Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What's in your food?

So a headline in Politico got my attention the other day. "Food companies are trying to beat the federal government’s push to make chemicals in food more transparent."

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/08/big-food-to-divulge-chemical-info-110395.html#ixzz3CBgbZlLv

     The article went on to basically discuss how the Grocery Manufacturers Association is "allowing" the FDA access to a database that shows all the chemicals used in the manufacture of food.  This raises a couple of questions. 1.)  Why doesn't the FDA already know this?!?! 2.) Why is our food "manufactured? And 3.) Just what is in our "food" that it took pressure from the government and other watchdog organizations for the big food companies to open their "recipies"?

     Question 1 is a mystery until you follow the money of political "donations" back to the big food companies.  Enough said on that,  it's like beating a dead horse.  Question 2 is probably a bit of semantics, but to feed the millions of folks on this planet, the train seems to have gone on the mega-farm, mega processing plant track.  As much as many would like to see more local, smaller food processors be the primary food source,  most likely that train is not coming back to the yard.  At least not completely.

     Now, question 3.  This gets a little trickier, as we know, the food companies don't want to tell.  Apparently because we are to dumb to realize that chemical additives are "safe".  So it's up to you to control your chemical intake. If it doesn't worry you, then by all means, go ahead and have another twinkee.  If it does, buy local and get to know your producers as much as possible. 
    Back to the question.  Just what is in our food?  Here is some info from the Guardian that gives us a few of the chemicals we are eating.....yum.  Do with it what you will, just be informed.

E numbers are bad, we all know that. And E290 is no exception. It sneaks its way into fizzy drinks, bread and even your homemade cakes. But this chemical is probably the worst of the lot, because if we don't stop producing it then we are heading for global disaster. The scientific literature is quite clear on the subject, there are over a million peer-reviewed papers that describe the harmful effect it is having on our environment. And they put this stuff in our kids' lemonade!

With a name like 8-methyl-N-vannillyl-6-nonenamide it's bound to be a baddie. If you want more evidence of its unpleasantness then you may like to know that it is used by the police to control rioters. But that doesn't stop it turning up in our nation's favourite meals. In fact you have almost certainly suffered the consequence of an overzealous chef adding a bit too much of this stuff to your Saturday night post-pub curry or kebab. Do excessive sweating, burning sensations and indigestion sound familiar? Well that's good old 8-methyl-N-vannillyl-6-nonenamide for you. Would you believe they even put it in chocolate?

Denatured protein
You might not know this but Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's and CJD (the human version of mad cow disease) are all caused by proteins that have misfolded. Basically perfectly normal proteins get shape-shifted into evil versions of themselves that then cause dreadful diseases. And guess what, when you fry your egg you cause the proteins in the white to misfold. I'll leave you to draw the obvious conclusion.

Fruit juice contains a chemical, DHMO, that is also produced by rocket engines. Think about it for a moment. The same stuff that comes shooting out the back of a rocket on its way to the International Space Station is sloshing around in your fridge and you drink it for breakfast! And nobody does a damn thing about it!

Remember the Hindenburg disaster? The chemical reaction that destroyed the airship also produced DHMO. Fancy that in your refreshing glass of orange juice? I don't care if you have squeezed the stuff straight from citrus fruit grown in your very own organic orangery, with every sip you're consuming DHMO. It can even be found in mineral water, tap water, rainwater – in fact the oceans, rivers and lakes are literally full of the stuff.

Not one but two deadly poisons here. What do you think makes salty snacks so appealing? Nothing other than a delicious mix of a chemical warfare agent used in the trenches of the first world war and an explosive metal. They put this chemical on our crisps, nuts and chips!

And finally one that glows in the dark. In anyone's book, that can't be good. You don't eat it, but you might be eating out of it. Got any green glassware in the house? Well then RUN FOR THE HILLS! There's a good chance it contains uranium! Unbelievably, you can just buy the stuff on the internet, without the slightest controls being in place. Forget food safety for a moment – why aren't British Nuclear Fuels rounding up every last fragment and burying it with their radioactive waste?

Point made, I hope.

Check out this book...........good info

Stay Hungry!!! 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Why buy at the farmers market?

It's the weekend again, and here in my town it's time to head off to the market on Saturday morning.   But why?   Well there are plenty of good reasons.

