Real Food Please

Sorry if this isn't up your alley, but it's important to me, and I think to many of you. I think it's time to move beyond little lifestyle changes (which are also important), to speaking up in policy forums. Here is an opportunity. I'd love to see these comments jump in number to send a little message that we are noticing the poor governance of our food supply. Maybe this should be prefaced with: I do not trust the FDA, at all...

In response to spinach troubles, the FDA recently announced a rule allowing manufacturers to irradiate spinach and iceberg lettuce. You might like to know that other foods are already being processed with radiation, to kill off bacteria and extend shelf life, including meats and other fruits and vegetables. Irradiation is not acceptable processing under the USDA's 'organic' guidelines, only for non-organic foods. Here are some thoughts from Europe.

From Wikipedia, "food irradiation is the process of exposing food to ionizing radiation in order to destroy microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, or insects that might be present in the food. Further applications include sprout inhibition, delay of ripening, increase of juice yield, and improvement of re-hydration. Irradiation is a more general term of deliberate exposure of materials to radiation to achieve a technical goal. As such it is also used on non-food items, such as medical hardware, plastics, tubes for gas-pipelines, hoses for floor-heating, shrink-foils for food packaging, automobile parts, wires and cables (isolation), tires, and even gemstones."

But let's remember, we don't generally ingest these objects...

A food's make-up (fats, carbohydrates, etc...) determine what exactly changes in the food's content once irradiated. Spinach and lettuce are mostly water, so the result isn't totally damaging. But it's the basic idea that it is causing free radicals, bacterial mutations, and generally altering the DNA of your food. That just seems weird to me.

FDA is accepting comments and opposition until Sept 21st. Here is where you can comment. - http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocumentDetail&o=09000064806d2f95
Make sure you include the docket # - FDA-1999-F-2405
Click on the Add Comments button, and go to town. You can submit as an Individual Consumer in the Submitter Category box. You can post as anonymous or with your name.
Here is some recommended text that I modified a bit from another commenter...


My already poor trust in the FDA is only being deteriorated. Just like my food's nutritional qualities.

Allowing irradiation of lettuce and spinach is an irrational response to a continuing problem of mass-farming and lax health regulation and inspection. The reason that we have seen an increase in the outbreak of salmonella and e. coli is that the farms, handling, and distribution centers are filthy. Irradiation is not the answer for food-borne illness. It is a overly simplistic bandage to offer a false level of confidence in the public sector. It is only serving the needs of the out-of-control food industry.

Irradiation is not a safe solution. Not only do we see vitamin loss and the loss of essential fatty acids in irradiated foods, there is a real possibility of promoting a mutation of the strains of e. coli and other food-borne microorganisms. Additionally, there are concerns over the formation of free radicals, which can set off chain reactions in the body destroying antioxidants, tearing
apart cell membranes, and making the body more susceptible to cancer, diabetes,
heart disease, liver damage, muscular breakdown etc.

I insist that the public not be misled and ill-informed. While simple labeling in the grocery may allow a consumer to make her own choice about the use of irrradiated food (which seems poorly enforced anyway), this does not prevent restaurants, school lunchrooms, hospitals, etc. from serving unknowing consumers foods that have been irradiated. Given the known and potential health concerns, this is hardly an acceptable solution.

Please take all comments into consideration, and understand that we ARE noticing the poor governance of our food supply.

Again, sorry if you don't care about this. But maybe forward it on to another friend that may.

Your public service announcement person on patrol ...


Knitting Comes to Jersey City

We're getting our very own knitting store and cafe! I was wondering when somebody was going to open up something like this.

The Stockinette
581 Jersey Ave @ 3rd St

They're in there working away stocking shelves, painting, decorating... due to open in September. VERY exciting news.


Is It Hot In Here?

So the firemen fabric from awhile back? It turned into an apron, only to be used for cooking the hottest of hot foods of course... It was a gift for Heidi's birthday. Here she is modeling it. In the subway. On a Saturday night. She wore it all night.

It's probably the most amusing thing I've ever made. Here's another close-up. Just because I can't get enough.

Listening to: Marvin Gaye - Take Me To the River



The best way I can describe India is... vibrant.
I went for the food and the culture, and returned in complete amazement of the depth of it all.
I've never experienced so much color, spice, friendliness, confusion, variations in lifestyle... and I saw only the tiniest sliver.

I went with a group set up through friends, 16 of us, to Kerala, the southwest coastal region of India. Kerala actually means "God's own country", and it's stunning. It's the spice center of the world, and I will argue that with anyone who dares. They grow a chunk of the world's peppercorn, cardamom, tea, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla... We went to markets, toured farms and plantations, and had cooking demonstrations at every stop, by chefs, mothers, fishermen, anyone who would cook with us.
I learned that curry is actually a leaf... tea is actually a tree - picked best during monsoon season... black, green, white, and red peppercorn is all from the same plant... indian okra isn't slimy like ours... and cardamom makes everything better...

Beyond Kerala's food, there is rich culture. Kerala is predominantly Christian, with Hindus and Muslims making up most of the balance, and some Buddhists and even Jews (~15 families in Kochin). The Christians eat all meat, even though cows are off-limits in the Hindu culture (Hindus believe that all 365,000 Hindu gods and goddesses live in the belly of the cow). The Catholic church is alive and well in Kerala. We visitied a Sunday morning service, all in Malayalam, but I still got a sense of extreme devotion. Ayurveda is rooted in Kerala as well, a homeopathic traditional medicine and lifestyle that uses massage, oils, teas and herbs. Many Keralites use it as their healthcare. And we used it frequently throughout the trip. Imagine wet fish on an oily countertop. That is ayurvedic massage.

The colors are the best part - the decor and aesthetics, the dress, even hair ribbons. This is a sari store, 4 floors of shelving with the most beautiful colors and fabrics. They take pride in their colors. A favorite thing to do in villages is photos. Everyone loves to have their photos taken, but you must show them on the screen. They love seeing their pictures, shaking hands, smiles go a long way in India...

We ate like royalty, and for many, it's actually how they eat daily. I didn't see any packaged anything; all meat, produce, spices and fruits are fresh and in bulk. They get their milk from cows, local spices and rice... It was delicious. Fresh curry leaves and coconut milk in almost every dish. Treats and dishes like oppams, chappatis, paisams, dosas, masalas...

There's so many wonderful things, I hate to even mention India's challenges, but unfortunately there are many. The cities, especially the big cities like Mumbai, are totally overwhelming with poverty, squalor, and filth. There are very poor water and waste management systems in India, and the city streets become dumps quickly. The roads are horrendous, and apparently the transportation authorities don't fix potholes unless they get a nice fee... The roads, dear god, the roads. If I never go back to India, it will be because of the roads. Buses, trucks, taxis, tuktuks, bicycles, pedestrians, and cows... all on the same road, some going the same direction, all going as fast as they can while avoiding potholes. Except the cows. They mosey right along, sometimes even obeying the stoplights better than the vehicles...

The saving grace to Mumbai was our visit with a couchsurfing friend and his family. Sachin invited me and Dad over to their apartment, where his mom cooked us the most amazing dinner. It was the most gracious thing I've ever seen someone do for strangers, and it set our trip off to the best start possible!

So many wonderful stories, much of it is portrayed in the pictures... enjoy! There are also videos of things like tuktuk rides, Independence Day Parades, rope spinning, etc... Photos and videos will be updated as more come in from other folks in the group.