“Poisons are us”

I feel compelled to compile some information related to the recent reversal of a planned ban of a common, yet dangerous, pesticide. I hadn’t actually heard of the generic name of this poison until the new EPA administrator announced he was halting the steps to ban it. [modified 5/19/2017]

“By reversing the previous administration’s steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making – rather than predetermined results.” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

  1. An article covering the public comment period on the regulatory reform agenda of Trump, Pruitt, et al. In other words, I’m trying to begin with something positive and empowering. Here’s the actual comment form. The deadline is May 15. Look for the “Comment Now” button in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Forbes has a great overview about the chlorpyrifos reversal
  3. “Poisons are us” | A compelling opinion piece by Timothy Egan
  4. Dow Chemical tries to kill risk study of its chlorpyrifos
  5. Here’s the National Pesticide Information Center general fact sheet on chlorpyrifos. The publication provides a very basic, yet alarming, explanation of why children are more sensitive to the insecticide. Studies have found that children who had chlorpyrifos in their blood had more developmental delays and disorders than those who did not. In addition, it states that chlorpyrifos is toxic to bees and earthworms. “It can poison non-target insects for up to 24 hours after it is sprayed. Chlorpyrifos can be toxic to earthworms for up to 2 weeks after it is applied to the soil.” Doesn’t that seem counterproductive — especially in its agricultural applications?
  6. A strong case against a pesticide does not faze EPA under Trump
  7. Letter from over 45 Scientists and Health Professionals Supporting EPA’s 2016 Risk Assessment and 2015 Proposal to Revoke Food Tolerances for Chlorpyrifos [pdf]

Please contact your federal legislators about the chlorpyrifos reversal, as well as the plans for repealing other EPA regulations.




Tallow Follow-Up

In my earlier post about tallow, I mentioned Jennifer McLagan, a “nose to tail” chef and author who writes about the subject in her books Bones, Fat, and the forthcoming Odd Bits. I sent McLagan an e-mail, asking for her help with my suet/tallow conundrum. Here is her helpful response:

Hello Tricia,

From your photos I would say that was suet, it is brittle and has a papery membrane. Technically suet is tallow, the general term for beef and lamb fat, but beef/veal suet can be used without rendering. It is very firm at room temperature, so you can just grate it and then make wonderful tea biscuits, dumplings and steamed puddings. You can still use it for all these recipes, just dice it as would any other fat, but yes, you could have skipped the rendering step.
As you have rendered, it try making french fries with it. They will be amazing.

I recently made one of her salad dressing recipes, but substituted chicken fat for the duck fat. When the dressing turned out quite bland, I realized that chicken fat and duck fat are not interchangeable. Since I have jars of frozen chicken fat I need to use, I asked her when, if ever, it would be appropriate to use chicken fat in place of duck fat.

As for chicken fat vs. duck fat, duck fat is richer and better flavoured than chicken fat. Also duck and goose (even tastier) are lower in polyunsaturated fats than chicken fat, so have a better omega 3/omega 6 ratio. Try using it when you roast or sauté poultry, or add it to the pan to cook eggs — anywhere you are not depending on it for flavour, as in the grapefruit salad dressing.
You could make the gribenes recipe. It’s delicious and I am sure you could confit in it, as the flavour comes from the spicing and what you are confiting. You can cook chicken skin in a pan and make chicken cracklings and add them to a tea biscuit or top a salad or cooked vegetables with them. Also it would be great when you want a neutral fat. So when a recipe says “vegetable” oil that I am sure you are not using, grab your chicken fat.
Hope this helps.
Yours in fat,

Lessons Learned

I grated my hand. And now I know — I should have sprung for the cheese grater with rubber grippers.
cheese grater injury

My hands are all sorts of messed up between this cheese-grating incident, cardboard cuts, and a run-in with a kitchen mandolin (this kind).

Conclusion: I should stay away from sharp objects when I’m sleep deprived.

I’m always grateful when I get to learn these sorts of lessons in a relatively harmless way.

C is for Cookie

Sometimes I’m lousy at feeding myself. I would never suggest Matt and I eat ice cream for supper, but somehow it’s acceptable when I’m home alone. Cookies and milk? Sounds swell to me! Chips, salsa, and beer? Sure! I’ve never claimed to be disciplined.

But last week there was a minor success. I made a delicious, nutritious meal just for myself. Granted it’s an easier task in the spring and summer when I crave healthier food and more variety is available. My internal Cookie Monster goes into some sort of reverse hibernation. Spring and summertime meals often consist of variations on salads, fresh fruit and veggies, cheese, and crackers or bread. Some of my favorite eating experiences come from this type mixing and matching of simple ingredients with fancy condiments.

Not only was my meal an accomplishment in itself, it also happened to be the first kale harvest. The kale is coming along nicely, though I noticed one white moth and some eggs on the leaves. Tomorrow I’ll spray off the eggs and any lingering moths with the force of the water nozzle.

garden: early aprilfresh cut kale

roasted cauliflower and sauteed kale
Roasted cauliflower and steamed kale with red pepper flakes, lemon juice, and Kalamata olives.

Speaking of indoctrination…

Don’t ya just love all this “indoctrination” talk stirred up because—gasp!—the President seeks to directly engage schoolchildren?

Let us focus on some legitimate indoctrination:

“By the year 2000, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that one in five schools participating in the National School Lunch Program had brand-name fast foods in their lunchrooms.”

—School Lunch Politics
by Susan Levine

More here.

I’m Screwed

I thought I was okay with having high cholesterol…until I heard this: “Midlife Cholesterol Linked to Dementia” on NPR.

I’ve had high cholesterol since my early 20s. I just turned 29. I have great “good” cholesterol and blood pressure. Two to three years on a vegetarian diet did nothing to help my “bad” cholesterol. And since I’ve taken an interest in whole foods, I’ve read compelling information on how diet and cholesterol are, at best, loosely related.

I feel really silly arguing with my doctor about whether I really need to keep my cholesterol “under control” with meds. I’m sure I need to try the tried and true method of weight loss. Don’t worry, I’m not going to turn oklavore.com into a diet site. Just some rambling thoughts… I’d like to hear yours.