Food safety: Take matters into your own hands
June 27th, 2014
02:00 PM ET
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Reading, writing, arithmetic and...hand washing? Personal hygiene might seem like an odd addition to the academic canon, but a new study found that a significant portion of home cooks may not have mastered the basics of kitchen cleanliness. This can have some pretty serious impact on the health of the people they feed.

As we’ve noted many, many times before, if it seems like foodborne illness is on the rise, that’s because it is. About 48 million people contract some form of food poisoning each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and salmonella is often the culprit. The bacterial infection causes an estimated 1.3 million illnesses each year in the United States.

While the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service hopes to tackle that toll with the help of a “Salmonella Action Plan," only part of the effort is centered around creating best practices for food inspectors and farmers. The rest will be focused on teaching consumers about food safety.

For Dr. Christine Bruhn, a plan for public education can’t come quickly enough. As director of the Center for Consumer Research and a professor and researcher with the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology, Bruhn has spent her career advocating for better public awareness of the risks consumers face from food, and the role they play in their own well-being.
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Cooking with Pup
June 15th, 2014
03:00 AM ET
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One Sunday morning in 1981, I came home from church and my soul was on fire. Not because anything exceptional had transpired during the 10:30 service, but because of the way my house smelled when I walked in the side door. My dad was making Indian dishes for the first time. Whatever was happening in that kitchen was weird and wild, and it twined into all my senses, drawing me toward the simmering pot and away from everything else I'd understood as food in my nine years on Earth thus far.

My mother had made most of our meals up to that point — dutifully, methodically and not unkindly, but as a means to an end, getting her husband and two daughters fed. Though she cares greatly for the communion of the dinner table, the artistry of its contents doesn’t especially concern her. It’s not a failing on her part at all — just a seed that had neither been planted nor encouraged to bloom by first-generation American parents who were grateful to have anything to eat at all.
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June 10th, 2014
08:30 PM ET
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Lauren Oleksyk isn’t trying to bake the best pizza in the whole world, but she might be responsible for the best slice of a person’s life.

Oleksyk leads a team that's a critical link in the Army's material and supply chain. Its official name is the Food Processing, Engineering & Technology Team, Combat Feeding Directorate

While that title is certainly a mouthful, the team's mission is simple: Keep America’s warfighters fed and in peak physical shape under some of the harshest conditions on the planet.
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Why sprouts can make you sick
May 22nd, 2014
05:30 PM ET
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Another day, another food safety warning. Earlier this week it was beef, hummus and walnuts. This time, the culprit is sprouts.

In a press release issued Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised consumers not to eat Evergreen Produce brand raw clover. The release states that these sprouts are possibly linked to seven confirmed and three probable cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli in Idaho and Washington. Fifty percent of the people sickened were hospitalized.

Even people with uncompromised immune systems are strongly cautioned to discard any Evergreen Produce sprouts in sealed containers so no other humans, pets or wild animals can consume them and become infected. Thoroughly cooking sprouts can reduce the chance of foodborne illness, says the FDA, but be careful – since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with different types of raw and, yes, lightly cooked sprouts.

But aren't sprouts supposed to be - healthy? They're the stuff of health food cafes and virtuous hummus pockets. They're supposed to add beneficial, low-calorie crunch to salads and sandwiches, not cause you to, per the CDC, "develop diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps" or possibly become severely ill and die.
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Filed under: Clarified • Culture • E. coli • Food Safety • Health News • Recalls • Tainted Food • Vegetables


Chef's Jon Favreau talks food, family, filmmaking
May 13th, 2014
07:30 PM ET
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In Jon Favreau's new film, "Chef," the writer-director-star plays Carl Casper, a formerly adventurous and celebrated chef who's since stagnated in both his career and his relationship with his ex-wife and young son. An unexpected thrashing from Los Angeles' most prominent restaurant critic (and a major social media meltdown) sends Casper running for the open road - in a food truck - in search of his next course of action.

Favreau didn't just tie on an apron and step into the role as a seasoned chef. He put in hard hours on the line in chef Roy Choi's kitchens and food trucks, and brought him on as a consultant to achieve authenticity in everything from knife technique to kitchen culture.

Eatocracy spoke with Favreau about his lifelong obsession with food, connecting with family and the lengths he'll go to for a killer brisket. An edited transcript is below.

Eatocracy: Your character in the film spends a lot of time cooking food for people to show them how he feels about them. How conscious was that?

Jon Favreau: I had been thinking about the film “Eat Drink Man Woman” and Roy Choi pointed me to “Mostly Martha.” It's a German film about a female chef who is a complete emotional basket case and could not communicate, but had such passion in her food. She would feed everyone around her. It's almost like someone who couldn't speak scribbling on a piece of paper like in "The Piano."

There's something romantic about that and I think it’s reflective of what I've seen in the chefs I've known. The most accurate, sincere communicating they do is through their food.
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April 23rd, 2014
12:00 PM ET
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Eatocracy's Managing Editor Kat Kinsman attempts to vegetable garden on a roof deck in Brooklyn, NY in USDA Hardiness Zone 6b. Feel free to taunt, advise or encourage her efforts as this series progresses.

I have a rotten knack for turning any pleasurable pastime into an exhausting and pricey project and in doing so, sucking all the joy and fun out of it. Gardening is no different.

It started in college as a cheap, meditative hobby that kept me grounded in the midst of academic mayhem, and occasionally introduced a vitamin or two into my ramen-based body. The undertakings grew grandiose and far less calming as I got older and set down roots in futon-free apartments with my name actually on the lease.

What was once a matter of nestling dollar store seeds into soil-filled buckets on the roof, or poorly deer-proofing my $15-per-year community garden plot next to the town's sewage treatment plant, became an expensive indulgence. Then it became an obligation.
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The CNN 10 Visionary Women: Saru Jayaraman
March 24th, 2014
09:30 AM ET
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This Women’s History Month, CNN set out to highlight the efforts of 10 women who are helping other women find success, self-esteem and sometimes a safe haven. The women represent diverse fields: technology, fashion design, policy, activism, literature and skilled labor. What they have in common is a mission to empower their fellow woman. See the full list at CNN Living.

Saru Jayaraman wants you to eat with your mind full. The 38-year-old co-founder and co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and author of “Behind the Kitchen Door” has spent her career fighting for service workers to get a fair wage in a respectful, safe environment. Most of those workers are women.

In an essay for Maria Shriver’s “The Shriver Report,” Jayaraman plainly laid out the facts: “Restaurant servers are three times as likely to live in poverty and use food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the U.S. work force. In a terrible irony, the women who put food on the tables of restaurant-goers everywhere are struggling to put it on their own.”
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5 bad excuses for not cooking
February 25th, 2014
07:00 PM ET
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This is the eighteenth installment of "Eat This List" - a regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about.

You should cook. Yes, you. Even if you don't want to.

This isn't like saying that you should learn Ovid in the original Latin for the enrichment of your soul, or requiring that you hunker and hone your julienne and demi-glace skills until you emerge victorious in a battle overseen by Alton Brown or Anthony Bourdain. This is about getting yourself fed and taking a modicum of responsibility for it.

You eat, right? Maybe even more than once a day? (Or even if you ingest some combination of nutrients solely through methods that don't require chewing, smoothies have to taste like something, don't they?) And I'm going to go ahead and assume that you'd like to continue living in your body for the next while. Assembling foodstuffs for intake without the intermediary of a drive-thru speaker, menu, or segmented tray and microwave is the ideal way to facilitate that.

Yet people object, throw their hands in the air and simply refuse. Here's why they're wrong.
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Filed under: Cook • Cooking • Eat This List • Make


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