This Thanksgiving, Be More Grateful than Wasteful
Dana Gunders | Switchboard | NRDC | November 13, 2013
Nationwide, consumers will purchase around 736 million pounds of turkey this Thanksgiving, of which about 581 million pounds will be actual meat. The USDA reports that 35% of perfectly good turkey meat in the U.S. does not get eaten after it is purchased by consumers (and that’s not including bones). This compares with only 15% for chicken. Why is so much more turkey wasted than chicken? “Possibly because turkey is more often eaten during holidays when consumers may tend to discard relatively more uneaten food than on other days,” the USDA writes.
And unless we take action to prove the USDA wrong, we’ll be throwing away about 204 million pounds of that meat and about 1 million tons of CO2 and 105 billion gallons of water with it. Per pound, the resources needed to produce that turkey are equivalent to driving your car 11 miles and taking a 130-minute shower (at 4 gallons/minute).* The price tag on that nationwide will be $282 million, according to prices from the Farm Bureau’s annual Thanksgiving price survey. And that’s to say nothing of the vast amounts of antibiotics used to produce turkey meat, leading to antibiotic resistance, which you can read more about here.
This T-Day, Buy Less Than You Think
Dana Gunders | The Switchboard | NRDC | November 20, 2013
Here’s a hint: Buy less than you think. If you’re hosting anything like the average Thanksgiving dinner for ten, almost a third of that dinner will go to waste this year.
In fact, across the nation, about 204 million pounds of turkey will get thrown away over this Thanksgiving. This costs us money – about $277 million as a nation – and is a waste of all the resources it took to get that turkey to our table. Resources for which, in theory, we are supposed to be celebrating on this exact holiday!
How many resources? Depending on which estimate you use, that amount of discarded turkey required over 100 billion gallons of water – enough to supply New York City for 100 days — and created somewhere between 230,000 – 1 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions.
And it’s not just turkey. If we apply the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates of how much food is never eaten to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual informal survey of the cost of Thanksgiving dinner, here’s a tally of what actually gets wasted over the average Thanksgiving dinner for ten:
This Thanksgiving, Shop Smart: Buy a Turkey Raised Without Antibiotics
Sasha Lyutse | Civil Eats | November 22, 2013
This Thanksgiving, you can do your part to support farmers who are keeping antibiotics working for people by shopping smart. By choosing USDA Organic or turkey sold under a “No Antibiotics Administered” label, consumers can reward turkey farmers who are using best practices. Under the organic standard, meat producers are not allowed to use antibiotics, with some exceptions. The “No antibiotics administered” or similar labels, such as “No antibiotics ever” are regulated by USDA but are not verified. These claims are more reliable if they are coupled with a “USDA Process Verified” seal. Also consider other labels, such as “animal welfare approved” and “certified humane,” which mean that antibiotics were only used to treat sick animals.
But shoppers beware: “All Natural” has nothing to do with how an animal is raised.
USDA plan to speed up poultry-processing lines could increase risk of bird abuse
Kimberly Kindy | The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — Nearly 1 million chickens and turkeys are unintentionally boiled alive each year in U.S. slaughterhouses, often because fast-moving lines fail to kill the birds before they are dropped into scalding water, Agriculture Department records show.
Now the USDA is finalizing a proposal that will allow poultry companies to accelerate their processing lines, with the aim of removing pathogens from the food supply and making plants more efficient. But that would also make the problem of inhumane treatment worse, according to government inspectors and experts in poultry slaughter.
What’s for Thanksgiving? Hopefully Not More Crippling Pain for Poultry Workers
Rena Steinzor | The Huffington Post | November 26, 2013
Thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), ever the mindless booster of corporate profits, that turkey at the center of the table already disappoints both expectations, and if USDA has its way, matters are about to get much worse. Hiding behind disingenuous promises to “modernize” the food safety system, USDA has decided to pull federal food inspectors off the line at poultry processing plants across the nation. No new preventative measures to ensure that poultry is free of salmonella would happen. And already crowded, bloody, stinking lines would speed up dramatically — to as many as 175 birds per minute, or three birds/second. Workers who suffer grave ergonomic injuries from the repetitive motions of hanging, cutting, and packing the birds would endure conditions that are two or three times worse than the status quo.
