Archive - October 2011

Shrimp Farm in Nevada Desert

Tanks Blue Ocean Pure Shrimp

In the most unlikely of locations, the dry desert of North Las Vegas, Nevada, a company called “Blue Oasis Pure Shrimp” has built 44 ponds from recycled shipping containers to grow and harvest shrimp on a 30,000-square-foot shrimp farm. [see video]

Scott McManus, CEO of Blue Oasis Pure Shrimp, plans to sell shrimp to high-end restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip, where Las Vegas chefs are accustomed to working with frozen shrimp. Now customers will be able to purchase the whole live shrimp, including the head and shell.

“It’s all about texture when you’re freezing a product. Shrimp is a perfect example of that. When you freeze that, it gets a little tough and chewy,” said Border Grill Executive Chef Mike Minor. “This product, it’s never frozen so it’s going to be fresh.”

Minor said he expected the shrimp would taste artificial, but was surprised by the result after he cooked them. “They are kind of nice and sweet and tender,” he said. “I liked it. It’s sweet. It’s a little bit different of a texture, a little bit sweeter of a flavor.”

It’s hard to believe, but Las Vegas consumes 22 million pounds of shrimp annually. Blue Oasis’ maximum shrimp production is estimated at around 500,000 pounds of shrimp a year.

“We consume more shrimp per capita in Las Vegas than anywhere else in the world — 22 million pounds of it annually,” said Greg Orman with Ganix Bio Technologies.

The shrimp is raised for up to 120 days in monitored tanks in a room that’s air-conditioned to ensure a steady temperature of 80 degrees. The shrimp are fed seafood proteins, and their waste is used to fertilize the algae that sustains the salt water system.

Water is a primary concern in Las Vegas, but no water is lost from the self-cleaning tanks because Blue Oasis recycles all the water and any water that evaporates is reclaimed through the air system.

McManus said they use less water than the average home in Las Vegas, making the facility a sustainable alternative to wild-caught and farm-raised shrimp that has the potential to compromise natural ecosystems.

“The overfishing, the damage that is done by trawling in the Gulf or other parts of the world, all those are issues with how we get our seafood,” McManus said. “What we do here eliminates that whole process. Everything that we do obviously is closed in here within the system so we are not destroying the environment, we are not destroying mangroves. It truly makes it environmentally friendly.”

“The technology is just amazing,” said North Las Vegas Mayor Shari Buck. “Think about the other types of foods we could grow — other things we could do organically — that don’t use a lot of water that can maybe be grown in parts of the world where there’s water deficiency. This technology could come in and fill a need. This will be fresh, organic and grown in North Las Vegas. It makes me proud.”

“They kept talking about tanks in the middle of the desert and not having to continually add water,” she said. ” Just being able to bring in the chefs and bring in consumers who love shrimp, like I do, is tremendous. It will bring stability to this market like we’ve never had before.”

Halloween Season Blues: How long will that chocolate last?

Cadbury-Chocolate-Bar-Collection

It’s the Halloween season once again and kids, and yes, even adults can’t wait to get hold of their Jack-O-Lanterns and Halloween bags for some trick or treating this year. If your kids are really prolific, they may end up with candy to last the whole year…but will the chocolate bars last as long?

Candies and chocolate last longer than parents expect them to, with candies lasting up to 6 months and chocolates lasting up to a year or more. The secrets are within the whole candy-making process, the ingredients used and of course, preservatives.

For example, chocolates have higher shelf life as compared to regular candies. Cocoa, being the main source of chocolate is high in antioxidants, and as we all know by now, antioxidants are very good food preservatives. Cocoa is also found to be high in flavonoids, which slows down the oxidation of chocolate or any other food that contains this chemical. The higher the cocoa content of the chocolate, the longer it will last. Dark chocolate can last up to two years, but don’t expect it to have the same taste and texture after storing it for two Halloween seasons. Regular chocolate bars can last from 10 months up to a year.

Another thing that helps preserve candies is the packaging. Sealed and unopened candies last longer as no air or any bacteria penetrates. Once open, candies are more vulnerable to penetration of such bacterial entities that could eventually lead to early spoilage. Candies are also temperature sensitive. So store them in a dark, cool area.

