WBEZ | Food http://www.wbez.org/sections/food Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Earth Day: 10 ways to eat greener in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/earth-day-10-ways-eat-greener-chicago-111918 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/lane aquaponics.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s Earth Day again. And you can either drown your climate change sorrows in a bag of cookies or be part of the solution by changing your approach to food.</p><p>If you choose to do the latter, you&rsquo;ve got a lot of options in Chicago, where the food scene is getting a little greener all the time.</p><p><strong>Consider these 10 ways to start:</strong></p><p>1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Walk, bike or take public transportation to the grocery store. For most of us, the environmental impact of driving there undoes the impact of using paper or cloth bags.<br /><br />2.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Perfect a <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-09-12/features/sc-food-0907-healthful-food-prices-20120912_1_food-dollars-bad-foods-key-nutrients">recipe using rice and lentils or beans</a>. The combo is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to deliver a complete protein to your body. And it can be super delicious.</p><p>3.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Bring your own container to restaurants for leftovers. Health department rules require that you pack the leftovers yourself, but you&rsquo;ll save the food and yourself that pile of plastic containers in your home and garbage can. Some places will even let you use your own container for takeout, but make sure you&rsquo;re not just dumping it from their takeout container to yours.<br /><br />4.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Get locally milled grains from places like <a href="http://www.bakermillerchicago.com/">Baker Miller</a> and <a href="http://www.hazzardfreefarm.com/">Hazzard Free Farm</a>. Their nutty taste and relatively high cost mean you will not want to waste a single grain.<br /><br />5.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Plan a series of meals based on cleaning out what&rsquo;s in your pantry, fridge and even backyard--lots of wild chives have already sprouted around Chicago.<br /><br />6.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Start a food plant indoors. No matter how small the plant, nurturing it for a season gives you a whole new appreciation for farmers and fresh food.&nbsp;<br /><br />7.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Gather ingredients for a totally local shrimp and greens dinner at The Plant, where they sell house-raised prawns and greens at their <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.plantchicago.com%2Fmonthly-market%2F&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHwIqifQTi20VwcwdrJfiu5avkiVA">Monthly Market</a>, on the first Saturday of each month. Kids at Lane Tech College Prep are learning to perfect this model with a full aquaponics lab that raises tilapia and grows many different kinds of greens.<br /><br />8.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Sign up for a <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thelocalbeet.com%2F2015%2F02%2F26%2Fthe-2015-local-beet-list-of-community-support-agriculture-farms-csas%2F&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNE29cMubv5IlQRoZs4Eq70eXvgauQ">CSA (community supported agriculture) subscription</a>, which requires a payment to a local farmer upfront in exchange for regular deliveries of seasonal vegetables throughout the summer and fall.&nbsp;<br /><br />9. Check out Chicago restaurants and stores that emphasize local and sustainable produce. There are too many to single out here. But ask your favorite farmers in the farmers market who buys from them.</p><p>10.&nbsp;&nbsp; Join a <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.collectiveresource.us%2F&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNH0o_OVmpM7zP9M97VrZNpOVcY1Jg">composting service</a>, try a <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Furbanext.illinois.edu%2Fcompost%2F&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHrUq0LuaHIxY_DPQPXlkHzsteyhg">backyard compost pile</a> or pressure your elected officials to&nbsp; support municipal composting programs.</p><p>We&rsquo;d love to hear your tips, suggestions and favorite places for sustainable fare around town.</p><p><br />Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fmonicaeng&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGoYzy7NkmnMSoIdG75anzNVCJ90A">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</p></p> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 18:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/earth-day-10-ways-eat-greener-chicago-111918 Homaro Cantu was more than a showman http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/homaro-cantu-was-more-showman-111876 <p><p>To a lot of people, the <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-famed-chef-homaro-cantu-owner-of-moto-found-dead-on-northwest-side-20150414-story.html">late chef Homaro Cantu</a> was all about showmanship, gadgets and tricks of molecular gastronomy.</p><p>He was famous for edible menus, a fish that would cook itself on your table and fruit that became a carbonated juice box.</p><p>But what a lot of people didn&rsquo;t understand was that this mad scientist chef was about something even bigger: Homaru Cantu&nbsp;wanted to save the&nbsp;world.</p><p>When WBEZ reporters <a href="https://soundcloud.com/chewingthefat/ctf-ep-27-future-food">visited his Moto kitchens last year</a>, we were greeted by typical Cantu. He was playful, warm, articulate and bursting with ideas to make the world a cleaner, healthier more delicious place.</p><p>He showed us his digitally monitored indoor farm that he said could grow produce with astonishing efficiency.</p><p>&ldquo;All of these products are grown to such a precise degree that this stuff will grow 50 percent faster than their genetically modified counterparts in their best season,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And it will all be composted by stuff that comes right from the kitchen.