Do you want test-tube fries with that?

Sergey Brin, the brilliant founder of Google, put up a boatload of money for the world’s first  hamburger that did not come directly from a cow: $330,000 U.S., in fact.

How’d it happen? Well, a Dutch scientist, Mark Post, proposed the idea. The concept is reasonably simple. Take muscle stem cells from a living cow (in this case, cells from both a Blanc Blue Belge and a Blond Acquitaine, both raised on organic farms). Culture the cells in a nutrient-rich broth, where they will increase in numbers sufficient to form a kind of tissue. Attach the tissue to a basic structure (like a scaffold), and stimulate with electricity so that the tissue grows into strips of bovine muscle. Grind them up, shape a nice little burger together, and cook – voilà, a genuine test-tube burger!

No fat, of course, and as a result nearly tasteless (according to those who took the first bites), but what a heartwarming victory for global warming activists, food rights activists, and animal rights activists everywhere. The San Jose Mercury News article on this historic meal quotes Ingrid Newkirk, PETA’s president and co-founder, who was “…so excited, I could jump for joy…We have Champagne corks going off all over the place.”

The question is, why? Continue reading

Action item: Lindner Bison at risk for lack of cold storage!

Ken and Kathy LindnerI admit it, I have a serious farmer’s market addiction. I love the markets not just because I can get the freshest, most in-season fruits, vegetables, and nuts, but like many people, I appreciate the fact that I can get products that you simply can’t get in stores – even some of the best natural foods stores. And of course, the community is unbeatable, both customers and farmers. The relationships we all build at the market are an essential part of our growing community. And one of these relationships is under immediate threat – the Lindners need your help! Continue reading

Best. Apple. Ever.

At the farmer’s markets, this is winter fruit season: persimmons, pomegranates, pears – and apples. I love apples. My husband loves apples. Well, not all apples; mealy, mushy apples, with washed-out flavor don’t find much favor with us (I mean you, Red Delicious, and your sibling, Golden). I like really crisp, tart-sweet apples that crunch loudly when I bite into them, and that are loaded with vibrant, juicy flavor. The farmer’s markets around town are my go-to source for apples, and there are many good ones to be had.

But I have to say that the Pink Lady apple pictured here, from Cuyama Orchards, courtesy of the Mar Vista farmer’s market this past Sunday, is one of the best apples ever! Beautifully colored – much deeper than pink, it’s a bright red with splashes of gold – and sensationally crisp, the flavor is so electrifyingly alive, so tart, so sweet, that each bite is almost overwhelming. I can’t imagine eating one quickly, it’s that intense. The only quality taking it away from utter perfection is a slight toughness to the skin – but this, for me, is akin to the flaw said to be necessary in a Persian carpet, lest perfection offend God. In other words, a bit of chewy skin offers no impediment whatsoever to one of the most delicious pieces of fruit my husband and I have ever enjoyed!

This apple, besides being a revelation for eating out of hand, would make an amazing tart, pie, or applesauce.

Cuyama Orchards can be found at the Sunday Mar Vista market, as well as the venerable Wednesday Santa Monica market and the Saturday Santa Monica market as well. (I’m sure they’re at other markets – I’ll update as I find out where!)

Maybe it’s not the tuna, maybe it’s the HFCS (ooops, I meant “corn sugar”)

I think it’s worth taking a fresh look at the issue of mercury contaminating some of the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) we process in this country, because it reflects on so many different threads running through our collective consciousness.

Here’s the article; it draws its content from a study by the very respectable Environmental Working Group in 2008. Their research scientists found that just about 45 percent of the foods containing HFCS that they sampled were contaminated with mercury. Continue reading