Posts Tagged ‘Guest Blogger’

Posted on April 26, 2010 - by

What Came First: The Chicken or the Cancer?

By Guest Blogger Bill Couzens, Founder Less Cancer

The advertising, publicity, and public reaction surrounding the Kentucky Fried Chicken “Buckets for the Cure” campaign to benefit Susan G. Komen For the Cure is immense – even though the two organizations seem like an unlikely match. And while I am eager to see a cure for cancer, I am more interested in seeing cancer stopped at the cause. I am interested in seeing us not only win the battles, but the war. Winning the war translates into not just more cases of cured cancer, but Less Cancer all together – stopping cancer at the root. We need to be taking a new look at the way we work to stop cancer before it even becomes cancer.

Despite Richard Nixon’s efforts in 1971 to launch the War on Cancer, the problem has not been solved and in fact has multiplied. Nearly a lifetime and countless billions later, identifying and treating cancer has become its own economy. While I am grateful that so many researchers are looking for the cure, we are living in a time of unprecedented increases in the number of friends and family battling cancer or dealing with the issues that cancer survivorship brings.

Michale Pollan in his book Food Rules An Eaters Manual (Penguin) says, “If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t. It’s not food if it’s served through the window of your car. It’s not food if it’s called by the same name in every language.” Think Big Mac, Cheetos or Pringles.

While there is no evidence to say chicken causes cancer – we do know that some fast/processed foods can contribute to illnesses such as obesity. During the last two decades, the percentages of obese adults and children have been steadily increasing and, in turn, increased the risk for health effected outcomes including coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Obesity also increases the risk of cancers of the breast, Endometrium (the lining of the uterus), colon, kidney, and esophagus (NCI).

We live in a time when cancer has become so commonplace that the news of new cases seems almost expected. Everyone I know is involved with a walk, a run, or a ride to support cancer research. We as a culture are working every day to find new ways to fund big dollar cures and cancer treatments. While I applaud those efforts, and would have done anything to see my sister and mother cured, the larger issue is that little if anything is being done in the area of cancer prevention.

Recently at a bank drive-thru window I was offered the opportunity to buy a candy bar with the profits going toward a cancer cure. David Servan-Schreiber, MD, Ph.D, author of Anticancer: A New Way of Life is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and co-founder of the Center for Integrative Medicine. Dr. Servan-Screiber’s book discusses concerns about sugar as a food that feeds cancer. So why are we selling candy bars to fund the cancer cure? It doesn’t make sense. We as a society can’t seem to move away from the “break and fix” model of health care.

We are willing to race for a cure, but are not willing to work diligently to eliminate or reduce the exposures that cause it.
The problem isn’t just the fast foods we are consuming in record quantities, but the grocery choices we make in the store when shopping for our families.

Dr. Maryann Donovan, Director the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cancer Institute (CEO-UPCI) says that “consumers do need to become more selective when shopping for all products but especially food. Scientists at the CEO-UPCI have measured contaminants in canned food at levels that can cause biological effects in laboratory studies. There are a number of published studies showing that some ingredients in products that we use in our homes, schools and communities are toxic and some have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory studies. Examples of possible food contaminants can include pesticide residues or bisphenol A. (BPA), a component of the resin that lines some cans and can leach into food.”

Food choice presents an opportunity to make change and begin the process of providing healthy choices for your family, but especially for young children.

It is important to protect children. By making better food choices we can reduce their exposure to a host of unhealthy ingredients and contaminants. It is important to remember that children are not small adults, rather they are a developing version of an adult. Simply put, children are under construction. They are unfinished and their developing systems are quite fragile. We know, for instance, that in children the brain continues to develop into their twenties, and this makes their brains potentially more vulnerable to toxins. They also breathe much more rapidly, so they take in more toxins through their lungs. For children, depending on the exposure, some of the first body systems to show negative health effects can be their neurological and respiratory systems.

Our society has lost its grip on the problem because of greed and a general malaise and acceptance of cancer as a fact of life. Real progress will only happen when we address issues in behavior and choices. For example, there are foods that are not only not nutritious, but in some cases toxic. So when do we get the back bone to push back, make the tough choices, and do what is right – and not only what is profitable?