     Of course locally sourced and seasonally raised foods taste better. They spend more time in the fields ripening - developing sweetness and flavor - because they don't need to be picked under-ripe for shipping thousands of miles away.  Picking under-ripe vegetables also reduces the nutritional value.  Farmers can grow more diverse varieties, bred for quality and flavor rather than long shelf life.  And though a region may experience a drought or unusually cold weather for a season, the fruits and vegetables still grow at their optimal time, ensuring the best possible taste.

    Buying local also benefits the environment and economy.  When we reduce our "food miles", the distance our food travels from farm to table, we reduce our carbon footprint, the impact of transportation, refrigeration and packaging needed to carry produce around the country,  With local food purchase, you ensure that more of your food dollars go to the farmer and local economy in the form of revenue and taxes.  Buying local keeps your dollars in your own community.  In Wisconsin, if every household purchased just $12 a week for 8 weeks (summer) at a local market, around $200 million would be reinvested in our local farms.  A million here, a million there and pretty soon we're talking real money!

So, buy local and buy often!

Live in Wisconsin and don't know where to find a market?   Just go to this map...


Here is a great book on cooking from your farmers market.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Farmers market potatoes

The look on a child's face the first time they set eyes on purple or blue mashed potatoes at the dinner table is priceless. We're not talking taters colored with fake food dye. We're talking real, honest-to-goodness old-school potatoes with beautifully-colored flesh.
While you won't likely find these old potato cultivars at your local supermarkets, they are super easy to grow at home and likely readily available at your local farmer's market. (Just be sure to buy organic. Potatoes are often sprayed three times and routinely wind up on the dirtiest produce list.) "Many of the older cultivated varieties might be less uniform in shape than supermarket potatoes, which makes them less attractive for large chains," explains Philip Kauth, tissue culture manager and assistant curator at Seed Savers Exchange, a nonprofit that aims to save vegetables from going extinct. (They also sell seeds.)
So where do these beautiful varieties come from? Many cultivars have actually been bred and selected by researchers with universities, potato companies, or the United States Department of Agriculture, Kauth explains. "Due to a disease epidemic in the 1840s, primitive potato cultivars (like Rough Purple Chili) were brought to the United States from South and Central America around 1850," he says. "These primitive cultivars were crossed with these disease-susceptible cultivars. Instead of heirloom potatoes, many are considered heritage or historic commercial cultivars."
Seed Savers Exchange recommends using fingerling potatoes to roast or use in salads, while opting for large, roundish colorful potatoes for baking and mashing.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Healing herbs?

     There has been some very interesting studies done on the healing properties of herbs.  We in the west tend to dismiss anything that doesn't come in a pill bottle, but maybe it's time to take another look.   Now please understand, I'm no doctor or expert of any kind, so please do your own research and consult with professionals if you have specific issues.  That said, a recent scientific review had some interesting things to say.


High in rosmarinic acid, rosemary effectively treats allergies because of its antioxidant properties. "Rosemary's flavor is pungent, somewhat piney, and mintlike," says Michael J. Balick, PhD, author of Rodale's 21st-Century Herbal. "Fresh sprigs of rosemary and rosemary flowers can be steeped in vinegar or wine to add a subtle flavor. Use rosemary branches as skewers for grilling meat and vegetable kebabs." 
Also keep in mind that rosemary offers other medical benefits besides clearing up your wheeze. "The herb is used primarily to treat poor digestion and appetite, joint pain, and sluggish circulation," Balick says. 


A prominent part of Asian medicine and culinary garnishes, shiso is especially effective against seafood allergies—which is convenient considering that most sushi is served with the green leaf on the side (it's often holding the wasabi). Shiso is also a common treatment for bronchial asthma.


"Sage tastes lemony, camphorlike, and pleasantly bitter," says Balick. This herb can be mixed into any meal—breakfast (omelets), lunch (soups and beans), or dinner (pasta and poultry). "[Sage is] excellent for sore throats, coughs, and colds," he adds. "For a unique and tasty appetizer or accompaniment for potatoes, dust larger sage leaves with flour, then fry them in a quarter-inch of hot oil for about 30 seconds, until crispy."

There is tons more to look at and consider, here is a good book on the subject.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

What's in the market this week?