Sen. Tester asks USDA to postpone plans to finalize poultry inspection program
Kimberly Kindy | The Washington Post | November 12, 2013
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester wrote to the USDA secretary last week, asking that he postpone plans to finalize a new poultry inspection program, saying to move forward now is “misguided and premature.”
Tester (D-Mont.) also asked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to suspend agreements with foreign countries that are now allowed to use the alternative inspection program for meat they import into the United States. Millions of pounds of contaminated meat from plants using the system were either recalled or rejected by USDA inspectors over the past two years.
Is The Butterball Turkey Shortage For Real?
Tom Philpott | Mother Jones | November 20, 2013
Butterball is vague about the reasons for the shortage, citing only a “decline in weight gains on some of our farms.” In other words, the turkeys that Butterball’s contract farmers raise aren’t growing as quickly as expected.
Let’s talk turkey! Tom Philpott will be holding a live Twitter chat the Thursday before Thanksgiving—look him up at @TomPhilpott starting at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, November 21. Ask him anything—from cooking tips (two words: dry brine) to the latest dirt on industrial turkey.
This is odd. If there’s one thing the modern poultry industry has mastered, it’s fattening millions of fowl extremely quickly. And turkeys have been getting bigger and bigger for decades. “[T]urkeys have increased in average weight annually for at least the past 40 years,” the US Department of Agriculture revealed in a 2005 report. The USDA added that the average weight of a turkey at slaughter jumped from 18 pounds in 1965 to an enormous 28.2 pounds in 2005—a 57 percent increase. By 2012, the average had inched up to a hefty 29.8 pounds. This is not an industry that’s typically plagued by size issues.
Illinois farmers put the pumpkin in your Thanksgiving pie
Peter Grey | Harvest Public Media | November 26, 2013
Why is Illinois the pumpkin state? Mostly because Libby’s brand is the canned pumpkin king. The company is owned by Nestlé and says 8 of every ten cans of pumpkin sold last year was Libby’s.
So it comes down to fertile pumpkin soil – and gravity.
“Pumpkins are heavy and, of course, expensive to transport.” said Roz O’Hearn, with Nestlé’s prepared foods division. “We have tested growing pumpkin in other areas, and we just find the Morton pumpkin just to be perfect for our purposes.”
In Vermont, A Wild Game Church Supper Feeds The Multitudes
Charlotte Albright | The Salt | NPR | November 26, 2013
The colonists supplied the fowl, including, possibly, duck, geese, and turkey.
Diners head into the Bradford United Church of Christ before the start of this year’s Wild Game Supper. Food writer Calvin Trillin has dubbed the event “the superbowl of church suppers.”
A pretty tame menu, actually, compared to the venison, bear, moose, rabbit, pheasant, buffalo, and boar served up at an annual event in Bradford, Vt., that food writer Calvin Trillin has called “.”
For almost 60 years, adventuresome carnivores from all over New England have lined up outside the white-steepled United Church of Christ in the center of this close-knit hamlet along the Connecticut River. A couple of decades ago, volunteers fed 1,200 people in one day, but that proved unworkable, so now seats, reserved well in advance, are capped at 800 for $25 a plate. Proceeds benefit the church’s capital fund, and charity.
Holiday Classic Dishes: Braised & Roast Turkey
Michael Ruhlman | Ruhlman.com
My view is why mess with what works? For important occasions, the rule is: go with what works. And of all my years roasting a turkey, I’ve found that the braise/roast method works best, as I wrote last year.
The reason is that this method solves the two great Turkey Conundrums: 1) how to have both juicy breast meat and tender dark meat, and 2) how to serve it all hot to a lot of people.
Answer: the roast/braise method.
Three years ago, I was chatting with my neighbor, the excellent chef Doug Katz (Fire Food & Drink), and he described how he cooks the turkey in stock up to the drumstick so that the legs braise while the breast and skin cook in dry heat. Last year I tried it and it works brilliantly.
[My twist on this is to separate the legs and thighs from the breast and wings. This makes it easier to fit into a container to brine, but more strategically, it allows me to give the dark meat a 45 minute head start in the mire poix and braising liquid. At the 45 minute mark I put my buttered and season breasts right on top with a loose foil cover. 30 minutes before it’s done I take the foil off to brown the skin. Best turkey off my life and one of the most complimented meals I’ve ever served.]
