All Posts By Food Network Kitchen

Soylent Green is Sustainably-Raised People

by in View All Posts, August 10th, 2009

So I’ve been moving further and further into this strange, semi-justifiable food-fascist bubble, and it’s really started to color the way I see things. Since the vast majority of my groceries come from my CSA, the Union Square greenmarket, or Chelsea Market, my occasional trips to regular — or even bougie — grocery stores have turned me into the sort of person, usually a recent arrival from a Communist country, who shuffles around awkwardly in the produce aisle, baffled by the phenomenon of choice.

Except so: I write this as I try, as I have been trying for the last 13 minutes, to stir chocolate-flavored soy protein isolate into water in a manner such that it doesn’t clump. This appears to be well-nigh impossible, or at least out of my reach. Why am I drinking chocolate-flavored soy protein isolate? Because, well, recently-acquired weightlifting obsession = massive, gigantic protein needs. Would it be delightful to be able to fulfill my protein needs with trust-fund chicken from Violet Hill? Of course. Can I afford that? No. Is chocolate-flavored Soylent Green preferable in my mind to non-trust-fund chicken not from Violet Hill or similar? Hate to say it, but yes.  And so chocolate-flavored Soylent Green it is.

Though this office is a weird place to be drinking chocolate-flavored Soylent Green. I’m debating a brown paper bag for my next round.

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

It Came From The Library: On Fat

by in News, August 7th, 2009

Fat, the kind we carry around, is big news of late. A study of the astronomical price of obesity-related chronic illnesses just published in the journal Health Affairs has been focusing attention on the public costs of personal decisions and injecting obesity into the debate over healthcare reform.

The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein frames the urgency of the issue thusly:

“If trends continue, health-care costs will chew up 100 percent of the gross domestic product by the end of the century. And estimates suggest that half to two-thirds of that growth is coming from chronic diseases related to diet. We’re eating our way through the national budget.

In other words, inaction is something we as a nation can no longer afford. But what is to be done? What will it take for us to eat less? That is the subject of another report making rounds. That study, from Urban Institute, suggests that obesity poses a public health crisis of such severity that it’s now time for some tough love:

“America’s state and federal policy makers may need to consider interventions every bit as forceful as those that succeeded in cutting adult tobacco use by more than 50%”

Such ‘interventions’ would include tough labeling laws, tax subsidies to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption, and stiff excise or sales taxes on fattening foods. All of which would generate hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue, enough to pay for a whole lot of healthcare. And all of which, unfortunately, sounds more than a little pie-in-the-sky (if you will), considering the enormous political obstacles to enacting such measures.

Furthermore, if Slate’s Daniel Engber is right, the tough love prescribed by the Urban Institute is crippled by a false premise: that the fat are more of a drain on the public coffers than the rest of us. If anything, Engber argues, they save us money by sparing us the cost of all the expensive illnesses we suffer in our golden years:

“While it’s true that someone who’s grossly overweight might rack up bills for obesity-related ailments like diabetes and hypertension, those added costs would be more than offset by his shorter lifespan.”

Morbid stuff. You can follow this argument a little further here.

Policy aside, one can’t help but wonder how we got here in the first place. How, in a mere 30 years, has the average weight of an American male has grown by 17 lbs and an American female by 19 lbs? What’s changed? A spate of recent books surveyed in a must-read New Yorker article tackle just this question. Explanations range from the economic–fattening foods have become a lot cheaper–to the evolutionary-biological–we’re hard-wired to pursue the maximum calories with the minimum of effort–to the neuroscientific-corporate conspiratorial–companies have reformulated processed foods to exploit this hard-wiring.

Interestingly, as fat is demonized in Washington policy circles, ‘fat acceptance’–bolstered by recent medical studies suggesting that overweight is (contra Engber) actually ‘a protective against mortality’–may be making inroads into popular culture, according to a recent NYTimes article. Who knows, perhaps Lifetime’s plus-size heroine in “Drop Dead Diva” and Fox’s new reality show “More to Love” represent the shape of things to come. If so, it’s unlikely to faze Food Network viewers, who’ve known all along that beauty comes in all sizes.

Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian

Feeling Peachy

by in In Season, August 6th, 2009

Thou shalt not covet. I know this. But lately I’ve been feeling peachy, making it very hard not to envy my neighbor in our community garden who had the good foresight to plant a peach tree last year.

