Tuesday, February 27, 2007 

Food Safety Crisis on the Horizon

FDA food safety inspections languish.

The federal agency that's been front and center in warning the public about tainted spinach and contaminated peanut butter is conducting just half the food safety inspections it did three years ago.

Between 2003 and 2006, FDA food safety inspections dropped 47 percent, according to a database analysis of federal records by The Associated Press.

That's not all that's dropping at the FDA in terms of food safety. The analysis also shows:

-There are 12 percent fewer FDA employees in field offices who concentrate on food issues.

-Safety tests for U.S.-produced food have dropped nearly 75 percent, from 9,748 in 2003 to 2,455 last year, according to the agency's own statistics. - AP

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Sunday, February 25, 2007 

Bloggers write books, too

and two of my favorite food bloggers, "floggers" if you will, have books out that I recommend you check out.

Heidi, over at 101 cookbooks, has "Super Natural Cooking: Five Delicious Ways: To Incorporate Whole & Natural Ingredients into Your Cooking"

Clotilde, from Chocolate & Zucchini, has "Chocolate and Zucchini, Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen."

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Friday, February 23, 2007 

Happy Chef Blogging Friday

Curtis Stone....yes...again.

6'3" kitchen hottie aussie host of TLC's "Take Home Chef" (I've noticed they have changed the graphics to the show....not sure I like them as much.)

"Take one harried grocery store shopper, add one hunky chef -- and simmer. Take Home Chef begins with Curtis ambushing unsuspecting shoppers with an offer they simply can't refuse. As he races through a grocery store, searching for the perfect culinary partner, Curtis turns on the charm and offers to go home with the shopper to help cook a feast for an also unsuspecting spouse/significant other/family member,etc. after deciding on a meal to prepare, selecting ingredients and wine and even paying for the groceries."

You can see some of his "surprise" encounters here. But, should you be surprised by Curtis at your local market, beware of his preparing you some of these recipes! (You'll never even GET to the kitchen) And I noticed that he went out of the Los Angeles area to tape...he hit the fabulous hills of San Francisco....so if any producers of the show reading....COME TO SANTA BARBARA! We got food, wine AND surf!

Curtis hails from Melbourne, Australia...or as the city's marketing says, That's Me!bourne. A foodie town, it looks like!
Want a taste of Melbourne?
How long have you got?!

This is a city where there are as many styles as there are chefs, with a culinary diversity as rich as anywhere around the globe.

Many of Melbourne’s precincts have a culinary character all of their own, from the Greek atmosphere of Lonsdale Street or Carlton’s ‘Little Italy’, to the wide choice of Chinatown around Little Bourke Street. - That's Me!bourne
Wonder if Curtis will be attending Melbourne's Food and Wine Festival coming up in March. I'm tempted to hop on Quantas and fly out. Well...since I don't have the moolah, I'll just stay home in front of the "telly" on Friday evenings....enjoying some Aussie "Imports".

The Aussies' might have to rely upon a different sort of "import"....water.
Fill your glasses ... with the Yarra River. Melbourne could soon be drinking Yarra River water from the heart of the city as the State Government scrambles to boost the city's dwindling water supplies. Melbourne Age.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007 

Sowing the Wild Whole Food Oats

Whole Foods (WFMI) just gobbled up Wild Oats.

Whole Foods Makes Offer for a Smaller Rival- New York Times, NY

....Mr. Mackey — noting that Whole Foods has made 18 previous acquisitions, including Fresh Fields and Bread & Circus — said that the companies would save money by eliminating corporate duplication and that Whole Foods would gain access to markets where it is now weak, particularly the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountain region and Florida.

Wild Oats, though, is the biggest acquisition yet for Whole Foods. Started in Boulder, Colo., in 1987, it has 110 stores in 24 states and in British Columbia and $1.2 billion in annual sales. By contrast, Whole Foods, which was started in 1980 in Austin, Tex., has 193 stores in the United States, Canada and Britain and had sales of $5.6 billion in 2006.

“We think we are going to have a very positive impact on Wild Oats, and we think they will have a positive impact on Whole Foods,” Mr. Mackey said. “We need each other.”

but Whole Foods got herded out of Rancho Burbank, California....
A split City Council on Tuesday night shot down the controversial Whole Foods Market proposed in the Rancho equestrian district, a victory for neighborhood residents who feared a traffic nightmare, but killing a chance for the popular natural foods grocer to locate a store in the city. - LADaily News
There stays the "Neigh"borhood! - LAist, San Fernando Biz Journal

It's Store Wars!

