“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.




Some Reading

There are several measures in the Oklahoma Legislature that benefit entrepreneurial Oklavores:

Earlier this month, Governor Fallin signed the Oklahoma Honey Sales Act, [pdf; SB 716] which exempts small-scale beekeepers from inspection by the state health department. Effective immediately, the legislation requires direct sales and applies to operations that produce less than 500 gallons of honey.

Fallin also signed the Home Bakery Act [pdf; HB 1094], which exempts home bakeries (< $20,000 in sales) from the state health department licensing process. House Bill 1094 provides labeling requirements and defines “prepared food” as “any baked goods except for products that contain meat products or fresh fruit.” This leaves me pondering my jars of rendered animal fats… On that note, violations are a misdemeanor and are punishable by a maximum $100 fine.

A similar bill, the Oklahoma Cottage Food Law [pdf; SB 920] is awaiting a hearing in the House, where the deadline is before adjournment tomorrow. In some ways, SB 920 seems like a better bill, since it allows for jams, candies, pickles, etc., and provides more clarity. However, it requires a $175 permit from the state ag department.

Some good quotes from this long interview with reluctant good-food guru Michael Pollan:
“If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re not really hungry.”
“Another good rule is: The first bite is the banquet. That’s a Chinese rule. Every subsequent bite will be less good. It’s never going to get better than that first bite, and once you realize that this is going downhill, you don’t need to have the sixth or seventh bite. I enjoy one bite of dessert a lot.”
“When I first published Food Rules, I said, ‘Don’t buy any processed foods with more than five ingredients.’ Within a year, there was a Häagen-Dazs* ice cream called Five. There was a Tostitos commercial on TV where this woman is buying chips for a party. She picks up a bag and says, ‘There are more ingredients here than I have guests coming to my party.’ And then she reaches for Tostitos, which only has three ingredients. None of them particularly healthy, but only three ingredients. So I added a new rule: Don’t buy any foods you’ve seen marketed on television.”
“Food is ecological as well as sociological—that the way we eat is connected to the environment and to the health of the land.”

My lunch and a robin's lunch (that he dropped and is patiently waiting to devour after my departure)And just for fun: Here’s a shot from my lunch break, where nearby a robin had dropped its lunch and was watching and patiently waiting for my departure.

*Häagen-Dazs, how I love thee!

Icebox Insight, Round 2

Round 1 (2009)

Burned-out hobby farmer in Georgia | Household: 1, while husband was deployed | Item of note: The top shelf holds a 2-liter bottle of oil for frying fish.
Stay-at-home mom in Del Valle, Texas | Household: 4 |”The veggie drawer is full of spinach that I promise to eat. My fridge looks healthier than from the first time.” | Item of note: Since there’s no nearby grocery store, they freeze milk in 2-liter bottles. A full freezer is more efficient, and there’s always milk on hand.
Outdoors enthusiast in Oklahoma City | Household: 1 human, 3 dogs, 2 cats, 1 rat | Item of note: More roasted pumpkin?!
New York City locavores | Poet/professor and communications associate | Household: 2 | Before Christmas vacation
Same as above, after Christmas vacation | Item of note: “The bowl [in the freezer] is a sad story. I made stock on Thanksgiving and poured it into a mason jar. … I put it in the freezer thinking it wouldn’t break without a lid, but I was wrong. I never got around to dealing with it, so when we went to Oklahoma for Christmas I sat the whole frozen/broken thing in the bowl in case the freezer quit. The good news: I saved the stock in the end since the glass broke in big pieces!”
food exhibitionist
Copy editor in Oklahoma City | 1-person household | Item of note: That’s a basket of fava beans from Peak Oil Hausfrau.

If this has merely whetted your appetite, check out this Fridge Fetish group on Flickr.
And here’s an artistic alternative to refrigerators, based on the designer’s oral history research in traditional food storage.

Some thoughts I had while compiling this post:

Why do I care about refrigerator contents? Do I care about refrigerator contents? Still pondering this.

