November 08, 2011

Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn't Honey

Ultra-filtering Removes Pollen, Hides Honey Origins
by Andrew Schneider | Nov 07, 2011


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More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn't exactly what the bees produce, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News.

The results show that the pollen frequently has been filtered out of products labeled "honey."
The removal of these microscopic particles from deep within a flower would make the nectar flunk the quality standards set by most of the world's food safety agencies.

The food safety divisions of the World Health Organization, the European Commission and dozens of others also have ruled that without pollen there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says that any product that's been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn't honey. However, the FDA isn't checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen.

Ultra filtering is a high-tech procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the source of the honey. It is a spin-off of a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey - some containing illegal antibiotics - on the U.S. market for years.

Food Safety News decided to test honey sold in various outlets after its earlier investigation found U.S. groceries flooded with Indian honey banned in Europe as unsafe because of contamination with antibiotics, heavy metal and a total lack of pollen which prevented tracking its origin.

Food Safety News purchased more than 60 jars, jugs and plastic bears of honey in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

The contents were analyzed for pollen by Vaughn Bryant, a professor at Texas A&M University and one of the nation's premier melissopalynologists, or investigators of pollen in honey.

Bryant, who is director of the Palynology Research Laboratory, found that among the containers of honey provided by Food Safety News:

• 76 percent of samples bought at groceries had all the pollen removed, These were stores like TOP Food, Safeway, Giant Eagle, QFC, Kroger, Metro Market, Harris Teeter, A&P, Stop & Shop and King Soopers.

• 100 percent of the honey sampled from drugstores like Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS Pharmacy had no pollen.

• 77 percent of the honey sampled from big box stores like Costco, Sam's Club, Walmart, Target and H-E-B had the pollen filtered out.

• 100 percent of the honey packaged in the small individual service portions from Smucker, McDonald's and KFC had the pollen removed.

• Bryant found that every one of the samples Food Safety News bought at farmers markets, co-ops and "natural" stores like PCC and Trader Joe's had the full, anticipated, amount of pollen.

And if you have to buy at major grocery chains, the analysis found that your odds are somewhat better of getting honey that wasn't ultra-filtered if you buy brands labeled as organic. Out of seven samples tested, five (71 percent) were heavy with pollen. All of the organic honey was produced in Brazil, according to the labels.

The National Honey Board, a federal research and promotion organization under USDA oversight, says the bulk of foreign honey (at least 60 percent or more) is sold to the food industry for use in baked goods, beverages, sauces and processed foods. Food Safety News did not examine these products for this story.

Some U.S. honey packers didn't want to talk about how they process their merchandise.

One who did was Bob Olney, of Honey Tree Inc., in Michigan, who sells its Winnie the Pooh honey in Walmart stores. Bryant's analysis of the contents of the container made in Winnie's image found that the pollen had been removed.

Olney says that his honey came from suppliers in Montana, North Dakota and Alberta. "It was filtered in processing because North American shoppers want their honey crystal clear," he said.

The packers of Silverbow Honey added: "The grocery stores want processed honey as it lasts longer on the shelves."

However, most beekeepers say traditional filtering used by most will catch bee parts, wax, debris from the hives and other visible contaminants but will leave the pollen in place.

Ernie Groeb, the president and CEO of Groeb Farms Inc., which calls itself "the world's largest packer of honey," says he makes no specific requirement to the pollen content of the 85 million pounds of honey his company buys.

Groeb sells retail under the Miller's brand and says he buys 100 percent pure honey, but does not "specify nor do we require that the pollen be left in or be removed."

He says that there are many different filtering methods used by beekeepers and honey packers.

"We buy basically what's considered raw honey. We trust good suppliers. That's what we rely on," said Groeb, whose headquarters is in Onstead, Mich.

Why Remove the Pollen?

Removal of all pollen from honey "makes no sense" and is completely contrary to marketing the highest quality product possible, Mark Jensen, president of the American Honey Producers Association, told Food Safety News.

"I don't know of any U.S. producer that would want to do that. Elimination of all pollen can only be achieved by ultra-filtering and this filtration process does nothing but cost money and diminish the quality of the honey," Jensen said.

"In my judgment, it is pretty safe to assume that any ultra-filtered honey on store shelves is Chinese honey and it's even safer to assume that it entered the country uninspected and in violation of federal law," he added.

Richard Adee, whose 80,000 hives in multiple states produce 7 million pounds of honey each year, told Food Safety News that "honey has been valued by millions for centuries for its flavor and nutritional value and that is precisely what is completely removed by the ultra-filtration process."

"There is only one reason to ultra-filter honey and there's nothing good about it," he says.

"It's no secret to anyone in the business that the only reason all the pollen is filtered out is to hide where it initially came from and the fact is that in almost all cases, that is China," Adee added.

The Sioux Honey Association, who says it's America's largest supplier, declined repeated requests for comments on ultra-filtration, what Sue Bee does with its foreign honey and whether it's ultra-filtered when they buy it. The co-op markets retail under Sue Bee, Clover Maid, Aunt Sue, Natural Pure and many store brands.

Eric Wenger, director of quality services for Golden Heritage Foods, the nation's third largest packer, said his company takes every precaution not to buy laundered Chinese honey.

"We are well aware of the tricks being used by some brokers to sell honey that originated in China and laundering it in a second country by filtering out the pollen and other adulterants," said Wenger, whose firm markets 55 million pounds of honey annually under its Busy Bee brand, store brands, club stores and food service.

"The brokers know that if there's an absence of all pollen in the raw honey we won't buy it, we won't touch it, because without pollen we have no way to verify its origin."

He said his company uses "extreme care" including pollen analysis when purchasing foreign honey, especially from countries like India, Vietnam and others that have or have had "business arrangements" with Chinese honey producers.

Golden Heritage, Wenger said, then carefully removes all pollen from the raw honey when it's processed to extend shelf life, but says, "as we see it, that is not ultra-filtration.

"There is a significant difference between filtration, which is a standard industry practice intended to create a shelf-stable honey, and ultra-filtration, which is a deceptive, illegal, unethical practice."

Some of the foreign and state standards that are being instituted can be read to mean different things, Wenger said "but the confusion can be eliminated and we can all be held to the same appropriate standards for quality if FDA finally establishes the standards we've all wanted for so long."

Groeb says he has urged FDA to take action as he also "totally supports a standard of Identity for honey. It will help everyone have common ground as to what pure honey truly is!"

What's Wrong With Chinese Honey?

Chinese honey has long had a poor reputation in the U.S., where - in 2001 - the Federal Trade Commission imposed stiff import tariffs or taxes to stop the Chinese from flooding the marketplace with dirt-cheap, heavily subsidized honey, which was forcing American beekeepers out of business.

To avoid the dumping tariffs, the Chinese quickly began transshipping honey to several other countries, then laundering it by switching the color of the shipping drums, the documents and labels to indicate a bogus but tariff-free country of origin for the honey.

Most U.S. honey buyers knew about the Chinese actions because of the sudden availability of lower cost honey, and little was said.

The FDA -- either because of lack of interest or resources -- devoted little effort to inspecting imported honey. Nevertheless, the agency had occasionally either been told of, or had stumbled upon, Chinese honey contaminated with chloramphenicol and other illegal animal antibiotics which are dangerous, even fatal, to a very small percentage of the population.

Mostly, the adulteration went undetected. Sometimes FDA caught it.

In one instance 10 years ago, contaminated Chinese honey was shipped to Canada and then on to a warehouse in Houston where it was sold to jelly maker J.M. Smuckers and the national baker Sara Lee.

By the time the FDA said it realized the Chinese honey was tainted, Smuckers had sold 12,040 cases of individually packed honey to Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Sara Lee said it may have been used in a half-million loaves of bread that were on store shelves.

Eventually, some honey packers became worried about what they were pumping into the plastic bears and jars they were selling. They began using in-house or private labs to test for honey diluted with inexpensive high fructose corn syrup or 13 other illegal sweeteners or for the presence of illegal antibiotics. But even the most sophisticated of these tests would not pinpoint the geographic source of the honey.

Food scientists and honey specialists say pollen is the only foolproof fingerprint to a honey's source.

Federal investigators working on criminal indictments and a very few conscientious packers were willing to pay stiff fees to have the pollen in their honey analyzed for country of origin. That complex, multi-step analysis is done by fewer than five commercial laboratories in the world.

But, Customs and Justice Department investigators told Food Safety News that whenever U.S. food safety or criminal experts verify a method to identify potentially illegal honey - such as analyzing the pollen - the laundering operators find a way to thwart it, such as ultra-filtration.

The U.S. imported 208 million pounds of honey over the past 18 months. Almost 60 percent came from Asian countries - traditional laundering points for Chinese honey. This included 45 million pounds from India alone.

And websites still openly offer brokers who will illegally transship honey and scores of other tariff-protected goods from China to the U.S.

FDA's Lack of Action

The Food and Drug Administration weighed into the filtration issue years ago.

"The FDA has sent a letter to industry stating that the FDA does not consider 'ultra-filtered' honey to be honey," agency press officer Tamara Ward told Food Safety News.

She went on to explain: "We have not halted any importation of honey because we have yet to detect 'ultra-filtered' honey. If we do detect 'ultra-filtered' honey we will refuse entry."

Many in the honey industry and some in FDA's import office say they doubt that FDA checks more than 5 percent of all foreign honey shipments.

For three months, the FDA promised Food Safety News to make its "honey expert" available to explain what that statement meant. It never happened. Further, the federal food safety authorities refused offers to examine Bryant's analysis and explain what it plans to do about the selling of honey it says is adulterated because of the removal of pollen, a key ingredient.

Major food safety standard-setting organizations such as the United Nations' Codex Alimentarius, the European Union and the European Food Safety Authority say the intentional removal of pollen is dangerous because it eliminates the ability of consumers and law enforcement to determine the actual origin of the honey.

"The removal of pollen will make the determination of botanical and geographic origin of honey impossible and circumvents the ability to trace and identify the actual source of the honey," says the European Union Directive on Honey.

The Codex commission's Standard for Honey, which sets principles for the international trade in food, has ruled that "No pollen or constituent particular to honey may be removed except where this is unavoidable in the removal of foreign matter. . ." It even suggested what size mesh to use (not smaller than 0.2mm or 200 micron) to filter out unwanted debris -- bits of wax and wood from the frames, and parts of bees -- but retain 95 percent of all the pollen.

Food Safety News asked Bryant to analyze foreign honey packaged in Italy, Hungary, Greece, Tasmania and New Zealand to try to get a feeling for whether the Codex standards for pollen were being heeded overseas. The samples from every country but Greece were loaded with various types and amounts of pollen. Honey from Greece had none.

You'll Never Know

In many cases, consumers would have an easier time deciphering state secrets than pinning down where the honey they're buying in groceries actually came from.

The majority of the honey that Bryant's analysis found to have no pollen was packaged as store brands by outside companies but carried a label unique to the food chain. For example, Giant Eagle has a ValuTime label on some of its honey. In Target it's called Market Pantry, Naturally Preferred and others. Walmart uses Great Value and Safeway just says Safeway. Wegmans also uses its own name.

Who actually bottled these store brands is often a mystery.

A noteworthy exception is Golden Heritage of Hillsboro, Kan. The company either puts its name or decipherable initials on the back of store brands it fills.

"We're never bashful about discussing the products we put out" said Wenger, the company's quality director. "We want people to know who to contact if they have questions."

The big grocery chains were no help in identifying the sources of the honey they package in their store brands.

For example, when Food Safety News was hunting the source of nine samples that came back as ultra-filtered from QFC, Fred Myer and King Sooper, the various customer service numbers all led to representatives of Kroger, which owns them all. The replies were identical: "We can't release that information. It is proprietary."


One of the customer service representatives said the contact address on two of the honeys being questioned was in Sioux City, Iowa, which is where Sioux Bee's corporate office is located.

Jessica Carlson, a public relations person for Target, waved the proprietary banner and also refused to say whether it was Target management or the honey suppliers that wanted the source of the honey kept from the public.

Similar non-answers came from representatives of Safeway, Walmart and Giant Eagle.

The drugstores weren't any more open with the sources of their house brands of honey. A Rite Aid representative said "if it's not marked made in China, than it's made in the United States." She didn't know who made it but said "I'll ask someone."

Rite Aid, Walgreen and CVS have yet to supply the information.

Only two smaller Pacific Northwest grocery chains - Haggen and Metropolitan Market - both selling honey without pollen, weren't bashful about the source of their honey. Haggen said right off that its brand comes from Golden Heritage. Metropolitan Market said its honey - Western Family - is packed by Bee Maid Honey, a co-op of beekeepers from the Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

Pollen? Who Cares?

Why should consumers care if their honey has had its pollen removed?

"Raw honey is thought to have many medicinal properties," says Kathy Egan, dietitian at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. "Stomach ailments, anemia and allergies are just a few of the conditions that may be improved by consumption of unprocessed honey."

But beyond pollen's reported enzymes, antioxidants and well documented anti-allergenic benefits, a growing population of natural food advocates just don't want their honey messed with.

There is enormous variety among honeys. They range in color from glass-clear to a dark mahogany and in consistency from watery to chunky to a crystallized solid. It's the plants and flowers where the bees forage for nectar that will determine the significant difference in the taste, aroma and color of what the bees produce. It is the processing that controls the texture.

Food historians say that in the 1950s the typical grocery might have offered three or four different brands of honey. Today, a fair-sized store will offer 40 to 50 different types, flavors and sources of honey out of the estimated 300 different honeys made in the U.S.. And with the attractiveness of natural food and the locavore movement, honey's popularity is burgeoning. Unfortunately, with it comes the potential for fraud.

Concocting a sweet-tasting syrup out of cane, corn or beet sugar, rice syrup or any of more than a dozen sweetening agents is a great deal easier, quicker and far less expensive than dealing with the natural brew of bees.

However, even the most dedicated beekeeper can unknowingly put incorrect information on a honey jar's label.

Bryant has examined nearly 2,000 samples of honey sent in by beekeepers, honey importers, and ag officials checking commercial brands off store shelves. Types include premium honey such as "buckwheat, tupelo, sage, orange blossom, and sourwood" produced in Florida, North Carolina, California, New York and Virginia and "fireweed" from Alaska.

"Almost all were incorrectly labeled based on their pollen and nectar contents," he said.

Out of the 60 plus samples that Bryant tested for Food Safety News, the absolute most flavorful said "blackberry" on the label. When Bryant concluded his examination of the pollen in this sample he found clover and wildflowers clearly outnumbering a smattering of grains of blackberry pollen.

For the most part we are not talking about intentional fraud here. Contrary to their most fervent wishes, beekeepers can't control where their bees actually forage any more than they can keep the tides from changing. They offer their best guess on the predominant foliage within flying distance of the hives.

"I think we need a truth in labeling law in the U.S. as they have in other countries," Bryant added.

FDA Ignores Pleas

No one can say for sure why the FDA has ignored repeated pleas from Congress, beekeepers and the honey industry to develop a U.S. standard for identification for honey.

Nancy Gentry owns the small Cross Creek Honey Company in Interlachen, Fla., and she isn't worried about the quality of the honey she sells.

"I harvest my own honey. We put the frames in an extractor, spin it out, strain it, and it goes into a jar. It's honey the way bees intended," Gentry said.

But the negative stories on the discovery of tainted and bogus honey raised her fears for the public's perception of honey.

She spent months of studying what the rest of the world was doing to protect consumers from tainted honey and questioning beekeepers and industry on what was needed here. Gentry became the leading force in crafting language for Florida to develop the nation's first standard for identification for honey.

In July 2009, Florida adopted the standard and placed its Division of Food Safety in the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in charge of enforcing it. It's since been followed by California, Wisconsin and North Carolina and is somewhere in the state legislative or regulatory maze in Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, New York, Texas, Kansas, Oregon, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and others.

John Ambrose's battle for a national definition goes back 36 years. He said the issue is of great importance to North Carolina because it has more beekeepers than any other state in the country.

He and others tried to convince FDA that a single national standard for honey to help prevent adulterated honey from being sold was needed. The agency promised him it would be on the books within two years.

"But that never happened," said Ambrose, a professor and entomologist at North Carolina State University and apiculturist, or bee expert. North Carolina followed Florida's lead and passed its own identification standards last year.

Ambrose, who was co-chair of the team that drafted the state beekeeper association's honey standards says the language is very simple, "Our standard says that nothing can be added or removed from the honey. So in other words, if somebody removes the pollen, or adds moisture or corn syrup or table sugar, that's adulteration," Ambrose told Food Safety News.

But still, he says he's asked all the time how to ensure that you're buying quality honey. "The fact is, unless you're buying from a beekeeper, you're at risk," was his uncomfortably blunt reply.

Eric Silva, counsel for the American Honey Producers Association said the standard is a simple but essential tool in ensuring the quality and safety of honey consumed by millions of Americans each year.

"Without it, the FDA and their trade enforcement counterparts are severely limited in their ability to combat the flow of illicit and potentially dangerous honey into this country," Silva told Food Safety News.

It's not just beekeepers, consumers and the industry that FDA officials either ignore or slough off with comments that they're too busy.

New York Sen. Charles Schumer is one of more than 20 U.S. senators and members of Congress of both parties who have asked the FDA repeatedly to create a federal "pure honey" standard, similar to what the rest of the world has established.

They get the same answer that Ambrose got in 1975: "Any day now."

Posted by Wintermute 2 at 06:15 PM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2011

Sugar: The Bitter Truth


Robert H. Lustig, MD is Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, at the University of California, San Franciso.
A long video but well worth watching. You will scarcely believe his conclusion.


Posted by Wintermute 2 at 08:45 PM | Comments (2)

May 28, 2010

Argument over pig lineage leads to Portland chef brawl

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KGW.com-Michael Rollins

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The lineage of a pig prompted a chef and a national cooking contest organizer to come to blows outside a Portland strip club early Monday morning.

Police reports uggest alcohol, and salty opinions of the quality of chefs inside and outside Oregon, were also part of an emotional recipe for the brawl.

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Seven Portland police officers responded to the 2 a.m. fight outside the Magic Gardens, 417 N.W. 4th Avenue.

This 'only in Portland' story started with a prestigious culinary competition called the Cochon 555 earlier in the evening.

Five winemakers were paired with five chefs, who each prepared a whole pig. A limited number of tickets were sold to the event. They cost from $125 to $175. Included was a butchering exhibition by a San Francisco chef.

According to the competition website, Cochon 555 aims to "promote heritage pigs and breed diversity in local and national communities."

The Portland Cochon 555 event was at the Governor Hotel. The website said "The after party will be held at Davis Street Tavern and will feature a handful of surprises."

What happened probably wasn't what Cochon organizers had in mind.

Witnesses said Eric R. Bechard, a rising star chef at the Thistle restaurant in McMinnville came into Old Town's Davis Street Tavern about 9:30 p.m. He appeared intoxicated.

Bechard got into an argument with a patron, then assaulted him, tavern owner Blake Smith told police. Smith said he personally knew Berchard and his behavior that night "astonished him."

Carolina Uriba of Atlanta, Ga., a co-owner of the Cochon contest, told police she saw Bechard come into the tavern and get into an argument with one of the winemakers from the competition. He reportedly head-butted the winemaker.

She left with friends, including boyfriend and Cochon 555 co-founder Brady Lowe, also of Atlanta, Ga. They were hungry, she said, and headed down the street to the Magic Gardens club.

Bechard appeared at that club and started complaining about the use of a pig from Iowa. He told Uribe he was a local chef and a restaurant owner representing Oregon chefs. Why hadn't the competition used local pigs to support the local economy, he asked?

The police report said that Bechard told an officer "people need to support Oregon farmers and local business."

Uribe said at one point, Bechard hit her in the chest, causing her to take several step back. Lowe then stepped between them.

According to several accounts, Lowe "talked (smack) about Portland" and Bechard said "food doesn't come from San Francisco. Food comes from Portland." In quick order, the punches were flying. Both men went to the ground.

The very local police showed up to break up the fight.

Lowe was hit with pepper spray and Bechard by a Taser. Both were booked on assorted misdemeanor accusations involving disorderly conduct and interfering with police. All the charges have since been dropped.
Cochon 555 issued a statement which characterized the incident as an unprovoked attack on Lowe, who suffered a head injury and broken ankle.

News of the brawl made its way up through the Portland blogosphere, with reporting by Willamette Week, then appropiately enough, by a top notch food writer for the Oregonian.

Posted by Wintermute 2 at 06:56 AM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2010

KFC Extends the "Double Down"

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ABC News

KFC says Americans are gobbling down so many Double Down sandwiches that the fast-food chain will offer the bunless, meaty sandwich longer than it had planned.

Originally the sandwich — bacon and cheese surrounded by chicken filets — was to have been available through Sunday.

But KFC said Wednesday that the sandwich will be available now for as long as customer demand remains high.

The Double Down came onto the market on April 12 and was supposed to have lasted about six weeks. But it tapped into Americans' fascination with quirky food and became a viral-marketing sensation. People posted videos of themselves eating the sandwich on sites like YouTube, and celebrities like Stephen Colbert gobbled it up.