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007 

What's Mardi Gras....

without a little King Cake, chicory coffee and beignets and cajun/creole flavored blogs.....

Looka! (aka The Gumbo Pages)
Metroblogging New Orleans
Survival of New Orleans Blog
NolaCuisine
Do You Know What It Means (to Miss New Orleans)
Tim's Nameless Blog
Your Right Hand Thief
Third Battle of N.O.
Wet Bank Guide
Traveling Mermaid
Squandered Heritage
NOLA-dishu
Moldy City
Humid City
Building Big Easy
Da Po' Blog
Confederacy of Dunces
Gentilly Girl
The Katrinacrat
Yat Pundit
b.rox
Blagueur
and of course,
NOLA.com (the Times-Picayune) with the infamous "Bourbo-Cam!"

Go visit.
Never forget.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez.

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Monday, February 19, 2007 

Day of Remembrance

dayofremembrance.org
Manzanar
Ansel Adams at Manzanar (Library of Congress) and
Traveling Photo Show
Born Free and Equal
Farewell to Manzanar
Heart Mountain Mystery Rocks
442 Regimental Combat Team - "Go for Broke"
Strawberry Days a book by one of our favorite "spyhopping" bloggers, David Neiwert.

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All the White House Chefs

Happy President's Day! Even Presidents have to eat.....some more than others....

President George W. Bush:

President William Jefferson Clinton:

President George Herbert Walker Bush:

President Ronald Reagan:

President Jimmy Carter:

President Gerald Ford:

President Richard M. Nixon:

President Lyndon B. Johnson:

President John F. Kennedy:

President Dwight D. Eisenhower:

President Harry S Truman:

  • Bess Truman`s Ozark Pudding Recipe
  • President Calvin Coolidge:

    President Abraham Lincoln:

    "Foodie" President Thomas Jefferson:

    President John Adams:

    President George Washington:

    And the classic.....

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    Sunday, February 18, 2007 

    Music to Eat By....

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    Anthony Bourdain....

    rules ruhl's!
    Oh, Mario! Oh great one! They shut down Molto Mario--only the smartest and best of the stand-up cooking shows. Is there any more egregiously under-used, criminally mishandled, dismissively treated chef on television? Relegated to the circus of Iron Chef America, where--like a great, toothless lion, fouling his cage, he hangs on--and on--a major draw (and often the only reason to watch the show). How I would like to see him unchained, free to make the television shows he’s capable of, the Real Mario--in all his Rabelasian brilliance. How I would love to hear the snapping bones of his cruel FN ringmasters, crunching between his mighty jaws! Let us see the cloven hooves beneath those cheery clogs! Let Mario be Mario!

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    Happy Year of the Pig (or Boar)

    Gung Hay Fat Choy! (Cantonese)
    Gong Xi Fa Cai! (Mandarin)
    (wishing you prosperity!)

    Taste of Asia has some recipes depending on the Chinese Zodiac Sign. What's YOUR sign?
    I'm a Water Tiger. Grrrrrrrrrr!

    The recipe they suggest to celebrate the Year of the Pig, is "Longevity Noodles" provided by Ying Chang Compestine.
    They also have some interesting recipe brochures to download (pdf's)

    While you're "cyber surfing", stop by and visit one of my favorite "non food blogs" from China, Peking Duck.

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    Saturday, February 17, 2007 

    Jerry Roberts

    Needs a little help. He's battling cancer AND he's battling his former employer, Wendy McCaw, a socialite divorcee who believes herself to be omnipotent here in town.

    Dear colleagues, friends and supporters,

    I was humbled and honored to be among nine journalists, all formerly on the staff of the Santa Barbara News-Press, given a National Ethics in Journalism Award several months ago by the Society of Professional Journalists.

    The SPJ, after an independent investigation of the extraordinary events in Santa Barbara, awarded the honor to a group of us who felt forced to leave the paper last summer because of concerns over the ethics of management decisions involving news coverage. Our group, the SPJ citation said, "opted to risk their livelihoods rather than remain in a position where they felt their journalistic ethics and professional credibility were being violated."

