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Gadget: Almond Milk Maker

Almond Cow

Here is how the machine works: After soaking a cup of almonds overnight, put the almonds in a hopper-cup, and add that cup to the machine. After that, just hit a button, the almonds are blended, and in 30 seconds you have almond milk.

Watch video at You Tube (1:33 minutes) . . . . .

Braised Lamb Shank North African Style

Ingredients

4 (about 5 lb total) bone-in lamb shanks,
1-1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1-1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cup yellow onions, coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
2 Navel oranges, coarsely chopped
4 cinnamon sticks
2 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 cups orange juice
4 cups chicken broth

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Cook lamb in hot oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat 8 to 10 minutes or until browned; drain.
  3. Transfer lamb to a roasting pan. Set aside.
  4. Discard oil and drippings in skillet. Add onions, celery and carrot, and saute 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in oranges and the 3 spices. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until onions are softened and spices are fragrant.
  5. Increase heat to high, and stir in orange juice. Cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.
  6. Stir in broth, and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
  7. Pour vegetable mixture over lamb in roasting pan. Cover tightly.
  8. Bake at 400°F for 3 hours or until meat is tender enough to fall off the bone. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Cooking in Everyday English

A Big Change to the Sell-by Dates on Food is Coming in the U.S.


Enlarge image . . . . .

Caitlin Dewey wrote . . . . .

The majority of Americans have no clear idea what “sell by” labels are trying to tell them. But after 40 years of letting us guess, the grocery industry has made moves to clear up the confusion.

On Wednesday, the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the two largest trade groups for the grocery industry, announced that they’ve adopted standardized, voluntary regulations to clear up what product date labels mean. Where manufacturers now use any of 10 separate label phrases, ranging from “expires on” to “better if used by,” they’ll now be encouraged to use only two: “Use By” and “Best if Used By.”

The former is a safety designation, meant to indicate when perishable foods are no longer good. “Best if Used By” is a quality descriptor — a subjective guess of when the manufacturer thinks the product should be consumed for peak flavor.

That’s what most “use-by” dates indicate now, though studies have shown that many consumers believe they signal whether a product is okay to eat. In fact, it’s totally fine to eat a product even well after its so-called expiration date.

These dates typically indicate one of two things: a message from the manufacturer to the grocery store, telling the store when the product will look best on shelves, or a subjective measure — often little more than a guess — of when consumers will most “enjoy” the product. Methods for setting those dates have been left to manufacturers, rather like the phrasing of the labels themselves. But when consumers see a date labeled “use by” (or, even worse, not labeled at all) they often tend to assume that it’s a food-safety claim, regulated by some objective standard.

Both the Department of Agriculture and a coalition of environmental groups have been urging the industry to clear this up. In addition to costing average Americans, in the form of prematurely tossed groceries, the waste represents a significant use of landfill space and source of greenhouse gas emissions.

“I think it’s huge. It’s just an enormous step,” said Emily Broad-Leib, the director of Harvard’s Food Law and Policy Clinic. “It’s still a first step — but it’s very significant.”

The best solutions to food waste

The eight methods that will divert the most tons of waste, according to an analysis by the ReFED coalition.

Advocates and environmentalists have been warning for years that many people interpret date labels as a sign that food is no longer good to eat. As a result, one industry survey found, 91 percent of consumers have mistakenly thrown away past-date food, when the label only signals the manufacturer’s guess at its peak quality.

Shoppers shouldn’t expect to see the new labels the next time they buy groceries; the change won’t be immediate. While FMI and GMA are urging manufacturers and retailers to make it now, they have until July 2018. Even then, the standards are voluntary, so there’s no guarantee that they’ll be adopted by every single company.

Some states also have labeling regulations that preempt the industry standards. In Montana, for instance, milk must come with a “sell by” label. That means milk in the state will still say “sell by,” even if every other product gets the new labels.

Still, a number of major manufacturers have already signaled their enthusiasm, including Walmart, the largest seller of American groceries. And both FMI and GMA are expecting to see widespread adoption, in part because the standards were written by a working group comprised of representatives from large food companies.

The voluntary standards are also a way to influence, or preempt, pending federal regulation; there has been growing interest in a federal standard for label dates, which would both align the contradictory patchwork of state rules and guarantee corporate compliance. Last May, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) introduced legislation that would standardize both date labels and food donation laws. They’re expected to reintroduce the bill in the coming weeks. In mid-December, the USDA also published nonbinding guidance that encouraged manufacturers to switch to the “Best if Used By” phrasing.

This all delights Broad-Leib, who made similar policy recommendations in a 2013 report with the Natural Resources Defense Council. According to NRDC, Americans throw $218 billion worth of food away each year. The anti-food-waste coalition ReFED estimates that 398,000 tons, or $1.8 billion, could be saved through standardized date labels.

Of course, that is just a drop in the waste bucket: To make a real dent in America’s food waste problem, Broad-Leib said, more will have to be done. The Food Law and Policy Clinic is arguing for several federal interventions, including policy changes that make it easier for companies and farms to donate food and incentives to encourage them to do so. [Some of this appears in the Food Donation Act of 2017, which Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) introduced a week ago.]

Broad-Leib would also like to see the Department of Agriculture designate more funds for local composting and anaerobic facilities, as well as education campaigns for consumers. NRDC and the Ad Council are currently running one such campaign, called “Save the Food.”

After all, Broad-Leib points out, if Americans don’t understand food waste the new labels won’t help. And ultimately, neither will anything else.

Source: The Washington Post

Gluten-free Diet May Increase Risk of Arsenic, Mercury Exposure

Sharon Parmet wrote . . . . .

People who eat a gluten-free diet may be at risk for increased exposure to arsenic and mercury – toxic metals that can lead to cardiovascular disease, cancer and neurological effects, according to a report in the journal Epidemiology.

Gluten-free diets have become popular in the U.S., although less than 1 percent of Americans have been diagnosed with celiac disease – an out-of-control immune response to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

A gluten-free diet is recommended for people with celiac disease, but others often say they prefer eating gluten-free because it reduces inflammation – a claim that has not been scientifically proven. In 2015, one-quarter of Americans reported eating gluten-free, a 67 percent increase from 2013.

Gluten-free products often contain rice flour as a substitute for wheat. Rice is known to bioaccumulate certain toxic metals, including arsenic and mercury from fertilizers, soil, or water, but little is known about the health effects of diets high in rice content.

Maria Argos, assistant professor of epidemiology in the UIC School of Public Health, and her colleagues looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey searching for a link between gluten-free diet and biomarkers of toxic metals in blood and urine.

They found 73 participants who reported eating a gluten-free diet among the 7,471 who completed the survey, between 2009 and 2014. Participants ranged in age from 6 to 80 years old.

People who reported eating gluten-free had higher concentrations of arsenic in their urine, and mercury in their blood, than those who did not. The arsenic levels were almost twice as high for people eating a gluten-free diet, and mercury levels were 70 percent higher.

“These results indicate that there could be unintended consequences of eating a gluten-free diet,” Argos said. “But until we perform the studies to determine if there are corresponding health consequences that could be related to higher levels of exposure to arsenic and mercury by eating gluten-free, more research is needed before we can determine whether this diet poses a significant health risk.”

“In Europe, there are regulations for food-based arsenic exposure, and perhaps that is something we here in the United States need to consider,” Argos said. “We regulate levels of arsenic in water, but if rice flour consumption increases the risk for exposure to arsenic, it would make sense to regulate the metal in foods as well.”

Source: University of Illinois


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