I'm crazy about Summer for many reasons, a major one being the season's amazing selection of stone fruits and berries. So I was beyond excited when a close friend surprised me with a new cookbook that takes advantage of my love for fruit: Chez Panisse Desserts ($20.70). This book, which is over 20 years old, is one in a series of seven cookbooks from the kitchen of Chez Panisse, the legendary Alice Waters restaurant that's known as the birthplace of California cuisine. It's authored by Lindsey Shere, who was the pastry chef at the restaurant for more than two decades. Did its seasonal dessert recipes make for a compelling cookbook? Find out when you read more
Chipotle doesn't just want to feed its customers — it wants to educate them, too. The fast-casual food chain has teamed up with Magnolia Pictures, Participant Media, and River Road Entertainment to promote Food, Inc., a documentary that exposes issues with the food industry in America. Beginning today, Chipotle Mexican Grill will host free screenings of the film. In addition, the eatery will advertise Food, Inc. with printed material in its 800-plus stores and prepare a bonus feature about sustainable agriculture to be included in the DVD when it is released later this year.
"Chipotle is a great example of a company that's on the right track to improving our food system," director Robert Kenner said. "Chipotle's philosophy shares many of the same values expressed in Food, Inc., and we are very pleased with their support of our film." The Mexican food chain claims to use more naturally raised poultry and pork than any other restaurant worldwide. It also sources ingredients locally whenever possible and buys 35 percent of its beans from organic producers. This promotion is a smart strategy: if Chipotle's devotees weren't aware of the company's sustainable practices yet, they will be now.
Did you know Chipotle was so dedicated to sustainability? Will you attend a free Food, Inc. screening?
Photo by flickr user Photo2217
I'm completely serious when I tell people that the Ferry Plaza farmers market is a major reason why I live in San Francisco — it would not be an overstatement to say that the first time I went there, it changed my view of eating. So I could barely contain my excitement when the market's organizer, the Center For Urban Education and Sustainable Agriculture, or CUESA, announced it would be instituting a Thursday farmers market with an emphasis on artisanal street food. I took a trip over during my lunch break to see what the hype was all about. Learn more about the street food market — only in its second week of existence! — when you read on.
If you didn't get your fill of celebrations and libations over Memorial Day weekend, there's plenty more going on, from craft beer tastings to Champagne parties. What will you be attending this week? Feel free to share any other events you're looking forward to below!
- The Woodlands, TX: Wine & Food Week — May 26-31
- Houston, TX: Tour de Champagne — May 28
- Augusta, NJ: Crawfish Fest — May 29-31
- Vashon Island, WA: Slow Food Seattle Spring With Seabreeze Farm — May 30
- Washington DC: Savor Craft Beer — May 30
- Miami, FL: Slow Food Miami Picnic & Pie Contest — May 30
- Toms River, NJ: New Jersey State Chili & Salsa Cookoff — May 30
- Franklin, AL: Franklin Food & Spirits Festival — May 30-31
To see the rest, read more
In addition to being captured in photos by National Geographic, the sustainable food crisis is also the focus of a new documentary. Magnolia Pictures' Food, Inc. is a call to action to change the way America eats. It discusses food consumption today, its heavy dependence on corn, its ties to national policy, and its inevitable impact on our nation's health.
Based on the book Food, Inc. (and similar to The Omnivore's Dilemma), the premise of this film appears to be similar: the country's food system, with its focus on making food bigger, cheaper, and faster, is making America sick. The movie also addresses the contamination issues plaguing the nation and the enormous power wielded by US food corporations, with sustainable food poster boys Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser making appearances in the documentary.
If you haven't seen it yet, below is the trailer for the film, which debuts in select cities June 12. Do you think this documentary will prove to be as influential as proponents are hoping it to be? Will you go see it?
How do you know that Summer's just a few weeks away? When there's a seemingly endless list of epicurean events and food festivals. We can hardly straddle them all, but have plans to hit up San Francisco Cocktail Week, shake hands with sake brewers at the Joto Sake Tasting, slurp a few slippery ones at Oysterfest, and swirl Sauvignon Blanc at the Uncorked! Wine Festival. What events are you penciling in? Tell us what you're tasting below!
