Insects started showing up in these pages early on and as years passed we saw them as equally interesting as other parts of the natural world; but only in more recent years did we start paying attention to insects as food. Today, one more entry.
Precision Fermentation’s Implied Potential
It is the first time we are seeing these two words together, and George Monbiot has this to say about the potential implied:
Embrace what may be the most important green technology ever. It could save us all
Never mind the yuck factor: precision fermentation could produce new staple foods, and end our reliance on farming
So what do we do now? After 27 summits and no effective action, it seems that the real purpose was to keep us talking. If governments were serious about preventing climate breakdown, there would have been no Cops 2-27. The major issues would have been resolved at Cop1, as the ozone depletion crisis was at a single summit in Montreal. Continue reading
Raw Versus Cooked, The Quiz
Take our quiz to find out.
If you subscribe to the tenets of the raw food diet, or even if you don’t, you may have heard the phrase, “When you cook it, you kill it.” Many people believe that applying heat to vegetables — whether by sautéing, boiling, steaming, frying, roasting or grilling — zaps their nutrition. Continue reading
Peanuts, Soil Regeneration & Coffee
I will not blame Ruby Tandoh for the link to the predatory bookseller in her essay; the magazine she writes for is responsible. Instead, I will just put a better link from the book image on the left to where you might purchase it. Bringing our attention to the book is enough of a good deed to overlook that link. Especially as I work on finding new ways to fix nitrogen in the soil we are prepping for coffee planting:
The Possibilities of the Peanut
I’ve made salads of peanut with watermelon and sumac, fries dunked in garlic-scented satay sauce, and more variations on my aunt’s Ghanaian groundnut stew than I can remember.
It would be hard to find a more devoted champion of the peanut than the agricultural scientist George Washington Carver. Born into slavery in Missouri around 1864, Carver studied at Iowa State University and then taught at the Tuskegee Institute, where he would spend much of the rest of his life learning to repair the environmental damage wrought by intensive cotton farming. Continue reading
More Insects In Our Diet
Thanks again to Oliver Milman, after a long while, for this article in the Guardian. The photo is clickbait, so try not to let it get in the way. The story is worthy of attention, unless you are vegan, because of its prediction about how commonplace eating insects will be for most of us in the not too distant future; or should be:
Flavorings made from mealworms could one day be used on convenience food as a source of protein
Insects can be turned into meat-like flavors, helping provide a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional meat options, scientists have discovered. Continue reading
Graphic Food For Thought
I came across this graph posted on LinkedIn. More interesting than the graph is the commentary it provoked.
Looking at the affiliations of the commenters it is clear in some cases why, for example dairy farmers, they would have claims contrary to those in the graph.
But read all the comments.
Who are all these people?
Plant-based Diet Enhanced By The Sea
From high-protein food to plastics and fuel, Swedish scientists are attempting to tap the marine plant’s huge potential
You can just see the buoys of the seafarm,” Dr Sophie Steinhagen yells over the high whine of the boat as it approaches the small islands of Sweden’s Koster archipelago. The engine drops to a sputter, and Steinhagen heaves up a rope to reveal the harvest hanging beneath: strand after strand of sea lettuce, translucent and emerald green. Continue reading
Planetary Health Diet
What we should eat for the sake of our individual and communal futures is one of the topics most posted on this platform. Gayathri Vaidyanathan’s article below adds to the most macro of perspectives on these topics. It takes a moment to process the information in the graphic above, but this article from the journal Nature makes it clear:
What humanity should eat to stay healthy and save the planet
What we eat needs to be nutritious and sustainable. Researchers are trying to figure out what that looks like around the world.
A clutch of fishing villages dot the coast near Kilifi, north of Mombasa in Kenya. The waters are home to parrot fish, octopus and other edible species. But despite living on the shores, the children in the villages rarely eat seafood. Their staple meal is ugali, maize (corn) flour mixed with water, and most of their nutrition comes from plants. Continue reading
Diet For A Small Planet, Five Decades And Counting
Moosewood has been mentioned, along with its cookbooks, and we have featured plenty of other stories about veg-forward diets and related cookbooks; so it is odd that neither this book nor its author have featured in our pages before. Just in time to celebrate five decades, a fitting tribute to its author:
Frances Moore Lappé’s last hamburger was in 1971, the same year she published “Diet for a Small Planet,” her hugely influential book about food and sustainability, which virtually created the publishing category of food politics and turned Ms. Lappé into what she once self-deprecatingly called “the Julia Child of the soybean circuit.” Continue reading
Will Consumers Choose Less Animal Protein, Even With Excellent Alternatives?
It is a theme we cover frequently, and hope to see more of in the future from the Economist’s excellent writers:
Technology can help deliver cleaner, greener delicious food
Whether consumers want it is another question, says Jon Fasman
“Tell me what kind of food you eat, and I will tell you what kind of man you are,” wrote Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, a French lawyer and epicure, in the early 19th century. The epigram opens “The Physiology of Taste,” one of those delightfully dilatory, observational works at which his age excelled. Continue reading
Wheat 2 Schools
Thanks to Civil Eats, after a while, for bringing Nan Kohler and her mission to our attention:
The Next Chapter for Farm to School: Milling Whole Grains in the Cafeteria
A new project in California aims to purchase mills for school cafeterias, marking the next step in years-long effort to bring local, whole grains to schools around the country.
