Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Greater Boston Kimchi Festival 2010 Wrap-Up

Greater Boston Kimchi Festival

Sustainable, traditional, fermented!

This is the final post on the subject. Rather than doing more posts, I will update this post as new bits come in.  

If there's anything missing here, please put it in a comment and I'll add it.

Press and blogs:

  • Best Professional Kimchi: Jum Nam of Shabu Ya Restaurant, Cucumber Kimchi
  • Most Innovative: Il Sun Jeon, Fruit Kimchi
  • Most Innovative: Didi Emmons, Lemon Kimchi
  • Best Traditional Cabbage: Tom Novotny, Kiss Me Kimchi
  • Best Traditional Non-Cabbage: Patricia Yu, Radish Kimchi
  • Best In Show: Patricia Yu, Radish Kimchi

Photos etc:

  • 300 attendees (press estimates)
  • 24 kimchis
  • $1500 raised for the building fund of the Theodore Parker Church


    Raw Milk Now Available In Framingham MA From Eastleigh Farm

    A few hours ago, Eastleigh Farm in Framingham, Massachusetts announced that they are open for business selling raw milk. Here's what they said:
    Eastleigh Farm is pleased to announce that we have obtained all of our permits to sell raw milk and we are open for business. Initially, we will be open from 2 PM until 7 PM, every day. Milk sales are available to the general public and to Eastleigh Farm CSA members. The CSA membership provides the option of a prepaid quantity of milk that is guaranteed to be available on a weekly basis. The CSA application is attached [here]. We hope to see you soon and to share the good health of our product with you and your family.

    Our address is 1062 Edmands Road, Framingham, MA 01701. Our gallons are priced at $8.50/each and our half gallons are $5.00/each for non-CSA purchases.
    Eastleigh is now the source of raw milk closest and most convenient to Boston and many of the surrounding areas.

    A recommendation for anyone thinking of buying raw milk (from any farm, not just from Eastleigh):

    Talk with your farmers about their farming practices, and make sure that you are satisfied with how they are raising the animals. Ask them what the animals eat, how much time they spend outside, what happens when they get sick, and so on.

    As with other products, if there is demand, the supply will be created to meet it. If enough people ask for organic, or 100% grass-fed, or whatever, and if it's clear to farmers that customers are willing pay for it, then they will find a way to produce it.

    In the meantime, even if you are not able to find exactly the product you ultimately want, build a relationship with a farmer and buy food from them. You gain a huge amount of transparency into what you're eating. The farmer gets a better livelihood, since the intermediaries no longer get their cut. To use milk as an example, distributors pay farmers about $2.50/gal for organic cow milk; farms in Massachusetts get between $6/gal and $12/gal for raw milk (not even necessarily organic).

    Direct-to-consumer raw milk sales are the one bright spot in an otherwise bleak outlook for small dairy farms.

    Midwest Campylobacter/Campylobacteriosis Outbreak Linked To Raw Milk (Or Is It?)

    In the news:
    On Friday, the FDA reported 12 new cases of illness in the Midwest linked to raw milk from a dairy contaminated with a dangerous bacterium, campylobacter. "Raw milk is inherently dangerous and should not be consumed by anyone, at any time, for any reason," says John Sheehan, director of the FDA's division of plant- and dairy-food safety.
    This from the Wall Street Journal and many other sources.

    Down with raw milk! Burn it! Pasteurize the cows!

    Hmm. Let's take a step back.

    Establishing the actual cause of an outbreak is not as straightforward as one might like. It's possible that these cases were caused by raw milk—but it's also possible that the outbreak was caused by something else. Given that the FDA has a stated agenda of abolishing the consumption of raw milk, they may be motivated to jump to conclusions if these conclusions support their agenda. It has happened before, and farms have been shut down, or had their raw milk sales suspended, based on inconclusive or incomplete evidence.

    Even if it turns out that the outbreak was caused by raw milk, it is important to keep things in perspective.

    Consider foods that have caused outbreaks in recent years: ground beef, organic spinach, tomatoes, peanuts. Some of these outbreaks have involved hundreds or thousands of people, and hundreds of tons of product. What has happened? Have ground beef processing plants suspended operations? Has anyone been put out of business? Not that I know of. Has there been a call for an end to sales of these dangerous foods? No.

