Daily Essentials | 7 May 2015


SAVEUR: Sopa Seca (Mexican Noodle Casserole)

This recipe from cookbook author Diana Kennedy is a comforting casserole dense with thin fideo noodles bathed in chile sauce. Serve it with a salad or pickled chiles on the side. This recipe first appeared in our August/September 2012 issue with Beth Kracklauer’s article The Expat.

SCIENCE 2.0: New Evidence In Favor Of Healthier Kids’ Menus

Contrary to popular belief, more healthy kids’ meals were ordered after a regional restaurant chain added more healthy options to its kids’ menu and removed soda and fries, researchers from ChildObesity180 at Tufts University Friedman School reported today in the journal Obesity. Including more healthy options on the menu didn’t hurt overall restaurant revenue, and may have even supported growth.

UCS | THE EQUATION: School Lunch: The Half Truth about Whole Grains

So what exactly does whole-grain rich mean? Naturally, before doing some research, I assumed that “whole-grain-rich” meant 100 percent whole grains. However, the actual definition of whole grain-rich is that at least 50 percent of the grain content be whole grain. So when federal requirements state that 100 percent of all grains be “whole grain-rich”, it really means that 100 percent of all grains be 50 percent whole grain. Sound confusing? I agree.

Just as I was confused over the grain content in “whole grain-rich,” maybe others are too. If USDA says “whole grain-rich” and the average parent or politician hears “100 percent whole grain” they may be more likely to view the standard as an unreasonable request. Despite any confusion over terms, parents strongly support whole grain content in school meals. In a 2014 study, 64% of parents agreed that schools should be “required to provide foods made with whole grains with every meal.”

SMALL FARM FUTURE: GM and the obfuscation of science: or, the denialist Mark Lynas

In my humble opinion, both GM critics and GM proponents spend too much time arguing over what “the science says” about GM crops. The science is important for sure, but it doesn’t ‘say’ any single thing. And indeed, as eco-panglossian guru Stewart Brand sagely writes in his book Whole Earth Discipline, “nothing is fully established scientifically, ever”. Strange that in the same book he should later write “the science is in” in favour of GM crops.

Enough of this nonscience. Let us stop appealing to ‘the science’ just because it sounds grander and more objective than appealing to ‘the politics’. The issues around GM crops are political and sociological as much as scientific: the overuse of a handful of GMOs – thereby driving the rise of resistant weeds and pests, potentially transferring transgenes to wild crop relatives, and compromising human and ecosystem health – is a sociological issue.

CALVIN AND HOBBES: It must be hard to cook if you anthropomorphize vegetables
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NPR | THE SALT: Panera Is The Latest To Drop Artificial Ingredients From Its Food

This news may feel like day-old bread, but here goes: Panera Bread is shaking up the fast-casual eatery world with its announcement to ditch more than 150 food additives by the end of 2016.

That includes everything from artificial colorings to preservatives to monosodium gluatamate, or MSG. Here’s a list of Panera’s new no-no list.

The question we’re asking here at The Salt is: How much credit should the chain get for its highly orchestrated announcement? (Believe us when we say there was more than one PR firm promoting the news.)

In other words, how forward-thinking is the company? And how much are they trying to take credit for changes that are actually sweeping the entire food industry?

REUTERS: EPA regulator says set to release key herbicide report, lauds biopesticides

The EPA’s upcoming draft risk assessment on glyphosate comes at a time when Monsanto and other agrichemical companies are
developing biopesticides, which are based on natural organisms like plant and soil microbes rather than synthetic chemicals,
and seen by some as alternatives to traditional pesticides.

Jones said the EPA is encouraging development of biopesticides because they “have very favorable human health and
environmental profiles.” He said they are likely to overtake synthetic chemicals in agriculture at some point if their use
continues what he called “dramatic” growth.

“We’re pretty bullish about them,” said Jones. “We go out of our way… to express our enthusiasm for biopesticides.”

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