A 14 minute chicken? 4…

A 14 minute chicken? 4 minute lamb chops? A new oven, the TurboChef, promises to cook your foods up to fifteen times faster than conventional cooking methods. Soufflés in two minutes? How's that possible? A combination of convection oven and bursts of microwaves, using some "patented Airspeed Technology," could be yours for ~$8,000. But don't let the cost bother you, you'll make it up in volume on quick cooked soufflés and chickens.

I don't frequent Starbucks very…

I don't frequent Starbucks very often, but when I do I order a latte with organic milk. The last time I did so, I noticed the barista pouring milk from a small square container, like the kind soy milk comes in. So yesterday I ordered a latte and paid attention and noticed that yes, the barista was pouring milk from a Parmalat organic milk carton. Parmalat is what's known as "shelf-stable" milk, meaning it doesn't need to be refrigerated. That's because it's been ultra-pasteurized, or heated to a higher temperature higher than normal pasteurization (280°F vs. 145°F). There are many people that believe ultra-pasteurized milk not only has no nutritional value, but also may be harder to digest because of changes in the protein structures of the milk itself. Needless to say, I try not to drink ultra-pasteurized milk.

Stabucks recently announced they'd be moving to rBGH-free milk in all their US stores. I drink organic milk because I don't want rBGH milk. But in the order of rBGH vs. organic vs. ultra-pasteurized, I wasn't sure which way to go. No more lattes started to seem like the best bet. I called Starbucks to confirm their organic milk was ultra-pasteurized, and to find out the time frame for the rBGH-free milk roll-out.

37% of Starbucks now use rBGH-free milk. I was told the process could still take a few more years to complete, but you can always ask at your local Starbucks to see the milk label. So possibly I could drink rBGH-free milk, if my local Starbucks have made the change. But if the haven't switched to rBGH-free, then organic is my only alternative. But my call confirmed their organic milk is ultra-pasteurized. I suppose this is for ease of shipping and storage, since there's probably less demand for organic. Regardless, I'm bummed. For now, my plan is no more lattes.

Is your apartment filled with…

Lettuce SafeIs your apartment filled with diamonds and cash and other valuables? Do you constantly struggle with where to hide such items in case a thief breaks in? Fret no more, my ruby-wearing reader! This iceberg lettuce safe looks like an unassuming head of lettuce, but in reality is a cleverly disguised safe. No thief will think of looking in your produce bin for cold cash — unless s/he reads this site, but let's not worry about that now. $49.00 and it's yours. And they also sell soda can safes, in case you have more loot than a head of lettuce will contain.

Business Week wonders do meat…

Business Week wonders do meat and dairy products from cloned animals mean better-quality food at lower costs to consumers? There's a pro and a con argument. The pro argument is hardly convincing, and the con is only so-so. The comments are where the good stuff is. My favorite to date:

David M

March 7, 2007 10:16 AM

My No. 1 concern is not even the health risks like smoking that could rear their heads later in life, but the safety of cloned foods from the standpoint of reducing genetic diversity, thus making animals subject to quicker spread of disease. If most of the cows are clones and a virus or bacteria develops that kills them, what happens to our food security? That is why nature allows for genetic diversity through sexual reproduction. Nature has rules for a reason.

A later commenter raises the lessons learned (or not) from the Irish potato famine. But these days, science tends to get the short shrift in favor of other concerns like corporate profit or phony marketing strategies like "best meat." Meat tastes plenty good when the cows roam around freely and eat grass, and it's disingenuous for argribusiness to blame the "27% drop in beef consumption over the last three decades" on anyone but themselves. Stuffing beef full of corn on feedlots creates sick cows. And the beef passed on to consumers can make us sick as well, between the increase in saturated fat, the decrease in "good" fats like omega-3s, and the antibiotic remnants in their systems. Cloning only complicates the unstable situation we've created for ourselves. [via Serious Eats]

To the F.D.A., there is…

To the F.D.A., there is no difference between the trans fat that occurs in cows and the kind that is artificially created and favored in large-scale food manufacturing. And to Starbucks as well, who are now demanding all bakery products be "trans-fat free". So your Starbucks croissant? Made with palm oil, not butter. Butter, milk, and beef all have naturally occurring trans fats. Does this mean no more cheeseburgers in NYC because of our trans-fat ban?

Updated: In case you were worried about your NYC burger, the answer to that question is no. The NYC ruling would only ban artificial trans fats, not naturally occurring ones.

Kill It, Cook It, Eat…

Kill It, Cook It, Eat It is a program (or programme, if you prefer) on BBC Three "to bring together the two key moments that are usually separated in our lives and minds: the death of the animal and the eating of its meat." Each episode follows the life of an animal from farm to slaughter, and how see how the animal is butchered and prepared for consumption. I wish the show were on here in the States, but it doesn't look like it's on BBC America. Anyone seen it?

Update: reader Teena H. sends a link to Ready, Aim, Grill on the Outdoor Channel that follows hunters through cathing their prey to grilling it in camp. Similar idea, but not quite the same. I get the idea the BBC program is about understanding where food comes from. This seems to be about improving the quality of food you eat in your hunting camp.

Consumers are eating cheese –…

Consumers are eating cheese — they're just not eating enough of our cheese. Kraft tries to improve its bottom line after flat sales last year and a decrease in processed cheese consumption as consumers move towards healthier products, but is facing lawsuits because of its labeling. "Calling processed-cheese ingredients real cheese is legal, because while the Food and Drug Administration regulates many food-related claims, defining terms like 'low-fat' and 'organic,' it doesn't define other terms, including 'natural' and 'real.'" But it seems consumers aren't falling for "Real Kraft Cheese" anymore.