WBEZ | Food http://www.wbez.org/tags/food Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Rabbit hops back onto the American table http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/rabbit-hops-back-american-table-110834 <p><p>As Americans become more discriminating about the provenance, treatment and sustainability of the animals they eat, the market has brought them pastured pork, heritage chicken and grass-fed beef.</p><p>But one of the most sustainable meats of all may still prove too cute for many consumers.</p><p>It&rsquo;s rabbit--and Kankakee County farmer Kim Snyder has recently joined the ranks of the more than 27,000 American farmers who raise them (up from just 4,300 in 2002).</p><p>But unlike most rabbit farmers, Snyder (who also raises pastured Berkshire hogs and Belted Galloway cows) is raising these lagomorphs on free range.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been training them to range outdoors and it&rsquo;s been fairly successful,&rdquo; said Snyder who owns Faith&rsquo;s Farm. &ldquo;I have 32 acres and I&rsquo;ve seen them range off my acreage but they still tend to home in on my pond because I am their only continuous water source.&rdquo;</p><p>Snyder&rsquo;s target breed is the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/silver-fox">heritage Silver Fox</a> a rabbit on the critically endangered list, which is why she chose them. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;If people taste this meat, which I think is superior to hybrid animals, then farmers will raise it,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;So it&rsquo;s truly conservation through consumption. You can see some breeds go from critically endangered ... to threatened ... to not being on the list at all.&quot;</p><p>So what does it taste like? Snyder invited a bunch of Midwest chefs out to her farm to help process them, cook them and taste for themselves.</p><p>&ldquo;I would say the meat is milder [than standard rabbit meat which tastes like slightly gamey chicken meat] because it&rsquo;s not been raised on pellets,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;These rabbits eat hay and grass.&rdquo;</p><p>Letting rabbits roam around 32 acres and then trapping them when it&rsquo;s time to go to the butcher is not the most efficient way to produce meat. Some rabbits will inevitably be picked off by coyotes, minks and other predators. And others may avoid the traps. But Snyder--whom I&rsquo;ve known for five years and (full disclosure) now consider a friend--says she&rsquo;s committed to letting the animals lead normal lives for as long as possible.</p><p>As she prepares to start offering them to Midwest chefs, the farmer says she plans to charge about $10 a pound for her rabbits. And they&rsquo;ll arrive on a restaurant scene that&rsquo;s already hopping with rabbit dishes.</p><p>At Chicago&rsquo;s six-month-old <a href="http://www.osterialanghe.com/">Osteria Langhe</a>, in Logan Square, braised rabbit or &ldquo;coniglio&rdquo; has emerged as one of chef Cameron Grant&rsquo;s signature dishes. He says customers order about 100 servings of it a week.</p><p>&ldquo;They love it,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We wrap it in pancetta and then slow cook it for about four hours and it just becomes incredibly moist. Then we sear it off to order and then cut it and put it on the plate with a sauce of sweet red and yellow peppers.&rdquo;</p><p>Grant lived and cooked in the Piedmont region of Italy, which is the inspiration for the menu at Langhe. There, he says &ldquo;they don&rsquo;t use chicken. So rabbit really is the chicken of Piemonte.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rabbit-1.jpg" style="height: 250px; width: 250px; float: left;" title="Chefs learned how to process, skin and cook rabbits during a recent event at Faith’s Farm in Kankakee County. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" />Rabbit has also leapt on to the menu at <a href="http://tabledonkeystick.com/">Table, Donkey and Stick</a> in Logan Square. There, chef Scott Manley offers rabbit liver mousseline with sweetbreads but also a popular whole deboned rabbit cooked sous vide and then quick roasted to order.</p><p>&ldquo;So it comes out and it&rsquo;s sort of like a rabbit steak almost,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>The meat shows up in three dishes at Mercat A La Planxa downtown and even barbecued at Frontier in West Town. And at Glasserie in Brooklyn, a $76 rabbit entree has become one of the hottest meals in New York.</p><p>As more consumers seek out sustainable meat this fast growing lagomorph--no, rabbits are not rodents--fills the bill quite nicely. In fact, according to the<a href="http://www.fao.org/docrep/t1690e/t1690e03.htm"> United Nation&rsquo;s food organization</a> you can produce more than four pounds of rabbit meat with the same amount of feed it takes to produce just one pound of beef. Additionally, rabbits can start reproducing at just 6 months old.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s<a href="http://publicanqualitymeats.com/"> Publican Quality Meats </a>already sells pastured Berkshire pork from Faith&rsquo;s Farm. But general manager Darin Latimer says he expects Snyder&rsquo;s pastured rabbit to join the selection soon.</p><p>&ldquo;I think our customers will be OK with it,&rdquo; says Latimer. &ldquo;But I think the mass market will be harder to crack--mostly because of the adorability problem.&rdquo;</p><p>Indeed, the adorability problem remains a hurdle--even for some who don&rsquo;t mind eating other animals. Whole Foods Market learned this last month when rabbit lovers protested the store&rsquo;s pilot program to introduce rabbit to its meat counters. They argued that rabbits are pets, not meat.</p><p>Ironically, before introducing rabbit to select stores, Whole Foods spent years developing better <a href="http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/department/article/rabbit">animal welfare standards </a>for farms that raised rabbits. But, for many in the US, the meat is still too closely connected with pets, the Easter Bunny and even Bugs Bunny whose cartoons--<a href="http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/82297211/">think the Hasenfeffer episode</a>-- didn&rsquo;t do much for the image of rabbit eaters.</p><p>Even if American rabbit consumption never reaches World War II levels (when rabbits were considered a patriotic meat animal to raise in homes) or even to European levels, Grant and others think acceptance will only continue to grow.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it will,&rdquo; he says, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a great, versatile protein that offers intrigue and excitement.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> <em>@monicaeng</em></a> <em>or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 09:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/rabbit-hops-back-american-table-110834 Do new FDA actions endanger your favorite cheese? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/do-new-fda-actions-endanger-your-favorite-cheese-110802 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rush-creek.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago cheese lovers looking for some traditional French cheeses may be out of luck this year.</p><p>&ldquo;There are certain cheeses we simply aren&#39;t seeing at all at the moment, like Morbier,&rdquo; says Greg O&rsquo;Neil co-owner of Pastoral Cheese Bread &amp; Wine in Lakeview and the Loop. &ldquo;This is unfortunate, because it is a classic and a mover.&rdquo;</p><p>Newly enforced federal guidelines have <a href="http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/CMS_IA/importalert_9.html">stopped many types of imported </a>raw milk cheeses--including Morbier and Roquefort-- at the border in the last six months due to levels of non-toxigenic E. coli.</p><p>So what&rsquo;s wrong with non-toxigenic E. coli?</p><p>WBEZ asked the Food and Drug Administration and a representative sent this:</p><p>&ldquo;While these bacteria don&rsquo;t cause illness, their presence suggests that the cheese was produced in unsanitary conditions.&rdquo;</p><p>This statement runs contrary to 2009 draft guidance by the FDA stating:</p><p>&ldquo;Because of the close association of raw milk with the animal environment, low levels of <em>Escherichia coli </em>may be present in raw milk or products made from raw milk, even when properly produced using GMPs. However, the presence of <em>Escherichia coli </em>in a cheese and cheese product made from raw milk at a level greater than 100 MPN/g (Most Probable Number per gram) indicates insanitary conditions&hellip;&rdquo;</p><p>And so if, according to this 2009 FDA draft, &nbsp;non toxigenic E. coli numbers under 100 MPN can occur in raw milk cheeses under GMP (good manufacturing practices), why did the FDA move in 2010 to lower that number by 90 percent for all dairy? &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>That&rsquo;s a question the American Cheese Society posed to the FDA last week.</p><p>&ldquo;We want to know if there is research data, linkages to foodborne illnesses or a public health risk,&rdquo; said ACS executive director Nora Weiser. &ldquo;Because it&rsquo;s important for us to know if that exists and if that is why they have lowered this standard.&rdquo;</p><p>But, as of press time, the agency said it was still working on an explanation for its 2010 guideline.</p><p>The American Cheese Society is not the only entity cheesed off by the recent enforcement of the guidelines. Chicagoist writer Erika Kubick detailed her concern <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2014/09/11/the_war_on_raw_cheese_continues.php">here.</a>&nbsp;And the Cheese Importers Association of America is gearing up to confront the FDA soon.</p><p>&ldquo;The CIAA would like to reinforce our concern that the FDA is taking regulatory action without recognizing the historic safety of imported cheeses like Roquefort,&quot; the organization said in a statement. &quot;We completely agree that food safety is at the forefront of this decision. However, as was have done with the <a href="http://www.fda.gov/Food/NewsEvents/ConstituentUpdates/ucm400808.htm">wood board aging issue</a>, the FDA is promoting regulation without taking all factors into consideration. This action was discussed at the recent CIAA board meeting, and our concerns will be communicated to the FDA shortly.&rdquo;</p><p>If the presence of non-toxigenic E. coli in raw milk cheese posed a threat to American health, certainly the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would know about it, right? Well, not really.