    Amid the ongoing exodus of dozens of professional journalists from the News-Press, the paper’s owner has filed a flurry of legal threats, claims and lawsuits against people who dared to speak out or report about what was happening in the newsroom.

    In response, a group of prominent local attorneys formed the Lawyers Alliance for Free Speech Rights, to help level the playing field for journalists who found themselves bludgeoned by legal attacks by Ampersand Publishing, owned by billionaire Wendy McCaw.

    I am one of those journalists, now facing a $25 million arbitration claim filed by the company.

    Colleagues and friends put together a web site - http://www.jerryrobertsandfriends.org - to help the Alliance help me and other journalists fight back.

    Please take a few minutes to review the events at the paper by reading the stories on this site. And then please make a donation to the Lawyers Alliance for Free Speech Rights, in defense of the values, standards and ethics of public interest journalism.

    Thanks for your consideration.

    Jerry

    Local blogs have been covering this story -

    Blogabarbara
    edhat
    craigsmith
    Santa Barbara Independent Media Blog

    Hope you can help him out. He's a great guy, a fine journalist and a dang good moderator of a continuing education course I'm attending, "As the World Turns: The Games People Play."

    (photo from the Santa Barbara Independent)

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    Fast Food With Integrity

    BusinessWeek has an interview with Steve Ellis, the CEO.
    Steve Ells, founder of the red-hot Mexican-food chain, on his aim to make the focused menu as all-natural as possible, and why it's worth the expense.

    Steve Ells, founder and chief executive of Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG), is not a man on a mission. He's actually on two of them: one, to run the hottest fast-food chain in the nation; two, to offer what he terms "food with integrity" to the mass market. - BusinessWeek
    Now that it has spun off from tentacles of MickeyD's, I'll go back and give those big ol' tin foil burritto boulders a chomp again. Love the Mission Street style burritos. Love their interactive website. Love their bizarro sense of humour. (matches mine!)

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    Adding some City of Angels "dishy" links

    to my "jellyblogroll" cookiesheet....

    Eater L.A. and their Flickr page.

    la.foodblogging

    Eating L.A.

    SlowFoodLA

    Soul Fusion Kitchen

    Looka! The Gumbo Pages

    The Delicious Life

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    Smokies Light

    no...not cigarettes...not the "smokes"...but The Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Jim Fletcher takes some amazingly beautiful photographs of the region...and other parts of the country, too.

    Stop by his website, SmokiesLight. Take a look around at the beauty and the birds. Hopefully give him some business, too.

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    Thursday, February 15, 2007 

    The Hungry Cat...is prowling toward Santa Barbara

    The Cat's going to be let out of the bag in March. I'm hoping that it will break the curse of "nothing lasting" at that corner location. It seems that Suzanne and David are really working on making it "work" for the "local" Barbarians. They champion the right "causes" - fresh, organic, sustainable, local.
    The corner of Anapamu and Chapala is a buzz of activity, as chef-restaurateurs Suzanne Goin and David Lentz prepare to open their new restaurant, The Hungry Cat, at the end of March. Suzanne and David have a sister restaurant in Hollywood also called The Hungry Cat that will be two years old in March, and Suzanne owns two restaurants in Los Angeles, Lucques and A.O.C., with a separate partner. In an interview in their new space last week, David explained how on a wedding anniversary a few years ago they stayed at the San Ysidro Ranch and had a revelation that it would be great to open a restaurant in Santa Barbara. “The Hungry Cat almost fits Santa Barbara more than it fits Hollywood,” he says with Suzanne adding, “We love the pace, vibe and architecture here. This building is what we were looking for. This is what we love. We’re excited to be up here.” - The Montecito Journal
    And, wow...what a "scruptious" resume they both bring with them.

    Suzanne Goin began her culinary career in 1984 when she interned in the pastry kitchen of the legendary restaurant MA MAISON as a high school senior. Leaving her native Los Angeles for Brown University late that year, she discovered the award-winning restaurant AL FORNO (chefs George German and Johanne Killeen) and began her career in earnest. Along the way to graduating with honors in history from Brown, Suzanne worked at Los Angeles' top rated L'ORANGERIE over the summer and at the Roux brothers LE MAZARIN in London while studying at the London School of Economics.

