Archive for the ‘social’ Category

Every food choice has a ripple effect

I am not a vegetarian and I have no problems with hunting free animals.  However I do disagree with how meat animals are raised.  And more importantly, I care about others on the planet having enough to eat.  That is why I prefer that meat (when I use it) be used as a condiment or flavoring, and not served in huge chunks.  I also believe in giving thanks to the spirit of the animal whenever using meat.  Anyway, this embedded video explains and simplifies how your and my choices of foods and ingredients affect malnourished people in other parts of the globe.   It’s very well done, about nine minutes long.  Enjoy!

How to feed the world ? from Denis van Waerebeke on Vimeo.

Foodage, Geekage, hRecipe, and Sociology

oldschoolrecipesI am going to combine my foodage and my geekage in this post. Yes I know, I haven’t posted for a LONG LONG time. There are reasons for that, but we’ll dispense with the excuses.

What I am going to do in this post:

  • describe a problem that we foodies have, and a lot of us don’t realize it
  • convince you that it is, in fact, a problem
  • give examples of other similar problems and how they have been solved
  • propose a solution to our foodie problem
  • muse on why this particular problem solution has not gotten very far, so far

Here is the problem: I have many friends who are happy to send me recipes. The method they invariably use is email. I have told them that they can become registered on the blog and post recipes directly, but it is a barrier! The capability is there but the FACT is that foodies who don’t have their own food blog are intimidated by technology and don’t want to do this. It’s taken them 15 years to get comfortable with email for God’s sake!

Why it is a problem: Now, when I receive these emails, what do I do (presuming I like the recipe and want to publish it)? I have to tweak it up to fit the format this blog likes. Why is that a problem? Because it doesn’t scale and it wastes work. My friend has already sort of formatted the recipe, usually into a list of ingredients and the instructions blurb. But I have to edit it more. Yuck! I’d rather be cooking!

A similar problem and its solution: Several years back there was a similar issue with calendar data. Joe needs to publish his day planner so his secretary can schedule appointments for him. Or, you go to the calendar from your favorite venue and you would like to add Thursday night’s jam session to your personal calendar. You’re more likely to do that if it doesn’t involve a lot of needless make work. The best solution is you just click a button and boom it’s on your calendar. What that button click actually does is exports the calendar data to a common format that is understood by your calendar application. Then your calendar application imports it and converts it to whatever internal format it uses.

A solution for recipes: OK, now I’m gonna get a little geeky here, but bear with me and keep your eyes on the prize, the prize being: the ability to grab a recipe from some recipe website and put it in your favorite personal recipe collection with a single click, just like you can for calendar events. You KNOW you’d love that! It’s worth the geekiness, believe me. There does exist such a solution, and it’s called hRecipe. The only problem is that not too many people use it. It was the same problem when these open calendar formats were introduced, but people started to use them because the benefit was very clear, and so they have gained wide acceptance.

Why has hRecipe not caught on?: I think that it’s due to mental blockage common to foodies. The same reason my friends will email me but they won’t join my blog and post directly: They lump it into the category of “geekage” and they put themselves in the category of “non geek” so they step aside when they see it coming and continue to do things the old comfortable labor-intensive (to me that equals TIME WASTING) way. It’s completely irrational. Think about it.

I don’t have 20 minutes to learn a skill that would save me weeks and weeks of time in the long run.

Balderdash! You’re not afraid to try new recipes or new kitchen gear. Why should a format be any different?

What you can do:

  • Help make people aware of hRecipe and websites that use it.
  • Use the links at the bottom of this post (e.g. Stumble Upon etc.) to spread it around.
  • Agitate on your favorite website that they use it if they don’t.
  • Comment on your experience with hRecipe.
  • Find places where you can share hRecipes.
  • Agitate for foodie desktop applications to recognize it.
  • Follow Dork Chow to keep up with anything I do to push open recipe formats.
  • Step out of your mental block and do something geeky. This is the information age. We’re all geeks, like it or not!