Nan Kohler founded the milling company Grist & Toll in Pasadena, California in 2013 and her freshly milled flours have been a hit with bakers, chefs, and locavores ever since. But her abiding wish is to sell California-grown, freshly milled whole grain flour, which is nutritionally superior to refined flour, to the public schools in the area. Continue reading
Respect For Insects In Human Food
The old joke that begins “waiter, there is a fly in my soup” was already stale. Now it is long past its sell-by date. We have been selling this protein bar, made in Costa Rica, for long enough now to say without reservation: insects are not repellant. These bars compete alongside dozens of other snack products we offer, and have become a surprise best-seller.
I had expected occasional curiosity-driven sales, but instead they have outsold more established protein bar brands and other snack options. Insects have already earned more respect as a food source than I had imagined. Thanks to the Guardian for this partial explanation of the phenomenon, and its potential:
If we want to save the planet, the future of food is insects
Fried crickets on the school menu, milk made from fly larvae and mealworm bolognese for dinner? These are the environmentally friendly meals we can look forward to. Bon appetit!
My first attempts at feeding insects to friends and family did not go down well. “What the hell is wrong with you?” asked my wife when I revealed that the tomato and oregano-flavoured cracker bites we had been munching with our G&Ts were made from crickets. Continue reading
Moonshot To Meatless
Last month I learned enough from Ezra Klein’s food-related conversation with Mark Bittman to share the podcast episode. I listen to his podcast for the quality of his discussions with knowledgeable guests. But he is also a great essayist and yesterday he published an op-ed essay that is worth a read on a topic we have linked to many times:
Let’s Launch a Moonshot for Meatless Meat
It wouldn’t actually take that much of an investment for Biden to get us headed in the right direction.
I’m a vegan, but I’m also a realist. There’s no chance humanity is going to give up meat, en masse, anytime soon. That said, we can’t just wish away the risks of industrial animal agriculture. If we don’t end this system, soon, terrible things will happen to us and to the planet. Terrible things are already happening. Continue reading
Let Legumes Fix More Nitrogen
Reducing synthetic nitrogen in farming, by letting legumes do more nitrogen-fixing in the soil, has plenty of other benefits:
Legumes research gets flexitarian pulses racing with farming guidance
Plant more bean-like crops in Europe and consider ‘healthy diet transition’ to beat climate crisis, say scientists
Adding the likes of peas, lentils, beans, and chickpeas to your diet, and farming more of them, could result in more nutritious and effective food production with large environmental benefits, scientists have found. Continue reading
Olfactory & Gustatory Experiences, Better Understood
I had been putting off listening to this interview until I had the proper attention span. During the last two years I have worked to improve my understanding of the relationship between tastes and aromas (aka smells) of coffees, mirroring the work I did to better understand wines back in the day. My patience was rewarded with a clear conversation that neither dumbed down nor over-complicated the relationship between olfactory and gustatory experiences. It made me think the book will be worth more than the purchase price:
…On why grass-fed beef tastes different than grain-fed beef
It’s absolutely true that the foods that animals eat in order to grow affect the way they taste when we, in turn, eat them as food. And in the case of grass and grain-fed animals, the difference is in the kinds of fat that they take in. So it’s not that we’re actually tasting grass or tasting grain when we detect the difference between the two. It’s actually the fact that the fats — the oils in grass — are very irregular molecules, and they tend to be broken down in the animal into particular fragments that are very characteristic of those original fats and oils. Continue reading
What’s In A Name?
Since 2011 we have looked far and wide for information as well as inspiration related to our primary interest, entrepreneurial conservation. Sometimes, instead of inspiration we find its dark counterpart, and the result is exasperation. Reducing consumption of animal protein has been just one topical focus in our pages. We have been inspired by the innovations around meat alternatives.
We know that what’s in a name is important to how we think about a product. How we should refer to plant-based meat alternatives is one of those cases. Thanks to Isabella Kwai, today we see some potentially exasperating news from a region of the world we normally are inspired by, not least for its regulatory muscle:
E.U. Debates Whether a Veggie Burger Is Really a Burger
The European Parliament is voting on proposals that would ban products without meat from being labeled burgers or sausages, drawing ire from environmentalists and manufacturers.
LONDON — When is a burger not a burger? When it contains no meat, according to a divisive proposed amendment on which the European Parliament is scheduled to vote on Friday, part of a set of measures that would ban products without meat or dairy from using associated terms in their labeling. Continue reading
Immunity Boost Pep Shot
When Amie and I visited the Greek island of Ikaria in the autumn of 2013, it was years after we had first read about Blue Zones. We were there for work reasons, looking to identify a new location for Xandari. We learned plenty, though Xandari Ikaria never happened. Hortopita, for one. Not only spinach, but all kinds of greens, both cultivated and wild, can make a dish both healthier and more interesting than the spanakopita I had grown up with. For several weeks now, while investigating ways in which the ferias of Costa Rica might adapt to the new health protocols, and whether we might assist family farms in any way, we took a hiatus from attending the one in our town. I am happy to report that our municipality has made adjustments, and so we attended a new, smaller gathering of family farms this last week. Now that the feria is twice a week, the number of people shopping at either one is effectively halved.