KFC said it has been one of its most successful sandwich launches ever. Later this month, KFC expects to sell its 10 millionth Double Down. They cost about $5.

Some have questioned the sandwiches' nutritional value. The original version has 540 calories and 32 grams of fat, and 1,380 milligrams of salt. A grilled version cuts calories to 460 and fat to 23 grams, but sodium rises to 1,430 milligrams. By comparison, the Big Mac from McDonald's has 540 calories, 29 grams of fat and 1,040 milligrams of sodium.

The American Heart Association says people should aim to eat less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day.

KFC's corporate parent is Yum Brands Inc.

Posted by Wintermute 2 at 08:16 PM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2010

Cat Casserole

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www.timesonline.co.uk


A top Italian food writer has been suspended indefinitely from the country’s version of the television programme Ready Steady Cook for recommending stewed cat to viewers as a “succulent dish”.

RAI, the public broadcasting network, said that it had dropped Beppe Bigazzi, 77, for offering the recipe on La Prova del Cuoco, which is broadcast at midday on the main channel. Its switchboard was inundated with complaints from viewers and animal rights groups. Bigazzi said that casserole of cat was a famous dish in his home region of Valdarno, Tuscany.

“I’ve eaten it myself and it’s a lot better than many other animals,” he told viewers. “Better than chicken, rabbit or pigeon.” He said that for optimum flavour the meat should be “soaked in spring water for three days” before being stewed.

Elisa Isoardi, the programme’s presenter — who has a cat called Othello — tried to steer Bigazzi off the subject. Reports said that during the commercial break she and the show’s producers tried to persuade him to apologise to viewers but he refused.

Carla Rocchi, the head of ENPA, the Italian society for the protection of animals, said that killing cats was illegal. Francesca Martini, the Deputy Health Minister, said it was “absolutely unheard of for a public service broadcaster to tell people how delicious cats are to eat”. She called for the producers to be investigated for criminal offences involving incitement to mistreat animals.

Bigazzi, a consumer affairs journalist and author of Cooking with Common Sense, has been one of the stars of La Prova del Cuoco for the past ten years. He is noted for his exuberant style and previously caused uproar by boiling lobsters live on the show. Yesterday he said that he had only been joking about the recipe, and he had been misunderstood.

He added: “Mind you, I wasn’t joking all that much. In the 1930s and 1940s, when I was a boy, people certainly did eat cat

in the countryside around Arezzo.” Food historians said that Italians in cities such as Vicenza devised cat recipes in times of economic hardship. Inhabitants of Vicenza are still nicknamed magnagati (cat eaters), and in some butchers’ shops rabbits are sold with their heads to assure buyers that they are not cats.

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• In his 1529 treatise on cookery, Ruperto de Nola recommended spit-roasting cat basted with garlic and olive oil. He wrote: “Take the garlic with oil mixed with good broth so that it is coarse, and pour it over the cat and you can eat it for it is a good dish”

• The Spanish expression pasar gato por liebre derives from the practice of hunters trying to sell skinned cats as hares. When butchered, the animals are supposed to look almost identical

• In 2007 Australians at a cooking contest in Alice Springs sought to curb the feral cat population by using them in a dish. One judge found the cat casserole so tough that she had to spit it out

• Last month legal experts in China responded to pressure from the country’s middle class and proposed a ban on eating cat and dog meat. Both are traditional Chinese dishes but if the law is passed people caught eating cats could face 15 days in prison

Posted by Wintermute 2 at 07:41 PM | Comments (2)

July 30, 2009

Organic food ‘no healthier’

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London Evening Standard
Sophie Goodchild

Organic produce is no better for health than conventional food, the Government's Food Standards Agency announced today.

Their report, after a 12-month study based on 50 years of research, says the benefits of chemical-free vegetables, fruit and meat have been overstated.

The findings could be a major blow to the £2billion-a-year organic food industry which has been hit by the recession.

Consumer group Which? said shoppers may now think twice about buying more expensive organic food.

The findings are based on the first comprehensive review into the nutrient value of organic food compared with food grown through conventional farming methods.

The FSA commissioned the study from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. More than 100 types of food were studied including rice, chicken, milk and eggs.

The review, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found small but not “important” differences between the nutrient content of organic and conventional types of food.

Public health nutritionist Dr Alan Dangour, who led the review, said: “This is the first time all this evidence has been brought together under one single study. Organic food is no worse than conventional but there is certainly no reason for suggesting organic food has a superior nutritional content.

“A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced crops and livestock, but these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance.

“There is no good evidence that consumption of organic food is beneficial to health in relation to nutrient content.”

Organic campaigners today criticised the report as “out of date” and said it had failed to take into account the harmful impact of pesticides — a major reason for some people going organic. Soil Association policy director Lord Melchett said: “We don't think this report is going to change people's views.

“The fact is people buy organic for many reasons including the fact it is more environmentally friendly. And if you actually look at the data, it's a lot more positive than the authors say. There have been a lot of significant studies since this report was completed but they haven't been included.”

Sue Davies, of consumer group Which?, said: “Our research shows that people buy organic for a number of reasons — one of these being the perception that it's nutritionally better than conventional food. This research may make some people think twice before buying organic produce — but this is only part of the picture as other people buy it for reasons such as pesticide or animal welfare concerns.”

The FSA said it was “neither for or against' organic food and rejected calls to advise consumers against buying organic.

The watchdog said it had commissioned the study in response to criticism that it had not done enough to investigate claims over the nutritional benefits of organic food.

Gill Fine, FSA director of consumer choice and dietary health, said accurate information was “absolutely essential” so people can make informed choices about what they eat.

She said: “This study does not mean people should not eat organic food. What it shows is that there is little, if any, nutritional difference between organic and conventionally produced food and that there is no evidence of additional health benefits from eating organic food.”

Posted by Wintermute at 08:50 PM | Comments (6)

May 26, 2009

A Refreshing Beverage?

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Posted by Wintermute at 07:03 AM | Comments (2)

May 25, 2009

Bacon Vodka

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Yes, Bacon Vodka.
Bakon Vodka is a superior quality potato vodka with a savory bacon flavor. It’s clean, crisp, and delicious. This is the only vodka you’ll ever want to use to make a Bloody Mary, and it's a complementary element of both sweet and savory drinks.

Bakon Vodka is also a great Bar-B-Q companion. Use it in a marinade or sip it chilled with a steak. Check out our recipes section for more ideas.

The Meat and Potatoes… Premium quality, no joke.
We start with superior quality Idaho potatoes instead of the random mixed grains that make up most vodkas. Our vodka is column-distilled using a single heating process that doesn’t “bruise” the alcohol like the multiple heating cycles needed to make a typical pot-still vodka.

No tinge or burn on the tongue, no obnoxious smoky or chemical flavors, just a clean refreshing potato vodka with delicious savory bacon flavor.

Pure. Refreshing. Bacon.

Posted by Wintermute at 09:04 PM | Comments (9)

May 17, 2009

Movie Trailer-"Food, Inc."

The link to the Website is here.

Posted by Wintermute at 01:30 PM | Comments (4)

April 28, 2009

Crave Man

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David Kessler Knew That Some Foods Are Hard to Resist; Now He Knows Why

By Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post Staff Writer

He went in the middle of the night, long after the last employee had locked up the Chili's Grill and Bar. He'd steer his car around the back, check to make sure no one was around and then quietly approach the dumpster.

If anyone noticed the man foraging through the trash, they would have assumed he was a vagrant. Except he was wearing black dress slacks and padded gardening gloves. "I'm surprised he didn't wear a tie," his wife said dryly.

The high-octane career path of David A. Kessler, the Harvard-trained doctor, lawyer, medical school dean and former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration had come to this: nocturnal dumpster diving. Sometimes, he would just reach in. Other times, he would climb in.

It took many of these forays until Kessler emerged with his prize: ingredient labels affixed to empty cardboard boxes that spelled out the fats, salt and sugar used to make the Southwestern Eggrolls, Boneless Shanghai Wings and other dishes served by the nation's second-largest restaurant chain.

Kessler was on a mission to understand a problem that has vexed him since childhood: why he can't resist certain foods.

His resulting theory, described in his new book, "The End of Overeating," is startling. Foods high in fat, salt and sugar alter the brain's chemistry in ways that compel people to overeat. "Much of the scientific research around overeating has been physiology -- what's going on in our body," he said. "The real question is what's going on in our brain."

The ingredient labels gave Kessler information the restaurant chain declined to provide when he asked for it. At the FDA, Kessler pushed through nutritional labels on foods sold through retail outlets but stopped short of requiring the same for restaurants. Yet if suppliers ship across state lines, as suppliers for Chili's do, the ingredients must be printed on the box. That is what led Kessler, one of the nation's leading public health figures, to hang around dumpsters across California.

The labels showed the foods were bathed in salt, fat and sugars, beyond what a diner might expect by reading the menu, Kessler said. The ingredient list for Southwestern Eggrolls mentioned salt eight different times; sugars showed up five times. The "egg rolls," which are deep-fried in fat, contain chicken that has been chopped up like meatloaf to give it a "melt in the mouth" quality that also makes it faster to eat. By the time a diner has finished this appetizer, she has consumed 910 calories, 57 grams of fat and 1,960 milligrams of sodium.

Instead of satisfying hunger, the salt-fat-sugar combination will stimulate that diner's brain to crave more, Kessler said. For many, the come-on offered by Lay's Potato Chips -- "Betcha can't eat just one" -- is scientifically accurate. And the food industry manipulates this neurological response, designing foods to induce people to eat more than they should or even want, Kessler found.

His theory, born out in a growing body of scientific research, has implications not just for the increasing number of Americans struggling with obesity but for health providers and policymakers.

"The challenge is how do we explain to America what's going on -- how do we break through and help people understand how their brains have been captured?" he said.

Kessler is best remembered for his investigation of the tobacco industry and attempts to place it under federal regulation while he was FDA commissioner from 1990 to 1997. Although he was appointed by George H.W. Bush, Kessler became popular among Democrats for his tough regulatory stance. He got the nickname "Eliot Knessler" after he authorized the U.S. attorney's office in Minnesota to seize a large quantity of Citrus Hill Fresh Choice orange juice in 1991 because it was labeled "fresh" when it was, in fact, partially processed. After he was elected in 1992, President Bill Clinton asked Kessler to continue to run the FDA.

Kessler's aggressive approach toward the tobacco industry led to billion-dollar settlements between Big Tobacco and 46 states and laid the groundwork for legislation now pending in Congress that would place tobacco under FDA regulation.

Kessler, 57, sees parallels between the tobacco and food industries. Both are manipulating consumer behavior to sell products that can harm health, he said.

Whether government ought to exercise tougher controls over the food industry is going to be the next great debate, especially since much of the advertising is aimed at children, Kessler said.

"The food the industry is selling is much more powerful than we realized," he said. "I used to think I ate to feel full. Now I know, we have the science that shows, we're eating to stimulate ourselves. And so the question is what are we going to do about it?"

The idea for the book came seven years ago as Kessler was channel-surfing and came across an overweight woman named Sarah on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." While Sarah was successful in nearly every aspect of her life, she tearfully told Winfrey, she could not control her eating.

Kessler was mesmerized by Sarah -- she was describing his own private struggle. "I needed to not only figure out Sarah -- I needed to figure out myself," he said. "Little did I know it would lead me into real fundamental issues of what makes us human and how our brains are wired."

At 5-foot-11, Kessler's weight has swung from 160 pounds to 230 pounds and back, many times over. He owns pants in sizes ranging from 34 to 42.

"I was a fat kid," he said. "I grew up in the world of Entenmann's cakes. I was pretty much of a science nerd. If you looked in my refrigerator in college, it was Entenmann's."

Every few years, Kessler would go on a diet and apply the kind of discipline that enabled him to earn a law degree from the University of Chicago while attending Harvard Medical School. "I'd lose weight and over time gain it back," said Kessler, who also completed a medical residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore at the same time he worked as a staffer to Sen. Orrin Hatch. "I couldn't control it."

The man who took on Big Tobacco was helpless when confronted with a plate of chocolate chip cookies. He couldn't focus on anything else until he had eaten them all.

"My weight was yo-yoing all the time," said Kessler, who estimates that 70 million Americans struggle with conditioned hyper-eating. "And I never understood why."

He embarked on a mission to figure it out while serving as dean of the medical school at Yale University and later the University of California at San Francisco. UCSF fired Kessler from his position as dean in December after he alleged financial malfeasance at the institution. The university maintains there were no financial misdeeds; Kessler says he was forced out because he blew the whistle. He remains on the faculty at the medical school and lives in San Francisco with his wife, Paulette, a lawyer. They have two grown children, both of whom live in Washington.

Paulette says that she was not taken aback when her husband of 34 years would disappear in the middle of the night on his dumpster tour. "Nothing surprises me anymore," she said. "When he wants to find something out, there's really no stopping him."

Through interviews with scientists, psychologists and food industry insiders, and his own scientific studies and hours spent surreptitiously watching other diners at food courts and restaurants around the country, Kessler said, he finally began to understand why he couldn't control his eating.

"Highly palatable" foods -- those containing fat, sugar and salt -- stimulate the brain to release dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with the pleasure center, he found. In time, the brain gets wired so that dopamine pathways light up at the mere suggestion of the food, such as driving past a fast-food restaurant, and the urge to eat the food grows insistent. Once the food is eaten, the brain releases opioids, which bring emotional relief. Together, dopamine and opioids create a pathway that can activate every time a person is reminded about the particular food. This happens regardless of whether the person is hungry.

Not everyone is vulnerable to "conditioned overeating" -- Kessler estimates that about 15 percent of the population is not affected and says more research is needed to understand what makes them immune.

But for those like Kessler, the key to stopping the cycle is to rewire the brain's response to food -- not easy in a culture where unhealthy food and snacks are cheap and plentiful, portions are huge and consumers are bombarded by advertising that links these foods to fun and good times, he said.

Deprivation only heightens the way the brain values the food, which is why dieting doesn't work, he said.

What's needed is a perceptual shift, Kessler said. "We did this with cigarettes," he said. "It used to be sexy and glamorous but now people look at it and say, 'That's not my friend, that's not something I want.' We need to make a cognitive shift as a country and change the way we look at food. Instead of viewing that huge plate of nachos and fries as a guilty pleasure, we have to . . . look at it and say, 'That's not going to make me feel good. In fact, that's disgusting.' "

Kessler said he's made that shift in his own life, eating small portions of foods that contain fat, salt and sugar, part of a "food rehab" plan he suggests in the book. He has certain rules -- no french fries, ever -- that help him navigate through vulnerable moments.

He has embraced spinning -- the first time he has regularly exercised. "I hated physical activity, all of my life, mostly because I was fat and it was hard to do," he said. "But I just wanted to do something. I picked spinning because you can't fall off the bike." He worked with a private trainer for weeks just to be ready to take a class. "I was embarrassed to go into the class," he said.

Now Kessler tries to spin every day and belongs to multiple health clubs so that he has more options for class times.

He avoids the cues that focus his brain on "highly palatable" foods, going so far as to chart a different route through San Francisco International Airport so that he doesn't walk past the fried dumpling stand.

Kessler's weight is relatively stable at 162 pounds. But there's something else that's changed. As he has come to better understand himself, the food cravings and the resulting anguish he felt have subsided.

"So I'm at peace," he said. "After 30 years, I'm at peace."

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Posted by Wintermute at 08:13 PM | Comments (6)

April 14, 2009

Unwanted garden snails cooked by gardener

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A gardener who found her garden had been invaded by snails has devised recipes for cooking and eating them.

By Richard Savill

Oriole Parker-Rhodes, 59, a grandmother, has begun making meals out of the snails she has found in her garden and has set up an internet blog with her recipes and tips, and information on keeping and breeding them.


"Last summer it was really wet and warm, ideal for snails," she said. "I was treading on them and they were also eating our home-grown potatoes."

Her visitors to her home in Anglesey were mainly the garden snail, Helix Aspersa, which came to Britain with the Romans, who liked to eat them.

Miss Parker-Rhodes said she had eaten weeds including sorrel and nettles for years, because they were nutritious, they had flavour, they were "free", and she enjoyed picking them.

Eating snails was also "part of living with nature", she said, adding that in the present economic climate people could benefit from following her example.

"I was brought up to be interested in nature," said Miss Parker-Rhodes, whose mother was a birdwatcher, and her father a mycologist. Her companion is an entomologist studying insects.

She has developed her own cooking preparation methods, which involve giving the snails a home for about a week in an enclosed space, such as a bucket covered by a pair of tights.

She gives them food and water, including lettuce, onion, stale bread and bran, a process designed to clear out any grit in their guts.

The snails are then purged, which means they have no water or food for 48 hours, so their guts empty.

To kill the gastropods, they must be right inside their shells, she says, and then plunged into boiling water for five minutes.

Mrs Parker-Rhodes, who was recently interviewed by John Sargeant on the BBC programme, the One Show, said she takes them out of their shells, washes them and boils them again in stock for about an hour until the snails become tender.

She said restaurants usually serve six per plate as an hors d'oevre but her meals consist of 12 with salad, garlic, parsley or butter sauce and bread.
She said: "They are perfectly good meat. They are very high in protein and low in fat; in some ways, they are better than beef."

For Miss Parker-Rhodes's blog click onto http://eatinggerdensnails.blogspot.com/

SNAILS IN WILD HERBS
Using a good book, collect seasonal weeds. Wash and chop finely, then
Blanch for 5 mins the wild herbs you can lay your hands on.
I used the following:

Water parsnip
Wild sorrel
Water cress
Nettle tips
A little ribwort plantain.
Sieve , pressing out the water.
Finely chopped ramsons
(if in season, otherwise use onion or garlic with the blanched herbs)
Add all these to melted butter.
Put a snail in each hollow of a snail plate and add as much paste as possible.
Bake for 20 mins.
Serve with cubes of bread and salad.

Posted by Wintermute at 06:33 PM | Comments (1)

March 03, 2009

Study Finds High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury

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Never mind those horribly misleading ads on TV about High Fructose Corn Syrup being "OK in moderation" and "natural"??? High Fructose Corn Syrup, made from farmed corn, most of which is genetically modified to keep costs down, is further modified via a switch in the molecules, also to keep down costs. The result is a sweet preservative found in just about all processed foods, and if the molestation of nature doesn't scare you, you should ask yourself — if they cheaped the sweet in this product, what else did they cheap out on and should I put that *&^% in my body?

To see in more detail how the industrial food complex conspires to put HFCS and other wonderful things like beef fed on the same modified corn, antibiotics and the fat of other cows, read Pollan's "The Omnivore’s Dilemma".

Still not worried about your yogurt, soda, ice cream, breakfast bar, lunchmeat or soup? Read the following article by the Washington Post:
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009; 12:00 AM

MONDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient, according to two new U.S. studies.

HFCS has replaced sugar as the sweetener in many beverages and foods such as breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS, but teens and other high consumers can take in 80 percent more HFCS than average.

"Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply," the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy's Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies, said in a prepared statement.
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In the first study, published in current issue of Environmental Health, researchers found detectable levels of mercury in nine of 20 samples of commercial HFCS.

And in the second study, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), a non-profit watchdog group, found that nearly one in three of 55 brand-name foods contained mercury. The chemical was found most commonly in HFCS-containing dairy products, dressings and condiments.

But an organization representing the refiners is disputing the results published in Environmental Health.

"This study appears to be based on outdated information of dubious significance," said Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association, in a statement. "Our industry has used mercury-free versions of the two re-agents mentioned in the study, hydrochloric acid and caustic soda, for several years. These mercury-free re-agents perform important functions, including adjusting pH balances."

However, the IATP told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that four plants in Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio and West Virginia still use "mercury-cell" technology that can lead to contamination.

IATP's Ben Lilliston also told HealthDay that the Environmental Health findings were based on information gathered by the FDA in 2005.

And the group's own study, while not peer-reviewed, was based on products "bought off the shelf in the autumn of 2008," Lilliston added.

The use of mercury-contaminated caustic soda in the production of HFCS is common. The contamination occurs when mercury cells are used to produce caustic soda.

"The bad news is that nobody knows whether or not their soda or snack food contains HFCS made from ingredients like caustic soda contaminated with mercury. The good news is that mercury-free HFCS ingredients exist. Food companies just need a good push to only use those ingredients," Wallinga said in his prepared statement.

Courtesy the Washington Post

Posted by Christa at 05:41 PM | Comments (4)

October 13, 2008

For Unrefined Healthfulness: Whole Grains

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NY Times-By JANE E. BRODY
Published: March 4, 2003

Carbohydrates have been taking a beating lately, blamed for the growing obesity epidemic, a raised risk of heart disease and diabetes, among others. To be sure, the carbs that predominate in the American diet -- sugars and refined starches -- deserve much of this unsavory reputation.

Consumed to excess as they are now, refined starches act like sugars. Each is widely considered a major culprit in making people overweight, and being excessively overweight adversely affects blood lipids and blood sugar, fostering heart disease and diabetes.

But there is another far more wholesome kind of carbohydrate -- whole grains, which make up only 5 percent of Americans' carbohydrate consumption.

