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February 26 2014


February 17 2014

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February 12 2014


February 08 2014


Why you shouldn't mess with carbonara | Public Radio International

Oretta Zanini de Vita and Maureen Fant have penned a new book together called "Pasta the Italian Way." The title underscores the fact that Fant takes Italian food very seriously, and strives to keep it as authentic as possible. And no dish is more sacred, Fant says, than spaghetti alla carbonara. http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-01-29/why-you-shouldnt-mess-carbonara

Italy's extra virgin olive oil isn't always so virgin, or so Italian | Public Radio International

It's good for your health. The best chefs wouldn't be caught without it. And Americans love the stuff. But are we getting the REAL stuff? Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Italy? http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-01-31/italys-extra-virgin-olive-oil-isnt-always-so-virgin-or-so-italian

There's a street in Tokyo where the sushi is amazing, except you can't eat it | Public Radio International

Food writer Steve Dolinsky explores the epicenter of the world's fake food on Kappabashi Street in Tokyo, Japan. http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-02-05/theres-street-tokyo-where-sushi-amazing-except-you-cant-eat-it

January 27 2014


California Drought And The U.S. Food Supply

The drought emergency in California, and what it may mean for the nation’s food supply.

With the edge of Folsom Lake, Calif., more than 100 yards away, Gina, 8, left, and Sydney, 9, Gerety walk on rocks that are usually at the waters edge, Thursday Jan. 9, 2014. Gov. Jerry Brown said he would meet Thursday with his recently formed drought task force to determine if an emergency declaration is necessary as California faces a serious water shortage. Reservoirs in the state have dipped to historic lows after one of the driest calendar years on record. (AP)

With the edge of Folsom Lake, Calif., more than 100 yards away, Gina, 8, left, and Sydney, 9, Gerety walk on rocks that are usually at the waters edge, Thursday Jan. 9, 2014. Gov. Jerry Brown said he would meet Thursday with his recently formed drought task force to determine if an emergency declaration is necessary as California faces a serious water shortage. Reservoirs in the state have dipped to historic lows after one of the driest calendar years on record. (AP)

They are praying for rain in California.  And facing drought.  A drought emergency, Governor Jerry Brown declared last week.  Worst in years.  Winter weather so warm you’ve got a confused bear wandering through skiers on the slopes last week.  So dry that farmers are thinning herds and letting fields go fallow.  Wondering which crops to lose.  Up in the Sierra Nevada, only 20 percent of the normal snow pack.  Less to melt, less to drink.  It’s just dry.  This hour On Point:  fire, food, climate and the drought emergency in California.

– Tom Ashbrook


Bettina Boxall, water and environmental issues reporter for The Los Angeles Times. (@boxall)

Jeanie Jones, deputy drought manager and interstate resources manager for the California Department of Water Resources.

Heather Cooley, co-director of the water program at the Pacific Institute. Co-author of “The World’s Water,” “A Twenty-First Century U.S. Water Policy” and “The Water-Energy Nexus In the American West.”

Daniel A. Sumner, director at the University of California Agricultural Issues Center and Frank H. Buck, Jr. Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis.

From Tom’s Reading List

Los Angeles Times: California declares drought emergency — “Brown’s drought proclamation follows California’s driest year on record and comes amid dropping reservoir levels and no sign of relief in the near future. Some Northern California communities dependent on shrinking local supplies have already imposed rationing and others are asking residents to eliminate outdoor watering. Many Central Valley irrigation districts are warning growers to expect severe delivery cuts this spring and summer.”

Significant Figures: What Californians Can Expect from the Drought – “It is not too late for some big storms off the Pacific Ocean to bring relief. But the odds are against it andcurrent meteorological conditions are not encouraging. If the rest of the winter months are dry, or even of average wetness, the state will have much less water than normal, and much less than water users want – from cities to farms to our natural ecosystems.”

TIME: Hundred Years of Dry: How California’s Drought Could Get Much, Much Worse — “Californians need to be ready, because if some scientists are right, this drought could be worse than anything the state has experienced in centuries. B. Lynn Ingram, a paleoclimatologist at the University of California, Berkeley, has looked at rings of old trees in the state, which helps scientists gauge precipitation levels going back hundreds of years. (Wide tree rings indicate years of substantial growth and therefore healthy rainfall, while narrow rings indicate years of little growth and very dry weather.) She believes that California hasn’t been this dry since 1580, around the time the English privateer Sir Francis Drake first visited the state’s coast.”

