The silver bullet

Posted by on Nov 16, 2015 | 0 comments

We’ve known for a few decades now that fiber (particularly soluble fiber—the kind you get from fruits and veggies, not from Metamucil) is magic. It’s the easiest way to lower cholesterol without drugs, since it binds to cholesterol from bile acids on the way out of the digestive tract. Eating it makes us less likely to get colon cancer, diabetes, and heart disease (among other things). But every day we learn a little more about it. This article is an interesting summary of one rich area of current study: how fiber affects our microbiome. You may already know that our gut holds 3...

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Coffee, kickstarting rural economies in Nepal

Posted by on Aug 13, 2012 | 0 comments

At the moment I’m in Nepal, investigating the burgeoning coffee industry. I was involved with a Nepali coffee program 4-5 years back, helping with the country’s first shipments of coffee to the U.S. market (thanks to a generous buyer who was as interested in helping farmers here as he was in getting good coffee and developing a nascent export market). Now after helping out another high-end coffee company in the U.S. as they sought to learn about Nepali coffee, I’m back to see what has changed in the past few years. In between trekking in the Himalayas and riding elephants...

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Roasting in New York

Posted by on Aug 5, 2012 | 0 comments

This summer has hit record high temperatures all over the U.S., and New York is no exception–so it seem like the wrong time to experiment in the kitchen with new cooking techniques that require a hot oven. (On the positive side, the oven preheats quickly when the air in my kitchen is already a hundred degrees.) Still, a little sweat can’t stop me when I’m on a mission, and for me, coffee is a mission. Molly from Singing Rooster is responsible for it. I’ve been buying green beans from her for a while now and playing with different home roasting techniques. She recently...

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Good riddance, pig McCrates

Posted by on Feb 14, 2012 | 0 comments

McDonald’s just announced that they’re asking all suppliers to plan to phase out gestation crates, starting in June. Now, let’s face it, despite the popular (and somewhat disturbing) McRib, which seems to come and go from the restaurant’s menus in line with commodity pig prices, McD’s is not known for its pork products the way it’s known for its beef burgers and chicken-like McNuggets. It goes through a lot of bacon and sausage in it  breakfast products, however (as much as one percent of the U.S. pork supply), and its main supplier, Smithfield Farms (not...

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On food and love

Posted by on Feb 13, 2012 | 0 comments

In the 1920s, an advertising campaign of the struggling U.S. avocado industry proclaimed indignantly, “There is absolutely NO conclusive evidence that avocados are an aphrodisiac!” Sales skyrocketed. Obviously we don’t need evidence to feed the human love affair with aphrodisiacs. Admittedly, the U.S. avocado industry didn’t invent that tale entirely: the Aztecs had said the same thing five centuries before. The Nahuatl term for the avocado tree, on which the fruits dangle in suggestive pairs, is the “ahuacahuatl,” or testicle tree. Aztec custom went so...

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Small farmers, Monsanto, and recent trends in transgenic crops

Posted by on Feb 10, 2012 | 1 comment

Manhattan seems an odd place for a protest by North America’s small farmers. But they were up in arms earlier this week, silently protesting in Foley Square that they’re unable to keep genetically modified, or “transgenic,” crops from their fields. The big issue is pollen drift from other farms. Wind carries pollen from crops like alfalfa, corn, and grass into neighboring fields, where it fertilizes the next generation of seed with the modified genes. Organic farmers and small farmers who don’t trust transgenic seed (which has been linked to herbicide resistance...

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Sugar cravings

Posted by on Feb 4, 2012 | 0 comments

On Thursday, the journal Nature published a brief comment about sugar by three faculty from UC San Francisco, who argue that sugar should be regulated by governments worldwide and severely limited in the foods we eat. They’re not crazy. There’s increasing evidence linking sugar consumption to diseases that we always thought were related to fat consumption–diabetes, hypertension, lipid problems, cardiovascular disease, and fatty liver disease, all components of what we now call “metabolic syndrome.” We’ve recently begun to understand that sugar may be even...

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I scream, you scream…

Posted by on Jan 30, 2012 | 0 comments

An ice-cream-loving reader in Ghana recently wrote to us about a woman he saw in the streets selling homemade ice cream: “Honey ice cream – I think I tasted cinnamon or nutmeg, but it was very subtle. It was dense, too…might be worth playing around with coconut/soy/condensed milk. There was also something almost fruity to it….maybe orange peel?” I for one wasn’t surprised to hear about this enterprising woman, as cultures in hot climes have been refreshing themselves with frozen foods for millennia. In fact, every culture wants to claim ice cream for its...

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