Daily Essentials | 1 June 2015


In honor of #NegroniWeek:
SAVEUR | 8 Variations on the Negroni

First created for Count Camillo Negroni in 1919 at Florence’s Café Casoni, the Negroni is actually predated by the Milano-Torino, a mix of bitter, barky Campari and sweet vermouth that evolved into the Americano. Around 1920, at his favorite Florentine bar, Negroni asked for something stronger, so the soda water was replaced with gin, and the Negroni was born. Today, it’s a mixologist’s favorite play thing, with ingredients swapped for everything from mezcal to sherry. Here are eight of our favorite adaptations…

THE WASHINGTONIAN | TODD KLIMAN | How Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, and Slow Food Theorists Got It All Wrong
A conversation with food historian (and contrarian) Rachel Laudan.

Your analysis of processed food and the way it evolved is fascinating. The way I read you, you’re not saying that Michael Pollan and others are wrong in wanting to change our food system. You’re saying that their proposed solution is wrong —ahistorical, classist, dangerous.

There’s the saw that today’s problem is yesterday’s solution. The food we have today is the solution to how to create a republican, reasonably egalitarian cuisine. It was a tough challenge. Coarse, limited diets, periodic hunger, malnutrition, and famine had been the condition of much of the world’s population since the first farmers. Yet the success of more egalitarian political systems, whether republican, democratic, or socialist, depended on breaking this dismal pattern.

The solution, it turned out, was to industrialize processing (and also agriculture but that’s not my focus). What does that mean? Nothing more or less than the use of fossil fuel to drive the mills that grind grain or press oil seeds or grapes for wine, to move the conveyor belts that take bread through bakeries and carcasses through slaughterhouses. This transferred the heavy work from unreliable wind and water power or relatively weak animal (including human) power to machines. It brought down the price of processing, and made palatable, inexpensive food available year round. And famine vanished and diets and health improved. So the industrialization of food processing was seen as a wonderful solution to what most of history had seen as an insoluble problem.

THE NATION | Will Connecticut Go Robin Hood on Low-Wage Bosses?

According to one economic assessment, the “true cost” of low-wage jobs in Connecticut amounts to some $486 million per year paid through various public welfare programs. So the logic goes, the most heavily state-subsidized companies should pay their fair share.

“This raises the issue of the cost that low-wage employers burden the public with and burden the taxpayers with,” says Louise Simmons, professor of social work at the University of Connecticut and co-author of a new study on the legislation. “And it’s a business model that low-wage employers can use so that they don’t have to pay higher wages.”

The low-wage employer fee proposed in the Act Concerning the Recoupment of State Costs Attributable to Low Wage Employers, acts as a “penalty” paid by big businesses that capitalize on cheap labor with the help of government largesse: those paying less than $15 an hour, with 500 or more employees.

The targeted bosses would pay a fee proportional to the number of hours of poverty-wage labor used per quarter; companies pay the state $1 per low-wage work hour, as a sort of premium on the privilege to underpay workers.

NPR | THE SALT | Cod Comeback: How The North Sea Fishery Bounced Back From The Brink

In the late ’90s, scientists say fishermen were pulling about 60 percent of the cod out of the water each year in the North Sea. It doesn’t take an advanced math degree to calculate that that is unsustainable.

So about 10 years ago, the government bought about half of the fishing boats in Scotland and destroyed them. The boats that kept working were put under strict regulations — the number of days they could spend at sea, the number of cod they could catch.

And to Cook, it looks like the program is working. “I certainly in the past would’ve avoided buying cod, whereas I wouldn’t now,” he says.

ILLUMINATION | KEVIN FOLTA | Scaring People With Lies

Organizations committed to ending the use of genetically modified seeds and their associated products continue to fabricate misinformation solely with the intent of misleading consumers.

Today’s example is an inflammatory meme posted by the Cornucopia Institute. It makes five statements, none that are true, and solely broadcast with an intent to spread fear and misinformation.

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GRIST | NATHANAEL JOHNSON | A Republican governor just bucked his party to veto an ag-gag law

North Carolina’s governor, Pat McCrory: This bill is intended to address a valid concern of our state’s businesses — how to discourage those bad actors who seek employment with the intent to engage in corporate espionage or act as an undercover investigator. This practice is unethical and unfair to employers, and is a particular problem for our agricultural industry. It needs to be stopped.

While I support the purpose of this bill, I believe it does not adequately protect or give clear guidance to honest employees who uncover criminal activity. I am concerned that subjecting these employees to potential civil penalties will create an environment that discourages them from reporting illegal activities.

NPR | THE SALT | Trickster Journalist Explains Why He Duped The Media On Chocolate Study

Now while lots of news outlets — including Shape magazine in the U.S. — picked up the study, many other well-respected organizations, including The New York Times, the Associated Press and major broadcast networks, did not. (For the record, NPR did not report on it.) So shouldn’t that be heartening?

“I wish it were that easy,” Bohannon says. As he notes, the tabloids and other news outlets that ran with the bad science probably got millions of eyeballs. And this kind of junk nutrition information gets promulgated every day, he says.

“The entire nutrition beat is one of the most corrupt,” Bohannon says. “The science is completely disrespected, even though what you eat affects your health, and is every bit as important as cancer and astrophysics.”

PHYS.ORG | UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA-LINCOLN | Honey bee behavior altered by insecticides

Released just days prior to a May 19 White House report calling for greater protection of pollinators, the study suggests that exposure to sub-lethal doses of insecticides known as pyrethroids may reduce honey bee movement and social interaction.

The authors found that honey bees treated with moderate and high doses of a pyrethroid called esfenvalerate moved 61 and 71 percent less, respectively, than untreated bees over a 24-hour span. Bees exposed to high doses of esfenvalerate and its cousin permethrin also spent 43 and 67 percent less time interacting with their neighbors.

MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | Creating a Better Apple

Most genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been created by agrochemical companies that can spend heavily on developing and commercializing them. A 2011 study put the average cost of bringing a GM plant to market—including R&D, test plots, and wrangling with regulators—at about $130 million.

That explains why of the 112 GM plants cleared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly half are now owned by a single company, Monsanto.

Neal Carter, the agricultural engineer who is president and founder of ­Okanagan, says his GM apples cost only $5 million to $10 million to develop, though that’s not the true cost. He and his wife worked without pay for years. Their main cash business is a 60-acre, 100,000-tree orchard in Canada’s Okanagan Valley.

“We were fleas on the side of an elephant,” Carter says. “People looked at us and dismissed us, but now they say hey, wait—they actually did it.”

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