    There was an outbreak traced to pasteurized milk in Massachusetts in 2007 that caused 3 deaths. Was there a call for an end to sales of pasteurized milk? No.

    Should people be able to choose for themselves what foods they eat; where, how, and from whom they buy them; and how they are processed? I say yes.

    Should the government continue in its valuable role of monitoring food outbreaks and gathering data? Yes.

    Should the government continue to have the power to regulate commerce in different types of goods? Probably. But individual liberties must be preserved, and regulations and prohibitions should be in proportion to actual threats.

    Many people claim that raw milk is no different from pasteurized milk, just more dangerous, and that therefore there is no reason to drink raw milk. Others claim that raw milk has a different nutritional profile from pasteurized milk.

    Consider this:

    I have a friend who can't drink pasteurized milk without getting indigestion. If she takes lactase pills, the indigestion goes away. Lactase is the enzyme that's necessary to digest lactose, the sugar in milk. Some people make lactase in their bodies, and some people don't. She would seem to be one of those who don't. Interestingly, she can drink raw milk without any digestive problems. Raw milk contains lactase. Lactase, along with other enzymes and some vitamins, is destroyed or diminished by heat.

    It sounds to me like raw milk is different from pasteurized milk, in at least one way.

    The report-in-progress of the Michigan Fresh Unprocessed Whole Milk Workgroup describes other differences. This group includes officials from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and other representatives of state government, a medical doctor, an official from the MSU College of Agriculture, and others.

    I hope that their report will put to rest, once and for all, the claim that raw milk and pasteurized milk are no different.

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    Kimchi Press: Stuff Boston magazine

    Stuff Boston is a variety magazine serving the Boston area.

    Award-winning food writer Louisa Kasdon penned this excellent and hilarious article:


    An excerpt:
    The kimchi craze is the kind of thing that makes food writing addictive: there is no greater fun than reporting on the passion of zealots with highly developed palates.

    Kimchi Press: bostonist.com

    bostonist is "a website about Boston and everything that happens in it". This great post by Rick Sawyer appeared a few weeks ago, and somehow we missed it.

    The headline was Get Fermenting: The Greater Boston Kimchi Festival Wants Your Cabbage.

    And the funniest line: "…the largest kimchi festival this Bostonist has ever heard of." Hah! Awesome.


    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Greater Boston Kimchi Festival Sponsors

    Huge thanks to the sponsors and supporters of the Greater Boston Kimchi Festival, who donated prizes and/or services. Their donations helped make the Festival possible.

      Greater Boston Kimchi Festival Winners

      The First Annual Greater Boston Kimchi Festival has concluded!

      Twenty-one kimchis entered the contest, and as I said during the awards ceremony, I would have been psyched to have had any of them on my dinner plate next to my favorite barbequed something. I was thrilled with the event.

      Here are the award-winners:
      • Best Professional Kimchi: Jum Nam of Shabu Ya Restaurant, Cucumber Kimchi
      • Most Innovative: Il Sun Jeon, Fruit Kimchi
      • Most Innovative: Didi Emmons, Lemon Kimchi
      • Best Traditional Cabbage: Tom Novotny, Kiss Me Kimchi
      • Best Traditional Non-Cabbage: Patricia Yu, Radish Kimchi
      • Best In Show: Patricia Yu, Radish Kimchi
      Thank you again to everyone who entered and everyone who attended.

      A HUGE thank-you to the community of the Theodore Parker Church, who lent their space, their tables, and most of all, their time and energy to this event. Without their work, the Greater Boston Kimchi Festival would truly never have happened.
      I would also like to acknowledge the other organizers, Cora Roelofs, Steve Greene, and Phil Paik of JP Seafood. It was a fantastic experience working with such passionate, like-minded people to help realize our vision of the Greater Boston Kimchi Festival.

      Thursday, March 18, 2010

      Author Lierre Keith Assaulted While Speaking At Book Fair

      Lierre Keith, author of The Vegetarian Myth (which I reviewed last week), was assaulted while on stage at a book fair, while talking about her book.

