The CAFO – MRSA Connection

Americans are under threat from antibiotic-resistant superbugs, making us vulnerable to common, once treatable infections (such as MRSA). A remarkable 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used not by humans, but by the meat and poultry industries so factory farm animals can grow faster and survive the crowded and unsanitary conditions found in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).

This is creating superbugs on the farm and humans are exposed in a number of ways, including when we handle or eat undercooked meat. Our life-saving drugs are becoming less effective when we really need them. Unfortunately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has refused to take meaningful action to restrict the use of unnecessary antibiotics in livestock production.

The “natural” label has nothing to do with how an animal was raised.  The USDA requires only that no coloring or artificial ingredients are added to the final meat or poultry product and that it be “minimally processed” (although salt water can be added).

“Natural” meat or poultry products can definitely be given antibiotics in their feed or water while being raised—and can also be raised in confined spaces with thousands of other animals, given hormones and other drugs, fed animal by-products and subjected to many other unnatural practices.

Consumers should beware of several labels that are unapproved by the USDA, such as “antibiotic-free” and “no antibiotic residues”, that could mislead them to think a product was raised without any antibiotics, when in fact that may not be the case.  –Consumer’s Union

If you choose to eat meat, please be a conscientious consumer.  The best sources of clean, healthy animal products are generally those that are organic, grass-fed, often sold at farmers’ markets or CSA-style meat-shares (visit EatwildLocalHarvest or Real Time Farms to find resources in your area).

Crevettes à la Créole

Generations of of French, African and Spanish heritage come together in this classic Louisiana preparation featuring fresh Gulf shrimp, homegrown tomatoes, onions, celery and green bell peppers.

I like to use stock-simmered, germinated brown rice instead of the traditional boiled white rice, lots of fresh oregano and thyme, green onions and celery.

My version is thicker than gumbo (a natural reduction vs. roux) and spicier than  jambalaya (fresh cayenne and Tabasco peppers), shrimp Creole is one of those deceptively simple dishes that are lately difficult to find well-made outside of the local parishes..

Slow Food Presidia – Native Treasures

Slow Food encourages and supports Indigenous peoples to uphold their food traditions as the custodians of irreplaceable inherited knowledge, in particular through the Presidia projects and the Terra Madre network of food communities. In 2011 the first Indigenous Terra Madre international forum was held and in May 2012 Slow Food President Carlo Petrini became the first guest speaker in history at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Here we take a look at some of the remarkable products being protected by Indigenous peoples in the Slow Food network around the world.

Photo: Alberto Peroli

Click on the image to begin the slideshow >>>

Pies and Pigs: A Benefit for Colleen Sommers

Pie Fixes Everything is an Austin-area home delivery food service featuring baked-to-order homemade pies, tarts and quiches.  Their mostly seasonal, organic goods are also available from the Cedar Park and HOPE Farmers’ Market.

Proprietor Colleen Sommers does everything she can to support area farmers and the local economy- now its our turn to help support her.  Please join us on Thursday, June 14th at Srringdale Farm for a fun party for a good cause, featuring the best of the best in the local food community!


More info and tickets here

Vegan Black Lentils and Chana Dal, Chili-Fried Green Beans

Onions, fresh garlic and ginger are quickly fried in olive oil along with fennel and mustard seeds, coriander, turmeric root powder, fresh curry leaves and Tellicherry black pepper. 

Rinsed urad dal (split black lentils) and chana dal (split black chickpeas) are added to the pan and simmered for about an hour and a half in homemade vegetable stock.  Chopped fresh tomatoes are added during the last 20 minutes, with chopped fresh cilantro added just before service.

The dish is topped with oil-fried fresh green beans and red chilies, with some of the hot oil drizzled over the top.

Low in cholesterol and high in protein, this easy, inexpensive dish is full of flavor and very satisfying..

For the Vegetable Stock (adapted from a recipe Gourmet magazine)

1/2 lb portabella mushrooms, caps and stems cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb shallots, left unpeeled, quartered
1 lb carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs (including stems)
5 fresh thyme sprigs
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
2 fresh bay laurel leaves
1 cup fresh tomatoes, diced
2 qt filtered water

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Toss together mushrooms, shallots, carrots, bell peppers, parsley and thyme sprigs, garlic, and oil in a large flameproof roasting pan. Roast in middle of oven, turning occasionally, until vegetables are golden, 30 to 40 minutes.

Transfer vegetables with slotted spoon to a tall narrow 6-quart stockpot. Set roasting pan across 2 burners, then add wine and deglaze pan by boiling over moderate heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 2 minutes. Transfer to stockpot and add bay leaves, tomatoes, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes. Pour through a large fine sieve into a large bowl, pressing on and discarding solids, then season with salt and pepper. Skim off fat.  Use within 1 week or freeze up to 3 months.