Whole grains contain health-enhancing bran (the outer layer) and germ (the internal embryo) naturally found in all grains. When grains are refined to make white flour and white rice, for example, the bran and germ and all their healthful nutrients, antioxidants and other disease-fighting plant chemicals are systematically removed.

In January, researchers summarized the numerous health advantages of substituting whole grains for most of the refined starches now dominating Western-style diets at a conference exploring the health benefits of traditional Mediterranean-style foods. Oldways Preservation & Exchange Trust of Boston and the Harvard School of Public Health sponsored the conference.

The surgeon general's goal is for all Americans to consume at least three servings a day of whole grains, but the nation's daily average is now only about half a serving. Only 13 percent of Americans include at least one serving of whole grains in their daily diets.

The Food and Drug Administration allows food manufacturers to claim health benefits for their products with at least 51 percent whole grains by weight and less than 3 grams of fat per serving. It states, ''Diets rich in whole-grain foods and other plant foods low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol may help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.''

Whole grains contain no cholesterol, are low in fat and high in dietary fiber and vitamins and are also a good source of minerals. Though whole grains are concentrated packets of starch, they contain about 10 percent to 15 percent protein. But it is the indigestible fiber and phytochemicals in whole grains that render them stars in disease prevention.

A Role in Weight Control

Refined grains are almost pure starch, long chains of molecules of glucose, the blood sugar. Like sugar, most foods made from refined grains are rapidly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, causing an abrupt rise in blood glucose and prompting the pancreas to spew out insulin to move the excess glucose out of the blood and into cells for energy and storage.

The sudden influx of glucose can cause an overproduction of insulin that results in enough of a drop in blood glucose to cause hunger to return in an hour or two, prompting people to eat between meals -- often snacks of sugars and refined starches.

But when a food contains all or mostly whole grains, digestion and absorption are slowed by the fibrous bran and by the protein and fat in the germ, increasing satiety and delaying the return of hunger. People who eat more whole grains tend to weigh less than those who consume fewer.

For example, in a study of 3,627 men and women followed for seven years, those who ate the most whole grains -- more than nine times a week -- weighed five to eight pounds less, on average, than those who consumed the least (no more than twice a week) of these foodstuffs, Dr. Simin Liu of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston reported.

Highlighting the Benefits

People who eat whole grains are healthier and live longer. In a continuing study of nearly 34,000 Iowa women, initially aged 55 to 69, Dr. David Jacobs at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and colleagues found that those who ate at least one serving of whole-grain foods a day, primarily as bread and breakfast cereal, had a significantly lower rate of death from all causes when compared with women who ate almost no whole grains.

Several large prospective studies have highlighted the contributions whole grains can make to health and longevity.

For example, among the Iowa women, whole grain intake is directly related to a decreased risk of coronary heart disease, the leading killer of women and men in the United States.

Likewise, a Finnish study of 21,930 male smokers and an American study of 43,757 male health professionals found a reduced risk of heart attacks among those who ate the most whole-grain bread and cereal.

Although soluble fiber in whole grains is known to lower artery-damaging cholesterol, other components of whole grains contribute to cardiovascular protection, including antioxidants, phytic acid, lectins, phenolic compounds, amylase inhibitors and saponins. Dr. Joanne L. Slavin, a professor of food and nutrition at the University of Minnesota, says the protection probably comes from a combination of compounds in whole grains.

Dozens of studies have shown that cancer risks are reduced by eating whole grains. As Dr. Slavin noted in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association: ''Whole grains are rich sources of a wide range of phytochemicals with anticarcinogenic properties. Some of these phytochemicals block DNA damage and suppress cancer cell growth.''

The fiber in whole grains increases fecal bulk and speeds the transit of stool, decreasing the opportunity for mutagens to damage cells and cause cancer of the digestive tract. In addition, Dr. Slavin noted, hormonally active lignans in whole grains ''may protect against hormonally mediated diseases, such as cancers of the breast and prostate.''

Whole grains can also help to counter the current epidemic of Type 2 diabetes. Whole grains have a low glycemic index: their consumption results in only small rises in blood sugar and insulin release.

In large studies of men and women, higher intakes of cereal fiber (from the whole grains) have been linked to a reduced risk of diabetes.

In the Nurses' Health Study of nearly 90,000 women and the Health Professionals' Study of nearly 44,000 men, those who consumed the most cereal fiber had about a 30 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, independent of body weight.

More Whole Grains

Dr. Slavin noted that only about 5 percent of the grain foods in the American diet are in the form of whole grains, primarily whole wheat and oats. But whole grain is the main ingredient in about 18 percent of ready-to-eat cereals, suggesting that Americans can easily increase their whole grain intake by eating right at breakfast and steering clear of sugary, highly refined cereals that line supermarket shelves.

Among the cereals that qualify for the whole grain claim are Wheaties, Cheerios, Wheat Chex, Whole Grain Total, Oatmeal Crisp with raisins or apples, Shredded Wheat, Grape Nuts and Grape Nuts Flakes, Raisin Bran, Life, oatmeal (not instant), Malt-O-Meal and Low-Fat Granola by Kellogg's and Quaker.

Some sweetened cereals also qualify, including Frosted Mini Wheats and Oatmeal Squares.

But cereal is just one source of whole grains, food writers and chefs at the Oldways conference noted.
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Possibilities include whole grain breads (check the label: whole wheat should be the first ingredient), brown rice, barley, bulgur (cracked wheat), whole wheat pasta, buckwheat groats (eaten unroasted as porridge or roasted as kasha), wild rice, whole-kernel corn and, to the delight of snackers, low-fat popcorn.

In addition, many whole grains less commonly eaten in America are worth discovering. These include grano, farro, millet, spelt, sorghum and amaranth (the golden grain of the Aztecs). Although rarely available locally, exotic grains can be ordered by mail.

Whole Grain Council

The Inside Story.pdf

Posted by Wintermute at 06:01 PM | Comments (2)

June 08, 2008

Giraffe is kosher, rabbis rule in Israel

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Tim Butcher

According to a report in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, vets were asked to treat an adult, female giraffe at Israel's largest zoo, the Safari Park in Ramat Gan.

The team, led by Professor Zohar Amar, took a routine sample of milk and found that it clotted in the way required by Jewish law for kosher certification.

They submitted more milk for verification by the rabbinical authorities and the paper reported that a ruling was made that giraffe meat and milk are acceptable for observant Jews.

The giraffe belongs to the family of grazing animals that have cloven hooves and chew the cud, thereby making them consistent with kosher rules, but the milk test was the final confirmation.

"Indeed, the giraffe is kosher for eating," Rabbi Shlomo Mahfoud, who accompanied the researchers in their work, said.

"The giraffe has all the signs of a ritually pure animal, and the milk that forms curds strengthened that."

But Dr Yigal Horowitz, the zoo's chief vet, said this did not mean there would suddenly be a surge in demand of giraffe food products in Israel.

"This does not mean that tomorrow we are going to drink giraffe milk or eat soup made from giraffe necks," he said.

"After all, this is an animal in danger of extinction."

Posted by Wintermute at 08:52 AM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2008

All-you-can-eat seats becoming popular at venues

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks.

And some more.

And more.

The Associated Press reports a growing trend is in all-you-can-eat seating at sports venues -- for one flat rate. Alcohol and desserts usually are sold separately.

Nearly half of the 30 major league baseball teams -- including the Texas Rangers -- have added all-inclusive seats.

Most cover only the basics: like hot dogs, popcorn and soda.

The NBA's San Antonio Spurs sell all-you-can-eat tickets.

The NFL's Houston Texans last year opened the 500-seat Director's Club, offering unlimited food and drinks. Memberships for the 2009 season cost $1,250.

Jeanne Goldberg is a professor of nutrition science at the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts.

Goldberg says -- just what the world doesn't need is another way to get as much food as you want whenever you want it.

Posted by Wintermute at 01:00 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2008

Pigs' feet: the new superfood

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telegraph.co.uk

As Britain's spending on cosmetic surgery soars, Fiona MacDonald Smith suggests it's time that we chopped and changed our diet instead

The latest anti-ageing food? Pigs' trotters. That's right, you heard it here first. In New York, the most talked-about new opening of the past couple of months has been a Japanese restaurant called Hakata Tonton, where 33 out of the 39 dishes contain pigs' feet.

The reason for this, according to its owner, Himi Okajima, is that they are rich in collagen, the protein responsible for skin and muscle tone, more recognisable to beauty addicts in the form of face creams and fillers.

"Collagen helps your body retain moisture," says Okajima, who has introduced a chain of restaurants specialising in collagen cuisine in Japan. "Your hair and skin will look better, but it's not just for looking beautiful now. If you begin eating collagen in your thirties, you will look younger in your forties."

Maybe this sounds a little improbable ("It's news to me," sniffs Lisa Miles of the British Nutrition Foundation. "I've certainly never heard of eating collagen") but Okajima believes he is on to something. Figures published last month show that British spending on cosmetic surgery is the highest in Europe, hitting nearly £500 million in 2006, four times more than in 2001.

Isn't there a cheaper solution? Couldn't eating the right foods, in the right way, be a simpler, and ultimately more long-term way to stay looking and feeling younger? "You are what you eat," says nutritional therapist Ian Marber, aka The Food Doctor.

"You can't turn the clock back but you can slow things down. Every cell replicates from RNA and DNA. In order to keep the DNA in good condition, you want to protect cells from harmful free radicals. And for this you need to eat fruit and vegetables, which contain vital anti-oxidants like vitamins A, C, E and zinc.

"It doesn't have to be expensive," he adds. "I know people go on about so-called 'superfoods' which have a greater concentration of anti-oxidants, but two apples a day will give you plenty of vitamins and fibre. You just need to ensure a varied diet."

"The key is to remember we're omnivorous," agrees nutritionist Christian Lee, who is the national trainer for the Dr Nicholas Perricone cosmetics and nutrition empire. "Have you ever noticed how women age more rapidly than men?

That's because they don't eat enough protein. The days you don't eat protein are the days you age. The body can't store protein, but it needs it for cellular production and function.

"At each meal you should be able to hold up three fingers and say 'I've got a good source of protein (lean fish or poultry, nuts, seeds or tofu); an essential fatty acid (Omega 3 or 6, so that's coldwater oily fish, flaxseeds, linseeds) and a low glycaemic carbohydrate (fruit, vegetables, and wholegrains like quinoa, buckwheat and oatmeal)'. If you can say that, you're on the right road."

Perricone, a dermatologist, became America's most famous anti-ageing specialist with his "Three-Day Nutritional Face Lift", which extolled the virtues of eating wild Alaskan salmon twice a day, claiming its essential fatty acids would banish puffiness and tighten the skin. Uma Thurman, Heidi Klum and J-Lo are all fans.

In his new book Ageless Face, Ageless Mind, which has yet to reach the UK, Dr Perricone's team assert that up to 40 per cent of wrinkles are caused by dietary sugar.

"When you eat high glycaemic carbohydrates like bread, cakes and pasta, they turn into sugar in the blood so fast that the pancreas can't respond with enough insulin and the blood becomes saturated with sugar," argues Christian Lee. "The sugar needs to go somewhere so it attaches itself to the cell membranes.

When it does this to collagen molecules in the skin, it causes the collagen to become stiff and immobile and that's the birth of the wrinkle. The bad news is that it doesn't end there - the sugar then pumps out free radicals, causing a double whammy of damage.

The good news is you can prevent it - either by cutting out sugar or by taking a supplement of alpha lipoic acid, which is 400 times stronger than vitamin C and E combined."

So ditch the sugar, but don't forget the pigs' trotters.

Posted by Wintermute at 07:50 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2008

Europe's truffle harvests drying up

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Farmers blame drought on global warming

Feb 22, 2008 12:51 PM
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

AUPS, France – Philippe Daniel opens a slim briefcase so buyers can glimpse his wares, then snaps it shut with a wary glance over his shoulder.

Daniel is not dealing in contraband but in truffles – tubers prized for their heady fragrance and rich, earthy flavor. One of the world's most sought-after gastronomical treasures, truffles fetch astronomical prices, and sellers like Daniel are always alert for spying competitors.

Daniel used to deal in big quantities. But for the past five years, drought has been parching the Var region of southeast France as well as truffle-producing regions in Italy and Spain – and today he can fit his entire weekly harvest in a single plastic bag.

He's not the only one.

Organizers at the market in the Var village of Aups, where Daniel plies his wares, have had to suspend the weekly wholesale auction, where middlemen used to bid tens of thousands of dollars for mounds of truffles. The reason: these days there simply aren't enough of the fragrant fungi.

Now, foodies and tourists buying truffles by the piece have replaced the bulk-buying middlemen, and most transactions at the once-bustling market are measured in grams. At the Aups market, the black truffle's price has more than doubled over the past five years, to about $560 a pound.

Farmers say production is down by 50-75 percent this winter season and they blame global warming, warning that if thermometers keep rising – as many scientists predict they could – France's black truffle will one day be just a memory.

This is not the first time weather has caused a dramatic downturn in French truffle production. A severe drought in the early '60s more than halved the harvest, bringing it down to about 50 tons. But the trufficulteurs, as truffle farmers are known, contend this current dry spell is longer and more acute.

"Climate change has got the seasons out of whack, it's hotter than it used to be and it rains lots less," said Jean Montesano, 76, a trufficulteur for more than half a century. "I want my grandson to take over, but if things continue like this, who knows if there will be anything left.''
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Production in France has been in slow decline for 100 years – from 1,000 tons a year to just 50 tons, according to the Agriculture Ministry – under the march of urban sprawl into the fungus' forest habitat and the migration of farming folk to cities.

Truffles grow underground, in the root systems of host trees. Shriveled, black-skinned and egg-shaped, they are hard to distinguish from clods of dirt.

Specially trained dogs sniff and dig them out, and are rewarded with doggy treats. Pigs – bigger, hungrier and harder to manage – have largely fallen out of favor.

Families jealously guard the whereabouts of the richest corners of the forest. Wealthier producers electric-fence their plantations to discourage wild boars and poachers.

Chefs have for centuries used truffles to dress up all sorts of dishes, from creamy sauces to mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs. The 18th and 19th century French epicurean Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin famously called the truffle the "diamond of the kitchen," and hailed it as an aphrodisiac that "makes women more tender and men more amiable.''

Legend has it that Napoleon went on a diet of truffle-stuffed turkey and champagne in a desperate attempt to conceive a male heir. A son, Napoleon FranEcois-Joseph Charles, was born March 20, 1811.

Truffles need just the right amount of rain at just the right time to thrive: Too little desiccates them; too much drowns them.

With annual rainfall in the Var down from around 40 inches in 1996 to under half that last year, Aups' once-abundant wild truffles have all but disappeared. Only one of the market's sellers, Jean Paul, still strikes out into the hardy oak forests that surround the village to hunt wild truffles. The few he finds are puny, he said.

The drought has also hit production elsewhere in France and in Europe's other main truffle producing regions, in Spain and Italy. Croatia and Belgium also produce truffles in smaller quantities, as do North Carolina and Oregon.

Last year, the harvest of Italy's prized white truffle was down as much as 75 percent from 2006, according to Andrea Rosin, the head of truffle export company Tartufingros. Spain's 2007 black truffle harvest was down more than half from five years earlier, said Daniel Oliach, of a growers' association in the northeastern region of Catalonia.

In Italy, white truffle prices were up about 60 percent in 2007 from the previous year, and one white truffle, a giant weighing about 3 pounds, 4 ounces, fetched a record $330,000 at auction.

Stanley Ho, the East Asian gambling king, placed the winning bid for the truffle which had been dug up in Tuscany, in central Italy.

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported it was eaten days later, prepared by two high-caliber chefs for a 200-guest banquet. Ho reportedly missed the feast because of poor health.

Nowadays, say the trufficulteurs, only truffles cultivated in irrigated plantations have much of a chance of surviving the sunbaked summers.

"Anyone who doesn't irrigate will not have a single truffle, not a single one," said veteran Montesano, whose face is as deeply etched as the wind-blown hills around Aups. Montesano waters his 25-acre plantation of French oaks, the black truffle's preferred host, with groundwater pumped from deep-lying aquifers.

Climate scientists say it is too early to link the drought to global warming, but point to computer models that suggest the entire Mediterranean basin is getting warmer and dryer.

The Met Office, Britain's weather agency, says that by 2030, Mediterranean rainfall is expected to be down by one-quarter, and annual average air temperatures are likely to be up in Europe by as much as 6 degrees Centigrade by 2080.

Changing climate could mean changing truffle terrain. Already, producers in the southern hemisphere and in China are making inroads.

France imported 33 tons of fresh or frozen truffles from China in 2007, overtaking French production for the first time. At under $20 a pound, the Chinese variety is far cheaper than European truffles, but Aups trufficulteur Lucien Barbaroux, 60, says he's sure his customers can tell the difference in quality.

"Our clients here are now connoisseurs and they're not about to be duped," he said. "They know how to recognize the real stuff.''

Australia and New Zealand, which introduced truffles from Europe about 20 years ago, now produce a half ton of the fungus annually – mostly for domestic consumption, said Ian Hill, the New Zealand-based author of "Taming the Truffle" and other books on fungi.

"If Europe's catastrophic decline continues, it could well be that the Southern Hemisphere will overtake production in the north," Hill said in a telephone interview.

Posted by Wintermute at 07:47 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2008

Pig Butchering Guide

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Posted by Wintermute at 08:19 PM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2008

In Defense of Food

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{This is an excellent book, 5 Paw rating}

NPR-Morning Edition
January 1, 2008

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

That's the advice journalist and author Michael Pollan offers in his new book, In Defense of Food.

"That's it. That is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy," Pollan tells Steve Inskeep.

An extended interview with the author can be heard via this link

'Eat Food'

The implication of Pollan's advice, however, is that what we're eating now isn't food.

"Very often, it isn't," he says. "We are eating a lot of edible food-like substances, which is to say highly processed things that might be called yogurt, might be called cereals, whatever, but in fact are very intricate products of food science that are really imitations of foods."

Pollan acknowledges that distinguishing between food and "food products" takes work. His tip: "Don't eat anything that your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."

Take, for example, the portable tubes of yogurt known as Go-Gurt, Pollan says. "Imagine your grandmother or your great-grandmother picking up this tube, holding it up to the light, trying to figure out how to administer it to her body — if indeed it is something that goes in your body — and then imagine her reading the ingredients," he says. "Yogurt is a very simple food. It's milk inoculated with a bacterial culture. But Go-Gurt has dozens of ingredients."

'Not Too Much'

A large part of the conversation about food — like debating low-fat and low-carb diets — serves as a way of avoiding the idea that maybe we're just eating too much, Pollan says. He says his advice about how to limit consumption is based less on science, which he says "has failed us when it comes to food, by and large," and more on culture.

"Cultures have various devices to help people moderate their appetite," he says. "Once upon a time, there was scarcity. We don't have that anymore; we have abundance. But if you go around the world, you find very interesting tricks and devices."

One is small portion sizes, Pollan says. "The French manage to eat extravagantly rich food, but they don't get fat, and the reason is that they eat it on small plates, they don't have seconds, they don't snack."

In Okinawa, Japan, a cultural principle called "Hara Hachi Bu" instructs people to eat until they are just 80 percent full, Pollan says. "You do know when you are full, and the idea of stopping eating before you reach that moment … if you do that, you will actually reduce your caloric intake quite a bit," he says.

'Mostly Plants'

Finally, eating plants is very important, Pollan says. "There is incontrovertible but boring evidence that eating your fruits and vegetables is probably the best thing you can do for preventing cancer, for weight control, for diabetes, for all the different, all the Western diseases that now afflict us," he says.

But can you follow Pollan's advice and avoid processed foods without spending a ton of time and money?

"You're going to have to spend either more time or more money, and perhaps a little bit of both," Pollan says. "And I think that's just the reality. It's really a question of priorities, and we have, in effect, devalued food. And what I'm arguing is to move it a little closer to the center of our lives, and that we are going to have to put more into it, but that it will be very rewarding if we do.

"And if we don't, by the way, we are going to suffer from this — you know, we hear this phrase so many times — this epidemic of chronic disease. But the fact is, we are at a fork in the road. We're either going to get used to chronic disease, and be … in the age of Lipitor and dialysis centers on every corner in the city, or we're going to change the way we eat. I mean, it's really that simple. Most of the things that are killing us these days — whether it's heart disease, diabetes, obesity, many, many cancers — are directly attributed to the way we're eating."


Excerpt: 'In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto'

by Michael Pollan

Food Science's Golden Age


In the years following the 1977 Dietary Goals and the 1982 National Academy of Sciences report on diet and cancer, the food industry, armed with its regulatory absolution, set about reengineering thousands of popular food products to contain more of the nutrients that science and government had deemed the good ones and fewer of the bad. A golden age for food science dawned. Hyphens sprouted like dandelions in the supermarket aisles: low-fat, no-cholesterol, high-fiber. Ingredients labels on formerly two- or three-ingredient foods such as mayonnaise and bread and yogurt ballooned with lengthy lists of new additives — what in a more benighted age would have been called adulterants. The Year of Eating Oat Bran — also known as 1988 — served as a kind of coming-out party for the food scientists, who succeeded in getting the material into nearly every processed food sold in America. Oat bran's moment on the dietary stage didn't last long, but the pattern now was set, and every few years since then, a new oat bran has taken its star turn under the marketing lights. (Here come omega-3s!)