    In 1990 Suzanne headed back to California to work at Alice Water's famed restaurant CHEZ PANISSE in Berkeley. Suzanne was chosen twice to travel with chef Peggy Smith to Bordeaux to cook at VINEXPO as a representative of California and CHEZ PANISSE. After two years at CHEZ PANISSE, Suzanne followed her dream of working in France first at Didier Oudill's two-star restaurant PAIN, ADOUR ET FANTASIE , then with Alain Passard at his three-starred ARPEGE in Paris and finally at the fourth arrondissement's favored PATISSERIE CHRISTIAN POTTIER. - How to Cook Everything

    (and, of course, you might have caught a glimpse of Suzanne on an episode of Top Chef.)
    For David Lentz, the professional kitchen was love at first sight. While in college, the former drama major decided to take classes at a nearby culinary school. Smitten with the hands-on nature and rigorous lifestyle of a chef, Lentz never looked back. He was the executive chef at the China Grill’s Las Vegas location, and also completed a stint at LA’s Campanile before heading the kitchen at Opaline. At the Hungry Cat, which he opened in 2005 and co-owns with wife/fellow chef Suzanne Goin (of Lucques and AOC fame) - Star Chefs

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    The Foodie President

    Since we'll be celebrating President's Day this coming Monday, we should also celebrate the way that Presidents shape our food culture, customs and heritage.

    Perhaps the most influential was Thomas Jefferson, the "Foodie President."
    Among his many interests, the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), took a great interest in food and tested many varieties of seeds and fruit varieties. For over 57 years in his 1,000-foot long kitchen garden he tried 70 different species, 250 varieties of vegetables and also over 150 varieties of 31 different types of fruits, keeping copious notes on all.

    He experimented with different imported seeds plus varieties of peas, beans, cabbage, asparagus, and tomatoes, just to name a few. The Lewis and Clark Expedition also sent bean and salsify seeds to him. Every two weeks during the growing season, lettuces and radishes were planted to provide the leafy salads he especially liked. Cabbage was also a popular vegetable.


    As a minister to France, he enjoyed French cuisine and had French trained chefs in his kitchen. He also imported different foods such as Italian olive oil, and French mustard. Macaroni and vanilla were also introduced. If we check some of the food labels today, we are still purchasing imported items such as these.

    A wine connoisseur, Jefferson was also a wine advisor to presidents Washington, Adams, Madison and Monroe.

    ...In 1809 he began planting and serving a new variety of fruit, the “Tomatas.” His daughter, granddaughter and chef developed many recipes using tomatoes. By 1824 tomatoes became a popular addition to the table because it was thought they kept one’s blood pure throughout the summer’s heat.

    Jefferson was a strong advocate of testing new crops and incorporating crop rotations that we still practice today. - The Prairie Star
    Thomas Jefferson acquired a taste for continental cooking while serving as American minister to France in the 1780s. When he returned to the United States in 1790 he brought with him a French cook and many recipes for French, Italian, and other au courant cookery. Jefferson not only served his guests the best European wines, but he liked to dazzle them with delights such as ice cream, peach flambe, macaroni, and macaroons. This drawing of a macaroni machine, with the sectional view showing holes from which dough could be extruded, reflects Jefferson's curious mind and his interest and aptitude in mechanical matters.

    Thomas Jefferson also designed an improved version of the dumbwaiter. - About.com Inventors

    Try a little something "Presidential." Walter Steib, of City Tavern in Philadelphia, provided this recipe.

    Thomas Jefferson's Sweet Potato Biscuits

    5 cups all-purpose flour
    1 cup packed light brown sugar
    2 tablespoons baking powder
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
    1 cup solid frozen vegetable shortening
    2 cups roasted, mashed, and cooled sweet potatoes
    1 cup heavy cream (plus more if needed)
    1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and allspice. Add the shortening and cut in with 2 knives or hands until crumbly. In another bowl combine sweet potatoes, cream and pecans. Make well in dry ingredients and add potato-cream mixture. Mix to combine. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough to 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut out with a 2-inch floured biscuit cutter. Place biscuits 1-inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn down temperature to 375 and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm or let cool on a wire rack until room temperature.

