Posts Tagged 'cheese'

It Matters at Thanksgiving, Too

I haven’t linked a bunch of the “sustainable thanksgiving” and “eat local for thanksgiving” and “meatless thanksgiving” posts this year simply because they’re everywhere already- I’m sure if you’re inclined to read news, you’ve run across a few already.  Seen any you particularly liked?

I would like to highlight an anti-sustainable thanksgiving article, though, from one of the hopefully well-meaning people at the NRO.  Normally, I try not to get worked up about ludicrous opinion pieces at small ideologically-driven organizations.  But this column has an insidious message about the importance of personal decisions that I’ve heard echoed other places, plus it’s especially ludicrous, so I’d like to address it directly and completely.

The piece: James Robbins is doing his darnedest to convince us that worrying about sustainability and environmental impact at Thanksgiving is not the point of the holiday, and useless effort anyhow.  Thanksgiving is instead, for

gathering with family and friends, feasting, having fun, and not worrying about consequences.

Family! Friends! Feasting! Fun!  No consequences!  Wait a minute, why is the conservative advocating irresponsibility?  Also, I have no idea what he means by not worrying about consequences, unless he’s the guy who ends up watching football on the couch after the meal until the magic dishwashing fairies come.

Now, my Slavic Rituals and Demonology professor (less interesting than it sounds, the way she taught it) explained how organized societies have festival days where rules don’t apply and everybody wears their pants backwards or whatever so those all those anti-social tendencies we have get let loose in an “acceptable” manner.  This is a good idea, and also really fun.  I’m all for Mr. Robbins being as anti-social as he likes on Thanksgiving.  But I will not allow him to malign the efforts of good, thoughtful people who want to live good, thoughtful lives- and bust a gut on local squash while they’re at it.  Burp.

First, James equates a concern for the environment with a denial of real celebration.  Apparently, people who buy local food aren’t enjoying the holiday as much, since they don’t just buy whatever’s in the main aisle at the national grocery chain?  It’s nice of Mr. Robbins to be concerned for their total experience, but his premise is nonsense.  I invite him to wander the Whole Foods cheese department, then come back and explain to me again how organic types are bad at eating.

Mr. Robbins’ conclusion- that since it’s one day and the relative environmental impact of buying squash is small, there’s no point (and stop ruining his mindless overindulgent fun with your thoughts and calculations!)- is a petty and cynical one (n. b., this cynicism also undermines his own thesis of heart-and-not-head felt holidays).  Yes, if one person skips turkey or buys local side dishes, carbon emissions don’t go down very much.  But they will go down.  And a lot of one persons making these decisions?  I presume you can add.

Oh, also, he’s trying to downplay your individual impact.  He says human impact accounts for 10% or less of carbon emissions around the globe.  He does not cite this, he just says it.  But, in reality, Americans control (directly or indirectly) 65% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the US.  The rest of the world manages to influence 43% of the GHG emitted.  Remember this WSJ article?  Cited!  I know it pains Mr. Robbins to remember it, but our individual choices matter.

So, go ahead, please have your sustainable Thanksgiving.  Revel in it, and be thankful you have the wherewithal and time to enjoy it.  Rejoice in the choices we have to live more sustainably, and appreciate that more and more people want to know how they can live better and softer on this earth.  Call your distant relatives and say hi.  Then, don’t eat a turkey leg for Mr. Robbins.  Maybe he’ll thank you later.

Wisconsin Has My Place

beaver lake

That’s Wisconsin.  Specifically, Beaver Lake, just southeast of Hayward– also home to the Lumberjack World Championships and the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame/60’s time warp/2-story tall fiberglass Muskellunge.  My father’s grandfather built a cabin on this lake in 1940, and every summer when I was a kid, we’d go up for a couple of weeks to live out of a tent, get introduced to relatives, swim, run around, read, nap, eat…

It’s the most wonderful spot on Earth.

I’m headed up for the big three-year reunion this weekend (complete with a who’s-this-relative? quiz), with the Gentleman Friend, a tent, and a box of books in my car.  Even with gas at $4.-, it’s cheaper to drive 1120 miles than fly, or take a bus or a train.  Go go Honda Civic Hybrid!

