Bookmarks–January 21, 2023

In this edition of Bookmarks, looking at the cost of food–the impact of climate change on food prices, how higher food prices affect restaurant menus, and the need to price restaurant meals in a way that reflects their true value, especially in the context of the culture they come from. Plus fungi and dough hooks.

Trouble at the henhouse: Why the California egg shortage spells trouble for Canadian grocery prices

Is there a link between climate change and avian flu? It sounds like a logical question to ask. But even if it isn’t linked to avian flu, climate change is affecting food prices, a point also made in this article. 

Migratory wild birds like ducks and geese are implicated in the spread of the virus, and global warming is scrambling the migration patterns of these species. Interactions among birds that usually don’t meet create new opportunities for the virus to spill over into species that have never seen it before, who then carry it to unexpected places…Sharif stresses that it’s impossible to know if climate change played a role in the emergence of this outbreak. Other researchers have said that more research is needed to understand the interplay between global warming and avian flu. But, Sharif says, ‘you can ask the question, have you seen this virus or this sort of virus before? If you haven’t, what has changed over the last several decades?’” Toronto Star

Restaurants dropping meat dishes as costs rise and Veganuary grows more popular

The 20% cited here seems like a very low number of meat dishes being served, although it makes sense that inflationary pressures are forcing restaurants to rethink expensive items like meat. Consumer demand also plays a part and, on that note, I agree that a move away from fake meat and toward more affordable and less processed “vegetable-forward” products is desirable. 

Although much of the emphasis has been on mimicking burgers and sausages, there is a gap in the market for ‘vegetable-forward products’ such as bean burgers…Two-thirds of meat substitute buyers say they would be more likely to try products that don’t mimic meat.’” The Guardian

Tacos should cost more, here’s why

A call to place appropriate value on food that has been unfairly considered “cheap” and lower in status compared to other global cuisines.

Mexican food and beverage became synonymous with ‘cheap’ in large part because within the culture itself, it’s been underappreciated. But that’s a way of thinking that’s begun to change in recent years. Sofia Sada, Latin Cuisines Program Chef at The Culinary Institute of America, asserts that in Mexican culture, recipes passed down and perfected from one generation to the next are seen as a tool of survival and marker of the working class, rather than a precious cultural commodity that should be celebrated and persevered. [ibid]” Food & Wine

The toxin that helps oyster mushrooms devour worm flesh

Fungi are fascinating. I’m currently reading The Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard which discusses the vital role forest fungi play in supporting trees. I first heard about her book through a reference made in Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life, a book I thoroughly enjoyed. The diversity and adaptability of fungi are incredible, and their importance cannot be understated. How interesting it is to learn that a fungus we consume is a killer in the wild, but only in certain environments.  

Outside the animal kingdom, Venus flytraps, pitcher plants and others are well known for their macabre meal-making. But fungi, too, have an appetite for flesh, and it’s not just the oyster mushroom, although it is the only carnivorous fungus you’ll generally find in your grocery store.” New York Times

In praise of the dough hook, the unsung hero of KitchenAid attachments

I stopped using my dough hook years ago because I felt kneading by hand gave me a better sense of when bread dough was ready, was good for releasing stress, and just felt like a more authentic way to do things. But an apparent repetitive strain issue has affected my hands and I’m finding kneading harder to do, especially for the tougher bagel dough I make so often. It looks like I will be returning to my trusty KitchenAid dough hook. 

…for well over a decade, I never bothered to learn about (or even think about, really) the white hook that came in the box with the other attachments…The hook, of course, is a dough hook, and since I started using it to knead for me I’ve become a more efficient, and I might even say a happier person in the kitchen.Epicurious

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