January 17 2014


Michael Pollan Explains What's Wrong With the Paleo Diet | Mother Jones

Caveman: ollyy/Shutterstock; Scale: Fabio Freitas e Silva/Shutterstock; Kabob food: Africa Studio/Shutterstock. Photoilustration by Matt Connolly.The paleo diet is hot. Those who follow it are attempting, they say, to mimic our ancient ancestors—minus the animal-skin fashions and the total lack of technology, of course. The adherents eschew what they believe comes from modern agriculture (wheat, dairy, legumes, for instance) and rely instead on meals full of meat, nuts, and vegetables—foods they claim are closer to what hunter-gatherers ate. The trouble with that view, however, is that what they're eating is probably nothing like the diet of hunter-gatherers, says Michael Pollan, author of a number of best-selling books on food and agriculture, including Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. "I don't think we really understand…well the proportions in the ancient diet," argues Pollan on the latest episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast (stream below). "Most people who tell you with great confidence that this is what our ancestors ate—I think they're kind of blowing smoke." The wide-ranging interview with Pollan covered the science and history of cooking, the importance of microbes—tiny organisms such as bacteria—in our diet, and surprising new research on the intelligence of plants. Here are five suggestions he offered about cooking and eating well. 1. Meat: It's not always for dinner. Cooking meat transforms it: Roasting it or braising it for hours in liquid unlocks complex smells and flavors that are hard to resist. In addition to converting it into something we crave, intense heat also breaks down the meat into nutrients that we can more easily access. Our ancient ancestors likely loved the smell of meat on an open fire as much as we do. Michael Pollan. Ken Light. But human populations in different regions of the world ate a variety of diets. Some ate more; some ate less. They likely ate meat only when they could get it, and then they gorged. Richard Wrangham, author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, says diets from around the world ranged greatly in the percentage of calories from meat. It's not cooked meat that made us human, he says, but rather cooked food. In any case, says Pollan, today's meat is nothing like that of the hunter-gatherer. One problem with the paleo diet is that "they're assuming that the options available to our caveman ancestors are still there," he argues. But "unless you're willing to hunt your food, they're not." As Pollan explains, the animals bred by modern agriculture—which are fed artificial diets of corn and grains, and beefed up with hormones and antibiotics—have nutritional profiles far from wild game. Pastured animals, raised on diets of grass and grubs, are closer to their wild relatives; even these, however, are nothing like the lean animals our ancestors ate. So, basically, enjoy meat in moderation, and choose pastured meat if possible. Space Monkey Pics/Shutterstock 2. Humans can live on bread alone. Paleo obsessives might shun bread, but bread, as it has been traditionally made, is a healthy way to access a wide array of nutrients from grains. In Cooked, Pollan describes how bread might have been first created: Thousands of years ago, someone probably in ancient Egypt discovered a bubbling mash of grains and water, the microbes busily fermenting what would become dough. And unbeknownst to those ancient Egyptians, the fluffy, delicious new substance had been transformed by those microbes. Suddenly the grains provided even more bang for the bite. As University of California-Davis food chemist Bruce German told Pollan in an interview, "You could not survive on wheat flour. But you can survive on bread." Microbes start to digest the grains, breaking them down in ways that free up more of the healthful parts. If bread is compared to another method of cooking flour—basically making it into porridge—"bread is dramatically more nutritious," says Pollan. Still, common bread made from white flour and commercial yeast doesn't have the same nutritional content as the slowly fermented and healthier sourdough bread you might find at a local baker. Overall, though, bread can certainly be part of a nutritious diet. (At least, for those who don't suffer from celiac disease.) 3. Eat more microbes. Microbes play a key role not just in bread, but in all sorts of fermented foods: beer, cheese, yogurt, kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, pickles. Thousands—even hundreds—of years ago, before electricity made refrigeration widely available, fermentation was one of the best means of preserving foods. And now we know that microbes, such as those in our gut, play a key role in our health, as well. The microbes we eat in foods like pickles may not take up a permanent home in our innards; rather, they seem to be more akin to transient visitors, says Pollan. Still, "fermented foods provide a lot of compounds that gut microbes like," and he says he makes sure to eat some fermented vegetables every day.  HandmadePictures/Shutterstock 4. Raw food is for the birds (too much of it, anyway). There's paleo, and then there's the raw diet. Folks who eat raw tout the health benefits of the approach, saying that they’re accessing the full, complete nutrients available because they're not heating, and thus destroying, their dinner. But that's simply wrong. We cook to get our hands on more nutrients, not fewer. According to Wrangham, the one thing absolutely all cultures have in common is that they cook their food. He points out that women who move towards 100 percent raw diets often stop ovulating, because even if in theory they're tossing sufficient food into the blender to fulfill their caloric needs, they simply can't absorb enough from the uncooked food. Our hefty cousins, the apes, spend half their waking hours gnawing on raw sustenance, about six hours per day. In contrast, we spend only one hour. "So in a sense, cooking opens up this space for other activities," says Pollan. "It's very hard to have culture, it's very hard to have science, it's very hard to have all the things we count as important parts of civilization if you're spending half of all your waking hours chewing." Cooked food: It gave us civilization. 5. Want to be healthy? Cook. Pollan says the food industry has done a great job of convincing eaters that corporations can cook better than we can. The problem is, it's not true. And the food that others cook is nearly always less healthful than that which we cook ourselves. "Part of the problem is that we've been isolated as cooks for too long," says Pollan. "I found that to the extent you can make cooking itself a social experience, it can be a lot more fun." But how can we convince folks to give it a try? "I think we have to lead with pleasure," he says. Aside from the many health benefits, cooking is also "one of the most interesting things humans know how to do and have done for a very long time. And we get that, or we wouldn't be watching so much cooking on TV. There is something fascinating about it. But it's even more fascinating when you do it yourself." For the full interview, in which Pollan also discusses cheese made from his belly button microbes and the latest research on how plants can hear insects snacking on neighboring leaves, listen here: This episode of Inquiring Minds, a podcast hosted by best-selling author Chris Mooney and neuroscientist and musician Indre Viskontas, is guest-hosted by Cynthia Graber. It also features a discussion of the new popular physics book Trespassing on Einstein's Lawn, by Amanda Gefter, and new research suggesting that the purpose of sleep is to clean cellular waste substances out of your brain. To catch future shows right when they are released, subscribe to Inquiring Minds via iTunes or RSS. We are also available on Swell. You can follow the show on Twitter at @inquiringshow and like us on Facebook. Inquiring Minds was also recently singled out as one of the "Best of 2013" shows on iTunes—you can learn more here. http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/01/michael-pollan-paleo-diet-inquiring-minds

