Monday, July 25, 2016


A Whole New Kind Of Grocery Store Is Coming To The U.S.

‘ The popularity of food startups isn't exactly helping. Take the meal kit delivery service Blue Apron: By sending exactly what you need directly to your door, the startup in theory helps cut down on wasted groceries. But as BuzzFeed points out, nearly every ingredient comes in its own little pouch, generating an insane amount of packaging waste for just a two-person dinner. (Blue Apron said in email that all of its packaging is recyclable or biodegradable.)

I pulled this quote out of this article sent to me by Helen because I think it identifies part of the problem with the bring your own container push. I love that it’s being done, but all the studies show that it is further up the chain or in the sidebar outlets that the change has to happen for there to be an appreciable difference.

The origins of the neenish tart: A sweet mystery and a little scandal

‘The most popular tale is that the neenish tart was invented  by a woman called Ruby Neenish in the New South Wales Riverina town of Grong Grong in 1913. The story goes something like this – Ruby was baking for a shower tea when she ran out of cocoa. Thinking on her feet, she iced her tarts with half chocolate, half white icing and they were known forever more as neenish tarts.’

And it’s such a great story why spoil it by casting nasturtiums at Ruby !

Taste-Testing the History of the Hamburger

‘As the patties sizzled on the pan, they smelled like burgers cooking. Leni, myself and Mary simultaneously took a bite. “It's like a gourmet burger,” said Mary. “It's absolutely a burger. There is no doubt in my mind.”

Another quite delightful origins story.

One-World Menu

‘From Scientific American July 2016:
Back in 1961, residents of far flung countries are very different mixes of crops. By 1985 the disparities worldwide had shrunk and daily fare became even more homogeneous by 2009. In nearly 50 years the differences in foods eaten narrowed by 68%. Prevalent staples such as wheat have become more dominant, and oil crops such a soybean, palm and sunflower have risen sharply.’

Apologies: there is a diagram in the mag that sort of shows this shift but is a tad incomprehensible and not very worth the reproducing. However, it does highlight some startling shifts such as the United Arab Emirates zooming in from the outer reaches in 1961 to the virtual centre of the action in 2009, and Nepal coming in from the cold too.

Why Do Some Plants Become Food Crops and Others Not? And What Does That Tell Us?

As serendipity would have it, just as I added the above this newsletter, Jacqui alerted me to this paper which cited two other papers looking at the homogenising of the world diet from a different perspective. The Lauden and the two Khoury articles cited in it are well worth the read.

Slice, Dice, Chop Or Julienne: Does The Cut Change The Flavor?

Without enzymes, onions and garlic also wouldn't be nearly as flavorful. "If you cut an onion or garlic, you release an enzyme called alliinase that produces the typical pungency or onion or garlic aroma, which really isn't there when it's intact," explains Forney. "The enzymatic reaction forms the flavor — so the more finely it's cut, the more flavor that will be released."

And the more tears you’re gonna cry too, I reckon. Quite an intriguing article (thanks Helen), though I reckon sometimes the direction to cut things particular ways are just to irritate you and rub your nose in it that you will never be a chef.

The real two cultures

The vocabulary of farming is a constant indicator of the divide, but there are many other landmarks. Separate calendars, for example: academics measure their year by semester and holiday breaks, farmers measure theirs by season — planting, haying, breeding, birthing, harvesting. Or even by weather report. If it’s going to rain tomorrow, there will be no mowing of standing hay today because it won’t dry, but class will still be held. And the seasons are likely to be delimited by events that most indoor-bound workers fail to notice. My sister text-messaged me one late April to say that the barn swallows had returned that very afternoon.’

Just one of many pars I could have cited from this terrific thoughtful article.

Arctic 'Doomsday Vault' opens to retrieve vital seeds for Syria

ICARDA and others know that the past could very well contain the key to our future, though no one thought they would see such a mass withdrawal in their lifetime.’

I missed this depressing story when it was first published.