Hot Off the Skillet Food Links


Whoa. I meant to do a post on interesting food links monthly, but a quick scroll reveals I haven't done a Hot Off the Skillet since early January. There's always exciting news in the food and nutrition world, beginning with this link I saw today! Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found a daily cup of tea may reduce heart attack and cardiovascular risk? Beginning in 2000, they followed 6000 study participants, who were free of heart disease at that time. Eleven years later, it was the tea drinkers who showed 1/3 fewer incidences of "heart attack, stroke, chest pain, or...other types of heart disease." Yay, Earl Grey!

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In other happy news, you'll remember I wrote about my favorite food/nutrition book of 2015, Mark Shatzker's The Dorito Effect. Because I also follow him on Twitter, I heard about his recent Epicurious article, holding out the promise of better-tasting real food in the future. As he discussed in the book, for years folks bred supermarket food for looks and speed and durability, letting actual flavor go by the wayside. Hence the baseball-hard tomatoes that taste like drywall and grocery-store chicken with all the flavor of tofu, only with a texture even more revolting. But, joy of joys, flavor is making a comeback, and not just the flavors found in a chemistry lab. Agricultural think tanks are working on breeding flavor back in--the old-fashioned way, by crossing plant varieties and hoping for good results.

Like heirloom tomatoes, but wish they were sturdier? Now's your chance to get tomato seeds for Garden Gem and Garden Treasure, two new varieties which are already winning taste contests! For a small donation to the University of Florida's Klee Laboratories you'll receive 15 seeds of each kind, just in time to get them started indoors.

And lastly, as we find ourselves in a strident political season, I always like to show bipartisanship. Having referenced the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen produce lists in the past, I now present the other side, in which our supermarket produce is found to be very, very clean, according to USDA pesticide sampling, as reported in Forbes. The author makes a couple good points, including the fact that pesticide residue can be found in both conventional and organic produce (some organic countermeasures are allowed but act similarly to regular pesticides). I would love to believe our fruits and vegetables more than meet the EPA's tolerances. What is a tolerance? "The tolerance is generally 100 times less than a dose that could cause any ill effect. The allowed residues are also lower than the levels of natural pesticidal compounds that many crops make to defend themselves." (As Mark Schatzker also discussed in his awesome book, plants do produce natural toxins so they don't get eaten or eaten at the wrong time by every Bird, Cow, or Billy Goat Gruff.)

Tolerable produce still doesn't address the issue of agricultural workers who are exposed to higher levels of pesticides, however, in producing the crop. Nor does it dispel that niggling memory I have of the potato farmer in Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire, who farmed conventional potatoes for all of us, but only fed his family from the small organic plot behind the house... But, hey, it's still good news for when we can't resist that out-of-season basket of berries. Berries below tolerance!

May it hold us until Opening Market Day.



Eat Local and Eat Smart

10 days till Bellevue Farmers Market's Opening Day! Join us Thursday, May 12, from 3-7 p.m. in the parking lot of the First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue (1717 Bellevue Way NE).

Low-Nutrient Mutant Carrot

It's been a long, gray, cold, rainy spring. After months of eating sad produce from far, far away, I'm eager to sink my teeth into something picked that very morning from the rich soils of Washington State. Speaking of rich soil, check out this article in Scientific American, which reports that, "Modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which the food we eat grows. Sadly, each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before." In just a little over twenty years, levels of various vitamins and minerals in popular vegetables like carrots have dropped from 21-37%! The study's recommendation? "Those who want to get the most nutritious fruits and vegetables should buy regularly from local organic farmers" (my emphasis). All the more reason to get your hands on those fresh spring greens, peas, beans, and carrots!

If you're pregnant or hoping to become pregnant, it's never too early to eat pesticide-free. Studies conducted by research teams at "Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the school of public health at the University of California, Berkeley, all conclude that pesticide exposure during pregnancy could negatively affect brain development." Children tested over a period of years showed a correlation between pre-natal pesticide exposure and IQ levels. Click here for the ABC video.When you buy at the Market, feel free to ask our farmers how they feel about pesticides! While not all farmers at the BFM are certified organic (it being a very expensive, involved process), many of them do not use pesticides.

Even we full-growns would do well to lower our toxin intake. For your reading pleasure, I leave you with this article from Glamour magazine relating the dangers of all the hormone-mimicking chemicals we find in our homes and diets. As the mother of a preadolescent girl, I agree wholeheartedly that women have enough going on with their hormones that the last thing they need is unwelcome hormonal boosts from their environment. And I'm sure men don't want the extra fake-estrogen coursing through their systems either...

So finish off those dried-up Cuties and mealy apples and low-nutrient carrots--clear the crisper for this season's bounty, local, nutrient-rich, and largely pesticide-free!