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    Wednesday, February 14, 2007 

    "the sweet taste of liberty in your mouth"

    Is how Ben and Jerry's is describing their new flavor, "Americone Dream", named after Stephen Colbert.
    It's vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered waffle cone pieces and caramel.

    ...."I'm not afraid to say it. dessert has a well-known liberal agenda," Colbert said in a statement. "what I hope to do with this ice cream is bring some balance back to the freezer case."

    Forget "truthiness"....it's "dessertiness" or "flavorishy", now....
    Let's just hope it doesn't end up in the "flavor graveyard" anytime soon.

    Oh, and
    Unilever, the big global company that now owns Ben and Jerry's, want to help "lick global warming.", too.

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    Tuesday, February 13, 2007 

    Better stock your pantries for tomorrow

    with these "goodies" (said to be Aphrodisiacs...or at least according to The Cambridge World History of Food.) Who needs to rush to the medicine cabinet when you can just reach for your spice rack or pantry?
    In ancient times a distinction was made between a substance that increased fertility versus one that simply increased sex drive. One of the key issues in early times was nutrition. Food was not so readily available as it is today. Undernourishment creates a loss of libido as well as reduces fertility rates. Substances that "by nature" represent "seed or semen" such as bulbs, eggs, snails" were considered inherently to have sexual powers. Other types of foods were considered stimulating by their "physical resemblance to genitalia"

    It's important to realize these food substances were identified (documented) by the likes of Pliny and Dioscordes (ancient Greeks) first century AD and later by Paul of Aegina from the seventh century. Later more credence was given to foods that "satisfied dietary gratification".

    Other foods deemed to have these aphrodisiac qualities were derived from mythology. Aphrodite, the love goddess was said to consider "sparrows" sacred because of their "amorous nature" and for that reason were included in various aphrodisiac brews.
    Some of the foods on the ancient lists:

    Aniseed
    A popular aphrodisiac with many culinary uses. It has been used as an aphrodisiac since the Greeks and the Romans, who believed aniseed had special powers. Sucking on the seeds is said to increases your desire.

    Almond
    A symbol of fertility throughout the ages. The aroma is thought to induce passion in a female.

    Avocado
    The Aztecs called the avocado tree "Ahuacuatl which translated means "testicle tree". The ancients thought the fruit hanging in pairs on the tree resembled the male's testicles.

    Chocolate
    The Aztecs referred to chocolate "nourishment of the Gods". Chocolate contains chemicals thought to effect neurotransmitters in the brain and a related substance to caffeine called theobromine. Chocolate contains more antioxidant (cancer preventing enzymes) than does red wine. Combine the two and watch what happens!

    Carrots
    Another good reason to eat carrots--believed to be a stimulant to the male. The phallus shaped carrot has been associated with stimulation since ancient times and was used by early Middle Eastern royalty to aid seduction.

    Fennel
    In the 1930's fennel was found to be a source of natural plant estrogens. Use of fennel as an aphrodisiac dates back to the Egyptian times where it was used as "libido enhancement".

    Honey
    Many medicines in Egyptian times were based on honey including cures for sterility and impotence. Medieval seducers plied their partners with Mead, a fermented drink made from honey. Lovers on their "Honeymoon" drank mead and it was thought to s "sweeten" the marriage.

    Nutmeg
    Nutmeg was highly prized by Chinese women as an aphrodisiac. In quantity nutmeg can produce a hallucinogenic effect.

    Pine Nuts
    Zinc is a key mineral necessary to maintain male potency and pine nuts are rich in zinc. Pine nuts have been used to stimulate the libido as far back as Medieval times.

    Vanilla
    The scent and flavor of vanilla is believed to increase lust. Old Totonac lore has it that Xanat, the young daughter of the Mexican fertility goddess, loved a Totonac youth. Unable to marry him due to her divine nature, she transformed herself into a plant that would provide pleasure and happiness.

    oh, yeah...and Oysters.

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    Sunday, February 11, 2007 

    What's happening to the Honey Bees?

    From the AP we find this story of major concern to me. I LOVE my honey! But, it's not just the honey that we need to worry about....there are those things that we love to eat that need to be pollinated.
    New Mystery Ailment Devastates Honeybee Industry, Already Devastated by Mite Infestation
    A mysterious illness is killing tens of thousands of honeybee colonies across the country, threatening honey production, the livelihood of beekeepers and possibly crops that need bees for pollination.