Wines for the Cure Event at The Brownstone Paterson, NJ

Wines-for-the-Cure-at-The-Brownstone-Paterson-NJ

Wine and food tasting events have never been better, especially when they are put together for a cause. The Susan G Komen for the Cure is America’s largest, most-followed organization for breast cancer awareness. The organization has been raising funds to support their research on breast cancer, education and health services, advocacy and offer/provide social support programs in the U.S. Since 1982, the Susan G Komen for the Cure has also gained partners and supporters in 50 different countries in America.

The Brownstone in Paterson, New Jersey will be hosting the Wines for the Cure event on Thursday, November 10, 2011 from 7-10pm. A 60+ wine selection, good food, and a soft jazz music playing in the background await the guests. You can purchase your tickets at Wines for the Cure website for $75 until November 10 or purchase the ticket at the event for $85. In participating in the event, you get help others while enjoying a great night with some good food, good wine and good company.

The Brownstone is located at 351 West Broadway Paterson, NJ 07522.

Interview with Tropical Foodies

Plantain

Winter is coming. Thankfully that does not mean you can’t add a little heat and spice to life. The best way to introduce a little tropical flare to your life is to check out our community’s pick for the #5 best food blog of 2011; Tropical Foodies.  Why do people love this blog so much? It is run by friends, between West Africa and the Caribbean background who are extremely passionate about the food of their countries. We chatted up with Linda, one of the five friends that bring us respite from the cold.

FriendsEAT:  Linda, this is a joint effort between friends. Tell me about how you met and how you decided to start the blog.

Linda:  We all spent parts of our childhood in Cote d’Ivoire. I remember being invited to Gen’s house and trying all sorts of delicious Haitian dishes made with ingredients local to Cote d’Ivoire. When I first had the idea of the blog, I immediately thought of contacting her as I knew she shared my passion for food and she would bring in with her knowledge of Caribbean cuisine, focus and dedication. Elodie is my sister and greatest supporter. We can talk about food for hours, especially the one our Grandmother used to make, or those palm oil plantain fritters that can only be bought in a spot near the beach in Bassam, the former capital of Cote d’Ivoire. Only insiders know about the small stall. The fritters are served in banana leaves and are just divine, but I digress… Maryse and Karine are Gen’s sisters and they wanted to contribute as well.

The idea of starting the blog stemmed from two series of events. First, growing up on Ivorian cuisine, which I think is one of the best in the worlds and then moving to the US, whenever I proclaimed my love for my home’s food, people responded with blank stares, indubitably followed by: “What is food in Cote d’Ivoire like?” There is no simple answer to that question as the food is really diverse and the ingredients virtually unknown in the US, so I often found myself mumbling an unintelligible answer instead of describing the richness, flavors and abundance of Ivorian cuisine.  The second series of events are travels to Latin America, South India, where I discovered entirely new ways of preparing the ingredients I grew up eating. I thought that was amazing, I really had no idea that you could make so many different things with plantains. I was hooked.  I started hatching up a plan for the blog as I wanted to introduce tropical foods and ingredients to the world and thought of who would want to embark on the journey with me. Tropical Foodies was born.

FE: How do the five of you go about organizing who will take care of what? Does it get easier or harder with five people?

Linda: We spent a lot of time on preparation upfront before we even launched the blog, so we knew how things would work and who would be in charge of what. For example, Elodie does most of the linking on the site, I am the “IT person,” Gen and Maryse bring in their expertise on food allergies and Karine does a lot of editing.  We all write posts. Planning was an essential step. Now, it’s more about sharing the recipes we are the most familiar with and the new fascinating ones we find.  If one of us has a recipe that she wants to share, she just goes ahead with writing the post, taking a visually appealing shot, and it gets into the pipeline. It’s all fairly seamless and it’s been a great adventure so far.

FE: What do you see as the biggest obstacle to mainstreaming tropical cuisine in the US?

Linda: Well, I think the biggest obstacle is the lack of knowledge on tropical cuisine and that is the gap Tropical Foodies wants to fill. Tropical cuisine is delicious, the ingredients varied and flavorful and the recipes are usually very simple. I think people are just not aware of how accessible all of this is and hopefully Tropical Foodies will change that.

The other thing is that you don’t see as many Ivorian restaurants, Costa Rican or Haitian restaurants as you see French, Italian or Chinese. The Thai food served in most restaurants has been adapted to Western taste buds and often doesn’t feature many tropical ingredients, if any.