      This past Saturday, March 13, Keith was presenting at the 15th Annual San Francisco Anarchist Bookfair. As she was explaining the cruelty of factory farming to the crowd and her objections to this system, three hooded thugs shouted "Go vegan!", threw hot-pepper-laced pies into Keith's face, and ran off. Nobody stopped them. Members of the audience cheered.

      Keith, who has a degenerative spine disease, was unable to continue her presentation.

      There is so much wrong with this. Where do I start? Three supposed vegans attack another human being, in the name of a philosophy that strives to avoid harming sentient beings? Three able-bodied people assault a disabled woman? An author at a book fair is attacked for expressing her views?

      Lierre talks about it in this YouTube interview with Jimmy Moore of Livin' La Vida Low Carb.

      Lots of other folks have written about it, including my friend Kelly the Kitchen Kop here.

      If this attack was intended to convince people not to read Keith's book, it does not seem to have achieved its goal. From what I hear, the book's sales rank on Amazon has shot up from somewhere in the 4000s to around 500 since Saturday.

      Saturday, March 13, 2010

      Raw Milk Dropped By Whole Foods (Temporarily? Permanently?)

      Share photos on twitter with Twitpic
      Up until yesterday, Whole Foods sold raw milk in many states where they could.

      As of today, Whole Foods no longer sells raw milk in CA, CT, PA, and WA (and maybe others). The above sign, seen outside a Whole Foods Market in Washington, makes it sound like they may start selling raw milk again at some future time. We shall see.

      Mark McAfee suggests that this decision came from difficulties Whole Foods was having with insurers. McAfee observes that the store continues to carry spinach and peanuts, despite the fact that they have killed far more people than raw milk has in recent years.

      While this may be a temporary blow to raw milk, it is a boon to independent stores and smaller chains that carry raw milk. And it will generate more bad PR for Whole Foods, who have been alienating key constituencies with some frequency over the past year. (See here and here.) Raw milk drinkers tend to think quite a lot about food, health, and wellness; other people are likely to seek their advice around food questions.

      David Gumpert posts his thoughts on the subject, insightful as usual, over at his blog, The Complete Patient.

      Wednesday, March 10, 2010

      Kimchi Festival In The News: Boston Globe

      With a week and a half to go before the Greater Boston Kimchi Festival, the Boston Globe have covered it, on page 10 of the Food section (and also on their web site). Click here to see their article, A spicy cabbage pitch!

      For full details on the Kimchi Festival, including how to enter your kimchi in the contest and how to get an early-bird discount, go to http://kimchi.lactoferment.com.

      Monday, March 8, 2010

      Book Review: The Vegetarian Myth, by Lierre Keith

      In her book, The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability, Lierre Keith successfully assails not only vegetarianism, but also industrial civilization and agriculture itself. The effectiveness of her assault may dishearten anyone with abiding fondness for these institutions. She puts the puzzle pieces together excellently and without holes; the resulting picture challenges the foundations of industrial capitalism. She gives no quarter, and, as in James Howard Kunstler's The Long Emergency, her proposed resolution is not an easy one.

      She starts by explaining her motivation. She deplores factory animal farming, and seeks above all an end to cruelty and oppression of all kinds. This is why she herself was a vegan for 20 years. In this respect, her goals are still aligned with those of moral and political vegetarians and vegans.

      According to her, their hearts are in the right place, but they've got the facts wrong.

      First, she describes her own early, naïve attempts to grow a vegan vegetable garden. When it came time to fertilize the garden, she shunned industrial, fossil-fuel-based fertilizer, for political reasons. Using manure was morally questionable, because it would have made her garden dependent upon the oppression of animals. The remaining option was organic fertilizer from the garden store. She recounts her surprise when she read the list of ingredients: blood meal, bone meal, and so on. As she said, "My garden wanted to eat animals, even if I didn't."

      Next, she explores (and explodes) the notion that a grain-based diet is morally superior to an animal-based diet. Eating meat is demonstrably compatible with preserving species and ecosystems in many places that have been inhabited by hunter-gatherers. On the other hand, agriculture based primarily on annual grasses (also known as grains) necessitates clearing fields, cutting down forests, draining rivers, and depleting topsoil. In place of killing individual animals, we destroy entire ecosystems and we eradicate the multiple species of animals that inhabit them and depend on them.

