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Summer of ’17

June 22, 2017

We’re here. We made it.

Putting aside all the negativity for a moment, yesterday was the first day of summer and it was beautiful. I mean, it was literally perfect. I rolled down the windows. And it was neither too hot nor too cold. The sun was shining. There was a nice breeze. The weather was simply glorious.

I could take a couple months more of that.

The CSA is in full swing. The days are impossibly long. Strawberries are in season. And I’m looking forward to a summer full of fun. But before we get to some of the tentpole events of summer, I have something more to say about strawberries.

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Why I Don’t Get My News From Food & Wine

June 21, 2017

So the crazy thing about bad information is that it can seem less bad the more it’s passed around. The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy apparently did some kind of online study that Food & Wine wrote about. But in their report, Food & Wine only linked back to this landing page for Undeniably Dairy.

There I found only one thing that mentions the study. And if you click on it, instead of being shown the actual study, you’ll be whisked off to another story on about the study. And that story brings you right back to the Food & Wine report.

At least it makes a perfect circle.

To add insult to injury, in the piece, there is actually a link to an actual abstract of an actual study on fluid dairy. But that one covers much different ground. It is about the nutritional intakes of those who consume flavored milk vs. no milk. And guess what? Those who drink milk get more of the nutrients found in milk than those who don’t drink milk. Mind, blown.

So, as far as I can tell, it is this Food & Wine piece that legitimized this study enough that the Washington Post Wonkblog used it as a hook for its story on consumers and food awareness. It’s hard to know what to make of the study’s findings, since we can’t see the study itself. However, I’m suspicious about some of the conclusions Food & Wine draws based on the data they provide.

I’m going to show some examples by quoting the Food & Wine story, and offering an alternative reading.

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Dumb Dairy Data

June 20, 2017

Let’s be clear about one thing. Data is never dumb. Data is data.

How that data is collected, how it’s interpreted, and actions that are taken as a result can be quite dumb indeed. Now it’s often much more fun to take some data points and tell a snarky story, than it is to actually roll up your sleeves and look at survey questions, results, and analysis.

I get that. But sometimes I see data based stories and they just rub me the wrong way.

What gets me riled up even further is when they are attached to publications that should know better. You know, like the Washington Post. And sure, the story below that drew my ire isn’t in the paper itself, but in the blogs section. So perhaps it doesn’t require the same editorial standards. However, it still bears the brand name of the rag which is trying its best to not let democracy die in the darkness.

And for the most part, I believe in the paper. What I don’t appreciate is the sloppiness behind, The surprising number of American adults who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows. It fits into the editorial narrative, “Americans must be complete idiots considering the results of our last election, here’s more proof.”

Let me cast some doubt, at least on the dairy part of that analysis.

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Strawberries and Humanity

June 19, 2017

Someday I’ll remember to stay off Twitter. International media vehicles like The Economist don’t have the bandwidth to be able to report on every individual tragedy around the world. And more importantly, the magazine only publishes letters to the editor which contain substance and worth.

So while you may read contrarian view of the narrative suggested by the magazine, you won’t find such callous regard for humanity as you might on the interwebs. My heart goes out to all of those communities in pain who have recently suffered terrible losses all over the world.

Look. All of humanity is an unlikely development. In the grand movie of geological time we’re barely a flicker on the screen. Our planet itself is little more than a speck of dust floating in the vast emptiness of the universe.

The only answer is to try and work together. To recognize our sameness. Reject those who try to divide us. And oppose violence in all of its forms. Right now, the last thing I want to do is minimize anyone’s suffering, ignore their cries for justice, or be blind to their struggles.

But as I’ve needed to say time and time again over the past few years, this is a food blog. And as long as I’ve already touched on the fragility of life and the seeming capriciousness of our existence, I might as well segue into some further thoughts on strawberries.

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The Distillate of Summer

June 16, 2017

If this past week taught me anything, it’s that summer is coming. And summer will be hot. Fortunately, there are many ways to beat the heat.

You could hang out at the mall. They have great air conditioning, but generally the food is a bit lackluster. At least it is in the food court, and The Melting Pot isn’t open for lunch. So a bowl of molten cheese mixed with wine and garlic is sadly out. Actually, that’s probably a good thing. Both for my diet and the quest to beat the heat.

There are cooling foods. Watermelon is always a favorite. But let’s not forget the obvious ones like ice cream. Yes, we’ll be going on another tour of hard ice cream. Until then, you’ll just have to rely on your wits to make the hard decision about where to go. And if your wits don’t direct you to The Dutch Udder, it’s time to check yourself.

But more than anything else, I’m really a fan of cooling drinks. Something tall, cold, and maybe even a little fizzy. It shouldn’t be that sweet. It doesn’t even have to be alcoholic. Cold brewed iced tea is one of my all time favorites.

However, something recently came to my attention that has me thinking in a boozier direction. Read more…

Cold Cut Comfort

June 15, 2017

One of the great joys of being a parent is watching the journey of culinary discovery.

In some ways my kids are quite fortunate. In other ways, they are horribly deprived. If I recall correctly, Young Master Fussy was about four years old before he got his first taste of a hot dog. They never developed a taste for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese since I kept it out of the house once I realized the American version contained an ingredient banned around the world. I don’t think they’ve ever had a Ding-Dong, Ho-Ho, or Hostess fruit pie.

Man, I loved those Hostess fruit pies when I was a kid. Just thinking about them brings me back to a very special time and place. But that’s a story for another day.

Because today’s story starts with bologna and a failed trip Chester’s Smokehouse. It even has a happy ending where the Fussies return to Chester’s and discover something amazing.

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No Drama Avocada

June 14, 2017

Woo hoo! The heat has broken. But no worries, I still have a bunch of “damn it’s hot outside” stories to share with you from the past few days. And one of them has some ties with something that’s been burning up the twitter.

Avocado hand.

It’s apparently a thing. A bad thing. People are accidentally stabbing themselves as they try to remove the pits from and slice their avocados. It’s also not just a millennial thing. Old people are having avocado related injuries too.

As far as I’m concerned, avocado toast is delicious. I’ve been eating it through the heat wave. However, I’ve also been eating it all year long. Avocados are just one of the many things that keep me from living a locavore diet. Remember when that was the big thing?

Maybe part of the problem is just how many terrible instruction videos there are for teaching people how to prepare their avocados. Let’s take a quick look.

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