Cranberry Sauce and Thanksgiving Gravy
When Thanksgiving Meant a Fancy Night Out on the Town
John Hanc | Food and Think | Smithsonian
A few years back, when she was the director and librarian of the Pilgrim Hall Museum, Peggy Baker came across a fascinating document at a rare book and ephemera sale in Hartford, Connecticut. It was a four-course menu for a luxurious dinner at the Hotel Vendome in Boston for November 29, 1894 – Thanksgiving.
Appetizers consisted of Blue Point oysters or oyster crabs in béarnaise sauce. The soup is consumee Marie Stuart, with carrots and turnips; or, a real delicacy, terrapin a la gastronome (that’s turtle soup to you).
The choice of entrees included mousee de foie graise with cauliflower au gratin, prime ribs with Yorkshire pudding, Peking Duck with onions and squash and…a nod to the traditionalists…roasted turkey with cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes.
Then, salad—at the end of the meal, as they do in Europe—followed by a plethora of desserts: Petit fours, plum pudding with maple brandy sauce, Neapolitan ice cream; mince, apple and pumpkin pie, and almond cake with maple frosting. To round out the meal, coffee or sweet cider with assorted cheeses and nuts.
Baker’s discovery of this belt-busting tour de force sent her on a mission to shed light back on a long forgotten chapter of the history of this holiday; a time when wealthy Americans celebrated their Thanksgivings not in the confines of the home with family, but at fancy hotels and restaurants, with extravagant, haute cuisine dinners and entertainments.
“I was thoroughly entranced, having no idea any such thing existed,” recalls Baker. She began collecting similar bills of fare from other establishments, in other cities.
“It was like an anthropological expedition to a different culture,” recalls Baker, “I wasn’t aware people dined out as a regular annual event for Thanksgiving. It was just so foreign to me.”
MOON FARMS TO BANISH STARVATION
James Nevin Miller | Mechanix Illustrated | May 1954 | Amanda Uren | Retronaut
THE SELL BY DATES ON YOUR GROCERIES ARE WORTHLESS. HERE’S WHY
Brad Plumer | Wonkblog | The Washington Post
And, the report argues, those labels may be leading Americans to throw out tons and tons of perfectly good food each year — one reason why the United States rubbishes about 40 percent of the food it produces, or $165 billion in wasted food each year.
GHOST FOOD: A CONCEPTUAL TASTE OF THE FUTURE OF FOOD
Delana | Web Urbanist
GhostFood, a “participatory performance” from Miriam Simun and Miriam Songster (yup, a double-Miriam team) is meant to simulate the experience of eating foods that could soon be extinct. A 3D printed headpiece attaches to a visitor’s face just like glasses and replicates the olfactory profile of certain foods. A substitute edible substance with a texture identical to the “ghost food” is provided. The scent and texture combined trick the mind into believing that the actual food is being consumed.
ROOFTOP FARMING IS GETTING OF THE GROUND
Eliza Barclay | Salt | NPR
The green-roof movement has slowly been gaining momentum in recent years, and some cities have made them central to their sustainability plans. The city of Chicago, for instance, that 359 roofs are now partially or fully covered with vegetation, which provides all kinds of environmental benefits — from reducing the buildings’ energy costs to cleaning the air to mitigating the
Late this summer, Chicago turned a green roof into its first major rooftop farm. At 20,000 square feet, it’s the largest soil-based rooftop farm in the Midwest, according to the Chicago Botanic Garden, which maintains the farm through its program.
HOW EATING DOG BECAME BIG BUSINESS IN VIETNAM
Kate Hodal | The Guardian
Nguyen Tien Tung is just the sort of man you’d expect to run a Hanoi slaughterhouse: wiry, frenetic and filthy, his white T-shirt collaged with bloodstains, his jean shorts loose around taut, scratched-up legs, his feet squelching in plastic sandals. Hunched over his metal stall, between two hanging carcasses and an oversized tobacco pipe, the 42-year-old is surveying his killing station – an open-air concrete patio leading on to a busy road lined with industrial supply shops.
Two skinless carcasses, glistening pure white in the hot morning sun, are being rinsed down by one of Nguyen’s cousins. Just two steps away are holding pens containing five dogs each, all roughly the same size, some still sporting collars. Nguyen reaches into one cage and caresses the dog closest to the door. As it starts wagging its tail, he grabs a heavy metal pipe, hits the dog across the head, then, laughing loudly, slams the cage door closed.
