from the study, the average person would have to chug 750 to 1,500 bottles of red wine a day.

E (The Environmental) magazine: A thorough, layperson-friendly introduction to the ins and outs of organic wine vs. wine from organically grown grapes, explaining how far label-certified wines have come in taste and quality. Handy sidebar names a few of the standouts. [DQ must complain: What is up with this magazine's covers? Last two have looked like "Eco-Cosmopolitan"!]

The Northwestern.com: Looking back on a Wisconsin family's month on the 100-Mile Diet, complete with detailed comparison food budgets.

Stanford Daily: Part I of II tells how Stanford's Community Farm is under assault from a university golf-course development next door; Part II, about the negotiations between the two groups, is here.

New York Times*: Kim Severson delivers the ultimate word on how the newest "Joy of Cooking" stacks up against the reviled 1997 edition, as well as the beloved older ones. Side note: the rabit-skinning illustration is back, but not the squirrel one.

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2 Responsesto “Digest: Beef basics, ethanol dilemma, red-wine cure, grape gripes”

  1. Jack says:

    "would have to chug 750 to 1,500 bottles of red wine a day." I'm so willing to do this, as it would free up much needed Wine Cellar space! Where do I sign up? Wait?! You have to do drink this much everyday?! Holy Resveratol!

    E: on Organic wines - My personal exp. on this is just go straight to Biodynamic Wines from serious producers. Pass by Industrial and Organic, Collect Purity and Deliciousness.

    Joy of Cooking: I did like Kim's article and her take on it. But I kind of wonder if this book really has an audience anymore. Those that can cook aren't looking for this cookbook. Those who don't cook aren't looking for a cookbook with 4500(!) recipes. On second thought, is there ANYONE looking for a cookbook with 4500 recipes?

  2. Man of La Muncha says:

    I disagree. The Joy of Cooking is a very good reference to have in the kitchen. There are problems with the recipes, which tend to run to the style of "use small amounts of 45 different spices," but it provides a solid basis. It's also useful for items that are unfamiliar (Escarole? What the...oh, Italian chicory. Hm.)