</p><p>The CDC had nothing on its website about the bacteria so WBEZ contacted CDC press officer Christine Pearson. She said she would try to get some information on non-toxigenic E. coli but didn&rsquo;t have an easy time of it.</p><p>She wrote back saying: &ldquo;I heard back from one of my experts that nontoxigenic is not a term that we use.&rdquo; Follow up questions last Friday remained unanswered.</p><p>This lack of clarity and explanation isn&rsquo;t just affecting cheese imports. It also prompted award-winning Uplands Wisconsin cheesemaker Andy Hatch to skip making his famous Rush Creek Reserve raw milk cheese this fall.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m intimidated by the lack of consensus or clarity,&rdquo; Hatch told WBEZ&rsquo;s Chewing the Fat food podcast. &ldquo;I think most cheesemakers are saying the same thing. We&rsquo;re not exactly sure how they&rsquo;re approaching these cheeses...And it&rsquo;s also so perishable so that if anything should hold up shipment, the window for sale is really tight, and so one little hiccup and you&rsquo;ve spoiled months of work.&rdquo;</p><p>International cheesemakers whose products have been &ldquo;Red Listed&rdquo; by the non-toxigenic E. coli guidelines have already been hurt by this hiccup. The questions remains, why?</p><p>Consumers who want to comment on the FDA rules can still do so <a href="http://http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FDA-2009-D-0466-0008.">here</a>.</p><p><em>WBEZ will stay on this story and update it when the FDA responds to the American Cheese Society on the problems posed by exceeding 10 MPN per gram of non-toxigenic E. coli in raw milk cheese.</em></p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> <em>@monicaeng</em></a> <em>or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 15:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/do-new-fda-actions-endanger-your-favorite-cheese-110802 Illinois regulators put squeeze on raw milk rules http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/illinois-regulators-put-squeeze-raw-milk-rules-110769 <p><p>On a warm summer night on Chicago&rsquo;s northwest side, the dusk brings out a chorus of loud cicadas. &nbsp;</p><p>It also brings out out a flock of enthusiastic raw milk drinkers. One by one, they pull up to a large corner house. They schlep their coolers on to the wooden porch and pack them with the ice cold jars of snow white liquid.</p><p>Based on national percentages, an estimated 400,000 Illinoisians--and I count myself among them --pay up to $18 a gallon for this stuff. Many drive more than a hour to get it from farms and pick up points like this one. And most believe it strengthens their immune system and improves their health.</p><p>But some public health officials believe just the opposite. Nationally, raw milk (or raw milk products) have been linked to more than 100 foodborne illness outbreaks over the last 17 years. And so this week, the Illinois Department of Public Health proposed new rules that could greatly restrict the distribution of unpasteurized milk produced in the state.</p><p>Raw milk supporters, however, object to proposed regulations that would require farmers to invest in costly new equipment, hand over customer lists to the government upon request and abide by the same rules whether they had one cow or 1,000.</p><p>This doesn&rsquo;t make sense to one dad who was picking up several jars of milk for his family. He says that his children&rsquo;s ear infections disappeared when his family started drinking the milk a few years ago. And he&rsquo;s opposed to any new measures to restrict his access.</p><p>&ldquo;Raw milk is a food that&rsquo;s vital for many people,&rdquo; said the customer who chose not to give his name. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s also healthy and it&rsquo;s our right to choose what we want to eat.&rdquo;</p><p>But others are not so sure that buying raw milk should be a right in Illinois. Dr. Terry Mason is Chief Operating Officer of the Cook County Department of Public Health. That group&rsquo;s initial position, he says was &ldquo;not to have the sale of raw milk at all.&rdquo;</p><p>To that end, the department enlisted Illinois Representative Dan Burke (D-23) to sponsor a bill to ban raw milk sales in Illinois earlier this year.</p><p>&ldquo;I was convinced they had a legitimate issue,&quot; Burke recalls. &quot;[So]I presented the bill and then the floodgates opened.&quot;</p><p>Those floodgates were thousands of phone calls to Burke and his colleagues from raw milk supporters all over the state.</p><p>&ldquo;They insisted that there are very significant health benefits from the consumption of raw milk,&rdquo; he remembers. &ldquo;I mean individuals who have children with epilepsy, with Down Syndrome, you name it, there was someone who called to insist that their child, family member, friend whoever benefitted from the consumption of raw milk.&rdquo;</p><p>Burke said that in two-plus decades of politics he&rsquo;d never seen an issue galvanize the public like this. And so last April, even after the bill had survived committee, he did a 180 and dropped support for his own legislation.</p><p>This sudden change of heart didn&rsquo;t thrill Mason and his colleagues at the Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium, which Mason leads.</p><p>&ldquo;We were obviously taken aback by that position, that reposition,&rdquo; Mason recalls. &ldquo;But we understand and respect the Representative&rsquo;s right to do that sort of thing. And want to be consistent with what the Centers for Disease Control have already published and they do not support the sale of raw milk.&rdquo;</p><p>Indeed, federal health authorities and the American Academy of Pediatrics &nbsp;largely oppose the sale and distribution of raw milk--a drink that can harbor many bacteria that would be killed through pasteurization.</p><p>But proponents of the drink argue that no food is risk-free and that many of bacteria in raw milk can be beneficial.</p><p>In response, public health officials like Mason point to outbreaks.</p><p>&ldquo;There have been 104 between 1998 to 2011 that we&rsquo;ve been able to keep track of and 82 percent of those have involved people under 20 years old,&rdquo; he notes.</p><p>These figures are accurate on a national level. But those who oppose the regulations point out that there hasn&rsquo;t been a single illness outbreak connected to Illinois-produced raw milk--the milk affected by these new rules--since 1998.</p><p>And for this reason, Wes King of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance calls the proposed regulations, &ldquo;A solution in search of a problem. We see no recent history of foodborne illness related to raw milk here in Illinois.&rdquo;</p><p>This lack of illness leads some to question why a cash-strapped state like Illinois would spend so much time and money on a product that is boosting the local small farm economy and hasn&rsquo;t caused a problem for more than 15 years.</p><p>Mason&rsquo;s department says that it&rsquo;s a preventive measure to avoid potential future outbreaks.</p><p>&ldquo;We wanted to make sure that those rules did as much as they could do to adequately control the sale of raw milk and make it easier for us to identify where there may be breaches and or diseases related to the sale of raw milk,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RAW MILK COW.jpg" style="height: 188px; width: 250px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Most of the raw milk sold in the Midwest comes from cows that graze on pasture. Milk from pastured cows has been linked to better metabolic outcomes in animal studies. (WBEZ/MONICA ENG)" />But Illinois raw milk farmer Donna O&#39;Shaughnessy believes that the agency is acting on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration which paid for some of the rulemaking process. She also believes big industrial dairy is worried by the growing popularity of raw milk as its own product sales decline.</p><p>&ldquo;The sales of pasteurized milk have gone down by 25 percent,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;So rather than improving their own product it becomes easier to disparage farmers who produce raw milk.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Raw milk is currently legal for retail sale in 11 states but illegal in 17 others. The rest fall in between with policies that limit its distribution.</p><p>Similar battles are erupting across the country as authorities threaten to clamp down on foods ranging from raw dairy and wild boar to cheese aged on wooden boards. Journalist and author David Gumpert chronicled these trends in his recent book &ldquo;Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights: The Escalating Battle Over Who Decides What We Eat.&rdquo;</p><p>Upon reading the proposed legislation Gumpert wrote to WBEZ in an email:</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s an exaggeration for IDPH to suggest, as it does in IL Register that, without some kind of law of this kind, raw milk sales are illegal under federal law. Raw milk sales/distribution are regulated by the states (and interstate sale/shipment is prohibited under federal law). Some states that allow raw milk sales do it via laws, others (like Michigan) do it via policy understandings.&rdquo;</p><p>So who are these hundreds of thousands of raw milk drinkers in Illinois?</p><p>O&#39;Shaugnessy says her customers are young mothers, body builders and Europeans who enjoy easy access to raw milk (even in vending machines) in their own country. Finally, she says, she gets a lot of business from seniors who &ldquo;remember how great they felt when they drank it as a child. And the one thing that unites all of them is that they drink it for health.&rdquo;</p><p>So what do officials say to Illinois&#39; thousands of drinkers who claim it has improved their health and chronic conditions?</p><p>&quot;Anecdote is not something we follow,&quot; says Dr Mason of the Cook County Department of Public Health. &quot;We like to look at the science and the science is overwhelmingly in favor of the fact that patsteurized milk is something that saves lives.&quot;</p><p>While many health claims for raw milk do remain anecdotal, at least <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21875744">one 2011 study</a> of 8,334 rural children in Austria, Germany and Switzerland links raw milk consumption to lower levels of asthma and allergies. The children in the same environment who drank boiled versions of the same milk did not enjoy the protective effects.