Coburg action for

melbourne, australia

Originally uploaded by

350 made of veggies at Coburg Civic Centre, in the township of Moreland (the near north suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.) The white leaves are cabbage. It is a shame there were no rooftops to climb on to get a good angle on it and alas, Melbourne is flat and this district is pretty urban, so no green hillsides either. I gave a little schpiel on plarn at this do. (Search blog for plarn if you don’t know what that is.) Beyond Zero Emissions gave a very nice schpiel. Australia is a huge exporter of coal so there are a large number of anti-greens because they think of all the $$$ they will lose in the short run. But think about it! Australia uses only a tiny percentage of its own coal. It’s not about them, it’s about their CUSTOMERS! Many of their biggest coal customers are making great strides to reduce THEIR carbon, ergo use other fuels and reduce their coal. Australia would do better to anticipate this and come up with some alternate plan.

Death Star Yuppie Composter

My it’s been a while since I posted here. Not to worry, I have several in the queue, but in the mean time I thought I’d show you our new composter. I guess all those years being married to me must have rubbed off on my hubby because it was his idea to get this thing. I was fine with our happy-go-lucky pile and rot method of composting, but maybe my husband doesn’t like looking at the colorful assortment of kitchen scraps in various stages of decomposition out the back window. Anyway, this thing keeps it enclosed, turns it automatically, and aerates better than just a pile. Since it’s just the three of us, we don’t create kitchen scraps like we used to when there were six. I haven’t harvested any compost yet, but I can say it’s very warm in there. After I built this, I noted a striking similarity to the death star in the original Star Wars, so now it’s the family lingo, “Who’s turn is it to feed the Death Star tonight?”

MACA doesn't like white house organic garden

Back in December I made a blog post urging the first lady elect to create an organic victory garden on the white house grounds. Well, guess what, they’re doing it! Who wouldn’t think that is sweet? Apparently “some people” don’t like this because of the implicit message it sends: EXACTLY THE ONE PEOPLE NEED TO RECEIVE in my opinion. Witness below the entire text of a letter sent to Mrs. Obama by MACA [i.e. the lobbying arm of the pesticide industry.] The letter speaks for itself. I have no further comment, except sheesh these people are SICK!

March 26, 2009

Mrs. Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mrs. Obama,

We are writing regarding the garden recently added to the White House grounds to ensure a fresh supply of fruits and vegetables to your family, guests and staff. Congratulations on recognizing the importance of agriculture in America! The U.S. has the safest and most abundant food supply in the world thanks to the 3 million people who farm or ranch in the United States.

The CropLife Ambassador Network, a program of the Mid America CropLife Association, consists of over 160 ambassadors who work and many of whom grew up in agriculture. Their mission is to provide scientifically based, accurate information to the public regarding the safety and value of American agricultural food production. Many people, especially children, don’t realize the extent to which their daily lives depend on America’s agricultural industry. For instance, children are unaware the jeans they put on in the morning, the three meals eaten daily, the baseball with which they play and even the biofuels that power the school bus are available because of America’s farmers and ranchers.

Agriculture is the largest industry in America generating 20% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. Individuals, family partnerships or family corporations operate almost 99% of U.S. farms. Over 22 million people are employed in farm-related jobs, including production agriculture, farm inputs, processing and marketing and sales. Through research and changes in production practices, today’s food producers are providing Americans with the widest variety of foods ever.

Starting in the early 1900’s, technology advances have allowed farmers to continually produce more food on less land while using less human labor. Over time, Americans were able to leave the time-consuming demands of farming to pursue new interests and develop new abilities. Today, an average farmer produces enough food to feed 144 Americans who are living longer lives than many of their ancestors. Technology in agriculture has allowed for the development of much of what we know and use in our lives today. If Americans were still required to farm to support their family’s basic food and fiber needs, would the U.S. have been leaders in the advancement of science, communication, education, medicine, transportation and the arts?