I bought beets and broccoli and various greens from the stall above a few days ago with no other shopper in close proximity. Good start. And plenty of other distancing measures in place, plus an abundance of soap and sinks and disinfectant sprays at every place where you can enter or exit the feria. Also good. But we remain convinced that a new social enterprise might help these farmers, and shoppers, more. And for that, our kitchen has been a laboratory for generating ideas, with various reading materials to assist. The Blue Zones Kitchen has been especially helpful.
While the “it” social enterprise is elusive, the meals have been nutritious and tasty. This experimentation has converged with my coffee tests, and my 3-year near-obsession with how to bring Maya nut to a wider audience, so this is what I will report on today.
I have been combining a couple Blue Zones products with slow brew coffee, thinking of a drink that can add pep to the day and at the same time add other value, nutritional and otherwise. Honey is part of the recipe for its antioxidant properties as much as its sweetness. And the ojoche (aka Maya nut) to the left in the image above is there for its own nutritional reasons, which will require a post of its own.
But to get this drink just right, sweetly combining pep + immunity, the ingredient that comes from our feria is the magic touch.
Turmeric became an important part of our diet while living in India. And so it came to be again last month when, just prior to the closure of Costa Rica’s borders, a friend from India visited us. He is a medical doctor, not prone to folk remedies, but under the circumstances we all found ourselves suddenly in, looking for ways to boost our bodies’ immunities–he recommended something simple to us: have some turmeric every day. He specifically recommended combining it with milk, honey and freshly ground black peppercorn. Which we started doing, immediately. And day after day, one thing led to another. So now we have a slow brew coffee with these ingredients, plus some ojoche for good measure.
A Chef Tests Plant-Based Meats
Thanks to the New York Times for having a chef as a writer on these themes we care very much about:
How to Cook With Plant-Based Meats
You may have tried restaurant versions, but making them at home is another matter. J. Kenji López-Alt has tested them and offers practical advice.
SAN MATEO, Calif. — Even before opening my restaurant, Wursthall, here a couple years ago, I knew that taking vegan and vegetarian options seriously — with both traditionally vegan foods and modern meat alternatives — would be a central element of its success.
Though sausages form the backbone of the menu, my team and I believed that people who don’t eat meat should be able to dine in mixed company without feeling that they were second-class citizens, or that their meal consisted of a series of side dishes, as they so often do at restaurants.
For me, a food-science writer who is a chef on the side, this meant testing, and lots of it. Continue reading
Dirt Candy’s Clean Win
After a meatless month, and a strong belief that alternatives to meat are going to dominate my eating future, my thanks to Hannah Goldfield for another clue of where to eat in New York City if my goal is a mix of meatless and tasty. This one is titled Lekka Burger and the Quest for the Perfect Veggie Patty and the subtitle is the kind of question on my mind lately: In the golden age of vegetable-centric cooking, do we need more dishes made in the image of meat?:
There has never been a better time to eat a meatless hamburger. The current surge of interest in plant-based diets has sparked an arms race of sorts. Companies such as Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat are using cutting-edge technology to make ground-beef facsimiles that look, feel, and even smell eerily similar to the real thing; you can find their products everywhere from small restaurants to national fast-food chains and supermarkets. Meanwhile, in New York, a number of creative chefs have put serious effort into improving upon the archetype, using actual vegetables.
Since 2008, the chef Amanda Cohen has been the force behind Dirt Candy, the first vegetarian restaurant to hold its own in New York’s fine-dining landscape. Cohen had never served a veggie burger before Andrea Kerzner, a South African philanthropist looking for ways to fight climate change, cold-called her to propose that they collaborate on a restaurant built around one, but she was game to try. Last November, they opened Lekka Burger, in Tribeca. Continue reading
Prepping A Less-Meaty 2020
Thanks to Meera Sodha and the Guardian for this prep sheet for meeting our goals of reducing meat consumption in the new year:
Veganuary recipes: Meera Sodha’s daily meal plan
The Guardian’s vegan columnist has plant-based tips for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus snacks to stop you falling off the ‘vagon’
When I first started my vegan column, I gave myself a month before I’d have to hand in my notice. As an omnivore (admittedly one that ate little meat but a lot of dairy and eggs), I just couldn’t imagine writing recipes week after week with such a strict set of rules, let alone enjoy eating plant-based food on a regular basis. But then, something wonderful happened.
Taking meat, fish, dairy or eggs out of cooking became a catalyst for creativity, forcing me, and many other chefs and food writers, to think in new and interesting ways about how to extract the most flavour and pleasure from the same old characters in the vegetable drawer. Continue reading