</p><p>O&#39;Shaugnessy agrees that raw milk comes with risks. But the Central Illinois farmer says that she doesn&rsquo;t know of any customers who make the long drive to her farm or pay the exorbitant prices ($7-$18 a gallon) without reading up on what they are buying.</p><p>She served as a member of the Illinois Dairy Working Group that helped draft the proposed rules last year. But she says the input of small farmers like her were largely ignored in the final process.</p><p>The proposed rules don&#39;t ban or criminalize raw milk in the state, but O&#39;Shaugnessy says, &ldquo;They are very clearly trying to make raw milk sales and consumption in Illinois impossible.&rdquo;</p><p>O&#39;Shaughnessy and King of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance say that they know many farmers who say that they simply won&rsquo;t comply with the rules if they are passed.</p><p>&ldquo;Then it will just go underground and people won&rsquo;t be any safer,&rdquo; she predicts. &ldquo;People are not going to stop. And then what are they going to do? Are they going to start posting people at the end of the driveway? &nbsp;Are they going to start video taping our customers as they come up the drive? Are they going to start checking people&rsquo;s trunks as they leave our farm? The public is not going to stand for this.&rdquo;</p><p>Indeed, Burke says that he expects the same flood of raw milk supporters who deluged him last spring to oppose these new regulations. But this time, he may be among them.</p><p>&ldquo;After that number of calls,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m convinced that the product is beneficial to this community and should be available...In fact, I drank some myself and it was pretty good.&rdquo;</p><p>Back on the porch in Chicago, another customer is picking up his bottles of raw milk. I ask him what he&rsquo;ll do if the new rules effectively dry up supplies to the city. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I wouldn&rsquo;t drink milk anymore,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s the simplest answer I can say. &nbsp;I just wouldn&rsquo;t drink the other stuff.&rdquo;</p><p>The Illinois Department of Public Health will take <a href="http://www.idph.state.il.us/rulesregs/proposedrules.htm#FirstNotice">comments on the proposed rules </a>for the next 45 days. After that, the fate of Illinois&rsquo; raw milk will pour into the hands of Joint Committee on Administrative Rulemaking which will also take 45 days of comments.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> <em>@monicaeng</em></a> <em>or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 07:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/illinois-regulators-put-squeeze-raw-milk-rules-110769 Is it time for the 'Immigrant Diet'? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/it-time-immigrant-diet-110723 <p><p>At a little Asian grocery store on Chicago&rsquo;s north side, Douglas Cheok studies the produce as he shuffles down the aisles. The Malaysian-born communications consultant, carefully selects small amounts of ginger, garlic, leafy greens, and soba noodles.</p><p>Then he stops at a shelf lined with fermented bean curd.</p><p>&ldquo;This salted bean curd soaked in vinegar and oil adds a more solid taste to the noodle soup or whatever you cook,&rdquo; he says sharing an Asian secret to inexpensive flavor. &nbsp;</p><p>Cheok adds the pungent curd to his cart, grabs a few fresh shrimp and heads to the check out line to buy groceries. It all costs less than $15 but he says it will last well over a week.</p><p>Once back in the kitchen, Cheok chops, minces, boils and stir fries his ingredients into a large feast of soup, greens and noodles. In the process, he demonstrates what might hold the key to affordable nutrition for all.</p><p>At least that&rsquo;s the working hunch of public health professor Adam Drewnowski, who is researching folks who upend conventional wisdom by achieving high levels of nutrition on tiny budgets.</p><p>Drewnowski stumbled upon the phenomenon last year when he was examining data on nutrient dense foods. Much of it is fairly expensive, but there were a few exceptions. Among a small group of Mexican American adults Drewnowski found consumers who were achieving high levels of nutrition at a low cost.</p><p>&ldquo;So maybe the secret is being able to transform those real foods, the raw ingredients which can be obtained cheaply at ethnic markets, into tasty meals&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Maybe, if you know how to cook them and transform then you&rsquo;re going to be OK.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Douglas Cheok show how he cooks healthy on a budget</strong></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/XKVFUFgUWUM" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Drewnowski is the Director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington and he&rsquo;ll be looking at a different sample of data later this year from Seattle. There he also expects to find Asian immigrants like Cheok.</p><p>So what is it about these immigrants that allows them to pull off this feat? &nbsp;</p><p>The folks at Oldways believe it&rsquo;s about sticking to traditional diets. OldWays is a nutrition non-profit aimed at improving health through heritage. And it urges folks to adopt many of the healthful tenets of Mediterranean, Latin American and Asian diets. This month they are launching classes on the African Heritage diet as well. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Traditional diets are not expensive diets,&rdquo; says Oldways president Sara Baer-Sinnott. &ldquo;The longer that immigrants are here in the US and become acculturated, the less likely they are to continue their traditional way of eating and therefore their health statistics decline. They become more obese. They have more hypertension. They are overweight. And by following traditional diets, it&rsquo;s not a very expensive way to eat and it&rsquo;s a healthier way to eat.&rdquo;</p><p>These diets can be especially affordable in cities like Chicago with abundant, low-cost ethnic grocers. While limes can cost 50 cents apiece at mainstream stores, they can often be 12 for a dollar at ethnic grocers.</p><p>Kenny Moore is a produce buyer for Pete&rsquo;s Fresh Market which serves heavily ethnic communities. He says that he&rsquo;s able to offer bargain prices because he sells such a large volume.</p><p>&ldquo;On a whole Hispanics and Asians do buy a lot of produce and so it helps our volume and our buying,&rdquo; Moore says. &ldquo;They like cooking and use a lot of herbs and vegetables to do so.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ethnic%20grocer%202.jpg" title="Ethnic grocery stores can offer incredible deals on produce because they sell so much of it, store reps say. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></div><p>The situation in these ethnic neighborhoods would appear to be a public health professional&rsquo;s dream: affordable, accessible produce and lots of folks who know how to cook it. So does that automatically equal great health? Not always. &nbsp;</p><p>While Asian-Americans suffer less obesity than the general population, Latinos check in with more. In fact, 6th grade Latino boys suffer from the highest childhood obesity levels in the nation, despite generally robust access to fresh produce. &nbsp;</p><p>Public health researchers are still trying to sort it out why this happens.</p><p><strong>&ldquo;</strong>There are plenty of grocery stores in the neighborhood but buying healthy food. It gets tricky,&rdquo; says Erica Rangel a coordinator for <a href="http://enlacechicago.org/">Enlace, a health and education non-profit</a> in the Little Village neighborhood.</p><p>She recently gathered a group of women enrolled in an Enlace healthy gardening program to talk to about what&rsquo;s contributing to poor health in their community.</p><p>Graciela Contreras is a school lunch lady, gardener and grandmother who suffers from diabetes. Ironically, she blames some of the health problems in her community on traditional Mexican foods.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re used to the way we were taught to eat by our parents in Mexico &mdash; to eat tacos and enchiladas all that,&rdquo; she says in Spanish. &ldquo;That comes with more fat. So we are teaching our children and grandchildren to be healthier by eating vegetables. I steam the vegetables now.&rdquo;</p><p>Rangel believes the health issues have more to do with genetic factors, assimilation and little time for scratch cooking.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s easier when you&rsquo;re trying to feed a family and you feel that pressure to just buy in bulk things with higher sodium that are processed foods,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;You find it everywhere.&rdquo;</p><p>The other ladies offered similar sentiments. But I also chatted with local 6th grader Victor Marquez. While he doesn&rsquo;t have a weight problem, he says he know a lot of boys who do.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think they&rsquo;d have a problem if they ate good food but they eat bad foods,&rdquo; Marquez says. <strong>&ldquo;</strong>They eat junk like frozen stuff, chips, pizza, candy chocolates, lollipops, whatever.&rdquo;</p><p>But what about the fresh fruit stands that operate on nearly every block in Little Village? Don&rsquo;t his pals buy their fresh cups of mangoes, corn, melon and pineapple?</p><p>&ldquo;I always see kids get the chicharrones and the raspados and those aren&rsquo;t good because they&rsquo;re like ink,&rdquo; he says &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>Those chicharrones are deep fried artificial pork rinds and the raspados are snow cones drenched in inky sugar syrup. One vendor told me they&rsquo;re her No. 1 seller with kids.</p><p>But there may be hope for these kids off the street and back in the home. Drewnowski has some new research coming out that suggests the longer folks spend cooking, the better they eat. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>That certainly seems to be true for Douglas Cheok.</p><p>Back in his kitchen, he&rsquo;s chopping vegetables and boiling water for his stir fried greens and shrimp noodle soup. In less than an hour he&rsquo;s turned out enough dishes to last him all week. &nbsp;</p><p>As Cheok finally sits down to his his meal of shrimp soup and tofu with greens, he shares a startling secret.