Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Field Guide to Chocolate

Candy bars, milk shakes, cookies, flavored coffee—even cereal and medicine! Chocolate is a key ingredient in many foods. In fact, it ranks as the favorite flavor of most Americans. And yet, few of us know the unique origins of this popular treat. The story of chocolate spans more than 2,000 years and now circles the globe. The tale began in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America where cacao (kah KOW) first grew. Chocolate is made from the seeds of the cacao tree. But the journey from seed to sweet is a long one, spanning many centuries and requiring many processes. The approach of Valentine's Day always makes many of us think of chocolate. Read all about how it became both an industry and an all-consuming passion.

Chocolate http://www.fieldmuseum.org/chocolate/history.html

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Will Plant Lawns for Food

A home that’s good enough to eat? Fritz Haeg’s Edible Estates program helps volunteers set up edible landscapes, covering the costs of replacing the standard lawn and flower beds with fruits, vegetable, herbs, and grains. The Edible Estates project plans to hit nine cities in the United States over the next three years, enlisting an adventurous family in each town. Volunteers must be willing to defy suburban landscape traditions by cultivating and tending their own front-yard farm, “for all neighbors and car traffic to see” (FritzHaeg.com 1.06). A home in Los Angeles is slated for planting in Spring 2006. As health-conscious Americans embrace the value of fresh-grown farmer’s market produce, the earth around them takes on different significance, as a source of potential health instead of a useless, hard-to-maintain façade.

Edible Estates http://www.fritzhaeg.com/garden/initiatives/edibleestates/main.html

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

We the Mothers

Whereas we are, literally, what we eat, and
Whereas food is the largest route by which chemical pollutants, including pesticides, trespass into our bodies, and
Whereas pesticide residues are now routinely detected in human amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood, breast milk, and the urine of school children, and
Whereas pesticide exposure is a suspected contributor to childhood cancers, infertility, miscarriage, preterm labor, birth defects, and learning disabilities, and organic agriculture provides us food with demonstrably lower residues of toxic pesticides, and
Whereas organic farming methods also protect our air and water from toxic contamination as well as enriching the soil for future generations,
We the mothers and we the children, in order to form a more perfect communion between our bodies and the biological environments we inhabit, establish environmental justice, insure ecological tranquility, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of a bountiful, sustainable harvest for ourselves and our posterity, hereby declare our abiding support for the farmers who produce organically grown foods.

We the mothers and we the children...
1. recognize that women’s bodies are the original environment for us all.
2. believe that organic farming upholds basic human rights to safe food and security of person.
3. know that the very young require special protection from toxic contamination.
4. are willing to take precautionary action to keep ourselves safe.
5. assert our right to eat anywhere on the food chain, as our cultures, dietary preferences, or level of morning sickness dictates.
6. are alarmed that agriculture has become the number one polluter of fresh water.
7. count frogs, bats, bees, and earthworms among our friends.
8. refuse to be fooled by supermarket price tags.
9. entreat our public institutions to buy organic.
10. pledge to learn about the farmers who grow our food and the problems they face.

Mothers of Organic http://www.moomom.com

Monday, January 09, 2006

Podcasting for Food

All you really need to listen to a podcast is some kind of media player on your computer. Podcasts are really just MP3 files you can download likes songs. Also, many podcast sites now have their own players. But if you want to automatically collect and store podcasts you listen to often - and this is especially good if you want to stick 'em on an iPod as you rush out the door every morning - you'll need an aggregator. To serve up properly proportioned tastes of food and wine, Winecast offers free iPodder software for Windows and MacOS X preloaded with the feed for Winecast and Eat Feed. All you need to do is download and install this software, then Winecast and Eat Feed will automatically appear on your computer. By default, iPodder is setup to add a playlist to iTunes, so the podcasts automatically sync with your iPod. If you have another brand of mp3 player that syncs with Windows Media Player, all you have to do is change the radio button in iPodder's "preferences." Podcast 411 has a great list of resources if you're interested in learning more, or how to create your own show.

Winecast was launched in late 2004 and is the first of several wine and food podcasts. The show is hosted by Tim Elliott, a tech marketer, adjunct professor of marketing and longtime wine lover. Each week, one or two podcasts are produced that focus on a wine region or grape variety with tasting notes for these wines along with wine product reviews, tasting tips and other wine-related subjects. All the wines featured on the show are purchased by the host at retail or sampled at wine tasting events. The shows run on average 15 minutes in length and can be automatically downloaded with podcasting software or played in a web browser on your computer. Since the show started, over 50 episodes have been produced and the audience has grown to over 9,000 listeners from around the world.

Eat Feed bills itself as "the podcast that takes you back in time, across the country, around the world, and back to your own table." Eat Feed would be right at home on a public radio station, and recently won Podcast of the Year. It has good interviews that dig relatively deeply into topics I find interesting: history, traditions, and techniques.

Two food radio shows also have podcasts: Good Food from KCRW, and The Splendid Table - partial podcast only - from American Public Media.)

Winecast http://www.winecast.net
Eatfeed http://www.eatfeed.com
Podcast 411 http://www.podcast411.com
Good Food http://www.kcrw.com/podcast
The Splendid Table http://splendidtable.publicradio.org/about/podcast

Friday, January 06, 2006

Caviar: Roe to Ruin

Those oh-so salty eggs of the sturgeon have fascinated everyone from Aristotle to the nouveau riche that reside on various cul-de-sacs along Americaís eastern seaboard. Regrettably, the demand for these tiny morsels has outstripped the supply, and this week the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species declared that there would be a temporary ban on caviar exports. In recent years, there has been increasing concerns about the long-term viability of the sturgeon population, and a number of factors (including pollution) have led to drastic reductions in their numbers. Much like the price of gold in recent years, the price of beluga caviar has doubled, with the current price standing at about $200 an ounce. Many concerned organizations are concerned due to the fact that temporary bans in 2001 and 2002 failed to result in stricter conservation measures and sturgeon populations continued to fall. It should be noted that effectively managing the sturgeon population has been bedeviled by the fact that harvest data for these rather imposing creatures do not include those fish that are poached across their natural habitat.

Caviar Emptor: The Decline of the Caspian Sea Sturgeon provides information about the current status of the Caspian Sea sturgeon, along with helpful environmental friendly alternatives. FAQs: Caviar Trade is offered by the World Wildlife Fund that answers such questions as "Why is caviar traded?" Fishonline, created by the Marine Conservation Society, provides information about which fish are from well managed sources around the world.

Caviar Emptor http://www.caviaremptor.org/
FAQs: Caviar Trade http://worldwildlife.org/trade/faqs_caviar.cfm
Fishonline http://www.fishonline.org/