GateHouse News Service's weekly Food for Thought, with tips on food terms, pesticides and poi.
When you're scanning a restaurant menu or walking the grocery store aisles, do you know what many of the food terms really mean? What designates "local," and what is the difference between organic and non-organic?
These terms and others are becoming staples on menus and in stores, and until recently few have been clearly defined.
Here are common food-related terms you're sure to see at restaurants or supermarkets, according to the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance.
Organic: The main difference between organic and non-organically grown foods is the production method -- those who raise organically-grown food must follow a strict set of guidelines outlined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA organic label indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Like many other value-added products, organic food can be more expensive because, in some cases, it costs more to produce. For example, organically-raised pigs must be fed only organic feed produced without synthetic pesticides, and may not be given antibiotics. A common misconception is that the increased cost of organic food relates directly to its superior nutritional value, which is unproven.
Another common misconception about organic food production involves pesticide and fertilizer use. Organic farmers can choose from organic certified pesticides and fungicides, which are outlined by the USDA Certified Organic program. They can also use organic matter (livestock manure) for fertilizer.
Local: Local food is grown (or raised) and harvested close to where it is sold. It's distributed a much shorter distance than is common in the conventional global industrial food system, which sustains our nation and world. Supporting local businesses is great -- from the mom-and-pop hardware store to local farms and ranches. Did you know 95 percent of U.S. farms are family-owned? Our nation needs farms of all sizes and locations to help grow enough food for our growing population, especially during the winter months when some areas are simply too cold to grow crops.
Hormone-free: Hormones occur naturally in all farm animals, just as they do in humans -- it's a natural part of life, so no beef, pork, poultry or dairy products are "hormone-free." When it comes to poultry raised in America, no hormones are ever used to promote growth, a common misconception. Hormones are used in farm animals under the guidance of veterinarians and animal nutritionists and only given in targeted ways -- in very low doses and at particular times in the animal's life. Over the past several decades they've been studied heavily. Hormones continue to be approved for use in this country and many others because studies have shown they pose no risk to consumers.
Page 2 of 3 - -- Brandpoint
Number to Know
81: Percentage of conventional apple orchards that use organophosphates as pesticides, according to a USDA report.
Tip of the Week
Rinse fresh vegetables and fruits under running water just before eating, cutting, or cooking. Even if you plan to peel or cut the produce before eating, it is important to thoroughly rinse it first to prevent microbes from transferring from the outside to the inside of the produce.
Spinach Apple Salad with Toasted Walnuts
2 Opal apples
5 ounces baby spinach
1/3 cup dried tart cherries
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed)
1 teaspoon lemon zest, freshly grated
Salt to taste
Ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup (about 2 ounces) goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Core apples, and cut into thin slices (about 16 per apple). Place spinach in a large bowl; remove long stems and any bruised leaves. Add cherries and half of apples and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, thyme, lemon zest, salt and ground pepper to taste. Toss spinach, apples and cherries with just enough dressing to coat. Top with remaining sliced apples, goat cheese and toasted walnuts.
-- Family Features
Poi, a traditional starchy dish eaten in Hawaii, is made from what root vegetable?
Answer at bottom of rail.
Word to the Wise
Daikon is an Asian radish with a sweet and spicy flavor. It is an essential ingredient in Asian cooking and the most popular vegetable in Japan. The literal translation from the Japanese is "big root." The most common variety of daikon, however, looks like a turnip or white carrot, and that's probably the kind you'll find near the fresh ginger in the grocery store produce aisle.
The Dish On...
"Vegetables, Revised: The Most Authoritative Guide to Buying, Preparing, and Cooking, with More than 300 Recipes," by James Peterson
Treat yourself to an in-depth education with Vegetables, acclaimed author and teacher James Peterson’s comprehensive guide to identifying, selecting, and preparing ninety-five vegetables -- from amaranth to zucchini -- along with information on dozens of additional varieties and cultivars.
Page 3 of 3 - Peterson’s classical French training and decades of teaching experience inform his impeccable presentation of every vegetable preparation technique and cooking method. Peterson explains the intricacies of the many methods for cooking each vegetable, from the most straightforward boiling, braising, steaming, and stir-frying techniques, to the more elaborate and flavor intense grilling, glazing, roasting, sautéing, and deep-frying. The text is further enhanced with handsome full-color photography and useful extras, like time-saving workarounds, tips on seasonal purchasing, storage recommendations, and suggestions for kitchen tools you’ll really use.
Food Quiz Answer
B. Taro. Poi is a traditional Hawaiian staple made from boiled taro root that's been pounded to a smooth, glutinous paste. Poi is very easily digested, making its minerals (calcium and phosphorus) easily absorbed.
GateHouse News Service