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Friday, January 4, 2013

Washington State Could Be First in Country to Pass GMO Labeling

Posted By on Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Nearly 90% of corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified. - FLICKR/DODO-BIRD
  • Flickr/Dodo-Bird
  • Nearly 90% of corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified.

It's been a few months since California residents voted down Prop. 37, the controversial initiative in last November's election that would have required labels on any genetically modified food sold in the state. Now Washington state, of recent gay marriage and pot legalization approval, might be the first in the country to pass legislation around labeling GMO foods. Yesterday, sponsors of WA Initiative 522 delivered 350,000 signatures supporting a GMO labeling law to the state Legislature -- more than a hundred thousand more than the state requires. If they're approved, the Legislature can vote on it or send it to the state ballot in November.

See also:

- GMO Labeling: Looking to the Future Post-Prop. 37

- Three Things I Learned When I Started Researching Proposition 37

- All You Need to Know About GMOs: The Rap Video

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

California's Got a Brand New Cottage Food Law

Posted By on Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Good news for the artisan pickle industry. - FLICKR/SLEEPYNEKO

Did you know that at midnight on January 1, California's new Homemade Food Act went into effect, making it more legal for people in home kitchens to prepare and sell their own food? It's true! With a "Class A" permit, an individual can now prepare and sell foods from their home, at temporary food markets, at farmers markets and farm stands, and through agricultural subscriptions. The legislation was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown last September, and exists largely thanks to the work of a Los Angeles advocate who wanted to sell his homemade bread in a few local restaurants, reports Food Safety News.

See also:

- Mark Your Calendar for the Last-Ever Underground Market on December 22

- GMO Labeling: Looking to the Future Post-Prop. 37

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Despite Prop. 37's Defeat, the Fight for GMO Labeling Soldiers On

Posted By on Wed, Nov 7, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Proposition 37, the California initiative to label genetically modified food, was defeated last night with a 53% majority vote against the proposed labeling law.

But just because this battle was lost, those behind the Yes on 37 campaign say the war is far from over. The group is focusing on the 4.3 million Californians who voted yes on the proposition, as well as the fact that the campaign built a grassroots movement with more than 10,000 volunteers and more than $2 million raised online. All that momentum won't just go away. "There's a huge amount of energy to go forward and win this fight," says Stacy Malkan, Media Director for the pro-labeling group California Right to Know.

See also:

- Three Things I Learned When I Started Researching Proposition 37

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Three Things I Learned When I Started Researching Proposition 37

Posted By on Sun, Nov 4, 2012 at 8:15 PM

Nearly 90% of corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified. - FLICKR/DODO-BIRD
  • Flickr/Dodo-Bird
  • Nearly 90% of corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified.

By now you've probably heard that a major food fight is going down on the state ballot on Tuesday. If passed, Proposition 37 would require a label on any genetically engineered foods and food products sold in California -- an unprecedented move that could end up shaping food policy on a national level. The fight over the proposition has turned into a David-and-Goliath story in the media, with Big Business on one side and The People on the other. But as much as I didn't trust the scary No on 37 ads running what seems like every five minutes on TV, I also didn't know if the folksy Yes on 37 message of grassroots transparency was really as simple as it seemed. I decided to get to the bottom of things.

See also:

- Four Barrel Nixes Soy. Forever.

- Planting GMO Crops = Butterfly Murder

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Monday, October 8, 2012

How Christopher Columbus Changed the Way We Eat

Posted By on Mon, Oct 8, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Christopher Columbus bids farewell to the Queen of Spain in 1492. - "THE FIRST VOYAGE", CHROMOLITHOGRAPH BY L. PRANG & CO., 1893
  • "The First Voyage", chromolithograph by L. Prang & Co., 1893
  • Christopher Columbus bids farewell to the Queen of Spain in 1492.

Imagine an Italy without tomato sauce, Ireland without potatoes, Belgium without chocolate. Regardless of your feelings about Christopher Columbus and colonialism, the fact remains that the man irrevocably changed the culinary world when he crossed the ocean blue and made the first major contact with the New World.

See also:

- New Cookbook Explores California's Culinary Past

- How Taco Bell, Now 50, Changed America

- The 20 Most Significant Food Inventions in History

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The 20 Most Significant Food Inventions in History

Posted By on Tue, Sep 18, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Where did the plow end up on the list? - FLICKR/ARCHER10

Science may not be the first thing you think about when it comes to the development of culinary culture over time, but The Royal Society of the UK has put out a list of the top 20 most significant inventions for food and drink in history. You'd immediately think the plow would be way up there, but to our surprise it barely makes the top 10 -- the top four are all relatively modern inventions (the fifth is irrigation, which we know hearkens back to the first civilizations thanks to a comprehensive sixth grade unit on the Fertile Crescent).

