Many health problems, like diabetes…

Many health problems, like diabetes and cancer, are linked to what you drink. Not surprisingly, water is best drink bet. But Americans have increased their consumption of sweetened drinks like soda and juices a lot in the past thirty years. "About 21 percent of calories consumed by Americans over the age of 2 come from beverages, predominantly soft drinks and fruit drinks with added sugars." And even diet sodas don't get you off the hook, because of the lack of long-term safety data for artificial sweeteners. Wine, coffee, and milk are all recommended over sweet drinks.

Wolfgang Puck’s humane decision

Americans consume vastly more chicken, turkey, pork and beef than foie gras and veal, and most of the creatures those meats come from are raised in ways that are ethically and environmentally unsound. And so the New York Times lauds chef Wolfgang Puck's decision to "use products only from animals raised under strict humane standards" in all his restaurants. This means no more battery chicken or beef, but also no more foie gras. As a reader of this site, you're probably aware of my support for ethical and humane animal husbandry but also my support for foie gras.

I've read a lot about foie gras production, articles in support of it and articles against it. The one I found most enlightening was Jeffrey Steingarten's article for Men's Vogue from the spring of 2006, Stuffed Animals: Is foie gras the height of gastronomic pleasure or murder most fowl? His reports of stress studies done on foie gras ducks and geese conclude the animals are not in pain during the feeding process. And so I've felt comfortable eating foie gras on occasion.

Which leaves me in a troubling spot with regards to this editorial and Puck's decision. I want to fully support it, yet including foie gras bothers me. You don't need to measure the levels of corticosterone (a hormone closely associated with stress, reports Steingarten) in crated pigs or chickens to know they're stressed out. You can tell that because they chew off each other's tails (pigs) and peck each other to death (chickens) when kept on factory farms. And anything that relieves these animals from such deplorable conditions absolutely gets my support. But there seems to be a growing consensus that foie gras production is inhumane, and so it's included in decisions like Puck's. But if it's not inhumane, is that really fair? Or does the fact that someone is finally taking on the truly inhumane factory farm industry outweigh the loss of some succulent fatty liver? Honestly, I don't know.

Larger portions are a reliable…

Larger portions are a reliable way to bolster the average check at restaurants. "So while it may cost a restaurant a few pennies to offer 25 percent more French fries, it can raise its prices much more than a few cents." And the Super Size was born. Some restaurants are struggling to reign in portion size, but it cuts into their profit margin (causing big trouble for publicly-traded companies) and customers complain they're not getting value. If only Americans prized quality the way they do value. I guess then we'd be France or Switzerland or something.

Not sure how I missed…

Not sure how I missed this profile of chef David Chang, of Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momfuku Ssäm Bar fame. I've been a Noodle Bar fan for a while now, but only recently visit Ssäm since they changed the menu. (I had the burritos a couple times last fall and enjoyed them.) And oh what an idiot I've been! Now I've been twice to Ssäm and can't wait to get back there again very soon, like tomorrow, even though I was there last night! It's far and away my favorite new place to eat: comfy and friendly, relaxed service, and phenomenal food. I had scallops with a lychee gelee that I'm still thinking about nearly a week later! Jason wrote up our first visit there. I'm ssoo crazy for Ssäm!

Best chocolate chip cookie search

CookiesRecently I've been on a kind of chocolate chip cookie mission, trying to find and make the best chocolate chip cookies possible. After dismissing the recipe on the back of the chip package, I was looking forward to making Adam Roberts' The Best Cookies Of Your Life. Last night I did, and I'm sad to report that while good, the cookies where not The Best of My Life. A little too thin for my taste. Of course, the other recipe I rejected for being too cakey, so clearly I'm difficult to satisfy.

Do you have a good recipe? I'm determined to find one I really enjoy, so if you've got something you think worthy, post it (or a link to it) in the comments. I'll bake all the ones I receive, and pass judgment when I'm finished. Let the cookie games begin!

The world’s largest pork producer,…

The world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, intends to phase out gestation crates for female pigs. "Of the 60 million pigs in the United States, over 95 percent are continuously confined in metal buildings, including the almost five million sows in crates. In such setups, feed is automatically delivered to animals who are forced to urinate and defecate where they eat and sleep." Gestation crates nearly immobilize pregnant females, and keep them from even being able to turn around.

Coming soon to the big…

Coming soon to the big screen near you: Julia Roberts as Ruth Reichl? It looks like Reichl's third book, Garlic and Sapphires, about her adventures as the restaurant critic for the New York Times, will be made into a movie. Reichl is an executive producer on the project and is hoping Robert's will play her. That could totally work, especially if Robert's hair is dyed black. Both have those big curly manes and giant teeth-filled smiles.