Tag Archives: Barry Estabrook

Bogus “data” from government agencies

From David E. Gumpert, on the Complete Patient blog:

“Media people love juicy data suggesting an untended-to crisis, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has the perfect juicy data for anyone wanting to write about the supposed crisis in food safety.

The scary data go like this: every year, millions of Americans are victims of food-borne illness–48 million become sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die.

The media are attracted to this data like bees to honey. Over just the last few days, two prominent food writers have used it as the basis of articles attacking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for not doing enough to solve our food-safety crisis. Continue reading

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Would you like Superbugs with that?

From Barry Estabrook, at On Earth:

“Feeding antibiotics to healthy livestock is leading to an emerging human health crisis — one scientists and the government have seen coming for decades

Stuart Levy once kept a flock of chickens on a farm in the rolling countryside west of Boston. No ordinary farmer, Levy is a professor of molecular biology and microbiology and of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. This was decades ago, and his chickens were taking part in a never-before-conducted study. Half the birds received feed laced with a low-dose of antibiotics, which U.S. farmers routinely administer to healthy livestock — not to cure illness, but merely to increase the animals’ rates of growth. The other half of Levy’s flock received drug-free food. Continue reading

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Cardboard tomatoes from Florida

by Jim Romahn, on Agri007:

“I have just finished reading Tomatoland, by Barry Estabrook, and learned a great deal – most of it not very nice – about how Floridians grow most of the tomatoes we eat when local ones are not available.

Most of the book is about the workers who are exploited. Many are illegal immigrants from Mexico and other Central American countries and because they are afraid of being caught, they are open to exploitation. Some are literally slaves – bought and sold by “owners”, living in squalid conditions and never earning enough to get out of debt.

The tomatoes grow on sand, so all of the nutrients are supplied, mainly as chemical fertilizer. There is a hardpan layer below the sand which holds rainwater and irrigation water; if there’s too much, the fields are drained; if there’s not enough, they are irrigated. Continue reading

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How to lose weight and keep it off

In honour of Mother’s day, we’re looking at a theme that will be of more than passing interest to many mothers out there:

From Barry Estabrook, on his Politics of the Plate blog:

Photo of the “Culinary Intelligence” book jacket via Politics of the Plate blog.

“In the mid-1990s, Peter Kaminsky, a self-proclaimed hedonist, landed the perfect gig. As the writer behind New York magazine’s “Underground Gourmet” column, he was paid to patrol the outer reaches of the boroughs in search of the tastiest ethnic fare.

When he wasn’t sampling Vietnamese, Korean, Greek, Cuban, or West Indian cuisine, his duty was to discover little-known, up-and-coming restaurants. And as the magazine’s go-to food writer, Kaminsky was also called upon whenever the likes of Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse, or Thomas Keller opened a new bastion of four-star-fare. Some of New York’s greatest chefs hired him as a co-writer (and taster-in-chief) for their cookbooks. Continue reading

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CDC refuses to name restaurant chain blamed for poisoning 60 customers

From Barry Estabrook on Politics of the Plate:

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) handling of a recent investigation into a salmonella outbreak that sickened 68 people in 10 states—sending more than 20 to the hospital—had all the elements of a B-grade spy movie. The CDC identified the source of the contaminated food, but refused to make the name public, instead calling it Restaurant Chain A, and saying only that it was a Mexican chain. It could have been any one of six such chains that operated in the affected states.

That seemed like odd behavior from an agency whose responsibility is to save lives, protect Americans, and save money through prevention. Although no one died in this outbreak, which came to light last fall, salmonella is frequently fatal, so outing the culprit could have saved lives. Revealing the identity of the mysterious Restaurant Chain A would have allowed customers to protect themselves by avoiding the place, if they chose. And a little negative publicity might have been just what was needed to convince those in charge of the company to clean up their act, perhaps preventing future outbreaks. Continue reading

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Doublespeak from FDA on antibiotics

From Barry Estabrook, on Politics of the Plate:

“The cynicism of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) knows no bounds.

Just before the holidays, the agency, which is supposed to protect Americans’ health,reneged on a 35-year-old pledge to ban farmers from administering low levels (also called subtherapeutic levels) of antibiotics that are used to combat infections in humans to livestock, not to cure disease, but to increase the healthy animals’ growth rates.

The FDA went back on its word during a time when media outlets were short staffed and Americans too focused on last-minute holiday preparations to much about agricultural news. And it made its intentions known quietly in the Federal Register—hardly a volume on the average consumer’s must-read list—without even issuing a press release. Continue reading

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Top six food blogs — The Bovine’s pick

Like the choices in the post linked to below, these selections are bound to be biased by what we look for in a blog. Sorry if we’ve overlooked your blog through our narrowsightedness. Obviously a list of six favourite blogs is not going to be anywhere near exhaustive of all the great food blogs out there. See our blogroll for all the blogs we consider worth including. Readers are invited to add their own suggestions of favourite food blogs in the comments:

1. The Complete Patient — No one covers the raw milk food politics beat as thoroughly as David E. Gumpert. Original material, first rate journalism, and insight born of persistence and hard won familiarity with the game, and the players, in raw milk and food rights, in North America.

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2. Hella Delicious Food —  provides great coverage of the British Columbia raw milk scene as well as other enlightening food related stories. The author has lived in a lot of places and has the perspective to show for it. She brings a lot of spiritual and cultural insight into her writing. Hella’s blog also gets top marks for graphic design and interactive functionality. Continue reading

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