We live in a very different world than that of our grandparents. Americans are juggling jobs with the needs of children and aging parents. The time needed to tend a garden is not there for the majority of our citizens, certainly not a garden of sufficient productivity to supply much of a family’s year-round food needs.

Much of the food considered not wholesome or tasty is the result of how it is stored or prepared rather than how it is grown. Fresh foods grown conventionally are wholesome and flavorful yet more economical. Local and conventional farming is not mutually exclusive. However, a Midwest mother whose child loves strawberries, a good source of Vitamin C, appreciates the ability to offer California strawberries in March a few months before the official Mid-west season.

Farmers and ranchers are the first environmentalists, maintaining and improving the soil and natural resources to pass onto future generations. Technology allows for farmers to meet the increasing demand for food and fiber in a sustainable manner.

* Farmers use reduced tillage practices on more than 72 million acres to prevent erosion.
* Farmers maintain over 1.3 million acres of grass waterways, allowing water to flow naturally from crops without eroding soil.
* Contour farming keeps soil from washing away. About 26 million acres in the U.S. are managed this way.
* Agricultural land provides habitat for 75% of the nation’s wildlife.
* Precision farming boosts crop yields and reduces waste by using satellite maps and computers to match seed, fertilizer and crop protection applications to local soil conditions.
* Sophisticated Global Positioning Systems can be specifically designed for spraying pesticides. A weed detector equipped with infrared light identifies specific plants by the different rates of light they reflect and then sends a signal to a pump to spray a preset amount of herbicide onto the weed.
* Biogenetics allows a particular trait to be implanted directly into the seed to protect the seed against certain pests.
* Farmers are utilizing 4-wheel drive tractors with up to 300 horsepower requiring fewer passes across fields-saving energy and time.
* Huge combines are speeding the time it takes to harvest crops.
* With modern methods, 1 acre of land in the U.S. can produce 42,000 lbs. of strawberries, 110,000 heads of lettuce, 25,400 lbs. of potatoes, 8,900 lbs. of sweet corn, or 640 lbs of cotton lint.

As you go about planning and planting the White House garden, we respectfully encourage you to recognize the role conventional agriculture plays in the U.S in feeding the ever-increasing population, contributing to the U.S. economy and providing a safe and economical food supply. America’s farmers understand crop protection technologies are supported by sound scientific research and innovation.

The CropLife Ambassador Network offers educational programs for elementary school educators at covering the science behind crop protection products and their contribution to sustainable agriculture. You may find our programs America’s Abundance, Farmers Stewards of the Land and War of the Weeds of particular interest. We thank you for recognizing the importance and value of America’s current agricultural technologies in feeding our country and contributing to the U.S economy.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions.


Bonnie McCarvel, Executive Director
Janet Braun, Program Coordinator
Mid America CropLife Association
11327 Gravois Rd., #201
St. Louis, MO 63126

My KeyIngredient Cookbook

Want to preview our dorkness before it gets blogged? My recipe online collection is at Key Ingredient, and I simply embed their recipe widgets in the blog. I have blog posts queued up, and also a backlog of recipes I haven’t even queued in the blog yet. Often a recipe will be on Key Ingredient for weeks before it gets blogged. I like how their tabbed format makes excellent use of the real estate, and I like how they automatically format the recipe in a consistent format. (Of course, in case Key Ingredient ever goes away, I have backup copies of all my recipes.)
Read the rest of this entry »

Holy Moses Molly O’Neill found me

This post is for everybody, but especially my Foodbuzz friends. Please read it to the end.

Today I am totally blown away! Here I am this little unknown food blogger ranting on to mostly myself and a few local friends so I can glom the recipes into a nice PDF to give to friends for Christmas and suddenly this person called Adina Genn leaves a comment on my pozole recipe and says she wants to phone interview me about it and and its attendant mole recipe on behalf of the legendery Molly O’Neill.
Read the rest of this entry »

Would you want to go to BlogHer FREE in 2009?