You would not think that common food animals could themselves be rejiggered to fit nutritionist fashion, but in fact some of them could be, and were, in response to the 1977 and 1982 dietary guidelines as animal scientists figured out how to breed leaner pigs and select for leaner beef. With widespread lipophobia taking hold of the human population, countless cattle lost their marbling and lean pork was repositioned as "the new white meat" — tasteless and tough as running shoes, perhaps, but now even a pork chop could compete with chicken as a way for eaters to "reduce saturated fat intake." In the years since then, egg producers figured out a clever way to redeem even the disreputable egg: By feeding flaxseed to hens, they could elevate levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the yolks.

Aiming to do the same thing for pork and beef fat, the animal scientists are now at work genetically engineering omega-3 fatty acids into pigs and persuading cattle to lunch on flaxseed in the hope of introducing the blessed fish fat where it had never gone before: into hot dogs and hamburgers.

But these whole foods are the exceptions. The typical whole food has much more trouble competing under the rules of nutritionism, if only because something like a banana or an avocado can't quite as readily change its nutritional stripes. (Though rest assured the genetic engineers are hard at work on the problem.) To date, at least, they can't put oat bran in a banana or omega-3s in a peach. So depending on the reigning nutritional orthodoxy, the avocado might either be a high-fat food to be assiduously avoided (Old Think) or a food high in monounsaturated fat to be embraced (New Think). The fate and supermarket sales of each whole food rises and falls with every change in the nutritional weather while the processed foods simply get reformulated and differently supplemented. That's why when the Atkins diet storm hit the food industry in 2003, bread and pasta got a quick redesign (dialing back the carbs; boosting the proteins) while poor unreconstructed potatoes and carrots were left out in the carbohydrate cold. (The low-carb indignities visited on bread and pasta, two formerly "traditional foods that everyone knows," would never have been possible had the imitation rule not been tossed out in 1973. Who would ever buy imitation spaghetti? But of course that is precisely what low-carb pasta is.)

A handful of lucky whole foods have recently gotten the "good nutrient" marketing treatment: The antioxidants in the pomegranate (a fruit formerly more trouble to eat than it was worth) now protect against cancer and erectile dysfunction, apparently, and the omega-3 fatty acids in the (formerly just fattening) walnut ward off heart disease. A whole subcategory of nutritional science — funded by industry and, according to one recent analysis,* remarkably reliable in its ability to find a health benefit in whatever food it has been commissioned to study — has sprung up to give a nutritionist sheen (and FDA-approved health claim) to all sorts of foods, including some not ordinarily thought of as healthy. The Mars Corporation recently endowed a chair in chocolate science at the University of California at Davis, where research on the antioxidant properties of cacao is making breakthroughs, so it shouldn't be long before we see chocolate bars bearing FDA-approved health claims. (When we do, nutritionism will surely have entered its baroque phase.) Fortunately for everyone playing this game, scientists can find an antioxidant in just about any plant-based food they choose to study.

Yet as a general rule it's a whole lot easier to slap a health claim on a box of sugary cereal than on a raw potato or a carrot, with the perverse result that the most healthful foods in the supermarket sit there quietly in the produce section, silent as stroke victims, while a few aisles over in Cereal the Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms are screaming their newfound "whole-grain goodness" to the rafters. Watch out for those health claims.

*L. I. Lesser, C. B. Ebbeling, M. Goozner, D. Wypij, and D. S. Ludwig, "Relationship Between Funding Source and Conclusion Among Nutrition-Related Scientific Articles," PLoS Medicine, Vol. 4, No. 1, e5 doi:10.1371/journal. pmed.0040005.

Excerpted from IN DEFENSE OF FOOD by Michael Pollan. Reprinted by arrangement with The Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright (c) Michael Pollan, 2008.

Posted by Wintermute at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2007

NMSU sets Guinness chili record

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By ASSOCIATED PRESS
February 16, 2007

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - Paul Bosland recalls taking a bite of a chili pepper and feeling like he was breathing fire.

He gulped down a soda, thinking, "That chili has got to be some kind of record."

The Guinness Book of Records agreed, confirming recently that Bosland, a regents professor at New Mexico State University, had discovered the world's hottest chili pepper, Bhut Jolokia, a naturally occurring hybrid native to the Assam region of northeastern India.

The name translates as ghost chili, Bosland said.

"We're not sure why they call it that, but I think it's because the chili is so hot, you give up the ghost when you eat it," he said.

Bhut Jolokia comes in at 1,001,304 Scoville heat units, a measure of hotness for a chili. It's nearly twice as hot as Red Savina, the variety it replaces as the hottest.

By comparison, a New Mexico green chili contains about 1,500 Scoville units; an average jalapeno measures at about 10,000.

The Bhut Jolokia variety has potential as a food additive in the packaged food industry, Bosland said. It could be pickled while green, dehydrated and used as seasoning. Because the heat is so concentrated, food manufacturers would save money because they'd use less.

"This isn't something you'd pickle whole and eat, but it could replace dehydrated jalapeno as an additive," Bosland said.

A member of NMSU's Chile Pepper Institute who was visiting India sent Bhut Jolokia seeds to NMSU for testing in 2001. The plant doesn't produce fruit easily, so it took a couple of years to get enough for field testing, Bosland said.

He then grew Bhut Jolokia, Red Savina and habanero peppers under controlled settings and found that Bhut Jolokia had significantly higher Scoville ratings. Those findings were confirmed by two independent laboratories.

Bhut Jolokia seeds are available through the Chile Pepper Institute.

Posted by Wintermute at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2007

Mexican seeks world chili eating record

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By IOAN GRILLO
Associated Press Writer

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- For most people, even the smallest bite of a raw chili pepper means a flushed face and a rush for a gulp of water. But Manuel Quiroz can guzzle down dozens of Mexico's spiciest chilies, rub them on his skin and even squeeze their juice into his eyes without so much as blinking.

The 54-year-old Mexico City taxi driver said Saturday that he has made thousands of dollars with his talent and wants to become the world champion chili eater. But first he needs to find an organization that can crown him with that title.

"Chilies don't sting me. They don't affect me. It's just like eating fruit," Quiroz said at a market in the Mexican capital. Shoppers stared in amazement as he crunched on a habanero, the hottest chili pepper in a country that likes its food spicy.

Quiroz said he discovered his talent when he was 7 and grew up betting people that he could eat more chilies than they could. He never lost.

"I'm the best. No one can rival me," he said.

His biggest windfall came when he entered a competition organized by a local television station and took home the $2,000 purse.

Quiroz said he plans to try to get his abilities recognized by Guinness World Records. To his knowledge, no one in the world can swallow more chilies.

"Chilies are the pride of Mexico," Quiroz said. "The world chili-eating champion has got to be here."

Quiroz said he has never been examined by a doctor to find out if there is a medical explanation for his extraordinary endurance to the spice.

"Why would I go and see a doctor?" he said. "There is nothing wrong with me. Eating chilies makes me feel great."

Posted by Wintermute at 05:04 PM | Comments (0)

Coffee taste test stirs hot debate

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By David Colker, Times Staff Writer
February 3, 2007

In the coffee smackdown, it was yuppie Starbucks versus Ronald McDonald.

And the clown won.

Consumer Reports magazine said Friday that its tasters found McDonald's coffee to be "decent and moderately strong," with "no flaws," and that the Starbucks brew "was strong, but burnt and bitter enough to make your eyes water instead of open."

The March issue of the influential magazine advises, "Try McDonald's, which was cheapest and best." But does Seattle-based Starbucks have grounds for protest? After all, the survey was conducted by just two tasters who tried the coffees on-site.

"We assemble panels of at least six testers to taste the coffee under tightly controlled conditions," said coffee consultant Willem Boot, who trains tasters for the Coffee Quality Institute in Long Beach. "Doing only two samples in this case is crazy."

Consumer Reports co-taster Erin Gudeux, a magazine staff member, defended the test as a guide for consumers. "They've got the pocketbook and they've got the choice," she said. Other fast-food coffees fared worse, including those from Burger King ("tasted more like hot water") and Dunkin' Donuts ("inoffensive").

The test is likely to be taken seriously by the chains. Starbucks said in a statement, "Choosing a brand of coffee is a personal decision, as taste is subjective."

But Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's Corp. was obviously lovin' it. "It was great news," company spokeswoman Danya Proud said. The chain, with 13,700 restaurants in the U.S., changed its coffee blend last year.

Proud said the company was developing new coffee products. What's next, a half-caf latte with a Happy Meal?

Posted by Wintermute at 04:50 PM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2007

How water bottlers tap into all sorts of sources

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David Lazarus


In early 2004, Coca-Cola launched its Dasani brand of bottled water in Britain. Dasani had already established itself as one of the most popular bottled waters in the United States.

Within weeks, however, Coke had a disaster in the making. The British press discovered that Dasani was nothing more than processed tap water and ran a series of indignant stories suggesting that consumers were being hoodwinked by the U.S. beverage giant.

Shortly afterward, a cancer-causing chemical -- bromate -- was discovered in Dasani bottles produced in Britain. The water was quickly withdrawn from store shelves and plans were canceled to market Dasani elsewhere in Europe, which to this day remains a Dasani-free zone.

"In the USA, it is the bottled-water market's second-most-popular drink," London's Independent newspaper observed. "Which goes to show we may have a special relationship with America, but there's a lot of clear blue water between us."

Ray Crockett, a spokesman for Coke, shrugged off the criticism. "There's no accounting for the British press," he said.

Be that as it may, most Americans are probably unaware that Dasani, like many bottled waters sold in the United States, doesn't originate from pristine mountain springs; it starts in the same pipes that run into people's kitchens.

Dasani undergoes a filtering process and, according to Coke, is "enhanced with minerals for a pure, fresh taste." But, in the end, it's still tap water.

"The consumer doesn't seem to care about source," said Gary Hemphill, managing director of New York's Beverage Marketing Corp., the leading compiler of statistics about the beverage industry. "As long as it tastes good."

As I reported in Wednesday's column, Americans spent an estimated $11 billion last year drinking 8.3 billion gallons of bottled water.

That means the average American consumed almost 28 gallons of Dasani, Aquafina, Evian or hundreds of other brands -- more than any other commercial beverage except soda. More than milk. More than coffee. More than beer.

Beverage Marketing Corp. estimates that the typical half-liter container of bottled water sells for about a dollar. That equates with a price of roughly $7.50 per gallon (although it's cheaper when bought by the case or in the five-gallon jugs found in many offices). Some of the more expensive brands can cost as much as $11 per gallon.

A gallon of regular unleaded gas was selling nationwide Thursday for an average $2.20, according to AAA.

"It's ridiculous," said Richard Wilk, a professor of anthropology at Indiana University who has studied the bottled-water industry. "Why do people spend so much to drink water from glaciers or from Iceland? What's the difference?"

Consumers typically say bottled water tastes better than tap water. But a series of well-publicized taste tests have repeatedly shown that tap water in municipalities nationwide compares favorably with most bottled waters.

Consumers also say they have health concerns about tap water. But, again, studies have repeatedly shown that tap water in most U.S. cities is as healthy as the bottled variety.

In San Francisco, city officials collected nearly 34,000 samples from the water supply in 2005 and ran more than 100,000 water-quality tests. "All compliance monitoring results met or exceeded federal and state drinking water regulations," the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission reported.

That same year, the commission held a blind taste test near the Ferry Building. The 300 participants were offered samples of two popular bottled-water brands (Crystal Geyser and Aquafina) and local tap water.

Half said they preferred the tap water. Twenty-five percent picked bottled water. And 25 percent said they couldn't tell the difference.

"I'd put our water up against bottled water any day," said Susan Leal, general manager of the commission.

The bottled-water industry downplays comparisons with far cheaper tap water, saying the boom in sales reflects consumers choosing bottled water over soda and other drinks, not as an alternative to what comes out of the faucet.

"Consumers are choosing bottled water in lieu of other packaged beverages," said Stephen Kay, spokesman for the International Bottled Water Association, the leading industry trade group. "They're looking for more water in their diet."

This sentiment was echoed by Jane Lazgin, a spokeswoman for Nestle Waters North America, which sells bottled water under the Perrier, Arrowhead and Poland Spring brands, among others.

"People want to avoid drinks that have calories, that have caffeine," she said. "This is the role that bottled water is playing in society today."

But John Sicher, the editor and publisher of an influential industry publication called Beverage Digest, said the trend away from soda is only part of the story.

"Consumers are drinking less tap water than they did 10 years ago," he observed. "One reason is the ubiquity of bottled water."

Not all bottled waters are the same. While many containers depict flowing rivers or mountain vistas, you have to read the label carefully to know whether the contents come from a spring or a faucet.

Under guidelines set by the Food and Drug Administration, spring water is water that flows naturally to the surface from an underground source. Mineral water also comes from an underground source but contains at least 250 parts per million dissolved solids such as minerals and trace elements.

If the label doesn't specify spring water or mineral water, it isn't.

The leading bottled water brand in the United States is PepsiCo's Aquafina, followed by Coke's Dasani. Each does more than $1 billion in annual sales, according to Beverage Marketing Corp.

Both Aquafina and Dasani, as well as many other bottled-water brands sold in stores and supermarkets, are what the FDA calls purified water. Purified water comes from the same municipal pipes that everyone else's water comes from.

The difference is that purified water undergoes any of a variety of filtration treatments to remove chlorine and most dissolved solids.

"It's municipal-source water that's been purified," explained Hemphill at Beverage Marketing Corp.

In other words, tap water.

"I guess that's how you could identify it."

The irony is that, while the packaging of purified water frequently evokes natural settings and often features the word "pure," it is distinct from ordinary tap water precisely because it has been run through sophisticated machinery.

It is, in other words, anything but natural. Industry representatives generally make no pretense of claiming that purified water is better for consumers than most tap water.

"We like to think that the reason people buy our bottled water is because it tastes great," said Coke's Crockett.

Ultimately, it's still water -- tasteless, odorless, colorless. But the beverage industry spent about $60 million in 2005 to convince people that they should drink their water from plastic bottles.

"There are subtle taste differences among the brands," insisted Kay at the International Bottled Water Association. "It depends on the consumer's palate."

On Sunday: Drinking Fiji.

Posted by Wintermute at 05:00 PM | Comments (0)

January 15, 2007

The Fat Badger

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Giles Coren-www.timesonline.co.uk

If I am not offered tap water before mineral water, restaurants will be penalised

It is two years to the week since this column went zero tolerance on organic meat and sustainable fish — introducing the unique “meat/fish” category into its elaborate points-scoring system — and in that time menus have improved remarkably, at least at the middle and top ends of the market. So now I’m going after mineral water.
I touched on this the other week, in my review of Acorn, the eco-friendly restaurant in King’s Cross, but now I am going to do more than touch it. I am going to grasp it, embrace it, hold it like I’ll never let it go.

Mineral water is a preposterous vanity. It is flown and shipped around the world, from France and Norway at best, from Japan and Fiji at worst. It is bottled in glass that is mostly thrown away and is stupidly heavy to freight, or in plastic which never, ever, decomposes and just goes to landfill or ends up in one of the “plastic patches” the size of Texas currently gyring in our oceans.

Food snobs and restaurant critics make a big song and dance about mineral waters they like and don’t like. New York’s Ritz-Carlton even caters to the whim of abstemious punters with a dedicated water list and sommelier.

The vanity of it! While half the world dies of thirst or puts up with water you wouldn’t piss in, or already have, we have invested years and years, and vast amounts of money, into an ingenious system which cleanses water of all the nasties that most other humans and animals have always had to put up with, and delivers it, dirt-cheap, to our homes and workplaces in pipes, which we can access at a tap.

And yet last year we bought three billion litres of bottled water.
3,000,000,000 litres! I have no idea how much that is. But it seems a lot.
Especially when we were fooled into buying it because of labels that said “pure as an alpine stream”, “bottled at the foot of a Mexican volcano” or “cleansed for three million years beneath a Siberian glacier”. What morons we are.

We spent £2 billion on the stuff. And then we grumble about water metering and annual domestic bills of a couple of hundred quid for water that is just as good, and whose consumption by us is unlimited. Those two billion pounds could go some way to mending the odd leak, don’t you think? Towards digging the odd reservoir?

From the restaurants’ point of view it is just a clipping system. It’s more free money. The mark-ups are bigger even than they are on wine. You’ll pay four to five pounds in most posh London restaurants for stuff no different, no different at all, from what you brushed your teeth in that morning (not leaving the tap on while doing so, I hope). The result is billions of unnecessary food miles, non-biodegradable waste, millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases, more urban pollution, hell in a handcart.

From now on, if a restaurant does not offer me tap water, politely, unsarcastically, and before they offer mineral water, then they will be penalised. The only bottled water I will tolerate will henceforth be Belu – sourced and bottled in Shropshire, sold in glass or fully degradable plastic made from a corn derivative which can be composted back to soil in 12 weeks, and all of whose profits go to fund drinking-water projects in India and Africa and river-cleaning projects in Britain.

Posted by Wintermute at 08:20 AM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2006

Alligator soup raises eyebrows in China

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By ELAINE KURTENBACH, Associated Press Writer

SHANGHAI, China - Even in anything-edible-goes-in-the-pot China, the Huifu Fine-food Restaurant is drawing attention with special menu offerings that include alligator kebabs and soup — complete with the endangered species' head and tail.

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The restaurant, in the scenic city of Huangshan in eastern Anhui province, has been doing a roaring business since it started serving alligator dishes last month, staff said Friday.

"Yes, we do serve alligator here, but the amount is limited every day so you'd better book it at least two or three days ahead," said a staffer at the restaurant, who like many media-shy Chinese refused to give his name.

He said the most recommended dishes were alligator steak and soup. "Both of them keep the natural taste of the alligator meat," he said.

The species of alligator served at Huifu — the "alligator sinensis" — is a critically endangered species in its natural habitat, with only about 150 thought to be living in the wild in Anhui and neighboring Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces along the Yangtze river.

The restaurant obtained a special license from the Forestry Ministry for serving meat from reptiles raised at a breeding center, said a manager at the restaurant, who gave only her surname, Lin. She said four restaurants in Anhui were serving alligator.

Despite the establishment of protection zones and laws against poaching, the population in the wild is falling by 4 percent to 6 percent a year, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The number of farmed alligators has soared to more than 10,000 because the animals breed prolifically in captivity, unlike another rare Chinese species, the giant panda.

Although breeding centers are struggling to prevent inbreeding among the captive species, the number hatched each year exceeds 1,500.

The Chinese penchant for exotic dishes includes all sorts of creatures, including snakes and other reptiles — "anything that flies, walks or swims," according to one traditional saying.

While some reports questioned the wisdom of stimulating demand for an endangered species and potentially encouraging poaching, supporters say sales of alligator meat and skins can help support efforts to save the species.

The alligators slaughtered for food are only those in the third generation of captive breeding — those most likely to be affected by inbreeding, said Wu Xiaobing, an expert on Chinese alligators at the Wuhu-based College of Life Science, Anhui Normal University.

"In my opinion, there's no problem with this," Wu said.

Posted by Wintermute at 01:23 PM | Comments (1)

November 02, 2006

Ranch dressing recognized at Inventors Hall of Fame

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Akron, Ohio (AP) -- The National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio has inducted more than 300 men and women and honor their inventiveness.

But it also has a separate display about interesting things and how they came about, such as marbles and fishing lures.

This month, Hidden Valley dressing will receive recognition. It is owned by the Clorox Company.

The donated recipe dates back to the 1950s at the Hidden Valley Guest Ranch in California and resulted from mixing dry seasoning with buttermilk and mayonnaise.

It will be placed in the museum’s archives with the 1955 recipe for Campbell’s green bean casserole.

Posted by Wintermute at 06:34 PM | Comments (1)

October 16, 2006

Hummus Place

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Kind readers, I have found a nice restaurant that I will now reccomend to the cognescenti among you. The joint in question is named "Hummus Place". Not the most glamorous name but not misleading either and you know that TiP does value clairity.

I only ate there once but this was sufficient to base a review upon. The place is down a flight of stairs so it may easily be overlooked. Beware, the shop above it has a video of a foot massage running continuously so avert your eyes as you draw near.

The place seats maybe 35 but had five (5) wait staff and all came to our table throughout the experience, chaos reigned, the good kind.
Face it snobs, one goes out to eat for the convenience or for the experience. Hummus Place has both AND proper houmous.
(Pronunciation advice, use the long, throat clearing, gutteral "CH" followed by, OOH then, "MOOSE" If this proves elusive, keep silent and do not attempt the lame "Who miss" as it will mark you as a pathetic undeserving noob.)

The menu is severly limited, maybe 4 entrees. I think a plate of was $5.95. The Houmous was warm and creamy, the first I've found in NYC. The Falafel and the lemonade were excellet as well. The Baclava was a disapointment, avoid it. The Turkish coffe was bracing and BONAFIDE. Let the coffee settle before you try it or you will regret it.