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t know how to cook before I came to the States,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;In Malaysia eating out was cheap so I didn&rsquo;t have to cook.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, the retiree says that if he can learn to cook, &ldquo;Anyone can learn. You don&rsquo;t need a college degree to know how to cook. But it is always good to know how to cook.&rdquo;</p><p>And it might not hurt to live near an ethnic grocery store.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> <em>@monicaeng</em></a> <em>or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/48706770&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/it-time-immigrant-diet-110723 Chicago's urban farms have yet to harvest sustainable jobs, better health http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-urban-farms-have-yet-harvest-sustainable-jobs-better-health-110709 <p><p>On a recent hot summer day on the city&rsquo;s South Side a group of farmers and reporters gathered to tour a new two-acre farm enjoying its first harvest in the shadow of the old Robert Taylor Homes.</p><p>Safia Rashid is growing a diverse crop of kale, chard, tomatoes, onion, zucchini and several peppers in hopes of selling the produce to the local Women Infant and Children feeding program.</p><p>She&#39;s one of the new agriculture entrepreneurs benefiting from a $750 thousand, three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It&rsquo;s aimed at putting graduates of The Botanic Garden&#39;s Windy City Harvest training program on track to start their own small farming businesses. &nbsp;</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s urban farming movement has always held out the promise of sustainable employment. But more than a decade after it first took root, why aren&rsquo;t there more well-paying jobs? &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Thats not realistic,&rdquo; says Angela Mason the director of Botanic&rsquo;s Windy City Harvest, which trains ex-offenders in agricultural skills as a path toward employment. &ldquo;Our intention in launching the incubator program, and what most family farms do now, is [provide] supplemental income. It&rsquo;s not their only income. A lot of people romanticize farming but that&rsquo;s very challenging in this day and age. We don&rsquo;t support local food in a way that makes it economically viable for a person to go out and only farm for a living.&rdquo;</p><p>The fact is, most of these programs can&rsquo;t survive without outside funding.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s so much more you need to do than put fresh produce in a grocery store,&rdquo; Mason says. &ldquo;To get people interested in even buying the produce, you need to get people excited about it and learning how to prepare food with it. There are &nbsp;a lot of people who&rsquo;ve never seen kale grow or seen Swiss chard grow and don&rsquo;t know what to do with it.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Indeed, lack of demand and knowledge about what to do with the produce still hampers sales in these communities. In the produce business margins are slim and product that doesn&rsquo;t move can go bad very quickly. Even one of the nation&rsquo;s biggest retailers has run into snags.</p><p>At a White House meeting in 2011, Walgreens promised to build 50 &ldquo;food oasis&rdquo; stores in Chicago by summer 2013. &nbsp;By July 2014, the retailer had only installed fresh produce in 26 local food desert stores, according to Crain&#39;s Chicago. In the last month, however, the store finally met its original goal, according to a Walgreens spokesman.</p><p>Smaller projects have also run into problems. The much praised Farmers Best Market in Bronzeville opened in 2008 but was closed within a year. The Englewood Farmers Market on 63rd called it quits after a few tough seasons. And, last summer, the Fresh Moves buses that brought fresh produce markets to the people <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/advocates-say-whole-foods-may-struggle-find-customers-englewood-108608">turned off their engines indefinitely</a>.</p><p>So why has it been so hard to successfully sell produce in Chicago&rsquo;s food deserts? Mari Gallagher is a researcher who specializes in food access.</p><p>&ldquo;You can have a great idea and you can put your whole heart into it, but you still have to figure out how to make it viable,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;So there are lots of different reasons why some of these programs fail. But unfortunately, because people feel so closely tied to these outcomes, it&rsquo;s hard to get at the truth [to analyze what lessons can be learned].&rdquo;</p><p>Although they rarely speak about it on the record, several urban ag experts across the city confided that the demand for full-priced, high quality produce isn&rsquo;t strong enough to support the businesses that sell it. As Whole Foods prepares to open its Englewood store in 2016, it&rsquo;s counting on building that demand. But today, observers say, it&rsquo;s just not there.</p><p>So does that mean inner city farmers markets, mobile produce programs and viable urban farming jobs are doomed for now?</p><p>&ldquo;When we talk about [greening] the food desert we&rsquo;re really trying to keep costs down and quality high and that&rsquo;s tricky,&rdquo; Gallagher says. &ldquo;But I wouldn&rsquo;t write off any of these options. I would say that the market conditions need to be right and the operators need to be very, very good on a number of fronts to pull it off successfully.&rdquo;</p><p>One of the only urban farmers who seems to have figured it out, is the the tall, lanky and perpetually muddy Ken Dunn. The founder of the Resource Center and City Farm has practiced urban ag in Chicago for more than 40 years. The philosophy PhD also operates what he says are four profitable farms in Englewood.</p><p>&ldquo;You have to start with what has always been the food cycle,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;We have a process where food scraps go back to the production of the next crop. We&rsquo;ve tapped into selling two-thirds of our crop to high-end restaurants, picking up the food scraps from all of their product and turning them into compost to bring back to the field.&rdquo;</p><p>Got that? First Dunn sells his vegetables to fancy restaurants. Then the restaurants give him back food scraps which are used to make compost. This ultra-rich growing medium, he says, produces 10 easy crops a year, and food so tasty that restaurants are happy to pay his high prices. And these premium prices, Dunn says, make it possible to pay a living wage, and sell cheaper veggies from kiosks on the farm.</p><p>Dunn believes this model could expand up to three times and still not saturate the high end restaurant market. But he hopes that by the time we reach that saturation, there will be other funding models in place.</p><p>His dream is for municipalities to recognizes the larger public benefits of urban ag on crime, health and education and to fund them as part of local budgets. These less tangible benefits are part of the reason Safia Rashid is out working on her quarter-acre plot nearly every day. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;When the children are eating properly, guess what happens?&rdquo; she asks. &ldquo;The violence goes down. So if we continue to feed them whole foods without the pesticides and GMOs, we will continue to see real change in our community. So it&rsquo;s just really that simple.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/DJ%20Cavem.jpeg" style="float: left; width: 161px; height: 206px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="DJ Cavem travels the country preaching the gospel of organic urban farming to inner city youth. (Photo Courtesy of DJ Cavem)" />While Dunn sells mostly to restaurants and Rashid hopes to sell to WIC, DJ Cavem has a different plan. &nbsp;He wants to grow food<em> in</em> the community<em> for</em> the community. He&rsquo;s a rapper, educator, midwife and urban farm advocate based in Denver. He stopped in Chicago earlier this year to spread his gospel of home grown organic produce for all.</p><p>&ldquo;The same way gangsta rap promotes drug dealing, I am an environmental hip hop artist, eco hip hop artist who promotes gardening,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I have been teaching for 11 years now. I teach young people how to grow food, how to prepare the food, how to create a green job. I&rsquo;m setting up gardens in inner city communities and showing people how to keep the nutrition in their food.&rdquo;</p><p>He says that urban youth have largely lost touch with their grandparents&#39; food and growing skills. Still, he knows that history can cut both ways.</p><p>&ldquo;Because of slavery and Jim Crow, a lot of inner city African Americans do not want to talk to young people about growing food,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;They really think that &nbsp;going to the grocery store is the best for them. And they felt that they were forced to have to do this work. So there is that neglect of young people having access to the inter-generational dialogue that needs to happen around food preparation.&rdquo;</p><p>DJ Cavem&rsquo;s goals may be lofty, but he claims his message can reach these young people. Last year he got a whole summer camp of urban youths to remix the popular ode to <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YLy4j8EZIk">&ldquo;Hot Cheetos and Takis.&quot;</a> They dubbed their version <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MO3zE2XqEUo">&ldquo;Brown Rice and Broccoli.&rdquo;</a></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/MO3zE2XqEUo?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;You can watch the video on YouTube and Tweet it and let your friends know that that&rsquo;s what young people really want: Healthy food, foods that are fresher than the shoes on their feet.&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Between Dunn&rsquo;s decades of urban ag experience and DJ Cavem&rsquo;s youth-friendly message, there may come a time when produce from urban farms will not only nourish local residents but also grow their bank accounts.</p><p>Beginner farmer Rashid certainly hopes so. Despite her optimism for her newfound occupation, she knows she&rsquo;s got a tough row to hoe.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a lot to cover,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Especially in my case since I don&rsquo;t have a business partner. It&rsquo;s a lot to do alone. But I know that things are gonna change.