So I’m using my neighbor’s peaches as inspiration to plot my own mini-orchard. If you’re similarly inspired, now is the time to start thinking about what fruit trees you might want to plant this fall, or next spring. Spring (in cooler climates) and fall (in warmer) are the best times to put fruit trees in the ground.

What? You don’t have room for fruit trees? Oh, but you do. Some fruit-loving geniuses have cultivated small-space, high-yielding dwarf and semi-dwarf trees that have helped many a small-space gardener get one step closer to their dream of having an orchard. What you do need is a little help from a local expert (from your local nursery, garden center or farmers’ market) who can tell you what varieties will grow best in your soil and climate.

If you have the good fortune to have a peach tree or two of your own already (or an orchard or farmers’ market nearby) don’t miss an opportunity to show off the fruits of your labor in a simple Tomato-Peach Salad or a luscious Caramel-Peach Upside Down Cake.

For inspiration and instruction on planting fruit trees at home, I recommend The Backyard Orchardist: A Complete Guide to Growing Fruit Trees in the Home Garden. And befriend a local farmer while you’re at it. They are a wealth of knowledge.

Sarah Copeland, Recipe Developer and Good Food Gardens spokesperson

The Going Gourmet

by in View All Posts, August 6th, 2009

A couple years ago, at a party, a colleague of my husband’s spent a long time urging me and Jonathan to convince FN to take its own name seriously — which is to say, make a show about the digestive process. We never managed to talk programming into it (ok, frankly, we never tried), but now there’s a cookbook that purports to handle, well, all ends of the process. This SF Chronicle interviewer is far, far, maturer than I would be — his entendre-to-sentence ratio is a downright civilized 1:1.

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

Mmm.

by in View All Posts, August 3rd, 2009
image courtesy Road To...
image courtesy Road To...

Every few months I stumble across the work of SF chef Ryan Farr, and every time I do so I’m delighted. I can’t tell if I’m more impressed by the butchery, the charcuterie, or the photography. Well played, sir.

Also, I’m pretty sure I once had a wooden dinosaur-making kit that looked not unlike that lamb carcass.

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

Paging Captain Obvious of the Obvious Brigade

by in View All Posts, July 31st, 2009

Blight or Blossom End Rot?

by in In Season, July 30th, 2009

tomato-blight-2

Thank you to the clever reader who discovered that the “blight” on Miriam’s tomatoes was not in fact late blight, but blossom end rot. Our colleague and fellow gardener Derek Flynn concurred, sending us to the photos of blight here and here, which confirm that late blight starts at the stem and works its way down, while blossom end rot shows up at the bottom of the tomato. Upon further inspection, Miriam also noted that her plants lacked the white powdery spores and brown spots on the leaves that are common symptoms of late blight.

We’re sorry if we misled you–we’re passionate and protective gardeners (and cooks), not botanists–but we want to set the record straight in case we sent you into a premature panic. The good news is, most experts report that while you have to forgo the fruit you find with blossom end rot, it doesn’t spread or infect the plant itself, and the same plant, given proper irrigation and healthy soil, may produce perfectly healthy tomatoes later in the season.

CONTINUE READING

It Came From The Library: Index Edition

by in News, July 29th, 2009

The first in an occasional ‘from the Library’ series wherein statistics caught in our weekly troll of the food media are offered up in highly digestible, if occasionally provocative, bits.

Number of national chain grocery stores in Detroit: 0

Percentage of total antibiotics used in the United States that is fed to healthy chickens, pigs and cattle: 70

Approximate annual weight of these antibiotics: 24 million lbs

Estimated total Americans spend on weight-loss products per year: $35 billion

Percent increase in American obesity rates between 1998 and 2006: 37

Percent by which the medical expenses of an obese American exceeds that of normal-weight Americans: 42

Estimated medical spending on obesity-related conditions in the U.S. in 2008: $147 billion

Percent of all medical spending that figure represents: 10

Estimated increase in the number of Americans suffering from gout in the last 30 years: 100%

Estimated increase in the number of calories the average American consumes per day over the last 20 years: 250

Estimated weight loss if the average American substituted water for sweetened beverages: 15 lbs

Estimated 10-year revenue from a 10% sales tax on fattening foods as defined by a national standard recently adopted by Great Britain: $522 billion

Estimated 10-year cost of healthcare reform: $1 trillion

Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian

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