Friday Faves No. 168

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

image via Downeast Magazine

image via Downeast Magazine


In a central Maine warehouse, the fungus–loving partners of Cap N’ Stem are running Maine’s weirdest farm. And it's pretty cool. (Downeast)

We know about the terrible conditions that farmworkers can be subjected to, but did you know labor and human rights abuses are happening on fishing boats based out of US ports? "For many boat owners, the fishermen are a bargain: Bait and ice can cost more than crew salaries. Some of the men in Hawaii earn less than $5,000 for a full year. By contrast, the average pay for an American deckhand nationwide last year was $28,000, sometimes for jobs that last just a few months, according to government statistics. Experienced American crew members working in Alaska can make up to $80,000 a year." (Star Advertiser)

*By week's end Whole Foods had dropped fish from Hawaii. (Undercurrent)

'Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman': Conservation In America's Heartland A full radio hour on the challenges: the rancher, farmer, fisherman view of conserving our environmental future. (On Point)

Cultural appropriation, again. Why You Should Care About the Bon Appetit Pho Uproar "I think eating a delicious pho that satisfies you is more important than eating an authentic pho....But in addition to the quest for delicious, some other things matter too — like history and culture. Context matters, and sensitivity matters. When you’re talking about (and eating, and making) food, you’re dealing with the lifeblood of people. A lot of times, just giving credit — and if possible, some monetary sharing — to people you learned from is helpful." (Paste)

Cleaning the bay, oyster style:  NYC’s newest oyster bed is 50,000 mollusks and 5,000 old public school toilets. (Washington Post)

Why Farm-to-Institution Sourcing is the Sleeping Giant of Local Food The farm-to-institution market holds more power to benefit farmers and fisherman than any other local food market. (Civil Eats)

Making the old new again is always eco: How to refurbish a vintage cast iron skillet (Gear Patrol)

Friday Faves No. 155

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

For Rockfish, A Tale Of Recovery, Hidden On Menus The slipperiest part of fish is sometimes the name. We have to agree with John Rorapaugh: "And a little tableside education could quickly help consumers get over the unfamiliarity factor, adds John Rorapaugh, owner of a seafood wholesaler and distributor in Washington, D.C., called ProFish. "I think it's more interesting to use the real names," Rorapaugh says. "If you have thornyhead rockfish on the menu, it will start a conversation." (NPR)

Note to seafood producers — time to start upgrading your communication and storytelling “The biggest factors driving the use of farmed seafood in restaurants are pricing, consistency and availability...But chefs still need to be convinced that farming seafood is an ecologically sound practice.” says the report's author. "That data becomes even more interesting when combined with another finding from the survey: 44 percent of participating chefs said they preferred researching seafood sustainability online, versus 33 percent of chefs who preferred getting information from suppliers, vendors and visits to sources." (Seafood Source) 

Oaxaca’s Native Maize Embraced by Top Chefs in U.S. and Europe "In New York, Los Angeles and beyond, a taste for high-quality Mexican food and its earthy centerpiece, the handmade tortilla, has created a small but growing market for the native, or landrace, corn that is central to life in these plains and to Mexican identity." (New York Times)

Nestlé admits slavery in Thailand while fighting child labour lawsuit in Ivory Coast The company has won plaudits for its admission of forced labour in the Thai seafood industry but much of the supply chain remains hidden. (Guardian)

‘Forked’ Rates Restaurants On How They Treat Their Workers "One in 12 working Americans work in this industry, [and] 1 in 2 Americans have worked in [a restaurant] in their lifetime. But it has continued to be one of the absolute lowest paying employers in the U.S. For every year that the Department of Labor lists the 10 worst paid jobs, seven are, every year, restaurant jobs." (KQED)

Friday Faves No. 154

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

The art of the perfect bit goes super-artsy with teeny, tiny food installations, like the one above. (Eater)

Refugees solve farm worker shortage: From Bhutan to New York’s Dairy Heartland "The men were once farmers, and then spent 20 years in refugee camps in Nepal, unable to hold legal jobs. Now they worked wordlessly alongside two other milkers, both Mexican immigrants, in practiced repetition. The raw product would soon supply a cross-cultural dairy case: Siggi’s, an Icelandic-style yogurt; Norman’s kosher Greek yogurt; and eggnog for Pittsford Farms Dairy." (New York Times)

Activists Demand a Bill of Rights for California Farmworkers "Many of the bill’s items – which are grouped into wage theft, safety and health, and overwork – simply demand that existing laws be enforced, like respecting required rest breaks and penalizing employers who steal wages. It also calls for educating farmworkers on their rights and establishing a complaint hotline." (KQED)

