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Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser event

19 Oct

This is way off, in February, but is very exciting!

Food, Inc.: Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser in Conversation

Visions and Voices: The USC Arts & Humanities Initiative

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 : 7:00pm

University Park Campus
Bovard Auditorium

Admission is free. RSVP is required. To RSVP, click here beginning January 13 at 9 a.m.

The best-selling authors talk about the industrialization of food and its devastating impact on personal health and the environment.

Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, authors of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Fast Food Nation, respectively, are two of the country’s leading voices on issues of food, the food industry and sustainability. Their groundbreaking work has started a revolution in how Americans think about what they eat. Pollan and Schlosser both appeared in the Academy Award–nominated documentary Food, Inc., which Schlosser co-produced.

Join us as they come together for an important, fascinating conversation.

A reception will follow.

For the past 20 years, Michael Pollan has been writing books and articles about the places where the human and natural worlds intersect: food, agriculture, gardens, drugs and architecture. He is the author of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, winner of the James Beard Award, and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which was named one of the 10 best books of the year by both The New York Times and The Washington Post. His book The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World was also a New York Times best-seller and received the Borders Original Voices Award for the best nonfiction work of 2001. PBS created a two-hour special documentary based on The Botany of Desire. Pollan’s most recent book is entitled Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. A contributing writer to The New York Times magazine since 1987, Pollan has received numerous awards for his writing, including the James Beard Award for best magazine series; a John Burroughs prize for his book Second Nature; the QPB New Visions Award and Reuters-IUCN Global Award for environmental journalism for his reporting on genetically modified crops; and the Humane Society’s Genesis Award for his writing on animal agriculture. In 2009 he was named one of the top 10 “New Thought Leaders” by Newsweek magazine.

As an investigative journalist, Eric Schlosser explores subjects ignored by the mainstream media and gives a voice to people at the margins. Over the years, he has followed the harvest with migrant farm workers in California; spent time with meatpacking workers in Texas and Colorado; told the stories of marijuana growers, pornographers and victims of violent crime; gone on duty with the New York Police Department’s bomb squad; and visited prisons throughout the United States. His work defies categorization, earning praise not only from liberal publications like The Nation, but also from Fortune, the Financial Times and the National Review. Schlosser’s first book, Fast Food Nation, has been translated into more than 20 languages and remained on The New York Times best-seller list for two years. His second book, Reefer Madness, also a New York Times best-seller, looked at America’s thriving underground economy. Schlosser has also worked in the film industry, serving as co-producer of the award-winning documentary Food, Inc., in which both he and Pollan appear. He was also an executive producer and co-writer of the feature film Fast Food Nation, directed by Richard Linklater. The screenplay was named one of the best of that year by New York Times critics A.O. Scott and Mahnola Dargis.

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A bit of reading before Tuesday’s talks–Michael Pollan

18 Oct

So, the organizer of Tuesday’s event told me that the basic theme of the 2 talks is the “industrial food structure.” It’s part of a series of talks on various kinds of infrastructure. Here is a chapter of Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, on industrial feedlots & ranching.It will give you a frame, or 3 frames, really, to customize it for OUR class and the questions we have been pursuing–

1) what industrial farming is, and how industrial ranching is part of that package;

2) how American his example is (or occasionally global), which may prompt you to reflect on what you have learned about Japanese contexts;

3) how our practice of local gardening differs in significant ways (magnitude, labor and skills, nutrition, variability, sustainability, social life, etc.) from this Hulk of an industrial model.

Pollan_Feedlot

Soba Class Notes

12 Oct

Apologies for the late posting from the soba class! If there’s anything I missed or noted incorrectly, please do comment and let me know! I’ll correct it promptly.

Cutting the soba noodles

What we saw Inouge-san make during the soba class was apparently only about 39% of the total amount of flour he usually makes. He used

  • 800 g of buckwheat
  • 390 g of water
  • 200g of flour
  • mirin (does anyone remember the amount?)
  1. Smooth the surface of the dough with your palms
  2. Use rolling pin(s) to flatten the dough to 5 mm **keep turning the soba dough to flatten evenly and in a circular shape!**
  3. Create 2 corners in the dough by rolling the dough around the pin, rather than just under
  4. Unroll the dough sideways to create the other 2 corners **make sure to flour the board, dough, and rolling pin thoroughly**
  5. Unroll the dough at a 45 degree angle to create an almost rectangular shape
  6. Correct the shape to more rectangular slowly with a short pin to the final 1.5 mm thickness
  7. Roll over pin once, turn around, and unroll the dough halfway
  8. Put a thin layer of flour over the unrolled half
  9. Unroll the rest over and put a layer of flour over that too
  10. Fold the second half over the first half and flour half of the top of the folded dough
  11. Repeat until the dough has been folded into a good cutting size for the length of your knife
  12. Put a thin layer of flour over cutting board and layer over top of flour
  13. Use a board over the flour to cut in straight lines **a 1.3 mm width cut is the most traditional size**
  14. Cook the noodles, drain the water, and eat

This is Inouge-san’s own recipe, which uses less water than usual. This keeps the ingredients’ characteristics, creates a stronger taste, and keeps the noodles not too soft.