FE: What is the biggest misconception people have about tropical cuisine?

Linda: haha, it really goes two ways. Either people think spicy and hot or they think coconut and pineapple. It’s quite a nightmare actually! I want to tell people all about the steamy shrimp tomato stews, or djon djon rice of our childhoods, the fufu and eggplant soups, the grilled fish, chicken, and avocado shrimps from the seaside restaurants.  I honestly don’t think I ate anything spicy growing up until I got a taste for it after I moved to the US, because a lot of the food was so bland here, and in Cote d’Ivoire, pineapple and coconuts are mostly served as desserts, reality couldn’t be further from those misconceptions.

FE: Out of the five of you, who would you say is the most food obsessed?

Linda: This is the most difficult question you’ve asked me so far! I guess I would say, it depends on the food! Gen loves her chocolate and so does Karine! I have a plantain obsession which Tropical Foodies has allowed me to feed beyond my wildest desires. Elodie and Maryse are “generalists,” they just love good food!

FE: When you started, who did you think your audience would be and who is it now?

Linda: Our tagline is “Introducing tropical foods and tropical ingredients to the world!” so I guess we are quite ambitious and hoping to capture the whole world as an audience. That hasn’t changed, but I would say the focus is now on foodies first (such as the FriendsEAT community), as they would be the ones to either want to discover new recipes with new ingredients or new ways to prepare ingredients they are familiar with and hopefully they will share all the goodness around them.

FE: What are three amazing tropical/Caribbean restaurants that you would recommend?

Linda: Going back to my earlier point about why tropical cuisine is not well known, there are not that many great places with authentic food. Although tropical by definition, I am not including Thai or Vietnamese restaurants in the mix as they are fairly mainstream and do not often showcase the tropical ingredients on which Tropical Foodies  focuses.  A place I have been dying to try is the Patacon  (Venezuela) truck in Washington heights, I have heard great things. I also go to a place called les Ambassades in Harlem for their lamb chops with alloco (fried plantains or maduros) or their grilled fish with attieke (cassava couscous).  Their menu is a bit confusing as they serve a bit of everything, but those two dishes from Cote d’Ivoire/Senegal don’t disappoint. Thirdly, I haven’t been there in a while but Papaye diner in the Bronx has a fair selection of Ghanaian dishes including palm nut soup and fried yams.

FE: And your favorite ingredient?

Linda: Plantains hands-down. There are so versatile. You can use them at all stages of ripeness and make so many delicious recipes! Chocolate is another one, it is the quintessential tropical ingredient as cocoa only grows in the tropics, within a limited distance of the equator…

FE: What’s the feeling around the office about foodtertainment?

Linda:  I think we mostly see food shows as a way to learn about new ingredients, flavors and also a way to understand what attracts people to specific kind of foods. It’s necessary when trying to bring ingredients into the mainstream. I am always so excited when I see plantains featured on a show! However, the real entertainment is that of our tastebuds when we try new recipes, and share them with friends. Nothing can beat that!

FE: Where do you see Tropical Foodies in five years?

Linda: We want to be the reference in terms of tropical foods in the web, have our own database of recipes, so that anyone looking for a tropical recipe they have heard of, or for new ways to make ingredients they know, immediately come to visit our website.  If 5 years from now, I tell someone I meet in the US, that I love Ivorian food, I want them to reply, not with a blank stare, but with an exclamation: “I do too, you know, there is this wonderful blog Tropical Foodies, where you can find great recipes using tropical ingredients!”

FE: I’d love it if you would share a recipe to introduce even the most timid eater to tropical cuisine.

Linda:Of course.  The recipe for attieke or cassava/tapioca couscous

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 2 cups of attieke (fresh or warmed up)
  • 1/2 boiled or steamed chicken breast (optional), diced
  • 1/2 cup ready-to-eat green peas
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped onions
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped scallions
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 tbsp vinegar, salt and pepper (for the vinaigrette)

Cooking instructions

  • Mix the oil and vinegar in a small bowl or a shaker to make the vinaigrette.  Add salt and pepper to taste
  • In a separate, bigger bowl, combine all the other ingredients
  • Add the vinaigrette and mix well
  • Serve

FE: Is there anything else you would like to tell the community about the blog? 