- Buckhannon, WV: West Virginia Strawberry Festival — May 13-17
- San Francisco, CA: Joto Sake Tasting — May 14
- Memphis, TN: World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest — May 14-16
- San Francisco, CA: San Francisco Strawberry Week — May 14-24
- St. Pete Beach, FL: Tampa Bay Wine & Food Festival — May 15-16
- Monterey, CA: Monterey Bay Aquarium's Cooking for Solutions — May 15-16
- Dermott, AR: Dermott Crawfish Festival — May 15-16
- Magnolia, AR: Magnolia Blossom Festival & Steak Cook-Off — May 15-16
- Pasadena, TX: Pasadena Strawberry Festival — May 15-17
- Little Rock, AR: Greek Food Fest — May 15-17
- Paso Robles, CA: Paso Robles Wine Festival — May 15-17
- Lodi, CA: Lodi ZinFest — May 15-17
- San Francisco, CA: San Francisco OysterFest — May 16
- San Francisco, CA: Uncorked! Wine Festival — May 16
To see the rest, read more
Two days ago, Oprah offered her viewers a free coupon for KFC's new grilled chicken — complete with sides and biscuit. The promotion took off, and by the next day, Oprah's KFC coupons were the fifth most popular search on Google. But rather than getting recognition for offering her viewers bargain bites, Oprah's fallen under fire for the move.
Last year, the talk show guru was named PETA's Person of the Year for exposing the cruelty of the factory farm industry. But KFC buys its meat from Tyson, a company that has come under attack for supporting CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations). This conflict of interest has sent environmental media outlets into outrage; sustainable food blog Civil Eats called the free KFC offer "Oprah's most hypocritical move yet."
Moreover, the free KFC coupons have caused upheaval in stores. The demand for free chicken has overwhelmed many KFC franchisees: one manager at a midtown Manhattan outpost told customers the promotion was over for the day, prompting patrons redeeming coupons to hold a sit-in, refusing to leave the store until they received free chicken.
After all the backlash, I can't help but wonder whether Oprah regrets promoting the offer. Did you partake in the promotion? Do you think the free grilled chicken giveaway was a mistake on her part?
Though organic produce has been at the forefront of the food movement over the last handful of years, sustainable seafood has only recently gained much-needed attention. Fishing practices for some of America's most popular seafood choices (salmon, eel, Chilean sea bass) are putting seafood populations in peril, interrupting aquatic habitats, and causing damaging water pollution.
I'll be the first to admit that it can be hard to keep track of what seafood is and isn't environmentally sound to eat, since it depends on the way it's caught and where it comes from. For those in question, you can always refer to the Seafood Watch, an advisory that will tell you what's OK to eat and what's off-limits. Don't forget these seven surefire seafood options that are, for the most part, always sustainably sound.
For the second season in a row, commercial salmon fishing will be nonexistent in California and Oregon, following a drastic drop in salmon spawn. On Wednesday, a federal agency recommended a ban on commercial catching of salmon off the coast of California and southern Oregon, prompting the Pacific Fishery Management Council to cancel the commercial salmon fishing season. The National Marine Fisheries Service is expected to finalize the decision next month. Last Fall, the number of Chinook salmon that made their way up the Sacramento rivers were at their lowest levels ever recorded. "There are just no fish," said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. "If they allowed any fishing, they would be putting at risk future fishing."
The ban will be lifted for a few exceptions (a 10-day sporting season in select areas of California, and, in Oregon, hatchery-raised coho salmon from July to September), but the industry is concerned. Even without fishing this season, the salmon count will barely reach the council's minimum goal of 122,000 fish.
Researchers attribute the sharp decline of salmon to destruction of river habitat and increasingly troublesome ocean and river conditions. As we mentioned a while back, Atlantic salmon and all farmed salmon are some of the worst choices for the environment because typical salmon farming operations consume more fish than they produce. Although I was aware that certain types of salmon were more sustainable than others, I wasn't aware of the gravity of the situation. In light of the stark news, will you be more prudent when it comes to eating salmon?
With the slow food movement gaining momentum and the Obamas planting a vegetable garden at the White House, people are focusing on food now more than ever. So much so that the New York Times asks if we are witnessing a food revolution. Considering that all I think about every day is food and that I live in San Francisco — the epicenter of the farm-to-table movement — it's hard for me to tell. That's why I'm asking you: do you think we're in the middle of a food revolution?