Digest – Features: We (heart) NYT Food, Globalization of Food 101, bad Target
We can't remember a New York Times Food & Dining section that had so many stories flavored by food politics. The Gray Lady sure is greening up her act — in stark contrast to that other esteemed publication from the Big Apple (more on the New Yorker's food issue later) — and we love her for it:
- "Isolated connectivity": Marian Burros covers the Edible Communities empire of local writing about local eating. We're proud to see Friends O' Ethicurean Bruce Cole and Shuna Fish Lydon get shout-outs for Edible San Francisco, which includes "some very good food writing, including one particularly evocative piece about strawberries, with the advice that if you insist on washing them, do so in champagne." (And this from a Fish who doesn't drink.) Related: Edible Seattle is just now launching (Seattle Times)
- A song for America: A brief history of the evolution of Farm Aid, from the group started in the '80s by Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young to save debt-ridden corn and bean farmers, to the scrappy warrior on behalf of family farmers. Now, "in its third act, Farm Aid has become a rallying point for the local-food movement" — complete with guest appearances by Sustainable Table's biodiesel-powered bus.
- The Franny Diaries: Frank Bruni waxes ecstatic over Franny’s, a SOLE food restaurant in Brooklyn whose menu not only lists the provenance of the restaurant’s organic ingredients, but also its conservation-oriented energy supply.
- Drinking seasonally: OK, this is something we just have to try — a ratafia, infusing a wine and vodka mixture with seasonal fruit or vegetables. "A good ratafia exploits the seasons and transcends them. It captures the taste of produce when it’s in high supply so you can still enjoy it when it’s gone." Sounds easier than canning!
- And now for something completely different: Kim Severson follows up her recent hymn to the farmers market with a 180-degree twist — a story about how food science labs around the country are turning natural pathogen fighters into edible films and powders; for example, films woven with a thyme derivative that can kill E. coli for lining bags of fresh spinach.
Veggies through a macroeconomics lens: In the first of two parts, Tom Philpott looks at how immigration restrictions, the "race to the bottom" effect of commodity food production in the U.S., and global economic forces have combined to shift food production from one place to another, to the detriment of local communities and the environment alike. (Grist)
Avoid the bull's eye: Target sponsors a farmers market in Minnesota, where it gives away food under its made-up "Archer Farms" brand. Farmers aren't thrilled but are afraid to complain; Whole Foods offered less dough and wanted the market held in its parking lot. Target maybe talking the talk but it ain't walking the walk, says Cornucopia. Guess who makes Target's organic milk? Yup: Aurora, the controversial mega-dairy — see today's News Digest. (City Pages)
It takes a slaughterhouse: Local meat processing is on the rise in New England, building the infrastructure to supply the buy-local demand. (Boston Globe)
Sow what: John Seabrook wrote about the world’s first global seed bank, in Svalbard, Norway, for the New Yorker, but we didn't Digest it fast enough before they archived the link. (What is the point of that, Eustace Tilley?) However, Dr. Vino points us to this audio clip of Seabrook talking about the history of seed saving and the importance of biological diversity. (New Yorker)
We love "food with personality," too: The kinship between a South Berkeley synagogue and Eatwell Farm, a CSA project in Dixon, CA, an hour northeast of Oakland. (East Bay Express)
Generation Ought-a Pickle: A profile of a career canner in Massachusetts mentions that in the pickling and canning class he's taught for the last two years, a younger generation has become interested in these old ways — "They buy locally, care about what they eat, and are interested in the environment." (Boston Globe)
Local vs. grassfed: A couple of Ontario ranchers are finding a direct-to-chefs and -consumer market for their beef, pork, and lamb under the Scotch Mountain brand. We wholeheartedly support their desire to distinguish themselves from the "American style" of beef, and we know their cattle can't be on grass year round because, well, it's Canada — but do they have to finish them for the last several months on grains? Bizarrely, one chef is quoted as saying: "It's being raised mostly on grass. You can taste it in the final flavour." (Globe and Mail)
Environmentalists don't eat meat: An article in the NYT Business section looks at how animal-rights activists are leveraging climate-change awareness to argue that raising animals for meat contributes more to global warming than all the sport utility vehicles combined. (New York Times)
Umbra is so Ethicurean these days: Her (his?) current advice column tackles whether single folks can handle a Commmunity Supported Agriculture box. (Grist)
Farm sanctuary needs funding: Purple Cow & Friends, a 10-acre ranch near San Diego that hosts the farm animals and pets that nobody wants, is in danger of closing now that its main benefactor has died. (SignOnSanDiego)
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