&rdquo;</p><p>He told us about plans to put a beehive on the roof with a path down to the indoor farm, &ldquo;So bees can come down here, then pollinate and leave.&rdquo;</p><p>He explained his strategy for &ldquo;smart composting&rdquo; that would customize the raw composting materials to the plants they&rsquo;d nourish.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMG_1792.JPG" style="height: 200px; width: 200px; float: left;" title="Chef Homaro Cantu at Moto with kitchen staff and Anthony Bourdain" /></p><p>&ldquo;Plants are like humans,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;They don&rsquo;t want the same diet&hellip;. When we start analyzing what plants really want and giving it to them, that&rsquo;s going to get us a more flavorful product, that&rsquo;s going to grow more efficiently without chemicals and genetic modification.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><div>He told us about his many ideas for saving energy and reducing food miles. And he shared his enthusiasm for the potential of the miracle berry (which makes sour things taste sweet) to help diabetics and cancer patients while improving overall public health.</div><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s been such a long road,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But I think we are at a point where we can educate people about what they should be eating rather than what big companies want them to eat.&rdquo;</p><p>I realized I&rsquo;d had Cantu all wrong. Sure he was great at putting on a show. But his wild restaurants seemed to be just one way to showcase his plans to tackle some of the biggest problems our planet faces today.</p><p>Cantu stressed that, although he was patenting the research, he wanted it to be available to everyone.<br /><br />&ldquo;[After we file the initial patent] we want people to steal from us,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Food should not be owned. Food should be a collective effort for everyone, like open source software.&rdquo;</p><p>Like a lot of people in Chicago, I knew Cantu was facing a lawsuit from a former investor. But the news of his death Tuesday came as a great shock--and the suspected suicide even more so. Of all the chefs I&rsquo;ve known, few have had such ambitious technological plans, such a profound stake in the future and such visionary ideas for making the world a better place.&nbsp;</p><p>His cooking will be missed by diners. His heart and humor missed by his family and friends. But it&rsquo;s almost impossible to say what society will miss with the loss of Cantu&rsquo;s ideas and innovations, which he aimed at helping all of us.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><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 <a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a></em></p></p> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 11:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/homaro-cantu-was-more-showman-111876 Moto chef Homaro Cantu found dead in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/moto-chef-homaro-cantu-found-dead-chicago-111875 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/homarocantuted2011.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chef Homaro Cantu has been found dead in Chicago.</p><p>The 38-year-old Cantu was known for blending science and fine dining at his Michelin starred restaurant Moto in the city&#39;s West Loop.</p><p>Authorities say Cantu&#39;s body was found Tuesday in a building where he had planned to open a brewery.</p><p>The Cook County medical examiner&#39;s office confirmed the death but did not release a cause. Authorities did not say his death was suspicious.</p><p>Cantu headed Moto, which focused on molecular gastronomy cuisine. Customers dined on edible menus, carbonated fruit and a fish preparation that cooked in a tabletop polymer box, among other foods.</p><p>Before opening Moto, Cantu spent four years as a chef at Charlie Trotter&#39;s Chicago restaurant. Trotter died in 2013.</p></p> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 08:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/moto-chef-homaro-cantu-found-dead-chicago-111875 Flamin' Hot Cheetos top some Chicago Public School vending machines http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/flamin-hot-cheetos-top-some-chicago-public-school-vending-machines-111773 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cheetos.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Last week Michigan became the latest state to opt out of the federal Smart Snack standards. The rules regulate what can be sold in school fundraisers and vending machines that help schools pay the bill. More than 22 states have pushed for some kind of exemption from these rules since they went into effect last July.</p><p>So just how stringent are they?</p><p>The snacks must be:</p><ul><li>&ldquo;whole grain rich&rdquo; if they are grain-based, meaning 50 percent whole grain</li><li>no more than 200 calories</li><li>no more than 230 mgs of sodium</li><li>no more than 35 percent sugar, by weight</li><li>lower in fat, meaning no more than a third of their calories can come from fat</li></ul><p>So all that&rsquo;s left is kale, right?</p><p>Well, not really. In fact, under these new rules, two of the top sellers in some Chicago Public Schools are reformulated Flamin&rsquo; Hot Cheetos and Kellogg&rsquo;s Pop Tarts. This is not exactly what Dr. Virginia Stallings envisioned when she chaired the Institute of Medicine committee whose recommendations would form the backbone of the Smart Snack rules.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I thought the top sellers might be things that had more nutrients in them than Flamin&rsquo; Hot Cheetos,&rdquo; said Stallings, who is a professor of pediatrics at Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia. &ldquo;But let me say that one of the things we were absolutely expecting and appreciate is that the food companies would look at these recommendations and they would, in fact, reformulate their products.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>To Stallings, the reformulated Cheetos, in smaller portions, with more whole grain, less sodium and less fat, represent an evidence-based improvement over the old formula.</p><p>But to folks like Lindsey Haynes-Maslow, a health analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists, the snacks represent&nbsp;&nbsp; mixed messages to kids.