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> <em>@monicaeng</em></a> <em>or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p><p><em>WBEZ reporter Natalie Moore contributed to this story. </em></p><iframe width="100%" height="450" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/48706770&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true"></iframe></p> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 07:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-urban-farms-have-yet-harvest-sustainable-jobs-better-health-110709 California drought renews debate on regional food systems http://www.wbez.org/series/front-and-center-water/california-drought-renews-debate-regional-food-systems-110497 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/DROUGHT MIDWEST.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>At a Chicago area farmers market in July you won&rsquo;t see many signs of the California drought. This is the time of year when produce lovers can pretty much gorge on all the local cherries, blueberries and zucchini they want.</p><p>But this wasn&rsquo;t the case in January.</p><p>&ldquo;What we saw was extremely high prices on kales, leafy greens etc in the first part of the year,&rdquo; said Bob Scaman president of Goodness Greenness the Midwest&rsquo;s biggest distributor of organic produce.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/front-and-center-water/drought-drives-drilling-frenzy-groundwater-california-110483">Drought drives drilling frenzy for groundwater in California</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>And as the year wore on, Scaman says, the effects of the drought only got worse. Farmers had to decide which crops they were going to water and which they weren&rsquo;t resulting in what he called the California &ldquo;cherry season that didn&rsquo;t exist in 2014.&rdquo;</p><p>Luckily, the Washington State cherry crop was booming this year. And today Michigan cherries have filled any other gaps. But Scaman warns that this bounty will last for only about another 100 days in the Midwest.</p><p>&ldquo;But going into the late fall, early winter when we are relying again on California we are going to be right back where we were on these drought supplies,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;and we will be negatively affected back here in the Midwest.&rdquo;</p><p>One Arizona State University study says that the California drought is likely to push items like avocados and lettuce up 28 to 34 percent.&nbsp; And the USDA expects drought and other factors to push domestic food prices for meat and produce up 3 to 6 percent this year.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Business professor Timothy Richards who conducted the Arizona State study noted that the pricier California crops could drive more retailers to source their produce from Mexico and Chile. But others think we should go the other way and reestablish more regional food systems again.</p><p>&ldquo;This is the ideal storm for the local food network in the Midwest,&rdquo; Scaman said. &ldquo;It really brings home what people have been talking about for years: the need to grow more local food, stabilize the food supply and build the local market.&rdquo;</p><blockquote><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="20" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/158677537&amp;color=ff5500&amp;inverse=false&amp;auto_play=false" width="100%"></iframe><strong>Related: <a href="https://soundcloud.com/morningshiftwbez/water-issues-in-the-west-could">What water issues in California mean for the Midwest</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Adding to the drought problems this year were high summer gas prices that further argued for more localized food production.<br /><br />&ldquo;So not only is there less product but we are paying more to transport it from California,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;You&rsquo;ve got a double whammy coming at us. So when you look at local food supplies, we&rsquo;ve got a little more stability in getting it to the marketplace, lesser freight costs and we are growing our local economies.&rdquo;</p><p>Terra Brockman founded the Land Connection, a local non-profit that helps train Midwest farmers. She says that while the drought hasn&rsquo;t made big waves among local farmers so far, it has revived important questions.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Like, &lsquo;Why do we have plenty of farmers market farmers and CSA farmers but not enough people growing at a slightly bigger scale that could produce quantities of fruits and vegetables that could go into our grocery stores and school cafeterias and other institutions where people are shopping and eating,&rdquo; Brockman said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a question of building infrastructure and putting together policies and funding to make that happen.&rdquo;</p><p>Brockman says that Land Connection has recently applied for grants to teach Midwest farmers techniques for extending the notoriously short growing season.</p><p>Bob Borchardt of Harvest Moons Farm in Wisconsin says he is already using some of them and investigating others.</p><p>&ldquo;Some kind of controlled environment growing is really the answer,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;whether it be greenhouses or hoop houses or inside and vertical gardens. Anything that we can do to push more local product into the non-conventional farming months here in the Midwest I think are things that need to be on top of our list as producers.&rdquo;</p><p>Brockman notes that farmers can also extend the seasons by planting varieties of vegetables that mature early or late in the season.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s like an early broccoli and a late broccoli,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;One that comes to fruition earlier and later. Just not putting your eggs in one basket or not just planting one kind of broccoli you can sort of insure yourself from whatever the season might be.&rdquo;</p><p>But she says the drought isn&rsquo;t the only water related issue causing debate in Midwest agricultural circles.</p><p>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re concerned about water then you have to be concerned about agriculture because the thing that affects our water quality the most of anything in this state is agriculture,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>&ldquo;So that&rsquo;s everything from erosion and soil washing into our rivers and silting them up and making them inhospitable for river life, and especially the run off. So in Illinois the main source of pollution in our waterways is industrial farming, and the amount of nitrogen fertilizer that runs off that becomes a dead zone the size of Delaware in the Gulf of Mexico is due to runoff from Illinois and Midwest corn fields.&rdquo;</p><p>Brockman hopes that concern for our waterways will prompt Midwest farmers to swap synthetic fertilizers for crop rotations that take longer but can fertilize the soil naturally.</p><p>Scaman, however, has aspirations that go one step further. Given the growing demand for local produce and the richness of Illinois soil, he hopes the drought might convince some corn and soy farmers--whose harvests go primarily to processed food, animal feed and ethanol tanks--to grow crops suitable for local human consumption.</p><p>&ldquo;Years and years ago, Illinois as an example was one of the largest vegetable growing states in the country,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t necessarily need to just grow soybeans and corn. There is a need for vegetable production here in the Midwest to supply Chicago and other cities. And it provides a lot of economic opportunities for rural communities. So [the drought] has really brought that need to the forefront. You are seeing more and more farmers every year and more local produce. And the demand for local is off the charts.&rdquo;</p></p> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-and-center-water/california-drought-renews-debate-regional-food-systems-110497 Chicago's Mexican ice cream shops offer cool innovative treats http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-mexican-ice-cream-shops-offer-cool-innovative-treats-110431 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mangonada.jpg" style="height: 455px; width: 620px; margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px;" title="The mangonada reigns supreme at Chicago’s many neverias. These Mexican ice cream shops have grown exponentially in the Chicago area in recent years. " /></p><p>While some Chicago foodies are still swooning over doughnuts, <a href="http://dominiqueansel.com/cronut-101/">cronuts </a>or wonuts, others have moved on to the sweet treat taking over Chicago&rsquo;s Mexican ice cream shops.</p><p>It&rsquo;s called the <em>mangonada, </em>and if you haven&rsquo;t tried it yet, here&rsquo;s what to expect: cool mango sorbet topped with fresh mango chunks and a sweet salty sauce called chamoy.</p><p>The dessert takes center stage at Chicago&rsquo;s <em>neverias,</em> Mexican ice cream shops whose numbers have ballooned over the last two years. Eladio Montoya opened his first <a href="http://los-mangos.com/">Los Mangos Neveria</a> in 2012, but today he&rsquo;s expanded to seven thriving stores in the Chicago area. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I guess it was something that wasn&rsquo;t discovered before,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;But now that we&rsquo;ve discovered it&rsquo;s a good business, everybody is trying to jump on it.&rdquo;</p><p>Indeed, there are now more than 60 neverias operating in Chicago&rsquo;s city limits and likely just as many more serving nearby suburbs like Aurora, Rolling Meadows, Maywood, Berwyn and Cicero.</p><blockquote><p><strong>MAP: <a href="#map">Where are Chicago&#39;s neverias?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Many used to operate as popsicle shops or <em>paleterias</em>. But in recent years they&rsquo;ve expanded into full service snack shops serving sundaes, yogurt parfaits, fruit cups, corn in a cup, and smoothies. Then there are the Dorilocos, a family of snacks that some might recognize as the more colorful cousins of the walking taco. They start with a bag of chips that gets sliced down the side with scissors and then it&#39;s filled with cucumbers, pickled pig skin, crunchy peanuts, hot sauce and more.