Want the Ultimate in Local Food? Hunt It

Long before “eat local” became a popular slogan for socially-aware Americans, it was a necessity for our ancestors, and it still is for some around the globe. But many of us have grown up far removed from the concept of shooting our own dinner.

It’s now pretty easy to get the connection between food and plate when gathering ingredients from the garden or the grocery store advertising local produce, but some people say the ultimate eat local experience is hunting your own meat and fish.

“About 80 to 90 percent of the food that I eat is what I harvested,” says Nicole McClain, an accomplished bowhunter in both the U.S. ...

Bourbon: Harnessing the Spirit of America

Most politicians keep their affection for liquor off the record, so it takes a special drink to inspire positive U.S. Congressional action. But bourbon, traditionally enjoyed by Kentucky Derby spectators the first Saturday in May in some 120,000 mint julep cocktails at Churchill Downs, is by Congress’s decree a “distinctively American” spirit deserving of extraordinary safeguards.

Bourbon’s history is entwined with America’s itself. In 1791, U.S. Treasury Secretary (and recent hip-hop hero) Alexander Hamilton decided to pay down the Revolutionary War’s bills by taxing some product made and consumed in America. That product was the whiskey we now know as bourbon. Bad idea.

Many whiskey-makers were Scottish and Irish ...

What Chipotle’s Ban on GMOs Says About Us

The Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant chain–which boasts 1,500 restaurants worldwide–has become the latest to leap on the ban-GMOs bandwagon, with its recent announcement that it will no longer use genetically modified ingredients for its fast-food Mexican menu.

From now on, Chipotle’s burritos, tacos, salsa, and tortilla chips will shun “organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally,” which is the official definition of GMOs according to the World Health Organization.

This leaves Chipotle in a tricky position when it comes to corn. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 88 percent of the corn grown in the ...

Tyson Latest to Eliminate Antibiotics in Chicken Flocks

In some of the biggest news on the topic of routine antibiotic use in agriculture, Tyson Foods says today that they plan to eliminate most human-use antibiotics from their meat chicken flocks by 2017.

Tyson is the biggest chicken producer in the United States, so this announcement marks the largest commitment yet in poultry production. Taken together with the antibiotic-free purchasing commitment announced by McDonald's earlier this year, this could be the  moment that transforms chicken raising in the U.S.

Some context: Small doses of antibiotics have been part of the diet of most meat animals since it was discovered in the 1950s that the drugs caused them to put on more muscle mass, allowing them ...

Capturing the Solitary Life of a Florida Oysterman

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill five years ago this month may be all but forgotten by those of us who buy seafood at the supermarket. But it forever changed the people who make their living trolling the waterways along the Gulf Coast for that seafood.

Even though the oil never made it up to Apalachicola Bay on Florida's panhandle, much of the area's once abundant oyster population is in decline, according to a University of Florida report. The delicate blend of fresh and salt water that helps oysters thrive has been out of whack for years, thanks to drought and water jurisdictional battles, and illegal catches of juveniles threaten future hauls. Yet third-generation oysterman Kendall Schoelles is unruffled, and ...

When It Comes to Wine Glasses, Size and Shape Matter

A spiffy new camera set-up devised by scientists in Japan indicates that glass shape–just like the wine snobs have been telling us all along–affects the flavor of wine.

In a recent study, Kohji Mitsubayashi and colleagues at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University topped wine-filled glasses with a mesh impregnated with alcohol oxidase, an enzyme that converts alcohols and oxygen into aldehydes and hydrogen peroxide. Also added to the mesh were horseradish peroxide and luminol – the kicky chemical that makes bloodstains glow blue at crime scenes. Together, these produce a color change in response to hydrogen peroxide.

All this chemical interplay enables a camera, peering down at ...

Culinary Diplomacy Is On America’s Menu

This United States’ most successful export is culture, and our most quickly developing cultural space is the culinary arts. Whatever your personal opinion is of action movies, or hip-hop music, or baseball, or gourmet hamburgers, these cultural icons represent America’s best offerings to a lot of the world’s citizens.

The State Department, which oversees America’s relations overseas, has long understood that culture plays a powerful role in diplomacy. It’s why we have arts diplomacy, sports diplomacy, and—perhaps most compellingly—culinary diplomacy.

Thomas Jefferson (our first Secretary of State) once ordered Virginia hams sent to him during his time as Minister of France, to give him the means ...

Dentists Love to Hate These Ancient German Spice Cookies

What do cookies and cathedrals have in common? In Aachen, Germany, both are protected pieces of European heritage.

Aachen is a mid-sized metropolis in the westernmost prong of Germany best known as the seat of Charlemagne’s empire and the site of a UNESCO heritage cathedral that has witnessed the coronation of German kings going back to the 10th century. But perhaps equally famous – at least among food lovers – is the city’s signature confection, printen.

Aachener printen are spice cookies so hard that it’s said the bakers have a contract with the city’s dentists. Redolent of anise, cinnamon, cloves, coriander and other spices, a “printe” best reveals its Christmas-y punch when ...

To Feast or Not to Feast: Toasting the Bard’s Birthday

William Shakespeare’s birthday is generally celebrated on April 23 – so, in honor of the Bard, what should we have to eat? What about Spanish paps and blackberry pie?

If his plays and poems are anything to go on, Will Shakespeare had a healthy appreciation for food. There are at least 2,000 culinary references in his collected works; and the word “feast” pops up over 100 times.

Shakespeare fields a couple of famously awful recipes, among them the ghastly gruel whipped up by the three witches on Macbeth’s blasted heath, and the hideous pie containing the flesh of her two sons served to Queen Tamora in Titus Andronicus.

Most of his food ...

Can Preserving Crop Biodiversity Save the World?

Saving seeds is not as sexy as say, saving the dolphins, and it doesn't attract nearly as many Hollywood types to its cause. But preserving plant biodiversity is critical if we want to figure out how to feed nine billion people and grow our food in what is likely to be a hotter, drier, climate in the future. So on Earth Day (April 22), we decided to take a closer look.

Marie Haga of the Global Crop Diversity Trust is not exactly a household name, except maybe in Norway, where she's served since the 1990s in various diplomatic posts; nor is the non-profit organization she heads. But her job is to safeguard as much of ...

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