A little morning deliciousness for you, from 1950 and via the American Gas Association. America’s finest food from America’s finest era of cooking.
A few years ago, hog farmers throughout the Midwest noticed foam building on top of their manure pits. Soon after, barns began exploding, killing thousands of hogs while farmers lost millions of dollars.
And you thought Santorum was gross.
But seriously, what gives? First, it helps to have an idea of how manure is handled at industrial hog facilities. In his classic 2005 Rolling Stone exposé of the industrial pork giant Smithfield, Jeff Tietz provided a vivid description:
The floors are slatted to allow excrement to fall into a catchment pit under the pens, but many things besides excrement can wind up in the pits: afterbirths, piglets accidentally crushed by their mothers, old batteries, broken bottles of insecticide, antibiotic syringes, stillborn pigs—anything small enough to fit through the foot-wide pipes that drain the pits. The pipes remain closed until enough sewage accumulates in the pits to create good expulsion pressure; then the pipes are opened and everything bursts out into a large holding pond.
The manure itself is pretty nasty, too. Pigs on factory farms are given daily doses of antibiotics and growth-promoting additives like ractopamine, much of which ends up in their waste. So what you get in those cesspools, the ones now exploding in the Midwest, is kind of a stew of bacteria, antibacterial agents, and novel antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains, all mixed with the random detritus described by Tietz.
Flammable feces foam that can cause entire hog houses to explode. It’s really hard to see any problems with our system of factory farming…..
And while not on the level of modified pig manure, when squirrels are turning purple, it’s unlikely humans aren’t at fault.
Scientists don’t know how a squirrel could turn purple. While I have no doubt our lovely environmental skeptics will come up with some kind of dissembling quasi-explanation, you’d have to go a long way to convince me humans aren’t somehow responsible for this.
I’m certainly not going to speak against Any Which Way You Can, which clearly provides the greatest chimp-Eastwood pairing we will ever see. And higher power of your choice knows that I would never say anything bad about a song written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, not to mention one performed by either David Frizzell or Shelly West, not to mention sung by both. And in fact, Oklahoma is one of my favorite states to drive around.
But Oklahoma sure has some crazy politicians. The state that brought you such necessary bills as outlawing Sharia law in a place that wouldn’t know a Muslim if he prayed to Mecca at the Oklahoma City Memorial has taken wingnuttery to the next level:
A bill introduced in the Oklahoma Legislature has some folks scratching their heads, as it prohibits “the manufacture or sale of food or products which use aborted human fetuses.”
Since the bill was introduced late last week by State Sen. Ralph Shortey, a Republican from Oklahoma City, corners of the Internet have been buzzing with the news, as people try to figure out two things: 1) is this real; and 2) is there any reason the bill might be needed?
I love this justification:
The senator says that his research shows there are companies in the food industry that have used human stem cells to help them research and develop products, including artificial flavorings.
“I don’t know if it is happening in Oklahoma, it may be, it may not be. What I am saying is that if it does happen then we are not going to allow it to manufacture here,” Shortey tells KRMG’s Nicole Burgin.
It may be, it may not be, who knows. But we’d better pass a law to make sure. Note that the same principle may also apply to Oklahoma-alien miscegenation. Our women will not commit interplanetary race suicide!
This is really too bad as well. My favorite abortion clinic is in Lawton. I was going to drive there next month in order to pick up a special fetus drawn from a woman fed only on butter and truffles for the 8 1/2 months before she was forced to undergo a partial-birth abortion. The blood from that fetus is great in soup. Since it feels pain, the stress is feels as the abortionist is beating it to death with a hammer adds extra flavor.
In theory, Yelp is a great thing. People can write reviews, people can read reviews, choose where to go. But like everything, real life is more complicated. The way I figure it, review writers can mostly be reduced to 3 categories: a) people who like to review things and treat things fairly, b) people who love something and are excited to review it, c) people who are motivated to review by a bad experience. It’s a democracy of the motivated, but it also requires reading between the lines. Is that restaurant not good, or did 2 people give it 1 star because it didn’t have enough vegan options?