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/5dM1Hfpvm7s" width="620"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a combination of both worlds,&rdquo; said Rosario Pulido whose family owns a group of neverias called <em>100 Percent Michoacana</em>. &ldquo;Because we have our traditional pico de gallo but then we also love our potato chips like Doritos. So it&rsquo;s just a combination of those two.&rdquo;</p><p>While most neverias offer similar menus, each tries to distinguish itself with signature hybrid dishes. At Los Mangos in Little Village one of those treats is the Honey Bun sundae--yes a honey bun at the bottom of an ice cream sundae.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s just something that we came up with,&rdquo; Montoya said. &ldquo;We pretty much do stuff that we like and we present it to the people and if they like it, we keep it. And I mean, who doesn&rsquo;t like a honey bun?&rdquo;</p><p>While most dishes reflect strong Mexican flavor profiles (blending salty, sour, sweet and spicy), things like the honey bun sundae &ldquo;have been more Americanized,&quot; Pulido says. &quot;But you could say that we all love doughnuts and we all love ice cream, and so it&rsquo;s a combination of both.&rdquo;</p><p>Cynthia Alvarado works at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Paleteria-Y-Neveria-Bombon/182778985257617">Bombon Neveria</a> in Riis Park where they serve a hybrid snack called Elotes Bombon Style. It starts with a choice of Doritos, Fritos, Churritos or Tostitos.</p><p>&ldquo;They all come with corn [cut from the cob] and then you pick the flavor of the sauce you put on it,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Either chile limon, habanero, chipotle or jalapeno. It&rsquo;s like a mayo sauce.&quot; The dish is finished with a topping of bacon or ham and voila!</p><p>Amid all the corn chips and ice cream, neverias also sell a lot of fresh fruit--including papaya, mango, watermelon and pineapple.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s what keeps our business year-round,&rdquo; Montoya says, &ldquo;because we sell fruit-year round and with everybody trying to be healthy, it&rsquo;s really popular.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, he admits it&rsquo;s the ice creams that draw the most customers this time of year. Among his dozens of flavors, you&rsquo;ll find pine nut, mango with chile, egg nog, tequila, cheese, cucumber, bubble gum, guava and more.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PHOTO%208.jpg" style="float: left; height: 180px; width: 320px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="The menu at Paleteria and Neveria BomBon uses pictures and colorful names like Maraca and Trolebuss to illustrate the eclectic offerings. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" />But Montoya says you need more than great ice cream to succeed in this business. You also need funky names like the vampire or <em>vampiro </em>featuring mango ice cream and a blood red sauce or the<em> bionico</em> a bionic blend of cream, fruit, nuts and raisins.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;ve gotta make up names that are catchy and leave people wondering and flying in their minds for a while,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So whenever they get hungry that&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s in their head and they think of us.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Some of those names at BomBon include the enchanted apple and their signature Trolley Bus or trolebuss which Alvarado describes as &ldquo;Fritos with corn then nacho cheese, sour cream and hot sauce.&rdquo;</p><p>Arcoiris in Avondale on Belmont Avenue used to be a paleteria before it expanded like so many others. Today one of its most popular items is the green smoothie full of parsley, cactus, green apple, spinach, cucumber and more.</p><p>The shops seem especially popular with families because, Montoya says, they offer something for everyone. &nbsp;The teenagers might get the Dorilocos but &ldquo;mom will get the fruit and then the kids and the dad and the grandparents will always get the ice cream.&rdquo;</p><p>So what does he recommend for first timers?</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;ve got to try the mangonada, the yogurt with fruit. It&rsquo;s all natural fruit that we dice every morning,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;And then they&rsquo;ve got to try our paletas and ice cream.&rdquo;</p><p>The honey bun sundae, you might want to leave for your second trip.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>SEVEN THINGS TO ORDER</strong></p><p>FOR FRUIT LOVERS: Get a<em> coktel de fruta</em>. A dish of freshly cut jicama, cucumber, papaya, pineapple, mango, pineapple or melon (depending on store) showered in lime juice, chile powder and salt. Tell the server which fruits and toppings you want.</p><p>FOR HEALTH NUTS: Many neverias serve green drinks of spinach, cucumber, parsley, cactus, green apple, yogurt, oats, honey, kiwi and more. Exact ingredients will vary but I love the green blend from Paleteria Arco Iris at 2950 W.&nbsp; Belmont Ave.</p><p>FOR SPICY SNACK LOVERS: Get the Dori-, Taki- or Tostilocos and indicate which toppings you want. The pickled pig skin strips (cueritos) add a vinegary chew but they are not for everyone. The cabbage, cucumber and jicama make you feel almost virtuous while eating chips. The chicharron preparado is similar but uses fake pork rinds instead of chips.</p><p>FOR THE INDULGENT: Try one of the churro, doughnut or honey bun sundaes. Perk it up with innovative ice cream flavors like cheese, cucumber or gooseberry.</p><p>FOR TRADITIONALISTS: Get a strawberry popsicle (often studded with big chunks of strawberry) a scoop of ice cream, mangonada or fruit gazpacho if you don&#39;t mind salty cheese and chile in your orange juice.</p><p>FOR THE MEAL SEEKERS: Many neverias serve sandwiches called tortas along with fresh fruit drinks called <em>raspas </em>or <em>raspados.</em></p><p>FOR ASBESTOS MOUTHS: Try a <em>diablito</em> (or little devil) which blends fruit, juice and LOTS of chile.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Map: Chicago&#39;s neverias<a name="map"></a></span></p><p><span style="font-size:14px;">Update: Thanks to <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/1466432036936124/">Summer Paleta Crawl</a> for letting us know about a few places missing from the original map.</span></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="300" scrolling="no" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?q=select+col7+from+1LF3rcsX8yRrpNqgSaInQwmaV6Mz3FXHtZ3URy5NR&amp;viz=MAP&amp;h=false&amp;lat=41.867546139885&amp;lng=-87.73225747014222&amp;t=1&amp;z=10&amp;l=col7&amp;y=3&amp;tmplt=3&amp;hml=KML" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> <em>@monicaeng</em></a> <em>or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 07:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-mexican-ice-cream-shops-offer-cool-innovative-treats-110431 Chicago’s top chefs join Ald. Ed Burke to urge limits on antibiotic use http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago%E2%80%99s-top-chefs-join-ald-ed-burke-urge-limits-antibiotic-use-110406 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/BURKE-photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When you see a gathering of white coated chefs around Chicago it&rsquo;s usually as part of a food festival or some gala dinner. But Tuesday morning some of the city&rsquo;s top cooks and restaurateurs gathered at City Hall to voice their concerns about public health and the way animals are raised in this country.</p><p>They were there to support a non-binding City Council resolution to support long-stalled Congressional bills on antibiotics. Known as <a href="http://www.louise.house.gov/the-preservation-of-antibiotics-for-medical-treatment-act">PAMPTA </a>and PARA, they would stop American farmers from using certain classes of antibiotics on healthy animals. The practice is meant to promote growth and prevent disease.</p><p>The world&rsquo;s leading health authorities believe that overuse of antibiotics in hospital and farm settings is leading to the rise of &ldquo;superbugs&rdquo;, or bacterial infections that can no longer be cured with antibiotics.</p><p>Long-time Chicago restaurateur and co-founder of the <a href="http://buygreenchicago.org/">Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition</a> Ina Pinkney introduced the long list of scientists and doctors who would speak at the finance committee hearing on the resolution later that day.</p><p>But she also shared a personal story of a friend who recently gave birth to twins.</p><p>&ldquo;One baby went home and the other one was sick and they found MRSA in her nose as a nine-day-old,&rdquo; Pinkney said. &ldquo;Then you have to say that things are not OK.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>The <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/about.html">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports</a> that over 2 million Americans are infected by so-called superbugs each year and and more than 23,000 die.</p><p>&ldquo;The antibiotic issue is just out of control,&rdquo; said Dan <a href="https://www.sopraffina.com/dolce/homepage.htm">Rosenthal, whose restaurant group </a>owns seven Chicago eateries including Sopraffina and Ciccheti.</p><p>&ldquo;We are creating, in our industrial meat complex, the perfect environment to create antibiotic resistant bacteria...They are found in our meat and water supply and system and what happens is we get to a situation where antibiotics are no longer effective.&rdquo; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Rosenthal is so concerned over the issue that since 2012, he&#39;s sourced all 800,000 pounds of meat he serves in his restaurants each year from farms who don&rsquo;t use antibiotics on their healthy animals.</p><p>It was also Rosenthal who, last April, urged Alderman Ed Burke to introduce the proposed resolution to the City Council.</p><p>If passed tomorrow, the resolution can&rsquo;t force Congress to do anything, but Burke says it can &ldquo;call the attention of the Illinois delegation to what we believe is an important public health initiative.&rdquo;</p><p>But the measures face considerable opposition. The biggest players in the livestock industry have long resisted any mandatory restrictions.</p><p>&quot;We are opposed to those bills because we really believe they are out of date with the current Food and Drug Administration regulatory activities,&rdquo; said Illinois Pork Producer Association spokesman Tim Maier, who is based in Springfield.