Why organic milk lasts longer

I’d never noticed that organic milk has a longer shelf life, but this is interesting:

Organic milk lasts longer because producers use a different process to preserve it. According to the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, the milk needs to stay fresh longer because organic products often have to travel farther to reach store shelves since it is not produced throughout the country.

The process that gives the milk a longer shelf life is called ultrahigh temperature (UHT) processing or treatment, in which milk is heated to 280 degrees Fahrenheit (138 degrees Celsius) for two to four seconds, killing any bacteria in it.

UHT pasteurization has a greater impact on flavor than the standard process, so, oddly enough, organic milk is in one way less natural than conventional.

[Thanks to Julie for the link.]


One year

A personal update: Today marks my one year mark at Cato and the first time that I’ve stayed with a full-time job for a complete year. Knowing my dissatisfaction with previous office work and my preference for working in bars and coffee shops, my boss wisely insisted that I commit to a year before signing me. He didn’t mention that this was a leap year, so he actually hooked me for 366 days. Sneaky devil.

But it turns out that I still don’t like office work, wearing a tie, and commuting during rush hour. And while the job has had its perks, among them getting paid to keep up with the news and reconnecting with the public policy community, I’ve realized that the PR field is not one I want to advance in.

So this seems like a good time to tell you that I’ll be leaving the job in mid-July. At the end of July my lease is up, and I’ll be leaving my apartment too. I have no firm plans yet, but being 25, single, and unattached to any job or home, this seems like as good a time as any to leave DC and try living somewhere new — which is exactly what I’m planning on doing.

Where to go? The Pacific Northwest sounds most appealing. I’m leaning toward Portland, with Seattle a close second. San Francisco is wonderful, but is one of the few places that would be more expensive than where I’m living now. Eugene? Bend? Somewhere else entirely? I don’t necessarily have to line up a job before I go, but for the right offer I would consider just about anywhere. What’s the best place to live for a guy who wants more time to write and a job delving deeper into the world of food and drink? Any tips or job leads would be very much appreciated.


Links for 6/20/08 AM

Kelo’s house re-opens, development project still a failure

President Obama may have already accomplished something good

Olympic Village can’t get funding, taxpayers stuck with tab

Brits keep stiff upper lip whilst losing civil liberties

Water ice found on Mars! Pfft, I can get that in Jersey

A monumental enema

Boeing 787 Dreamliner powers up

Brew pops are back at Rustico

Free sherry tastings in DC this weekend

Terrible fruit snack idea

Invisible snow shovel


Think globally, eat globally

Those of you who’ve been wanting more of a smackdown between Paul Roberts and I won’t find it in today’s exchange, where we agree that there are plenty of reasons to enjoy eating natural, locally grown food — as long as you’re not kidding yourself about the health and environmental benefits. Read it here.

Tomorrow’s topic is foods that need to be banned, so things could get a little more heated then.


Don’t name Milton!

An amusing story from the Chicago Tribune:

Few names are more associated with the University of Chicago than Milton Friedman’s.

But that’s exactly the problem, say some faculty who want to put the brakes on a plan to name a new research center after the Nobel Prize-winning economist.

In a letter to U. of C. President Robert Zimmer, 101 professors—about 8 percent of the university’s full-time faculty—said they feared that having a center named after the conservative, free-market economist could “reinforce among the public a perception that the university’s faculty lacks intellectual and ideological diversity.”

Aside from his achievements as an advocate for free markets and individual liberty, Friedman was an unquestionably brilliant economist with contributions to the field that were not limited to any particular political views. There are far worse names to have associated with one’s university.

[Hat tip: Newmark’s Door.]


Today in Dust-Up

Today in Dust-Up, Paul Roberts and I discuss whether or not the FDA has enough regulatory power. You can guess where I come down, but Paul doubts the agency’s efforts too.

On a related note, Peter Van Doren lays down some skepticism about food safety regulation in this Cato Daily Podcast.

Update: Also, whoever writes the headlines at LATimes.com deserves a raise.

Back in The Jungle
Don’t blame Milton!


Dust-Up in the L.A. Times

This week in the L.A. Times Dust-Up feature, I’m discussing food policy with Paul Roberts, author of the recently released The End of Food. We take on a different question each day, taking turns on who goes first. Today’s question considers food-borne illness in our produce: is it a major menace or a manageable threat?

This should be a fun discussion. Paul and I don’t agree on everything, as you’ll see in the coming week, but we’d both like to see consumers eating better, fresher food, an end to subsidies for industrial farming, and regulations that aren’t bent to the interests of major corporate players. His book is worthwhile reading for anyone interested in why so much of our food is so bad and how out of touch we are with its origins.


MxMo bourbon: Amy’s Mom

Ginger ale cocktail

Because my friend Amy was there at the time, and her mom likes ginger drinks, and that’s how this one came to be…

This month’s Mixology Monday theme is bourbon, hosted by my fellow Arlingtonians at Scofflaw’s Den. Bourbon’s one of my favorite spirits, and a conversation about drinks made with ginger ale inspired my friend and I to try out the Bufala Negra from the Oakroom in Louisville, KY, as printed in the Food and Wine 2008 Cocktails 2008 guide. It’s a drink that combines balsamic vinegar and basil — a duo I enjoyed in my previous MxMo — with bourbon and ginger ale. I’m sure it’s a great drink at the Oakroom, but it was missing a little something when I made it at home. Maybe it was the ginger ale I used (Reed’s) or the substitution of balsamic syrup for separate vinegar and simple syrup (see the previous entry), but it needed a little bit more complexity.

That’s where the allspice dram comes in. Originally known as “pimento dram,” the obscure liqueur fell out of favor and was largely forgotten except among true drink enthusiasts, some of whom turned to making homemade versions from rum, allspice, and sugar. Luckily, it’s back, and with a name that doesn’t bring to mind those weird red things in the center of cocktail olives: St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram. (DC area readers can find it at Central Liquors.)

