Regardless of their politics, most folks across the country today want to support their neighborhood food producers. Locally sourced and prepared foods boast superior nutrition because regional ingredients are picked when they’re ripe, take a shorter trip from farm to table and — for the small businesses in this guide — are prepared without a barrage of preservatives, artificial flavorings or chemicals. In other words, it’s real food.
Here are some of the best food stories we came across this week:
- Bomb Sniffing Technology Used to Detect Ripe Produce – The same lab at MIT’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies that developed dog-level ultra-trace-sensing equipment for detecting the chemicals used in bombs is now being used to sniff out the chemical vapor signatures of ripe produce by measuring the trace amounts of ethylene gas being emitted, thus reducing food waste for grocers and other retailers.
- First Global Standards for Salmon Farming – A consortium of scientists, environmental agencies, governments and commercial fishing executives has developed the first set of universal standards for salmon farming. The process took eight years and a great deal of discussion and research. It entails 100 fish-farming standards, from the construction of cages to antibiotic use. These standards would allow certified aquaculture farms to use a label on packaging declaring the fish A.S.C. Certified.
- “Big Organic” has Become Unnatural – Has the organic movement become a victim of its own success? Organic food has become a wildly lucrative business for Big Food and a premium-price-means-premium-profit section of the grocery store. The industry’s image — contented cows grazing on the green hills of family-owned farms — is mostly pure fantasy. Or rather, pure marketing. Big Food, it turns out, has spawned what might be called Big Organic.
- Researchers Plot Roadmap for Protein-Induced Satiety – A study published in Cell has mapped out the complex chain reaction of signals that travel from the gut to the brain to cause feelings of satiety in the body after a protein-rich meal. It found stimulating certain receptors in a major blood vessel connected to the gut enhances food intake, while blocking them suppresses food intake; the researchers hope to use the data in the battle against obesity.
- Eating Smaller Pieces of Food Effects Consumption – A study presented at the conference in Zurich for the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior found that in college students and rats, after consuming food cut into smaller pieces, later calorie consumption decreased by about 25%. Some speculate eating smaller pieces tricks the mind into believing the body has consumed multiple portions.
Photo courtesy of Wonderlane.
The average “armchair quarterback” will consume nearly 1,200 calories and 50 grams of fat from Superbowl snacks, says Phil Lempert, aka the Supermarket Guru, who offers up some tips for managing game-day indulgences. Example: serve baked whole wheat pita slices in place of store bought chips, and be sure to have plenty of veggies on hand. If you tend to overeat in group settings, take steps to help yourself out: ask a buddy at the party to help keep you accountable, and/or contribute a couple of healthy snacks to the mix to help minimize temptation.
Here are some recipe ideas: Continue reading
Every few months, it seems, another report or bit of evidence comes out to prove the benefits of organic farming.
Earlier this year, a major United Nations report came out stating that chemical-free agriculture could actually double food production in developing countries within a decade. Natural methods, like planting tick clover to catch pests and high-canopy trees to shade coffee groves, would build healthier, more self-sufficient land over time, the report found, thereby making it easier to withstand periods of draught and flood, and even pests and weeds.
Now, a Rodale Institute report (PDF) on the longest-running study of organic farming, which compared organic and conventional farming side-by-side for 30 years, finds that organic yields eventually surpass conventional, while also being more financially and energy efficient. For example: A striking 94 percent of soybeans and 72 percent of corn grown in the U.S. are genetically modified (GM), according to the USDA, and yet, on average, farmers who cultivated GM crops earned a third of organic farmers’ annual profits. The Rodale report also shows that pesticides used on conventional fields compromise farmworker health and contaminate soil and water.
In a nutshell: organic farming is better for farmers, better for the environment, and better for the health of food producers and consumers.
Do you make it a priority to buy organic fruits and vegetables? What are your favorite places to buy organic?
Tip: Search our restaurant directory for NYC restaurants that serve organic food. L.A. listings are coming soon.
The Environmental Working Group released its seventh annual “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15″ lists Monday, signifying those fruits and vegetables with the most and least pesticide residue upon peeling and washing. Dirty Dozen toppers like apples (#1 up from #4), celery, strawberries, peaches and the rest on this list are better bought organic, the group says, while Clean 15s like onions, sweet corn and pineapple are safe bought conventionally.
It’s good to note which produce are more chemically absorbent, but really, they’re all a little dirty in our minds. We’d say go organic whenever possible, but a general rule of thumb is that it’s best not to eat the skin of a conventional fruit or vegetable—of course, pineapples and other inedible-skinned produce don’t have that problem. The complete list can be viewed on the EWG’s website, where you can also print it out as a .PDF.