</p><p>He&#39;s referring to recent voluntary guidelines that prohibit using antibiotics to make animals grow faster. But preventative uses are still in a gray area and critics say the situation is much too grave to solve with voluntary guidelines. They further argue that the government doesn&rsquo;t collect enough data to know if any farmers are choosing to comply. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>But while health activists cite the rise of antibiotic resistant infections and antibiotic resistant bacteria on supermarket meat as as threat to public health, Maier says it&#39;s the restrictions proposed in the legislation that would cause a threat.</p><p>&ldquo;We think they would actually harm animal health and by extension food safety by limiting the antibiotics that are available for farmers to use when they want to treat their animals,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Denmark, which is one of the largest pork producers in the world, banned the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in livestock in 2000. The move required some adjustments and saw some outbreaks of disease, but within a decade the World Health Organization &ldquo;found that the ban reduced human health risk without significantly harming animal health or farmers&#39; incomes,&rdquo; according to the<a href="http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/issue-briefs/2010/11/01/avoiding-antibiotic-resistance-denmarks-ban-on-growth-promoting-antibiotics-in-food-animals"> Pew Charitable Trust</a>.</p><p>So why are chefs and restaurateurs involved in this legislative discussion?</p><p>&ldquo;Because they understand that a meat supply that produces killer bacteria along with the meat is an unsustainable system and it has to be changed,&rdquo; said Rosenthal. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s why these chefs are standing up for meat raised in a sustainable fashion without antibiotics to provide a better source of supply of meat both at the restaurant level and in the grocery store.&quot;</p><p>At grocery stores like <a href="http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/about-our-products/quality-standards/animal-welfare-standards">Whole Foods Market, </a>meat raised without antibiotics has served the baseline standards for a few years. Jared Donisvitch oversees the butcher counter at the store&rsquo;s Lincoln Park location, where, he says, the antibiotic issue on shoppers minds.</p><p>&ldquo;It comes up fairly often with our interactions with customers,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;and so we are a well-trained group here and try to help customers with any questions they have on that.&rdquo;</p><p>Representative Louise Slaughter of New York State is Congress&rsquo; only microbiologist and the sponsor of PAMPTA. Last week, she sent a letter to the Chicago City Council, saying &ldquo;It is only through local, grassroots efforts like yours that we will make a difference in public health on a national level.&quot;</p><p>If the City Council resolution passes this week, Chicago would join the ranks of Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Seattle and others. But even if all the cities in the nation adopt such resolutions, they can&rsquo;t pass an act of Congress.</p><p>Still, Susan Vaughn Grooters of <a href="http://www.keepantibioticsworking.com/">Keep Antibiotics Working</a>, a nationwide coalition that aims to pass legislation to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics, says the local resolutions add a new voice to the usual Congressional debates. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;If we could get the groundswell from city councils across the nation to help support the federal legislation it could really help what&rsquo;s happening in DC now,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s essential that they hear from other people, not just inside the beltway in DC.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Burke also notes that municipal resolutions have played a part in creating national momentum on issues in the past. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;One issue that comes to mind is the effort we undertook a number of years ago to ban trans fats from food products,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Now you can&rsquo;t walk down the aisles of the grocery store without seeing notations on boxes, &lsquo;no trans fats&rsquo;.&rdquo;</p><p>The City Council is expected to vote on the resolution Wednesday afternoon.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> <em>@monicaeng</em></a> <em>or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p><p style="margin-left:.5in;">&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 25 Jun 2014 08:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago%E2%80%99s-top-chefs-join-ald-ed-burke-urge-limits-antibiotic-use-110406 Chicago Food Swap lets foodies diversify their diet http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-food-swap-lets-foodies-diversify-their-diet-110353 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/swap.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>While most of us stock our kitchens from grocery stores or farmers markets this time of year, hundreds of Chicagoans have found another way to fill their larders--by trading homemade treats at <a href="http://www.chicagofoodswap.com/" target="_blank">Chicago Food Swaps</a>.</p><p>Last month, at a little store in Oak Park, dozens of amateur cooks showed up with boxes of pastries and pickles and hearts full of expectations.</p><p>Ian Fecke-Stoudt started the event with several little servings of chipotle peanuts, pickled red onions, vegan dog treats, saffron salts and double chocolate ginger snaps.</p><p>But by the time the event was over, the Humboldt Park vegan&rsquo; had his bags jammed full of lot more.</p><p>&ldquo;We got pickled mushrooms, jam and mustard, pickled ramps, sunflower seed butter, focaccia, almond milk, vegan chocolate peanut butter fudge, apple tahini, chia pudding, mango coconut muesli and lots of other stuff,&rdquo; he reported.</p><p>Fecke-Stoudt is part of Chicago&rsquo;s enthusiastic food swapping community. They&rsquo;re a group of friendly do-it-yourselfers who meet at different locations to trade their wares each month. Some are former kitchen pros, but most just have a passion for cooking (sometimes too much) and want to share what they have. <a href="http://www.westoftheloop.com/" target="_blank">West of the Loop</a> blogger Emily Paster said she decided to launch the swap a few years ago,&nbsp; after reading about one in Philadelphia.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m kind of that person with the basement full of jams and pickles, more than any family could eat,&rdquo; she admitted, &ldquo; And so as soon as I read about it I thought &lsquo;I have to do that because then I could actually do something with all this jam and my husband will stop giving me a hard time&rsquo;.&rdquo;&nbsp;The May event was a specialized vegan swap, but the offerings are usually all over the map. And Paster says that this helps home cooks fill in their culinary gaps.</p><p>&ldquo;So I&rsquo;m a big canner,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But I&rsquo;m scared of yeast.&nbsp; Like I can&rsquo;t do yeast bread, too scary. So I love to come in and get some amazing artisan bread.&rdquo;</p><p>But for swapper Linsey Herman, it&rsquo;s also about meeting new people and trying new things.</p><p>&ldquo;I like the community aspect and I like the idea that some people take the idea of the swap very seriously,&rdquo; the former professional cook said. &ldquo;There was a family who are not vegan but studied up on vegan cuisine and they took some really interesting risks and they had great results with a a fudge and a seitan. You do get to try a cornucopia of products and you never know what people are going to bring.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>But what about food safety? Paster says that swappers are instructed to use their best hygienic practices but she warns that there are no guarantees.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re the kind of person who is sort of skeeved out by the idea of eating food someone else prepared it may not be for you,&rdquo; Paster said. &ldquo;I think some people take comfort in the fact that you get to talk to the people who made it and so it&rsquo;s like going to the farmers market in that regard. You can ask the questions if you do have dietary restrictions or an allergy. But it may not be for everyone. If you are super strict vegan or have celiac disease, it may not be for you. We would do our best to accommodate you, but it is a little bit of an assumption of risk.&rdquo;</p><p>Although it varies by state, food swaps aren&rsquo;t regulated by health or business authorities in Illinois. They technically operate as private get-togethers where no money changes hands. And while the concept may seem weird and novel to Chicagoans, it couldn&rsquo;t be older. In fact, trading for food was one of the earliest forms of food procurement. And it&rsquo;s never gone out of style in many rural areas.</p><p>Tara O&rsquo;Loughlin comes Northwest Indiana into the Chicago swaps, where her turkey and duck eggs are kind of no big deal.</p><p>&ldquo;But the duck egg seem to be so popular here,&rdquo; she said displaying her last dozen of the large eggs great for pastry and noodlemaking, &ldquo;People really have gone crazy over them. That&rsquo;s why it was fun to meet Emily here and meet people who love duck eggs so much.&rdquo;</p><p>So how does a food swap work? Each month (it went monthly last year) Paster posts the location and date of the next swap on the Chicago Food Swap site. Folks register to attend and the list is closed when it reaches capacity (this month at about 70). Once there, swappers set up at tables and browse and sample during the first 30 minutes.</p><p>When Paster gives the start signal, &ldquo;things get a little crazy,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s like letting the horses out of the gate.&quot;</p><p>Some people stand by their goods fielding offers while others wander around making deals. Most of these deals go through but some don&rsquo;t. Fecke-Stoudt explains that, as a vegan, trades can be tricky.</p><p>&ldquo;Sometimes people want our kale chips because they&rsquo;re paleo,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;but they have something with lots of meat and other animal byproducts and...