Food, Inc. to air on PBS. Eat dinner first, then watch this film.
“The companies don’t want farmers talking. They don’t want this story told.” –from the trailer of Food, Inc.
Wednesday. April 21. 9-11 p.m. Hawaii time on PBS.
Mark your calendar. Set your TIVO. Don’t miss this film.
In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. [webpage, Food, Inc.]
I don’t know why, but for some reason no one wants you to know where your milk is from. The carton doesn’t say. Instead it is coded into a number somewhere so you won’t find out.
Since we live in the information age and there is a website for everything, why not one that will tell you where your milk comes from.
It’s called Where Is My Milk From? and helps you locate the secret code on your milk carton that reveals all, and then it decodes it and even displays a map.
I just checked it with Costco organic milk and Safeway buttermilk. Works as advertised.
Not that I really cared, of course, but it’s Friday and I’m tired of trying to figure out what’s happening at the Legislature. There are more important things to do in life, though finding out where your milk comes from may not be too high up on the list either…
Afraid to drive your once-cool Prius lest neighbors snicker about your bad luck getting recalled?
Never fear. The car has other uses, if you have lots of aluminum foil on hand and if you can open the hood and figure out which part of it is the gasoline engine.
Here is a recipe for Prius Pork, from the book, Manifold Destiny: The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine. The recipe will be mentioned on tomorrow’s Splendid Table on Hawaii Public Radio, but you can get a head start if you borrow your spouse’s car or trek to the supermarket for the Hoisin Sauce and the rest of the ingredients.
If you can make it through the thick prose, the recipe is near the bottom of the article, including directions to locate the gas engine under your hood.
It looks like a Prius will cook about two servings. If your other car is a Toyota Camry, the book notes that the engine serves three “but sports a bun warmer, a feature seldom mentioned in Toyota ads.”
Next time, buy American (snicker, snicker). The Chevrolet Celebrity GL offers six servings, according to the book.
How credit cards or food stamps might be used at the Farmers Markets
by Larry Geller
Wouldn’t it be great if food stamp users could buy healthy, freshly picked produce at the Farmers Markets?
The technology is here now. A startup called Square is taking credit card payments already, with no startup fee and no hardware cost. At present, an iPhone is needed, but they promise more connectivity options in the future. Yes, it works through a cell phone.
Watch this video. The sound is poor at first, but it gets better when they demonstrate the unit. Basically, you’ll see a little gizmo that plugs into the iPhone. The card is swiped through the gizmo, then the user signs with a finger on the touch screen. The gizmo is free to the merchant. Cool!
The upstart startup is being treated quite seriously by the industry. Leader Verifone has come up with a version of its own, but there are startup and monthly costs. Still, this validates the new technology.
Anyone can take payments. A merchant account is not necessary with Square. Their website explains how it works.
Square has not replied to my inquiry on whether they process food stamp cards or not. I’ll keep after them.
Study links Monsanto GM corn to organ failure in rats
by Larry Geller
Most genetically modified seed corn is produced in Hawaii, where a large majority of all the corn grown is raised expressly for the production of genetically modified seeds. [Pacific Business News, Genetically modified corn is on the rise, 9/7/2004]
Hawaii-grown corn, big business or not, may be bad business for the state. A recent study is getting to the point GMO opponents have long advocated—the study claims that the stuff is bad, at least for rats (no, this has nothing to do with the Chinatown rat problem, I know you were thinking about that…).
Here is a headline from today’s Democracy Now:
Study Links Monsanto GM Corn to Organ Failure
A new study claims to have uncovered new health effects caused by genetically modified corn from the agricultural giant Monsanto. The International Journal of Biological Sciences says GM corn helped cause organ damage in rats. The study’s author called Monsanto’s GM methods “a very serious mistake, dramatic for public health.” [Democracy Now headlines, 1/13/2010]
New York Times digs into a ground beef safety issue
by Larry Geller
As you may remember from her famous run-in with the cattle industry in 1996, Oprah Winfrey exclaimed on her show about mad cow disease, "It has just stopped me cold from eating another burger!" So she was sued.
She ultimately won, but that suit underlined the risk involved in taking on the meat industry in this country. One little slipup and you’re in trouble.
The story is about fatty trimmings that “the industry once relegated to pet food and cooking oil.” A company invented a process to treat these trimmings (see how respectful I am being) with ammonia to kill E. coli and salmonella.
Based on a study conducted by the company, according to the Times article, the USDA approved the product, and
With the U.S.D.A.’s stamp of approval, the company’s processed beef has become a mainstay in America’s hamburgers. McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast-food giants use it as a component in ground beef, as do grocery chains. The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone.
The Times reports that they obtained records from the school lunch program that show problems with the product:
Since 2005, E. coli has been found 3 times and salmonella 48 times, including back-to-back incidents in August in which two 27,000-pound batches were found to be contaminated. The meat was caught before reaching lunch-rooms trays.
The USDA comes under scrutiny in the article for accepting the product despite internal criticism:
Carl S. Custer, a former U.S.D.A. microbiologist, said he and other scientists were concerned that the department had approved the treated beef for sale without obtaining independent validation of the potential safety risk. Another department microbiologist, Gerald Zirnstein, called the processed beef "pink slime" in a 2002 e-mail message to colleagues and said, “I do not consider the stuff to be ground beef, and I consider allowing it in ground beef to be a form of fraudulent labeling.”
Fraudulent or not, it’s safe to assume that most people are not aware of what goes into this or other food that they eat.
“The industry doesn’t want you to know the truth about what you’re eating, because if you knew, you might not want to eat it.” [from Food, Inc. preview]
Read the Times story and draw your own conclusions. Yeah, I’m chicken (though the more I know about chicken…). I’ve done my job if you read the article.
Hawaiian Red Veal at KCC Farmer’s Market this Saturday!
by Nanette Geller
I was thrilled to see that The Hawaii Cattleman's Association will be bringing red veal to the KCC Farmers Market again this Saturday, 12/12. If you aren’t a vegetarian I urge you to give it a try (http://www.hfbf.org/farmersMarketKCC.shtml). If you can’t make it to KCC, R. Fields at Foodland Beretania carries it as well.
My mother was French so we ate veal pretty often. Not just the expensive cutlets, but stews (usually shoulder), veal breast (cheap in those days), liver, kidneys, and even brains. Much as I like veal I haven’t eaten it in many years because of ethical issues with how it is raised. So I was excited when I read about red veal, raised in Hawaii, which is raised without hormones, without antibiotics, and without cruelty (http://www.shareyourtable.com/get_fresh/2009/veal).
I decided to give it a try in October, when it was available for one day only at the KCC Farmer’s Market. I was hoping for an affordable bone-in breast but the breast was only available as a boned, rolled roast and beyond my budget. Ground veal and stew, however, were within reach.
The culinary students of Slow Food KCC were doing a red veal demo at the market and the Moroccan veal meatballs Gida Snyder cooked up were so fabulous I decided to duplicate it (http://slowfoodkcc.blogspot.com/2009/10/slow-food-cooking-demo-celebrating.html). I made only minor modifications to the meatballs, adding fennel seed along with the coriander and cumin seeds and lightly sweating the onion and garlic instead of using them raw. I happened to have a can of harissa, so I used that instead of making my own.
I plated it with a salad of coarsely chopped parsley & cilantro, sliced red onion, lemon juice, lemon zest and olive oil for a very special feast.