Archive for April, 2010

in honor of earth day we are releasing a new round of GMOs

April 22, 2010

There should be so many disclaimers on this story I can only list the most important ones.

1. I am not, nor have ever been a scientist.

2. I am not, nor have ever been a lawyer.

3. I am not, nor have ever been anti government (although I wonder some times if the big they always have “We the peoples…” best interests in mind…).

4. I am not a farmer and can’t even begin to express how much respect and gratitude I have for the people raising our food.

5. I like corn, and eat a good amount of corn product although I have recently given up drinking Coca Cola something I did every day for over 20 years. Honestly, I am pretty sure I have consumed a small ponds worth of High Fructose corn syrup. I’ll tell you about the soda cessation once I stop flickering back and forth between psychotic episodes and paralytic malaise (completely unrelated I am sure).

The Scoop

The USDA deregulated a new type of GMO corn yesterday. Today is earth day. I am sure no thought was given to this by anyone involved, but I think it is wonderful in its level of irony.

Wall Street Journal online article

Agriculture Online article

Syngenta started their petition for deregulation status of this new corn trait in August 2007

The USDA petitions pending and granted url (you can read the petitions and the USDA recommendations here)

Once the USDA reviewed Syngenta’s 1125 page petition the USDA allows for a 60 day public review before posting its final recommendation (as far as I can tell).

Here is a screen capture of the petition site with the document highlighted in yellow below:

During the 60 day review only 35 comments were received from interested parties (the breakdown is interesting).

Below is a quote pulled from the USDAs final 91 page recommendation as well as another screen capture of the USDAs document highlighted in yellow:

On January 13, 2010, APHIS published a notice in the Federal Register (75 FR 1749- 1751, Docket No. APHIS-2009-0072) announcing the availability of the Syngenta petition and the APHIS PPRA and EA for a 60-day public review and comment period. This comment period ended on March 15, 2010. APHIS received a total of 35 comments from various groups and individuals. Nineteen comments supported deregulation, while 16 comments generally opposed the development and use of genetically engineered foods.

Those supporting a determination of nonregulated status included six academicians, six individuals from the corn industry, four corn trade groups, and three corn growers. Those opposing a determination of nonregulated status included a corn grower, two Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) (supplied four comments), and 11 individual consumers.

-USDA Recommendation (see below screen capture for location of the document)

We can’t cry over spilled milk if there are only 16 comments opposed to a new GMO being introduced.


Now I don’t know if this new GMO corn is bad, but I do know from reading some of the USDA recommendation that it does cross pollinate with other corn strains. I think this is about midway down the page on page 17 of the USDA recommendation. Again I am not a scientist but I think there is a mention of lessening the possibility of cross pollination by creating buffer zones:

Methods of spatial and temporal isolation are widely used when seed producers are seeking to minimize the influx of pollen from outside a seed production field.

-USDA Recommendation (see above screen capture for location of the document)

Humor me, but in the event of an all out nuclear conflict I keep one of those laminate topped metal sided school desks in my basement, don’t you.

A brief history:

So here are some sensationalistic snippets of fact taken out of context and posted for the sole purpose of sparking a teeny amount of interest.

Syngenta has two parent companies, AstraZeneca and Novartis and is one of Monsantos, Dupont and Bayer’s chief competitors in the GMO market.

interesting overview

AstraZeneca had been a Swedish company called Astra and Zeneca was originally part of Imperial Chemical Industries. One early project which they worked on a few years back was a rival to Monsantos “terminator” seeds which make seed saving impossible. The seeds of these GMO plants produce genetically sterile seeds. AstraZeneca’s version was called (by detractors) the “Verminator” because it contained fat genes from a rats genome. I think I read somewhere that AstraZeneca had stopped work on this project.

A series of thoughts and top of mind questions:

Can we call any corn raised in the United States organic?

Where is this non-GMO corn raised, and how can non-contamination be guaranteed?

If it is not possible to guarantee no cross pollination why should anyone pay extra dough at Whole Foods or elsewhere for “non GMO” corn products?

How as a culture that relies so heavily; and has such faith in the use of science and technology, can we move forward in a way which leaves a good legacy for our children?