    Researchers are scrambling to find the cause of the ailment, called Colony Collapse Disorder.

    ...The country's bee population had already been shocked in recent years by a tiny, parasitic bug called the varroa mite, which has destroyed more than half of some beekeepers' hives and devastated most wild honeybee populations.

    Along with being producers of honey, commercial bee colonies are important to agriculture as pollinators, along with some birds, bats and other insects. A recent report by the National Research Council noted that in order to bear fruit, three-quarters of all flowering plants -- including most food crops and some that provide fiber, drugs and fuel -- rely on pollinators for fertilization.

    Mid-Atlantic Apiculture

    Penn State University Entomology Dept.

    American Beekeeping Federation

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    SOY....fasionable

    One day, several years ago, my body decided it didn't want a lot of milk products. It decided to become somewhat intolerent of lactose. Seems that I am not alone. It is estimated that there are between 30 - 50 million Americans who are "intolerent." And, like many others, I switched to soy milk and other soy products to make up for alot of the dairy based products. (I really enjoy Tofutti and Soy Delicious. I'm addicted to Edamame...)

    But soy isn't just for lactose intolerents, crunchy granola types, asian dishes, Spanish speakers or Grammy "streakers", anymore. Soy is "green" and "green is the new black."

    "Soy is a fabric of the future. It actually has a very silky feel," Marci Zaroff (CNNMoney)
    High fashion is going granola. But not the grunge of hippie yoga wear and grainy hemp T-shirts typically associated with organic clothes.

    Think soft soy dresses, cropped organic terry jackets and slim-fit organic denim jeans to pair with stilettos, not flip-flops.

    Consumers worried about ingesting harmful pesticides have long been purchasing organic foods. But the philosophy is slowly hitting mainstream clothing retailers as experts warn about the dangers pesticides pose to the environment. -LATimes
    And soybean suits, surprisingly, have been around from some time. Henry Ford actually wore his own "brand."

    Ford took to wearing a suit made of soybean protein fiber that he invented himself and called “soybean wool.” His Model “T” could run on ethanol, and he even built a car with plastic parts and upholstery of vegetable origin. - City Barbs
    Places to find "edamame" wraps and such.....

    Under the Canopy
    Of the Earth
    OQoQo (pronounced Oh Ko Ko)

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    Friday, February 09, 2007 

    Looking for that special "Valentine's Gift?"

    How about getting your sweety one of these fuzzy wuzzies?

    Divine Chocolate Teddy Bear
    The perfect Valentine's Day gift! The softest teddy bear around, accompanied by a tasty Divine chocolate bar wrapped up in heart ribbon. Each one-of-a-kind bear is handmade of real alpaca wool. No alpacas were harmed in the process.
    Choose your chocolate bar flavor!
    Country of Origin: Peru

    or order up a bouquet of flowers from EcoBouquet.
    Organic Bouquet offers the finest floral gifts sourced from growers that are committed to the highest social and environmental standards. Our flowers are grown and harvested using practices that aim to improve the quality of farm working conditions, minimize damage to ecosystems, conserve biodiversity, and enhance environmental quality for future generations. Each bouquet in our collection is hand selected and shipped fresh from the farm, ensuring optimal product quality upon delivery.
    Send one of their "Charitable Bouquets" where money is donated to various non-profits and charitable foundations and win more than one heart!

    Anyone out there want to send me flowers? I'll take the America's Second Harvest bouquet!

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    Thursday, February 08, 2007 

    Argentina has been producing great wines....

    but it's future might be at stake.

    Crack open a bottle of Argentine wine and the chances are it will have come from Mendoza - a province bordering Chile famous for its spectacular snowy peaks, adventure sports and pristine blue skies. The province produces 70 per cent of Argentina's wines, as well as olives, fruit and preserves and is a magnet for tourists seeking to get back to nature and enjoy the good life.

    But the rugged, red-hued hills in San Rafael, in the heart of Mendoza, are also home to a long-mothballed uranium mine and a plant to concentrate the mineral ore into yellowcake. With world uranium prices that have doubled in the past year and Argentina planning a big expansion of nuclear power to stave off growing energy shortages, the government's atomic energy agency would love nothing more than to restart operations, which it says have been proven both safe and clean.