Linda: Tropical ingredients are a great way to enrich your diet even more so when you have certain dietary restrictions (celiac disease, lactose intolerance) or you are a vegetarian. They are accessible, on the cheap side and absolutely delicious.

Monsanto Opponents Petition Food Companies to Ban New GMO Corn

GMO-Labelling

Monsanto plans on launching its first commercial genetically altered consumer-oriented vegetable product. The new GE sweet corn will be sold on the ear, with or without husk, in the produce section of grocery stores.

The GE corn would be used in canned and frozen foods as well as sold fresh and will be indistinguishable from conventional corn because the FDA does not require genetically altered food products to be labeled.

However, Reuters news service reports opponents are petitioning national food retailers and processors to ban Monsanto’s GE corn because it’s unlabeled.

A coalition which includes the Center for Environmental Health, the Center for Food Safety, and Food & Water Watch, have collected more than 264,000 petition signatures from consumers who do not want to buy the corn.

In addition to pressuring 10 of the top national retail grocery stores to ban the corn, including Wal-Mart, Kroger and Safeway, the coalition is also asking top canned and frozen corn processors including Bird’s Eye and Del Monte to ban the modified corn.

“Consumers deserve to know what’s in their food, especially when there is a pesticide in every bite,” said Charles Margulis of the Center for Environmental Health. “This whole, unprocessed corn has been spliced with genes that produce a risky, untested insecticide. Parents should be informed when food on supermarket shelves has been genetically altered.”

Reuters points out that critics are worried genetically altered crops, including the new sweet corn, pose environmental and health risks that include food allergies and unknown long-term health effects.

Additionally, “herbicide-resistant crops are fueling a rise in ‘super weeds’ that are hard to control because they are resistant to herbicide, and in many areas of the country the weeds are so prevalent they are limiting crop production.”

More and more pressure is being applied on Monsanto to ban/and or label their GE food products. Earlier this year, over 270,000 organic farmers sued Monsanto, challenging the company’s patents on genetically modified seed.

The plaintiffs decided to sue Monsanto preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should their crops ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed.

In early October, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration demanding the agency require labeling of all food produced using genetic engineering.

The petition was filed on behalf of a coalition of more than 350 companies, organizations, scientists, doctors and individuals who believe consumers have a right to know if the food they’re eating has been genetically altered.

In India, The National Biodiversity Authority of India (NBA) has also sued Monsanto, this year as well as the company’s Indian partners who developed a genetically-modified eggplant.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh claimed there was not enough public trust to support the introduction of GM crops into India’s food supply until more research was done to remove all doubts that GM foods were safe for consumption.

Ramesh said the opposition to GM foods was so heated that some protesters burned effigies.

Tap Water One of The Fastest Growing Beverages at U.S. Restaurants

Tap-Water

According to food service market research conducted by The NPD Group, revenue-generating beverages have been declining over the past five years, with tap water becoming one of the fastest growing beverages ordered at U.S. restaurants.

Based on NPD’s research, tap water servings currently represent 10 percent of the 50 billion beverage servings ordered at restaurants.

The recently release NPD report claims over the past five years there has been a six percent drop in total beverage servings excluding tap water at restaurants, a decline of 2.7 billion servings. Tap water servings have increased by 2.8 billion servings since 2006.

The report, based on surveys of 5500 adults, 18 years and older, indicates the decline in beverage orders at restaurants was in carbonated soft drinks and brewed coffee.

Besides a growth in orders for iced tea, other growth categories include newer drinks like smoothies, iced/frozen/slushy drinks, and specialty coffee drinks.

“Although the economy and high unemployment are factors in tap water’s upswing and beverage servings declines, some beverages, like carbonated soft drinks were declining prior to the recession,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst and author of the report.

Riggs added that a key takeaway from this report is that much of the declines in beverage servings are tied to the price/value relationship the consumer perceives.

According to the report, free refills were among an assortment of reasons consumers gave for ordering tap water instead of other beverages. The cost of carbonated soft drinks and other non-growth beverages was a prime factor for customers not ordering these drinks.

“Some declining beverages will fare better as the economy recovers, but beverage providers will need to address consumers’ concerns and poor value perceptions to stem further losses,” says Riggs.

Riggs says not all beverages are on the decline. “New flavors, addressing taste interests, preparing fresh/freshly made, and creating new versions of existing beverages are factors in the beverages that are growing.”

