Why is it, that in…

Why is it, that in America it's easier to buy drugs, guns and political favors than it is to buy a gallon of raw milk? A look at how we went from drinking raw milk (naturally filled with vitamins, enzymes and antibodies) to ultra high temperature (UHT) pasteurized milk that's had its nutritional value cooked away.

The best meal that never was

Delicious lunch in AustriaAs you can tell from the resumption of links, I'm back from my Austrian travels. And what a trip! I didn't really have any expectations for Austrian cuisine, but have returned a huge fan. Our first few days in Linz, we had dinner with a group of people and ended up at non-traditional restaurants. (Our first night was a vegetarian place. Only later, after eating pounds of meat in other parts of the country did I wonder how, and why, we'd ended up eating there!) So it wasn't until Salzburg that we began to search out Austrian cuisine. Lunch found us exploring the various würst stands each day, trying as many different kinds as possible. My favorite? The Munchner, or weisswürst. Oh what I'd do for one of those right now…

Fondue photo by Jason KottkeDinner found us slurping creamy soups (garlic, potato), meats and (more creamy) sauces, and the occasional wiener schnitzel. On our last night in Salzburg, we sat outside at a little place near our hotel. I'd heard it was mushroom season, and we'd spotted lots of them at the market, so when I saw chanterelle specials listed on the menu, I knew my choice: a salad to begin, and then the mushrooms in a cream sauce with dumplings. Jason ordered a similar dish with roasted pork. Alas, when my plate arrived, it was chanterelles on top of greens, some kind of mushroom salad. Apparently there'd been some confusion with the order (along with a such a delay that I didn't want to send the salad back) and I'd gotten the wrong mushroom special. It was good, the mushrooms were delicious, but when I tasted Jason's creamy dish, I realized how much better mine could have been if it were actually the right thing.

Mushrooms and dumplingsThe more we traveled, the more I kept looking on every menu for the creamy chanterelle dish. Every taste of dairy, every bite of spätzle or dumpling wrapped in that delicious cream, made me long for what surely would have been an excellent dish. But I never saw it in Innsbruck (though the photo to the right appeared in the Innsbruck tourist guide, which raised my hopes), and it didn't seem to be anywhere we went in Zurich either. And while the fondue was great, and the würsts memorable, and sauerkraut and smoked meats delicious, it's that damn mushroom dish that sticks in my memory. The culinary highlight of my trip is the best dish I never ate, and I can still imagine its taste on my tongue.

The hard life of an organic farm worker

Hard Labor is an interesting article from The Nation about the people who work on organic farms.

For many consumers, an organic apple tastes sweeter not only because it's healthier but because it conjures up a vision of a simpler, more pure world, where we produce our food without wreaking havoc on the environment and our relationship to it is unmediated by fear, guilt or the drive for excessive profits. This image of a food utopia has fueled the growth of the organic food industry, which is expanding by 20 percent each year.

But the farmworkers who bring in the organic harvest face a different reality, one largely invisible to food buyers. Whether they work in the fields or in processing plants, most workers on organic farms, like those on conventional farms, are immigrants from Mexico who earn minimum wage or slightly more and receive no benefits. Fieldwork on organic farms can be especially strenuous because farmers employ back-breaking methods like hand-weeding to avoid using pesticides.

I spend a lot of time on this site talking about how animals are treated. This article makes me realize how little attention I've paid to how the people who harvest our food are treated. From now on, I hope to do a better job of that.