In conclusion, Authentic, tasty and cheap, Five paws! 5 paws.png

Hummus Place
305 Amsterdam Avenue
(Between 74th & 75th Streets)
(212) 799-3335

or you might try the ones at;

99 Macdougal Street
or
109 St. Marks Place

but I cannot vouch for them, yet.

Posted by Wintermute at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

August 31, 2006

10% of tuna at sushi bars unfit to eat

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BY GARY WISBY Environment Reporter

Pregnant, or planning to be? Don't eat tuna when you go out for sushi.

That was the urging of researchers who on Wednesday released a study that found dangerous mercury levels at 10 top Chicago-area sushi restaurants.

Seventy percent of samples exceeded the mercury threshold at which Illinois advises women of childbearing age -- and young children -- not to have more than one serving a month.

"Toxic Tuna," a report by Environment Illinois and California-based GotMercury.org, said 10 percent of the tuna sushi samples they tested shouldn't be eaten by anyone -- man, woman or child -- because they had more mercury than the FDA's "actionable level." That's the level that would prompt the feds to seize the contaminated fish.

The report names seven restaurants in the city and one each in Lombard, Schaumburg and Wheeling. But Environment Illinois' Max Muller said the intention wasn't to point fingers at specific sushi spots, but at tuna sushi in general.

Muller and Eli Saddler of GotMercury.org said sushi restaurants should post warnings about their fare, either voluntarily or by legislative mandate.

Consumer Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, went even further in July, recommending that pregnant women avoid eating all tuna.


'Billions in costs to society'


Mercury causes decreased IQs and mental retardation in fetuses and young children, said Dr. Peter Orris of the University of Illinois at Chicago's School of Public Health. If sources of mercury pollution -- including coal-fired power plants and mercury-laden products that are disposed of improperly -- aren't curbed, "personal tragedies and yearly billions in costs to society will continue to mount," he said.

Colleen McShane, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association, still reeling from the City Council ban on foie gras, said, "This is another cry for . . . overregulating restaurants."

Many restaurants already post advisories against pregnant women eating uncooked foods, she said. If customers want further warnings, "restaurants will absolutely respond," McShane added. "The customer sure isn't complaining."

Posted by Wintermute at 12:46 PM | Comments (2)

August 15, 2006

Hot Dogs May Cause Genetic Mutations

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By Charles Q. Choi
Special to LiveScience

Everyone knows hot dogs aren't exactly healthy for you, but in a new study chemists find they may contain DNA-mutating compounds that might boost one's risk for cancer.

Scientists note there is an up to 240-fold variation in levels of these chemicals across different brands.

"One could try and find out what the difference in manufacturing techniques are between the brands, and if it's decided these things are a hazard, one could change the manufacturing methods," researcher Sidney Mirvish, a chemist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, told LiveScience.

Extracts from hot dogs bought from the supermarket, when mixed with nitrites, resulted in what appeared to be these DNA-mutating compounds. When added to Salmonella bacteria, hot dog extracts treated with nitrites doubled to quadrupled their normal DNA mutation levels. Triggering DNA mutations in the gut might boost the risk for colon cancer, the researchers explained.

"I won't say you shouldn't eat hot dogs," Mirvish said. Future research will feed hot dog meat to mice to see if they develop colon cancer or precancerous conditions, he explained.

James Hodges, president of the American Meat Institute Foundation in Washington, noted this study is "a preliminary report that the author concedes requires further investigation. The carcinogenic risk to humans of the compounds studied has not been determined."

The possible hazard presented here is not just limited to hot dogs. Salted dried fish and seasonings such as soy sauce may contain similar levels of these chemicals, Mirvish said.

Mirvish and his colleagues reported their findings in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Posted by Wintermute at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2006

The Revenge of Burger King

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Jay Cridlin-Tampa Bay Times

There is something about the number four that gives it a special place in our culture.

Four-wheel drive. The four-minute mile. The Fantastic Four.

Now, thanks to the power of the number four, we're seeing a breakthrough in fast-food development that's at once fascinating, terrifying and 100 percent by-gum American.

The four-patty cheeseburger.

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It's called the BK Quad Stacker, and it lumbered onto menus this month at Burger King.

The Stacker's formula is simple: bacon, cheese, creamy sauce and burger patties. No veggies.

Four patties. Four slices of cheese. Eight slices of bacon. Try to wrap your mind, if not your mouth, around that. (It also has about 1,000 calories, which is actually only a few more than a double Whopper with cheese.)

Until now, the permanent four-patty burger was only a dream for fast-food restaurants.

It should be noted that aside from the sauce and unholy size, the sandwich is identical to a regular bacon cheeseburger. Like a bloated movie sequel that no one really asked for - Rocky IV, perhaps - the Stacker doesn't improve upon Burger King's traditional formula. It just gives us ... more.

Our Quad Stacker was 2 1/2 inches thick, nearly the width of a Post-It note, packed so tightly in yellow caulk-like cheese that we couldn't count the bacon slices. Plain and simple, its sheer size made it physically difficult to devour. What, we wondered, was the point of unleashing such a monstrosity on the masses?

Burger King has been experimenting with new products to reach new consumers, like the limited-time Cheesy Tots and Shake 'Em Up Spicy Fries.

You could argue that this isn't a good thing, that the fourth patty was a line of demarcation man was not meant to cross. But this is America, home of the 40-ounce Slurpee.

Yes, the four-patty burger was inevitable. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse would surely be proud.

Posted by Wintermute at 09:11 AM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2006

Protester sour over milk fight with Waffle House

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -AP- Bart Hoard's desire for a little milk has spilled over into a five-year dispute with a Waffle House restaurant.

Hoard describes himself as a loyal, two-decade-long Waffle House customer who was driven to demonstrate with a handmade sign this week over an escalating conflict that began when he says he simply asked for some milk to put in his coffee.

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As Hoard tells it, he was told that if he wanted milk he would have to pay for a full glass. He responded by going to a nearby market, buying a carton of milk and coming back to needle Waffle House franchise executive Andy Mount with the well-known tag line: ''Got milk? I do.''

Hoard said the conflict escalated more than two years ago when he was accused of smoking marijuana outside a restaurant and was banned from Waffle Houses. Hoard denies he was smoking the drug.

Mount didn't respond to requests for comment left on his pager and at three local restaurants operated by his franchise.

Posted by Wintermute at 01:04 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2005

Dunkin' Donuts Ad Actor Michael Vale Dies

The passing of an era.
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NEW YORK (AP) - Michael Vale, the actor best known for his portrayal of a sleepy-eyed Dunkin' Donuts baker who said "Time to make the doughnuts," has died. He was 83.

Vale died Saturday in New York City of complications from diabetes, according to son-in law Rick Reil.
Vale's long-running character, "Fred the Baker," for the doughnut maker's ad campaign lasted 15 years until he retired in 1997.

Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin' Donuts said in a statement that Vale's character "became a beloved American icon that permeated our culture and touched millions with his sense of humor and humble nature."

Vale was born in Brooklyn and studied acting at the Dramatic Workshop in New York City with classmates Tony Curtis, Ben Gazzara and Rod Steiger.
A veteran of the Broadway stage, film and television, Vale appeared in more than 1,300 TV commercials.

Posted by Wintermute at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2005

Space food a la carte

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BBC News

A leading French chef has been asked to help create space food for astronauts on long-term voyages in space.

Alain Ducasse already has several Michelin stars, but now he is determined to conquer diners further afield.

France may be suffering from a period of gloomy introspection, but when it comes to food, there is no false modesty: this nation still believes it is the best in the world.

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And now, perhaps, beyond. Mr Ducasse's food academy has been asked by the European Space Agency (Esa) to help create a menu for Europe's astronauts that will not just nourish their bodies, but also their spirits - helping men and women on long-term missions, for example to Mars, to survive for 1,000 days in space.

Man cannot live on bread alone, says the space agency, so a bit of sun-dried tomato and soya rice pudding wouldn't go amiss.

The food researchers are focusing on eight or nine main ingredients, including onions, potatoes, rice, lettuce and spinach, which could be grown aboard a spacecraft, saving on storage space for the journey.

The chefs working on the project say the idea is to create a meal that reminds the astronauts of home - while remaining a menu that could be described as out of this world.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4558952.stm

Posted by Wintermute at 08:26 PM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2005

Legendary moonshiner dead at 101

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CLEVERTOWN, Ky., Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Maggie Bailey, a Kentucky bootlegger who spent years selling moonshine without a conviction, has died at the age of 101.

Bailey first got involved in illegal alcohol sales at the age of 17 and continued until she was 95, winning the nickname "Queen of the Mountain Bootleggers," the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. She was so loved in Harlan County that juries simply would not bring in a guilty verdict.

"Everybody knew her and she had helped everybody," Helen Halcomb, wife of Bailey's nephew, told the newspaper. "Why do you bite the hand that feeds you, as the old saying goes."

U.S. District Judge Karl Forester said that he was Bailey's lawyer for some years.

"She was an expert on the Fourth Amendment," he said. "She knew the laws of search and seizure as well as any person I've known."

Friends remember Bailey as someone who helped families with food in times of need and put several young people through college. She herself lived modestly, conducting her business in uniforms that said "National Distillery" that were handed down from a sister who worked there.

Bailey was a widow and is survived by nieces and nephews.

Posted by Wintermute at 06:55 AM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2005

Down the Hatch, Then What?

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Set Aside the Question of Why Competitive Eaters Do What They Do. Some Want to Know How
By Ben Harder
The Washington Post


Ian Hickman, a recent University of Kentucky graduate, quit his job as a clothing store manager and relocated to Sterling last month so he could be closer to the action. Hickman, 22, plans to compete for cash and fame by bolting Buffalo wings, hot dogs, watermelon and other manner of victuals.

"I just want to eat food, and impress my friends, and win money," said the six-foot-tall 165-pounder. In the first three months of competition, he figures he has won a little over $1,000. Some medical specialists believe there is something in it for them, too. They say they can learn fundamental facts about gastrointestinal physiology from people who can, as Hickman once did, eat nine pounds of watermelon in 15 minutes.

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"I would love to study them," said gastroenterologist George Triadafilopoulos, a professor of medicine at Stanford University. He said studying competitive eating would help researchers "understand the mechanisms [of swallowing and satiety] and treat people in whom the mechanisms are not working."

Which is not to say they recommend anybody do it. Speed-eating has plenty of unpleasant side effects, among them vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea and painful gas, experts say. Not to mention choking, stomach rupture and esophageal inflammation. Frequent vomiting can splash teeth with stomach acid, eroding enamel. Swallowed bones can injure intestines; inhaled food can get trapped in airways. Then there is the issue of regularly eating far too many calories to maintain a healthy weight.

"These competitions go against everything that we've learned" about healthy eating, said Bonnie Taub-Dix, a dietitian based in Woodmere, N.Y., and a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association.

Arnie Chapman of Oceanside, N.Y., who is head of the Association of Independent Competitive Eaters, one of two main groups that organize and promote speed-eating events in the United States, acknowledges that in his events, well, vomiting happens. But he doesn't see that as a big problem.

"Vomiting is a healthy way [for the body] to say you've gone over your limit," he said.

Chapman said he knows of two fatalities in the past three decades that resulted from competitive eating. Both involved choking. One occurred in a bar.

"Contests at bars, where people are drinking, may not be such a good idea," he said. An emergency medical technician is always on the premises at events organized by the two eaters' associations, he said. But that's not the case at contests put on by individual bars and restaurants.

The Sweet Science

It appears that competitive eating has evaded serious scientific scrutiny. Several searches of a database of medical literature produced no leads. Experts interviewed for this story knew of no academic research on the topic. According to records kept by the National Institutes of Health, no researcher has ever applied for a federal grant to study competitive eaters. Even Google didn't toss up a crumb.

David C. Metz, a gastroenterologist at the University of Pennsylvania and spokesman for the American Gastroenterological Association, suspects that studying speed eaters could lead to breakthroughs in treating dyspepsia -- pain and bloating some people suffer after eating a modest meal. Something in those patients triggers the stomach to send a discomfort signal to the brain prematurely, Metz said. Competitive eaters seem able to suppress the distress signal, he said, and learning their secret may lead to better treatments for dyspepsia.

Metz is particularly interested in a phenomenon known as "receptive relaxation" of the stomach. "As the organ fills with food," Metz said, its muscles relax in response, "enabling it to swell." Compared with other people's stomachs, speed eaters' presumably "can tolerate a higher degree of tension before they get uncomfortable."

Many sport eaters say they train their stomachs to expand -- guzzling large volumes of water or chowing down low-calorie foods, such as cabbage, in the weeks leading up to an event. Don Lerman, 56, of Levittown, N.Y., chugs a gallon of liquid, sometimes daily, in the weeks before a contest.

But no matter how much they train, at some point all eaters hit their limits.

"'The Wall' is where you don't want to put any more in your mouth," said Ian Hickman. "Your body signals to your brain that you're full."

To get better, Lerman occasionally employs an extended regimen. First he'll fill up on liquids. Then "I'll practice eating hot dogs when I'm full. The contest is going to be won not by someone who's hungry but by someone who's able to eat when they're full."

Lerman's tactics seem to work. He once consumed seven quarter-pound sticks of butter ("like eating axle grease") in five minutes. On another occasion, he ingested 120 jalapeno peppers in 15 minutes. But that's not all.

"At the Glutton Bowl, I consumed over seven pounds of cow brains," he said. He placed third.

Small is Better

Last December, Lerman's 5-foot-7-inch frame carried 142 pounds. Then he broke his foot in a fall and had to wear a boot cast for most of a year. He stopped exercising. "I gained a hundred pounds in three months," he said.

"If you're going to a lot of contests, you better do a lot of exercise or diet in between," said Lerman, who's been eating competitively since 2000. "Otherwise, you're going to get as big as a house." Concerned about his weight, he decided this month to take a sabbatical from competitive eating.

Some eaters believe that carrying excess weight works against them. Reigning national champion Sonya Thomas, a 5-foot-5 Alexandria resident, weighs just 98 pounds. The top dog worldwide, Takeru Kobayashi of Japan, also cuts a slender profile.

And while many people who are drawn to compete are overweight, "the thinnest people are the best on the circuit," said Ryan Nerz of New York, who officiates at eating events and is writing a book about competitive eating.

"About eight out of the top 10 are svelte, athletic," said an eater who goes by the name "Crazy Legs" Conti, who stands 6-foot-3, weighs 210 pounds, and runs marathons. Thomas beat him handily last month at a Buffalo wing contest in Bethesda.

He and others buy into what they call the belt-of-fat theory, which supposes that abdominal fat inhibits the stomach from ballooning. "A thinner person has much more room for expansion. An eater like myself, unfortunately, is struggling to catch up," Conti said.

Metz, the gastroenterologist, considers the belt-of-fat theory plausible but unproven.

Contest organizer and occasional competitor Arnie Chapman, 44, is also on the fence about the theory. A former marathoner himself, he thinks competitiveness and disciplined training are the main ingredients of speed-eating success. Nevertheless, he said, "there are some advantages" -- like having a muted vomiting reflex -- "that are just God-given."

A Lot to Swallow

Some events aren't about stomach size, eaters say, but about speed. Devouring chicken wings, for example, demands more of contestants' manual dexterity and mandible speed than of their maximum capacity.

After scarfing down 5 pounds of wings in 10 minutes to win the recent contest in Bethesda, Thomas said she wasn't even full. Other contestants also said the sprint ended before they could push the envelope.

The challenge with wings, said Hickman, is stripping meat from the bones and processing it rapidly without consuming a dangerously large piece of flesh--or worse. "You have to be careful not to swallow a bone," he said.

Thomas said she prefers soft chow, like spaghetti, eggs, and oysters, because they go down easier. At a regional qualifier earlier this year, a potato skin lodged painfully, if briefly, in her throat. A week later, she had to eat through the pain to win the final.

"Maybe women have smaller throats than men," she speculates.

Stanford's Triadafilopoulos has another theory. When the muscles that line the esophagus initiate swallowing, they alternately relax and contract in a rippling pattern that pushes food downward. It typically takes 9 to 15 seconds for a swallow to convey food to the stomach, he said. This makes the esophagus the real bottleneck in competitive speed eating, with a mouth full of food waiting for traffic to clear in the tunnel.

Some people can relax all those muscles at once, momentarily turning the esophagus into a hollow pipe. "That's how people in circuses can swallow swords," Triadafilopoulos said. Some eaters may do the same thing, and literally pour food down the hatch.

"These people have somehow developed the ability, probably through some kind of training, to relax everything at the same time," he conjectured.

Metz doesn't buy that idea, and at least some eaters say they can't do it. If it's possible, said Hickman, "I'd love to get there."

While Hickman looks to improve his art, others hope to steer young people away from the game, to prevent glorification of overeating. This is the last thing America needs, they say.

"Food is abused by so many people," said D. Milton Stokes, a Bronx, N.Y., dietitian and spokesman for the American Dietetic Association. "It just scares me a little to see something like this celebrated."

"The only kind of competitive eating I like to see," said dietitian Taub-Dix, "is which one of my kids can eat the most vegetables in one day."

Her children would face stiff competition in Conti. He once downed more than 43 ounces of green beans in six minutes.

Posted by Wintermute at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2005

Ruth M. Siems created Stove Top stuffing

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Ruth M. Siems, a retired home economist whose best-known innovation will make its appearance, welcome or otherwise, in millions of homes Thursday on Thanksgiving, died Nov. 13 at her home in Newburgh, Ind. Siems, an inventor of Stove Top stuffing, was 74.
The cause was a heart attack, according to the Warrick County coroner's office in Boonville.

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General Foods Headquarters-Rye, NY

Siems spent more than three decades on the staff of General Foods, which introduced the Stove Top brand in 1972. Today, Kraft Foods, which now owns the brand, sells about 60 million boxes of it at Thanksgiving, a company spokeswoman said.
Prepared in five minutes on the stove or in the microwave, Stove Top stuffing comes in a range of flavors, including turkey, chicken, beef and PORK.
Ruth Miriam Siems was born in Evansville on Feb. 20, 1931. Siems earned an undergraduate degree in home economics from Purdue University in 1953, and after graduation, she took a job at the General Foods plant in Evansville, where she worked on flours and cake mixes. She moved to the company's technical center in Tarrytown, N.Y., not long afterward. Siems retired in 1985.

Posted by Wintermute at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2005

Kobayashi Eats 67 Burgers in 8 minutes To Win

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International Federation of Competitive Eating
11/19/2005

Japan's Takeru Kobayashi consumed 67 Krystal hamburgers in eight minutes to win the 2005 Krystal Square Off World Hamburger Eating Championship in Chattanooga, TN.

To the amazement of the more than 2,000 fans gathered in Chattanooga for the event, San Jose's Joey Chestnut was in front of Kobayashi for the bulk of the contest. At one point Chestnut led by as many as 6 Krystals but finished 5 behind Kobayashi, losing ground in the final seconds of the Square Off.

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Sonya Thomas finished third with 56 Krystals and Bob Shoudt took 4th with an impressive 51.

This year's square off offered a whopping $22,500 purse. Kobayashi took home the top prize of $10,000 cash, the Krystal World Champion's Belt, the champion?s crystal trophy and the title of Krystal Square Off World Hamburger-Eating Champion.

For American eating fans, however, the story was 21-year old Joey Chestnut. He is the first eater to ever lead Kobayashi through a contest and to be well within range to beat him.

The Krystal Square Off World Hamburger Eating Championship was the culmination of 11 regional qualifying events throughout the country this fall. Other competitors included Eric "Badlands" Booker of Copiague, NY; Tim "Eater X" Janus of New York, NY; Crazy Legs Conti of New York, NY; Richard "The Locust" LeFevre of Henderson, NV; Ron Koch of Las Vegas, NV; Hall Hunt of Gainesville, FL; Sam Vise of Union City, TN; Chip Simpson of Harrisville, PA; Patrick Bertoletti of Chicago, IL; and "Buffalo" Jim Reeves of Boston, NY.

Posted by Wintermute at 11:40 AM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2005

Elvis Presley Holiday Coffee Hits Market

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Elvis Presley Enterprises green-lighted four limited-edition holiday coffees so consumers can brew a cup of the King. The coffees are called Santa Baby, Blue Christmas, Love Me Tender and Silent Night, which is the decaf version.

An official with Elvis Presley Enterprises said Presley was a big coffee drinker and would have been thrilled with the deal.

Presley fans or coffee lovers can find out more by going to the Web site http://www.elviscoffee.com.

Posted by Wintermute at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)

Throw another Skippy on the barbie?

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CANBERRA (Reuters) - How do you like your kangaroo -- medium rare? Doesn't sound too appealing, does it?

So in a bid to make Australia's national icon more palatable, Food Companion International magazine and the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia are running a competition to find a more palatable culinary name for the meat of the hopping marsupials.

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More than 300 entries have already been received from around the world including marsu (taken from marsupial), marla and wallagang (derived from the Aboriginal language), agaroo and the more unlikely Cyril, Skippy, yummy and roadkill.