Consumer Confidence Drops to 2-Year Low

Bloomberg news reports consumer confidence slumped in October to the lowest level since March 2009, as Americans’ outlooks for employment and incomes soured.

“Dysfunctional labor and housing markets and the turmoil in Europe all are drags on confidence,” Robert Dye, chief economist at Comerica Inc. in Dallas, said before the report. “Consumers are fundamentally constrained, and consumer spending won’t be leading the economy forward.”

This summer, restaurant operators reported a net decline in customer traffic for the first time in three months, as many restaurants are just struggling to stay open. And based on U.S. Census Bureau statistics, a majority of Americans haven’t dined out in a year.

5,000 Pounds of Pine Nuts Recalled, 42 Sick

Pine-Nuts

The Food and Drug Administration issued a press release on their website indicating that Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is recalling approximately 5,000 lbs. of Turkish Pine Nuts sold in the Bulk Foods department of most Wegmans stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland between July 1 and October 18, 2011 due to possible Salmonella contamination.

The bulk Turkish Pine Nuts have been linked to an outbreak of illness from Salmonella. The recall only applies to Turkish Pine Nuts sold in bulk. Other pine nuts sold at Wegmans are reportedly not affected.

The recalled Turkish pine nuts were imported from Turkey by Sunrise Commodities of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and were not sold at the company’s Northborough, Massachusetts store, which opened on Sunday, October 16.

The recall was initiated as a result of a multi-state outbreak investigation by the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to Fox News, the CDC claims 42 people in Arizona, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia had fallen ill after eating the nuts. New York had the greatest number of cases, with 26 people reported ill, the CDC said.

Wegmans has placed automated phone calls to customers who purchased the Turkish Pine Nuts using their Shoppers Club card alerting them about the recall.

The FDA warns consumers who have purchased this product should discard any that remains in their homes and visit the service desk at Wegmans for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact Wegmans consumer affairs department toll free at 1(800) WEGMANS (934-6267) Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is a 79-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

Review Sweet Revenge

Sweet Revenge Granola

The first time I met Marlo Scott was when she had just left her corporate job to pursue the dream many people have: to open her own business. In her case it was a cupcake and wine bar. Marlo has not only survived the insanity that is the restaurant industry but risen above it. I had breakfast with Marlo this week at Sweet Revenge to taste her new breakfast offering and I could see why she is successful. She is as sweet as the first time I met her and the food was spectacular.

As we chatted about life and business we munched on Scotch Eggs ($11.95). I fell in love. Hard boiled eggs wrapped in chicken sausage in a panko crust. This was sinful, decadent. With each bite the nasty thought of hitting the gym tried to creep in my brain; but the idea was quickly rebuffed by my taste buds. The chicken sausage made this dish. It had a slight pate en croute feel.

The panko was a festival of texture with no hint of greasiness. I almost forgot to mention the potatoes. They were aromatic; redolent of thyme in the most elegant way. (And when I got the leftovers home, this dish maintained its deliciousness).

I have to admit that ever since I started reviewing food, I very rarely eat dessert. This job is precarious to the waistline. I am constantly eating rich foods, so I often skip dessert. Thankfully for me, Marlo has disguised a red velvet cupcake in a waffle. It was light, not overly sweet and came with the most delicious whipped cream cheese (and you all know how I love whipped cheeses). The fruit on the side looked pretty…but to be frank, the waffles took all the attention. I’m going back this week to try the Mexican Vanilla ($11.95).

Next came the egg sandwich da Sorrentine ($7.95). This was a lovely dish and a much healthier alternative to your regular eggs benedict. The poached eggs sat on a toasted english muffin, elegant ham, a stunning sundried tomato & basil pesto, sharp cheddar and fresh basil. The flavors worked perfectly together.

Don’t worry, I am almost done. Marlo would not let me leave without trying her granola praline ($9.50). I immediately asked her if she sold that by the bag. The mix is oats, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios and coconut (which added great flavor). These are baked with salt and brown maple sugar. The result is outstanding. I kept thinking how good it would go on ice cream.

I managed to leave through the door (I was thinking they may need to cut a bigger hole by the time I left). As far as I am concerned, this is a must go to breakfast place in NYC. Sweet Revenge is not just for cupcakes and wine any more.

