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Archive for July, 2007

mad carrot disease?

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

Huh?! Do you mean carotenosis? Nope!

It turns out soil may be the ultimate breeding ground for highly potent forms of the prions responsible for Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (aka “mad cow disease”).

The details, published in the Public Library of Science Pathogens journal, are all here as a PDF. This more accessible article describes the study in layman’s terms and explains how the findings were unexpected.

So, should we concern ourselves? As long as you’re washing your veggies well, probably not. The greater issue may be “leaching from landfills,” according to this brief recap from Environmental Science and Technology online.

Speaking of crazy, check out the size of these monsters! I picked up this zucchini for $2 at the farmers’ market yesterday, along with the Japanese eggplant, the garlic (oh, so sweet!), the hot peppers, and the other squashes, a huge pattypan and the bi-colored one (a zephyr?). That papaya is from the grocery and is equivalent to about three or four of the regular ones.

The apples, oranges, and banana are for scale.

What do you think? Am I having too much fun on this simultaneously sunny and rainy Saturday?

(Went looking for a rainbow, but don’t see one.)

Organic Guidelines

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

All indications point to a continuing upward trend in consumer, and by extension big business, interest in organic foods. Take, for example, the case of Walmart. Or, in the New England states where I live, McDonald’s deal with Vermont-based Green Mountain Coffee Roasters to supply Newman’s Own Organics coffee to the clown.

We are all aware of the benefits to the environment and our health from the absence of chemical pesticides and herbicides in and on our food (and rivers, etc.). Well, even better, of late, studies are showing there is additional merit by way of an increase in phytonutrients. In the March issue of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, an analysis of organically versus conventionally grown kiwis found the former to contain greater levels of both minerals and antioxidants. Similar results were obtained in a 10-year comparison study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

So, what exactly does organic mean? The USDA’s National Organic Program provides the technical details (or should that be technicalities?). And organic.org has a pretty site with a friendly feel, for a more general overview.

However, if you believe, as many do, that the trends just described spell trouble for the organic label, then the activist slant of the Organic Consumers Association could be just what you seek. And there’s the tough Cornucopia Institute, a self-described corporate watchdog for organic integrity.

Organic food is still often cost-prohibitive for quite a few health-conscious shoppers. This may change as demand increases. In the meantime, discussion of this conundrum among vegetarians, especially raw foodists, remains at a fever pitch, and it’s little wonder, given the massive quantities of fruits and veggies we consume. To help, I’d like to offer a simple suggestion for which foods it is more important to incur the expense and which can be safely purchased as conventionally grown.

Personally, I have been guided by the Dirty Dozen list compiled by the Environmental Working Group, with special emphasis on what I eat daily. These I try to get organic. Don’t fret if you see some of your favorites on the left, as there is also really good news on the right! :)

For the criteria used in determining the rankings
and to get a wallet card, click the image.


Friday, July 13th, 2007

It’s Friday the 13th! :O

The title is Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day and is defined as “a morbid fear of the number 13 or the date Friday the 13th.” If you’re only afraid of the date and not the number, you have a more specialized case known as paraskavedekatriaphobia.

Is there a connection to be made to food here? Not sure. I’d just suggest staying at home and curling up with the darkest chocolate treat you can find or even some raw cacao nibs. ;)

There is, however, an important link with recent chess history. On this ominous day in October 2006, the World Chess Championship Reunification match between Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov was decided in a tense series of tie-break games. My man, Vlad, emerged the victor.

But, I know most of you don’t come here for the chess, so I’ll leave with you with a little gem that looks like it could have potential. Just discovered this site with its clever name (think disco [though I'm sure they'd prefer only some of the connotations of that moniker be associated with their site. Maybe fun and community?])

Anyway, their goal is a laudable one, “to have the most comprehensive directory of restaurants available.” But, it doesn’t end there. And this is where I’m really drawn to their story as a fellow software developer. They are taking their experience investigating the Netflix Prize and incorporating not only reviews and forums, but working the ratings back into a “collaborative filtering” system to make recommendations, ala Amazon. So, head on over, lend your support, and add some local (vegetarian!) restaurants.

PCRM Endorsement

Friday, July 6th, 2007

I am so excited! I was just notified today that the good doctor, Neal Barnard, M.D., founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), has reviewed my cookbook and found it worthy. Here is what he had to say, with his permission to quote:

“Vegan Done Light serves up innovative recipes that promote good health. Author Erin Dame delivers on his philosophy that ‘Good, healthy vegan cooking is a creative adventure.’ Every recipe in this short collection is likely to become a favorite. The ability to easily purchase and quickly download this book adds to its value.”

This calls for celebration! How about some Roots RAWk Reggae? :)

Live at the Stardust Club, Exeter, Devon, England 1976

My Cookbook:

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