In summary:

It is never my intention to overtly target or slander any company, AstraZeneca has many products which do amazing things for people who rely on there medicines for survival. However, as I become more aware of food topics I am having a hard time not becoming angry. It is the opinion of many in the scientific community that there is not enough long term testing on these crops, and that live field testing is dangerous. I guess we (or our children) will find out.


a quote

April 19, 2010

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air –however slight–lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.

– Justice William O. Douglas

someone had to do it

April 16, 2010

Someone had to do a follow up to one of the finest books written in NYC in the last decade;

and here it is…

If you find yourself in need  of a watering hole, or the rat worm is trying to gnaw its way through your stomach lining, treat this brilliant project as your go to guide.

red cooked tofu

April 15, 2010

I initially found this in a 70’s Chinese cook book with instructions in both English and Chinese. It was originally a beef recipe (red cooked beef). About a month ago I was at a local restaurant where I ordered a Spicy Tofu dish which was very good. Anytime I have something I like at a restaurant I immediately try to hack it. I can’t help it. By blending the stolen recipe with my best attempt at a hack here is what I came up with. By way of review, my wife likes the dish and my son ate it without comment ( a clear sign of approval).


1 Block of tofu drained, dried in paper towels for at least a half hour

1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen cause I am a sucker for a good story), or 3 real garden tomatoes grilled seeded and diced.

4 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of blackbean paste (you can get this at any asian grocery) I use Lee Kum Kee because they are good about the labels although it is in no way organic.

2 teaspoons of chili paste (you can get massive jars of this at any asian grocery), use less if you don’t like it spicy

1 tablespoon of wok or frying oil for stir frying the tofu

half an onion diced

2 cloves garlic diced

1 inch piece of fresh ginger skinned and diced fine

1 teaspoon of chinese 5 spice

3/4 of a cup of frozen green peas

1 wok or pan suitable for stir frying

1 large stew pot or electric crock pot (I like the crock pot which I have named my “soup robot”)


1. Sir fry the tofu for a couple minutes until it is golden.

2. Add all other ingredients in the crock pot on high or stew pot on medium until it starts to bubble.

3. Add the tofu and reduce heat to low.

4. Cook on low for at least 2 hours; I leave mine in the soup robot on low for most of the day.

5. Serve on rice or rice noodles or whatever you like.

interesting link:

bad religion kicks off its tour in Anaheim, CA tonight April 15th, 2010

April 15, 2010

30 years

Check out their site for a nice walk down memory lane and take a peek at the new album.

You can listen to the songs in the album section with lyrics and track info (slick; yeah I said slick and Bad Religion in the same paragraph)

2 notable songs which stand out and show the continuing power of the band:

Grains of Wrath and Requiem for Dissent on the New Maps of Hell album.

More than anything else I am happy that there are still crusty old school farts with huevos enough to get out on the road and stir the pot from time to time.

Good luck; and to those of you lucky enough to be in cities with tour stops, go see the band. I saw them several years back and they were great.

this shampoo smells so good I could drink it

April 13, 2010

I know; technically shampoo is not a food group, but sometimes early in the morning, after a long night out you consider a little sip. Admit it.

I have often wondered about the herbal and organic concoctions that some of the large chemical companies blend in their alchemical laboratories. Recently I heard a blurb on the radio about some chemical in soaps and shampoos being not so good for you…blah…blah…blah…Blah. Well it turns out that, in fact, there is some stuff in shampoo which is not good for you.

There is hope for the big and the powerful though. Kudos to a big company which manufactures a high profile line of herbal shampoos for manning (or womanning) up, and inching a toe over the line towards decency and changing their policy.

Compound of the day


Apparently this stuff is bad. It’s not listed on the ingredients because it is a “byproduct” and a certain big company is the proud manufacturer of some of the products which tested so high that under certain state laws they should have carried warning labels.

I forgot to mention that one of the articles I read mentioned that this magical compound does not break down, quite probably makes its way back to water treatment plants, and ultimately back into your nice cool glass of water. In short, you do, you do drink it.

Well; spilt milk I say. Today is a brighter day, and the aforementioned big company is venturing out into the light. Thank you big company for your courageous act. Everyone, raise your glasses high and join me in a toast to better behavior in the future.

light reading:


April 12, 2010

As a developing middle age man it is my duty to take the rant staff from its sacred mount occasionally  and add my two cents about things that are F*&ked up. I spend a lot of time looking at labels in grocery stores because my son has food allergies and I have discovered many strange things. In a way; although it has been hard to constantly request, read, and explain the whys to my son, to parents, to teachers, friends and food purveyors, I am thankful for the experience and the education.