Highly Recommended

Sweet Revenge is located at 62 Carmine Street, New York, NY 10014 (212) 242-2240

Obama Administration Bankrolled AquaBounty’s GE Salmon With Taxpayer Funds

Omega-3-and-Omega-6-Fatty-Acids

In a jaw dropping revelation, Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent with the Guardian, reports the Obama administration has awarded a research grant of $500,000 to financially troubled AquaBounty, the Massachusetts based biotech company attempting to introduce unlabeled genetically engineered GE salmon into the US marketplace.

AquaBounty’s GE salmon has been spliced with a growth hormone gene forcing it to grow up to five times faster than normal.

Goldenberg claims campaigners suggest the $500,000 grant to AquaBounty amounts to a bail-out for the firm’s main investor, the business tycoon and former economics minister of Georgia, Kakha Bendukidze.

“They are also comparing it to the Solyndra controversy, which saw a solar company go bankrupt after receiving government loan guarantees,” notes Goldenberg.

Additionally, AquaBounty’s funds were issued by the US Department of Agriculture, a federal agency that plays a key role in evaluating and monitoring biotechnology, which represents a conflict of interest.

The USDA said it had followed the proper procedures in making the grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) – including a review of AquaBounty’s financial information.

“This is research that any public university or independent institution could be doing, so why is the USDA funding this interested company to do it?” said Colin O’Neil, a policy analyst at the Centre for Food Safety.

These developments are troubling for many reasons:

1) Corporate Subsidies Paid by Taxpayer
The Obama Administration is using taxpayer money to essentially bankroll a private corporation’s attempt to unleash the first genetically modified animal into the U.S. food chain.

2) GE Salmon Under FDA Evaluation
At the same time the Obama Administration is funding AquaBounty’s GE Salmon, a federal agency (the FDA) has been assigned to objectively evaluate AquaBounty’s GE salmon to determine the impact genetically engineered fish will have on the consuming public, and wild Atlantic salmon.

3) GE Salmon Threatens Wild Salmon
Why is the Obama Administration funding this project when experts claim genetically modified salmon are a potential threat to naturally wild Atlantic salmon currently on the Endangered Species List? “Once you have bombarded an animal with other genes, the DNA is unstable, and there is no guarantee these GE fish remain sterile. A fish that grows that quickly is likely to lose some of its environmental benefits.”

4) No Labeling Requirements
Why hasn’t the Obama Administration advised the FDA to label GE salmon? The public does not approve of unlabeled GE salmon, yet the Obama Administration is using public funds, even as the FDA has made it clear they have no intention of labeling AquaBounty’s salmon as genetically engineered. The agency claims that since there’s no material difference between the flesh of the GE fish and the flesh of regular farm-raised Atlantic salmon, they aren’t required to be labeled separately.

5) Strong Public Opposition
The population at large does not trust or approve of genetically altered food. Last year, seventy-eight percent of adults surveyed did not want genetically engineered salmon. And nearly 200,000 comments opposing GE salmon was posted on the Center for Food Safety’s (CFS) website. In a poll conducted by Lake Research, 91 percent of Americans believed the FDA should not allow genetically engineered fish or meat into the marketplace.

Crony Capitalism

As many concerned citizens have pointed out, there is an obvious conflict of interest in funding research on GE animals by companies designing those animals — especially with taxpayer money issued by the GOVT responsible for regulating the same companies their giving grants to.

When the USDA issues AquaBounty a $500,000 grant with the approval and under the direction of the Obama Administration, and the FDA is willing to approve AquaBounty’s product based on limited research performed by AquaBounty, the same company receiving the grant money, that amounts to crony capitalism.

FDA Cover-up

In hearings on transgenic fish, the FDA knowingly withheld a Federal Biological Opinion by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration prohibiting the use of transgenic salmon in open-water net pens pursuant to the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“This adds further evidence that in fact GE salmon pose a serious threat to marine environments and is another compelling reason for the FDA not to approve the fish for commercial use,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety.

“While the FDA applauded the company’s choice of land-based containment as responsible, it never revealed that it is illegal in the U.S. to grow genetically engineered salmon in open-water net pens.”

As The Center For Food Safety (CFS) points out, despite this knowledge, the FDA has not consulted in depth with the expert fisheries agencies regarding the current Aquabounty GE salmon.

