The story of flavorful heirloom corn

The story of flavorful heirloom corn

I hope more heirloom/ genetically diverse crops come back into our fields and onto our plates. It is a real pity that commercial considerations have pushed out foodcrop species towards monoculture and low generic diversity.

We now have a chance of turning back this direction and re-kindling lost varieties that deliver more flavor and nutrition.

“So why did farmers stop growing this corn? For everything that New England Eight Row Flint corn has going for it in terms of flavor, its big downside is that it doesn’t produce many cobs. It’s a low-yield corn.

“That’s why farmers moved to higher-yield [varieties],” explains Algiere. “They can get more corn per acre at lower quality.” Farmers produce for bulk because they’re paid by the bushel, not by the color or the flavor.

So varieties such as New England Eight Row Flint corn may produce great taste, but they’re not really commercially viable unless you convince more people to pay for taste over volume.

That’s what chef Barber is doing at Blue Hill. He serves a polenta made from the Eight Row Flint corn grown at Stone Barns.

And when I tasted it, I was surprised. The polenta tasted as if he had added butter. It was creamy and flavorful. Diners who have been turned onto it say the flavor is stunningly complex. “It’s kinda crazy,” he says.

The taste is coming directly from the corn.

Barber says this corn is just one example of what can happen when crops are bred to be flavorful and colorful, not just big.

The chef says he hopes this story becomes more than just a foodie fascination with heirlooms because he thinks there’s more at stake here about the way our food is grown.

“What I’ve come to learn from this experience is that if you are pursuing great flavor,” he says, “you are pursuing great nutrition. It’s one and the same.”

Reviving an heirloom corn (NPR)

Creative parents

Some parents go the extra mile when it comes to showing love to their kids in creative ways.

Love has a wonderful tendency to inspire you to wonderful small random acts. Obviously some parents catch onto a great idea and make a systematic effort that amounts to something akin to art.

Here are a few great examples.

If you are a parent, you will instantly understand the joyous motivation behind these.

Ps: I think there’s a certain level of obsessiveness displayed here, and conviction and commitment coupled with some extra time that I wish I had!!

Creative dad shares 5 years of sandwich bags

Creative mum turns drawings into plush toys

Amazing mum turns son’s lunches into works of art

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On dairy milk

Interesting article about whether milk is healthy to drink. It’s an old topic but no doubt it’s of continued interest as milk is being consumed and increasingly pushed by a politically powerful dairy industry.

I don’t think there’s a one size fits all answer with dairy, some do well on it, many really don’t.

I now do quite well on some dairy (my initial low allergy went down after pregnancy) but won’t touch anything low fat. I never drink milk but I’m very happy on lots of leafy greens, tahini, tofu etc which do help build bones. I also eat cheese but tend to go for organic and always full fat. I wouldn’t want to rely in dairy for my calcium or protein needs alone (or even mostly, perhaps).

The most interesting sociological insight in this article may even be more fundamental in rethinking our approach to dairy: the dairy industry is politically powerful and dictates food and even agricultural policies. This is most pronounced in the US but also true in Australia and Western Europe.

The dairy industry doesn’t really care about our health, it cares about its financial livelihood only. They sponsor science that shows what they pay it to show.

“Let’s just forget the science and spend taxpayer’s dollars to promote foods that we know are harmful, because money runs politics. To heck with the health of our citizens”.

What did you think of the article?

Some of you, no doubt, would lament the narrow focus on health. How about the environment and animals themselves? Is our focus on our health alone really selfish?

Got proof? Lack of evidence for milk’s benefits

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Sadhana raw kitchen in Newtown nomm

Sadhana raw kitchen in Newtown nomm

Sadhana raw kitchen is probably my favourite new place to hang out at. It’s in Newtown, it serves raw food and they have a funky little corner in a backstreet. They share a courtyard with Jivamukti yoga so you can double up on yoga and raw food at the same time.

The menu is almost completely raw with truly amazing smoothies (I recommend the warrior!), savoury creations that I rarely have the time to assembled at home, and a rotation of delicious raw cakes that will get you high. Also try the ginger snap tea. I haven’t had their super salad yet and will try the chia pudding too, though I can always slap one together at home. The quiche and the lasagna will leave your tongue tingly.

Why raw? It’s healthy, it gives you energy, it’s better for the planet, it’s absolutely delicious.

If it were closer to my home I’d probably hang there all the time :P

Here are some links to get you going… and drooling.

Raw food at Sadhana

Sadhana Kitchen at Relauncher

Sadhana Kitchen green gallery

Alzheimer’s = type 3 diabetes?

Alzheimer's =  type 3 diabetes?

New evidence suggests that Alzheimer’s disease could be a form of diabetes or at least be linked to it. There are brain areas that are seriously affected by insulin and changes in the metabolism of this hormone.

Junk food, primarily processed food that is high in salt and sugar, seems to be the culprit. Those who have Type 2 diabetes have been shown to have 2-3 times the incidence of Alzheimer’s and predisposed rats that are fed junk food diets will readily develop dementia that physiologically and behaviorally closely resembles Alzheimer’s.

This is awesome news for discovering important links and potentially becoming empowered in conquering this disease, but it’s also a devastating discovery as the vast majority of societies are quickly shifting towards a junk food based diet (see, for instance, the latest Foreign Correspondent that shows how Mexico, India and many other developing nations have gone from starvation to drastic obesity in 20 years and the humungous health costs this change has brought with it in the form of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease etc). This means skyrocketing rates of heart disease, obesity and diabetes… and now also Alzheimer’s, except Alzheimer’s develops later in life and therefore this spike has not materialised yet. We are sitting on yet another healthcare timebomb.

The only option would be to somehow manage this unfolding dietary crisis. Unfortunately the only efforts that show a modicum of efficacy, that is dietary and food industry regulation, is being thoroughly stumped in most countries by corporate and trade interests which so far tend to trump any efforts at containing a health crisis for which none of these industries are going to pay, unless they are going to be taxed for selling processed food. But that is mostly off the agenda. There are heroic attempts to tax the junk food industries to the example of the tobacco and alcohol industries, but so far the results are meager.

So… eating right is getting even more important. That high-fructose corn syrup stuffed food product that also contains huge amounts of processed grain (made with fertilizer derived from oil – aha, link that to wars!) and highly industrialised low safety meat has just become that much more scary. We already know it feeds into obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer… now we know that it may very well be also pushing your system towards dementia.

Want a raw lunch instead?

Alzheimer’s could be the most catastrophic impact of junk food

Brain diabetes: the ultimate food scare