According to a Scientific American article (2-17-2010), about 133 million Americans have one or more so-called chronic conditions, which can include obesity and diabetes. According to a House bill introduced in July 2009 and currently in committee, there is a need to increase overall federal funding for health care. Wayne Giles, director of the CDC’s Division of Adult and Community Health, notes that some 75 percent of U.S. health care spending goes toward “treating patients with chronic disease.” As the authors of the bill hasten to point out, “The vast majority of these diseases are preventable.” These conditions also account for about 70 percent of deaths in the U.S.

It’s going to take more than branding a bucket of chicken with a pink ribbon to beat cancer. We’re in a war, and we need to do more than dress up the potential enemy.


Posted on April 16, 2010 - by

Food-Fronted Development at Full Mast

Guest Post by: James Boo
Originally Posted on The Eaten Path

When a conversation with my neighbor, Lulu, hits the twenty-minute mark, it won’t be long before she raises her right pinky, dons a frenzied grimace and puts on her best impersonation of Herman, a clinically insane man pacing back and forth, hooking thin air and repeatedly chirping: “Neer! Neer! Neer! Neer!

A lifelong tenant of my building in the Puerto Rican enclave of today’s Williamsburg, Lulu has reminded me more than once that the apartment building across the street stands on the former grounds of a psychiatric ward, where mental patients would mill around the gates and chat with kids on the street through a wire-mesh fence.

Williamsburg, like much of New York, has quite a bit of history behind it, and Herman’s antics comprise one small tale of many that are still waiting to be passed down. You might not know this, however, from the average New Yorker’s loyalty to the universal hipster narrative, that knee-jerk understanding in which the crazies and kids are now one, making Williamsburg little more than a weekend zoo for Manhattanites and a convenient target for the collective rolled eyes of the city. Given how little people seem to think on how this neighborhood’s various parts have come into being, going back in the day through Lulu’s stories is a nice way of sparking the imagination and offering glimpses at our lionized landscape that cut through the newspeak of pop-cultural geography.

Being just as transient as the next twenty-something, I don’t say this to stake out a claim on authenticity. As I move out of Williamsburg, I simply hope that twenty years from now this patch of Brooklyn won’t be remembered in the form of skinny jeans, facial hair and poorly conceived irony – the so-called “hipsters” of Williamsburg deserve better. Real communities, new and old, continue to write their own stories between Broadway and Nassau, and if the growth of Brooklyn’s locally sourced food scene is any indication, the resulting merge will be something more interesting than the displacement of roots with cash registers.

Mast Bros. Chocolate - Fresh! the Movie Tasting - Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
The Mast Bros. Chocolate tasting I attended last week as part of the publicity blitz for Fresh! is one example of how the dining scene in Williamsburg is equal parts consumer-based gentrification and organic community building. At a glance, the event seemed a stereotypical meeting of the prissy and the pricey; gourmet chocolates set out alongside flowers as the conversation of an affluent, educated crowd of mostly white faces.

Mast Bros. Chocolate - Fresh! the Movie Tasting - Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY Mast Bros. Chocolate - Fresh! the Movie Tasting - Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
A closer look at the Fresh! campaign and a deeper taste of the gathering on North 3rd St would reveal an element of ownership that instills affluence with anima, particularly in how the Mast brothers uncompromisingly handcraft their chocolate to the enviable passion that Shane Welch and his staff at Sixpoint Craft Ales put into their Brooklyn-based brews. While the $7 price tag of a Mast Bros. Chocolate bar (higher if you purchase it outside the factory) screams high end consumerism, the intimacy of this hole-in-the-wall factory and beard-charmed accessibility of its owners makes a more complex statement of migration and growth, one which shines in significant contrast to the new Duane Reade pharmacy in construction just a few blocks away.

Mast Bros. Chocolate - Single Origin Madagascar With Cocoa Nibs
The chocolates on offer during the tasting certainly offered a real taste of personality. I’ve dismissed the Masts’ chocolate as too floral in the past, but was happy to be proven immensely wrong as I sampled piece after piece of the brothers’ standard rotation of bars. Like my colleague over at Food in Mouth, I quickly got over the intensity of the chocolate and become much more concerned with when I could procure the next bite-sized chunk.

