Genetically modified sweet corn from the biotech giant Monsanto is appearing at grocery stores in the Midwest, but shoppers have no way to recognize it because there is no labeling requirement. The arrival of the crop has alarmed consumer groups who say genetically modified foods may pose environmental and health risks. Major retailers such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s won’t sell it, but Walmart will.“After closely looking at both sides of the debate and collaborating with a number of respected food safety experts, we see no scientifically validated safety reasons to implement restrictions on this product,” said company representative Dianna Gee. The new Monsanto sweet corn is being harvested now in the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast and Texas.
Farmers market numbers growing rapidly
As demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables has increased, so too has the number of urban farmers markets sprouting up across the nation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that the number of direct-sales markets has increased 9.6 percent in the past year. After 18 years of steady increases, the number of farmers markets across the country now registered with the USDA is 7,864. In 1994, there were 1,744. Organizations such as Slow Food, founded in 1989, first ignited consumer demand for fresh, local produce. The USDA has worked to make the markets accessible to people of all income levels by outfitting more with the ability to accept payments from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.
Women more likely to buy local beef
Women and people older than 55 are most likely to purchase beef from local sources, according to a survey by researcher Sarah Bernard of Kansas State University. “Females, who tend to be the primary consumer when it comes to food products, and the older population seemed to have a great motivation and calling to buy local products, and this appeared to be very important to them,” Bernard said.
Sustainable sourcing. new ingredients trending up on menus
Datassential examined menus of more than 4,800 restaurants and saw food trends that include growing interest in sustainable sourcing, new vegetables, ethnic flavors and specialty ingredients. “Safe flavor choices don’t hold as much weight as they once did,” the research firm reports. “Instead, operators are subbing them out for an adoption of sophisticated and unique ingredients, fun experimentation with bold, less-familiar flavors within ethnic cuisines, and a focus on health and whole foods,” reports Nation’s Restaurant News.
Yard Harvest group gathers fruit from home ornamental trees
If you you have excess produce from your garden, consider donating it to local food non-profits, recommends Slow Food Denver. Denver metro residents can contact Produce for Pantries at firstname.lastname@example.org. Register home fruit trees for harvesting at yardharvest.org.
Are farmer’ markets mood enhancers?
“In the urban present, choosing to go to the farmers market adds significance to the act of obtaining food. Looking back over our long-term biological and cultural histories, getting food was a much more significant part of everyday life than it is in developed countries today. Food was more deeply tied to cultural currents, and it is quite possible that over evolutionary history, our minds were subtly shaped by the demands of finding something to eat. At many levels, farmers markets make people think more about where their food comes from, which may very fundamentally be enjoyable.” – John S. Allen, Ph.D. writes at psychologytoday.com
Make a farmers market frittata
Antonio Laudisio, owner and chef of Laudisio Restaurant in Boulder, has been an advocate for farmers markets for decades. He cooks frittatas, pizzas, and polenta at the Laudisio booth on Saturdays at the Boulder County Farmers Market. Laudisio notes that “We make these frittatas at the market and trade our pizzas from the wood-burning oven for produce with the local farmers and bring some ingredients from my home garden.”
Laudisio’s Farmers Market Frittata
3 large eggs
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small onion, peeled and diced
Kernels from 1 ear white and yellow corn
2 to 4 large basil leaves
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 splash sparkling water
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Lightly saute vegetables in skillet with combination of butter and olive oil. Beat eggs in bowl with sparkling water, salt and pepper. Add all the vegetables and seasonings to the eggs, mix and then pour back into the oiled skillet. Cook slowly on one side. When the edge of the eggs becomes firm, lay a dish on top of skillet and flip eggs over and onto the dish. Then slide the turned eggs back into the skillet and cook until firm, but not dry. Serve with a fresh tomato salad from the garden with a simple vinaigrette.
Boulder resident and Slow Food pioneer Peggy Markel shares her recipes and information about food travel at peggymarkel.blogspot.com.
17th Century Bottom-Crusted Plum Pie
2 cups unbleached flour
1 3/4 sticks cold unsalted butter, sliced
1/4 cup ice water
pinch of salt
3 cups quartered and pitted ripe Italian prune plums
1/2 cup sugar
squeeze of half a lemon (no seeds!)
2 tablespoons flour
several pats of butter
a touch of cinnamon
Prepare the dough by mixing the flour with a pinch of salt and the cold butter. If using a bowl, take two knives and cut butter into flour, creating a cornmeal texture. Use the pulse button to create the same effect if you are using a food processor. Add water slowly, looking for the right amount of moisture in your dough. Try not to overwork, or make too sticky.
Sprinkle a bit of flour on the surface to prevent sticking, then proceed to roll out using a rolling pin. Start from the center of the dough and roll out in all directions, until you have created a thin 1/4-inch round. Use a light touch, and remember, don’t overwork!
Center rolled dough over your pie plate with the excess hanging over.
Place quartered plums, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice in a bowl. Toss well. You can even let it marinate for a little while. Slip the mixture into the pie. Sprinkle the flour randomly over the fruit, and dot with butter slices.
Cover the pie filling with the excess pie dough hanging over the edges, as if you were using it as a piece of cloth to cover bread in a basket. One crust rolled out then folded over the fruit. I like to use an egg wash, and decorate the top to look like lace. Bake at 400 for around an hour. When you start smelling the fruit, the pie is usually done.
Keep an eye on the crust. Don’t be alarmed if the juices come up over the crust. It is fine!
- Sentinel staff and wire service reports