A potentially interesting photographic commentary could be created by juxtaposing contents of refrigerators and medicine cabinets. It might illustrate what Michael Pollan stated in his 2008 letter to the presidential candidates: “Spending on health care has risen from 5 percent of national income in 1960 to 16 percent today … Spending on food has fallen by a comparable amount — from 18 percent of household income to less than 10 percent.”

Oh! What about a refrigerator component in online dating? You pick the most appealing refrigerator contents and see who is behind the refrigerator door. That sounds very fun. I think a clean refrigerator with diverse foodstuffs would definitely garner points. I’ve never given this much thought until just now, but I might be on to something.


muckin' it upWordsmith by day, wanna-be farmer/domestic goddess by night

Hear celebrated farmer-activist-writer Wendell Berry recite some of his poems, including that one that always soothes me, “The Peace of Wild Things.” And in the same tradition, my friend Stephanie Jordan will read from her poetry collection, Waiting for Rain: Stories of Love, Loss and Agriculture, in Norman on Sunday. And it might even be raining. 

Looks like I’m going to take a road trip sometime this spring or summer to visit Key Ingredients: America by Food, a traveling food history exhibit making its way through rural America. Here’s the Oklahoma schedule. I’m pretty jazzed since I’ve been wanting to see more of Oklahoma, and I’ll get to geek out on our country’s culinary evolution while doing so.

2011 in Review

Things are kinda slow in my kitchen and garden right now. So, in lieu of my usual highly engaging (ha!) content, I give you: the wordpress.com 2011 annual report for this blog. (And if you want to see how it compares with last year, here ya go.)

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 8,000 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Do you still have Thanksgiving leftovers? If so, combat boredom with Mark Bittman’s suggestions for transforming Thanksgiving mainstays.

Last night I used the last of my mashed potatoes to make something like Bittman’s garlic-rosemary potato fritters. Instead of garlic and rosemary, I used caramelized onions (which I cooked the night before to save time) and thyme. Some crumbled blue cheese would have been a fantastic addition; I found my fritters a little dull.

An aside: How I love fritters! Here are posts on pumpkin fritters, corn fritters, and zucchini fritters.
potato fritters
Onion-thyme potato fritters with Greek yogurt and some endive and olives.

Along the same lines, read this great essay by Tamar Adler about applying Thanksgiving-meal planning to everyday cooking:

We see in everything we buy and cook the promise of leftovers, and the makings of meals to come. … To cook sustainably, we need meat and vegetables to come in their own skins and on their bones and covered in their leaves, because they’re more economical and will leave us more to turn into future meals. We need to cook a bit more at once, and then do little cooking, and more adjusting during the week, which is often all we have time for, anyway.

Sounds a lot like someone I know.

Basil Panna Cotta

Remember those creamsicles? While ideal for preserving individual portions, they didn’t work too well for my intended purpose: coffee creamer. For some reason, the fats from the cream floated to the top of the coffee, creating an unappetizing glassy layer on the surface and leaving a greasy residue on the lid of my to-go mug. So, I’ve mostly resigned myself to black coffee, with the occasional treat of half-and-half or fresh cream.

Eager to find another use for the cream cubes, I was already considering custard or panna cotta recipes when I came across Cathy Erway’s basil panna cotta in The Art of Eating In (which I finished last night — good book). Erway goes from coupledom to singlehood about half-way into the book, which tells of her 2-year mission to forgo restaurants, take out, food carts, etc.

Turns out, abstaining from restaurants somewhat complicates the typical first dinner-date routine. She has a guy over for dinner and endeavors to create a date-like meal and atmosphere. Apparently, she had fantastic luck inspiring romance, and credits her fresh basil panna cotta. While I didn’t experience this phenomenon, the indulgent dessert did garner appreciative moans.

Panna cotta is a good make-ahead dessert for dinner parties, date nights, pot lucks, etc. And because of the recipe‘s simplicity, you could have fun playing with the flavors. Instead of the basil-infused cream, next time I’d like to try chocolate panna cotta infused with mint.
basil panna cotta
Beautiful cream from Wagon Creek Creamery; basil from my garden.
You can see how the fat rose to the top of the panna cotta — just like what happened in my coffee, but more appetizing.