Sunday, January 30, 2005

Brewing Up the Good Stuff

Celebrating the drink that Bach referred to as "lovelier than a thousand kisses," the Web site of the Coffee Science Information Centre has a variety of sections relating different material on the work of the Centre and general information about this occasionally maligned beverage.

The prime goal of the Coffee Science Information Centre is "to provide accurate, balanced and consistent information to all audiences across Europe who have an interest in coffee, caffeine and health." Specifically, different sections of the site deal with coffee and health, world coffee events, and a brief essay on coffee throughout history.

The site also contains links to different scientific reports that refute certain commonly misconceptions about coffee, including the idea that prolonged coffee ingestion will lead to extreme dehydration. This site will be of great interest to those with a strong affinity for coffee and also for those interested in current scientific research on caffeine.

The Coffee Science Information Centre http://www.cosic.org/

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Seeds of the Future

Local species and varieties of plants are the foundation of traditional eating around the world. The nonprofit Seed Savers Exchange was founded in the 1970s to preserve traditional vegetable varieties in North America. It has since expanded to cover grains, fruits, herbs, and flowers.

In the Seed Savers 2001 Yearbook, exactly 900 gardeners list 12,557 different varieties of vegetables and fruits, most of them available to any gardener who requests seed and encloses a fee for shipping. The Yearbook says, "Seed Savers Exchange members are offering half again as many unique varieties as the entire mail-order garden seed industry in the U.S. and Canada." In addition, it has put together a catalogue and sells seed of a number of varieties raised on its Heritage Farm in northeastern Iowa.

In recent years Seed Savers International has worked with organizations in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to help record and save traditional plant varieties. Besides the annual Yearbook, SSE members receive the Summer and Harvest editions, magazines with thoughtful articles and sometimes unusual perspectives on gardening and agricultural topics - all for $30 a year.

Seed Savers Exchange http://www.seedsavers.org

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Cooking with Blogomaniacs

The Red Kitchen was founded by a few self-proclaimed 'Blogomaniacs' who love to cook and wanted to create a weblog to share their recipes and kitchen tips. The site has a very homemade feel to it (each chef's is called by her first name that appears in red), and is updated regularly with great new recipes. In addition to a regular stream of new recipes, Red Kitchen also has links to sites where you can buy great cookbooks and cooking products. Guests will love the down-home vibe of the site, where they can read mini-interviews about the different cooks in this virtual kitchen.

The Red Kitchen http://www.theredkitchen.net/

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Ethnic Fast Food

Michael Tschong at Iconocast, a trendspotting firm, says that improved cuisine combined with an ethnic flavor will be the hottest fast food trend of the future, being propelled by increased travel and ethnic integration.

One third of California's population will be of Hispanic descent by 2015. Since Southern California is the harbinger of U.S. fast food things to come - McDonald's, Taco Bell, Carl's Jr., Jack in the Box and In-N-Out all had their start there - the big question is, who's going to be the next Taco Bell?

The Wall Street Journal offered sandwiches as a hot new wave, but there's a gem in Santa Barbara, Calif. that has all the ingredients for a successful national roll out. On any given day, the line stretches out the door at La Super Rica - a favorite of gourmet chef Julia Child - is ripe for primetime.

Restaurants will tally $284 billion in 2002, according to the National Restaurant Association, of which $111 billion (39%) is fast food. The association reports the average U.S. household spent $2137 on dining out in 2000. By combining quality with a dash of Latino spice, a lot more can be done to improve our fast food experience.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Scientific Information on Food

Operating as the communications arm of the International Food Information Council, the aim of the Council's Foundation is "to bridge the gap between science and communications by collecting and disseminating scientific information on food safety, nutrition and health by working with an extensive roster of scientific experts and through partnerships to help translate research into understandable and useful information for opinion leaders and ultimately, consumers." This is quite a tall order for any one group, but its website presence would indicate that the IFIC is doing a good job thus far. From the Newsroom section, visitors can read frequently updated news releases (culled from dozens of sources) about food and health issues, read the in-house newsletter (Food Insight), which is published six times a year, and peruse a list of helpful tips designed to help journalists who are reporting on food safety, nutrition, or health matters. Additionally, a great deal of material here is available in Spanish and there is a full-site search engine.

International Food Information Council Foundation http://www.ific.org/

Thursday, January 13, 2005

American Eating Attitudes Show Improvement

The American Dietetic Association released its latest nationwide survey, Nutrition and You: Trends 2002, on consumer knowledge and behavior in July 2002 based on interviews with 700 people. According to the study, more Americans are seeking information on food and nutrition, tuning in to healthful-eating messages and taking action to improve their nutrition and health than at any time in the past decade.

Portion Distortion. There was considerable confusion about serving and portion sizes noted by the survey. A serving is the amount recommended in consumer education such as the Food Guide Pyramid, but a serving is not the amount commonly eaten, which is often more than one serving. In fact, two-thirds overestimated the serving size of cooked vegetables (which is a half-cup). The majority also overestimated serving sizes of pasta, rice and meat.

Nutrition and You: American Dietetic Association http://www.eatright.org

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Soup for Every Occasion

As the weather here in the northern hemisphere begins to get a bit chilly and the sun bids farewell around 5 pm, many people will begin to adjust their menus by including more soups as part of their daily fare. Those persons looking for fun new ways to prepare soup should definitely take a look at The Joy Of Soup website. The creator of the site, Sue Pleydee, has assembled a rather impressive collection of soup recipes. Many of them are organized under the Plogs section (a word created by eliding soup and blog. This section includes such soups as buttermilk, ham and tomato, and asparagus and escarole. The Let's Eat Out section features recipes taken from various restaurants and another area entitled The Joy of Cookbooks features Pleydee's musings on such classic cookbooks as In the Kitchen with Miss Piggy and The Crisco Family Cookbook.

The Joy of Soup http://www.joyofsoup.com/

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Food Safety Central

Given all the recent concern about different foodborne pathogens in the news and on television, this site (sponsored by the US federal government) will help answer a variety of questions that consumers and persons in the food industry may have about any number of related topics. For consumers with questions about preparing food and purchasing food from the supermarket, the site has a very helpful section titled Consumer Advice that deals with topics such as food handling, where to report complaints about food products, and seasonal advice tips. A specific section for young persons and educators provides additional materials, such as lesson plans and educational quizzes on food safety. Rounding out the site is a section featuring video broadcasts, which include food safety conference meetings, and an area devoted to current and timely news items related to food safety from different governmental agencies.

Gateway to Government Food Safety Information http://www.foodsafety.gov/

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Science of Cooking

If cooking is a science, even hard-boiling an egg requires closer study. At the Exploratorium's Accidental Scientist, visitors can cook to perfection while picking up the theory behind the art. Loaded with recipes and activities about the science in the saucepan, the site gives special treatment to basics like bread, meat and candy, but also reveals the spice behind seasonings and the ancient mysteries of the culinary craft of pickling. Each section includes activities in Kitchen Lab, plus a chance to Share & Discuss or Ask the Inquisitive Cook if the poison sack in squid will kill you. Just in time for Thanksgiving, webcasts begin in November with Turkey Science.

Accidental Scientist http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/