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Your favourite NY food blogs

The Feed has a fair amount of coverage of food happenings in New York City.

Wednesday Chef, may not be exactly what you're looking for. I don't know how much time she spends covering the NY food scene. But, she's NY based and her blog center's around her interest in the NY and LA Times' recipes.

Sep 30, 2010
crafteeidea in Food Media & News

Prepare to be angry: NBCLA: False Claims, Lies Caught on Tape at Farmers Markets

Here's a NY Times link about this NBC LA story. "Deception at the Farmers' Market"

The NY story itself does not give a lot of new info. It's mainly letting people there no what is going on. What is interesting about the NY times story are the comments that are already posted.

It seems like at least a few folks think that the sustainable/slow food movement has succeeded, we've arrived (after all at least some people can afford the good stuff), the movement is over and if a problem arises, let's not discuss it and pretend it isn't happening. There are some farmer's in this country that have been farming certified organic/local for as much as 40 years. But despite that, the food movement is in its infancy. Forty years is a short time if you consider how long human kind has been producing food to sell to others to eat. We can't live in denial over the fact that there are a huge number of problems that need to be worked on. It's not embarrassing to have our dirty laundry aired in public. It's only embarrassing if we get all complacent and decide that the problems don't exist or it is up to someone else to deal with them.

Sep 25, 2010
crafteeidea in Food Media & News

Prepare to be angry: NBCLA: False Claims, Lies Caught on Tape at Farmers Markets

I agree, Hughlipton, that last thing we need is more government controls.

Sep 24, 2010
crafteeidea in Food Media & News

False claims, lies caught on tape at farmer's markets

There really are only two types of farmers' markets where the farmers are required to have grown their produce locally. Certified Farmers' Markets are regulated by the government. At these, the government certifies that these farmers grow locally. They are supposed to post this certificate at their booth. The other type of market is where the management of the market imposes that rule because they want to. All open air markets do not necessarily require local produce. But every tons of people shop at open air markets and assume that the produce is local. Just like so many assume that the produce is organic. Certified Farmers' Market doesn't necessarily have anything to do with organic. About two-thirds of the produce at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market is not organic. If local and organic is important to you, you gotta ask and investigate thoroughly. And the absolutely last thing folks should do, imo, is become complacent and get used to the kind of deception that is linked to in this thread.

Sep 24, 2010
crafteeidea in Food Media & News

Avoid Farmers' Market Faux Pas

Like I was saying before, I think that part of the problem in this discussion is that for folks who are used to shopping at higher priced stores, the prices at certified farmers' markets may not seem that high. The high prices, may seem like a great buy to some people. Few people jet set all over Europe or eat at L'Espalier or Ame. I'm not suggesting for a second there is anything wrong with doing these things. It sounds perfectly wonderful. But it's possible that people who do are not familiar with prices at stores like Winco.

I went to Yelp. There are 527 reviews of the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market. I read hundreds of reviews. I did not see one that said the prices were moderate or cheap. A few mentioned that they compared to other expensive stores. There were 14 pages of reviews. Here are just SOME quotes from the top two pages of recent reviews.

"There's nothing really cheap at this Farmer's Market (as can be expected)….
Bottom line: This place gets 5 stars only because of the perfect location. If it weren't for this, the sky-high prices and huge crowds would deter anyone from visiting this farmer's market. This is NOT a place you would go to for weekly grocery shopping trips, unless you're a yuppie."

"The Ferry farmer's market is often overpriced, and breeds a certain food-snob elitism in many San Franciscans that I really don't care for."

"Oh and the prices. $4/lb for some good-looking heirloom tomatoes was a little too much for me."

"This farmers market is amazing, and I do love it. I would love it even more if it didn't drain my wallet as fast as it does."

"This is about my favorite place to be on Saturday mornings in the summer in SF. I know, it's expensive and puts natural food into the boutique category, which I'm not so much in favor of."

"Although this farmers market is one of the expensive ones, I love it"

"This market has it all. Prices are a *biiiiit* high, but not much more than what you'd pay at like... WholeFoods or any other Organic Grocer"

"It's WAY overpriced. I shop at farmer's markets on a weekly basis. I haven't bought produce at a grocery store in over a decade. The produce here costs 2-3 TIMES more than the local markets in SF and everywhere else. It's outrageous and you're not getting more for your money, you're getting taken because this is a tourist trap for people who don't know any better."

"According to Anthony Bourdain, the average Ferry Plaza Farmers Market shopper makes $85,000 a year, and it shows in the astronomical costs"

Prices: Everyone complains about the prices. What do you expect from a place that offers mostly organic/local produce?

I took screen shots of all 14 pages. The comments are really shocking. Not only about the prices but constant complaints about the parking, crowds, long lines, the touristy nature of the market. And it's sad to see the huge numbers of people who think that all the produce is organic. About 2/3 of the produce is not, but so many are assuming that it is.