"We need to come up with a catchier name for kangaroo meat. The current name inhibits some chefs from using the product because they know people will be put off ordering it," Mel Nathan, editor of Food Companion, told Reuters Monday.

"Overseas visitors tend to think that the koala and kangaroo are cute and cuddly animals there is no way they would ever dream of eating the product."

Australia's kangaroo population is conservatively estimated at more than 57 million. The Kangaroo Industry Association said around 15 to 20 percent of the population is harvested annually with the industry worth about A$200 million ($147 million).

Suggestions for a culinary name for kangaroo can be made at www.foodcompanion.com.

Posted by Wintermute at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

Companies in New Orleans getting creative to overcome worker shortage

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NEW ORLEANS Almost three months after Hurricane Katrina, a labor shortage in New Orleans is slowing the city's rebuilding progress.

With thousands of residents still homeless and many more having fled the area, there's a chronic shortage of workers. So employers have gotten creative in attracting a work force.
One New Orleans shipyard has set up dockside dormitories to house workers. About 80 percent of them are homeless. Workers are provided phones and computers to keep in touch with family, and work only four-day weeks so they can travel back to rebuild their homes.
On shipyard worker tells Sky News he feels useful again now that he's doing something. He says "I'm contributing to the families, I can do something for the kids." Shipyard manager George Yount says with everything in their lives destroyed "It is really a bit therapeutic to come to work."
Meantime, one Burger King is even offering a six thousand dollar bonus for staff who stay for one year.
http://www.kctv.com/Global/story.asp?S=4145050

Posted by Wintermute at 10:06 AM | Comments (2)

November 20, 2005

The lager that swallowed a nation

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The Independent

More Carling is drunk in pubs than any other alcoholic drink. Richard Ehrlich explains why.

When the UK makes the bold leap into 24/7 drinking, large numbers of us will be staggering home with a bellyful of Carling Black Label. Carling has been the nation's best-selling beer since the 1970s. Among UK lagers it has 22 per cent of the market, well ahead of Fosters (16 per cent) and Stella Artois (15 per cent). And the company doesn't plan to let the competition catch up.

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Carling began life in Ontario, Canada, in 1840, grew rapidly, and entered the lucrative US market 40 years later. After the end of Prohibition it introduced the Black Label brand, a low-priced lager that was to make its fortune. Its commercial history is complicated, but there is one key fact to remember: international beer brands are almost always licensed by the parent company for brewing in individual markets, sometimes by companies that would be considered rivals, and their success in their native land is irrelevant in the global scheme of things. Few brands illustrate this better than Carling. A declining force in the North American markets, it has grown massively overseas. That growth has continued in the UK since the acquisition of Carling by the American brewing giant Molson Coors in 2002.

Carling Black Label is nothing more or less than a mainstream lager of sound quality, designed for drinking very cold. No beer aficionado would place it in the first division, but that isn't the point. Its success has always depended on good advertising and marketing. In the UK, domination has been achieved through a crafty combination of very appealing advertising (who doesn't remember "I'll bet he drinks Black Label"?) and well placed sponsorship.


Paul Hegarty, Coors's UK head of communications, explains the company's marketing strategy as aimed at capturing legal-drinking-age males aged 18 to 25 - and keeping them. "Once 'new recruits' establish their preferences, they tend to remain loyal. So it's important to have an intrinsically good beer which beats the competition in blind tastings. But quality isn't enough. It has to be driven by consumer insight. As far back as the 1980s, we spotted two important trends: the move to lager, and the increasing popularity of drinking at home. We realised that we had to have imaginative activities to make the brand attractive."

Sponsorship plays a large part. Carling sponsored the Premier League in the 1990s, and Hegarty says it is still associated with that deal even though it is no longer a sponsor. It sponsors a whole slew of English football clubs, and is breaking into the Scottish market with Glasgow Rangers. It sponsors the Reading and Leeds music festivals, and is "pouring sponsor" at a number of high-profile music venues.

Hegarty is clear about the brand's ambitions. Carling is sold in just under 40 per cent of pubs, and it sees that figure ("unusually low for a brand leader") as a golden opportunity for further conquest of the lager-loving hordes. "With a big brand, you have to keep it fresh. You can't stand still. You have to make it attractive to new drinkers without alienating existing customers." Given their track record, it doesn't look as if Carling will have any problems doing just that.

http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health_medical/article328088.ece

Posted by Wintermute at 05:40 PM | Comments (0)

November 05, 2005

'Body sushi' uses woman as buffet table

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November 4, 2005
Chicago Sun Times
BY JANET RAUSA FULLER Staff Reporter


The "body sushi" special at Kizoku Sushi and Lounge isn't special so much for the fish as for the platter it is served on: a semi-nude woman.

The River North restaurant began offering the $500 all-you-can-eat dinner special in its private lounge about two weeks ago by word of mouth. Customers must make reservations in advance, and there is a four-person minimum.

Ever since the restaurant at 358 W. Ontario sold the first special to two couples last Sunday, it has logged 19 more reservations, co-owner Eddy Pinto said.

"It might be a little risque, but why not? It's done in a very tasteful way. And we're all perverted in our own minds, right?" said Pinto, 42, a former wine and liquor director at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas.

Pinto got the idea for body sushi while at a karaoke lounge in Japan about 10 years ago. He inquired about a curtained-off room he saw on his way to the bathroom, with a padded table surrounded by chairs, and before long, he and his girlfriend were at the table with eight Japanese businessmen, eating sushi off a completely naked woman.

At Kizoku, the woman -- a belly dancer and friend of Pinto's from Las Vegas who goes by the name Tabitha -- wears a G-string, some cellophane, a few strategically placed seashells and little else. The sushi is placed atop bamboo leaves arranged on her thighs, stomach and chest area. None of the food touches her skin, Pinto said. Soup or salad and dessert are included.

"It's like wearing a leaf bikini," Tabitha said.

Kizoku co-owner Darren Huang, who is half-Japanese, said the practice is a centuries-old tradition in Japan, done these days at high-end restaurants. It has been seen elsewhere around the world, including in Australia, though rarely in a favorable light. In China last year, a restaurant advertising a "Feast on a Beauty's Body" was fined because authorities said women were being violated and didn't have the proper health certificates.

Tim Hadac, spokesman for the Chicago Public Health Department, said the body sushi at Kizoku doesn't appear to be problematic "from a public health perspective," though he added, "We're never thrilled when people eat raw products" such as sushi.

But a spokeswoman for the city's Business Affairs and Licensing Department said inspectors would be checking out Kizoku to make sure no nudity regulations were being violated. "As long as there are certain areas of her body that are covered, I believe they are in compliance. However, we will have to look into it just to make sure," Rosa Escareno said.

Tabitha, 24, admits body sushi is "risque and edgy" but says she doesn't feel objectified.

"The same people that have a problem with it have a problem with the Victoria's Secret fashion show on TV. I don't even think about it," she said. "I'm a performer. I'm all about the theatrical. It's a dining experience."

As for the sushi, it was "good," according to Howard Johnston, 26, of Palatine, the first customer to try the body sushi last weekend with his fiancee and a neighbor and his girlfriend. "But I don't know if it was worth quite that much."

http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-sushi04.html

Posted by Wintermute at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2005

Hello Kitty Sushi

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Posted by Wintermute at 07:42 AM | Comments (0)

August 31, 2005

Spanish paint town red in tomato fight

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BUNOL, Spain (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of people armed with 100 tonnes of plum tomatoes took part in the "Tomatina" on Wednesday, joyously splattering each other in the Spanish town of Bunol.

The town hall of Bunol, which lies just inland from Valencia on Spain's Mediterranean coast, spent 24,960 euros on the fruit and dumped it the streets for the chanting masses.

Five truckloads of vitamin C and fiber were soon pureed on El Cid Street, the ripe redness smeared over walls and people.

"I feel like I connected with a lot of people today," said Karina Evans, 21, of Australia.

Frenzy erupted around the dump trucks and competition for the edible missiles was fierce. Whole tomatoes on the ground were treasured like ruby Easter eggs.

Kate Monroe, 28, and Ryan Altman, 31, both of San Diego, California, reflected the general lack of inhibition by rubbing their barely clad, pulp-slathered bodies against each other.

Some gave a moment's thought for the less fortunate.

"We were just talking about (famine in Africa). We thought we should get some garlic, make pizza and send it off," Altman said.

The origin of the tomato fight is disputed -- everyone in Bunol seems to have a favorite story -- but most agree it started around 1940, in the early years of the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

"There are several versions, but the most important thing is that it was started by the people," said Eusebio Carrascosa, 66, a member of the Tomatina commission.

Like the weeklong celebrations held throughout Spain in the summer, the Tomatina encourages all-night public revelry and behavior that's frowned on for the rest of the year.

"This is even better than the running of the bulls in Pamplona," said Australian Sandy Koch, 25, referring to another one of Spain's famous events.

Not everyone in Bunol joins the party.

"These are human degenerates. This isn't culture," said Pilar Masmano, 81, peeking out on the messy aftermath from her front door. "I'm going back inside."

Posted by Wintermute at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2005

Cricket Patties

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1/2 cup boiled crickets
1/2 t. salt
pepper to taste
1 t. worcestershire sauce (I substitute steak sauce sometimes)
1/2 t. dry mustard (the wet stuff DOESN'T taste as good with vinegar)
1 egg yolk
1 t. mayonaise
1 t. parsly
flour
1 beaten egg
bread crumbs
oil

Mix crickets, salt, pepper, mustard, sauce, egg yolk, mayonaise, and parsly. Add a pinch of flour. Pat firmly into 4 round flat cakes. Coat with flour and then with egg and roll on bread crumbs. Brown in oil on both sides.

Note: Boil insects alive with a little salt and pepper...and a little lemon if you have it. Do not use dead insects as postmortem (like other arthropods we eat, such as lobsters) is very rapid in insects and they will taste aweful.

Adapted from "Entertaining With Insects" by Ronald Taylor and Barbara Carter.

Posted by Wintermute at 02:40 PM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2005

Ronald McDonald becomes fitness guru

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The hamburger salesman and clown is getting an image makeover, as a fitness guru for kids.

Los Angeles (Reuters) - Hamburger salesman and clown Ronald McDonald is getting an unlikely image makeover -- as a snowboarding, hoops-shooting fitness guru for tots.

The new athletic Ronald, McDonald's Corp.'s (Research) mascot for the last 42 years, will even be sporting a more form-fitting version of his trademark yellow jumpsuit.

In a television commercial that hits airwaves on Friday, an animated Ronald will be seen encouraging kids to get up off the couch and join him in kicking a soccer ball, juggling fruits and vegetables, and riding a skateboard with basketball star and fellow McDonald's spokesman Yao Ming.

mages of fruits and vegetables abound in the spot, while hamburgers and fries -- the foods McDonald's is known for -- are conspicuously absent.

The decision to leave out images of McDonald's foods was deliberate, an executive said, because the company wants its message to be about all food -- not just the food it sells at its 30,000 restaurants across the globe.

"We felt it more appropriate to expand the discussion to all foods at this point," Jeff Carl, the chain's corporate vice president of global marketing, said in an interview.

That approach, however, could be misleading, according to one health expert.

"If they are telling kids to eat vegetables, they should have the food to back that up and they should make it attractive and fun and interesting, like the Happy Meals," said Samantha Heller, a clinical nutritionist and exercise physiologist at New York University Medical Center.

The reincarnated Ronald is part of McDonald's aggressive effort to deflect widespread media criticism of its food as unhealthy and fattening.

The chain has already revamped some of its children's Happy Meal offerings by allowing parents to choose milk instead of soft drinks or apple slices with caramel dip instead of fries.

With milk and the Apple Dippers, a hamburger Happy Meal still has about 470 calories and 12 grams of fat. Including the fries and soda, the meal has 600 calories and 20 grams of fat.

In addition to adding new food products, McDonald's recently began using its advertising and marketing to encourage customers to become more physically active.

As part of that plan, marketing executives realized Ronald McDonald himself had to start walking the walk -- literally.

"He's encouraging children to get up on their feet and start moving," said Carl. "So if he is going to teach this, Ronald has to start moving himself."

Reinforcing the idea of balancing calories eaten with an equivalent number of calories burned is at the crux of McDonald's so-called "balanced lifestyles" campaign.

Both marketing and nutrition experts said McDonald's was making the right strategic step by using such a recognizable character to promote physical activity at a time when it is being blamed for contributing to the roughly 15 percent of U.S. children and adolescents who are overweight.

"If you give me a role model and you have that role model do things in easy and digestible ways, it's a very powerful way to make some behavioral changes," said Nick Hahn, managing director of New York-based marketing consulting firm Vivaldi Partners.

The question is, however, whether consumers will "buy" the message when it comes from a company known for its milkshakes, burgers and apple pies.

"In the case of McDonald's, I wouldn't say that what would immediately come to mind is exercise," Hahn said. "The question is, what will allow them to move into that space and have consumers find that credible. I think that it would be a challenge."

http://money.cnn.com/2005/06/03/news/midcaps/burger_king/index.htm

Posted by Wintermute at 01:55 PM | Comments (1)

June 01, 2005

Doughnut Day

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Posted by Wintermute at 06:27 AM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2005

Burger King now open in Iraq International Zone

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Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Friday, April 22, 2005


BAGHDAD — The Army and Air Force Exchange Service’s newest Burger King in Iraq opened in the International Zone last week. The post exchange food courtyard also has a Pizza Inn, Gyro King and coffee shop, according to an AAFES press release.

The new Burger King averaged more than 80 Whoppers an hour, and by the end of the busy opening day had served 888 Whoppers and 357 pounds of fries. AAFES also offers the restaurant at Tallil, Tikrit, Balad, Kirkuk, Taji and Camp Liberty, the release said. In all, AAFES operates 31 fast-food restaurants in Iraq and has 23 more sites planned.

Posted by Wintermute at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2005

Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day

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It is today, April 19, 2005, between the hours of 12 and 8pm.
Use this guide to find the nearest shop to you!

Posted by Wintermute at 03:06 PM | Comments (0)

Government to Unveil New Food Pyramid

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By LIBBY QUAID, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - A makeover for the food pyramid — that triangle-shaped guide to better eating — might renew interest in healthy habits, but officials say it likely will take time to make a difference for America's growing girth.


"We didn't get to be obese overnight. We're not going to reverse it overnight," said Eric Hentges, the Agriculture Department official who is overseeing the new pyramid.

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After months of revision, a new symbol for healthy habits was being introduced Tuesday. The image has been kept under wraps, but the real question is whether Americans — two out of three of whom are overweight if not obese — will follow the new guide no matter what its shape.


People have steadily grown fatter since the food pyramid debuted in 1992. A report last month in The New England Journal of Medicine contended that obesity, particularly in children, was fueling a reversal in life expectancy, shaving four to nine months off the average life span.


The new guide is just one element of a system aimed at making people slimmer and healthier, said Hentges, director of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Also in store are Internet tools to help follow the new recommendations, as well as tools to help educators and nutritionists spread the word.


"Part of the problem previously was that we had this one symbol, this one pyramid, and it was one size fits all," Hentges told agriculture reporters last week. "Or it was a misinterpretation. In the case of grain servings, it said six to 11 servings. Well, if you're supposed to be eating 1,600 calories, you never did get to choose these 11 servings of grain.


"Who knows what a serving is?" Hentges added. "It's whatever I put on my plate. The servings differ for you than for your spouse, maybe."


This time, to make its advice more understandable, the government will switch to cups, ounces and other household measures. The switch was recommended in a 70-page booklet, "Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005," that was developed by a panel of scientists and doctors and released in January.


The guidelines, which were the basis for revising the pyramid, include eating 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables a day; eating 3 ounces of whole-grain foods a day and drinking 3 cups of fat-free or lowfat milk a day. The government also advises exercising at least 30 minutes a day to reduce the risk of chronic disease, even more to prevent weight gain or maintain weight loss.


In all, there were 23 general recommendations and 18 suggestions for older people, children and other special populations.


That's too much to cram into a symbol that is supposed to be clipped out and stuck to the refrigerator, Hentges said.


The Agriculture Department will offer Web pages that let people appraise their diet and exercise habits. Such a tool has already been available through the agency's Web site; the Interactive Healthy Eating Index has a notice on its home page that it will soon be updated.


Even if the symbol and online tools don't motivate people to change their habits, they'll still have some healthier choices. Food companies have been removing trans fats from their products and adding whole grains because of the government guidance.


"If you get the industry involved and make them feel that they're doing a good thing and that they're getting credit for doing a good thing, they'll do it. They'll change their product," said K. Dun Gifford, president of Oldways Preservation Trust, a Boston-based think tank that specializes in food issues.


Critics have raised questions about the public relations agency hired to help create the new version of the pyramid. The firm, Porter Novelli, has food companies as clients, but both Agriculture Department and Porter Novelli officials have said the firm's industry work is handled separately and there would be no conflict of interest.


Hentges said his staff of scientists, economists and nutritionists isn't equipped to promote its new approach. If it's not marketed effectively, he said, "then we're not going to be able to get this behavior change or improve anything for Americans."

Posted by Wintermute at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2005

Twinkies, 75 Years And Counting

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By Candy Sagon
Washington Post Staff Writer

C'mon, admit it. You eat Twinkies. You love 'em.

Maybe you feel a little guilty about it, but you're not alone. Americans spent $47 million on them in the past 12 months. That's right. The junk food we love to ridicule.

We joke that they're made from so many chemicals that they'll last forever. We sneer about how college students dropped one from a six-story building and it was barely dented. We shake our heads at how one guy used them as a defense in a famous murder trial.


And yet despite it all, Hostess makes 500 million of them every year. And sales are increasing, according to Information Resources Inc., a Chicago firm that tracks retail sales and trends.


This month, the little cream-filled, yellow spongecake celebrates its 75th birthday -- and no, it's not because the same ones have been on the shelf for that long. That's just one of the urban myths surrounding the snack cakes that were invented in 1930.


Back then, James Dewar, manager of Chicago's Continental Bakery, wanted to find another use for his company's shortcake pans. He decided to fill the small, oblong cakes with a banana-cream filling and name them after the "Twinkle Toe" shoes he saw advertised on a billboard in St. Louis. Banana cream-filled Twinkies -- selling two for a nickel -- debuted as part of the Hostess baked-goods line. During World War II, when there was a banana shortage, the filling flavor changed to vanilla.


By the 1950s, Twinkies had become a school lunchbox staple. In 1999, President Bill Clinton and the White House Millennium Council selected the Twinkie to be preserved in the nation's millennium time capsule, calling it an enduring American icon.


Nutritionists scoff at them for being fatty and sugary, but that doesn't keep Hostess from turning out about 1,000 per minute. And just in case you wondered exactly how that happens, the cakes are baked for 10 minutes, then the cream filling is injected through three holes in the top, which is browned from baking. The cake is flipped before packaging, so the rounded yellow bottom becomes the top.


The Twinkie factory is still in Chicago, which also happens to be the American city with the highest per capita consumption of Twinkies. Chicagoans who want their Twinkies gussied up can go to comfort-food restaurant Kitsch'n for Twinkie Tiramisu. Or they can get a fat infusion at hot dog shop Swank Frank, which sells those state fair favorites, deep-fried Twinkies.


The cakes' sturdiness and longevity have led to the myth, say Hostess officials, that Twinkies have a shelf life measured in years, even decades. Roger Bennatti, a science teacher at George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill, Maine, kept one perched atop his chalkboard for 30 years. "It's rather brittle, but if you dusted it off, it's probably still edible," he told the Associated Press when he retired last year.


In reality, Twinkies' shelf life is more like 25 days, says Theresa Cogswell, who calls herself the Twinkie guru and is vice president for research and development at Interstate Bakeries Corp., the parent company of Hostess. She admits she got a good laugh out of the 30-year-old Twinkie story but says she wouldn't want to eat one quite that old. "You can eat older Twinkies, but they're just not as good as when they're fresh. Then they're awesome."


Still, a 25-day shelf life is pretty long. That's because Twinkies contain no dairy-based ingredients that could quickly go bad. Twinkies are basically flour, sugar (three kinds of it), oil, eggs and chemicals (mainly preservatives and stabilizers). They're 150 calories each, about a third of that from fat. Cogswell doesn't think that's so bad. "There's no bad foods -- just bad quantities," she says.


Lewis Browning, a retired milk-truck driver, has been eating one or two Twinkies a day for 64 years. "Had one for breakfast this morning with a banana and a glass of milk," he says in a phone interview from his home south of Indianapolis. The 22,000 he's eaten have earned him an appearance on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and a lifetime supply of Twinkies from Hostess.


A year ago, Browning was in a hospital intensive-care unit with pneumonia. "My wife asked the doctor if she could bring me some Twinkies. He said it wouldn't hurt me, so I even ate a Twinkie in intensive care," says Browning.


Others save their Twinkies for special occasions. Like weddings. Philip Delaplane, 50, a chef and instructor at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, says he's loved Twinkies since he was a child. So does his wife, Pam. For their wedding last year, Delaplane built a four-tier wedding cake out of Twinkies and other Hostess snack cakes. "We didn't want anything too stuffy. We wanted something fun," he says.