Restaurants (other places too but I’m focusing on restaurants here) need quality reviews for success. This is even more so today when people are making dining decisions based on Yelp reviews. So there’s also a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of these restaurants. And Yelp is filling this gap:
During interviews with dozens of business owners over a span of several months, six people told this newspaper that Yelp sales representatives promised to move or remove negative reviews if their business would advertise. In another six instances, positive reviews disappeared — or negative ones appeared — after owners declined to advertise.
Because they were often asked to advertise soon after receiving negative reviews, many of these business owners believe Yelp employees use such reviews as sales leads. Several, including John, even suspect Yelp employees of writing them. Indeed, Yelp does pay some employees to write reviews of businesses that are solicited for advertising. And in at least one documented instance, a business owner who refused to advertise subsequently received a negative review from a Yelp employee.
Many business owners, like John, feel so threatened by Yelp’s power to harm their business that they declined to be interviewed unless their identities were concealed. (John is not the restaurant owner’s real name.) Several business owners likened Yelp to the Mafia, and one said she feared its retaliation. “Every time I had a sales person call me and I said, ‘Sorry, it doesn’t make sense for me to do this,’ … then all of a sudden reviews start disappearing.” To these mom-and-pop business owners, Yelp’s sales tactics are coercive, unethical, and, possibly, illegal.
It’s hard to say whether this is a policy developed at the top of Yelp headquarters or whether individual workers with access to the reviews have figured out a way to make a buck. The story’s lead-in speaks of a person calling a restaurant owner and offering to monitor his reviews–for a mere $299 a month.
Regardless of the particulars of that tale, and it is a tale that many business owners confirm with their own, there is much of the sketchy in Yelp’s business model. How to make money off the internet is always a legitimate question. Yelp seems to be coming up with a viable answer: extortion.
A couple of beverage-related stories this morning.
1. If you didn’t oppose fracking the Marcellus Shale before, let the Post provide some really strong evidence while you should: there is a significant chance the fracking process will pollute the groundwater used by Ommegang for their excellent beers. The thought of losing Ommegang is too much for me to contemplate. Luckily, the Ommegang brewers are leading the charge to protect their product and New York’s groundwater.
2. I know progressives love to trash Texas left and right but it’s a land of small charms. One of those charms is the town of Dublin, which has a restaurant serving the a 19th century offshoot Dr. Pepper recipe. It is (or was) delicious. I used to drink a lot of Dr. Pepper, though I gave it up a couple of years ago. But the Dublin Dr. Pepper was amazing. The multinational beverage corporation The Dr. Pepper Snapple Corporation was never comfortable with this “threat” to their brand and now they’ve cracked down. Dublin was so popular it began to sell some of its product online, violating the six-county radius agreement they had previously signed. Instead of coming to a compromise and saving this unique product, the multinational chose to crush Dublin Dr. Pepper, pulling the naming rights. Theoretically, the Waco-based corporation is going to continue the recipe and the store, but without the town’s association with it. We’ll see how long this lasts.
There really is nothing else in Dublin. It was a tourist attraction for this reason alone. The future viability of this town relies on it’s connection with its version of Dr. Pepper.
If you go to the Dr. Pepper museum in Waco, the top floor is a love fest to the multinational that runs it. It’s pretty gross. Maybe it’ll include an exhibit on crushing small-town Texas.
A very nice Washington Post write-up on the great Local Roots, the farmers’ co-op in Wooster, Ohio. I taught at the College of Wooster last year and so spent a good bit of money at this place. It is truly an ideal farmers’ market. The story gets into how it works with local farmers to ensure them a decent profit. This I knew, but not the details. Northeastern Ohio is ideally placed for a small farmers’ market that also serves as a center of the coommunity. First, it is in the middle of farm country. Amish and otherwise, there are thousands of farmers out there. Second, there is nothing else to do in the town. While the college makes a big difference in town life, allowing for a nice wine bar and an acceptable if overpriced steakhouse and regular bar, overall Wooster is a deindustrialized and depressed city. The former home of Rubbermaid (even though the company moved out there is still ad 3 story Rubbermaid store on the downtown square), there is a lot of poverty and the overall air of depression that creates. But this also means that rents are cheap and Local Roots could get a location downtown at what I assume is a very reasonable price.