Condiments used with the soba noodles were:

  • Okinawa brown sugar syrup (dessert style)
  • Sliced green onion
  • Wasabi
  • Daikon oroshi (grated daikon)
  • Soy sauce
  • Tosa joyu (seasoned with bonito)

The broth was made from: a soy sauce base, granulated sugar, bonito dashi, and mirin.

The softer soba dumplings that were made after the soba noodles were made with 2.5x water by weight with the buckwheat flour. To make these, just stir while heating on stovetop until the water and buckwheat mixture has a dough-y consistency!

According to Inouge-san, since soba has 92% more protein than eggs, eating soba with foods rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium is the perfect meal.

Factory ships, plus ça change edition

29 Sep

Thursday’s Guardian had a sobering piece that described the conditions on contemporary fishing trawlers that provide fish to the EU. The labor issues, and the metaphor of people trapped in a “tin can,” resonate a lot with The Factory Ship. Also, the “pirate fish” caught outside authorised fishing zones comprise a good portion of the fish caught in the world.

Fishing ship treat staff ‘worse than the fish they catch’

An Environmental Justice Foundation and Greenpeace investigation off west Africa has found that pirate fishing ships that roam the oceans, never docking, are operating beyond the law. Other than stealing fish stocks, the ships are crewed by untrained, illiterate workers housed in dismally unsafe and unhygienic living conditions.

Video–about 5 minutes–here.

Exciting soba news–and new syllabus!

25 Sep

OK, so we are finally set–and the results are that we are getting two soba chefs, instead of one! Sonoko Sakai and Akila Inouye will join us October 7. He runs the Tsukiji Soba Academy, and will be visiting LA for a short time.

As you probably guessed, this does have consequences for the timing of assignments. Here is a summary–

–paper due Oct 7: you are always welcome to turn it in early;

–class in Office of Religious Life Oct 7 (map to follow);

–assignment for Sept 28=read the Miyazawa Kenji story and the Kajii Motojirō story, and think about magic, referring back to our Tanizaki discussion. Write the blog entry on “magic” and post, using CATEGORIES NOT TAGS “magic”and “blog 3” and whatever tags you want.

edible_ed_syllabus-revised_oct_6

I have also added a small section titled “a few words on participation,” so you will have a clear understanding of what that refers to, and how I understand it in the context of interactions in the classroom.

What about the plants, you ask? Good question, since we did not finish transplanting (plants were not ready, yet). We should discuss this on Tuesday–the heat wave is likely to last all week, and when it abates, I think we can transplant in small groups. But given that some time will have passed, and only a couple did this hands-on before, a refresher on how to do it is probably a good idea…

Harvesting sunflower seeds

17 Sep

From sunflowerguide.com

Here is a little guide on how to harvest sunflower seeds. They’re organic, for sure, so you could eat them whole, or it might be interesting to make them into sunflower butter or something. Shortbread? Options abound…I think Jake may have his eye on one of them, but there are several to go around. You will just hang them up, and catch the seeds, over a couple of weeks time.

You can find lots of granola recipes w/sunflower seeds on line, and then there is this (from epicurious).

Pecan Coconut Tart

Gourmet | September 1992

ingredients

For the shell
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
For the filling
1/3 cup honey
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted lightly
1/2 cups hulled sunflower seeds, toasted lightly

1 ounce bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
1 teaspoon unsalted butter

…continued here.

Readings for Thursday, August 26

24 Aug

This Thursday, we will speak of a tension between two ways of seeing Japanese food:

–the prevailing tone of doom or crisis we hear from policy-makers in Japan and eco-critics who point to large-scale changes in the food supply, including the coming demise of bluefin tuna;

–in contrast, the celebratory tone of foodies, entrepreneurs, urban gardeners, and other people who revel in the variety, quality, and scope of foods available, in Japan and in LA.

We will speak of some provisional ways of making connections between these two scales–the macro and the micro. Key terms, and the articles that discuss them are:

CRISIS: Yukie Yoshikawa, “Can Japanese Agriculture Overcome Dependence and Decline?” The Asia-Pacific Journal, 26-3-10, June 28, 201.

MAFF video, “Ensuring the Future of Food.”

–VERNACULAR CREATIVITY: potts_gnomes: Tracey Potts, “Creative Destruction and Critical Creativity: Recent Episodes in the Social Life of Gnomes,” in Spaces of Vernacular Creativity: Rethinking the Cultural Economy, eds. Tim Edensor et al. (London: Routledge, 2010), 154-169

–HETEROTOPIAS-foucault_heterotopias: Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces.” Diacritics 16, no. 1 (1986): 22-27.

OPTIONAL: POSSIBILITY SPACE: bromberg_creativity unbound: Ava Bromberg, “Creativity Unbound: Cultivating the Generative Power of Non-Economic Neighbourhood Spaces,” in Spaces of Vernacular Creativity: Rethinking the Cultural Economy, ed. Tim Edensor et al. (London: Routledge, 2010), 214-225. Note: the biblio is quite long…it is the biblio for the entire book, not just this essay.