Tag Archives: food

The Biggest Concerns About GMO Food Aren’t Really About GMOs

Everyone from Chipotle to the Food Babe rails against genetically modified ingredients, and laws to label GMO foods are making progress in some states. But the laser focus on GMOs is misguided, because most of the concerns people raise about them aren’t really about GMOs.

“GMO” is the buzzword for genetically modified crops where the plant’s DNA has been changed in the lab, typically by inserting a gene from another species. Technically there are other types of genetically modified organisms (living things), but no GMO animals are used in our food, and GMO bacteria are widespread but not controversial.

Source: The Biggest Concerns About GMO Food Aren’t Really About GMOs

This whole article is a must read for anyone interested in the current state of how the modern food system works. It’s pretty incredible in actually looking in depth at a slew of mechanisms used to hybridize our food, and which the GMO label actually only applies to a very narrow slice of some of the most well controlled using bacterial gene transfer. A mechanism that was recently discovered to have happened naturally, thousands of years ago, with the Sweet Potato.

Also, incredibly, the comments on that article are incredibly thoughtful and nuanced. It’s one of the few internet conversations that I’ve seen recently where people were legitimately curious and thought provoking.

 

Why is it pepper anyway?

Given that trickiness, I’ve started to wonder why pepper gets such Cadillac placement on the American table, sitting beside the salt shaker at every coffee shop and kitchen counter in the country. Why, too, do so many recipes invite us to season “with salt and freshly ground black pepper” upon completion? Why isn’t it salt and cumin, or salt and coriander, with every dish in the Western canon? What’s so special about pepper anyway? Perhaps it’s time to rethink the spice.

A fun article over on Slate about Pepper, why it’s in it’s role, and whether another spice might be able to replace it on our dinner table.

Blueberry Daiquiris

I’m always looking for good simple drinks that involve lots of real fruit and basic liquor that you’ve already got in your liquor cabinet.  After coming home from picking 6lbs of blueberries, I eventually found a recipe for blueberry daiquiris that fit the bill.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup light rum
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar

Directions

In a blender, combine all ingredients and process for about 30 seconds. Pour into a chilled glass.

Yields 1 drink

Realize it’s a big and strong drink.  It is slightly more than 1 of our margarita glasses holds, and it’s nearly 3 shots of rum per “drink”.  You could probably get away with about 2/3 as much rum (probably cut back the sugar if you did) for something less high octane.

Damn though, it’s seriously tasty.  This alone might be reason enough to best our season record of 21lbs of picked blueberries.

Wineberries

Susan and I were out black raspberry berry picking this weekend when we can across a type of berry neither of us could readily identify.  A camera phone picture, and some internet searching later and we figured out what it was.

Wineberries are an asian berry species that were brought here to cultivate with raspberries as they have hardier stock.  They since went invasive.  All the reading says they are edible, though you mostly want to strain out the seeds because they are quite hard.  These are different than Thimbleberries (which I used to call Roseberries as a kid) mostly in their leaves looking more like raspberries and the berries are in this prickly sheath before maturing.

It looks like they are about 2 weeks away from being ripe, if my berry sense is any good.  I wonder if they’d make for good ice cream…

Baking Power vs. Baking Soda

Baking powder and baking soda. Both of them are used so frequently in quick baking projects that unless you are a recipe developer, rarely do you consider what each of them actually does for your finished product. How come my scones call for baking powder, but my buttermilk biscuits call for a mixture of powder and soda? Is there an easy way to substitute one for the other if I don’t have both on hand? And why do I have to bake my muffins right after mixing the batter?

This edition of the Food Lab is a quick and dirty guide to how they work, and how they affect the outcome of your recipe. For those of you who want an even quicker and dirtier guide, jump straight to the summary at the bottom of the page.

Great article, that includes a decent amount of science on how breads work.

Fast food statistical lies

Rafe over at rc3.org provides a very important bit of fact checking to the fast food infographic that is circulating.  I thought 3800 seemed really high, but I didn’t bother with digging deeper.  He did.  I’m coopting his post in it’s entirety (it’s short) for those who aren’t reading his blog.

I’ve seen a number of links to the Everything You Need to Know About Fast Food infographic, which is chock full of interesting statistics, not all of which I’m entirely sure are accurate. It lists the average caloric intake for Americans as 3,760 calories, but I am pretty sure that is impossible.

This statistic comes from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, but unfortunately the link is dead. Other sources report that the average caloric consumption for men in the US is around 2,618 calories for men and 1,877 calories for women — significantly less. A little back of the envelope math shows that the number cited in the infographic is impossible. The average height of men in the US is 5′ 9.5″ and the average weight is 191 pounds. The resting metabolic rate for 25 year old men of average height and weight is about 1900 calories. If you eat only 100 more calories a day than you expend, you’ll gain 10 pounds per year.

I’ve seen this number being repeated a lot, and I wanted to point out that there’s absolutely no way it’s correct. I haven’t seen the original source data, so maybe it’s a valid statistic that’s being misused, but in the context people are using it, it’s wrong.