This month Kate eyes new trends for 2008, offers insights into what's really "Green", recommends a green way to cook, and inspires you with easy culinary quotes. Also, get ready for Super Bowl with Kate's What to Eat This Month.
by Kate Heyhoe
This year, cooking comes with greater awareness. Jumpstarted in recent years by Warren Buffet and the Gates Foundation, George Clooney's plea for Darfur, issues raised by The Omnivore's Dilemma, and Al Gore's leadership with global warming, the national mindset is increasingly aimed at connecting with bigger issues. As the year progresses, I'll be covering the emerging trends behind what we eat and how we cook it, both at GlobalGourmet.com and at NewGreenBasics.com.
It doesn't take a soothsayer to predict that 2008 will be even "greener" than 2007. Ariana Huffington observed that conspicuous consumption has been replaced by conspicuous conservation, not the least of which was 2007's $15 canvas shopping bag that reads "I'm not a plastic bag."
Green is the "new and improved," as the New York Times points out (12/13/07). But dig past the crisp, green, environmentally-friendly claims, and you often hit spoilage. Pesticide-free bamboo and hemp grow faster than cotton, making them good fabric choices. BUT: They're tough enough to need chemical softening before weaving into fabric, thereby causing more pollution. Soy fabrics are naturally soft, but wear out faster.
Maybe Kermit is right when he says it's not easy being green. Going green is all about making choices, but some green choices can be clear as mud. (Especially when greedy little monsters jump into the fray.) I predict 2008 will be the "Year of Green Scrutiny." Here's what I mean:
Green Watch Dogs: How do you know if the milk you're buying truly is organic? The Cornucopia Institute (www.cornucopia.org) is one resource that tracks the truth when it comes to organic claims. Currently, it's filed a series of lawsuits accusing Wal-Mart, Costco, Target, Safeway, and Wild Oats of consumer fraud for marketing suspect organic milk. Essentially, the suit claims the largest provider of private-label organic milk, Aurora Dairy Corporation, willfully violated several conditions required of the USDA "organic" regulations. Wild Oats has since switched providers of its organic milk products, and others are likely to do so as well. Expect to see more from The Cornucopia Group and other consumer advocate watchdogs specializing in "green" and "organic" claims as the market for these products explodes.
CFL Scrutiny: We're all so eager to go green that sometimes the details fall through the cracks. Like the fact that energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs contain small amounts of mercury, sending municipalities on new hazardous waste round-up efforts. Mercury in landfills can contaminate soil and water, so don't toss these bulbs in the trash, and if one breaks, open the window for about 10 minutes. Bottom line: CFL's are still better for the environment than other bulbs, and manufacturers are working to reduce the amount of mercury. To dispose of them properly, contact your local recycling agency, and even some big-box stores now offer CFL drop-offs.
Finally, trust in all Chinese products is failing, and "Chinese organics" may prove to be a complete oxymoron. Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and big-box stores sell organic products that originate in China, a country which continues to fire DDT and pesticide barrages into its conventional growing. While the USDA relies on third party certifiers to confirm imported products meet organic standards, Chinese farmers say that the level of fraud is high, and pesticide grown crops are regularly sold as organic. So are the pricey organics you buy "clean" or not? And if they come from China, how can you tell? Critics point out that China's deeply tainted soils, seas, and air make it inherently impossible to grow "organics" there, even without added pesticides. Plus, workers earn what is akin to slave wages. Stay tuned. This will be one of the biggest hot button issues of the year.
Chances are you either have a dusty old Crock-Pot lurking deep inside your cabinets, or you've picked up a new slow cooker over the holidays. Now's the time to plug in this trusty piece little appliance—not just to cozy up with comfort food, but also because it's such a remarkably energy efficient way to cook. Slow cookers (Crock-Pot is a brand name) come with all sorts of features, including Rival's Versaware Pro Crock-Pot, which lets you brown foods in the cooking insert, directly on the stovetop. Here's a list of featured slow cooker recipes:
Now that the holiday feeding frenzy is over, sit back and digest with a few bon mots from days gone by:
Statistics show that of those who contract the habit of eating, very few survive.
—Wallace Irwin (1876-1959)
A pate is nothing more than a French meat loaf that's had a couple of cocktails.
Some people like to eat octopus. Liberals, mostly.
Mayonnaise: One of the sauces that serve the French in place of a state religion.
—Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1906)
I will never eat fish eyeballs, and I do not want to taste anything commonly kept as a house pet, but otherwise I am a cinch to feed.
It is so beautifully arranged on the plate—you know someone's fingers have been all over it.
Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.
—Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Suit up for Super Bowl!
February 3, 2008 at Glendale (Phoenix area), Arizona.
In 1996 we did our first Super Bowl recipe picks for the game held in Tempe, Arizona. This year the big game will also be held in Arizona—but, even if you're not into football, pump up your week, and your weekends, with these tasty bites from our classic Southwestern Super Bowl Party.
Also visit our main Super Bowl page for more links and party recipes.
Also a Super Bowl party dish...
Copyright © 2008, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created January 2008
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