      She similarly investigates the notion that if people in rich countries stopped eating meat and ate grain instead, we could end hunger worldwide. Among other problems with this idea: most parts of the world can only grow grain with huge water inputs, and there's not enough water; the topsoil wouldn't last very long; and, for various political and economic reasons that she explains convincingly, growing grain leads to poverty.

      In the largest section of the book, she discusses the nutritional consequences of shunning or consuming animal products. She testifies that her 20 years on a vegan diet did not enhance her health (to put it mildly). She goes on to tell the story of the misinformation campaign propounding the benefits of a low-fat vegetable-based diet; the confusion about the role of cholesterol in the body and its links to heart disease; the metabolic challenges of carbohydrate-based diets; and the elevation of soy protein from an industrial by-product to a "health food". Keith makes excellent arguments against eating soy, citing its damaging effects on digestion, mineral absorption, and the endocrine system. Although it doesn't prove anything, I found this tidbit fascinating:
      The Chinese characters for barley, millet, rice, and wheat are pictures of the grains, because it's the edible parts that matter. The character for soy shows the roots, because it was grown as a cover crop, not a food. [quoting Kaayla Daniel, The Whole Soy Story, p. 9]
      You may have some idea by now where she is leading us. Eat local, native food. Stop driving cars. Stop having children. And: there's no way that we can feed all the people on the earth. There's going to be a die-off, same as when deer overpopulate a forest and exceed its carrying capacity. The bonanza of fossil fuels has allowed us to postpone this die-off, but the day will come, probably sooner than most people think, and the more we continue with business-as-usual, the less prepared each of us will be for it.

      Her perspective as a radical feminist activist suffuses the text, resulting in some interesting side-trips into the sexual politics of war, and the connections among vegetarianism, eating disorders, and the dominant culture. At the same time, the unfolding narrative of her personal journey from vegan to anti-grain runs throughout the chapters. She does a great job of integrating her own story into the larger one.

      Parts of the book, including the title itself, will challenge many readers. It is my hope that these readers will start reading and keep on reading, because Keith has put together so many important ideas in this book, so artfully. We owe it to ourselves to hear them, discuss them, and most importantly, act on them. The time is ripe. (Or perhaps the time was ripe 10,000 years ago.)

      Friday, March 5, 2010

      Yet Another Reason To Cook From Scratch

      According to Associated Press:
      A wide range of processed foods — including soups, snack foods, dips and dressings — is being recalled after salmonella was discovered in a flavor-enhancing ingredient.
      Food and Drug Administration officials said Thursday that the ingredient, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, is used in thousands of food products, though it was unclear how many of them will be recalled.
      And what, you may ask, is hydrolyzed vegetable protein? Hydrolyzed vegetable protein is a food flavor-enhancer whose active component is MSG. Hydrolyzed whey protein and hydrolyzed yeast protein are similar. Click here to see the names of some other food additives that do or may contain MSG.

      Hydrolyzed vegetable protein is added to processed foods as a way of adding MSG without having to put MSG on the ingredient list.

      So what's wrong with MSG? It might cause lesions on your hypothalamus and disrupt your endocrine system. (Lots more links.) Then again, it might not.

      Are you feeling lucky?

      And now, apparently, some batches of hydrolyzed vegetable protein contain salmonella.

      The good news is that when you eat at home, you can avoid such problems. Read food labels at the store. If the ingredient list includes anything on this long list, or anything you don't understand, then know that you might be buying MSG. I should warn you that if you do this, you may find yourself eating less processed foods. A lot less.

      When you go out to eat, it's trickier.

      A few restaurants make their food completely from scratch; at these places, you can ask your server what's in your food, and they should know. Chances are these places don't use MSG or any of its relatives—but if they do, they'll be able to tell you.

      By far the majority of restaurants buy buckets of goo of various types from foodservice companies like Sysco. This goo may be called sauce, soup, salad dressing, etc. The servers at these restaurants may be able to tell you if a given dish contains peanuts, eggs, or shellfish, but I doubt you'll get any useful answers about whether there's hydrolyzed yeast protein in the soup that's shipped to them in 55-gallon drums from Texas.

      Kinda makes you not want to go to the food court, huh. (Good.)