January 13 2014


Download MP3 (Full Episode)


The Alton Browncast #28: Valerie Bertinelli « Nerdist

Tags: food

January 02 2014


Eating myself

Exploring our society's obsession with food as a marker of our identity and why we still feel empty despite all the sumptuous cuisines. What we eat is supposed to indicate who we are — for example, eating organic means you're ethical; eating blowfish sashimi means you're adventurous; grating white truffle on your pasta means you're sophisticated. In fact, food has been so thoroughly colonised by commentary and narrative in our consumer-driven culture that what we eat is becoming less and less about nutrition or fuel for the body but more about consuming symbolism and meaning — like social status and identity. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/360/eating-myself/3133662

December 26 2013


December 21 2013


Spiritual rebellion from the elites - Stanley Kubrick

This interview is fascinating. It is an interview with Jay Weidener who is a renowned author, filmmaker and hermetic scholar. Considered to be a ‘modern-day Indiana Jones’ for his ongoing worldwide quests to find clues to mankind’s spiritual destiny via ancient societies and artifacts, his body of work offers great insight into the circumstances that have led to the current global crisis. He is the producer of the documentary films, 2012 The Odyssey, its sequel Timewave 2013, and director of http://projectavalon.net/forum4/showthread.php?20129-Spiritual-rebellion-from-the-elites-Stanley-Kubrick