    However, a powerful coalition of vineyards, organic farmers and local businesses is up in arms, warning residents that their water, air and soil are at risk of being poisoned and their livelihoods, export markets, tourist industry and health could be ruined.

    ...waters in the Tigre stream, which flows through the mine and into the Diamond River that supplies semi-arid San Rafael with drinking water, contain up to 75 micrograms of uranium per litre - which he said was more than twice the levels permitted in the US, Canada and Australia.

    ....Material to be treated at the site - where cows occasionally wander in from nearby farms and a couple of ducks swim on waste water dykes - includes piles of rubble containing low levels of uranium and pools and evaporation dykes containing uranium, arsenic, radium and acid residue.

    In addition, there are 5,223 metal drums, buried in trenches, that contain uranium-tainted waste from the plant in the province of Cordoba that converts the yellowcake into uranium dioxide to fuel Argentina's two current nuclear power plants. - Financial Times

    The wineries in California and the United States could be in serious trouble, as well, but for a different reason....

    Global warming could spell disaster for much of the multibillion-dollar U.S. wine industry.

    Areas suitable for growing premium wine grapes could be reduced by 50% — and possibly as much as 81% — by the end of this century, according to a study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. - USA Today

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    Wednesday, February 07, 2007 

    Group Recipes...Not just in Beta anymore!

    Group Recipes is announcing their "official" site launch...and look at what they're offering!
    • Discover great recipes in unique ways
    • Create your own food page
    • Have "Roger" the Recipe Robot (aka Food Prediction Algorithm) learn about your tastes and predict recipes you will like or dislike
    • Show off your personal creations and get feedback as well as honors
    • Meet other foodies (aka food lovers) and see what kind of foods they are into
    • Share & Discover great places to eat in your home town
    • Stem the flow of boredom by using the "Recipe Stumbler" to explore recipes related to your favorite foods. (This is a great feature if you're stuck in the office all day and need to waste as much time as possible.)
    • Explore food by taste, mood, photo, ingredients, uniqueness, rating, and your compatibility
    • Organize your recipe collection with the Recipe Manager
    • Join/Create a Group of like-minded foodies
    • Experiment and collaborate on a dish with other members
    • Create your own food TV Show!
    • Learn how to be a better cook by osmosis. No promises.
    Oh...and did I mention....you can WIN A NEW KITCHEN!
    Click here...sign up (It's FREE!)

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    Sunday, February 04, 2007 

    The Gourmet Retailer has some Feb. Promo Ideas!

    Promotional Calendar: February 2007

    February is American Heart Month, Bake for Family Fun Month, Fabulous Florida Strawberry Month, National Cherry Month, National Hot Breakfast Month, National Weddings Month, and North Carolina Sweet Potato Month.

    1. Celebrate Women's Heart Week by promoting heart-healthy soy and whole-grain products.
    2. Groundhog Day. Host a lunchtime BBQ and preview summer merchandise in the hope the groundhog doesn't see his shadow.
    3. Move Valentine's Day merchandise to the front of the store.
    4. Super Bowl XLI. Promote ready-made gift baskets with beer mugs, dips, spreads and chips.
    5. In honor of Bake for Family Fun Month, set up a Kids Baking Corner and invite children to learn cookie and cupcake baking basics.
    6. Babe Ruth's Birthday. Honor the baseball legend by selling hot dogs and popcorn, and hand out baseball caps with your store logo.
    7. Valentine's Day is just a week away. Host a Chocolate Festival and sample gourmet chocolates from around the world.
    8. Celebrate the antioxidant power of cherries for National Cherry Month. Feature all the ingredients, kitchen tools, and cookware products necessary to make cherry pies, tarts and cherry salsas.
    9. In your Prepared Foods section, highlight your smoked salmon and cream cheese smears for National Bagels and Lox Day.
    10. Check up on your Spring/Easter orders.
    11. Satisfied Staying Single Day. Offer special promotions on self-indulgent goodies for content singles.
    12. In honor of Honest Abe's Birthday, hold a Penny Sale to help clear out leftover holiday merchandise.
    13. Love and romance are in the air. Create a special Lovers' Sharing Menu that's perfect for a romantic dinner for two.
    14. Valentine's Day. Be sure to tell that special someone you love them.
    15. Celebrate National Hot Breakfast Month with special promotions on waffle makers and all things breakfast.
    16. Schedule a staff meeting to plan Spring Merchandise Displays.
    17. St. Patty's Day is a month away. Invite customers to submit their favorite Irish recipes.
    18. Daytona 500. Set up a special snack food display for these fast-paced fans.
    19. President's Day.
    20. Mardi Gras Day. Laissez les bons temps rouler by holding your own Cajun-inspired celebration complete with king cakes, jambalaya and crawfish.
    21. Celebrate North Carolina Sweet Potato Month with a contest calling for sweet potato-inspired recipes from your customers.
    22. Display cherry pie-making bakeware in honor of George Washington's Birthday.
    23. Coffee Fest Chicago commences today.
    24. Sample different Mexican cheeses and special meats in the Deli Department for Mexican Flag Day.
    25. For National Clam Chowder Day, sample this hearty soup to warm up your customers.
    26. Get to know your customers better with an in-store lifestyle poll.
    27. Highlight new products you discovered at recent shows in your monthly newsletter.
    28. In honor of National Chocolate Soufflé Day, hold a special cooking class for this decadent dessert.

