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Food is Screwed: Problems and Solutions

October 12, 2012

I am writing this of my own free will, without any compensation, and without being asked either explicitly or implicitly by any party. The reason that I mention this is that one might be suspicious given the new slug in the top right corner of the blog.

My friends at All Over Albany are putting together something special. And they are doing it with chef Brian and his local farm partners at Creo.

Here’s one of the tough things about having a daily blog. People don’t read every day.

And that’s totally fine. I don’t expect anyone to read this at all, much less hang on every word that I write. But all the same, things can get missed. Ideas can fall through the cracks. Which means when I’ve been consistently critical of a restaurant for long time, that might leave a lingering impression even when I’ve written about the positive recent changes.

What Creo is doing next week is more important than ever, and we should support it.

Let’s not panic. But at the same time, let’s look back on some food news from the past five days that you may have missed.

You know, small things like 2.5 million pounds of recalled Canadian beef that was imported into the U.S. My back of the napkin math tells me that means over 3,000 head of cattle were born, raised their whole lives, slaughtered, packed and shipped all so that they could be thrown in the trash. It’s a travesty.

But that’s meat. Meat is full of nasty bacteria. That’s old news. Okay, well then, how about the 3 million boxes of breakfast cereal that have been recalled because they may contain metal fragments.

There are two lessons here:
One – I should not read Food Safety News. Ever. Because I’ll stop eating everything.
Two – Part of the problem is the scale and scope of industrialized food production.

Failures and lapses happen. Except now when they happen, they happen in a really really really big way. Local foods and small scale production isn’t a guarantee of food safety. But you know what, either are national brands.

At least when small producers fail, they’ll most likely shut down and never make food again. The same can’t be said for large manufacturers. Look at the recent problem with peanut butter. That plant has been screwing up for years.

This is one reason why I’m really excited about what’s happening at Creo.

Yes, there are a handful of other restaurants that are buying from local suppliers. But Creo is on the border of the suburbs. It’s a place that for too long was all style and no substance. And with chef Brian at the helm it’s turning around.

Why Steve Barnes isn’t paying more attention to this at Table Hopping is a mystery to me.

Recently chef Brian brought in a whole cow. Now he’s got two pigs. You can read a bit more about it on the restaurant’s blog, but the summary is that now they’ve got two 300 pound pigs from White Clover Farm that will be making their way onto the specials menu. He says on his blog:

I’m looking forward to coming up with some creative dishes that will utilize the entire pig, and I do mean the entire pig.  You can expect bacon, short ribs, pork chops, prosciutto, guanciale, head cheese and many more, let’s say exotic dishes to be coming out of the kitchen at Creo’, stay tuned.

I’m still bummed that I missed the pho made from the White Clover Farm cow bones with sliced cow tongue. But I’m going to try and stay glued to Facebook for the announcements of these more exotic dishes.

In the meantime, All Over Albany is working with Creo to feature some of their other local farm partners at a dinner next week. It’s five courses for $50 dollars. Cheap it is not. But it’s only about two dozen people, and the restaurant will be bringing in their farmers to talk more about what they do. It should be an incredible event.

Yes, it’s competing against Downtown Albany’s restaurant week and Colonie’s restaurant week, where you can get three uninspired courses of lackluster ingredients than may only be a shadow of what the restaurant would normally prepare, with rushed and surly service for the bargain price of $20.

I’m finally over restaurant week out here. It has taken years, but the BID’s have succeeded in weakening my will and breaking my resolve. I’m no longer even tempted to look at the menus and recommend the best of the mediocre.

Skip restaurant week. Save your money. Do this instead. Yes, it’s one meal instead of two. But not only is the food going to be better, but you’ll be helping to send a message to Creo that this kind of stuff matters. It’s important. There’s a market for better ingredients sourced from local farms.

I hope you can make it. Click here for the details and to reserve your spot at the table.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 12, 2012 10:51 am

    I wish I could go to the dinner at Creo but we’re on an austerity budget at home right now, sadly. I’m glad they’re doing it and promoting restaurants that use fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

    If you really want your stomach to churn, check out this article about the ridiculousness of food inspectors. My husband complained a little when I cooked our supermarket purchased beef to well done. That’s a risk I don’t want to take. Because ew.

  2. October 12, 2012 11:46 am

    Looks awesome (and it did the last few times I read about it, too). But I’ll be at work.

  3. Alb. Eater permalink
    October 12, 2012 6:16 pm

    Food Processing… another magazine you don’t want to read

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