1. FOOD (STAMPS) FOR THOUGHT
Henry Olsen | National Review
The conservative war on food stamps is the most baffling political move of the year. Conservatives have suffered for years from the stereotype that they are heartless Scrooge McDucks more concerned with our money than other people’s lives. Yet in this case, conservatives make the taking of food from the mouths of the genuinely hungry a top priority. What gives? And why are conservatives overlooking a far more egregious abuse of taxpayer dollars in the farm bill?
2. UTICA GREENS
With roasted potatoes and spicy peppers, this specialty of Utica, New York, makes for a full-flavored side dish.
3. FOUR IN TEN CONSUMERS HAVE LOST TRUST IN THE FOOD SYSTEM
Andy Vance | Feedstuffs
Gallup’s findings line up somewhat with the most recent edition of Oklahoma State’s Food Demand Survey (FooDS), conducted monthly by agricultural economist Jayson Lusk. The September survey asked 1,000 respondents if the could “think of a time when you felt that you lost trust in the food system.”
Forty percent said yes.
Lusk followed up with an open-ended question, asking for the specific circumstances that led to a loss of trust, and then analyzed 413 typed responses. The researchers highlighted specific keywords, and divided responses into eight different categories to determine relevant trends in the data.
Among the top keywords mentioned were “GMOs,” with 24 specific mentions. “Biotechnology seems to be a big contributor to a loss of trust in the food system,” Lusk said. “That said, most of the statements people typed had something to do with food safety issues.”
Indeed, Lusk found 113 responses had something to do with food safety issues including e.coli, avian influenza or bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Another 34 responses were categorized as a “personal experience” issue, most of which Lusk said related stories of food poisoning.
Taken together then, more than 35% of responses could be viewed as food-safety related. By comparison, only 74 responses were categorized as “technology related issues,” with specific topics including GMOs, antibiotic use and lean, finely textured beef.
4. MR. PAPAYA HEAD MAKES HIS DEBUT
Last Wednesday we sat through another day of hearings here on the Island of Hawaii and found it hard not to laugh at the hypocrisy, the fallacies and outright lies spread about Hawaii’s farmers, Papayas and agriculture in general. I won’t perpetuate them by writing them here; although admittedly I did react when a female anti gmo activists was verbally accosting a agriculture supporter, he found it funny but refused to answer her questions which only fed her resolve that he must be with a seed company, as if that was a bad thing. It was none of her business and frankly her racial profiling upset me. Racial profiling and undertones were thick in this hearing even from a few Council members. Most of the anti’s are haole
( Hawaiian term for white or fair skin) new comers and a few old timers; while most of the growers are minority farmers and 99% clearly local to Hawaii Island.
Mr. Papaya Head makes his debut at Hawaii County Council hearing to ban gmo’s in Hawaii County
The Chair and Bill 109′s author and proposer; Brenda Ford slaughtered almost every farmers name and even simple names were mispronounced; yet she manged quite well with the anti’s, activists and supporters of her bill..hmmm co-inky dink, me thinks not. By far the most patronizing terms come from Margaret Willie, condescending patronization telling our farmers to just find another crop as if she is smarter than everyone else. As is all the scientists and experts we provided are lying; she acts as if she is god and it’s her way or no way…but because we have contaminated Hawaii Island she will go ahead and allow papaya growers to be exempted. The exemption taints the Hawaii Papaya Industry’s good name and is causing marketing issues, one council member proposed establishing a marketing fund to restore its name, yes that is a start!
[Editor’s note: I normally would not highlight an anonymous blog. I am typically pretty conservative about where I get my news and more conservative about what I pass on. But this entry seems to give a hard to come by glimpse into the on the ground politics and fault lines of the current fight in Hawaii. It doesn’t really clear my normal hurdles for credibility, but it certainly fulfils the criteria of important and interesting that I am looking to deliver in the Daily Essentials segment of this blog.]