<br /><br />&ldquo;I think it says to them that, of course, I can eat these. And when they are outside the school, if they see the same item at a grocery store, they don&rsquo;t recognize the difference,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Even more concerning, is that their parents don&rsquo;t either, according to a Rudd Center study showing that many parents are misguided into thinking that these [reformulated] items are good for their kids.&rdquo;</p><p>To see this in action, all you have to do is drop by a Chicago Public high school vending machine where reformulated Pop Tarts and Flamin&rsquo; Hot Cheeto Puffs occupy several slots. In an interview with WBEZ Wednesday, CPS&rsquo;s head of Nutrition Services Leslie Fowler said she had no idea schools were selling the snacks.</p><p>The district, she said, has prohibited reformulated snacks for about a year. Still, a list of approved snacks that CPS provided to WBEZ on Wednesday includes Baked Cheetos and Reduced Fat Nilla Wafers. Another list the district sent to WBEZ earlier Wednesday included reduced fat Cool Ranch Doritos as an approved snack. But when WBEZ noted that snack was also &ldquo;reformulated,&rdquo; the CPS official claimed she&rsquo;d given us the wrong list.</p><p>To add to the confusion, Fowler told WBEZ Wednesday that the &ldquo;only Cheeto that is approved is the whole grain puff,&rdquo; which are not included on the latest list but are featured in several district machines.</p><p>Regardless of what CPS rules actually are, it&rsquo;s clear that the much maligned Smart Snack rules still leave plenty of room for things like reformulated Flamin Hot Cheetos. And while it&rsquo;s true the reformulation reduces fat and salt, the snacks still feature six artificial colors and nearly 30 ingredients.</p><p>New York University Nutrition professor Marion Nestle thinks part of the problem is that the rules encourage companies to hit certain nutrient numbers rather than providing real food.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /><br />&ldquo;This is a classic case of nutritionism,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;If you set up nutrition standards, the food industry can do anything to meet those standards and this is a perfect example of that...So this is a better-for-you junk food. And, of course, the question is: is that a good choice? And no, of course, it&rsquo;s not.&rdquo;&nbsp;<br /><br />When asked to discuss the issue, Cheeto maker Frito Lay would not grant WBEZ an interview. Instead, the company wrote &ldquo;We offer a variety of Smart Snack compliant products in schools in portion-controlled sizes to suit a variety of tastes, including the Reduced Fat, Whole Grain Rich Flamin&#39; Hot Cheetos.&rdquo;</p><p>Lane Tech Senior Tyra Bosnic said she&rsquo;s disappointed in the vending machines at her school. She wished they better mirrored the machines she&rsquo;s seen in Europe.<br /><br />&ldquo;They have better drinks there and there&rsquo;s more water accessible,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;There they have things like pumpkin seeds in the machines. Here we just have gross, whole grain Pop Tarts and Cheeto Puffs.&rdquo;<br /><br />The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it couldn&rsquo;t comment on the wisdom of selling Cheetos at school, but that its latest rules have already helped kids eat &ldquo;healthier.&rdquo;<br /><br />It&rsquo;s not just kids who are drawn to the&nbsp; orange curly snacks. For cash strapped school administrators, Cheetos can&nbsp; deliver plenty of green. Under the current CPS deal with Avcoa Vending, schools&nbsp; get a 20 percent commission on all sales; and that can add up to more than $10,000 in discretionary spending a year. So, why not stock this teenage favorite?</p><p>&ldquo;Because schools have an obligation to teach children how to be successful adults,&rdquo; says Rochelle Davis of Chicago&rsquo;s Healthy Schools Campaign. &ldquo;And learning about how to be healthy is a critical part of that.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, one vending machine rep noted that kids are going to buy Cheetos at the corner store and that few entities need money more than schools. Stallings, who wrote the original recommendations, questions whether schools should be selling any snacks at all.</p><p>&ldquo;Selling food to children outside of the school lunch and breakfast should not be a source of revenue for the school,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s exploiting the children&rsquo;s health.&rdquo;</p><p>Instead, advocates like Rochelle Davis of Chicago&rsquo;s Healthy Schools Campaign suggest raising the revenue through things like plant sales and dance-a-thons.</p><p>&ldquo;I just got an email about a school trying a dance-a-thon,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So the kids are going to be up and moving and the community is going to be supporting that instead of a traditional fundraiser.&rdquo;</p><p>But can a dance-a-thon rake in the cash like Flamin&rsquo; Hot Cheetos? With all the resistance against even these initial rules, it may be some time before we get to find out.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Clarification, 3/26/2015: After this story was published Chicago Public Schools officials claimed CPS uses vendors other than Avcoa. They have not yet responded who those vendors are.</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> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/flamin-hot-cheetos-top-some-chicago-public-school-vending-machines-111773 In addressing food allergies, some Chicago schools fall through the cracks http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/addressing-food-allergies-some-chicago-schools-fall-through-cracks-111728 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ravenswood-lunch.jpg" title="Students during lunch period at Ravenswood Elementary chow down on Doritos, nacho cheese and sunflower butter. The new nut-free policy means peanut butter isn’t allowed. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></div><p>It&rsquo;s a typical day in the Ravenswood Elementary cafeteria on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side. Middle schoolers catch up with friends, make jokes and chow down on a mishmosh of cafeteria food and brown bag lunches.