Daily Essentials | 5 June 2015

Flickr | Till Krech | CC
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JACOBIN | Why We Should Listen to Frank Lloyd Wright

Those who can afford to perhaps ought to avoid supporting producers who pollute grossly or rely on exploited labor.

But Wright knew all along that returning to an artisanal past does not and cannot advance a democratic, egalitarian project. While we might enjoy certain activities as hobbies, we are not going to shop, quilt, or homebrew our way to a better world.


NPR | THE SALT | Slavery, Famine And The Politics Of Pie: What Civil War Recipes Reveal

As the war came to an end, America got its first cookbook dedicated solely to leftovers, or rechauffes, since even leftovers taste better in French. What to Do with the Cold Mutton: A book of Rechauffes, Together with Many Other Approved Recipes for the Kitchen of a Gentleman of Moderate Income, was published in the U.S. in 1865 and was well-received. Writes Veit, “Hundreds of thousands of Northern families had lost husbands, sons, or fathers, and in many cases that meant they had lost the basis of their economic subsistence. As many Americans knew all too well, turning the scraps left from one dinner into a palatable meal the next day could mean the difference between living within one’s budgets and sliding into debt.”

But though the North was undeniably affected by the war, its plight was nowhere as desperate as the South. While Northern cookbooks continued to call for exotic foreign ingredients like spices, cayenne, pineapple and chocolate for dishes like Calcutta Curry, Mulligatawny Soup and various souffles and ragouts, their Southern counterparts were teaching people how to cure bacon without salt.

The only Southern cookbook of the war years was The Confederate Receipt Book. Published in 1863, it had a revealing subtitle: “A Compilation of over one hundred receipts adapted to the times.” And those were the worst of times, most miserably manifested in a recipe for Apple Pie without Apples: “To one small bowl of crackers that have been soaked until no hard parts remain, add one teaspoonful of tartaric acid, sweeten to your taste, add some butter, and a very little nutmeg.”

MAFES DISCOVERS | A soldier in the fight

As the world’s population accelerates toward nine billion, scientists search for ways to improve efficiencies in food production systems. One possible solution centers on the black soldier fly, which turns agricultural waste into viable protein that can be used in feed for livestock such as chickens.

The insect looks more like a wasp than a housefly, yet doesn’t possess the negative traits commonly associated with either of those insects. Unlike the wasp, the black soldier fly does not sting. Since it doesn’t feed as an adult, the black soldier fly carries no disease, and it’s not attracted to domestic environments, unlike the common housefly.

In order for the black soldier fly to be integrated as feed for a food production system, large numbers of the insects must be produced and raised. Rearing the insect in captivity is a challenge. This is where MSU researchers in the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station play a role.

WANT CHINA TIMES | Guangzhou plans fly farm for garbage disposal

The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou is planning to farm the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) to help rid the city of its kitchen waste, local authorities told Xinhua on Sunday.

The fly larvae raised at the farm are expected to eat 200 to 400 tonnes of rubbish each day, according to the urban management commission of Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province.

The farm will be located in Chini town under Huadu district and will mainly process garbage produced by the city’s restaurants and household kitchens, the commission said.

THE ASIAN AGE | Food is culture too, and freedom of culture is a fundamental right

Food taboos are an old reality in India. We’ve all heard stories of cranky people turning away prospective tenants if they eat fish or meat. Many of us have experienced the rejection at first hand. However, it’s one thing for a cranky individual to be biased and discriminatory, and quite another for the state to start supporting such bias and discrimination. This is what has been happening in recent months in several Indian states ruled by the BJP.

The banning of meat of bullocks and oxen by the Maharashtra and Haryana governments was the first recent intimation of the state pushing a food taboo. The story was sold as the banning of cow slaughter, in an attempt to gain Hindu support. Cow slaughter had already been banned in Haryana since 1955 and Maharashtra since 1976. The bullock and ox are not considered holy by Hindus. The legal justification for the ban is therefore being found in terms of preventing cruelty to animals.