A New York food institution that was accessible to all of us fades into the history of a quirkier, more fabulous, and less chain-store dominated Manhattan as Broadway Panhandler prepares to close. “'My first question is, ‘What do you like to cook?’...We can help tailor a purchase to suit a customer’s needs instead of just selling sets. We’re more traditional, with just one store. As independent stores disappear, people are going to remember them fondly.'” (New York Times)

The surprising truth about the ‘food movement’ (which probably isn't that surprising): people like to give the right answers more than they like to do the right thing. (Washington Post)

Shrimp oasis: Sahara desert opens biofloc shrimp farm  "The shrimp farm uses underground salty water beneath the oases of the world’s largest desert. Algeria's portion of the Sahara Desert has an extensive underground water source beneath its sand layers, with a salt concentration of 4~5 percent, suitable for the shrimp farm, ministry officials said." (Yon Hap News via Undercurrent)

Friday Faves No. 134

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

The house that Champagne built: a Russian man has built a house made almost entirely of Champagne bottles in the city of Chelyabinsk, where it is known as the “Palace of Oz.” It took 12,000 bottles, so you'd better start drinking if you want one of your own.(Drinks Business)

In hard new this week, the seafood world has been called out in an new AP Investigation: Are slaves catching the fish you buy? (AP)

Is the Strawberry Field The Next Farmworkers’ Rights Battleground? It's not just hard work, it's literaly poison: "Roman Pinal, the Southern California regional director for the United Farm Workers (UFW), says strawberry pickers are more susceptible to pesticide exposure than the average farmworker because the fields are more densely planted than other crops, meaning chemicals are being sprayed or are drifting closer to farmworkers. What’s more, compared to crops that are harvested once a season, strawberry plants produce fruit every two days—creating a situation where chemical management and harvesting occur “right on top” of each other, he says." (Civil Eats)

New waves of distilling have been a boost for rural areas, and that was the case in the 1920s and 30s too. Old Time Farm Crime: The Hooch Farmers of Templeton "Templeton Rye, “the good stuff,” was a hot commodity in Prohibition era Chicago, Kansas City and New York and its popularity helped save many a family farm in rural Northwest Iowa where the booze was illegally distilled by desperate farmers during the lean years of the 1920s and early-30s." (Modern Farmer)

'New Nordic' goes to the bar with Icelandic Birch Cocktails. (Huffington Post)

A Belgian chef Is making summer in a bottle with gin flavored with lobster. (Munchies)

Now Marriott has a magazine. You could too. Don't worry about all this new lingo. "Content" = stuff worth looking at that makes people like you. “Content marketing is a marathon; it’s not a sprint, said Lisa LaCour, vp of global marketing at content-recommendation platform Outbrain." (Digiday)

Friday Faves No. 127

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

A brief history of how the rich and poor eat in an excellent photo essay (image above). Be sure to use the center tab that drags left and right for the full picture. (Independent) 

Hardship on Mexico's farms, a bounty for U.S. tables: A new four-part series exploring how thousands of laborers at Mexico's mega-farms endure harsh conditions and exploitation while supplying produce for American consumers. "They want us to take such great care of the tomatoes, but they don't take care of us." (LATimes)

Taking the message to the people, ‘Black Brunch’ organizers put protest on the menu at restaurants in Oakland, California. (KQED)

I like pig butts and I cannot lie: 16 of the best food T-shirts you need to own  (Food & Wine)

Futuristic Fungi: Austria-based Livin Studio has created a process to cultivate edible fungi that digests plastic as it grows in photos and a video. (Dezeen)

Women's work on US farms remains under counted. "Women have always worked in agriculture, historically. I think a key issue is whether or not it's counted," says Julie Zimmerman, a rural sociologist at the University of Kentucky who studies how women's roles on the farm have changed over time. "If you see working on your farm as being part of your role as the spouse or the wife, as helping out, then you might not even recognize it as being 'working on the farm,' even if you're doing it all the time." (NPR)

Gilbert & Sullivan lives! A Champagne kerfuffle has arisen in Britain's Parliament. "During budget negotiations meant to impose some belt-tightening measures, the House of Lords refused to merge their catering services with their lowly counterparts in the House of Commons because 'the Lords feared that the quality of Champagne would not be as good if they chose a joint service.'" The Lords bought 17,000 bottles of Champagne since 2010 at a cost of $417,000. (via Wine Spectator)

