Your Guide to Reading Between the Tines

Archive for January, 2009

Random Photo: Last Days of January in Arizona

Spring is here.

By April, when Wisconsin is finally digging itself out from under snowbanks (perhaps only to be buried a couple more times before May) temperatures will be in the nineties.  I’m enjoying this while it lasts.

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Peanut Butter Gets Uglier

Current stats:  501 reported illnesses and 8 deaths attributed to this outbreak

On Wednesday on up at the capital, senior state and congressional officials called foul on the Peanut Corporation of America, the manufacturer responsible for the recent salmonella debacle.  Specifically, they charge that the PCA knowingly shipped peanut butter contaminated with salmonella multiple times throughout 2007 and 2008.  You can read the FDA report on-line to get all the gritty details about the contaminations, as well as unacceptable plant conditions, but let me hit some highlights for you.

First up is the charge that PCA knowingly shipped products contaminated with salmonella.  Reading over the report, you’ll find one dozen instances from June 2007 through the end of September 2008 where one strain or another of salmonella was discovered.  Troublingly, the write-ups read almost identically: Peanut product manufactured on x date under batch z tested positive for salmonella by a private laboratory.  After the firm retested the product and received a negative status, the product was shipped in interstate commerce.

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Random Wednesday Picture

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More on the Peanut Butter Recalls

The saga continues.

As of yesterday, the FDA was reporting just over 500 cases of salmonella, and its recall list has become epic.  Plenty of snack crackers, ice creams, and cookies are on the list, but so are a bunch of what most consumers imagine are “healthy” snacks, including Lära Bars, Clif Bars, Carob Energee nuggets at Whole Foods, Health Valley brand granola bars, and more.  Salmonella is an equal opportunity offender.  This lesson is an important one to learn.

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Happy Birthday, Unicyclist!

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Monday Random Photo

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Dark Days Challenge, Starring Orange Cauliflower

The Unicyclist and I didn’t get much in the way of fresh produce last week from our CSA share with Crooked Sky Farms.  The farm is not to blame, however.  The Unicyclist was on veggie pickup duty, and he managed to barter and swap our citrus and one set of greens for an important storage items for us: wheat berries!  The Unicyclist knows what’s up, which is why we now have three small baggies of wheat berries to make into flour and expand our local cooking possibilities.

I love the Unicyclist.  Not just for his bartering skillz, but those don’t hurt.

In any case, since he managed to barter some of our fresher goods for other people’s wheat berries, we decided we’d better make a stop by Crooked Sky’s booth at the Ahwatukee farmers’ market this morning to ensure we’d have enough produce to see us through until the coming Thursday.  I am awfully glad we went, because that’s where we discovered this beauty.

That, gentle readers, is Orange Cauliflower.

(I thought it merited the caps.  Don’t you?)

Isn’t it stunning?  Apparently, commercial Orange Cauliflower is a hybrid between a non-engineered mutant orange cauliflower and the standard whites.  It’s also a bit sweeter, a lot higher in beta carotene, and much more striking than its pallid (but also delicious) cousin.

I had to have it.

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Attitude and Gratitude

Well, fancy that.  Mangochild’s done gone and given me an award. :)   Huzzah!  It’s called an Attitude and Gratitude Award, for blogs that have done a good job with one or the other or both.

Ain’t she purty?  Nothing hits the spot like organic lemonade made with raw agave nectar and backyard lemons.

(Hey, it’s my award.  I get to see what I want.)

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Look, Ma! I’m Learning Something!

Hopefully, I’ll do a real post later today.  I have several in the queue waiting to get written: peanut butter updates, the scoop on carrageenan, an interview, and another surprise post that I just haven’t managed to get to.  Thar’s doggies to civilize ’round these parts, food to cook, errands to run, birthdays to celebrate, work to do, and homework to be done.  Ergo, blogging is sparse.

Which is why, in the meantime, I’m letting you have a gander at the homework I just finished for the Photoshop class I’m taking.

So here’s a task for all my faithful readers.  Can you, in the comments below, identify AT LEAST four plants pictured here (in whole or in part) that can serve as food sources in dry climates?  DJ Kimmus is disqualified from this game, as she has an unfair advantage, but everyone else, give it a shot! (I’ll let you play once everyone else has had a fair shot, Miz Kim.  I promise.)

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On the Peanut Butter Recalls

For anyone who hasn’t heard, peanut butter is the latest regrettable star in ongoing food safety issues.  The recall was issued January 13, but the initial statement claimed that, “None of the peanut butter being recalled is sold directly to consumers through retail stores.”  This was industrial peanut butter, sold in containers ranging from 5 pounds to 50 pounds to hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, and the like.  Even so, 470 people have gotten sick and six have died in this debacle.

And now, there’s a new problem.

Apparently, some of this peanut butter was sold to other processed food manufacturers.  Unsurprisingly, some peanut butter snack crackers and packaged cookies testing positive for salmonella have been traced back to this same institutional peanut butter.  In addition to the concerns for humans, there is also cause for concern if you have four-legged family members.  PetSmart is pulling some peanut butter flavored dog biscuits from its stores.  Store managers are pulling a variety of peanut butter products off the shelves until more information emerges, and consumers are now being counseled to avoid peanut butter based products of all kinds…except the standard jars of peanut butter, which are believed to be safe.

To my chagrin, Clif Bar has also instituted a voluntary recall on a variety of its peanut butter flavors.  I checked my cupboards this morning.  I had a bar included in the recall.  Now I’m sitting here, typing this post, looking at this cheerfully-colored package of “Peanut Toffee Buzz,” and feeling frustrated, hoodwinked, and a wee little bit stupid.

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