Archive for the Food Category

Tiny Kitchen Tips

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Find island here

Get an island or custom-built extra counter

Even if you you have just two square feet of “spare” space, do whatever you can to find a table or counter that can be customized for it. Heck, I have even seen counters that fold out from the wall, like a Murphy Bed! If you can find a way to create some storage space underneath it, even better.

Don’t actually keep anything on it

I am nuts about having my single counter in the kitchen clear. The idea of sacrificing even a corner of my precious counter space to a mixer or toaster or other occasionally used appliance seems crazy-these are the types of things you can put in shelves underneath.

You probably don’t need half the things in your kitchen

Okay, obviously what I think you don’t need and what you think you don’t need are different, which is why I am loathe to make such a list. Let’s say that you, like Laurie Colwin in Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, decide that you can live without everything but a deep-fat fryer. You go get yourself a deep-fat fryer. But when space is key, you might consider doing away with things like that knife block, when drawer knife holders or wall magnet strips will help keep your counter clear. You don’t need a double boiler; use a bowl over a pot instead. You don’t need a sifter when a mesh strainer can sift and, you know, and also strain. Pyrex 8-cup measuring cups can double as mixing bowls. Stuff like that

Learn to cook neatly

Picture a restaurant kitchen-do you think each of those line cooks have four counters to work on? No, they learned a long time ago how to maximize their use of any station they were given, by prepping everything they need before they start cooking, keeping their counter clean and keeping what they can within arm’s reach. Learn to cook like this, and you can cook anywhere.

It can totally be done

People, I don’t mean to go the martyr route here-especially because I think we know I enjoyed the process so-but I baked a wedding cake in my little kitchen, in its 3/4-size oven. I know too many people who say they can’t entertain or have dinner parties or cook the dinners they crave because they say they don’t have the space. But people cook all over the world with less space-and fewer gadgets (though I think I will sob if my Microplane ever breaks up with me) than we do everyday. With a little extra thought, I am sure you can pull off whatever crazy kitchen feat you had in mind. Even if you have to put your dishes in the tub when you’re done.

Reprinted: Small Kitchen 11/2009

Teaching Kids To Farm?

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I was flipping through Good.com the last night and in their post they talked about if students should learn to farm?  It’s an interesting question and I can see so many arguments for and against it.  Growing up I was fortunate enough to take 2 year of shop class and 2 year home economics.  This is quite rare for even my age, in an time of fast food, I literally have no friends who know how to cook, sew, build something from wood.  At one point the fact that none of my friends cooked struck me quite hard when I had to show my girlfriend at the time how to boil pasta!  Life skills such as these are so important for men and women, young and old; I mean you gotta eat right?

One thing that I did not get was how to grow food, obviously in line with such tasks of cooking, woodworking, welding, sewing and child care.  This is a true gap in my knowledge, up until my grandparents, almost everyone gardened to some degree, but today very few do now.  What is interesting that now as an adult and growing in my pursuit of self sufficiency and environmentally consciousness, I find myself lacking a green thumb.   What is missing is the cultural knowledge of how to grow, to make our own food with our bare hands.  Back 2-3 generations everyone knew a little about it, if you needed advice, you could ask your neighbor.  Better yet, you could ask the farmer himself, because he was local.

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All of these reasons are certainly defensible, but at the same time I know we also need to be hunkering down on the core subjects of academia.  Working in the non-profit sector, I am working within the schools to solve issues that impact the bottom line.  We are in need of a change, of a plan that will take our schools to the next level to achieve a high quality education for all students, does gardening have a place in our schools?

The 7 foods experts won’t eat

1. Canned Tomatoes

The expert: Fredrick vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A

The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked tomatto ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people’s body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. “You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that’s a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young,” says vom Saal. “I won’t go near canned tomatoes.”

The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe’s and Pomi.

 

2. Corn-Fed Beef

The expert: Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming

The problem: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. cowMore money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. “We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure,” says Salatin.

The solution: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers’ markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. It’s usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don’t see it, ask your butcher.

 

3. Microwave Popcorn

The expert: Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group,

The problem: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer.pop Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize—and migrate into your popcorn. “They stay in your body for years and accumulate there,” says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.

The solution: Pop natural kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet. For flavorings, you can add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or soup mix.

 

4. Nonorganic Potatoes

The expert: Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board

The problem: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes—the nation’s most popular vegetable—they’re treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. “Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won’t,” says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). “I’ve talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals.”

The solution: Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn’t good enough if you’re trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh.

 

5. Farmed Salmon

The expert: David Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany and publisher of a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish.

The problem: Nature didn’t intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus. “You can only safely eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer,” says Carpenter, whose 2004 fish contamination study got broad media attention. “It’s that bad.” Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.

The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it’s farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon.

6. Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones

The expert: Rick North, project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society

The problem: Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. “When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract,” says North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. “There’s not 100% proof that this is increasing cancer in humans,” admits North. “However, it’s banned in most industrialized countries.”

The solution: Check labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. These phrases indicate rBGH-free products.

 

7. Conventional Apples

The expert: Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods.Appl

The problem: If fall fruits held a “most doused in pesticides contest,” apples would win. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don’t develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it’s just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. “Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers,” he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson’s disease.

The solution: Buy organic apples. If you can’t afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them first.

source: Yahoo!