Friday Faves No. 89

weekly round-up of our favorite finds from the front lines of food

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Friday Faves — notes from the new gastroconomy, No. 76

weekly round-up of our favorite finds from the front lines of food

Estonia barley bread and Latvian midsummer cheese, from Clouds

  • From what started as a trickle of enthusiasm a decade ago, Scandinavian food is now getting its own festival, North — The Nordic Food Festival in New York City this October. (Honest Cooking)
  • We find there's a lot to love from the countries up against the North Sea and the Baltic — fresh summer berries, earthy grains, tangy dairy, lots of cake. This week we wandered through some gorgeous Lithuania food blogs (some days the internet is magic like that) and found Clouds, a composite magazine with an English edition.
  • How much sense do boycotts really make? Sometimes, not much. Bars across the U.S. and around the world are boycotting Russian products—particularly Stolichnaya vodka—to protest the Russian government’s passage of laws discriminating against gay citizens and rights advocates. But as Stoli points out: a company is not a government, and doesn't necessarily have much sway. The company has also publicly supported gay rights. (Forbes)

Friday Faves — notes from the new gastroconomy, No. 70

weekly round-up of our favorite finds from the front lines of food


  • With Silver Bells and Oyster Shells (and So Their Gardens Grow) "The oyster industry has grown nearly 20 percent yearly in states like Rhode Island, Virginia, and Massachusetts, over the past decade, and owning a restaurant in which to sell the product is becoming a more common business model for oyster farmers."

Friday Faves — notes from the new gastroconomy, No. 67

 weekly round-up of our favorite finds from the front lines of food


  • The Cut Foods project (above) by photographer Beth Galton and stylist Charlotte Omnes gives a new look into the center of common foods, from donuts and coffee to soup and ice cream. "Normally for a job, we photograph the surface of food, occasionally taking a bite or a piece out, but rarely the cross section of a finished dish. Charlotte and I thought it would be interesting to explore the interiors of various foods, particularly items commonplace to our everyday life. By cutting these items in half we move past the simple appetite appeal we normally try to achieve and explore the interior worlds of these products."
  • El Bulli chef to launch cultural foundation Ferran Adrià aims to create a monument to high cuisine as fitting the legacy for a restaurant voted world's best five times. "I decided to get out of the restaurant star system...But El Bulli never closed. It is simply being transformed."
  • A portrait of the cuisine of Senegal, and the story of their indigenous rice, now under threat by GM crops. "Indigenous Senegalese rice is burgundy in color, transforming into a pale violet when cooked. In Bassene’s carefully arranged pile of rice bundles, there was an equal number of red and tawny yellow rice varieties. He explained that this was a blended variety of traditional Senegalese and Asian rice, a product of the GM crops that have begun to infiltrate the fields of western Africa just as they are the world over. ...One wondered if he felt that after such long struggles and eventual triumphs over war, slavery, and colonization, he finally felt defeated by the silent war being waged upon his fields by the pitchmen touting the virtues of GM foods. Bassene took a bundle of the red indigenous rice in his hand, gripped its base tightly, and said, “We will always prefer our own rice. We will never stop farming it.'”
  • Share: The Cookbook that Celebrates Our Common Humanity is a project of Woment for Women International (WfWI), with contributions from Annie Lennox to Aung San Suu Kyi. "Food builds our physical resilience, brings us joy, and strengthens our bonds with family and friends. What we choose to eat, and how we choose to prepare it, can also generate employment, wealth and economic stability for others."
  • A look in The Guardian at whether Food miles are missing the point: "The problem is it's far too simple. Looking only at transport costs for your food is not just to miss the bigger picture, it's to miss the picture entirely. The only way you can get some sense of the footprint of your food is by using what's called a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), which brings everything about the production of that item into play: the petrochemicals used in farming and in fertilisers, the energy to build tractors as well as to run them, to erect farm buildings and fences, and all of that has to be measured against yield. It's about emissions per tonne of apples or lamb."
  • Another reason to oppose fracking: it's messing with beer. "According to the Association of German Breweries, hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and natural gas from shale rock poses a threat to the taste of pilsner and they're campaigning against legislation to regulate the extraction process."

