Daily Essentials | 30 May 2015


SAVEUR | Pizza with Ramps, Morels, and Eggs

Despite their ubiquity on restaurant menus and Instagram every spring, I haven’t gotten tired of ramps. When they’re in season I sub them for onions and leeks in all kinds of dishes. One of my favorite creations is this pizza, which pairs them with mellow, earthy morels, sharp Parmesan cheese, and just-set eggs. The runny yolks act almost like a sauce that you can sop up with your crust—but feel free to add the eggs as soon as the pizza goes in the oven if you prefer harder yolks. The best part? The dough is super fast to pull together, so you can top this with whatever bits and pieces you have lying around in your fridge for a quick dinner.

MOTHER JONES | TOM PHILPOTT | Stop Romanticizing Your Grandparents’ Food

Ever been advised to “eat like your grandmother”—that is, to seek food that’s prepared in ways that would be recognized a generation or two ago, untainted by the evils of industrialization? That’s nonsense, writes Rachel Laudan in a rollicking essay recently published in Jacobin.

Food-system reformers tend to evoke a “sunlit past” of wholesome, home-cooked meals, to which Laudan offers a stark riposte: “It never existed.”

Her polemic is actually a reprint. It originally appeared in Gastronomica way back in 2001—five years before the publication of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, at the dawn of a boom in farmers markets and other ways to “know your farmer” and “eat local.” And yet it’s just as bracing to read today as it was then.

… What she misses, of course, are the downsides. She celebrates the year-round availability of fruits and vegetables, but doesn’t mention the army of ruthlessly exploited workers (Mexicans in the US West, and in the South, until recently, the descendants of enslaved African Americans) required to plant, tend, and harvest it. Yes, meat, once enjoyed “only on rare occasions” by working people, is now within easy reach of most Americans, but Laudan doesn’t pause to ponder what it means for the people who work for poverty wages in factory-scale slaughterhouses. To speak nothing of fast-food, restaurant, and supermarket workers. … [N]early 1 billion people, most of them in the Global South, who lack enough to eat—many of whom work on plantation-style farms that provide wealthy consumers with coffee, sugar, bananas, and other fruits and vegetables. … Large Midwestern farms provide the grain that feeds our teeming factory meat operations. In doing so, they systemically foul water with agrichemicals and hemorrhage topsoil, essentially a fossil resource. Meat farms, meanwhile, have become overreliant on antibiotics—contributing to an antibiotic-resistance crisis that now claims 700,000 lives worldwide.

GRUB STREET | Anthony Bourdain Adds ‘Media Mogul’ to His Ever-Expanding Résumé

Following a night of one too many — or just the right number — glasses of sake, veteran journalist and Roads & Kingdoms co-founder Matt Goulding sent Anthony Bourdain a drunken email about investing in his web magazine. The two had initially met back in 2011, but Goulding described the move as a “hail mary.” Much to his surprise, Bourdain responded immediately, and he’s now an investing partner and editor-at-large in the online-media company. For Roads & Kingdoms — which was recently nominated for a James Beard award and has made a mission of covering overlooked corners of the world — it’s a perfect match.

KCET | California’s First Dedicated Edible Cricket Farm is Trying To Change How We Eat

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 11.16.21 PMHow many crickets do you currently have?

Mermel: On the farm we have about 250,000 crickets right now. In the next week or so we’ll probably be ordering more, and we’ll have about 300,000 crickets. That should get up to about 2 million in a few months. They multiply like crazy.

How do people respond when you tell them what you’re doing?

Mermel: It starts with a “What the hell are you talking about,” slash “You’re messing with me,” slash “That’s disgusting.” And about five minutes later it turns into, “That makes a lot of sense, that’s a good idea.” A lot of people get it right at the very beginning, and they’re familiar with the concept, so it doesn’t take that much to convince them. But just like with anything you’re going to get people that are against it for no logical reason and therefore impossible to convince, but those people, we’re disregarding. They’ll come around eventually.

WASHINGTON POST | JOEL ACHENBACH | Scientists are closing in on the ultimate secrets of plant photosynthesis

Scientists have long understood how photosynthesis works – but only up to a point. The very fine details are hard to discern. Everything takes place at the molecular and even the atomic scale, involving proteins that are hard to see, and the coming and going of photons and electrons. Photosynthesis relies on processes that are governed by quantum physics – the laws of nature at its most granular.

But now scientists in China and Japan on Thursday published a report in the journal Science that describes a more robust method of examining the microscopic light-harvesting structures in a plant.

FUELFIX | Feds’ plan to boost biofuel targets draws fire from all sides

The Obama administration is proposing to boost the amount of biofuel that refiners must blend in gasoline this year and next but with planned quotas that fall short of ambitious targets dictated by federal law.

The result is that the Environmental Protection Agency plan unveiled Friday angered most major stakeholders, including refiners who say they’re being forced to use more ethanol than can realistically be consumed and biofuel boosters who say the oil industry is stifling their growth.

Top EPA official Janet McCabe repeatedly stressed to reporters Friday that the proposal is “ambitious, but responsible,” reflecting two competing realities: Lawmakers’ desire in an eight-year-old law to boost biofuel use in the United States and market constraints limiting how much can be consumed domestically today.

KQUED | King Salmon: Is the Drought Threatening California’s Favorite Fish?

CUESA: Has fishing this season been affected by the drought?

HH: It’s not the drought, but it’s definitely some strange weather-related issues and ocean conditions. There’s a lot of warm water this year, which makes the fish harder to catch because they’re not concentrating in the areas that they normally do.

But I think this year is going to be a decent season. The biggest impact is there’s not a lot of fish to be caught, and it’s a supply-and-demand situation. Everybody wants this fish now. People all over the US have learned that the California king is one of the best out there. Demand keeps the price up at the boats, which translates to $25 or $30 a pound at the store.

The next few years will be the first years that the drought will affect the fish in the ocean. We don’t yet know how many fish reproduced in the rivers and how many fish will make it back.

CUESA: Can you explain a bit about how the drought affects the salmon’s lifecycle?

HH: The fish go up the river and spawn, and the baby salmon grow into smolts and work their way down to the ocean within a year or two. They spend five or six years in the ocean, and then they go back up the river they were born in to spawn again and die. If there’s no water, they can’t swim downstream to the ocean or back upstream to reproduce. We’re affected by the water conditions from five or six years ago. Next year will be the fifth year of drought, so we’ll be seeing the effects in the next few years. There’s a good chance the regulators will completely shut the fishery down.

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