The queen of Spain is very kindly giving away a free pass to BlogHer 2009 USA to the person she finds most deserving. Click here to find out what to do to enter. I would have reservations about attending such an event myself: I am not into typical chick things for starters; I believe that the rearing of my offspring is private; I am at heart an introvert and a terrible consumer; and I also have some other cultural differences from what I perceive to be the prevailing culture of BlogHers. If I were to somehow win, or to otherwise end up in Chicago for BlogHer, I would probably end up standing around in a corner, feeling extremely awkward. I would, of course, attempt to approach people, and they, being predominantly women, would, no doubt, be polite and cordial, but would nevertheless make it clear that wherever the hell the likes of me belonged, it wouldn’t be hanging out with them. Such has been the story of my life everywhere so far, so I wouldn’t be looking for that to miraculously change. So primarily I am reporting on this for my readers, in case any of them want to give it a go.

If I were to say why I deserve to win, it would be some pretty ordinary yadda yadda: because I was forced to fold my business in April 2008; it was devastating both psychologically and financially; I have two kids in college, my parents are old and ailing, and Medicare/Medicaid is a joke, and there’s no spare cash for junkets. The interesting jobs in the area where I live are rarely advertised, and due to my own introverted psychological makeup, the “right people” don’t know me. The jobs that are left over are awful, and anyway I don’t want to work in some Dilbertian company with company picnics and mission statements. So basically I have not managed to find a steady job that wouldn’t make me slit my wrists. I’ve picked up a gig or two consulting here and there, but the economy is kind of putting the kibosh on that too. Owning my own business spoiled me forever for working for the man. Boo hoo, poor little me, and everybody else in this crappy economy. At least I have a roof over my head and internet. We have our priorities right!

I turned to blogging to blow off steam really. I totally suck at promoting my blogs. I’d really rather just write them. And I am actually working at resurrecting my business in fits and starts, but I’m older and wiser, and I know what both I and the business need to succeed and I am absolutely not going to open the doors again until those underpinnings are in place.

Erin’s blog claims that is personally subsidizing the deal so she can give the pass to whomever she chooses. I totally applaud the Erin for her generosity; and it will be fun to see whether the contest ends up embracing a true outsider, or just another one of the old girls network.

I’ll tell you who I think should win an all expense paid trip to blogher if anyone should: Deb X, AKA Green Lasagna. Deb has been harrassed so much online that she won’t even publish her full name. If anyone is experiencing financial hardship, Deb is. I sent her the link, and I hope she will not only enter, but win.

Anyway it is truly awesome that some deserving person will get an all expenses paid trip to Blogher in 2009. I think there are plenty who would probably benefit more and deserve to win more than me, and I’d be thrilled if Deb or any of my other readers was the winner!

How Green is your Cuisine?

I swiped this quiz from the Sierra club. The grading will take you over there.

Are you the Iron Chef of your household? Do you enjoy slicing, dicing, deglazing, and braising?
If so, did know that some kitchens and the cuisine they produce are greener than others?
No, we’re not talking about a cucumber-colored Cuisinart or that old avocado-green refrigerator.
We’re talking eco-friendly and sustainable — food that fills the belly and is easy on the planet
at the same time. How does your cookin’ rate? Take our quiz and find out!

(Hate quizzes? Skip straight to the answers.)

  1. Your extended family regularly gathers for holiday feasts, and one of them is a huge fan of your fresh peach cobbler. For which of these family get-togethers should you prepare your fabulous dish?
    Fourth of July.

  2. When you go to bake that fabulous pie, you’ll use:
    An oven-safe glass pie plate greased with butter.
    A non-stick metal pie pan.
    A colorful new silicone bakeware pie pan.

  3. Which of the following dishes contributes the most to deforestation?
    Caesar salad with grilled chicken.
    Filet mignon.
    Vegetable soup with barley.
    Three-cheese pizza.