Friday Faves — notes from the new gastroconomy, No. 64

weekly round-up of our favorite finds from the front lines of food

  • 3D printing meets food (above). Janne Kyttanen has produced prototype printed pasta, breakfast cereal and burgers to demonstrate how advances in 3D printing could transform the way we eat (interview and slideshow). "Kyttanen, co-founder of design studio Freedom of Creation and creative director of printer manufacturer 3D Systems, told Dezeen: 'Food is the next frontier. We’re already printing in chocolate, so a lot of these things will be possible in the next few years.'"
  • What drones should be dropping: beer. In South Africa this summer, concert goers will be able to order beer on their phones that will be delivered by drone, kind of like beer from heaven.
  • Square, the mobile payment start-up firm, sets its sights on the food industry "Several months ago, Square launched a “Business in a Box” package for $249, including two card readers, an iPad stand, a cash drawer and an optional receipt printer, all wirelessly connected to the Square Register app. Last week, Square announced an update to that app designed specifically for quick-serve restaurants, allowing operators to modify orders and print kitchen tickets."
  • Flavor and Language — the eternal challenge of describing flavors in words. "I came across an interview with Harold McGee, that peerless explorer of the science of food. In it he said apropos of sauvignon blanc: ‘It is so difficult to connect particular flavours with their sources, it’s hard to really define what minerality is, or what the expression of a place in a product could actually be. And you have to ask yourself, how many times have people actually tasted minerals, like the flint from which Loire white wines are said to get their flavour? How often do you put a rock in your mouth and suck on it?’" via the excellent project Flavour First
  • Workers Claim Racial Bias in Farms’ Hiring of Immigrants “If you can’t find locals to do the work, why is the answer to bring in people who have little protection and not grant them legal status?” asked Mr. Knoepp of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “If we need them, why not bring them in and make them legal citizens with real protections? The answer is because then they wouldn’t keep working in the fields given the conditions of that work. They would do something else. It doesn’t have to be this way.”
  •  Trending: sommeliers = new food celebrities "Until recently, serious restaurants in the United States were owned by celebrity chefs, creative developers like Danny Meyer and Richard Melman, or corporate chains. But sommeliers have now begun taking the lead role, as investors make them the centerpiece of their restaurant concepts."

  • Nigeria is one of the top markets for champagne. "The figures, from research company Euromonitor, found that Nigeria had the fastest growing rate of new champagne consumption in the world, second only to France, and ahead of rapid growth nations Brazil and China, and established markets such as the US and Australia." And not only are they drinking champagne, they're making music video about it. Check out Pop Champagne

Friday Faves — notes from the new gastroconomy, No. 42

weekly round-up of our favorite finds from the front lines of food


  • Noodle-bots, taking over a Chinese noodle stand near you. In the video, you can see them (looking very vintage Lost in Space) shaving noodles right into the pot. Prep cooks everywhere, beware.
  • For pointers, and experienced words of caution, listen to the dangerous art of ham-cutting in Spain that covers the how-to's of slicing Iberian ham, which can send some 60,000 Spaniards a year to the emergency room. Maybe a ham-bot is in order.

Friday Faves — notes from the new gastroconomy, No. 32

 weekly round-up of our favorite finds from the front lines of food

  • What the Pork Fairy might get as a tattoo, on the cover of Lucky Peach food journal.
  • "Driven by a growing awareness that the only thing local in most “local” beers is the water, microbrewers all over the country have begun using regional hops, fruits and honey. Now, many are taking the next logical step and snapping up local grains." Malters Bring Terroir to the Beer Bottle: Mr. Stanley (profiled in the article) "hopes the malt revival can stem the tide of hop-heavy pale ales, enabling craft brewers to focus on malt’s sweet, rich character and, in turn, open up a new kind of terroir for American craft brewers to explore."
  • It's Pastured Poulty Week in Atlanta and Athens, Georgia with over 30 chefs serving pastured birds to introduce them to the public. Chefs explain, that means new education for both customers and staff: “A few years ago we were able to get a very small supply from a gentleman in South Georgia, and when we would serve it, people would say things like it, ‘It’s too flavorful’ — which was funny to me, because, you know, this is what chicken actually tastes like. It made us realize that,  if we were going to change people’s minds about the product, we would have to do it with some education attached.”
  • The Guardian asks: Should we be eating more goat? "When goats are bred for dairy farming, the billies are killed at birth. Why not rear them free-range for meat instead? Says one farmer: "The idea of treating my billies as a waste product doesn't sit comfortably."


Friday Faves — notes from the new gastroconomy, No. 28

a weekly round-up of our favorite finds from the front lines of food

  • "Imagine you are in a bar or at a friend's place, and you want to sabre a bottle of champagne but, tragically, there is no sabre at hand. Fear not..." So reads The Art of Champagne, Artfully Illustrated, in a style that put us in the mind of What do You Say Dear?, the volume of manners (illustrated by Maurice Sendak) which tackles such social conundrums as "You are downtown and there is a gentleman giving baby elephants to people. You want to take one home because you have always wanted a baby elephant, but firs the gentleman introduces you to each other. What do you say, dear?"

  • And now for something completely different, Crazy Orange Camo Lobster Caught Off the Coast of Maine. His crazy looked earned him a place at the New England Aquarium instead of in a Pepperidge Farm roll with a touch of mayo.
  • In a New York Times OpED Pitting Child Safety Against the Family Farm, Marjorie Elizabeth Wood takes on the red herring that legislation intended to protect farmworkers will really destroy the family farm."The same commercial forces that thwarted the Child Labor Amendment in the 1920s continue to stymie reform today. In an age when Big Agriculture still benefits from the laxity of our child labor laws, the reformers’ legacy is one we would do well to reclaim."



Friday Faves — notes from the new gastroconomy, No. 3

a weekly round-up of our favorite finds from the front lines of food