5. THE DATING GAME
The Natural Resources Defense Council
Here’s a superbly-kept secret: All those dates on food products — sell by, use by, best before — almost none of those dates indicate the safety of food, and generally speaking, they’re not regulated in the way many people believe. The current system of expiration dates misleads consumers to believe they must discard food in order to protect their own safety. In fact, the dates are only suggestions by the manufacturer for when the food is at its peak quality, not when it is unsafe to eat.
U.S. consumers and businesses needlessly trash billions of pounds of food every year as a result of America’s dizzying array of food expiration date labeling practices, which need to be standardized and clarified. Forty percent of the food we produce in this country never gets eaten. That’s nearly half our food, wasted — not just on our plates, but in our refrigerators and pantries, in our grocery stores and on our farms. Much of it perfectly good, edible food — worth $165 billion annually — gets tossed in the trash instead feeding someone who’s hungry. Misinterpretation of date labels is one of the key factors contributing to this waste.
6. USDA WILL NOT TAKE ACTION IN CASE OF GMO ALFALFA CONTAMINATION
Cary Gillam | Reuters
Crop experts have warned that the confirmation of contamination threatens U.S. sales of alfalfa feedstock to many Asia nations who reject GMOs, and some are encouraging farmers to test every bag of seed they buy before they plant.
But USDA said the detection of Monsanto Co’s patented Roundup Ready herbicide-tolerant trait in the Washington farmer’s non-GMO alfalfa crop should be addressed by the marketplace and not the government.
“The agriculture industry has approaches to minimize their occurrence and manage them when they occur,” the statement said.
Alfalfa, a livestock feed crop, routinely ranks among the top five crops in the nation in terms of farmgate value and total acreage planted. It is the first perennial biotech crop to be approved, and its perennial nature makes it even more of a contamination risk, critics have charged.
Washington agriculture officials notified APHIS late Friday that they had confirmed a “low-level” presence of a genetically engineered trait in what the farmer thought was a non-GMO crop.
State agriculture officials did not identify the level of contamination, but in a letter to APHIS said it was “within ranges acceptable to much of the marketplace.”
7. LOCAL DOESN’T ALWAYS MEAN FAIR: WASHINGTON BERRY PICKERS URGE BOYCOTT
Matthew Canfield | Civil Eats
On July 10, Frederico Lopez couldn’t take it anymore. The berry picker says he was constantly barraged with verbal abuse by his supervisor, while earning only 30 cents per pound of berries. “It’s unjust to yell at us like we are animals, simply for asking for a fair wage” he told his supervisors that day.
It is no surprise that Lopez spoke up. At such a low rate, he and his fellow workers have to pick at an impossible speed just to earn Washington State’s $9.19 minimum wage.
On the hot summer day Lopez complained, he was given an eviction and a pink slip – a practice that would is routine in the fields. But on this day, Lopez’s co-workers took notice and decided not to return to work the next day. What has ensued has been an all-out labor dispute in a region widely known for its local food movement. As the farm workers press on to raise their working conditions, they are raising important questions about the priorities and social values of the burgeoning food movement.
8. NEW ACCELERATOR PROGRAM LAUNCHES FOR FOOD, HEALTH AND WELLNESS STARTUPS
Nina Meijers | Food Tech Connect
FTC: How do you differentiate yourself from others startup accelerator programs?
SC: Our program is very different. Sure we offer money and space to work but that is where the similarities end. Instead of having a long list of familiar faces as mentors we have a small group of people you may not know but who are some of the best designers/developers/UX/UI/sales/strategy/marketing in the city. And instead of them just dropping in a few times, they are on the payroll, work in the space and are available to our applicants as needed. Beyond that, we have an internationally recognized Strategic Foresight team on staff with far reaching research resources at their fingertips waiting to work with our applicants. But the biggest differentiator is our amazing partnership with Matthew Corrin and his company Freshii. Freshii opens up a vertical expertise that these companies can’t find anywhere as well as access to customers and other opportunities through their distribution and procurement channels if thats appropriate and important to the startup.
FTC: Why do you think your model (and the partnership of Kinetic Cafe and Freshii) is best suited to bolster wellness, food and health startups?
SC: By taking a laser focus and only working with health, food and fitness startups we can focus all our research, startups and education towards the same goal. When a co-hort has people from hardware to app discovery to social platforms the goals can’t be similar and the learnings and mentor talks can’t be anything more than high level. With everyone working in the same space the lessons are similar and even allow for co-marketing.