Fridays are going to be dedicated to looking ahead to what you might find in your farmers markets the coming weekend.  So lets take a look.  Obviously somethings will vary from market to market but I will try to make it as inclusive as possible.

     From Artichokes to zucchini, this is a time of year when there are an abundance of vegetables available at the market, here is the Wisconsin Food Journal  list of what's in season.
Artichokes, beans, beets, bitter melon, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, corn, cucumbers, dried chiles, fennel, garlic, kohlrabi, mushrooms, okra, onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, salad turnips, sprouts, squash blossoms, summer squash, tomatoes, and zucchini.   That's just vegetables, here are some in season fruits:  Apricots, blueberries, cherries, currants, juneberries, mulberries, raspberries, and strawberries.

      It's seems as though in the middle of July everyone has zucchini, so much so that some are trying to give it away to everyone they see.  If you have bumper crop of it here is one very easy and tasty recipe to try.

you'll need
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 tablespoon your favorite grilling seasoning
3 zucchini cut length wise about 1/4 inch thick

This could not be easier.  Spread the olive oil and seasoning on both sides of the zucchini, toss it on a medium heat grill,  3-4 minutes, turn, 3-4 minutes.  Toss on a plate and eat.

Get to the market this weekend!!!   Let me know what you find, and what you are doing with it.


Monday, July 7, 2014


Monday's from here on out will be snippets of health and food news that I glean from the ever expansive interwebs.  Here is one for those of us that have trouble passing up the snacks.

Here's a surprise: Your willpower runs on sugar. Like your muscles, your brain needs glucose to function at an optimal level, says Roy Baumeister, Ph.D., social psychology area director at Florida State University and coauthor of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. In a series of nine studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Baumeister discovered that people with steady glucose levels were more persistent at attempting to complete an unsolvable task than those whose glucose levels declined during the experiments. "Increase your blood glucose and you can fuel your willpower," he says.

But put down the Skittles. Sure, glucose is easily available from straight sugar, but your body also creates it from fruit, many vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products. You can even build glucose by pumping up your protein, says Baumeister. "It takes your body longer to make glucose from protein, but the benefits can last longer," he says.

But the problem is that weight-watching men often adopt extreme low-calorie diets. "If you starve yourself, you'll have low glucose," says Baumeister. And without sufficient glucose, your brain doesn't have the fuel it needs to resist junk food. So if you feel your energy fading, don't skip smart snacks, like nuts. 

And this is one I struggle with constantly!!!!
Scientists have a name for my drive-thru cave-in: compensation. It's the inclination to reward yourself for a job well done, and that feeling can fight with your weight-loss intentions. In fact, the harder your workout is, the bigger you may think your compensation should be, says Timothy Church, M.D., Ph.D., director of the laboratory of preventive medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University. "When men endure a tough, hourlong workout or push through a 7-mile run, they feel a need to celebrate," he says. "But a good workout is not carte blanche to eat whatever you want."

The solution: Don't rely on your willpower to deny yourself a well-earned treat. Instead, use it to ensure that your reward doesn't outweigh the workout (literally). "Do the math: If you burned off 700 calories, keep your food intake to less than that," says Dr. Church. It's a pat on the back that doesn't wipe out your hard work. Or go with a nonfood reward: Buy yourself an iTunes download every time you work out, or treat yourself to basketball tickets when you rack up 10 training sessions.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

A new start.

Hello friends,
     Today starts a new direction for my blog.  I thank everyone that supported me in the previous version.   The question I have gotten is, "Why stop what was a relatively successful blog?"
     The answer is fairly simple, I got bored.  So I took a few months of trying to decide what I wanted this to be.  In the vast universe that is food blogs,  I wanted something to be different.
     The simple view of what I am going to do is highlight food in East Central Wisconsin.  Markets, expo's, restaurants and producers.  I also realize that this creates a very narrow audience,  which isn't that great if you want to drive traffic to a website, but that's where I'm going to start.
     So, what to expect?  Recipe's for sure.  I know there is about a million or so places you can get recipes,  so  I'll try to come up with some original ones that reflect in season, local cooking.  I'll also be taking a weekly look at what's available in the farmers markets,  and I hope to highlight some local producers.

So here we go,  come along for the ride

Stay hungry friends