  4. Your sweetie is a pescatarian (they eat fish but no other animals),so you’re heading to the market for some fresh catch for dinner. Which choice is best for the environment?
    Farmed salmon.
    U.S.-farmed tilapia.
    Orange roughy./>

  5. When cutting up veggies from your backyard garden, you should you cut them on:
    A plastic cutting board.
    A wooden cutting board.
    The New York Times food section.

  6. You want to enjoy a mug of tea while you’re steaming carrots (which you’ll douse with a vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon juice, toasted ground coriander, and rose water and top with chopped fresh mint). If you’re heating just one mug of water for your tea, which of these is the most energy-efficient way to do that?
    In the microwave.
    On an electric stove.
    On a gas stove.

  7. Guests at your cocktail party want their martinis shaken, not stirred. You’ll fill the shaker with ice cubes:
    That you made using a tray placed in your freezer.
    That are served from your freezer’s icemaker, using the fridge’s door dispenser, so you don’t have to open the door of the freezer.

  8. The best way to get rid of your food scraps is to:
    Toss them in the garbage or garbage disposal.
    Give them to your dog, of course!
    Take a trip to the food bank or contact a food rescue program that accepts leftovers.
    Put them in the compost or worm bin.

  9. When you shop for things like cereal, nuts, grains, and dried fruit, you:
    Buy in bulk from store bins.
    Buy in bulk at big-box stores like Costco.
    Buy smaller portions so you don’t waste food.

  10. You managed to buy a fixer-upper and are having green thoughts while planning the remodel.
    Which kind of countertop should you opt for in the kitchen?

    100 percent recycled glass or paper, or Terrazzo with greater than 80 percent recycled content.
    Cement, either a product that exists today or one of the emerging eco-cements coming out in the next couple of years.
    Stainless steel.
    Granite, marble, or other stone.
    Laminate, Corian, or other synthetic plastic-based product.

Help underappreciated blogs get more readers.

Folks, I have a confession to make.  I’m good at many things, but I absolutely and totally *SUCK*, (imagine 72 point type for emphasis) at promotion and marketing, particularly when it’s my own personal brand I’m trying to promote.    I’m dyed-in-the-wool old school.  I believe that the cream will naturally and organically rise to the top …. eventually….. and I still believe that.     But I’m competing with so many sell-in-your face splogs and shameless SEO gamers at the present, plus,  to be honest, a lot of other genuine good and popular content in the food niche.    Google, for all it’s greatness, still can’t always tell genuine excellence from a tricked-out and gamed-up splog-o-rama.   And only digital friends who actually buzz about you can help you out online.  Just being on the friends list doesn’t really do much.   I have plenty of RL friends, but, due to my own personal demographics,  most of my real life friends are not what you’d call “digital natives.” They are just catching on to email now, if you know what I mean.   I have plenty of social network “friends” as well, but I guess many of them just friend me to pump up their own numbers.  They only actually buzz about their digital friends who are already RL friends as well.

Just because I am a failure at promoting myself and making money for myself DOES NOT mean I am a failure at blogging.  (In fact I believe almost the opposite.  Each human is allotted finite time.  Time spent in self promotion is time taken away from producing good stuff if you think about it.)   So that’s already a win for you, dear reader.  An added bonus is that I don’t overadvertise. Have you noticed that there are very few ads on this blog?  Do you appreciate that?  People always bitch and moan about ads,  but what do they do to encourage people who keep  them under control?  How about putting your money where your mouth is and stumbling your favorite Dork Chow post and/or subscribing and or just tweeting something you like to your personal network.    Take the plunge, make a new RL friend!   Thank you.  Yes you, you think somebody else is gonna do that for me?

Finally, Chuck Westbrook has launched  a grass roots effort to give more exposure to under-exposed blogs.   If you are a blogger you can enter your own underexposed blog.   If not, check it out and discover some exciting new blogs.  You can say I knew them when.  Don’t be just another follower, be a trend setter!