I’m just back from the 10th annual Monterey Bay Aquarium Sustainable Foods Institute, a two-day think tank full of discussions on the topic of how we can feed the planet, protect our resources and still eat well. There were plenty of big ideas being passed around, but one message came through loud and clear: Though there is plenty that governments and other organizations can and need to do, these are issues that will be most effectively addressed by each of us doing the best that we can as individuals. Remember: You don’t have to be perfect, just better. Every dollar you spend is a vote for what kind of food system you want to have.
And be on the lookout for Saturday's Counter Intelligence newsletter, with stories about the dining scene and Jonathan Gold's restaurant reviews.
Seafood Watch turns 15
Speaking of the aquarium, it’s hard to imagine any single group that has had more of an effect on sustainability than Seafood Watch. Those handy little “Buy/Don’t buy” cards are now in their 15th year, with more than 52 million printed and 1 million downloaded. Demonstrating that there is no more powerful force than a motivated and informed consumer, the program has spurred some major changes in how we buy seafood.
Inventing Copper River salmon
One of the great sustainable seafood success stories is the Copper River salmon. Sure, you might think, it’s easy to be sustainable when you’re getting $30 a pound for a fish. But it wasn’t always that way. Though Copper River kings and sockeyes are coveted fish today, 30 years ago most of them wound up in cans. In honor of the Copper River season opening last week, let's revisit a brief history of these glorious fish.
Celebrating 'earthy' beets
A cook learns something new every day. My favorite fact from last week? That “earthy” smell you either love or hate in beets is caused by the same naturally occurring chemical compound that creates the lovely damp earth smell you may dimly recall from after a rain. (Bonus fun fact: There is actually a specific word for that scent, "petrichor.") And, on a less palatable note, it’s also the cause of that familiar muddy taste in badly farmed fish. I can hardly remember the rain smell, but I love it when it’s in beets, one of the best vegetables you can buy at this time of year.
How to peel a peach
Peaches are coming on earlier this year than any time we can remember. They’ve got great flavor, but those skins are problematic in dishes. If you’re going to cook a peach, you’re going to want to peel it. Test Kitchen Director Noelle Carter is here with a video demonstrating how easily this is done.
Cake? Did someone say cake?
Cake, of course, is always in season. But while there seems to be a groundswell of pie love from home bakers, cake baking still seems to be a fringe art. In another video, Noelle shows you how to frost and assemble a layer cake.
Something for your cupboard
And if that inspires you to run to the kitchen and start baking, here’s one cool gadget that you probably won’t find in even the best-stocked cupboard. A decorating stand holds the cake high and spins, making frosting and decorating a breeze.
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