Bookmarks–April 22, 2024

In this edition of Bookmarks, some Earth Day adjacent articles: why food waste is bad for the environment (my own post from a couple of years ago); keeping yogurt past its best before date; climate change and chocolate; and easy meal ideas featuring orzo that also use up pantry ingredients and produce. Plus, a discussion of the age-old topic of cups v. grams.  

Why worry about food waste?

A little shameless self-promotion here as I link to a short blog series I did a couple of years ago for Earth Day. The first in the series looks at the environmental impact of food waste and links to further posts with suggested solutions in the form of meal planning and using up leftovers. 

“Food waste is a concrete problem with clear impacts, but it’s also a cultural issue, at least in North America, which is my direct experience…When shopping for food in this part of the world, we are confronted by abundance and encouraged to consume. Grocery stores are piled high with colourful displays of produce, dozens of freshly baked breads and treats, tempting displays of ready-made meals, and an endless variety of grocery products from cheese to crackers to cereal and everything in between. Pernicious ‘Buy More, Save More’ and ‘BOGO’ (buy one, get one free) offers compel us to buy more than we need.” (Supperstruck)

Yogurt lasts for way longer than you think, according to a yogurt sommelier

I knew yogurt lasted beyond its best before date, but I don’t think I would take a chance on year-old yogurt. Apparently it can be safe to eat. This article has some other interesting facts about a food I’ve never actually given a lot of thought. I always thought of it as fairly generic, but apparently there is such thing as yogurt terroir. Who knew?

“As an expert in food sensory and now a full-on yogurt connoisseur, Kliegl understands yogurt better than probably anyone else. She can even pinpoint how long a batch has been off the production line, down to the minute. So, in an effort to improve your yogurt education, we asked her to share some of her top tips to ensure you’re savoring this creamy snack in all the right ways.” (Food & Wine)

Chocolate might never be the same

In my past few Bookmarks posts I’ve shared stories about challenges facing the olive oil industry and endangered cheese. Now it’s chocolate’s turn. To explain the decline of cocoa crops, we can round up the usual suspects: climate change and extreme weather, disease, and impossible economics for cocoa farmers. Expect to pay more for less chocolate in your favourite mass market treats. If your tastes run a little fancier, brace for impact as premium chocolate prices are likely to increase sharply. 

“By one estimate, retail prices for chocolate rose by 10 percent just last year. And now this is the third year in a row of poor cocoa harvests in West Africa, where most of the world’s cocoa is grown. Late last month, amid fears of a worsening shortage, cocoa prices soared past $10,000 per metric ton, up from about $4,000 in January. To shoulder the costs, chocolate companies are gearing up to further hike the price of their treats in the coming months. Prices might not fall back down from there. Chocolate as we know it may never be the same.” (The Atlantic)

The wizards of orzo, from soups to risottos

I just opened a rather large bag of orzo. I use it primarily in a farro pilaf and thought it was high time I figured out how else to use it. I stumbled upon this article has several great ideas that not only use orzo, but are flexible enough to use up pantry ingredients and stuff languishing in the produce drawer in your fridge.  

“It is perhaps first worth noting that in Italy the word orzo literally means ‘barley’, and the pasta we know as orzo more often goes by the name rosmarino (due to its likeness to a rosemary needle) or risoni (big rice). Here, we’re talking the pasta, which Kenedy uses as a substitute for both barley and rice, and says is particularly suited to soups and broths.” (The Guardian)

Cups v grams: why can’t American and British cooks agree on food measurements?

To this question I say, try being Canadian. Our crazy hybrid system seems to fall somewhere between European and American. We buy our flour in kilograms and our milk in litres, but very often measure in cups. I find the imperial system confounding, especially when trying to halve a recipe, which I often need to do for my small family. I typically convert to metric then cut in half that way. The metric system just makes so much more sense. But, as this article points out, there are sentimental reasons for the attachment to cup measurements and conversion from cups to weight-based measures can be tricky. 

“‘It’s dawned on me how narcissistic it is,’ says Nosrat, ‘that we in the US insist on the cup system when the rest of the world cooks in another way.’ She likens the conversion between cups and metric measurements to translation, ‘but not one that needs to be there. Actual languages are intrinsic to cultures and date back thousands of years. But [the language of cups] is just so arbitrary.’” (The Guardian)

Image of books: 95141048 © Dzhamilia Ermakova |

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