</p><p>&ldquo;I have a Subway meatball sub,&rdquo; one says.</p><p>&ldquo;I have homemade soup with some rice,&rdquo; chirps another.</p><p>&ldquo;And I have some Doritos with peanut butter, I mean sunflower butter,&rdquo; their friend adds, catching himself as he remembers the school&rsquo;s new nut-free policy.</p><p>Starting in 2015, Ravenswood joined a small cadre of schools that have passed nut-free guidelines that go above and beyond the more common nut-free tables and nut-free menus.</p><p>That means no PBJs, no nutty granola bars, and no Snickers.</p><p>&ldquo;We are asking families and staff to make sure that no foods that have any nuts at all come into the building,&rdquo; says Principal Nate Menaen. And by nuts, he means, &ldquo;Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts of course.&rdquo;</p><p>In recent decades childhood food allergies have skyrocketed from 1 in 50 American children in 1990 to 1 in 13 today. That works out to about two kids in every American classroom &mdash; and that number is growing.</p><p>So how many schools are taking a hard stance against food allergies like Ravenswood?</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Food-Allergy-thumb.jpg" style="height: 206px; width: 280px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Ravenswood Elementary is one of only a handful of CPS schools to ban nuts in the entire building. (WBEZ/Derek John)" />Chicago Public School officials say they don&rsquo;t know. But the district does say it offers nut-free meals to about 200 schools (or roughly a third of the district). Most of them are located in more affluent areas or on the North Side.</p><p>But those aren&rsquo;t necessarily the schools with the greatest need.</p><p>Research shows that potential food allergies are actually higher among minorities. <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3182844/" target="_blank">One Children&rsquo;s Memorial Hospital study</a> showed that those with African ancestry have a higher-than-average nut sensitivity. &nbsp;</p><p>Beverly Horne is the lead nurse in the south region of Chicago Public Schools. She oversees more than 100 schools on the South Side, but says that none have adopted the same kind of nut-free guidelines as Ravenswood.</p><p>In order to be allowed medical accommodations, students need documentation along with a doctor&rsquo;s diagnosis. But for many of the families she serves, Horne says, simply getting to the doctor is hard enough. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It has a lot of do with access,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;If you look at it, several of the clinics in those neighborhoods were closed and the parents have to travel.&rdquo;</p><p>She says nurses do what they can to fill in the gaps on the one to two days a week they can visit a particular school but it&rsquo;s often not enough. Plus, she says, many parents don&rsquo;t always know what to look for.</p><p>&ldquo;I recall one incident where the parent wasn&rsquo;t even aware that it was an allergic reaction she was seeing in her child,&rdquo; Horne says, &ldquo;and so we had to reach out to that parent. And actually it was a food allergy and those symptoms she was experiencing could have been very serious.&rdquo;</p><p>Just how serious?</p><p>In 2010 7th grader Catelyn Karlson died after eating peanut-tainted food that was brought to her Northwest Side school. &nbsp;Since then, CPS became the first large urban district to put epinephrine injectors (or EpiPen) in every school.</p><p>There they can be used to treat anyone in anaphylactic shock &mdash; a severe allergic reaction that can stop a victim from breathing.</p><p>Dr. Ruchi Gupta, a pediatric allergist at Lurie Children&rsquo;s Hospital, helped lead the effort. <a href="http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2014/10/emergency-epinephrine-used-38-times-in-chicago-public-schools.html" target="_blank">In a report on its first year of progress</a>, she noted that 38 students and staff were treated with the injectors. More than half of them didn&rsquo;t even know they had a food allergy.</p><p>This lack of knowledge worries Gupta, who says policy makers need to ask more questions. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Why don&rsquo;t we we see [more allergy diagnoses] on the South or West Side and in predominantly African American or Hispanic populations?&rdquo; she wonders. &ldquo;Now, do they have more and is it as severe? Unfortunately, until now we have not truly been able to classify who is going to have what kind of reaction when they eat the food. So some kids may just break out in a couple of hives or have a little mouth tingling but other kids could have full blown anaphylaxis that could lead to death.&rdquo;</p><p>Minority students may be more vulnerable to food allergies, but Gupta says other factors contribute to how schools decide whether to implement nut-free policies.</p><p>&ldquo;The reason you see policies more on the North Side is probably because of the parents advocating for it so much,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;This gets the principal, school staff and teachers on board that this is a serious problem and we need to do something about it.&rdquo;</p><p>Most of these policies, she notes, are driven by parents in Local School Councils, which is exactly how Ravenswood ended up &ldquo;nut-free&rdquo; this year. Ravenswood principal Manaen says there was some push back as he worked to get his whole school community on board with the guidelines.&nbsp;</p><p>But, it&rsquo;s one thing to say you&rsquo;re nut-free, it&rsquo;s another to make it a reality. It&rsquo;s not as if you can install nut detectors at the door.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s [just] a guideline,&rdquo; Principal Menaen says. &ldquo;Because at the end of the day, maybe I brought in my leftovers from a restaurant I went to that cooked in products that also touched peanut product. And so it&rsquo;s never 100 percent safe.