Food in the News Returns

It has been a while since I featured food in the news here, so I thought it was time to play a bit of catch-up.

Here are a few stories that have piqued my interest in the last couple of days:

Grass Fed Beef Found to Be Healthier: The Washington Post reported yesterday that a study published by the Union of Concerned Scientists has found that the chemical composition of milk and meat from grass-fed cows to be significantly different from the milk and meat from feedlot cows fed grain.

The study is the first to synthesize the information gleaned from most of the English-language research into the issue of grass-fed beef (25 individual studies were chosen for analysis)where amounts of total fats, saturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in both pasture-raised and conventionally raised beef and dairy cattle were compared side by side. The report also combines analyses on the nutritional, environmental, and public health benefits of grass-based farming techniques.

The study found that grass fed beef and milk contained higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids–beneficial fats that help lower the risk of heart disease, may protect the body from cancer and have been shown in a few studies to have positive benefits for suffers of bipolar disorder.

The total amount of fat in grass-fed beef is also lower than that in corn-fed beef, which also enhances its healthfulness.

One thing that the article didn’t point out, but which I, of course, thought of was that cattle that have been raised completely on grass for several generations, or on grass and then “finished” with organic corn, are not likely to have BSE, which is most likely contracted through giving cows feed rendered from other animals. Considering that a third cow with BSE has been confirmed in the US, and the worthless gits at the USDA are talking about cutting back on testing for BSE, I think that grass-fed, locally raised beef from farmers you know and trust is suddenly going to rise in popularity across the country.

Dabba Wallas Come to the US: Okay, this is utterly cool. I know some of you are saying, “Dabbawho?” so, let me explain. Dabba wallas are the name for delivery guys who carry tiffin boxes–tin containers with three layers, one for bread or rice, one for the main course, and one for pickles or a side dish–all home cooked foods–and deliver them to office buildings in India. I read about them in Lizzie Collingham’s book, Curry: A Tale of Cooks & Conquerers, and I thought to myself–wouldn’t that be cool if they had dabba wallas here?

Well, according to the New York Times, the dabba wallas are here! In major cities across the country that have sizeable South Indian populations, women have started businesses making home cooked lunches which are delivered to customer’s workplaces. In India, wives cook meals for their husbands and send them with the dabba wallas–here, entrepreneurial women have started selling their homecooked meals by subscription.

Many of these women now work in rented kitchens, have websites with their rotating menu offerings and customers can order online and pay by credit card.

And yet, all of the food is cooked carefully, in small batches, so it is still homemade, healthful and delicious.

That is just plain awesome.

Alice Waters Plans Slow Food Expo: The San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday that Alice Waters is planning to pull the biggest artisinal food show the US has ever seen out of her sleeve for Autumn 2007 in San Francisco.

Modelled after Slow Food’s wildly popular Salones del Gusto, which is held in Torino, Italy, every two years, the show, tentatively titled, “Slow Food Nation,” will feature 200 farmers and food producers from the Bay Area, elsewhere in the US, and from other countries. There will be tastings, seminars and films promoting the ideals of delicous, carefully crafted food.

Waters hopes that this show will then move on to other areas of the US, so that the bounty of local farmers and food producers from other regions can be showcased in coming years.

That sounds like my kind of party. I guess we’ll be visiting the Bay Area again next year….


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  1. The Dabba Wallas sound awesome. I’m trying to corner my friend’s mom into doing it–but she’s not taking the bait 🙂

    Comment by Rose — March 16, 2006 #

  2. Oh, btw, this isn’t the first article on the subject. There was something else written (in the Wall Street Journal??) a year or two ago on the same thing.

    Comment by Rose — March 16, 2006 #

  3. I don’t read the WSJ–so you could be right, Rose. I think it is a great idea, too.

    It is kind of like the US personal chef idea gone backwards. I like it.

    I wonder if I could get that kitchen upstairs, health inspection approved….;-)

    Comment by Barbara — March 16, 2006 #

  4. Went for drinks tonight with friends who mentioned this article, and what do I find on my return but T&S is ahead of my anticipation and has provided me the link! Sadly, I’m an East Bay gal, and this looks like mostly South Bay, but my friends of this evening can partake and enjoy. I guess I get to remain my own tiffinwalla for the time being. Sigh. So cool though…..

    Comment by Diane — March 17, 2006 #

  5. When we lived in Providence, RI, when I was in culinary school at J&W and Zak was working at Borders, I used to be his tiffinwalla. Everyone at Borders was always intensely curious about what he brought to lunch every day. He always said, “leftovers,” but of course, when he heated them up, everyone was of the opinion that his leftovers were the best-smelling leftovers they’d ever had the priviledge to ogle and sniff at.

    By the time we were living in Maryland, I actually got to be tiffinwalla to the whole store a time or two; I got to cater a soup supper for the Columbia Borders staff at the opening of the Christmas season. That was fun. Three types of soup, and some breads, and a very, very happy staff.

    Comment by Barbara — March 18, 2006 #

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