food

Pinkies Up! A Local Tea Movement Is Brewing

22 hours ago

On Saturday mornings, the most popular item Minto Island Growers sells at its farmers market booth is not the certified organic carrots, kale or blueberries. It's tea.

The farm grows Camellia sinensis, tea plants, on a half-acre plot in Salem, Ore. The tender leaves are hand picked and hand processed to make 100 pounds of organic, small batch tea.

For the last 20 years, Americans have been having a conversation about sustainable seafood that was largely focused on fish purchased at restaurants or fresh seafood counters. Armed with seafood guides, thoughtful customers were encouraged to pose questions about where their fish was caught and what type of gear was used — questions that are far trickier to pose in front of a wall of canned tuna in the middle of a supermarket.

Instagram Dee Conchman

Derrick Prater is "Dee Conchman." Every day he sets up in various parts of Miami hawking his specialty: conch.

 

Speak of the Emerald Isle, and you picture verdant rolling hillsides. But there's another green bounty — not just on Ireland's soil, but off its coast. We're talking about seaweed. And if some Irish have their way, it'll be making its way back onto plates.

Did a thirst for lemonade, the beverage that launched a thousand childhood businesses, keep Paris safe from the bubonic plague? Did ergot poisoning lead to the Crusades? According to a new book by Tom Nealon, food writer and antiquarian bookseller, it's a distinct possibility.

Nealon's book, Food Fights and Culture Wars, searches through patchy historical records to trace subjects like how chocolate led to war. In a chapter on "cacao and conflict," Nealon traces some of the violent history spawned by a love of chocolate.

When it comes to climate change, we often think of the cars we drive and the energy we use in our homes and offices. They are, after all, some of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. But what about the toast you ate for breakfast this morning?

A new study published Monday in Nature Plants breaks down the environmental cost of producing a loaf of bread, from wheat field to bakery. It finds that the bulk of the associated greenhouse gas emissions come from just one of the many steps that go into making that loaf: farming.

Among the rolling hills of ancient Africa, sometime around 8000 B.C., a dusty traveler was making gastronomic history, quite by accident.

Thirsty from a long, hot journey, the weary herdsman reached for the sheepskin bag of milk knotted to the back of his pack animal. But as he tilted his head to pour the warm liquid into his mouth, he was astonished to find that the sheep's milk had curdled. The rough terrain and constant joggling of the milk had transformed it into butter --- and bewilderingly, it tasted heavenly.

There are very few scenarios where I could see myself considering the flesh of a fellow human being as food, and the ultimatum "eat today or die tomorrow" comes up in all of them. Most people are probably with me on this.

But Bill Schutt's newest book, Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History, reveals that from a scientific perspective, there's a predictable calculus for when humans and animals go cannibal. And far more humans — and animals — have dipped into the world of cannibalism than you might have imagined.

Two of the most influential groups in the food industry are asking companies to change those pesky "expiration" or "sell by" labels on packaged food.

For Dan Barber, the celebrated chef of the New York City restaurant Blue Hill, each course of a meal is an opportunity to tell a story. One of these stories is about a pepper — an aromatic, orange habanero without any heat.

The first time Somali-American chef Jamal Hashi put camel meat on his menu in Minneapolis, it didn't go well. He tried grinding it into a burger and using chunks of it in a spicy stew, but no matter, the texture was bad and the sales were worse. "It was like chewing on a patty of rubber bands," he said of the burger.

At its best, camel meat tastes much like lean beef. But certain cuts can be tough, and if the meat comes from an old camel, it can also taste gamey. Hashi had used a shoulder cut, and neither he nor his customers were happy with the results.

Genetically engineered crops are nothing new. But emerging technology that allows scientists to alter plants more precisely and cheaply is taking genetically engineered plants from the field to the kitchen.

The first version of the Arctic Apple, a genetically modified Golden Delicious, is headed for test markets in the Midwest in February, according to the company that produced it. It is the first genetically engineered apple, altered so that when it is cut, it doesn't turn brown from oxidation.

Mika Peck, a conservation ecologist at England's University of Sussex, was frustrated. He'd been researching and publishing papers for years on the near-extinction of the Ecuadoran brown-headed spider monkey, and not much was happening to change the primate's extremely threatened status.

Not much, that is, until he started connecting the monkeys to gourmet chocolate.

Why America Is Growing The Most Sweet Potatoes Since WWII

Jan 19, 2017

Sweet potatoes are undergoing a modern renaissance in this country.

While they have always made special appearances on many American tables around the holidays, year-round demand for the root vegetables has grown. In 2015, farmers produced more sweet potatoes than in any year since World War II.

War Effort

"A lot of things were hard to get during World War II, and potatoes were easier to raise than some of the other vegetables," my grandmother Joyce Heise tells me.

As seaweed continues to gain popularity for its nutritional benefits and culinary versatility, more people are skipping the dried stuff in the grocery store and going straight to the source: the ocean itself.

At low tide on West Coast beaches, foragers hop between rocks looking for bladderwrack, sea lettuce and Irish moss to take home with them. Sea vegetable foraging has become so common, in fact, that you can take a class to learn what to harvest and what to avoid.

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