Any tips on how to…

Any tips on how to make the perfect cup of French press coffee? Lots of good suggestions over at the Kitchen for this one. I used to make a lot of French press, but laziness got the best of me and I switched to a Senseo (which I'm ashamed to admit). My coffee intake has declined dramatically in the past six months though. I think I've gotten spoiled by drinking espresso, and now anything dripped or pressed just tastes terribly strong and bitter.

Local vs Organic in Time Magazine

When I saw that Time had a cover story, Eating Better Than Organic, about local food, I couldn't wait to read it. But now that I have, I must report that I'm disappointed with it. In some ways, it read like a really long blog post by someone who'd just found out about local food. The author, John Cloud, admits to being a big organic food buyer and begins to wonder about the flavor of local foods.

"[I]t makes sense that a snow pea grown by a local farmer and never refrigerated will retain more of its delicate leguminous flavor than one shipped in a frigid plane from Guatemala."

He then tastes local foods, interviews the usual subjects, such as John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, and visits Google's HQ in California to check out their local-only cafeteria, Café 150. Of course, he also joins his local CSA. (CSAs have "some lefty aspects" he warns. He mentions "lefty" twice in reference to CSAs, I'm not sure what makes a CSA particularly lefty, or righty, for that matter.) After a visit to his CSA though, he's confused again, because while the local food tastes great, he's "deflated to hear that I had ingested chemicals with my fruit and eggs." The free-range chickens whose eggs he's been enjoying feed on some conventionally-grown grain in addition to grass. Ultimately, he decides "I prefer local to organic, even with the concessions local farmers must make."

I suppose the article is good as an introduction to the topic (and for such a general audience as Time's) but I wish there'd been a bit more depth in it. There was no mention of several studies that question the viability of local as more energy-efficient than organic from a distance. (The argument being a solo farmer driving his diesel truck 300 miles round-trip to the market isn't kind on the environment than a single container ship bringing millions of grapes from Chile. Economies of scale stuff, you know?) There was also no discussion of the degradation of the label "organic", or any real examination of "sustainable" in the context of either organic or local. I know, it's for Time. I should be happy the issue's getting attention at this level, but still, it's so important, and I'd like to see it done a bit more justice. Especially if the article's going to run five pages!

The ability to drink [cows']…

The ability to drink [cows'] milk is the most advantageous trait that's evolved in Europeans in the recent past. From the BBC's article: "Although the benefits of milk tolerance are not fully understood, they probably include the advantage of a continuous supply compared with the 'boom and bust' of seasonal crops, its nourishing qualities, and the fact that, unlike stream water, it's uncontaminated with parasites, making it safer."

Today is National Pig Day…

Today is National Pig Day and that can only mean one thing folks: it's all pig, all day over at Serious Eats! That means there will be pig content on the blog, more pig video, and best of all, a feature by Ed listing some of the best places to get pig and pig products throughout the US. Oink-a-licious! National Pig Day may be my favorite holiday ever.

Last night Whole Food's CEO…

Last night Whole Food's CEO John Mackey and author Michael Pollan met in Berkeley, CA to discuss "The Past, Present, and Future of Food." After some very public arguments last fall between the two, this event looked like it could be a good debate. But East Bay Express reports:

"Pollan did what egghead intellectuals do: He began a dialogue. Last night’s public sit-down, hyped as 'The Past, Present, and Future of Food,' promised to be the title match. Certainly the public thought so. After hundreds of tickets for the J-School-sponsored event sold out within hours, it moved from Wheeler Hall to Zellerbach. But it might as well have moved to the Whole Foods’ corporate boardroom and been produced as a Webinar. In the end, Pollan failed to raise many substantive questions. And in the absence of a muscular challenge, Mackey used the evening to promote his company’s upcoming initiatives."

I haven't seen the webcast yet (webcast to be posted here at some point) but now I'm wondering if I want to bother. For more reactions to the talk, Google blog search for 'John Mackey' is your friend.