&rdquo;</p><p>Other deals go sour if one swapper feels the others product isn&rsquo;t worth as much.&ldquo;So sometimes we&rsquo;ll trade two small things for one big thing,&rdquo; Fecke-Stoudt said.&nbsp;</p><p>For those thinking of attending their first swap, Paster offers a list of tips on her site. And if you want to be the belle of the swap, she suggests going savory.</p><p>&ldquo;There is often a heavy emphasis on cupcakes, brownies, quick breads and caramels and they are often too good to pass up,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But for that reason savory does very well. If people bring soups or tabouleh or little mini quiches that they could eat for lunch the next day, those are very hot.&rdquo;</p><p>If you ask 10 swappers about their best food trade, you&rsquo;ll probably get 10 different answers. Gena Boehm of Libertyville, said she had this very discussion around the dinner table the other night.</p><p>&ldquo;The kids said that it was red velvet cup cakes,&rdquo; Boehm said. &ldquo;My son loved some preserved peaches we got last summer and my husband and I thought we had some really amazing bread one time last year. It&rsquo;s always different. If you ask me six months from now it will be something else.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>The Chicago Food Swap will be held at Sur La Table in downtown Chicago on June 29.&nbsp; This gives you just enough time to perfect those mini quiches, that cabbage kimchi or mango muesli recipe you always wanted to swap and share.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-196e5857-a6e0-3796-f705-73efcdb988f8"><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> @monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-food-swap-lets-foodies-diversify-their-diet-110353 Grilled meats serve up dangerous compounds, but you can avoid some http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/grilled-meats-serve-dangerous-compounds-you-can-avoid-some-110214 <p><p>For many, Memorial Day weekend means it&rsquo;s finally time to bust out two things: the white shoes and blackened meats.&nbsp;</p><p>American dads may take pride in their cross-hatch grill marks, but those juicy, charred slabs of meat are coming under incresing scrutiny for the dangerous compounds they develop when protein meets dry blazing heat.</p><p>These include heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and advanced glycation end products or HCAs, PAHs and AGEs.</p><p>Peter Guengerich is a biochemistry professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He&rsquo;s been studying HCAs and PAHs for 25 years, and he says that, on their own, the compounds aren&#39;t all that dangerous.</p><p>&ldquo;But our bodies have enzyme systems that convert these into reactive compounds,&rdquo; Guengerich said. &ldquo;Things that get stuck irreversibly on your DNA and can cause mutations and potentially cancer, most commonly colon cancer.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s important to note that this has little to do with charcoal vs. gas or other fuels.</p><p>Dr Jaime Uribarri of Mount Sinai Medical Center says what matters are the AGEs &mdash; the crispy, browned, tasty bits that form on the outside of grilled meat and other foods.&nbsp; In the kitchen they&rsquo;re considered flavor, but in most medical labs, Uribarri says, they&rsquo;re linked to inflammation that causes &ldquo;diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, dementia and essentially most of the chronic medical conditions of modern times.&rdquo;</p><p>In fact, recent Mount Sinai research shows that mice fed a diet high in AGEs &mdash; similar to a Western diet &mdash; developed marked cognitive decline and precursors to Alzheimers disease and diabetes. Those fed a low-AGE diet were free of those conditions.&nbsp;</p><p>So does this mean an end to the all-American cookout?&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;If it is something done only once a year it may not be that bad,&rdquo; Uribarri says.</p><p>Only once a year?</p><p>Professor Guengerich won&rsquo;t go that far, but he does urge moderation.</p><p>&ldquo;Well basically if you only eat these things occasionally, [I&rsquo;m] probably not too concerned,&rdquo; the biochemist said. &ldquo;But if you are making a habit of eating these things every other day, grilled at high temperatures, you probably should think about it a little bit more.&rdquo;</p><p>But before you put away the Weber you should know there are lots of ways to cut down on these compounds at your barbecue.</p><p>To reduce the AGE&rsquo;s, Uribarri suggests a few things.</p><p>&ldquo;Make sure the meat is not left for very long periods of time on the grill,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Whenever possible, the meat should be marinated or freshened with juices during the cooking. And simultaneously, eat a lot of fruits vegetables and things that will kind of antagonize the bad effects of these compounds.&rdquo;</p><p>These would include antioxidant rich foods like blueberries, pomegranates and cherries &mdash; one Michigan butcher even blends them into his burger meat.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/blueberries.jpg" title="Eating antioxidant rich foods like blueberries, cherries and pomegranates with grilled foods may help reduce the harmful effects of grilling byproducts. (WBEZ/MONICA ENG) " /></div><p>Studies also show that marination in wine, vinegar or lemon juice can lower the meat&rsquo;s pH and cut way down on the formation of AGE and HCA. Another study shows that rubbing meat with fresh rosemary can cut HCA development most entirely.</p><p>Guengerich says you should also cover your grill with foil to avoid carcinogenic flare ups that produce PAHs on the surface.</p><p>&ldquo;And if you are particularly concerned you can preheat [the meat] in a microwave and get the juice out,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Then take it out and put it on the grill and you&rsquo;ll actually reduce your exposure by about 90 percent and you won&rsquo;t lose that much in the way of taste either.&rdquo;</p><p>Then there&rsquo;s the low-tech method of simply scraping off what Guengerich calls &quot;the black crud&quot; from the outside of your food. Those grill marks are rich in these carcinogenic compounds.<br /><br />Fans of cole slaw, broccoli and Brussels sprouts may also have more leeway. One study found that regular consumption of these cruciferous vegetables can help clear DNA damage wrought by the grilling process.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>And finally, Uribarri suggests simply swapping the dry high heat cooking for gentler water based methods most of the time.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;So take for example a piece of meat,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;You put it on the grill to cook for half an hour, you generate so many AGEs. Then you take the same piece of meat, but now you put it under a lot of water to cook as a stew, you generate much much fewer. &ldquo;&nbsp;</p><p>This may be effective, but will anyone really want to come over to your house this summer for a burger boil?</p><p>Wiviott doesn&rsquo;t think so.<br /><br />&ldquo;No one wants to eat nine ounces of poached chicken or turkey breast,&rdquo; the pitmaster of Barn &amp; Company says.</p><p>&quot;Conversely, if you grill it and you have texture and crunch and flavor and salt and fat, that&rsquo;s when something really tastes good.&quot;</p><p>Wiviott is the author of &ldquo;Low and Slow: Master the Art of Barbecue in FIve Easy Lessons.&rdquo; And he finds&nbsp; it hard to swallow all the recent science deriding his favorite foods.</p><p>&quot;In my lifetime, I&rsquo;ve seen coffee be not good for you; now it&rsquo;s good for you. Red wine not good for you; now it&rsquo;s good for you.&nbsp; Butter, pig fat. Margarine was good for you and now it&rsquo;s not,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I mean, since the cavemen started cooking, people have cooked their meat over an open fire and we&rsquo;re still around. So I can&rsquo;t imagine that it&rsquo;s all that bad for you&hellip;.Plus, it&rsquo;s absolutely delicious.&quot;</p><p>So does this mean you have to choose between boiled meat or colon cancer? Between long life and a char-striped hot dog?</p><p>&ldquo;Well it is a carcinogen,&rdquo; Guengerich says. &ldquo;But I don&rsquo;t want people to have a guilty conscience or feel like they are going to get cancer tomorrow. Just be moderate about your consumption of anything. Grilled foods included.&quot;</p><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Farmers-market-cabbage.jpg" style="width: 620px;" title="Regular consumption of cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts can help clear DNA damage from byproducts of grilled meats. (WBEZ/MONICA ENG) " /></div><p><strong>Tips for Reducing Grilled Food Dangers</strong></p><p>If you don&rsquo;t want to give up grilling meat all together, experts say, there are several ways to reduce the formation and your consumption of heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and advanced glycation end products. Here are some of them:</p><ul><li>Pre-cook your meat in a pot of water, a low-temperature oven or microwave before finishing briefly on the grill.</li><li>Cover grill with foil to reduce drips and flare ups, which produce PAHs, or consider wrapping your meat in foil before placing it on the grill.&nbsp;</li><li>Marinate meat with vinegar, lemon juice or wine for at least 10 minutes before grilling. This can alter its pH, thus reducing the formation of AGEs during cooking.</li><li>Rub your meat with rosemary or other antioxidant rich fresh herbs before cooking.</li><li>Before eating, scrape off the carcinogenic &ldquo;black crud&rdquo; that may develop on meat or other foods during grilling.</li><li>Remove browned and blackened chicken skin before eating.</li><li>Eat cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables on a regular basis to provide your body with sulforaphane, which has been known to help clear DNA damaging compounds more quickly.</li><li>Eat antioxidant rich, deeply colored fruits and vegetables with your grilled meats to help counter the effects of the compounds.&nbsp;</li><li>Consider a weenie boil rather than a weenie roast. You will produce many fewer AGEs in the process.&nbsp;</li></ul></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 21 May 2014 11:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/grilled-meats-serve-dangerous-compounds-you-can-avoid-some-110214