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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Alternatively, security forces will invite you over for a spicy dinner

  Chili peppers have many wonderful applications. They are good as foods, as condiments, as pesticides for your tender garden plants, and as weapons.
BBC NEWS | South Asia | India plans hot chilli grenades (, 6/25/09) takes the weapons idea beyond pepper spray:
Indian defence scientists are planning to put one of the world's hottest chilli powders into hand grenades.
The article goes on to say that a chili called the "bhut jolokia," which I'd never before heard of, is extraordinarily hot, and ideal for this purpose.

The questions that come to mind:

(1) Why haven't I been cooking with this chili? It sounds like it is hot-unpleasant instead of hot-tasty, but surely it is good in SOME dish.

(2) Would it be possible to produce grenades with other spices? There are a few really bland restaurants in my neighborhood, and I think a ginger & garlic grenade could dramatically improve just about everything they do. A bay grenade would make my house smell WONDERFUL (in an oppressively fresh kind of way). A cinnamon grenade would...

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posted by Arlene (Beth)8:19 PM

Sunday, September 02, 2007

  Food as an industry. Now that I work at a company that is in the quick service restaurant business, I have even more ways to read about food from the food service industry's perspective. I sympathize more with companies that are humiliated by health violations or have recalls for their products. I am also much more aware of the global nature of large food service companies.

I am someone who eats locally. Living in California, with its abundant supply of fabulous markets and farmer's markets, where just one county away in two directions just about anything I would want to eat can be grown, this is a relatively easy proposition. I will even choose locally grown produce over organic produce from far away, since that is better for the communal good: the pollution that transporting organic frozen dessert from some distant state doesn't seem as advantageous to my neighbors as the benefit I'll get from eating pesticide-free dessert. (I know what I get out of it, but I can't see what they'd get.) There are certainly specialty foods I buy from abroad, but most of what I eat and drink is grown in California.

The food service industry isn't interested in such issues, and so all sorts of processed foods are sourced abroad. This poses some interesting challenges.

China food safety woes show U.S. vulnerability: It's not what you eat but where it comes from (, 8/29/07) has a slightly misleading subtitle (what you eat is ALWAYS important), but some interesting facts about food imports. The U.S. was importing 15% of "total food consumption" in 2005, and that number is going up. Considering our country's agrarian history, that's odd. It shouldn't be a surprise though: growing food can be labor intensive, and while that is a benefit for any country trying to keep people employed, it means that the rush to cut labor costs by industry leads naturally to outsourcing food-making, too.

While there is some degree of panic right now, in the wake of food imports that have killed thousands of domestic pets, the U.S. has its share of domestically produced food safety crises also. Interesting item from the article:
Unsafe food takes a significant toll on the public. Each year, nearly 76 million Americans contract food-borne diseases, about 325,000 require hospitalization and about 5,000 die, according to a Government Accountability Office report released in February.
To accompany that, Marketwatch also has a Food contamination timeline (undated) featuring famous health crises precipitated by industrially packaged, processed, and distributed foods. Most of the crises listed were created by domestically produced foods.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 AM

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