The cold rainy spring here…

Very big lobsterThe cold rainy spring here in the Northeast has been a bummer for me. But it's really been a bummer for lobstermen. A pattern of strong northwest winds has made it difficult for lobstermen to head out to sea for the last two months or so. And colder water temperatures mean the lobsters aren't feeding, so the traps are often empty. End result: lobster is scarce and pricey right now.

Playing catch up

I've been so busy doing stuff over at Serious Eats that I've been completely neglecting this site. I've built up a bunch of links I've been meaning to post though, so I'm going to just give them all to you in one big lump, since who knows when I'll have time to write properly about them or mete them out. Some are probably so old you've already seen them, but oh well. That's what I get for letting things sit around I suppose.

Organic crime in Bay Ridge looks at smuggling raw milk in Brooklyn, NY.

It doesn’t add up: math in the era of trans fat labeling. When zero doesn't mean zero.

Restoration on the Half Shell opines about oyster farming in the Mid-Atlantic states.

Was He the Eggman? A look at the history of eggs Benedict.

Jamba Juice may or may not have milk in their non-dairy mix. They also may or may not have a non-dairy mix at all.

The Red-Meat Miracle, and Other Tales From the Butcher Case. Harold McGee looks at why red meat is red, and how carbon monoxide can make older meat and fish look "fresh."

Cruelty-Free Carnivorism links and trend over at Buzzfeed. Assuage your conscience and fill your belly!

Bovine growth hormone: human food safety evaluation. An abstract from a Science article in 1990 stating "recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH) in dairy cattle presents no increased health risk to consumers."

And finally, The New Rules of Food. "Basic knowledge of where food comes from and how it is produced is lost on many Americans today. How differently would we eat if we got to know our food better?"

Gah, that's a lot of stuff I should have been posting! Hopefully I'll be more on top of things beginning next week. In the meantime, enjoy!

Is Mario Batali selling out?

mario_batali.jpgMario Batali has sold out is and is using his name to move frozen dinners for General Mills, according to an article on Grist. The author wishes Batali would bring his "talent and fame to bear on the great food issue of our time: the environmental, social, and public-health ruin served up as a matter of course by our industrial food system." Well sure, I'd like to see that from a lot of our leading food personalities, but we all don't believe in the same causes.

From what I've heard, Batali actually worked long and hard to make sure these dinners were tasty and good-quality. They won't be cheap, something around $10 or so to feed four people. So clearly they're a step up from Stouffer's. Plus, if you're going to call Batali a sell-out, wouldn't you have done so after that NASCAR cookbook?

The recent dog and cat…

The recent dog and cat food scare has people cooking food for their pets at home because of safety concerns. I totally understand this desire, as a cat owner, but I don't have the time. I'm relieved I've been using Wellness Cat Food for my kitty for several years now. Wellness products haven't been affected by the recall because they don't use wheat gluten. If you're concerned about your pet's food, and don't have time to cook for them, check out Wellness. The wet cat food doesn't even smell gross! And that's saying something.

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!