The documents released by CFS also include an email from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration which further revealed that:

“Shortly after the Atlantic salmon was listed as endangered, several of us from USFWS and NMFS spent 2 days down in Maryland meeting with Aqua Bounty and FDA about development of genetically modified salmon and discussion around the need for FDA to engage in Section 7 consultation with the Services. We never heard a peep out of FDA or Aqua Bounty after that.”

Inadequate Research

The FDA has based its evaluation for approval of GE salmon on the limited, inadequate, and subjective studies conducted by AquaBounty Technologies itself. The FDA claims AquaBounty’s GE salmon poses no harm to consumers because the company has proven that the genetically engineered salmon has the same nutrients, fatty acids and minerals as conventionally grown salmon.

Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist with Consumers Union says the FDA needs much more data. “They need more data on the allergy question, and I think most any allergy scientist would say the same thing.”

Hansen explains that fish are one of the top five foods people are most allergic to and the sample size used of six fish in the testing was far too small to determine whether consumers could be allergic.

Hansen added the FDA approval panel was mostly comprised of GE cheerleaders, with no fish ecologists or allergists despite AquaBounty tests suggesting GE salmon could be much more allergenic than regular salmon.

And there’s evidence that AquaBounty’s GM salmon might have higher levels of a cancer promoting hormone IGF-1, as well as more antibiotics.

Low Nutritional Value

According to Hanson, AquaBounty’s own data reveals their GE salmon has less omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than regular farmed salmon in worse ratios.

And because their GE salmon doesn’t have the fats, it doesn’t taste as good. “So basically everything you eat salmon for, it doesn’t have, or it’s got less of than any other kind of salmon.”

“Shades of Solyndra”

“Certainly this does have shades of Solyndra. We have seen this company’s [AquaBounty] stock plummeting for months and months – years actually – and what does the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) do but give this company money?”, said Colin O’Neil, a policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety.

Goldenberg notes the grant to AquaBounty comes at a time when the Obama administration is on the defensive when it comes to its handling of energy and environmental projects. Emails released by the White House suggest that Obama fundraisers influenced the decision to fund Solyndra.

The Obama administration, dismissed disclosures that AquaBounty could run out of cash in early 2012. AquaBounty has already received some $3m from the US government and $6m in funds from Canadian government.

The company’s chief executive, Ronald Stotish, all but admitted that government support was vital to the company’s survival. “It is true that we don’t have unlimited funds,” he said. “We are a small company so these grants are important to us.”

Goldenberg claims the company’s interim financial report, issued on 23 September, just five days before the grant announcement, records a net operating loss of $2.8m for the first six months of this year, $500,000 more than the previous year. “Current balances are sufficient to take the company into Q2 2012,” the report says.

US District Judge Rules Corn Sugar Lawsuit Can Go Forward

corn_refiners_association

A federal judge has ruled against a dismissal motion filed by corn industry attorneys who claimed their corn sugar advertising campaign is protected by free speech.

Corn industry attorneys argued that the lawsuit was an “attempt to stifle a national conversation about the merits of high fructose corn syrup versus sugar, and claimed educational campaigns from the Corn Refiners Association, which does not directly sell any products, cannot be branded advertising”.

The judge disregarded those claims.

“Plaintiffs have met their burden in showing a reasonable probability of success on their argument that the statements are false,” said U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall, who presided over the lawsuit.

The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) previously submitted documents to the Mexican government in which they acknowledge the difference between HFCS and other forms of sugar; these documents became a “key piece of evidence”.

“There is evidence in the record indicating that Defendants have themselves made statements about the different chemical make-up between table sugar and HFCS,” Marshall wrote in her ruling.

“Plaintiffs have also submitted studies and papers that support its allegation that CRA’s claim that HFCS is sugar and/or natural is false and/or misleading.”

According to Fox News, Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association, praised the judge for granting a defense motion to drop individual corn companies as defendants, leaving only the trade association, and dismissing a part of the lawsuit claiming that the corn industry violated California law in addition to federal regulations.

Companies named as defendants included powerful global agri-giants like Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Corn Products International, Penford Products, Roquette America, Inc., Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas Inc., and the companies’ marketing and lobbying organization, The Corn Refiners Association Inc.

Earlier this year, The Western Sugar Cooperative, Michigan Sugar Co. and C&H Sugar Company filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court against six corn processors and their lobbying group.