&rdquo;</p><p>It is, however, one step toward making schools a little more safe &mdash; at least in some parts of the city. &nbsp;</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> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 07:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/addressing-food-allergies-some-chicago-schools-fall-through-cracks-111728 McDonalds to phase out chicken raised with certain antibiotics http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/mcdonalds-phase-out-chicken-raised-certain-antibiotics-111656 <p><p>Chicken McNuggets may never be the same--starting in two years.<br />Oak Brook-based McDonald&rsquo;s announced a new policy Wednesday&nbsp;that would ban chickens raised using antibiotics that are vital to treating infections in humans.</p><p>The chain&rsquo;s suppliers can still treat sick animals with antibiotics, but that meat can&rsquo;t end up in McDonald&rsquo;s food supply, according to the policy.&nbsp;</p><p>Health and environmental groups have been urging the world&rsquo;s largest fast food chain to make the move for almost two years. Among them is the Natural Resources Defense Council whose Food and Agriculture director Jonathan Kaplan had mixed feelings about the announcement.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s great news and I think its a game changer for the poultry industry here in the U.S.,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We are still concerned about [McDonald&rsquo;s] global policy that has a loophole that could allow the routine use of antibiotics to continue.&rdquo;</p><p>The move would affect the roughly 14,000 stores in the U.S. but not the 22,000 abroad. Additionally, it does not affect the chain&rsquo;s beef and pork suppliers.&nbsp;</p><p>Still, the company&rsquo;s thinking has evolved since it first released a policy on antibiotics in 2003. In its new Global Vision on Antibiotic Stewardship document McDonald&rsquo;s says &ldquo;As the body of scientific evidence grows and scientific consensus emerges, we recognize the importance of continuing to evolve our position on antimicrobial usage.&rdquo;</p><p>Indeed, the world&rsquo;s medical community now agrees that the overuse of antibiotics in human medicine, as well as meat production, has contributed to the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria and infections that kill 23,000 Americans a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p><p>When small regular doses of antibiotics are administered to animals--largely for growth promotion and disease prevention--some weak bacteria die, but stronger bacteria can survive, thrive and evolve into &ldquo;superbugs&rdquo; that can&rsquo;t be treated with the drugs.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/600Chicken_nuggets_-_10pc.jpg" style="float: left;" title="(J.smith Wikimedia Commons)" />Although Chik-Fil-A and Chipotle have already committed to sourcing meat raised without antibiotics, McDonalds is the first of the large chains to raise its antibiotics standards.</p><p>The move comes just three days after McDonald&rsquo;s new CEO Steve Easterbrook assumed leadership of the company, and just five months after the arrival of Mike Andres who heads the chain&rsquo;s U.S. division.&nbsp;</p><p>Wednesday Andres, released a statement saying&nbsp; &ldquo;Our customers want food that they feel great about eating... and these moves take a step toward better delivering on those expectations.&rdquo;</p><p>A coalition of health advocates called Keep Antibiotics Working applauded the move today and noted that it had been in talks with McDonald&rsquo;s on the issue since 2003.</p><p>Last month, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and its Illinois chapter, launched a campaign to urge the chain to get antibiotics out of its meat production. And just yesterday, Illinois PIRG&rsquo;s Dev Gowda, says he dropped off a petition in Oak Brook with 30,000 signatures to that effect. Still, he said the move took him completely by surprise. He now hopes the chain will follow suit with its beef and pork supplies.<br /><br />Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), who is the only microbiologist in Congress, praised the move and chalked it up to the power of pressure from the &ldquo;educated&rdquo; consumer.&nbsp; Still, she said that the country needs &ldquo;enforceable and verifiable limits on antibiotic use.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>She has often sponsored House legislation to restrict the use of all medically important antibiotics in livestock production. Another bill in the Senate aims to track where and how antibiotics are being used in the U.S. Estimates indicate that 70 to 80 percent of antibiotics purchased in the U.S. are currently used in meat production alone.</p><p>In December 2013 the US Food and Drug Administration issued guidance to pharmaceutical companies asking them to voluntarily stop labeling and selling the drugs exclusively for &ldquo;growth promotion.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Health advocates complain that voluntary guidance to end growth promotion uses is too weak. They worry that producers will continue to use the same drugs for &ldquo;disease prevention&rdquo; which they feel only enables farmers to raise animals in crowded unsanitary conditions.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 16:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/mcdonalds-phase-out-chicken-raised-certain-antibiotics-111656 Your favorite Chicago coffee shops http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2015-02-26/your-favorite-chicago-coffee-shops-111630 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/coffee.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="responsive-embed-coffeemap">Thirty years ago, most Chicagoans couldn&rsquo;t have imagined paying more than a buck for their cup of daily Joe. Oh, how the times have changed.<p>Call it the Starbucks effect. For better or worse, drinking habits have morphed and a whole gourmet coffee industry has blossomed. Illinois is home to more than 350 official Starbucks cafes and dozens of restaurants and institutions that serve the company&rsquo;s brew.</p>But competitors abound and continue to grow in our coffee-loving town. Last month, Berkeley-based Peet&rsquo;s Coffee &amp; Tea opened a flagship store in the historic Wrigley Building, less than a block away from the busiest Starbucks in the city. And the company has plans for more shops across the city.