Koreans crack open a cool, frosty dose of fiber

As an observer of the American food scene, I see many instances of oddly supplemented foods and drinks, where everyday foods are dosed with antioxidants or vitamins or another supposedly healthful supplement to give its buyer a sense of healthy satisfaction. But there is always another surprise lurking...

Free-range Porky’s, now playing at one Bay Area cinema

San Francisco may have more vegetarians and health-obsessed eaters per capita than any other U.S. city, but it also has a fair number of pork lovers — and to serve them, numerous restaurants cure their own meat, offer whole hog dinners, and so on. The city is also a haven for independent and repertory...

Fatal attraction: Humanity’s love affair with fish like the Chilean sea bass

Recently I was snared — or hooked, snagged, or netted (pick your favorite fishing pun) — by a book that shows  humanity's enormous capacity to affect ocean life. We can nearly wipe out an entire species in just a few decades thanks to new technologies and taste trends. Take the Chilean sea...

Buzzkill: Can native bees do the job?

With the health of honey bee colonies in dramatic decline, can farmers rely on native bees to pollinate their crops? On the right kind of farm — one with nearby natural habitat and organic management — the answer is yes, according to UC Berkeley professor Clare Kremen, an expert on native bees. Kremen...

Snapshot of the American diet

I find this juxtaposition of establishments at the Bayfair Mall in San Leandro, California, a good illustration of the "nutritionism" philosophy that is the foundation of many Americans' culinary consciousness. Grab some chicken wings for an appetizer and a cheese-steak sandwich for the main course, but as...

Taxing cows to curb climate change

When you fill your car's tank, you pay a gas tax. Someday, when you fill your belly with cheese, milk, or steak, you might have to pay another type of gas tax — one levied on the methane and nitrous oxide emitted by the cows that produced or became your food. Bacteria in a cow's gut help digest what the cow...

Political celebrations past and present

On election night in 1992* — the year that Bill Clinton won his first term and Barbara Boxer was first elected to the Senate — I made the flag-adorned chocolate truffles pictured above as part of a celebratory dinner. If I remember correctly, they tasted much better than they looked, made even better by the...

Radiolab’s “Choice” episode: This is your brain on emotions

The public radio program Radiolab (one of the most interesting and thought-provoking radio programs around, in my opinion) had an episode recently that might be of interest to Ethicurean readers. The title of the program was "Choice," and it examined how people make choices — or rather, are compelled by...

Gary Nabhan: Those who forget history are doomed to re-eat it

Above the din of the enthusiastic multitude of Green Festival attendees in San Francisco, renowned author, ethnobotanist, food preservationist, and historian Gary Paul Nabhan gave a whirlwind tour of topics with global, regional, and personal scope. Nabhan started with a big-picture perspective. The current...

Playing ketchup: Tomato industry concentration

Tomato season is over for most of the United States, so it's time to start shifting our tomato thoughts to canned, dried, and jarred tomatoes. Although tomatoes can be grown in all 50 states of the union, odds are 10-to-1 that a tomato found in a can, jar, or processed product was grown in California. An...

Old snapshots document fish populations, curb “shifting baselines syndrome”

Most vacation snapshots spend their days languishing in photo albums, shoeboxes, or hard drives, not really doing anything useful. But thanks to a new field of research called historical marine ecology, some old holiday photos might actually help us understand fisheries. Loren McClenachan, one such...

Artists explore urban sustainability at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

"Gatherers — Fallen Fruit, Elysian Park," 2005, giclee print, photo courtesy of David Burns, Matias Viegener & Austin Young (downloaded from YBCA's press room) A new exhibition of artists' responses to the concept of sustainability opened at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco last...

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