Tag Archives: sustainable producers

Two Excellent Articles On Improving American Food (and my relationship to childhood obesity)

Some seriously excellent articles I’ve just encountered:

1. Avoiding Factory Farms: An Eater’s Guide, by Nicolette Hahn Niman

2. Good Food Nation, by Peter Dizikes of the MIT News Office

Seriously, go read them. Or if you just want me to summarize, click after the jump for brief overviews, some additional thoughts, and an amusing childhood connection…

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Eat&Joy Maatilatori: A Market for Local Farmers and Producers in Helsinki

New cities are full of possibilities.  My first night in Helsinki, I spent several hours traipsing around the narrow historic streets and the broad tree-lined esplanades, getting a feel for this unfamiliar and exhilarating territory.  Exploring a cityscape in search of  quirky sights and unexpected urban landmarks to write a treasure hunt game often occupies my brain for hours until I realize that it’s gotten dark and it’s way past time for dinner.  But that brings me to the best part about traveling to new places – finding the most delicious and exciting local food to eat. And I was luckily enough to stumble upon the warm and inviting shopfront of Eat&Joy Maatilatori right by the central train station.  eat&joy maatilatori

Eat&Joy Maatilatori is a fantastic place that should exist in every urban space – it’s essentially a farmer’s market in a shop that sources local foods from all over Finland to bring to city consumers.  Offerings range from the very fresh (cheese and yogurt from nearby dairy farms, just-baked rye bread, fruits and vegetables) to the canned, jarred, and otherwise long-lasting (jams, jellies, chocolates, mustards, and more) as well as lots of baskets. Apparently Finland is big on baskets.

the inside of eat&joy maatilatori

Chatting with the man at the counter, I learned that Eat&Joy opened for a trial period beginning in June and after a successful three month stint,  would be opening as a permanent location just the next day.  The shop owners are dedicated to showcasing the best of small Finnish producers – some who might not otherwise reach a large consumer base – and apparently the public has responded with enthusiasm. Who wouldn’t be enthusiastic about Finnish riispiirakka, a palm-sized rye pastry filled with just-barely- sweet rice pudding?

riispiirakka

Especially when they’re place on beautifully designed Finnish tea towels.  As a brief segue…the graphic and textile design in Finland is, unsurprisingly, spectacular. I covet every single item in the Marimekko store and hope that someday my kitchen will be decked out in extremely expensive but oh-so-gorgeous tea towels and oven mitts and cloth napkins and tablecloths and I will be an enviable domestic goddess with pastries in the oven, decked out in a spotless Marimekko apron. Well, actually that’s not true.  I want to have a real, bustling, happy, full-of-life-and-love-and-food-probably-a-little-(lot)-of-mess kitchen. I don’t really want to live in the polished and gleaming perfection of the Marimekko store….

the marimekko store in helsinki

…or maybe I do.

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mini hamburgers from free roaming, naturally raised, more-than-organic wild beef

burgers on the grill

it’s barbecue time! not only is there sun, but there is some delicious meat to be had here in london. chris and i went to a picnic organized by our new friends from yelp last weekend on the oh-so-englishly named hampstead heath. thanks to a running joke about our ‘stupid american’-ness, we decided to bring some super patriotic mini hamburger sliders to the picnic. how do you know a burger’s done? poke it on the grill and it bleeds red, white, and blue, dammit.

wild beef selection at broadway marketof course, we had to get the very best of british beef for these high-quality bites of americana. i took advantage of my broadway market trip last weekend to pick up some ‘fine mince’ ground beef from the wild beef stall. this company is based in devon in the southwest of england, and they sell meat from the most purely naturally raised cattle i’ve ever seen.

in the states, the best quality meat is from cows fed only grass rather than corn, soy, or scary things like ethanol waste because that’s how cow stomachs evolved to digest.  the lucky ones might get to graze a pasture rather than being confined to a pen or feedlot. the cows from wild beef, however, graze the grasses on the uncultivated soil of devon, without any supplementary feed to promote growth or mass amounts of antibiotics to combat high risk of infection due to unsanitary living conditions.