<p>Still, these national chains are by no means the hottest cup in town. Chicago has a proud and growing stable of local artisan roasters. And according to our very non-scientific survey, they top the list of favorite coffees among local public radio listeners.</p><p>WBEZ asked its Facebook followers to name their favorite cafes, and the comments came pouring in with Jackalope, Metropolis, Dark Matter, Cafe Jumping Bean and Wormhole topping the list. Below you can find the 11 Chicago cafes they like the most as well as an interactive map listing all the cafes our followers recommended. So if you&rsquo;re looking for someone to gab with about your favorite radio shows over coffee, these may be the best bets in town. Happy sipping!</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Top 11 Chicago cafes for public radio lovers</span></p><ul><li>Jackalope Coffee in Bridgeport (34 mentions)</li><li>Metropolis (33)</li><li>Dark Matter (27)&nbsp;</li><li>Cafe Jumping Bean (18)</li><li>Wormhole (14)</li><li>Gaslight Coffee Roasters (14)</li><li>Perkolator (13)</li><li>Bridgeport Coffee &amp; Tea (13)</li><li>Heritage General Store (13)</li><li>Ipsento (12)</li><li>Intelligentsia (11)</li><li>Big Shoulders (10)&nbsp;</li></ul><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Top 12 most-served gourmet coffees in Chicago</span></p><p>When it comes to choosing coffee beans, Chicagoans have become much more discerning over the last 25 years. But whose beans &mdash; aside from Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts &mdash; are served up in the most restaurants and cafes around Chicago? We recently called top local and national coffee roasters to find out. Here&rsquo;s what they reported.</p><ul><li>Metropolis: 350</li><li>Intelligentsia: 300</li><li>La Colombe: 150</li><li>Dark Matter: 75</li><li>Julius Meinl: 70-75</li><li>Bow Truss: 70</li><li>Big Shoulders: 40</li><li>Alterra/Collectivo: 30-40</li><li>Passion House: 30</li><li>Counter Culture: 17</li><li>Stumptown/Ipsento: 10</li><li>Gaslight: 6<br />&nbsp;</li></ul><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="620" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/coffeemap/" style="float: right; clear: right;" width="620"></iframe></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 13:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2015-02-26/your-favorite-chicago-coffee-shops-111630 Underground Korean-French dinner serves up mystery and music http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/underground-korean-french-dinner-serves-mystery-and-music-111470 <p><p>In mid-December I returned from vacation to find a handmade Christmas tree and card inviting me to dinner in a private suburban home hosted by &ldquo;a crazy hair stylist, a crazy dancer and crazy French Cuisine cooker.&rdquo;</p><p>It was from a man named David Cho, whom I interviewed more than 15 years ago about his nascent karaoke booth business.&nbsp; My first thought was, &ldquo;no way.&rdquo; But I figured I should at least call and decline. By the end of the call with Mr Cho, however, I told him I would go as long as my bosses OK&rsquo;d it, and I could pay for the meal.</p><p>When I told my friends on Facebook that I&rsquo;d been dining in the in the Northwest suburbs, Tribune restaurant critic Phil Vettel wrote back, &ldquo;10 minutes from the airport. You&#39;ll be over international waters before we know you&#39;re missing.&rdquo;</p><p>Sure, it was a risk but one I felt we are all too ready to avoid when it comes to meeting new people and checking out the workd of unknown culinary artists. Right? I invited my mom and 11-year-old daughter, to make sure I wasn&rsquo;t captured alone.</p><blockquote><p><a href="https://www.tumblr.com/reblog/109616767565/SaAaSRvg" target="_blank"><strong>Photos from Monica&#39;s 10-course meal</strong></a></p></blockquote><p>When we finally arrived, Mr. Cho met us in the parking lot of the very old condo complex. He led us up some stairs to a guy who looked like a Korean Harpo Marx dressed as a chef.&nbsp; As we entered the dining room/living room of his tiny place we found an elaborately decorated table, pink placemats, crystal. Loud French bistro music poured from the giant TV all night.</p><p>Hello Kitty, My Little Pony and other dolls filled the nearby shelves along with several more homemade Christmas trees. Other souvenirs included tiny chef dolls, Eiffel Tower replicas and pictures from chef James Hahn&rsquo;s many hair styling exhibitions.</p><p>I joined the other guests at the table and Hahn disappeared into the kitchen.</p><p>Within minutes, the first course was on the table. It was a purplish salad that Hahn said reflected his time in Nice, France.</p><p>Cho explained that Hahn was in Paris studying hairdressing when he first became fascinated with cooking. He said Hahn learned as much as he could about French food before returning to Korea to become a famous hairstylist. It has only been since his arrival in the States that he&rsquo;s started cooking for groups.&nbsp;</p><p>Hahn has hosted about 10 of these dinners, spending weeks planning and preparing the meals. Guests are invited from the from the ranks of Hahn&#39;s favorite customers at Gloria Hair Art beauty salon in Niles. They often donate money at the end of the meal to help cover food expenses. Hahn works completely alone, as prep cook, chef and server.</p><p>&ldquo;This is his secondary job or like a hobby,&rdquo; Cho said. &ldquo;So I don&rsquo;t know how many times he&rsquo;s going to do this in the future, making a 10-course meal by himself. He needs a lot of energy. So maybe he&rsquo;ll do two or three times more. As far as I know he&rsquo;s more than 40-years-old. I don&rsquo;t know how much more energy he&rsquo;s got left. Last time I was here he was even sweating a lot.&rdquo;</p><p>Even though I knew the meal would be a multi-course affair, I hadn&rsquo;t expected it to be so elaborate. By the 6th course of fried lobster in an apple garlic sauce I was ready to pop. But there was still steak, abalone, sashimi and dessert to come. (see full course list below)</p><p>As the meal progressed, I started to understand Hahn&rsquo;s prominence in the Korean community--if not exactly why I was called here tonight.</p><p>It seems that he had become a sort of dancing, hairdresser celebrity in Korea, appearing on talk shows and styling the hair of the stars.