Allspice, so named because the berries of the pimento bush reminded the English or clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices all at once, is intensely aromatic, and can add wonderful complexity to cocktails. Often used in tiki drinks, it also plays well with bourbon, as in the classic Lion’s Tail. A little dash of it was just what my drink needed, and we’re pretty sure Amy’s mom would like it too. Here’s a recipe that worked for me, but vary it to fit your particular ingredients:

3 basil leaves, plus 1 for garnish
1/3 oz balsamic syrup
2 oz bourbon (I used Bulleit)
1/4 oz allspice dram
ginger ale (I used Reed’s)

Muddle the basil leaves with the syrup, add the bourbon and allspice dram, shake, and strain over ice. Top with a short pour of ginger ale. Add the garnish and enjoy.

Update 6/19/08: The month’s full recap is posted here.


Shaker simplicity

Lame shaker

“If it is useful and necessary, free yourself from imagining that you need to enhance it by adding what is not an integral part of its usefulness or necessity.” The quote is one of the guiding principles of the Shaker philosophy of design. I don’t think religious Shakers approve of alcohol consumption, but it’s a good principle for designing cocktail shakers too. Simple is superior.

Unfortunately, as I learned last week, simple doesn’t always sell. It was my younger sister’s 21st birthday and, being a good bartender brother, I decided to set her up with all the equipment she’ll need to mix up good drinks at home. I thought this would be easy, and most of it was, but finding a cocktail shaker was surprisingly difficult. I went to 6-7 stores looking for a basic shaker and pint glass (a Boston shaker), but only Williams-Sonoma had one, and it was fifty bucks. It was pretty, but it’s just a stainless steel cylinder. If your shaker costs more than your bourbon, you’re either using the wrong shaker or the wrong bourbon.

The shaker every other store had is like the one pictured above. It’s got a lid with strainer, a smaller cap, recipes etched into the side, and an outside cylinder that rotates around the outside to display the ingredients in each drink. This is the kind of thing that might seem like a good idea in concept, but in practice the design is just terrible. How dost it suck? Let me count the ways.

First, the lid and the cap. There’s a reason most bartenders don’t use these. They’re extra parts, and if the steel has contracted from the cold and your hands are wet, they can be hard to separate. All you need is the cylinder and a pint glass. Build the drink in the glass, shake it up, snap off the glass and strain. Easy.

That’s fine for a pro, but maybe you want a shaker with a lid, and maybe you like the idea of having recipes on the side of it. Fine. You’ll change your mind when you actually try these drinks. With room for just 14 of them, the designers should have covered the essentials. Instead they chose drinks like the Dreamsicle and the Bahama Mama. In all my time working as a bartender, no one has asked for a Bahama Mama. Ever. Unless your home is a tiki bar in the tropics, odds are your guests won’t order one either.

Selection aside, you’d hope that they at least got the recipes right. But anyone who tries these recipes is going to get not only a poorly balanced cocktail, but also a weak one — like the Cosmopolitan that calls for just 1 oz of vodka and an entire ounce of cranberry juice. The average person buying this product probably cares more about getting getting buzzed than becoming a stellar bartender, but with just 1 oz of vodka they’re not even going to accomplish that. They will, however, get plenty of vitamin C.

Finally, there’s the way the recipes are laid out. Each ingredient is set one column apart and one row down from previous one, so you need to dial a drink in and look through the gaps in the outer cylinder to see what goes into it. This isn’t just inconvenient, it’s risky. Wet fingers plus a diagonal row of holes cut into steel is a blood-stained cocktail waiting to happen. And it’s so stupidly unnecessary. If they just arranged the ingredients in vertical rows, the shaker wouldn’t even need the outside cylinder because you could just read down the column to see what goes in each recipe. The whole two-cylinder dial-a-recipe thing is a cave-in to some stupid designer who couldn’t tell a Manhattan from a Martini. There is no functional reason for this at all.

And what did I do? I bought it. Didn’t have a choice. Luckily the outer cylinder snaps off and can be discarded, which I advised my sister to do. I also got her a book of good recipes so she won’t be tempted to try the mixological disasters listed on the side. She’s on her way to successful home bartending, no thanks to Target and other various housewares stores.


Back in The Jungle?

Paul Krugman makes another foray into the food safety issue today. His logic of blaming free market advocates for the failures of a regulatory agency is completely absurd — especially since the regulatory captures he notes in the article are exactly the kinds of things that make libertarians skeptical of government regulation in the first place.

Moreover, it’s not clear that the food safety crisis Krugman writes about has even occurred. News reports about food safety issues are certainly prominent, but according to Alex Tabarrok, the numbers tell a different story. The CDC’s data on foodborne disease outbreaks show a decline from 1998-2006.

Krugman’s previous column on food safety was covered here. Sadly, the intervening year hasn’t made him a better writer.


Paul’s new project

After the New Republic article about the Ron Paul newsletters came out, I worried that the money leftover in his campaign bank fund would go to an objectionable group. Fortunately, Paul is deciding instead to start a new project: The Campaign for Liberty, a fund raising group for libertarian-minded Republican candidates largely excluded from the party’s current ugly turn toward big government. He’ll also be holding a large rally in Minneapolis during the Republican National Convention — though not in the convention, where he and his supporters won’t receive a warm welcome. ABC News has the story.

I haven’t been following the so-called “Ron Paul Republicans” very closely, but this seems like a good use of the money (and one that campaign donors won’t object to). Paul has always been better at raising money than speaking as a candidate, and funneling money to some successful, small government Republicans would be a good direction for the movement he energized last year to take.

[Via Andrew Sullivan.]