Digest: Culinary prodigy, food-sections roundup, more bad news for fish

Article most guaranteed to make you feel inadequate: A 16-year-old Canadian named Luke Hayes-Alexander is not only the dedicated, driven executive chef of his family's restaurant in Kingston, but he makes his own charcuterie and smoked banana ice cream. If the poor kid weren't painfully shy, we'd say he's a TV show ripe for plucking. Toronto Star

Filling up on the New York Times: Lots o' interesting stories in the Times' food section today. Michael Ruhlman tells how top chefs turn themselves into brands that can be slapped not only on cooking shows and books, but on pepper mills and frozen pasta. Meanwhile, punk vegan pastry chef Isa Chandra Moskowitz makes revolutionary cupcakes (she has a couple of books and a TV show, too). Brave home chefs are smoking their own meat on the stovetop. The traditional Scottish dish of haggis is alive and well in the United States — only with few, if any, of the usual offal ingredients. And lastly, Frank Bruni skewers the "chef is always right" philosophy of today's restaurants.

Chronicle cornucopia: Likewise, the Chron's food section also has lots of stories to snack on today. Kohlrabis are in season right now, but few know what to do with this little-known member of the brassica family. An artisanal tea industry is booming in the Bay Area. (Fun facts for Ethicurean tea lovers: 90 percent of fresh teas are seasonal; farmers pick meticulously according to freshness; and you'd be wise to get to know who's growing your tea.) "Natural" and "organic" are the buzzwords for new food this year, at least as evidenced by the Fancy Food Show (which no one invited us to, sniff sniff).

Only five squash to go: The P-I has a helpful recipe for those of us who look the other way when we pass our remaining squash. Seattle P-I

Reefer madness: The rising demand for live fish — the kind swimming around just before being filleted for your plate — in Greater China is stripping Asian reefs bare. Int'l Herald Tribune

The bug stops here: California State Sen. Dean Florez is butting heads with farmers over his proposed regulations to prevent E. coli outbreaks from produce. Washington Post (AP)

Bread won't cut it: Mexicans are marching over the high cost of tortillas. The Progressive

Safeway says no to rBGH: Safeway says milk suppliers for its Northwest stores no longer use synthetic bovine hormones to increase milk production. News-Review (OR)

Monsanto manifesto: More ethanol right now means more corn, and the Secretary for Agriculture says blithely not to worry, seed companies are developing seeds with ever-increasing yields. That sets Andrew Leonard off, and he devotes How the World Works to ranting about how Bush should break up Monsanto's monopoly. Salon

Milk's Match.com: Three male and two female single dairy farmers are advertising on milk cartons to find a date. BBC

Smart state: Connecticut has launched an online clearinghouse to share farming knowledge and "to link people who have land to farm with people who want to farm but don’t have land." The Day (CT)

Prince of darkness: Harold McGee explains why milk, butter, and beer are best stored away from light. Curious Cook

Environmental news of note:

High gas prices for Northwest: Economists from several universities and colleges have released a major economic study on the impact of global warming to the Northwest economy. Pointing to the dramatic reduction of local glaciers, the increased cost in fighting forest fires, and the projected impact on crops, the authors call on the Legislature for Washington to retake a leading role in controlling greenhouse gases. Seattle P-I

Energy CEOs ask for regulation: A group of CEOs from 10 corporations, including several energy companies and major energy users, have called on the President to make companies regulate their greenhouse gas emissions. The companies point to the success of a previous plan, which has reduced sulfur dioxide emissions-a major contributor to acid rain-by half. Seattle Times

Speaking up for "An Inconvenient Truth": Federal Way's School Board is still under heat, this time from parents who think the moratorium on showing the film is nonsense. One parent claimed that the so-called scientific controversy was started "by non-professionals creating a smoke screen." Other Puget Sound school districts have avoided controversy on the topic, so far. Seattle Times

Something my cat already knows: An MIT-led panel has declared that 20% of U.S. energy needs can be met by drilling for geothermal heat. OK, OK, our new cat just burrows under the covers, but it's the same concept: dig toward a renewable source of heat (our bodies, the Earth's core). The approach is not flawless, due to water requirements and seismic risks. MIT News Office

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