Friday, January 19, 2007

Catch Up

The new year has gotten off to something of a hectic start, and I haven’t cooked much aside from those weekend staples that carry me through the week (a pot of soup or chili, pizza). Since none of this is truly new, I haven’t blogged much about it, and I do beg your forgiveness.

I’ve also been thoroughly distracted this past week with keeping tabs on the Chef Mother, who, as I’ve told some of my Dear Friends in private email, has been in the hospital all week, battling pneumonia and a nasty MRSA infection. Many thanks to all those who have expressed their support and kept the Chef Mother (and the rest of my family) in their thoughts in prayers. She’s doing better little by little, and though she’s still not well enough to go home, she’s been complaining about the hospital food and joking with the nurses, two sure signs that she’s on the mend.

MRSA, as you may or may not know, stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, one of the “superbugs” now becoming more widely spread in the community. Only two drugs are effective against it, and the Chef Mother has been blessed to have doctors, nurses, and even infectious disease specialists who recognized her immediate need for these two drugs. She’s a lucky woman.

But this incident has brought home to me the problematic overuse of antibiotics in our society, not just in treating diseases that may not need such medicine, but also in the factory farming of our food. One site I came across this week, MRSA Watch, offers a good deal of scientific research regarding the use of antibiotics in CAFOs in order to keep animals “healthy” in industrial production... and what detrimental effects that has had on the effectiveness of modern drugs. It ain’t pretty, and if I hadn’t been inclined to avoid factory-farmed animals before (one of the benefits of vegetarianism and/or eating locally), I would definitely think twice about it now.

In lighter news, I’ve come across a number of uplifting articles about local foods and how this trend is growing strength:

1. As always, Tom Philpott over at Grist has a good twist on the trend to present. This time around, it’s an interview with Ann Cooper called “Meet the Lunch Lady” (along with a review of her book Lunch Lessons, something I’ve been wanting to read for a couple of months). In the UK, chef Jamie Oliver has brought the nation’s attention to improving the nutrition in school lunches; could something similar happen here in the States?

2. YES! Magazine’s recent issue is devoted to issues of local living and local economies, offering several good reads. I’d particular recommend "Food to Stay: How a local food system builds health and community wealth" by Gary Nabhan and "Judy Wicks: In Business for Life" about the owner of the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia.

3. And in the growing field of local-eating blogs, I’d like to introduce you to The Ethicurean, a site devoted to local, sustainable eating. One recent post announces Virginia's declaration of February 6 to be Food Freedom Day, the day by which most people have earned enough money to pay for their food for the year. As the Ethicurean so aptly points out, "No word on whether there will be a subsequent celebration planned for when the average American earns enough to cover the damage to our water, land, oceans, atmosphere, and public health system incurred by that miraculously cheap food."

After all this good information and inspiration, I’ll be ready to get back into the kitchen this weekend. I’m not sure yet what delicious mayhem will ensure, but rest assured I’ll keep you posted.

And thanks again for your patience while I catch up!

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