</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;s recognized as No. 1 hairstylist in the Korean community,&rdquo; Cho said, &ldquo;And he wants to be known for all of the United States. He is especially known for giving crazy haircuts in 10 minutes.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Can he give me a crazy haircut?&rdquo; I asked.</p><p>&ldquo;He can do whatever you want in 10 minutes,&rdquo; Cho said. &ldquo;He doesn&rsquo;t take long hours.&rdquo;</p><p>We finally finished the meal with a refreshing dragon fruit salad, and Cho announced that it was time to watch videos. These included Hahn&#39;s appearances on Korean talk shows, his dance performances and dancing haircutting acts. During some, his clients are even upside down. The final video showed him dancing and styling a red-haired client on stage at Chicago&rsquo;s Korean Festival on Bryn Mawr Avenue this past summer.</p><p>The clips from Korea showed elaborate headdresses that Hahn had created from his clients&#39; hair trimmings.&nbsp; Some took a year to produce. They have to be seen to be believed.</p><p>It was nearing midnight and my daughter was getting sleepy. So we left our donation, offered our deep thanks and we said our goodbyes. Despite my initial apprehension, it turned out that all Cho and Hahn wanted was to share their passion for food with a fellow foodie. And everyone left the experience alive.</p><p>As I told my daughter on the way out: this may have been a slightly risky move, but if you pass up every crazy invitation you get, you just may miss out on some magical experiences.</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/16202028940_84a71beaeb_z.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="Course eight: Rare porterhouse steak slices in a garlic pepper salsa with microgreens. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></div><p><strong>Full 10 course menu</strong></p><ol><li>Ten-vegetable salad in the style of Nice, France. (pineapple jam)</li><li>Kemasal soup featuring a seafood broth, broccoli florets and shredded crab</li><li>Roasted burdock over bok choy, ginger and scallions.</li><li>Scallops in a cauliflower puree</li><li>Boiled shrimp and lobster tail in a pink sauce.</li><li>Fried lobster in an apple sauce showered in garlic chips. A slice of smoked salmon in a pink horseradish sauce on the side.</li><li>Steamed whole abalone served in the shell with mushrooms and accompanied by a piece of rolled grilled prosciutto.</li><li>Rare porterhouse steak slices in a garlic pepper salsa with microgreens.Broiled garlic lobster tail, tuna sashimi and an asparagus spear.</li><li>Broiled garlic lobster tail, tuna sashimi and an asparagus spear.</li><li>Dragon fruit, pineapple, persimmon, candied citrus and grapefruit salad.</li></ol><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 <a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/underground-korean-french-dinner-serves-mystery-and-music-111470 Advocates urge McDonald's to serve meat raised without antibiotics http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/advocates-urge-mcdonalds-serve-meat-raised-without-antibiotics-111441 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/antibiotics mcdonalds.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Advocacy groups are urging McDonald&rsquo;s Corp to stop serving meat from animals fed antibiotics.</p><p>Members of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group, the Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition and Rosenthal Group held a press conference at Sopraffina Caffe in the Loop Thursday to formally challenge the fast food giant to rethink its meat sourcing on the issue.</p><p>McDonald&rsquo;s Corp did not respond to requests for comment.</p><p>Leading the charge was Illinois PIRG, which launched the campaign along with its national parent in seven cities across the country Thursday.</p><p>&ldquo;This is part of a larger public health issue of antibiotic resistance,&rdquo; said Illinois PIRG advocate Dev Gowda. &ldquo;The overuse of antibiotics on factory farms and the practice of feeding antibiotics to healthy farm animals is leading to antibiotic resistance. Now 2 million Americans get sick each year and 23,000 die from antibiotic resistant infections&nbsp; It&rsquo;s a danger when people go to the doctor for routine infections and they get antibiotics, but sometimes they don&rsquo;t work. So it&rsquo;s a really scary situation for many families.&rdquo;</p><p>Joining him was Taryn Kelly of the Rosenthal Group which owns Sopraffina Caffes, Poag Mahone and Trattoria No. 10 in Chicago. Four years ago all of those restaurants began sourcing their meat exclusively from producers who do not use antibiotics on healthy animals.</p><p>&ldquo;It is hard work. It takes dedication and passion,&rdquo; Kelly said. &ldquo;You have to be passionate about the cause. And the more restaurants we can get on board the easier it will before us. That&rsquo;s why we are here urging a big player like McDonald&rsquo;s to get on board with us.&rdquo;</p><p>When asked how such changes in sourcing affected prices for consumers, Kelly pointed out prices on the menu boards at the restaurant which included an 8-inch sandwich filled with grass fed beef raised without antibiotics. It cost $8.99. A 12-inch sausage and pepperoni pizza for two costs $10.49.</p><p>National chain Chick-Fil-A has pledged to start sourcing its chicken from producers who don&rsquo;t use antibiotics within five years and local chain Hannah&rsquo;s Bretzel has already instituted those standards for all of its meat.</p><p>In a released statement Rosenthal group president Dan Rosenthal said, &ldquo;If McDonald&rsquo;s were to [demand meat raised without antibiotics from] its suppliers, it would be a game changer, and one that would help preserve these vital drugs for our kids and grandkids. We&rsquo;ve done it for all the meat we buy for our restaurants&hellip;it&rsquo;ll take time, but McDonald&rsquo;s can do it, too!&rdquo;</p><p>In 2003, McDonald&rsquo;s put in place a policy that would prevent the use of antibiotics for growth promotion but would still allow them for disease prevention among healthy animals. And they do not apply to all producers.