Sep 24, 2010
crafteeidea in Features

Avoid Farmers' Market Faux Pas

I can think of 12 different types of outlets for small, local farmers to sell their produce. Some more expensive than others. But when it comes to open air markets, "certified" farmer's markets (CFM) are always expensive - 2, 3 or 4 times more than grocery stores.

Today FoodMax was selling green bell peppers for 39 cents each and red for $1.48lb. Winco had green for 58 cents and red for 68 cents each. At the CFM in Marin and the Ferry Plaza in SF bell peppers are $5.99lb. That’s 5 and 6 times the cost at grocery stores.

Why does he charge so much for peppers-- because he can. A lot of it has to do with supply and demand. But one reason is there are actually people out there, who, really think they are being savvy shoppers and really think $6 a pound is a great price.

I have been going to all kinds of open air markets for forty years. I've been on both sides of the table (never a food vendor). I’ve seen the prices of produce at all different kinds of places. There were a group of us; we'd meet at the CFM weekly. While walking around looking at the great produce, we'd sample boulani and amazing olive oil. Lunch was usually a skewer of Filipino bbq'ed chicken thighs. Then we'd walk up to FoodMax to get the produce we needed. We compared prices this way all summer long.

In this story/thread few people are denying that prices are high at the farmer's markets. The vendors aren’t, they admit to it. But this is a story about manners not high prices. If we want to debate prices, we can, but it might work out better on another thread.

So.... is it polite to stand around and ridicule your customers - calling them names because they can't afford outrageous prices. One person has suggested that it’s ok to do so - just "human nature". Hmm... so referring to someone as white trash just because they can't afford $6.00lb for bell peppers is just human nature and completely acceptable? Is it ok to say it to their face, or is it better to wait till they leave and do it behind their back? Let's say... the person who didn't want to do something as ridiculous as pay $6 for peppers was not Caucasian. Let's say she was Asian, Hispanic or African American. The vendor couldn't say "white trash". That would make no kinda sense at all. So, what slur would be acceptable? Again…. Remember…. this is an article about manners.

At least the person who made this post (the "human nature one") is not hypocritically hiding behind the fact that Farmer's Markets are supposed to be a community - something that is building the sustainable food MOVEMENT. She admits to being new to Chow but a big fan of the profit end of the produce business. The same ol' if you don't like the prices - get out of my face thing.

But to some of us, this is important. Some of us strongly believe that our food is our medicine. We need decent fruit and vegetables to stay healthy. This is not trend "de jour" or luxury items. This IS a movement; we ARE trying to build community. If the vendor's aren't listening... really hearing what consumers are saying... if we turn over complete control of this "movement/community" then there is no movement.. No community. All there is a marketing gimmick to jack up prices. For really great, organic, fresh picked, local produce - supply is low and demand is high. Sometimes that doesn’t work out too well for the consumer. But, YES we should have faith in the organic farmers that are working hard, who are friendly and who are trying to keep prices fair. Yeah.. we should have faith. But maybe just a little bit less blind faith: because once in a while supply-and-demand-induced greed might be hard to resist. This is a movement and a partnership among all concerned - not just another marketing option. Our voices need to be heard.

A question was posed: Do you haggle at the grocery store? As a matter of fact, I have - numerous times - as has countless others - for years. This was asked in an attempt to make the point "no one haggles at grocery stores: so why should ya haggle at farmer's markets". People have been haggling over prices for several hundred years. But, just recently, ever since "certified" markets have been the trend have there been a small number of vendors trying to get us to believe that it’s rude or inappropriate. The tactics they’re using are appalling: name calling/brow beating/intimidation. There are insults hurled at consumers in this story that haven't even been pointed out by anyone posting on the thread. And the trickery contained in the idea, well, you don't haggle at restaurants so why do so at a CFM? People don't negotiate at restaurants – but they do at farmer's markets. The two don't have anything to do with each other. This is an advertising ploy: Trying to make a point by comparing two things that are unrelated. If I'm in a restaurant and order a salad, three or four farmers don't come out with bags of whole vegetables, weigh 'em and charge me so much per pound. Likewise, if I'm at a CFM and buy some lettuce, tomatoes and cukes, I don't expect the farmer to slice it all up and compose a salad for me. The real question is why are a small handful of contemporary vendors trying to change a process that has succeeded for centuries. And then try to make us feel guilty for doing something that is perfectly natural to do.