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    Saturday, February 03, 2007 

    Valentine's Day is just around the corner

    and, of course, it ALWAYS means chocolate. There's a local "chocolate chef" here in Santa Barbara, Jessica Foster.
    "Raised on California’s central coast, Jessica has always appreciated the honesty of artisanal foods, the purity of organic ingredients and the simple process of creating a product by hand from start to finish. She began experimenting with chocolate in 2001, making a few truffles laced with local delicacies as gifts. Today she continues to wander the Farmers’ Market in search of fresh herbs and ripe fruit to create sumptuous flavors like dark chocolate orange, tangy meyer lemon and white chocolate lavender that reflect the vibrancy of Santa Barbara’s coastal bounty."
    She hasn't set up an "official store front" as of yet (perhaps it's the outrageous prices being asked for rents here in town) but you can find her creations at local spots such as Savoy Truffles and Lazy Acres. Oh, and her own site of course, jessicafostercreations.com Just imagine your beloved enjoying these delicious flavors:
    • dark chocolate earl grey
      dark chocolate truffle infused with earl grey tea, rolled in vanilla scented sugar
    • dark chocolate orange-ginger
      dark chocolate truffle with candied ginger and orange zest, rolled in cocoa
    • white chocolate green tea
      white chocolate truffle infused with green tea, rolled in vanilla scented sugar
    • white chocolate meyer lemon
      white chocolate truffle flavored with meyer lemon zest, rolled in meyer lemon infused sugar
    • dark chocolate rosemary
      dark chocolate truffle infused with fresh rosemary, rolled in cocoa
    • milk chocolate star anise-thyme
      milk chocolate truffle infused with star anise and fresh thyme, rolled in cocoa
    • white chocolate passion fruit
      white chocolate truffle with passion fruit juice, rolled in vanilla scented sugar

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    Thursday, February 01, 2007 

    Food IS a Spiritual thing

    I remember working Christmases at Williams Sonoma. We generally had a "waiting list" for the fruitcakes made by Trappist monks at the Assumption Abbey Monastery in the Missouri Ozarks. I'm not one for Fruitcakes, but these were terrific.

    Seems they are not alone in bringing in "the dough" by supplying wonderful edible goods.
    An Upstate New York order of monks who don't watch TV or listen to the radio will soon be going high-tech to offer their baked goods for sale on the Internet.

    Brother Paul Richards says thousands of loaves are baked at the monastery each week for sale in supermarkets in Buffalo, Syracuse, Binghamton and Erie, Pennsylvania.

    Monks' Bread fans from outside the region already can place orders using a toll-free phone line. - WCBS TV
    Others who "preach" the labor of "loaves":
    Why alot of "Trappists?"
    To a Trappist, work is a form of prayer. In fact, the cycle of public prayers the monks chant seven times daily is known as the Work of God, or Opus Dei in Latin. Trappists also pray privately at intervals throughout the day, encountering God through the ancient monastic discipline known as lectio divina, or sacred reading.
    And food stuffs are just the beginning...they have more...lots more. Monastery Greetings.

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