</p><p><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> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/advocates-urge-mcdonalds-serve-meat-raised-without-antibiotics-111441 How food gets the 'Non-GMO' label http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/how-food-gets-non-gmo-label-111423 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/gmo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Demand for products that don&#39;t contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, is exploding.</p><p>And now many food companies are seeking certification for products that don&#39;t have any genetically modified ingredients, and not just the brands popular in the health food aisle. Even <a href="http://harvestpublicmedia.org/content/original-cheerios-now-free-gmo-ingredients#.VJBo8zHF_pU">Cheerios</a>, that iconic cereal from General Mills, no longer contains GMOs.</p><p>&quot;We currently are at over $8.5 billion in annual sales of verified products,&quot; says Megan Westgate, executive director of the <a href="http://www.nongmoproject.org/">Non GMO Project</a>, an independent organization that verifies products.</p><p>To receive the <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/28/283460420/why-the-non-gmo-label-is-organic-s-frenemy">label</a>, a product has to be certified as containing ingredients with less than 1 percent genetic modification. Westgate says that&#39;s a realistic standard, while totally GMO-free is not. She says natural foods stores began the process of defining a standard, involving other interested players along the way, including consumers. Now, General Mills is just one of the big food companies selling non-GMO products.</p><p>Sales of food labeled as non-GMO ballooned to over $3 billion in 2013, <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-gmo-fight-ripples-down-the-food-chain-1407465378">according</a> to <em>The Wall Street Journal.</em></p><p>&quot;Interestingly, with all of this traction in the natural sector,&quot; Westgate says, &quot;we&#39;re increasingly seeing more conventional companies coming on board and having their products verified.&quot;</p><p>But how does a company get into the non-GMO game? They might call <a href="http://www.foodchainid.com/">FoodChain ID</a>, a company in Fairfield, Iowa, that can shepherd a firm through the process. It&#39;s one of the third-party auditors that certifies products for the Non-GMO Project.</p><p>&quot;We start looking at ingredients, and we identify what are all the ingredients,&quot; says David Carter, FoodChain ID&#39;s general manager. &quot;And of course, the label itself doesn&#39;t always identify all of those. So we need to be sure that we have a list of all the processing aids, the carriers and all the inputs that go into a product.&quot;</p><p>Next, FoodChain ID figures out where each ingredient and input came from. If there&#39;s honey in cookies, for example, the company will have to show that the bees that make the honey aren&#39;t feeding near genetically modified corn. When there&#39;s even the smallest risk that an ingredient could contain a modified gene, DNA testing is in order.</p><p>FoodChain ID has a lab where a machine can extract the DNA from ingredient samples in order to analyze it. If that test finds no evidence of GMOs, the ingredient can go in the cookies. Carter says he can barely keep up with the number of inquiries coming in from companies that want certification.</p><p>&quot;The demand is now very, very high, and it has been for probably over a year in particular,&quot; Carter says.</p><p>To date, FoodChain ID says it has verified 17,000 ingredients from 10,000 suppliers in 96 countries.</p><p>It may take hundreds of dollars for some products to get a non-GMO label, depending on how many ingredients are already verified as being GMO-free and how many are not.</p><p>But even with the rising demand, non-GMO products make up a small fraction of the marketplace. More than <a href="http://harvestpublicmedia.org/content/acres-genetically-modified-corn-nearly-doubled-decade#.VJBlbTHF_pU">90 percent</a> of corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. contains genetically modified traits. And those two crops are ubiquitous in processed foods like packaged cookies. Still, if the current trend continues, it seems likely that more farmers will consider planting non-GMO crops.</p><p>Various companies sell non-GMO seeds, but they can be more difficult to find. Plant breeder Alix Paez hopes his central Iowa seed company, Genetic Enterprises International, can help fill that market niche.</p><p>&quot;We are a very small company,&quot; Paez says &quot;so our strategy is to find niche markets for farmers that are looking for non-GMO products.&quot;</p><p>Farmers pay a premium for seeds that are genetically modified to withstand pests, or <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/01/24/265687251/soil-weedkillers-and-gmos-when-numbers-don-t-tell-the-whole-story">engineered</a> to tolerate popular herbicides, making it easier for farmers to use those chemicals to kill weeds. Paez and his wife, Mary Jane, hope to develop seeds than can achieve the same yields without those expensive, patented traits. This past season, they grew test plots on a farm in Boone County, Iowa, which they harvested this fall with an ancient red Massey Ferguson combine.</p><p>Paez studies the effectiveness of each hybrid seed variety. It&#39;s slow and meticulous work. But the careful data collection is key to determining whether a new, non-GMO hybrid can be competitive in the marketplace.</p><p>&quot;One of the main things is yield,&quot; Paez says. &quot;Stand-ability, consistent performance, disease tolerance &mdash; things like that.&quot;</p><p>If these seeds make the grade, farmers could potentially save some money. And their grain might fetch a premium, especially as demand for <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/26/283112526/chickens-laying-organic-eggs-eat-imported-food-and-its-pricey">non-GMO animal feed</a> grows. Because the only way to end up with non-GMO certified meat is to raise animals on non-GMO feed.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/01/20/378361539/how-your-food-gets-the-non-gmo-label" target="_blank">via NPR&#39;s The Salt</a></em></p></p> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 12:04:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/how-food-gets-non-gmo-label-111423