As far as "backlash" goes, despite some differing opinions, this thread has been pretty civilized. Maybe you haven't followed a lot of threads on the internet. Check out the story in this series on politically incorrect takeout. At first, I didn't know Chow had a "manners" column. But this headline caught my eye. Since then I have become a follower, even a fan of the column. There have been three stories in this series since this one was posted. I think her advice in those last three has been spot on. For one reason, they have been balanced. In the most recent - about yelling out "Hey amigo" while trying to get the attention of the wait staff in a Mexican food restaurant. Her advice: “maybe yes, maybe no, depending on your tone and other factors. But you might want to play it safe and chose other wording”. Seems perfect to me. Another reason I like these last three columns, is in these no one advocated rudeness as a means to deal with the issue. This is a story about manners; geez... how is being rude going to resolve anything?

Sep 17, 2010
crafteeidea in Features

authentic web sites for asian cooking

Here are a couple of good ones. I really like this site. This is the index. The homepage talks a bit about her background. for Indian

Sep 13, 2010
crafteeidea in Home Cooking

Avoid Farmers' Market Faux Pas

Originally, this was an article about manners (being polite). These two vendors and two writers were, imo, so rude it was like a virtual slap in the face. Calling their customers’ names: Really..... buzzard?? I was so shocked when I read that, I went to just to make sure that I wasn't confused. Calling someone buzzard is akin to calling them white trash. Even if this vendor didn't mean it that harshly, it still shows that he has not exactly wrapped his head around the idea that a certified farmer's market "is a community". This is just one of the insults in the story. It's sad to think that there are vendors out there standing around with their sons ridiculing their customers. How is the mannerly? Remember, this is the guy that is selling bell peppers for $6.00 to $25.00 a pound.

Part of the problem is that this story is poorly written. 1. It is biased. So much so, it feels almost like industry propaganda. Maybe that was not the writer's intentions. Can't tell for sure. 2. The two vendors are angry and bitter. How did she pick these two to feature? When she quotes the vendors, you can almost see them roll their eyes and mock their customers. 3. The writer spends a lot of time echoing the attitude of the vendors. It's bad enough that vendors are saying, "well, if you don't like the prices-get out of my face". Now, we have writers trying to make us feel guilty because we can't afford inflated prices. 4. Parts of the article are nonsense. I realize that trying to be shocking and controversial is all the rage today. It's all about building readership. But has fact-checking gone completely out of style? 5. The whole "fake letter" thing at the beginning. This has been done before. I betcha that at first this was a novel and interesting way to begin an article. It can still be interesting when done well - not just used as a crutch.

I guess name calling, eye rolling, and a general "get out of my face attitude" are not the biggest problems in the world. But they don't build "community". I don't like it when vendors "use" the fact that farmer's markets are supposed to be a community to do nothing more than aggressively market their products. The idea that I should be willing to spend $3 a pound for squash instead of 79 cents because at the farmer's market, I'll get advice how to cook it... absurd. I know how to cook squash. But, if I haven't had a lot of luck with squash in the past, I know how to find out. There are many ways of finding out without spending any money at all. Why do some vendors think that they should charge for advice?

Of course the main idea used to guilt us into not trying to haggle is that the produce at certified farmer's market is so much higher quality. It's organic, it tastes better, lasts longer, keeps the local economy going, etc. I could not possible agree more. These are fantastic reasons not to buy produce at Winco. But, all these reasons are completely irrelevant if you can't afford the sky-high prices. It's useless to say well, awful tomatoes at the store are $3.00 and my wonderful ones are $4.00 so buy mine. This reasoning means nothing to the vast majority of people who can't even afford to buy the "cheaper" awful tomatoes.

If vendors were really interested in building "community", then they would spend a lot more time actually listening with an open mind and open heart to their customers. Even a lot of large corporations are at least experimenting with that idea. Trying to make people believe that you have "the community's best interest in mind" when you offer some "cheaper" alternative if the consumer buys a bulk/large amount seems like just another marketing ploy. The vendor may have good intentions. But, each week, people have a long list of items they need to buy. Folks on a budget can only spend so much on each item. It does no good to know that I can buy those wonderful tomatoes at a reasonable price so long as I buy more than I can afford and more than I can use. If the vendor offering this pricing structure was interested in "community" they wouldn't criticize the consumer for "getting mad". Duh... it's a maddening situation. And then copping that whole "too bad, get out of my face" attitude. That is not polite (the point of this story) and it doesn't build community. This sort of bad attitude only makes matters worse.

Sep 07, 2010
crafteeidea in Features

Avoid Farmers' Market Faux Pas

Is haggling (or declining to haggle) rude? No, of course not. Unless you do it in a rude way. Just like making a phone call or sending an email. Neither is rude, unless you say rude things. Two people can haggle without being rude and vendors can decline politely. It’s absurd to think otherwise.

Prices at certified farmer’s markets are, virtually without exception 2, 3 or 4 times the prices at most grocery stores. If you read this story carefully you’ll see that the only four people given a voice (it’s a one-sided piece) FULLY ADMIT that prices are high at farmer’s markets. They don’t deny it. They use the article to try and guilt or brow beat us into not grumbling about these high prices or not have the nerve to dicker.