Although he had back-up desserts in case guests balked at eating junk food, he needn't have worried. "They devoured the cake," he says. "I had used toothpicks to attach the snack cakes to Styrofoam forms and they just yanked them all out. It was the talk of the wedding."


While people like Delaplane maintain a nostalgia for the Twinkies of their youth, the snack cake has been linked to several not-so-sweet events.


When Minneapolis city council candidate George Belair served Twinkies and other refreshments to two senior citizens' groups in 1985, he was indicted for bribery in what the newspapers dubbed "Twinkiegate." Although the charges were eventually dropped, the case led to a Minnesota fair campaign act, popularly known as the "Twinkie law." The law was repealed in 1988.


And, of course, there's the famed courtroom defense in the 1979 trial of former San Francisco supervisor Dan White, accused of shooting the city's mayor and another supervisor. White's attorneys argued that he suffered from severe depression that had been exacerbated by junk food bingeing. Although Twinkies were only mentioned in passing, the term "Twinkie Defense" was quickly coined by journalists to explain the legal strategy that led to White's conviction on a lesser charge.


Having a product linked to such dubious outcomes might upset some companies, but Hostess officials seem unperturbed. "[Twinkies] are a constant in your life. They always come back around," says Cogswell, who's worked for Hostess for 20 years. "The way we look at it, sometimes you just need a sugar fix."

Posted by Wintermute at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2005

McDonald's may outsource drive-thru

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - McDonald's wants to outsource your neighbourhood drive-thru.


The world's largest fast-food chain said on Thursday it is looking into using remote call centres to take customer orders in an effort to improve service at its drive-thrus.

"If you're in L.A.... and you hear a person with a North Dakota accent taking your order, you'll know what we're up to," McDonald's Chief Executive Jim Skinner told investors during a presentation at the Bear Stearns Retail, Restaurants & Apparel Conference in New York.


Call centre professionals with "very strong communication skills" could help boost order accuracy and ultimately speed up the time it takes customers to get in and out of the drive-thrus, the company said.


Revamping its drive-thrus is one of the latest initiatives in McDonald's more than two-year-long effort to revitalize sales. The company's flagship U.S. business has benefited in the last year from the introduction of healthier menu items like entree-sized salads and apple slices, later hours, and cashless payments.


As part of the chain's plan to boost sales in Europe, its No. 2 market, McDonald's this week introduced several new Happy Meal choices in the United Kingdom.


Kids ordering Happy Meals in the United Kingdom will be now be able to have a bag of carrot sticks instead of French fries. The company also added grilled chicken strips called Chicken Grills, fruit jelly made with 99-percent real fruit, and two new no-sugar-added drinks to its list of Happy Meal offerings.


McDonald's spokeswoman Anna Rozenich said the new U.K. Happy Meal choices would not necessarily be rolled out in the United States as local management teams make individual choices about what will work in their markets.


"We would never want to make assumptions about one marketplace over another," she said.


McDonald's shares rose 22 cents, or less than 1 percent, to close at $32.75 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange

Posted by Wintermute at 05:19 PM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2005

Breakfast Surprise

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Ingredients

12 White Castle® hamburgers
7 to 8 slices English muffin toasting bread
1 lb. ham
1/2 to 3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
2 1/4 cups milk
3 eggs
1 stick butter

Directions

In buttered 9 x 13-inch pan, layer the bottom with burgers without the tops of the buns. Cube the English muffin toasting bread, the ham, and the sharp cheddar cheese. Mix milk and eggs. Pour mixture over the cubed items, which have been put on top of the hamburgers. Melt one stick of butter and pour over all. Bake for 1 hour at 350°F.

Ingest

Posted by Wintermute at 08:08 AM | Comments (0)

January 22, 2005

Hostess Twinkies Sushi

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Here's a wild recipe that's super easy to make and super fun to eat as a light and fruity snack! This recipe transforms the much loved Twinkie into a hip and tropical flavored treat.

Items Needed:


3 Hostess Twinkies

Assorted dried fruits

Assorted fruity candies

2 green fruit roll ups

Dried mangoes (looks like pickled ginger)

DIRECTIONS:
Slice Hostess Twinkies into pieces about an inch tall. Slice fruit roll ups in strips to be long enough and wide enough to wrap around the Hostess Twinkie pieces. Wrap the fruit roll ups around the Hostess Twinkie pieces. Place dried fruits and candies into the cream filling. Place Twinkie rolls on a plate or in a bento box. Garnish with strips of dried mango to resemble pickled ginger if you wish! Serve with chopsticks if you wish.

http://www.twinkies.com

© 2004 Clare Crespo

Posted by Wintermute at 01:39 PM | Comments (3)

January 17, 2005

100-Pound Woman Downs Six-Pound Burger

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CLEARFIELD, Pa. (AP) - A 100-pound female college student is the first to meet the Denny's Beer Barrel Pub challenge: down the restaurant's six-pound hamburger - and five pounds of fixins' - within three hours.

Kate Stelnick, 19, of Princeton, N.J., made the five-hour drive with two friends from The College of New Jersey on Wednesday, after they saw pictures of the monster burger, dubbed the Ye Old 96er, on the Internet and on TV's Food Network.

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"I just saw it on TV and I really thought I could do it," Stelnick said, after downing the burger in two hours, 54 minutes.

Stelnick didn't eat for two days to prepare for the challenge. "I felt very full, but I was too excited that I actually ate it to notice," Stelnick said.

Denny Leigey Jr., the owner of the bar 35 miles northwest of State College, had offered a two-pound burger for years and conceived of the six-pounder after his daughter went to college and phoned him about a bar that sold a four-pounder.

But nobody had finished the big burger in the three-hour time limit since it was introduced on Super Bowl Sunday 1998 - not even competitive eater Eric "Badlands" Booker. The 420-pound Booker - who has eaten such things as 49 glazed doughnuts in eight minutes and two pounds of chocolate bars in six minutes - tried three times to eat the burger and finally did on his third effort. But it took Booker 7 1/2 hours.

The burger takes 45 minutes to cook, and those who try to meet the three-hour limit must use no utensils and eat all of these fixins: one large onion, two whole tomatoes, one half head of lettuce, 1 1/4 pounds of cheese, top and bottom buns, and a cup each of mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, relish, banana peppers and some pickles.

Leigey said he was pretty sure somebody would meet his burger challenge, though he didn't have a petite woman in mind.

"I wouldn't have made it if I didn't think it was possible," Leigey said.

For her trouble, Stelnick got a special certificate, a T-shirt and other prizes and - as advertised - Leigey picked up the $23.95 tab for the burger.

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Posted by Wintermute at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)

January 07, 2005

Some say raccoon tastes better than roast beef.

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BY CHAD GARRISON

It's a week before Christmas, and Levent Blayock is hunting for critters at the Soulard Farmer's Market. He's stocking up for his annual "wild food" party, a New Year's Day ritual -- more than two decades in the running -- in which he and his buddies cook up a smorgasbord of animals one is not likely to find on the shelves at Schnucks.

Amid the happy commotion of carolers singing "Jingle Bells" and vendors shouting out their wares, Blayock scrutinizes dozens of frozen carcasses that line Scott Harr's food stall -- there's beaver, raccoon, possum and muskrat. For more than 80 years, Harr and his forefathers have made a name for themselves by selling these adventurous delicacies. The family's longevity has earned them legions of devoted customers like Blayock, who, at long last, picks out a 25-pound beaver and two small, bloody muskrats.

A week earlier, the East St. Louis resident bagged the other necessary complements of the big meal: raccoon and possum. Back home Blayock will serve his varmint feast with table wine, Budweiser and Stag beer. And when his guests finish, the animals' severed tails will be unveiled. That's when the party really starts hopping, with the children paddling each other with beaver tails, and the womenfolk screaming at the sight of the rat-like possum.
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"Whoa," Blayock says. "They go crazy."

To Harr's faithful customers, the wild-game meat is as much about cultural tradition and family heritage as it is about cutting-edge vittles. It's like Aunt Bertha's fruitcake or Grandma Esther's oyster stuffing -- a homey, acquired taste. Call it four-legged comfort food.

"My father came from Arkansas and was raised on coons, rabbits and possum," says Anna Thomas, a spry 74-year-old from Fairview Heights, Illinois, who every Thanksgiving and Christmas makes certain to get herself a raccoon.

Thomas will serve a Christmas meal of raccoon, goose and ham to some twenty relatives. Her recipe for coon includes soaking the beast overnight in salt water -- a procedure, she says, that strips the "wildness" from the meat. After seasoning the creature with red pepper, salt, garlic and onion, she'll roast the raccoon in the oven along with candied yams and gravy.

"You talk about good eating!" she exclaims. "Good old lean meat."

For 69-year-old Lorraine Wells and her husband, Joe, barbecued coon is the only way to go. The Wellses soak the creature in a mixture of vinegar, water and salt overnight, and then parboil the carcass with seasoned salt, garlic and pepper. When the meat is tender, Joe tosses the carcass on the grill and smokes the meat for a few hours. They insist raccoon tastes better than roast beef.

It's salt-of-the-earth customers like Thomas and the Wellses who make up the majority of Harr's business. They're mostly African-American and elderly, and a good percentage of them pay for their purchases with food stamps. They're also a dying breed. With each passing year, the 30-year-old Harr sells less and less wild game.

A veritable Ellis Island of humanity, the 150-year-old Soulard market has long served as a melting pot for an otherwise segregated city. Here, for a few hours each Saturday, west-county gourmands share space with Bosnian refugees; inner-city blacks mingle with south-county hoosiers; Mexican illegals wait alongside loft-dwelling intellectuals.

It's amid this motley bunch that Harr alone stands out from the crowd. From mid-November through late January (the traditional length of the trapping season in Missouri and Illinois), Harr is best known as "Game Man."

His collection of live rabbits and chickens (which he keeps in wooden crates lined with the pages of this very newspaper) attracts the kiddies. But it's his unusual frozen-food section that gets the most attention. He may as well be displaying shrunken heads, what with the number of people who circle around his stall, ogling his critters.

On a typical Saturday during trapping season, Harr might sell a dozen raccoons and a few odd possums, beavers and muskrats. But on this holiday eve, the carcasses are moving fast. Raccoons go for $7 for a small one, $10 for a large. Possums sell for $5. A big beaver commands as much as $20. Muskrats, a relative bargain, sell for $2 a head. By day's end, Harr will sell more than 50 raccoons, a half-dozen muskrats, a pair of possums and all three beavers he's brought to market.

Lingering in the background this bitter-cold day is Frank Como, a heavy-set, 81-year-old Italian with a nose the size of a tennis ball. Como remembers eating possum during the Great Depression, and the foul taste lingers still.

"Possums eat dead people," he announces for all to hear. "In graveyards, they dig holes and eat corpses. If a horse dies out in the field, they eat it out, starting with the asshole. You hit a dead horse on the stomach and the possums will come running out its asshole. They're greasy, nasty animals."

Harr could do without the rant -- the public's perception of wild meat is bad enough. Where Harr's father and grandfather bought game from trappers in bulk, selling hundreds of carcasses a year, his operation is more piecemeal. He slowly builds inventory, worried that much of the beaver and coon might not sell. Harr's 23-year-old wife, Stephanie, can understand why. "I was appalled when I found out he was selling this stuff," she says. After four years of marriage and countless hours helping operate the family stall, Stephanie refuses to handle any of the carcasses, and she has yet to eat any of them -- and plans to keep it that way.

Still, Harr is optimistic that as long as there are open-air markets, the demand for his meat will continue. "The younger generations may turn their nose up at it in public, but when it's on the dinner table, they'll eat it."

That few people today eat varmints does little to mitigate their role in America's culinary history.

For centuries beaver was considered a delicacy among Native American tribes. In the more recent past, beaver provided much sustenance for pioneers, its meat a staple for the men of the Lewis & Clark expedition. Muskrat, sold under the pseudonym "marsh hare," was a popular turn-of-the-century dish in many of the finer restaurants of the northeast. Raccoon and possum meat continues to be highly sought-after throughout the American South.

When Pierre Laclede and August Chouteau founded St. Louis in 1763, the area was the largest fur-collection point in the world. Think our ancestors didn't eat beaver every now and again?

The definitive book on varmint-eating in America has yet to be written, but most culinary scholars point to the nation's population shift last century as the primary reason the food has all but disappeared from the American palate.

"This is a phenomenon of the emerging middle class and industrialization," says S.G.B. Tennant Jr., author of the game cookbook Wild at the Table. "Prior to that point, game is what kept people alive. It was America's first food."

As more and more people moved off the farm last century, they left behind the traditions of their rural heritage, including the trapping and eating of animals. Perhaps the swan song for the meat came in 1997 when Joy of Cooking, the nation's most authoritative cookbook, removed its recipes for beaver, muskrat, possum and raccoon. The recipes no longer reflected the "modern tastes" of America.

Even among the dozens of cookbooks dedicated to wild game, few pay heed to recipes concerning these delicacies. The L.L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook, perhaps the foremost depository of recipes for North American game, likens the taste of muskrat to that of duck, and sort of like turtle. Raccoon the book describes as tasting akin to squirrel and better than rabbit.

In his book Fowl and Game Cookery, the late James Beard, considered by many the "godfather" of American cuisine, describes muskrat as having a pleasant flavor but filled with so many bones that "it's hardly worth the effort."

Janie Hibler, author of Wild About Game, writes that an old beaver tastes like "the underside of a Mexican saddle." A.D. Livingston, author of the Complete Fish & Game Cookbook, suggests that a trapped possum be fed milk and grain for several days in an attempt to "clean out" the otherwise foul taste of the creature.

Looking for some local advice, we contacted Larry Forgione, owner of the much-ballyhooed new downtown restaurant An American Place. An acolyte of Beard, Forgione has earned acclaim as much for his culinary skills as for his dedication to only using food grown and harvested in the United States.

So is Forgione surprised that people still eat this stuff? Not at all. In the mid-'80s he served marsh hare in one of his New York City restaurants.

"I think what people don't realize is that a lot of this type of food was extremely popular at the turn of the century," he says. "Back then people ate everything they killed, which was a good thing."

Fur-trapping, though not as popular as it once was, is still practiced in this region in genocidal proportions.

Last year trappers in Missouri and Illinois harvested more than 166,000 raccoons, 25,000 possums, 45,000 muskrats and nearly 15,000 beavers. Still, state conservationists say populations of fur-bearing mammals in the two states remain at near-record highs. Concerned that the burgeoning numbers of varmints may lead to starvation and disease, the Missouri Department of Conservation has extended the trapping season this year by an extra three weeks -- the first time it has done so in 30 years.

But for all they do in helping control animal populations, trappers remain a suspicious lot. The trappers that supply Harr with his meat declined interviews for this story. Trappers we were able to contact would not allow us to accompany them as they checked their traps, and several requested that we not print their names.

The reason for the reticence, they say, comes from their fear of the anti-fur movement. Since the founding of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and similar splinter groups in the early 1980s, the price of fur in the United States has plummeted. Where 25 years ago a raccoon pelt brought a trapper as much as $30, today it commands just $10 to $15 in the overseas markets of Greece, Russia, China and Korea -- the major players in the international fur trade.

"It's a shame we have to send our fur overseas," says 73-year-old Harry Deatherage, a farmer in Granite City who has trapped these parts for more than 50 years. "If it wasn't for the 'antis' [the anti-fur movement], this would be a big market."

Deatherage is one of perhaps a few dozen trappers who continue to ply their craft in the St. Louis metropolitan area, running his trap line in suburban neighborhoods that twenty years ago were farmland. Where he once tracked his prey following paw prints, droppings and other tell-tale signs of wildlife, today Deatherage scopes out toppled trash cans, nuisance reports and indignant homeowners.

"After the raccoons have gotten in someone's trash a few times, people no longer have much appreciation for the animals," says Deatherage. "I'd say 99 percent of the time I ask someone for permission to trap on their property, they give me the okay."

Once skinned of its pelt, the animal's meat is simply a byproduct that can earn the trapper a little extra income. They sell it to vendors such as Harr for a few bucks, and Harr, in turn, marks it up a couple more dollars for sale at the market.

Wild game is generally a leaner meat than domestic livestock and is therefore considered a healthier alternative to farm-raised meat. Possum, for example, is said to have twice the protein of T-bone steak and less than one-third the fat.

But farm-raised meat must also undergo stringent safety inspections. The same cannot be said of wild game.

"The question you have to ask here is, 'Where are they getting these animals?'" says Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University. "If you hunt your own meat, you at least know where you got it and how quickly the animal was processed. In buying trapped animals, I think one would have to ask a lot of questions, such as what's the potential for food-borne illness?"

At best, the trading of wild meat is a loosely regulated industry. Because it is such a niche product, neither the United States Department of Agriculture nor the Missouri Department of Agriculture monitors its sale or safety. Instead, inspection is left to the Missouri Department of Conservation, which monitors the licensing of trappers and hunters, and to the local health department in which the meat is processed or sold.

In the case of St. Louis City, the wild-game trade falls well under the radar. When asked about the sale of the meat at Soulard Farmer's Market, Virginia Phillips, environmental health supervisor for the city, was unaware of the practice. "This is not something we run into day-to-day," she explains. "I'd have to call Missouri Department of Conservation."

David Hamilton, a resource scientist for the conservation department, says trapped game is the only wildlife meat other than fish that the state allows for sale. Little, if any, of the meat is ever inspected.

"It's kind of an open market, 'buyer beware' sort of thing," Hamilton concedes. "We don't have much jurisdiction other than licensing the person to trap."

Even so, Hamilton says he cannot think of any public-health epidemic that has resulted from people eating wild game harvested by Missouri trappers. Raccoon and possum rabies are extremely rare in Missouri. Beavers and muskrats, while both members of the rodent family, are largely free of the diseases associated with their cousins, rats and mice.

"The trappers aren't going to sell something if they think it's bad," says Hamilton. "They have an economic interest in this. They don't want to negatively affect the market."

For chef Larry Forgione, varmint meat will always be associated with good eating.

It was in the late 1970s that he teamed with Justin Rashid, a wild-food forager in northern Michigan, who was friends with many of the Native American tribes of that region. The tribes provided Rashid and Forgione with their unused meat.

With a boundless supply of game, Forgione would experiment with different ways to prepare the animals. Often he tested his recipes on his friend and mentor, James Beard.

When asked if he will do the same for a taste-testing committee from the Riverfront Times, Forgione agrees on one condition: Make sure our readers (and, more important, the health department) realize that An American Place does not include such vittles on its regular menu. By law, no restaurant is allowed to sell meat that has not been inspected by state or federal authorities, and Harr's butchered critters don't come with the USDA's seal of approval.

Eager for beaver, we arrive at An American Place promptly at 6 p.m. the Monday before Christmas. As our taste-testing brigade assembles in the restaurant's lobby, Forgione emerges from the kitchen, a coy smile on his round face. In his hand is a five-course menu, beginning and ending with beaver.

Our meal starts with a sampling of beaver tail on toast. It is not well received. "Oh, gross, I got some on my finger!" screams one of our testers when a piece of fatty white flesh falls from the toast.

Beaver tail, Forgione will later tell us, is akin to whale's blubber. A highly fatty and greasy meat, it's full of energy but has a taste and texture like congealed Crisco. Among Native American tribes, the meat was thought to aid virility, but for our taste-testers, its lasting impression is the sensation left in the back of the throat as the meat "shimmies" its way toward the stomach.

The Asian-style marsh hare wonton is definitely a step up. The wontons are in a sesame-spiked soy sauce and seasoned with shiitake mushrooms, ginger and cilantro -- you'd hardly know you were eating muskrat. Ground into tiny patties, the meat inside the wonton is dark and rich, its gamey flavor an excellent complement to the salty sweetness of the soy sauce.

For the third course, Forgione serves sauerbraten-style raccoon, having soaked the meat overnight in a mixture of apple cider and apple-cider vinegar. The marinating of wild game is a time-honored technique to remove the gamey flavor from the meat. In this case it worked to marginal success. Served on a bed of thick noodles, the raccoon is a fibrous, dark meat that might best be compared to beef brisket.

Still, the remnants of the meat's wild taste is too much for our panel of critics. Even Forgione admits that the pugnacity of the raccoon is beyond his liking.

"I don't know if I would eat raccoon again," he confesses. "I'm sure there are those out there who probably cover the meat with some horrible barbecue sauce so all you're tasting is the sauce. I was trying to give you an idea of what the flavor tasted like."

Like any good chef, Forgione saves the best for last. His wood-roasted leg of beaver is nothing short of sumptuous. An incredibly mild meat, the beaver leg might pass as roast beef to the unsuspecting diner. The final course, pan-roasted mignon of beaver, is even more succulent and comes accompanied with roasted parsnip purée, Brussels sprouts and wild huckleberry.

At the end of the meal, our host takes a seat at the table and readily admits he's outdone himself. Traditional recipes for this type of meat do not include such garnishments as parsnip purée and gingersnap crumbs.

"I wanted to have a little fun with this," says Forgione. "Back when this food was most popular, there weren't gourmet meals. It was about how to get the healthiest, heartiest meal you could for the least amount of money. Really just whatever you caught, you threw in the pot, be it squirrels, raccoon, beaver, whatever."