they call it ‘nutritionally, ecologically, and gastronomically the best‘and they might just be right. their old breed north and south devon and welsh black cattle roam the windy, fertile moors like heathcliff (sorry, just finished wuthering heights), free to feed on grass, herbs, weeds, and shrubs to their heart’s content. and then they become delicious, meaty, flavorful, safe-to-eat beef. it’s a little expensive, but i’d rather eat good, farm-fresh or wild-moor-fresh meat less often than eat cheap but scary industrially processed meat that’s probably full of anthrax. always better to eat your burgers without fear of death from bacterial infection. here’s some more information on why sustainably produced meat is better than the industrial stuff in an article i wrote for eat.drink.better (sorry for the self-plug but i already did the research and now it’s in one place. if it ain’t broke, why write it all over again?)

anyway, back to sliders. with meat this good, all you need is a little salt and pepper and it tastes fantastic. then in keeping with our american-only-in-theory hamburgers, i made my favorite gougeres for buns, but we’ll just refer to them as cheese puffs to keep up appearances. chris and i brought a mini barbecue grill to the heath, which we’re pretty sure is illegal, but sometimes you just gotta be gangsta like that. chris grilled these little morsels of meat to the perfect level of chargrilled flavor on the outside and pink juiciness on the inside. i did my best to set the cheese puffs on fire as i appear to have a singular talent for incinerating bread products. perhaps i could parlay this skill into a baking/circus career.

flaming cheese puffs and burgers on the grill

chris is teaching me the ways though – we’re throwing a barbecue party this weekend. you may or may not know that he is a former barbecue professional, after all. if you’ve seen any photos of him on this blog so far, you’d also know that he really likes to bite things. first a spatula, then a yummy slider. RAOWR. chris and the wild beef burgers

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Eat Sustainable Meat From Farmers Markets: More Delicious, Less Deadly!

sup peeps. this post was originally published at eat.drink.better a few weeks ago and i want to share it with you now. reading it, you will notice that a) i  do understand punctuation and that excessive hyphenization is not normal, b) i know how to capitalize, and c) i actually can prevent my filthy mouth from spilling out onto the page if necessary. however, on my (our) blog, i just choose not to. okay? anyway, enjoy.

Meat Menu at the Farmers Market

For those of us who love a crispy slice of bacon but also care about the impact of our food choices, eating meat can be a very complex issue. Just for starters, there’s the environmental aspects of meat production, the safety concerns with industrial processing (read this frightening article in the NYTimes about ‘anthrax sausages’) and the thorny ethical questions of animal welfare to consider. It’s a difficult question: how can we have our steak and eat it too?

My current solution? Buy locally and sustainably raised meat from farmers markets. I went to the bustling Union Square Greenmarket in New York City last weekend to explore my meat purchasing options and do some research. And by ‘research,’ I mean ‘eating.’ Here are photos and some reasons why farmers markets are a great place to get your meat fix.

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holy smoke! the ferry building farmer’s market rocks my world

one of my favorite things to do in san francisco is spend a saturday morning at the farmer’s market at the ferry building on the embarcadero. i’d venture to say that this is one of the best farmer’s markets in the country – incredible artisan producers and local organic fruits and veggies straight from the farm, all set up inside and around a gorgeous old renovated ferry building at a spectacular location right on the water with a view of the bay and the bay bridge looming overhead. i’ve spent so many happy hours there – drinking new-orleans style iced coffee from blue bottle, ripping into fresh made herb slabs from acme, slathering bread with mt. tam cheese from cowgirl creamery, getting my sausage-on-a-stick on thanks to golden gate meat company, sampling multiple varieties of locally produced olive oil, chatting with the lovely food entrepreneurs and my friend tish over at the la cocina booth, purchasing seasonal fruits and veggies from all the fantastic vendor booths – i could clearly go on and on and on. there’s nothing like sitting down in the sun by the water with some friends and a bag of oysters from the hog island booth and juice-dripping-down your chin freshly picked best-peaches-you’ve-ever-tasted from frog hollow farm.

however, some of the best times i’ve ever had at the ferry building haven’t been just aimless wandering and stuffing my face, but the days i’ve spent working as a sandwich seller at cap’n mike and sally’s holy smoke salmon stand. not only are sally and cap’n mike two of the kindest, warmest, jolliest, most wonderful people on the planet, but their brined, cured, hot and cold smoked fish, deliciously sweet and gooey salmon candy, and their kickass salmon sandwiches are some of the best stuff you’ll ever put in your mouth. just look and see for yourself:

sockeye

if you’re not screaming PUT THAT IN MY MOUTH NOW!!, we are so not friends anymore.

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