People in this country eat many other animals too. Goats and chickens are eaten all over India. The Northeast of the country loves its pork and beef. At one time, in some places, dogs were also eaten. In Bihar, there is a community called the Musahars that used to eat rats, and still does. Former chief minister Jitan Ram Majhi is from that community. … Vegetarianism is a tradition in the Jain community. Hindu Brahmins in several parts of India are also traditionally vegetarians. However, not all Brahmins are vegetarians – Brahmins in Bengal and Kashmir were never vegetarians. All Brahmin communities in Maharashtra and Goa are not vegetarians. Outside the Brahmin caste, most Hindu communities were never vegetarian. Coastal communities have generally been eaters of fish, whether it is in Maharashtra or Tamil Nadu or Orissa. The fish is a part of rituals in Bengali weddings.

WRAL | Lawmakers override McCrory veto on controversial ‘ag-gag’ bill

Both the state House and Senate voted Wednesday to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of House Bill 405, a law that proponents say protects private property rights but opponents say muzzles whistleblowers.

Dubbed an “ag-gag” measure by its critics, the bill gives businesses the right to sue employees who expose trade secrets or take pictures of their workplaces. Animal rights groups say the measure is aimed at curbing the kind of undercover investigations that have exposed abusive practices in factory farms and slaughterhouses.

NPR | THE SALT | California’s War Over Water Has Farmer Fighting Farmer

Most of the Delta’s small, family farms trace back to the Gold Rush, when the wetlands were dammed and levies were built to grow food to feed the miners. It was only later that the federal government began pumping water from here, through canals, to farms in more arid areas hundreds of miles to the south.

“The problem started when they just started over-exporting water from the Delta, you need fresh water in the Delta, or you’re gonna kill it,” Mussi says.


WHOLE FOOD HEALTH SOURCE | STEPHEN GUYENET | Insulin Resistance Predicts a Variety of Age-related Diseases

In the last post, I reviewed a study by Gerald Reaven’s group showing that insulin resistance strongly predicts the risk of cardiovascular disease over a 5-year period. In 2001, Reaven’s group published an even more striking follow-up result from the same cohort. This study shows that not only does insulin resistance predict cardiovascular disease risk, it also predicts a variety of age-related diseases, including hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and even overall mortality risk.


APPLIED MYTHOLOGY | STEVE SAVAGE | Organic Offshoring: As Demand Rises, Increase In Imports Poses Safety Risks

There is a trend in the organic food industry with the potential to damage the entire Organic brand. This risk was highlighted by a recent Canadian Food Inspection Authority decision to institute mandatory mycotoxin screening of corn imported from India. This began after CFIA found dangerous levels of aflatoxin in shipments intended for organic chicken feed.
A little background on aflatoxin. It is one of the most toxic and carcinogenic chemicals known. It is the third highest cause of cancer death world wide. Aflatoxin is a serious threat to health. So – highly toxic feed transported half way around the world seems seriously “off-brand” for organic. It should. Many consumers willingly pay a price premium based on their belief that organic means safer/better. That trust is being seriously violated by the phenomenon behind the recent Canadian incidents.

THE NEW YORK TIMES | White House Meeting Elicits Pledges to Reduce Antibiotic Use

The Obama administration convened representatives of hospitals, food producers, professional medical societies and restaurant chains on Tuesday and extracted pledges to reduce the use of lifesaving antibiotics, whose effectiveness is waning because of overuse. The meeting at the White House highlighted the problem of antibiotic resistance, a public health crisis that every year kills at least 23,000 of the more than two million Americans who fall ill from infections that are impervious to the drugs.

… “There’s no single event that turns the tide, but cumulatively I don’t think anyone has ever put this kind of focus on antibiotic resistance before,” said Allan Coukell, senior director for health programs at the Pew Charitable Trusts, who participated in the meetings.

A number of food producers, including Foster Farms, Perdue and Tyson Foods, had independently announced plans to eliminate from their processes antibiotics of the same kind that people take, as major customers like McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A have pressed for antibiotic-free meat. Consumer demand for drug-free meat has soared and often seems to be driving change at a faster pace than the efforts of federal agencies. Both Tyson and Foster Farms took part in the White House forum on Tuesday.

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