The Big They are putting odd crap in the food. I am not going to attempt to cover any of this in depth or even to claim a greater knowledge than your average Jack or Jill (are these trademarked names?); I merely want to be the person who so pleasantly points out the other piece of the hairnet you just finished eating in your mass produced sandwich.

Compound of the day


You know it, you love it, you have probably eaten it in the last 24 hours.

Things I know:

It is in my crackers, it is in jet fuel, and it is currently being tested for its success in treating viral infections.

Starting spots for research:

An interesting Blog I stumbled on along the way which begs the question can something be all bad or all good. Something to think about: one persons poison may in fact be another persons medical salvation.

bok choy and button mushrooms

April 12, 2010

I like the way this dish looks and tastes, my son likes it, it is light and hopeful; above all it is fast and simple. As we move into spring and the damp loamy rains I think about lightness both in color and taste; buds, blossoms and stirrings in the darkness just beneath the soil.


2 cups (at least) of fresh cleaned and dried button mushrooms

1 or two heads of medium sized bok choy (the larger bunches tend to be bland) cleaned, dried and chopped into 1 inch sections. Separate the white from the green bits; they go in at different times.

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water (add the cornstarch first and then add the water and it won’t clump).

1 tablespoon of sugar

1/2 cup of vegetable broth (I have been using a brand called Rapunzle bouillon which is great) link:

1 tablespoon of wok oil or another good high temp cooking oil

1 wok or similar pan


1. Fire up your burner to high and after a second or two add your oil.

2. Add the mushrooms and stir fry for about 30 seconds stirring rapidly.

3. Add the white portions of the bok choy and continue stirring for another 30 seconds.

4. Add the green portions and stir for anther 30 seconds.

5. Add all of the liquid ingredients  and give it a quick stir. Let the mixture  boil for a minute and add the sugar, stir for 30 seconds.

6. Remove from heat and place lid on wok to let the steam finish the cooking.

Note: The cooking time may vary. You want the bok choy to have a little crunch, but it is fairly forgiving because it tastes great even if over done and is a little soft.

Serve over rice or eat it straight up; it even holds up the next day as a treat at lunch.

beef stew borrowed & changed

April 1, 2010

My wife asked our friend for his recipe, and he shared it happily. I think his is a modified Jamie Oliver recipe. As far as Jamie goes; he is great, but I am sure he has borrowed a few recipes, and would be happy to add to the mix. His tomes are a good grab as far as cook books go. My stomach just growled thinking about some of the recipes in his books. Here is a great recipe from all of the aforementioned parties. My son wiped the bowl clean on this one and I was afraid we were going to have to give him the “please don’t eat like a canine lecture.”


Large heavy soup pot with lid

Stew beef about a pound and a half (add more of the other ingredients if you have more meat)

4 Carrots chopped into half inch medallions

1 Onion chopped into medium sized bits

3 Potatoes cut into chunks

2 Tablespoons of tomato paste

2 Cups of beef broth (some has THBQ in it which is lighter fluid, go FDA)

1 Cup of dark and delicious beer (we used Alaskan Amber ’cause it’s good and  we didn’t have red wine)

1 Quarter cup of balsamic vinegar

1 sprig Rosemary chopped fine

About a Tablespoon of thyme

1 teaspoon each  of sage, basil and oregano

2 teaspoons of sugar

salt and pepper and flour in a plastic bag for coating the beef

A tablespoon or two of olive oil


Coat beef with flour mixture by shaking in a large plastic bag or container

Heat pot for a few seconds on high heat and add olive oil allowing oil to heat for a few seconds

Add Beef and cook until browned stirring occassionally

Add onions and saute for a minute or so until wilted

Add beer or wine and burn of alcohol for about 30 seconds

Lower heat and add the rest of the broth, tomato paste and balsamic vinegar.

Add seasoning and cook on low for an hour and a half stirring occasionally.

Add veggies and continue cooking on low heat for at least  another hour.

Serve with a crusty bread on a cold day with glowering grey skies and winds which make you weep inadvertently.

Disclaimer: For the vegetarians out there I think this recipe will work with seitan, but I have not attempted it yet. Any thoughts on this would be welcomed.