Monday, January 29, 2007

A Human Being Is Primarily A Bag For Putting Food Into

"A human being is primarily a bag for putting food into; the other functions and faculties may be more godlike, but in point of time they come afterwards. A man dies and is buried, and all his words and actions are forgotten, but the food he has eaten lives after him in the sound or rotten bones of his children. I think it could be plausibly argued that changes of diet are more important than changes of dynasty or even of religion. The Great War, for instance, could never have happened if tinned food had not been invented. And the history of the past four hundred years in England would have been immensely different if it had not been for the introduction of root-crops and various other vegetables at the end of the Middle Ages, and a little later the introduction of non- alcoholic drinks (tea, coffee, cocoa) and also of distilled liquors to which the beer-drinking English were not accustomed. Yet it is curious how seldom the all-importance of food is recognized. You see statues everywhere to politicians, poets, bishops, but none to cooks or bacon-curers or market-gardeners. "

George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

10 Reasons to Eat Local Food

10 Reasons to Eat Local Food

1) Eating local means more for the local economy.

According to a study by the New Economics Foundation in London, a dollar spent locally generates twice as much income for the local economy. When businesses are not owned locally, money leaves the community at every transaction.

2) Locally grown produce is fresher.

While produce that is purchased in the supermarket or a big-box store has been in transit or cold-stored for days or weeks, produce that you purchase at your local farmer's market has often been picked within 24 hours of your purchase. This freshness not only affects the taste of your food, but the nutritional value which declines with time.

3)Local food just plain tastes better.

Ever tried a tomato that was picked within 24 hours? 'Nuff said.

4)Locally grown fruits and vegetables have longer to ripen.

Because the produce will be handled less, locally grown fruit does not have to be "rugged" or to stand up to the rigors of shipping. This means that you are going to be getting peaches so ripe that they fall apart as you eat them, figs that would have been smashed to bits if they were sold using traditional methods, and melons that were allowed to ripen until the last possible minute on the vine.

5)Eating local is better for air quality and pollution than eating organic.

In a March 2005 study by the journal Food Policy, it was found that the miles that organic food often travels to our plate creates environmental damage that outweighs the benefit of buying organic.

6) Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons.

By eating with the seasons, we are eating foods when they are at their peak taste, are the most abundant, and the least expensive.

7)Buying locally grown food is fodder for a wonderful story.

Whether it's the farmer who brings local apples to market or the baker who makes local bread, knowing part of the story about your food is such a powerful part of enjoying a meal.

8)Eating local protects us from bio-terrorism.

Food with less distance to travel from farm to plate has less susceptibility to harmful contamination.

9)Local food translates to more variety.

When a farmer is producing food that will not travel a long distance, will have a shorter shelf life, and does not have a high-yield demand, the farmer is free to try small crops of various fruits and vegetables that would probably never make it to a large supermarket. Supermarkets are interested in selling "Name brand" fruit: Romaine Lettuce, Red Delicious Apples, Russet Potatoes. Local producers often play with their crops from year to year, trying out Little Gem Lettuce, Senshu Apples, and Chieftain Potatoes.

10)Supporting local providers supports responsible land development.

When you buy local, you give those with local open space - farms and pastures - an economic reason to stay open and undeveloped.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Amber Fields of Bland

The Sunday New York Times has an interesting article about US agricultural policy.

" There's invariably something risky, if not risible, about allowing Congress to decide what's for dinner. Bad decisions about agriculture have defined government policy for the last century; 70 percent of our nation's farms have been lost to bankruptcy or consolidation... the food it produces just doesn't taste very good."

Read the whole article at the jump.

Amber Fields of Bland by Dan Barber

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Christmas 2006- Top 10 Food Moments

Number 1: Caldo Gallego at the Arias/Fox Christmas Eve Brunch

It was tucked away on a sideboard, and I’m so glad I didn’t miss it. It’s a traditional soup from Northern Spain and of course is chock full of pork delicacies. For more information and the actual recipe, check out the link on Brandon Eats.

Soup for a Cold

Number 2 and 3: The Belmont Butchery

They contributed to two of my top 10 food moments of this holiday season. Prime Beef Tenderloin for Christmas dinner so tender you could cut it with a fork. Hand-made cotecchino sausage for New Year’s Eve – Traditional to Northern Italy and Emilia-Romagna, Cotecchino with lentils is a crucial part of the Italian New Year's Eve's meal- some say that the sliced sausage symbolize the coins that may come to you in a prosperous new year.

Number 4 : Pommes Lyonnais

Lovely russet potatoes sliced thinly with my mandoline and carefully layered one atop another. A bath of heavy cream and garlic and sea salt and an hour in the oven yields one of the tastiest way to eat a potato.

Number 5 Roaring 20’s Blue Cheese at Kinsey and David’s House

Number 6 A LARGE bucket of buttery popcorn at the Westhampton Theater during a viewing of The Queen for our 6th Anniversary

Number 7- A large flute of Champagne from Bin 22 after the movie to toast 6 years of marriage.

Number 8 – A holiday party at the home of one of Richmond’s premiere catering stars- it lived up to the hype- those boys can throw a party. It just goes to show that practice does make perfect.

Number 9- Homemade pasta on New Year’s Eve- only the 2nd time in 5 years that the Pasta maker has seen daylight- it was quite something to be working side by side with my two-year-old who put his Play-dough through a similar kneading exercise.

Number 10 – 12 types of homemade cookies and a peppermint trifle from my lovely wife Susannah.

Monday, January 01, 2007

A New Year

As a christmas gift for my wife Susannah, I gave her a book, Life is Meals, A Food Lovers Book of Days by James and Kay Salter. The thought is that we can read each day's entry together and share in its thoughts.

The first entry is quite good:

Meals are Everything

The meal is the essential act of life. It is the habitual ceremony, the long record of marriage, the school for behavior, the prelude to love. Among all peoples and in all times, every significant event in life-be it wedding, triumph, or birth-is marked by a meal or the sharing of food or drink. The meal is the emblem of civilization. What would one know of life as it should be lived or nights as they should be spent apart from meals ?"