Today attitudes are different. Even if there weren't the regulations prohibiting him from serving the wild game to his customers, Forgione doubts he'd put it on the menu.

"From an adventurous point of view, I think people should try it. But I seriously doubt there'd be enough demand to have it on a menu. Besides, I think anything that ends in the word 'rat' is sort of hard for most people to swallow."

Roast Beaver
One 8-10 lb. beaver
bread crumbs
salt and pepper
1 tsp. thyme and rosemary
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup currant jelly

Stuff the beaver and salt and pepper it all over. Place beaver in uncovered roasting pan and bake for 15 minutes in 450 degree oven. Add wine, water, jelly and herbs. Cover and continue roasting at 325 degrees for 3.5 hours. As the beaver bakes, skin the fat from time to time.
from The L.L. Bean Game & Fish Cookbook by Cameron and Jones

Raccoon Roast
1 raccoon, including liver
bouquet of parsley, chopped
2 onions, sliced
sprig of thyme and rosemary
2 tbsp. butter

Wash carcass with hot water and lemon juice. Slit along the belly and remove intestines. Sautee parsley, onions and liver in butter. Stuff contents into carcass and roast for two hours, basting frequently with butter or bacon fat. Salt and pepper to taste.
from Fowl and Game Cookery by James Beard

Muskrat in Cream
2 young muskrat
1/2 pint cream
cooking oil
juice of two lemons
salt and pepper

Cut the dressed muskrat into serving-size pieces. Sprinkle with lemon and refrigerate overnight. Rinse the meat and sprinkle salt and pepper. Cover with flour and brown the meat in the skillet. Transfer to casserole dish, add cream and bake for 25 minutes.
from Complete Fish & Game Cookbook by A.D. Livingston

Stewed Possum
1 young, fat opossum
8 sweet potatoes
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. sugar
salt

Wash possum thoroughly. Freeze overnight. Boil peeled potatoes with sugar, butter and salt. Stew the possum until tender in a tightly covered pan. Arrange the taters around the possum, sprinkle with thyme or marjoram, or pepper, and brown in the oven. Baste often with the drippings.
from North Carolina State Wild Game Recipes

http://riverfronttimes.com/issues/current/news/feature.html

Posted by Wintermute at 08:54 AM | Comments (3)

December 19, 2004

Deep-fried Mars myth is dispelled

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BBC News

The deep-fried Mars bar is alive and well in Scotland with more than a fifth of chip shops serving up the delicacy.

A study by NHS Greater Glasgow found 22% of Scottish take-aways had the foodstuff on its menu and another 17% used to sell them.

Researchers surveyed 500 chip shops and found children are the main buyers, with one shop selling up to 200 a week.

The first report of battered Mars bars being up for sale appeared in the Scottish Daily Record in August 1995.

Scotland has had a reputation as the home of the deep-fried chocolate for many years and it has become something of an urban myth outside of the country.

But the findings of the health board has proved they are actually for sale.

The shops they interviewed also reported they have been asked to deep-fry Snickers, Creme Eggs, and pizzas in the past.

Dr David Morrison, consultant in public health medicine, said, "We live in Scotland but we'd never actually seen deep-fried Mars bars for sale.

"We thought they might be fictitious. But the Scottish diet is a major health issue and it's important to know what the facts are.

"We can now confirm that there is no doubt, the deep-fried Mars bar is not just an urban myth."

American mention

Dr Morrison and his colleague Dr Mark Petticrew decided to conduct the survey after they received a recent mention on US television's NBC Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Their study is published in the December issue of the medical journal the Lancet.

The Mars bar was first produced in 1920 by Frank and Ethel Mars in Tacoma, Washington, in the US.

It was locally named the Milky Way bar but called the Mars bar in Europe.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/4103415.stm


In the interest of science, we offer the following recipe, found at http://yumfood.net, under the heading "White Trash Recipes.

Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1


Ingredients:

1 Mars Bar (UK) or Milky Way (US)

1 cup plain flour

1/2 cup corn flour

A pinch of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda to Yanks)

Milk or beer

Oil for deep frying


Directions:


Chill the chocolate bar by keeping it in the fridge, but don't freeze it.

Mix the flours and bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) together.

Add milk (traditional) or beer (which gives a lighter result) until you get a batter with the consistency of thin cream.

Heat the oil until a small piece of bread will brown in a few seconds, but don't allow to smoke.

Remove wrapper from chilled chocolate bar. Coat completely in batter. Carefully lower into hot oil and fry until golden brown. Serve, with ice cream or french fries, if you're so inclined.

(Of course, if you want to be sophisticated, you can cut the bar into bite-sized pieces before coating in batter.)

Bon Appetite!

Posted by Wintermute at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2004

Octopus cannon targets McDonalds in southern France

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God bless the French, they shall show us the way to salvation!

SETE, France (AFP) - Armed with a high-pressure hose and a bucket of octopi, hundreds of protestors in this Mediterranean town pelted a McDonalds restaurant due to open this week with the slimy seafood.

Between 300 and 500 people gathered on the banks of the Sete canal, across from the fast-food outlet, playing music and yelling anti-junk-food slogans across the water, as police barred them from reaching the restaurant itself.

Aiming the hose across the water, they catapulted fresh octopi -- a local delicacy, known here as the "pouffre" -- towards the town's first McDonalds, which had been set to open on Saturday.


The crowd held up slogans slamming junk food, dubbed "malbouffe" in French, as well as work conditions in the fast-food industry.


Driving home their point, the protestors were serving up traditional Setois dishes -- one of which is the tielle, a fragrant octopus, tomato and onion pie prized by locals and tourists alike.


The demonstration caused the opening of the restaurant, the first fast-food outlet in the port town following years of resistance by the former communist mayor, to be put off until next week.


A group led by French militant farmer Jose Bove pulled down a McDonalds outlet that was under construction in the southern town of Millau in 1999, earning Bove a jail sentence, although the restaurant was later rebuilt.

Posted by Wintermute at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)

November 09, 2004

A New "Lobster Maniac of the Year"

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By DOUGLAS P. GUARINO

Staff Writer

KITTERY, Maine — Barry "Tink" Giddings set a new record for the Weathervane Seafood Restaurant’s All You Can Eat Lobster Mania Contest Saturday, devouring 19 lobsters in 35 minutes.

Giddings, 50, of Gassetts, Vt., qualified for the 3rd annual event at the Rutland, Vt., Weathervane.

"When it comes to eating lobsters, I knew I was a winner," Giddings said minutes after the competition.

As he loosened his belt buckle a notch and smoked a post-victory cigarette, Giddings noted his limited experience.

"I won a watermelon eating contest when I was about 8," Giddings said, recalling his only prior experience with speed eating.

The contest turned into a family affair as Giddings’ son, Buck Smith, 29, of West Lebanon, N.H., lost a $20 bet with his father. Smith also competed and finished only nine lobsters.

"I told him not to eat breakfast and he did," Giddings said.

Asked when the last time he ate prior to the contest, Giddings replied, "I had some toast this morning."

Giddings’ wife, Linda, could not be prouder.

"That’s my husband!" she called out when the event’s WGIR M.C. announced Giddings was in the lead with only minutes to go.

Asked if her husband "ate like that all the time," she said: "Unfortunately, he does."

Now crowned Lobster Maniac of the year, Giddings was awarded with an excursion on a working lobster boat out of Badger’s Island and up to 100 pounds of the day’s catch.

According to Weathervane spokeswoman Susan Paquette, the difference between this, and other lobster eating contests is that contestants are responsible for shucking their own lobsters as well as eating them.

The restaurant provided utensils, but contestants were permitted to shuck the lobsters anyway they chose. Some contestants washed the lobster down with beer; Giddings drank soda.

Before participating, all contestants signed a waiver releasing Weathervane from liability due to harm incurred before, during and after the competition.

Contestants also signed a form acknowledging they would be disqualified for leaving the table to regurgitate during the contest.

The rules also required that the tail, both claws and knuckle meat of every lobster be eaten in order to be included in the total count.

Thirteen contestants participated in this year’s event. Last year’s champion, Jack Reardon of Concord, was a no show.

Carolyn Cope, 22, of Westford, Mass., came in third. The only woman competing in Saturday’s event, the recent University of New Hampshire graduate ate 15 lobsters.

"I don’t know what possessed me to do this," said Cope, who said that when she qualified at the Kittery restaurant she had only eaten lobster once previously.

"I don’t even like it that much," she said, adding her male competitors had doubted her. "I bet you can’t eat seven," one of them said before the competition started.

Cope vowed to return next year.

"But I don’t think I’ll be eating much lobster before then," she said.

© 2004 Geo. J. Foster Company
.

Posted by Wintermute at 08:08 AM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2004

Starbucks grows bigger yet

LOS ANGELES (CBS.MW) -- Shares of Starbucks jumped in morning trading Friday after the coffeehouse behemoth announced bigger-than-expected expansion plans and strong growth for the next five years.
Starbucks climbed 90 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $48.69 after the company said at its analyst conference in Seattle that it planned to grow to 30,000 outlets worldwide.

The company also said it sees 20 percent sales growth over the next three to five years, as well as 20 percent to 25 percent earnings per share growth in that time frame.


Already the world's largest coffee shop chain with 8,500 outlets, Chairman Howard Schultz said he was setting the new target -- which is 5,000 stores more than last year's goal -- to demonstrate "not only the power of the Starbucks brand but also our commitment to continued growth both domestically and internationally," he said at a daylong analysts' conference in Seattle.


This year, the company opened stores in 47 new U.S. markets turning to smaller cities such as Wichita, Kan., Tampa, Fla., or Lubbock, Texas and to new sites such as off-highway locations.


Jim Donald, who will become chief executive early next year, said these off-highway sites could mean another 500 stores for Starbucks.


"These locations have shown favorable economics for us so far," he said. "With approximately 46,000 miles of interstate highways across the country, we see this as an exciting opportunity we are just beginning to pursue."


Schultz also noted that the company has had considerable success in Hispanic communities and the company is planning on bringing out food and beverage products that appeal to a diverse customer base.


On the international front, Starbucks sees itself opening up to 15,000 stores after ending the 2004 fiscal year with 2,437 stores in 33 countries.


"We are seeing that our business model works in many different types of business environments around the world," said Martin Coles, Starbucks International president.


Coles is marking China as its next big international opportunity, he said. He is focusing on current markets such as Beijing and Shanghai while rapidly moving into other cities.


"Our initial success in China is very encouraging," he said.


The news is likely to appease many investors and analysts who have been concerned about the company's ability to maintain robust growth rates. After a string of consecutive quarters of double-digit percentage gains, Starbucks has been projecting high single-digit growth rates.


However, the company has launched a number of initiatives to drive traffic into its cafes that go beyond buying coffee and muffins. On Thursday, the company said it is beginning to put the technology in stores to burn CDs at the Hear Music media bar. It also will offer exclusive content.


"Starbucks is still in the early stages of growth and we have significant opportunities to open stores in untapped and existing markets," Schultz said.


"As we continue to add new customers and increase loyalty with existing customers, we recognize that the marketplace is much larger than we previously believed," he added.


Starbucks also told analysts Thursday that its popular, reloadable stored-value cards are nearing the $1 billion mark in total balances. Launched three years ago as a holiday gift card, the Starbucks card has become an important contributor to sales.

text

Posted by Wintermute at 06:05 PM | Comments (7)

September 29, 2004

"Swanky" cake for that special day

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Phil Delaplane Designs Swanky Cake for Special Day


Phil Delaplane of Red Hook, NY is a man with a sophisticated palette. A chef by trade and an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, Phil teaches chefs who go on to cook in some of the fanciest restaurants in the world.

So when Phil and his fiancée Pam began planning their wedding, he knew the only cake that would make their special day complete was one created entirely of Hostess snack cakes.


Phil and Pam both loved to eat Twinkies and Cup Cakes as children. On their first date, Phil ended a day of golf with a bottle of champagne and Cup Cakes to munch on as they watched the sun set over the Hudson.


It only took Phil one hour to complete his wedding cake. After building the tiers with layers of Styrofoam disks, the only complication was figuring out how to piece the snacks together. Finally, after several design changes, Phil came up with this idea of using a variety of Hostess snack cakes such as Twinkies, Cup Cakes, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, Suzy Q’s, Sno Balls and Mini Muffins.


Don’t be too surprised if this creation ends up on the dessert tray at your nearest swanky restaurant!

http://www.twinkies.com/worldofwacky/delaplane.asp#more

Posted by Wintermute at 09:41 AM | Comments (4)

September 26, 2004

Those Special Occasions

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Weddings, birthdays and special occasions – the possibilities are endless. What may seem unconventional has become a popular and unique trend among many of our customers who continue to invent new ways to enjoy Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

kkCake.jpg

Every Krispy Kreme doughnut cake will be unique, since the cake should reflect the individual personality of your special occasion. Let your cake decorator know what kind of event you are planning (elegant, humorous, casual, formal, etc.) and discuss colors or any other pertinent information.


Wedding Cakes


Masi Bakery at 215-336-4557. They will deliver in PA, NJ, and DE 

http://www.krispykremepa.com/Special.htm

Posted by Wintermute at 11:29 AM | Comments (2)

September 23, 2004

Holiday Gift Ideas

thirteen_bacon.jpg

The Bacon of the Month Clubs

Bacon of the Month Club
1 package a month

 The only club like it on the planet (as far as we know).

 One package of bacon delivered to your door each month for twelve months for only $135 + 2-day shipping service.

Here's what you get:

• A different artisan bacon delivered to your door each month for 12 months*
• Informative notes on all bacon selections
• Discounts on Grateful Palate bacon products and bacons
• Bacon of the Month Club Membership Card
• The Bacon Strip - our monthly bacon comic strip for members only
• The Bacon of the Month Club Pig Ballpoint Pen
• A Little Rubber Toy Pig
• One free Bacon Tee Shirt
• A recipe each month using the bacon selection

 
* In consideration of the warmer weather, June - September bacons are shipped together in June with monthly shipments resuming in October.

Price $135.00

http://www.gratefulpalate.com/Templates/frmTemplateM.asp?SubFolderID=0089&SearchYN=N

Posted by Wintermute at 12:57 PM | Comments (2)

May 24, 2004

NJ Native inducted in White Castle Hall of Fame

white-castle-95.jpghttp://nj.com/news/ledger/essex/index.ssf?/base/news-5/1085121036144680.xml

BY PHILIP READ
Star-Ledger Staff

Kal Penn doesn't huff down stacks of steamy, onion-laden White Castle burgers, even if he did star in the fast-food adventure film "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle."

When he got off a jet in Columbus, Ohio, yesterday, he wasn't carrying a 30-pack "Crave" case as a piece of luggage, even if he was about to be inducted into the White Castle Hall of Fame.

In fact, Penn -- aka Montclair- born Kalpen Modi -- doesn't touch the stuff. He's a vegetarian, one of those don't-eat-anything-with-a- face types. "I don't eat meat," he said.

But he's had the crave.

"Man, they smelled so good when I was a kid," he said just hours before last night's White Castle induction ceremonies. "We use to go sometimes. It was tempting."

In the teen comedy flick that helped seal the hall-of-fame spot, Penn and co-star John Cho go through a life-changing journey as they spend the night roaming New Jersey in search of White Castle burgers.

The White Castle Hall of Fame, now in its fourth year, is the recipient of 4,496 mouth-watering nominating tales to date.

The 20-something Penn left New Jersey for Hollywood about six years ago, a product of schools in Wayne and then Freehold. His film credits include last year's "Malibu's Most Wanted" and 2001's "American Desi," as well as roles on TV's "NYPD Blue" and "Spin City."

Freshly arrived in Columbus yesterday, he was in store for plenty of temptation.

"Oh, boy, we've got several thousand," said Jamie Richardson, a spokesman for White Castle. "We're going to have grills set up outside the theater ... hot and fresh."

And should Penn ever have the crave again, he might consider what other vegetarians have.

"They love the taste of the onions so much, they ask for the hamburgers without the meat," Richardson said. "There's a crave there."

But no plans for a veggie burger, apparently.

"You know, in conversations we've had, that doesn't sound like something that's going to happen."

Posted by Wintermute at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2004

Dangerous Food

WILE18.GIF

CHICAGO (CBS 2) Here's a top 10 list that'll make you lose your appetite. Men's Health magazine is out with the 10 dirtiest foods, from bad burgers and dangerous deli meats, to health foods that can be hazardous.

10. Scallions: Uncooked, these green onions become bacterial breeding grounds. Plus they've been linked to fatal outbreaks of Hepatitis-A.

9. Cold cuts: You may be lunching with Listeria, a dangerous bacteria that can kill infants and the elderly. The deli slicer spreads it and it can grow even in the fridge.

"I actually advise that you transfer the deli meat to a fresh package, and only store up for a week," said nutritionist Lisa Dorfman.

8. Pre-packaged tossed salads: They can be one of the biggest sources of food poisoning, because the contents are often contaminated with E. Coli.

7. Peaches: Because of the peach fuzz. It's hard to clean all the pesticide off.

6. Canteloupe: Dangerous bacteria on the rind is hard to wash off. Then they are often carried inside with an unclean cut of a knife.

"There's no question that the outside of the fruit is where potential problems are," said lab director Dr. Peter Kmieck.

5. Eggs: They're associated with over 600,000 cases of food poisoning each year and over 300 deaths.

"Eggs could be a really sickening product," Dorfman said.

4. Oysters: If eaten raw they'll leave you feeling that way. Many are tainted with the Norovirus and bacteria.

3. Ground turkey: One in four packages contain bacteria. It's a concern as people substitute ground turkey for ground beef.

2. Ground beef: Because of heavy processing, ground beef's often loaded with the potentially deadly E. coli bacteria and more.

1. Chicken: With more than 40 percent of samples in one study having sickening bacteria, it ranked number one because the lab found E. coli in the chicken samples.

The researchers say that's unusual, because E. coli is not part of the normal flora, or beneficial bacteria, of the chicken.

http://kyw.com/water/watercooler_story_140180319.html

Posted by Wintermute at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2004

Cartoon Steak

Cartoonsteak.jpg
Who needs restaurants?

1. Start with the proper cut of meat, aka Cartoon Steak.

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2. Bring the beverage of your choice


Beast.jpg
3. Always be vigilant.


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4. Dine in splendor.

Posted by Wintermute at 10:05 AM | Comments (5)

March 28, 2004

The price of conformity

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Magnolia Bakery - Bleeker & W. 11th Str.

Hard to beleive it, but these folks are waiting in line for....cupcakes.
Granted, The Magnolia Bakery serves up a delightful cupcake that will bring
you right back to childhood - but so will Twinkies. And, you can
purchase those sugar bombs at any supermarket or deli - no waiting
needed.

Posted by G at 09:24 PM | Comments (5)

March 12, 2004

Krispy Kreme Planning a Low-Sugar Doughnut

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Hot. Now. Healthy?

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, long known for its high-calorie treats, says it plans to offer a low-sugar doughnut to attract dieters and diabetics.

Exactly how low the sugar content would be was unclear Thursday. Krispy Kreme spokeswoman Amy Hughes said she didn't know because the new doughnut is still in the early stages of development. It is set to debut before the end of the year.


But just one of Krispy Kreme's Hot Original Glazed doughnuts has 10 grams of sugar and 200 calories. More than half those calories come from fat, 12 grams of it.


Krispy Kreme lover Clint Beaver said that while a low-sugar doughnut is a good idea, he doubted he would give up on the original glazed variety.


"As for me, I'll die eating the fattening doughnuts," said Beaver, a student at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.


One of his med-school friends, Nathan Painter, found the whole idea of a low-calorie doughnut strange. "It just seems odd they're trying to be healthy," he said.


Still, he said, he would give one a try.


The idea of offering a low-sugar doughnut isn't new for Krispy Kreme.


"We've been looking at this for some time," Hughes said.

Posted by Wintermute at 08:00 AM | Comments (3)

January 28, 2004

Tabla's Restaurant Week Menu, 2004

TabulaFlan.jpg

Tabla's Pumpkin Flan with Ginger Ice Cream and Cranberries, is a tribute to the Nuevo-cum-Indian fare featured so well in their Restaurant Week Prix Fixe menu. For $20.04 the characteristically skimpy portions on everyone's menus in this city-wide promotion did not disappoint at Tabla. If you haven't tried a new place yet, you've still got time to reserve.

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The jaw-dropping dish at our table was the Monkfish. Monkfish can be flat, flabby and totally uninteresting, but Tabla created a light, flaky, tender, caramelized Monk in a cumin / curry broth which was generously endowed with a variety of fresh green herbs. White beans and smoky sausage played off the other flavors. Spectacular.

The fusili appetizer was served in a basil / tomato / and smoky sausage sauce. Very nice. The cumin/spice/herb crusted Chicken entree was complex and a bit too salty.

Don't make the mistake of not getting the Wine Pairing for each course, (additional).

Tabla is located at 11 Madison at 25th Street. 212.889.2005

Posted by Christa at 10:05 PM | Comments (3)

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