September 26, 2009

Scrapin' Up the Bits... Backyard Chicken style

Jumping right into it...

Jill Richardson at La Vida Locavore does some reading and signals the warning bells about farm-raised shrimp:

As the shrimp grow, the water is treated with pesticides and more piscicides, but by far the gravest area of concern is the use of antibiotics to ward off disease. Acutely toxic to other marine organisms, they can cause contact dermatitis in the shrimp farm employees who administer them. When the plug is pulled on the ponds at the end of the growing season, hundreds of pounds of shrimp remain marinating in the toxic mud at the bottom, and pickers have to be hired to scoop up the stranded shrimp. ...

The adulteration of shrimp does not end at the pond... shrimp are routinely soaked in a solution of sodium tripolyphosphate, or STPP, a suspected neurotoxicant, still legal in the United States, that prevents seafood from drying out in transit and boosts product weight. Borax, best known as a hand cleaner and insecticide, is used to preseve the color of shrimp in some countries. The most unscrupulous countries use caustic soda to chemically burn tiger shrimp a customer-pleasing pink.

I only buy wild-caught fish these days, including shrimp, but eating fish has truly become a hazardous thing on a number of levels. It's really sad.

UPDATE: Via Twitter, Richardson responds to a question about whether wild-caught is all right. Her reply: "wild-caught is bad environmentally (it's caught via trawling and 90% of the catch is other species, killed and thrown away)." I'd like to confirm if this is the case everywhere, including in the Gulf.

On another serious note, have you seen these "smart choices" labels on various food items? I'm vaguely aware of them. Not surprisingly, they don't really mean much.

The criteria deciding which products are “better for you” were set by a panel of representatives from companies such as Kellogg’s, Con Agra and Kraft, as well as independent scientists from health organizations and Academia.

However, something strange must have happened in those criteria-setting meetings, if the result was a seal of approval for Froot Loops and other uber-sweet products. Fruit Loops is 41% sugar by weight, contains a rainbow of artificial colorings, and some trans-fat to boot.

Long story short, some folks who realized the "smart choices" were kind of dumb, got together, put some pressure on other signatories to the "smart choices" program, and those signatories, like the American Diabetes Association, are now leaving the program. They are deserving of a Stewie-style "Victory is Mine!"

Ever thought about raising chickens. In video form, writer Susan Orleans gives you the low-down.

We ate at one of LBoN's favorite places in the world, Dinette, over the weekend. Had a pizza with roasted eggplant and "Salsa Di Canella" on it. The salsa was, in effect, the sauce, and its flavor reminded me of garam masala. Our server said it did indeed have some of the same ingredients in garam masala. It was delectable. And now I'm thinking that it might be a good idea to roast some eggplant, throw it in the food processor with a little oil, some garam masala, some type of herb, and put it on some crostini type things.

I think I made one formal request, via email. But I don't like to be pushy. So perhaps I'll beg:

Please, China Millman, add a link to LBoN to First Bites' "food blogs" list.

For beer and Halloween freaks, Rogue has a special growler-sized edition of Dead Guy Ale that reportedly grows in the dark. You can pick one up, along with Oktoberfest and a multitude of pumpkin ales, at 3 Sons Dogs & Suds.

And, finally, I'm all up in this Twitter thing. It's quite addictive. I'm mostly using it for work purposes, at least in terms of my own "Tweets." But I'm needy. I can always use more "followers."

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