Honey Bees


I’m not sure my neural pathways for good ice cream and the future of agriculture have ever sparked simultaneously before, but a recent posting sure caught my attention. If you happen to know someone who recently received their Ph.D. in entomology, you can point them, too, toward Haagen-Dazs’ recently established fellowship in honey bee biology at the University of California, Davis. For those who need more hands-on training, be sure to check out the advanced workshop later this month on queen bee insemination.

Continue reading “Honey Bees”

Ingredient Shuffle

In this day of confusing health reports and lax public policy, it’s nice to know that there are still some simple guidelines out there. From bread to yogurt, brief is best. You want whole, recognizable ingredients that don’t require a dictionary or chemistry degree to understand. Whether I’m teaching a cooking class for moms in Marin or teens from Chinatown, I always say: Look for short words and short lists.

Lab beakers

How strange, then, to read the latest recipes by cutting-edge chefs. Sure, I’m used to restaurant menus that wax poetic about seasons and provenance, like a rambling culinary almanac, but to see the transformation of recipes into chemistry formulas is jarring.

“Add xanthonomas campestris….Place mixture in blender and add stabilizers….Cover tightly and flash freeze in liquid nitrogen.” Continue reading “Ingredient Shuffle”

How laziness can be healthy

My first job in a restaurant was as the Saturday morning prep girl.

Tomato wedgeOnce I’d proven to the chef that I could pick thyme and reduce parsley to green dust, he trusted me with a day’s supply of concassé. That meant blanching a case of tomatoes and then shocking them in iced water. Then peeling them. Then seeding them. Then dicing them. Continue reading “How laziness can be healthy”

How Chicken Became the First White Meat

In 1956, farmers received their first batch of coccidiostat, a drug that fights parasites appearing in large concentrations of chickens and turkeys. Over time, some of those farmers were able to move their backyard flocks into 3-story structures with 30,000 birds a floor, thus finally competing in price with the more efficient beef industry.

One of the most important forces in this change was Max Tishler, a chemist at Merck who led the development of medicines essential to modern husbandry. His invention “made possible a great expansion of the poultry industry and created overnight a new field for research–an event of great magnitude for agriculture.” Tishler’s research in vitamins and hormones led to drugs and vaccines for humans as well as animals, including a family of compounds that led to effective treatment of river blindness, a disease common in undeveloped, tropical countries. To learn more about the state of the poultry industry today, read updates at:
National Sustainable Agriculture
The Poultry Site
The California Poultry Federation
International Poultry Expo