Monday, June 28, 2010

Fish stories

 (Delicious Tuna, via Wikimedia commons)

Just a quick bite...

Soon we may have genetically engineered salmon as an option in the grocery store. According to the NYT, the FDA is looking into an atlantic salmon that grows faster than regular salmon for use on fish farms. I'm glad it's being investigated, and I am even a little optimistic about this as an alternative to overfished wild salmon.

On the other hand, apparently the bluefin tuna is not doing so well. Also from the Times, it seems that we are in the process of hunting this valuable fish into extinction. It doesn't help that one of only two spawning grounds of this fish is in the Gulf of Mexico, where it has Deepwater Horizon as a neighbor.

Speaking of the oil spill, I, personally, am going to miss eating shrimp. It looks like I'm not getting any from the gulf coast anytime soon, and farmed shrimp (often from southeast Asia or South America) are notoriously terrible for the environment.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Over at the Sociological Images blog (always a great and thought-provoking read), I came across a post including a video of an American (that is, United States of American) "ethinic" foods section at a German supermarket. I it's a little window of opportunity to see what foods other cultures identify with my culture. Basically, in this case it looks like it's boxed baking mixes for sweets, chocolate syrup, marshmallows, and TONS of BBQ sauce. I was happy to also see maple syrup and some cajun/creole spices, as I think those are some truly American foods. But where (oh where?!) are the peanut butter and ketchup?

Here is the video:

Anyone's ideas of what foods represent a culture are shaped by their personal experiences and biases about that country. Still, I can't help think I would do a better job of making up this section. Maybe it's because culturally, I'm American, and as is pointed out in the post, what other countries associate with your culture might not be an accurate representation.

What foods would you put in the American foods section of this supermarket?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chemical Weapons in Your Kitchen

(Leeks via Wikimedia Commons)

In the recent NY Times Dining section there is a great article (by noted food author Harold McGee) about a new book by Harold Block called Garlic and Other Alliums: The Lore and the Science. A
apparently it's a little technical (and a little pricey), but McGee's article breaks down some interesting stuff about these ubiquitous kitchen-dwellers.

Alliums, the plant family that includes onions, garlic, and leeks (among others), have been used by humans as food for... well, a long time. But did you know that they can damage the red blood cells of dogs and cats? Or that the sulfur-based compounds that give garlic its distinctive taste can get into your mouth if you rub a clove on the bottom of your foot? Go try it RIGHT NOW! (And tell me how that works out for you...)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pardon the Interruption...

I know I've been slacking off on posting lately. It's been mostly due to the impending end to my graduate student career and related thesis writing activities. Basically, posting is going to be very sparse until August. Until then, I'll try to keep you updated with the goings-on in the food interwebs. Also, my CSA is starting next week, so I'm planning to have some related posts on seasonal veggies.

For now, please entertain and inform yourselves with the following items of interest:

Snake Oil in Your Snacks - Don't believe everything you read on food packaging, or How yogurt isn't going to solve all of your bowel problems.
The Bisphenol A Saga Heats Up - This endocrine disrupting compound is showing up more and more places - previously, in Nalgene bottles and other plastic bottles, and now in most canned food, too.
Dismal Reports on Dietary Supplements - In other snake oil news, food supplements are mostly bunk.
Your Fetus Can Taste Your Food - Turns out, what you eat while pregnant has an effect on what your baby will prefer to eat once it's born.
Why Bananas Turn Black in the Fridge - Cold damages these tropical fruits and causes their cells' vaculoles to leak causing phenol oxidation. Got that?
Do Spices Really Only Keep For Six Months? - Unsurprisingly, they don't spontaneously go bad after this period, but ground spices do lose flavor over time.
Keep 'Em Separated - Why you have to keep egg whites and yolks separate if you want to whip up some nice foamy egg whites. You don't want lipids in your protein foam do you? DO YOU?!
Eat Your Way to a Better Tan - Science says, eating your veggies can help give you a healthy, sun-kissed glow.
Vodka Watermelon - Okay, there isn't much science in this post, but there should be. Osmosis, anyone? Also, delicious boozy watermelon... mmmmm....

Finally, because it is awesome, this video on DIY Plum Wine and Plum Syrup. Japanese green ume plums are in season now, if you can find them:

Speaking of "in season," its finally getting into real summertime here in the Northeast, so get thee to a farmer's market! Radishes and snap peas and strawberries, oh my!