Mast Bros. Chocolate - Single Origin Madagascar With Cocoa Nibs
The most satisfying aspect of Mast Bros. chocolate is that the foo foo liner notes that accompany its product are stunningly accurate. Single origin, 81% cocoa Dominican Republic is a hefty expression of earthy flavors – “rustic earth, black tea, rum, black berry, maybe even tobacco and sometimes licorice,” to be precise. Likewise, The Masts’ Fleur de Sal de Guerande (hand-harvested sea salt from France) is “a perfect finishing salt, amplifying the sweetness and citrus of the Madagascar cacao,” and the “nuttiness, fruit and beautiful texture” of the Mast’s meaty cacao nibs introduce a hearty element to their chocolate that is as much to savor as it is to feel. The distinctive profiles of each bar bore much of this flavor text to my taste buds in way that rarely happens when I drink a glass of red wine.

At the top of my list, single origin, 72% cocoa Madagascar “tickles your palate with blood orange, dried sour cherry and raspberry notes. Soft tannins and bright fruit linger on your brain like a night in Napa Valley.” As I popped piece after piece of this chocolate into my mouth and grappled with the flavors as they unwound on my tongue, these ridiculous, J. Peterman-worshipping words only become more true, with one all-important difference: Whereas Peterman dealt in plastering status onto schlock, Rick and Michael Mast engage in creating food that encapsulates labor and art.

Mast Bros. Chocolate - Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
Is an artisan chocolate bar the form of hipsterism, matured? Is it simply another unwitting offensive in socioeconomic restructuring? The Mast brothers, flanked by like-minded, locally-focused entrepreneurs at the Brooklyn Kitchen, the Meat Hook, Marlow & Daugters, Pies and Thighs, the Greenpoint Greenmarket, and the many other members of North Brooklyn’s blossoming food community, have nurtured an answer that goes beyond dive bars without eschewing them and stands up to five-stars without pursuing them. Most importantly, these voices are not alone in their statement of delicious development: With the help of social media and the spark of generational change, a similar process has taken root in urban environments all over the United States.

I’m not one to know exactly how this spirit will guide the evolution of Williamsburg, let alone the rest of the country. Despite the fact that culture clashes of gentrification are very much alive and well, this town’s food-crazed denizens, the Mast brothers certainly included, have done a lot in my eyes to make a tasteful case for their ongoing invasion.

Mast Bros. Chocolate - Fresh! the Movie Tasting - Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY

Mast Bros. Chocolate
105 North 3rd St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Open Sat. and Sun. 2pm-8pm


Posted on April 16, 2010 - by

PastaBAR: Farm to Table Freshness

By Guest Blogger: Molly Cerreta Smith
Originally posted on Foodies Like Us

I am such a pasta junkie that I jumped at the chance to check out PastaBAR, even if it was under the “guise” of attending a promo for the Fresh documentary – and a farm to table dinner prepared by the extraordinary Chef Wade Moises himself (please stay tuned for more on him in a very-near-future article).

Now, I have to admit that since becoming a full-time mom and only a part-time writer, I rarely leave the comfort zone of my immediate neighborhood. It’s been years since I’ve frequented a restaurant in downtown Phoenix, but I was impressed to see the whole area coming alive with hidden gems. And I mean that in the truest sense of the phrase. PastaBAR is housed within a building – you might never know it was there if you weren’t looking for it. Good thing we were.

Chef Wade prepared a special three-course meal the night we dined in collaboration with promotion for Fresh, which is showing this Friday and Saturday only at the Madcap Theaters in Tempe. The dinner came complete with a ticket to see the movie, which emphasizes the importance of re-inventing our food system to forge a healthier, more sustainable alternative by using local produce and meats – something Chef Wade does on the daily.

His menu even states: “PastaBAR uses as many products from as many local farmers, ranchers and producers as possible.” A quick breeze through the website and you’ll find a list of some familiar names — McClendon’s Select, Maya’s Farm, The Meat Shop, Sunizona, and the Downtown Phoenix Public Market, which Wade is now running (more on that in the coming part-two article – you just can’t fit Chef Wade into one little blog!).