After their initial filing, five more sugar companies joined the lawsuit seeking to prevent the corn industry from marketing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as sugar.

Sugar farmers and refiners want the corn industry to stop marketing high-fructose corn syrup as a natural product, claiming it’s the same as sugar. They say the campaign constitutes false advertising and seek compensation for lost profits and corrective advertising.

“This suit is about false advertising, pure and simple,” said Inder Mathur, President and CEO of Western Sugar Cooperative, which represents American sugar beet farmers. “If consumers are concerned about your product, then you should improve it or explain its benefits, not try to deceive people about its name or distort scientific facts.”

Since public awareness regarding the health risks associated with HFCS has increased (HFCS is linked to obesity and diabetes, among other health issues), some food companies have begun to emphasis that their products don’t contain high fructose corn syrup — among them is Starbucks, Snapple, Kraft Foods.

Lawyers for the corn industry arguing for the dismissal said sugar and high fructose corn syrup are equivalent in how they are metabolized by the body.

But the corn industry lawyers’ claim is simply not true.

The extra metabolic step for fructose molecules is missing in HFCS, which is why a Princeton University research team concluded that excess fructose in HFCS is metabolized to produce fat, while glucose is largely processed for energy or stored as a carbohydrate, called glycogen, in the liver and muscles.

Review The Fat Goose Brooklyn

Empanada-of-Arroz-Con-Leche

When Chef Jennifer Cole informed me that she was moving from the Upper West Side to Brooklyn, I knew this would be a good move. More culinary freedom and liberal, experimental palates. Chef Cole invited me and a small group of bloggers to eat at the Fat Goose.  I saw immediately that my instincts were right.

I met up there with Jessica and Lon from Food Mayhem and had the pleasure to meet Andrea and Jeff from High Low Food Drink. It was a pleasure to dine with people who enjoy it as much as I do. The restaurant has a comfortable feel about it; brick walls, soft lighting and copper ceilings make the space feel cozy and warm. The kitchen is a two level affair (something NY Chefs often yearn for and equipped with machines most chefs just dream of).

We started off with some cocktails. I chose the Love Potion No. 8. It was a lovely autumn cocktail made up of rum, lemon, ginger, simple syrup, all spice, clove, Ommegang and bitters. This was a true culinary cocktail. I sensed no alcohol in the cocktail which led me to believe that more than one would be perilous.

Chef Cole started us off with the Cajun fried chicken croquettes ($7). They came on a bed of tomatillo salsa that was simply divine. Even more delightful was the texture of the croquettes. In this dish, Chef Cole gave a nod to the culinary traditions of Spain where she spent more than 10 years and spent some time as  head chef of Michelin-starred Balzac.

Our next dish was the Wild Salmon Tartare (MP). This was my favorite dish of the evening. Salmon can be a very strong flavored fish. Chef Cole’s preparation kept the integrity of the fish intact while toning down its power. To top things off (literally), a Quail hen egg yolk. Chefs, if you are listening; eggs are not just for dinner. They are for breakfast, and lunch, and snacks. The egg yolk added a lovely texture to the tartare and took me back to my Spain trip just a few months back.

Next to come out was the hake ($18). The fish was clean, elegant and fresh. Perfectly cooked and textured and sitting on a bed of wild mushroom pumpkin ragout and heritage pork trotter. I could not stop eating the mushrooms. Simply gorgeous.

The agave nectar caramelized pork belly was accompanied by a creamy rosemary polenta ($22). Suddenly I was in North Carolina enjoying the heat of summer. The pork belly was succulent. The polenta was a delight and a perfect match for the pork belly which was laced with a delicate trace of sweetness.

Dessert was an empanada of arroz con leche with a chocolate cinnamon dipping sauce ($7). The dough was lightly fried without the smallest hint of greasiness. The bitterness in the chocolate counteracted the  sweetness of the sugar gently sprinkled on the empanadas. I can see that some people may have a slight issue with the texture of the arroz con leche; but for me, it was delightful.

I was thrilled to receive the invite from Chef Cole to dine at her new home in Brooklyn. It will be exciting to see where she goes with her dishes as she settles into her new space.

Highly Recommended

The Fat Goose is located at 125 Wythe Ave., corner of North 8 St., Brooklyn, NY 11249 718-963-2200