December 20 2013


This Stanford Ph.D. Became A Fruit Picker To Feed California's Hungry

December 16 2013


A Taste of the Past:Episode 72 — Hot Dogs

This week on A Taste of the Past, Linda explores the history of the hot dog with Bruce Kraig, Ph.D, author of 'Hot Dog, A Global History'. Bruce has traveled the world tasting hot dogs and shares some very interesting variations including Korean batter-dipped dogs. Learn how the frankfurter found its way into American culture, where it got its silly name from and how it helped define our 'on-the-go' meal philosophy in this country. http://www.heritageradionetwork.com/episodes/1782-A-Taste-of-the-Past-Episode-72-Hot-Dogs

December 15 2013


It starts with food

(for Jane Whitney) — This is an abbreviated transcript of what I heard. I do not take responsibility for the accuracy of this transcript, but did copy it for you to the best of my ability. Hope you receive this; I am not on Facebook. Perhaps the website can e-mail this to you. (Intro talks about Melissa Hartwig’s new book, “It Starts with Food” (co-authored with husband, Dallas) and her being a new mother (3 mos. ago) and parenting. They can’t guarantee that it has to do with food, but their baby is a happy, healthy baby that sleeps real well and they would like to think it has something to do with it. Talked about genetics and how it can go back to what the maternal grandmother was eating and the stress the grandfather was experiencing, etc. (Ffrom “It Starts with Food”): The whole program was started in April 2009. Since then they have been giving away a lot of info on their website and doing seminars, etc. The impetus for the book was to take all the information and put it in one place. (Melissa’s story): Husband has always had an interest in nutrition. Sister has rheumatoid arthritis and he stumbled upon an article by Loren Cordain that talked about the Paleo diet & autoimmune conditions. Dallas had a chronic condition (shoulder inflammation). He did a self-test and changed his diet and within 6 weeks his shoulder pain was gone and this had been a chronic problem for him. When they went to see Rob Wolfe’s seminar, he said “Just try it for 30 days,” and that was the start of their book, etc. Everyone who they have talked to who started Paleo has had some kind of problem they were trying to fix, and if not fixed completely, it was better. (Melissa talks about how dysfunctional her relationship with food had become.) Standards from Melissa’s book: All of the food that is on your every-day plate should pass all 4 good food standards: i) should promote a healthy psychological response; ii) a healthy hormonal response; iii) a healthy gut, and iv) should promote immune system balance and minimize systemic inflammation. The way our food is being processed now promotes a super stimulus. When you are eating food that food scientists have made, they are fattier, saltier, sweeter than anything you could find in nature. Its “over the top everything,” and we prefer that, even though we know it’s fake. The hormones are one big team. Hormones are greater than will power; they are messengers in the body and send signals throughout the body and they are impacted by food. Leptin is a relatively newly discovered hormone (regulates how your body communicating to your brain how much body fat you have – whether you need more or whether you have enough). (Talks about other hormones as well). They talk about how hormones are affected by the unhealthy foods we eat. Science has been studying leptin because of its relation to weight. Excerpted from book: 1. Alcohol and it’s negative effect on the body. Debunked the heart-healthy effect of a couple glasses of red wine and the possibly faulty studies. Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes; better to eat red grapes than drink the wine. Some study results re resveratrol were fabricated. 2. Sugar: all sugar (from a physiological standpoint) is not created equal. From a psychological perspective, however, your brain doesn’t know the difference between honey, Splenda, dried fruit, etc. If you’re trying to break a sugar addiction, then all sugar is suspect. Melissa talked about “the other white meat (coconut).” They really like coconut & coconut products (milk, oil, butter, meat, etc.) They like it because it’s a good source of saturated fat and you don’t have to be afraid of saturated fat if it comes from natural sources. It’s the most stable fat – excellent for cooking, even at higher temperatures & readily converted to energy in the body. It does not take bile to breakdown coconut oil. It is easy to digest, even for those with gall bladder issues. Used topically it’s a good antibacterial. It was said that we can’t rely on science by itself – one day coffee is healthy; then it’s not. We can always find a study to support our position. There’s no one diet that works perfectly for everybody. We need to try this out for ourselves. It’s not a one-size fits all. We don’t know it all; science can’t prove everything. If you read too much, you just don’t know what to believe. It’s the basic stuff that makes the difference: drink the water, eat the real food, get enough rest, have healthy relationships, get exercise, reduce your stress. People don’t want to hear this; they want to hear the next new thing instead. Melissa was asked what she thinks about doing it right 80% of the time & having cheat days. Melissa is not a huge fan of the 80/20 idea. Most people can’t do moderation. It is rare. One example: once an alcoholic; always an alcoholic. You don’t tell an alcoholic that he can have cheat days. Abstinence is the only cure. Melissa translates this to a sugar addiction. Melissa was asked “What are people doing that they need to change?” Her response was, “ The mindlessness with which people eat.” She said we need to make more deliberate, educated decisions. Melissa has a background in addictions and working with addictions. Melissa said that she believes people underestimate the addictive quality of coffee until they try to get off it. Smoking: Melissa recommends people address that first before trying to take on too much change at once. Wrap-up: Two questions: 1st one is “What do you think is the biggest waste of time in the health community or the wrong focus.” Melissa said that she thinks focusing solely on weight loss is a really dangerous, difficult place to be. They encourage people to approach it from a different perspective. 2nd one: Where do you foresee this whole holistic, ancestral health movement five years down the road? Melissa’s response (abbreviated): To see where it started and where it is now – the growth has been insane. The way that it’s spread to the mainstream community is amazing. Check out Melissa’s website: http://www.wholeninelife.com http://blog.paleohacks.com/melissa-hartwig/