See Also:

- New Cookbook Explores California's Culinary Past

- The Food World 30 Years Ago, Old Apples, and New Cheese

- Before the Mission Burrito Came the San Francisco Tamale: An Interview with Gustavo Arellano

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pastry Chef Emily Luchetti Discusses Her Role in New American Chef Corps

Posted By on Thu, Sep 13, 2012 at 4:45 PM

The initial members of the American Chef Corps gather in Washington D.C. - U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
  • U.S. Department of State
  • The initial members of the American Chef Corps gather in Washington D.C.

Last week the U.S. Department of State announced the first-ever American Chef Corps as part of the new Diplomatic Culinary Partnership initiative with the James Beard Foundation. We caught up with one of the five Bay Area members, Emily Luchetti, executive pastry chef of Waterbar and Farallon and chair of the JBF, to find out more about the program and her involvement with it.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

West Coast Deserves More Love in State Department's New American Chef Corps

Posted By on Tue, Sep 11, 2012 at 2:15 PM

White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford plates Quinoa Black Bean and Corn Salad in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House. - WHITE HOUSE/SONYA N. HEBERT
  • White House/Sonya N. Hebert
  • White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford plates Quinoa Black Bean and Corn Salad in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House.

The full list of chefs participating in the U.S. Department of State's new Diplomatic Culinary Partnership initiative was announced a few days ago to much media fanfare. To be clear, I think it's fantastic that the State Department has partnered with the James Beard Foundation and created a roster of chefs to showcase the country's culinary traditions on the international stage. It's a big step forward for American food. I just wish the list included more chefs from the West Coast.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Gustavo Arellano on San Francisco Tamales, Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dogs, Taco Bell, Part 2

Posted By on Thu, Apr 12, 2012 at 9:12 AM

taco_usa_arellano_cover.jpg

According to this week's cover story, written by Gustavo Arellano, San Francisco played a surprising and key role in the spread of Mexican food across America. The story is an excerpt from Arellano's new book, Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, which comes out this week. Arellano's book celebrates the canned tamales, hard-shell tacos, and Mission burritos that Americans have fallen in love with, as well as the Mexican Americans who created them (whether credited or not).

SFoodie had a chance to speak to Arellano, who is also editor of the OC Weekly, several days ago. Part 1 of this interview, about San Francisco tamales and burritos, ran yesterday. In part 2, Arellano talks about tacos, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, and that awful A word, "authenticity."

SFoodie: If tamales and chile con carne were the first Mexican foods to go mainstream here, what role do tacos play in the spread of Mexican food around America?

Arellano: The taco is a relatively late migrant. Mexicans have been putting something in a tortilla and eating it since the time of the Aztecs. But the first documented picture of a taco in the United States appeared in a 1914 cookbook of California Mexican-Spanish dishes by Bertha Haffner-Ginger. It's what we would know as a taco dorado. Tacos don't started getting mentioned in newspaper stories and put on menus until late 1920s. Soft tacos are really a dish of Central Mexico, and it wasn't until the Mexican revolution until people who ate tacos in their daily lives migrated to the United States.

Tacos first made it to the Southwest, of course. Then in the 1950s, once companies started looking for the next hamburger, interest in tacos explodes in earnest with Taco Bell and its imitators. That's a hardshell taco, of course. It wasn't until the 1980s that the taco that most of us call a taco became widespread, as more Mexican immigrants came into the country.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Before the Mission Burrito Came the San Francisco Tamale: An Interview with Gustavo Arellano, Part 1

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Gustavo Arellano.
  • Gustavo Arellano.

San Francisco has gotten used to thinking of itself as a remote outpost in the Mexican diaspora, since our lively but embattled Mexican American community is dwarfed by much larger ones in Los Angeles and the Southwest. But according to this week's cover story, written by Gustavo Arellano, San Francisco has played a key role in convincing the rest of the country to adopt two Mexican American dishes, tamales and burritos, as their own.


The story is an excerpt from Arellano's new book, Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, which comes out this week. SFoodie had a chance to speak to Arellano, who is also editor of the OC Weekly several days ago. (Part 2 of this interview runs tomorrow.

SFoodie: Were tamales the first Mexican dish to be assimilated into American cuisine?

I would say yes, because the first two Mexican foods to achieve widespread popularity were chile con carne and the tamal -- specifically the tamal that came from tamale men from San Francisco. The tamal had existed across the American Southwest, of course, but up until the early 1890s it never had nationwide traction. It was really Robert Putnam and his California Chicken Tamale Co. who set out to conquer Chicago, spread a tamale frenzy there, then spun off to New York and inspired all those imitators.

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