So here’s the way I see the themes:  We’ve got use of gas/travel to discuss, some major water/lake quality issues, the Magic of the Great Outdoors (this qualifies, since it hasn’t got a bathroom) (just a nicely-decorated hut with a board with a hole) to wax eloquent about, the issues of connectivity/computer hiatii to praise, and probably more.  See, Wisconsin has everything!  Especially cheese!  Which reminds me.

I’m pretty stoked that the month of being a very good occasional vegetarian is up, since the family culinary traditions involve a) fantastic cooks and b) meat.  I’ll do my very best to eat animal sparingly and vegetables like whoa, but let it be known that falling off the meat wagon is a distinct possibility at this camp.  Though, what with a few loved ones favoring bizarre diets, alternatives won’t be impossible to find.  I am not eating their fake cheese, though.  It is not just as good as real.

So, I’ll spend the next few days exploring those ideas- it’s getting me more and more excited for this trip as I think it through- starting with a monthly goal wrap-up and new goal next time.

olson cabin at night

There’s the cabin itself- one room and a porch, and can’t you just hear the crickets and feel the peace?

Oh No, Not the Cheese

Toxins released by the trash that Naples still hasn’t figured out what to do with might be tainting a regional delicacy- buffalo mozzarella. Reports of elevated dioxin levels in the cheese, found last week, have caused a 40% drop in sales. The NYT article doesn’t make it clear that it’s specifically the toxic waste in the city that’s causing the dioxin in the cheese, and some locals affiliated with the cheese industry imply that it might also be the fault of “shady mozzarella producers”.

“It really is a problem of criminals making a counterfeit product from God-knows-what,” said Mr. Ursini…“Mozzarella-wise, we’re in good shape. I just hope the whole thing doesn’t become a panic.”

The trash problem is also linked to an Italian criminal element, so hopefully dealing with the trash will remove the cheese issue, either by clearing the environment or removing the shady producers.

How discouraging to learn of an exciting cheese product (buffalo cheese? really?) and have my sampling hopes be so quickly discouraged. In Alexandria we’ve even got a cheese boutique (Cheesetique, yes, really), so I bet they’d have some. I hope it’s dioxin free.

Fix your trash issue, Naples: I want to discover your cheese.

Review: Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies

I’m at home sick today, and generally when I don’t feel well, I want Goldfish. The slightly salty, cheese cracker kind, specifically. I don’t have any, though. They taste best from the big cartons, like the 3-packs at Costco and the gigantic milk-type cartons will do (they start out good but get stale faster than the 3-packs), but I haven’t been to Costco recently, so. I did get a little box of pseudo-Goldfish yesterday, and I’ve had a few for comfort today instead, and I will review those for you.

I annies cheddar bunnieshave a box of Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies. They’re like goldfish, in that they are tiny baked cheese crackers, only they look like bunnies, and they are organic. Whole Foods is dangerous and fun, because their snack foods emit the siren call of organicity, and the have the haunting allure of fair tradicousness. This has led me to purchase items like organic pop tarts on several occasions that I am not entirely proud of, although I have determined that their organic poptarts actually taste good, like spices and fruit and flour, as opposed to like sugary cardboard, as a normal poptart does. Still, that is no reason to buy them, since pop tarts probably aren’t real food.

I digress. I bought the Cheddar Bunnies Tuesday due to 1/3 not having goldfish, 1/3 really wanting goldfish, and 1/3 being curious. They taste…fine. Cheesier than Goldfish, but without the necessary salty tang that pleases me. Also, the bunny shape is flat and too intricate, and richer (do I detect more butter?) than the simple baked cheese taste of the Goldfish. It lacks the simple bulbous fish body shape, the crunching of which hollow space is probably 25% of the enjoyment of the fish.

In terms of packaging, there aren’t that many bunnies in the box, compared to the glut of fish available at Costco. Buying a big box of fish is more efficient, waste-wise. The three-pack at Costco has a recyclable outside box and three plastic inner bags, and this has a tiny recyclable box of recycled cardboard, and a small plastic inner bag. Per bunny, I produce more waste that I would per fish.

On the upside, since the bunnies aren’t as tempting, I don’t eat too many of them and ruin my dinner.

Really, this is all a matter of taste- but if you like the salty, crunchy fish, you might not like Annie’s Organic attempts. I should go back to Costco to fulfill my true cheese cracker desires, but first, I should take some aspirin and go back to bed.


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