Winsberg said that “shopping at a farmer’s market is like going to a restaurant. If the prices are too high at the restaurant, don’t criticize the chef. Just go dine somewhere else.” Funny thing tho, shopping at a farmer’s market is NOT AT ALL like going to a restaurant. For centuries, folks have been haggling over prices at farmer’s markets. You can’t say that about restaurants. This is an advertising gimmick: trying to make a sales point by comparing two things that are unrelated.

There are high-end grocery stores, like Whole Foods, some food co-ops, specialty markets that have much higher prices then stores like Winco, Wallmart and several others. For folks who can afford to shop at Whole Foods, the prices at certified farmer’s markets may not seem that high. But the vast majority of consumers can’t afford to buy all their produce at high-end outlets. Even tho, it’s probable that the produce is a much better quality. It is just not possible. The people in this story seem to be saying “we prefer to deal with the privileged and if you’re not so lucky, well then you’re just shit outta luck.” Apparently, not only do they not want any insolence, they don’t even want our feedback.

If farmer’s can’t figure out how to bring produce to market that people can actually afford, then people are gonna grumble. This has been true for centuries. The vendors in this story have a bad attitude. For the sustainable food movement to succeed, we need to build relationships between farmer, wholesaler, retailer, AND consumer.

Aug 28, 2010
crafteeidea in Features

Avoid Farmers' Market Faux Pas

I'm amazed at the attitude of this vendor. It seems like he is getting "burned out" by the grind of producing and retailing his product. I checked out his site, not everyone can afford to pay $6.00 - $25.00 per pound for bell peppers. People have been haggling at farmer's markets for hmmm..... many centuries? If vendors in Santa Monica or Marin don't want to haggle, that's fine, no where is it written that a vendor MUST agree to haggling. But, developing a down right snotty attitude towards his customers is not a positive approach. I'm sure that he has to handle a lot of rude people. And yeah, after a while, that could try a guy's patience. But as a retailer, you gotta be prepared for that. There are books he can read that might help him improve his customer service techniques. If folks on both sides of the table could change their 'tudes a bit and have a little empathy it could be more pleasant and more profitable for everyone. But this whole: "It's my way or the highway" attitude or coming up with rude little animal nicknames for his customers doesn't resolve anything. It just causes animosity. When customers hear what he really thinks about them, then they come up with rude little animal nicknames for him. And on and on it goes. It's not a positive approach.

Aug 25, 2010
crafteeidea in Features

What to do with cheese powder

I have, what is probably a very obvious answer to a silly question, lol, what is the best way to make cheese popcorn? Just sprinkle the cheese on the popcorn when it is still warm? Or, is there another way? Will most of it adhere well? And is white cheese powder available?

Aug 14, 2010
crafteeidea in Home Cooking

Pork Tails - Braising, Frying or For Soups?

Here is another idea to try - its a soup, but it looks fantastic. She says you can use any pork, but that the tail is traditionally used for this dish.

I wonder if the COTM has any recipes for pig tails.

Aug 06, 2010
crafteeidea in Home Cooking

Carnitas Recipe

This month's CoTM, Gourmet Today, has what looks liked a great recipe for Carnitas on page 469. It calls for marinading the pork in fresh orange zest and juice and other spices and cooking the pork in lard, water and milk. It is one of the recipes I am going to try this month.

Jun 12, 2010
crafteeidea in Home Cooking

Wanted: Caramelized pear and parsnip bisque

I have a recipe for Spiced Parsnip and Apple Soup. This soup is served hot. It doesn't look like a bisque and the apple is not caramelized. It is grated into the soup during the last few minutes of simmering. In addition to the parsnip and apple - coriander and cumin seeds, cardamom pods, ground turmeric and ginger, garlic, onions, chicken stock and few other ingredients are called for. I got the recipe from "The Smart Cook Collection: Soup" published by DK Books. It would be fun to play around with this recipe to include some pear (either caramelized or not). You could also replace some of the chicken stock with cream to make it more of a bisque. The preparation steps are pretty basic. If you'd like, I could post the ingredients and the directions (in my own words).

Aug 25, 2009
crafteeidea in Home Cooking

Fresh garbanzo beans

I bought a pound of fresh garbanzo beans at the grocery store yesterday. If I follow these instructions and steam them while they are still in their pods until the beans are tender, can I then shell the cooked beans and make hummus out of them? Has anyone ever made hummus with fresh garbanzo beans? How did it turn out? Does anyone have any suggestions?

Aug 22, 2009
crafteeidea in General Topics

Best and Worst Recipes You Made From a Cooking Show

Jul 27, 2009
crafteeidea in Home Cooking