I remember two things about Local Roots: the apples and the bread. I don’t know how people eat regular apples. Tasteless, covered with wax, totally gross. But even where apples are grown, local apples can be hard to find. Rhode Island for instance has a lot of apple orchards. Go to Whole Foods in Providence though and you have a few pretty good varieties of apples, but all from different parts of country. Nothing from Rhode Island. After the farmers markets close and the apple picking season ends, evidently local apples are impossible to get. Local Roots though had between 5 and 10 different varieties of locally grown apples sold every week, many of which were totally delicious. I actively disliked apples for a long time because it had been so long since I had a really great one. Local Roots totally changed my mind. I have less to say about the bread except that it was really good and not outrageously priced. I didn’t have the money to buy a lot of the cheese and I don’t cook meat, but I understand those were also excellent products. The multicolored popcorn still pops white unfortunately but it was nice to have something other than corn kernels bred to an absurd size.
There’s no good reason why the Local Roots model can’t work around the country. You need a space and connections with local farmers. New York might be hard, but Providence would not be, nor would many major cities. Moreover, in smaller towns, where you really need that local market to serve as an anchor for a community and for downtown retail, it’s a brilliant idea.
Very cool story.
Here’s another menu from the New York Public Library historical menu collection. This is from the Third Panel Sheriff’s Jury of New York County dinner, February 20, 1900.
I don’t know which soup to choose, the green turtle or the essence of grouse.
The rest of the menu booklet is very exciting, with 2 pages dedicated to the Star-Spangled Banner. Sounds like a fun time….
I love historical menus. The New York Public Library has a fantastic selection up, asking for people to check the transcriptions. This might mean there are some check marks over menu items, but you can click those off and get a sense of what restaurants used to serve. As an example, here are a couple of pages the menu from Cronin’s, March 3, 1961.
I don’t know about you, but I could use the occasional 55 cent Manhattan.
It’s typical that The Economist would spend a bunch of space in its story on how Belgium came to dominate the world beer market on the worst beer to come out of that country (Stella Artois, though I hope I didn’t have to tell you that), but it’s still an interesting read.
I’m not so sure the future of world beer (and maybe the present) is in the United States, but per capita, there’s no question the Belgians are the kings.
Michael Conathan has an interesting albeit somewhat overoptimistic look at the state of fisheries in 2011. Conathan notes a variety of pretty good news ranging from the implementation of catch limits in American fisheries to crackdowns on pirate fishing. Two points I found particularly worth noting.
First, limits on the menhaden harvest are notable because for the first time, a species is being protected because of the key role it plays in the ecosystem due to its status as food for larger species. While I’m skeptical of the long-term commitment of Americans to protect species at various points in the ecosystem, it’s still a move in the right direction.
Second, Conathan gives some tough talk on aquaculture, basically arguing that while fish farming may have problems, it’s the only solution if we want to keep eating fish.
Still, as I discussed in June, if we take domestic aquaculture off the table, our options for seafood become extremely unpalatable. Foreign farmed fish is filthier than anything we would ever allow here, our domestic wild fisheries are already stressed, and the environmental impacts of additional beef, chicken, and pork production make aquaculture look positively pristine.
Thinking we should eat more vegetables and less fish? Try selling vegetarianism as a wide-scale solution to Americans’ omnivorous ways and see how far you get. Especially with my 4-year-old. NOAA’s policy represents an excellent step toward a future that includes domestic, sustainable seafood.
Well, maybe that’s true. But I do see that fish-free day of reckoning happening in the next few decades and it will be ugly. And given that farmed fish like salmon eat a lot of other fish that continues the wild fish harvest, I’m not sure whether it is actually sustainable in the long-term, even if we ignore or attempt to mitigate the other environmental problems such as water quality and diseased fish.
This image from Life Magazine disturbs me. I guess because it looks like the shot is set up like giving a dying solider a last drink of water. That it is part of a story on making turtle soup, I guess it probably didn’t bother people in 1947.
….Though the story it draws on does weirdly switch from saying the conditions for the turtles aren’t great and then giving recipes. So not sure what to make of this entirely.