November 19 2013


The Great Greening Of The Global North

The fall crop is in, harvested. But the map of what we grow, where, is changing, with climate change. We’ll look at the new map of North American food production.


David Lobell, professor in environmental Earth system science at Stanford University. Director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment. (@DavidBLobell)

Wolfam Schlenker, professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Donn Teske, farmer, president of the Kansas Farmers Union.

Woody Barth, farmer, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union.

From Tom’s Reading List

USA Today: Some crops migrate north with warmer temperatures — “North Dakota is at the leading edge of a shift in North American weather patterns, with more variable weather and rainfall; longer, hotter summers; and warmer winters. USA TODAY visited the state as the seventh stop in its look at how climate change is impacting the way Americans work, live and play. In the town of Rugby, N.D., 50 miles south of the Canadian border, climate change is written in the fields. Where once wheat was king, field after field is now full of feed corn. At the beginning of September, farmers are hustling to get combines out to cut the golden wheat but green fields of corn are everywhere — and still a month from harvest.”

New York Times: A Jolt to Complacency on Food Supply – ”This may be the greatest single fear about global warming: that climate change could so destabilize the world’s food system as to lead to rising hunger or even mass starvation. Two weeks ago, a leaked draft of a report by the United Nations climate committee, known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggested that the group’s concerns have grown, and that the report, scheduled for release in March in Yokohama, Japan, is likely to contain a sharp warning about risks to the food supply.”

Mother Jones: Climate Change Is Already Shrinking Crop Yields — “Of course, we can’t tie any individual heat wave to long-term climate trends—there’s plenty of random weather variation even in times of climate stability. But we do know that hot, dry weather can stunt plant growth and reduce yields—and we also know that we can expect more hot, dry weather in key growing regions as the climate warms up.”

November 12 2013


'Oma and Bella': Two Holocaust Survivors that Preserve Memories in their Berlin Kitchen | Public Radio International

'Oma and Bella' is a documentary about two Jewish women in their 80s living in Berlin. Reporter Julia Simon talks to the filmmaker, who is the grand daughter of one of the women. http://www.pri.org/stories/2012-12-10/oma-and-bella-two-holocaust-survivors-preserve-memories-their-berlin-kitchen

Kitchen Cabinet: Oxford

Jay Rayner hosts a new food panel show. Every week the expert team visit a different interesting food location in the UK and answer cooking questions from a live audience. In a food science special, the experimental psychologist Professor Charles Spence discusses the relationship between food perception and taste. The panel tests the effects of cutlery on our taste buds, and we ask whether Margaret Thatcher was really responsible for soft-scoop ice cream. We find out whether the panel members believe they are better cooks than their mothers, ask how not to commit a sausage faux pas, and question why the British have a peculiar love for Marmalade. http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/kc

October 30 2013


Fish Sauce: An Ancient Roman Condiment Rises Again

We usually associate fish sauce with Southeast Asian cooking. But it turns out the briny condiment also has deep roots in Europe, dating back to the Roman Empire. What caused its decline? Historians say it boils down to taxes, and pirates.
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