The menu that he created to promote the Fresh concept was steeped in simplicity. The first course was braised leeks in water, olive oil and butter topped with hard-boiled egg shavings and breadcrumbs. The mild leeks were intensified by the unique textural sensations of the egg and crunchy breadcrumbs. We were off to a good start.

A delightful medly of tastes and textures

The main course was a pasta primavera packed with homegrown vegetables – sugar snap peas, Maya’s sweet 100s tomatoes, green beans and fava beans – and topped with basil and Parmesan. The homemade, hand-rolled garganelli pasta was perfectly cooked. Elegant yet simple, this pasta dish did not leave me with that heavy feeling that I usually get after eating a plateful of pasta. And believe me, I finished every last bite.

Light, yet scrumptious!

Chef Wade rounded out the three-course meal with each diner’s choice of one of three fresh granitas. I couldn’t resist the cherry-lime, which was mouth-puckeringly tart. It tickles my taste buds just thinking about it. I couldn’t finish it, but I did demolish the decadent cream atop my icy dessert. I’d gladly down a martini glass filled with that stuff any day.


If you are a fresh food foodie, check out Fresh this weekend. You will be inspired to, like Chef Wade, find a fresh, simple and local way to cook, eat and enjoy the fruits of our regional farms. But if you don’t feel like doing it yourself, head to PastaBAR for a heaping helping of farm to table freshness.


Posted on April 2, 2010 - by

You Can Eat Green Without Spending A Lot Of Green – Part 1

By: Rosemarie Gambetta
Cross-posted from Cheapeats

Cheapeats is honored to have been asked to review and share their experience during the Farm To Table dinners celebrating the screening of Fresh the Movie. Fresh is a powerful film discussing the current farming and food system and the simple changes we can make to better Americans and the planet.

The most common argument people have is that eating “Green” and “Organic” is expensive. Cheapeats is going to show you that you can find great healthy options without breaking the break. Part 1 – Candle Cafe.

Candle Cafe is a casual eatery on the Upper Eastside whose mission is to serve a organic plant based menu. Many of the dishes use seasonal ingredients free of pesticides and chemicals. They were gracious enough to prepare a menu for Fresh fans featuring farm fresh specials. My hungry belly was excited and up to the challenge. From the many yummy options, I chose “Cashew Crusted Tempeh over Vegetable Quinoa Pilaf.” If your scratching your head saying; “What language is she speaking?” To simplify it, Tempeh is a soybean cake. If Yuck is the first word to come to mind, you are sssooooo wrong. When my dish came out, my eyes were smiling. It was beautifully presented. Almost too pretty to eat…almost.

First bite – A perfect crunchy coating surrounding a filling of herbs and flavor. It’s so difficult to describe the taste of Tempeh. It’s like a blank canvas that takes on whatever flavors you paint it with. It was like a polenta cake but with so much flavor, you’d think you’re eating chicken. Honest. The Quinoa (similar to cous cous) was light, fluffy and combined with an assortment of fresh vegetables (string beans, fennel, greens). The sauce underneath was like a rich broth; both savory and sweet. The perfect amount of each. When I combined it all into one perfect bite, it was like a party in my mouth. To complete the combination of textures, the dish was topped with crispy fennel and radishes. While enjoying my dinner, I’m watching the place fill up. Who knew so many people ate vegetarian.

Do you have room dessert my waitress asked? Oh I think I can make room. My choice – Vanilla Cheesecake with an Almond Cookie Crust. Sounds good right?

First Bite – Creamy, silky, sweet and light with a little crunch from the cookie crust. Ladies and Gentleman, we have winner!!!!! I tasted vanilla and almonds but what was cheese? Silken Tofu? Who knew. Combined with the creamy vanilla sauce, it was like a cloud on a plate.

I know you’re squirming in your seat saying, ”There is no way that eating vegetarian will taste good.” Guess what…it will. The chef adds so many flavors to trick your palette, you honestly won’t miss the meat. Based on the crowd eating and those waiting to be seated is proof that it doesn’t have to be boring nor expensive to eat green.

Tix for the screening of Fresh are being sold at Candle Cafe and their sister restaurant Candle 79 and don’t forget to check out the Fresh Week Events.