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Sustainability in the Wine Industry: Italy and U.S.

Fabio Parasecoli, associate professor and co-chair of the Food Studies Program at The New School,Michele Manelli, president and winemaker of Salcheto Winery, and professor Lorenzo Zanni from the University of Siena presents the Italian Report on Wine Sustainability.

This work was produced by the Italian Forum for Wine Sustainability, a group supported by Unione Italiana Vini and Gambero Rosso, with over 30 members from universities, research centers, certification bodies and associations who are promoting a sustainable wine business model across production and markets. Over 1,000 Italian wineries participated in a survey to accurately access the progression of sustainable winemaking in Italy.

The roundtable discussion on sustainability in the wine industry was moderated by Professor Parasecoli with featured panelists to include Michele Manelli, Dr. Vino blogger Dr. Tyler Colman, and Bruce Schneider from the Gotham Project. They  discussed sustainability issues and challenges within the wine industry in Europe and the U.S., including cultural, macro economic and business practices with a goal of defining best practices.

 

Food in the Circular Economy: A Proposal From the European Union

By Fabio Parasecoli, Associate professor and coordinator of food studies, New School – NYC

From the Huffington Post

Rarely, as in recent months, has the European Union been so unpopular among its citizens. In May 2014, the elections for the European Parliament, its legislative body, saw the success of political parties whose admitted goal is to reduce the meddling of the Union in the daily activities of those living across its 28 Member States. In fact, the EU is often perceived as another layer of wasteful, inefficient, and unbending bureaucracy that weighs on the already weak economic recovery of the continent.

Most Europeans have a clear sense of how much the EU regulations have influenced their food system, from safety to trade, from GMO crops to product traceability. Standardization has been a hotly debated issue. The Slow Food movement lobbied very effectively against a blind application of the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) system, introduced in 1994 to ensure safety in food production. The organization pointed out that not all manufacturers — and especially small, artisanal ones — are well suited to adopt the same criteria as industrial enterprises. On the other hand, Europeans do appreciate interventions in the case of emergencies. The European Food Safety Authority was established as the most appropriate response to guarantee a high level of food safety.

This time, the EU is weighing in on issues of sustainability and waste. On July 2nd, the Commission approved a set of proposals to increase the recycling rate in the Union and facilitate the transition to a “circular economy,” a system where no products go to waste and materials are constantly renewed. In a Q&A memo, the Commission explained: “a circular economy preserves the value added in products for as long as possible and virtually eliminates waste. It retains the resources within the economy when a product has reached the end of its life, so that they remain in productive use and create further value … The circular economy differs from the prevailing linear ‘take-make-consume and dispose’ model, which is based on the assumption that resources are abundant, available and cheap to dispose of.” In this economic model, biological materials should always reenter the biosphere safely, while technological materials should circulate without entering the biosphere at all.

The potential impact of these theories and practices, which systemic design has embraced as its guiding principles, is enormous, including its possible influence on food systems. Some of the Commission’s proposals would have a direct influence on the way food is produced, packaged, distributed, and consumed. By 2030, the Union should reach the goal of recycling 70 percent of municipal waste and 80 per cent of packaging waste (glass, paper, plastic, etc.). From 2025, recyclable and biodegradable waste should not be allowed in landfills, to be eliminated completely within the following five years. A section of the document deals explicitly with food, highlighting record-keeping and traceability as tools to limit hazardous waste, invoking limits on the use of plastic bags, and demanding the restriction of illegal waste shipments.

Furthermore, the Commission proposed that “Member States develop national food-waste prevention strategies and endeavor to ensure that food waste in the manufacturing, retail/distribution, food service/hospitality sectors and households is reduced by at least 30 percent by 2025.” A very tall order which seems to focus mostly on the distribution and consumption side of the food system. The only explicit proposal that would directly affect production is the development of “a policy framework on phosphorus to enhance its recycling, foster innovation, improve market conditions and mainstream its sustainable use in EU legislation on fertilizers, food, water and waste.”

It is unclear to what extent the Commission will be able to bring these propositions to fruition in the present political climate, at a time when Union interventions are often met with suspicion if not outright criticism. The realization of these proposals may be perceived as entailing additional costs to producers and consumers at a time when Europe is recovering from a recession. Moreover, each Member State has a different degree of sensibility towards environmental and food production matters. However, the emergence of circular economic values in the language and perspectives of an important executive body is a feat of relevance in and of itself. It remains to be seen whether the general public, and national governments will embrace these ideas, and what policies will be adopted to make them accessible and understandable

Ten Reflections on Cooking and Writing

by Sean Singer

1. Readers should be producers of the meanings of texts, and not merely consumers of texts. When you cook the food you eat, you feel the food’s creation: subtle changes in textures, flavors, and ratios that were in your control as the maker.

2. The phenomenon of the “celebrity chef” and the “celebrity poet” suggest that we are merely consuming what sustains us, and that we need not participate in its meaning: an expert who exists on a high plane will tell us what we need. Yet, I am not convinced that Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri are good for food culture, and I’m not satisfied by a poem that’s like McDonald’s: sugar, salt, and starch.

3. What if there were no celebrity chefs, and more and better home cooks? What if there was no absurd professionalization of poetry, and more and better readers?

4. I taught myself how to cook about a year ago, though I cannot improvise. I am only skilled enough to follow a recipe. I use Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. Perhaps writing poems and cooking cannot be taught, but can be learned.

5. Food, like poetry, is political. So-called food deserts in poor, urban neighborhoods have almost no fresh food or vegetables, and too much fast food. Diabetes and asthma are epidemic. We know that, like poetry, there is oral transmission of recipes and those scraps that have been written down. When Elaine found the Soup Nazi’s recipes in her armoire, his genius was available to everyone. Sometimes this transmission is one of memory. For example, in Newark, there is one remaining Jewish deli, Hobby’s, on Branford and Halsey. I still crave the mustard-slathered rye and the pickled tomatoes. There are almost no Jewish people living in Newark. Each slice of pastrami reminds the diner of a lost city, one that exists only in the palace of memory.

6. Neruda’s ode spoke of the artichoke’s “warrior heart.” There is an element of fantasy and fiction associated with food: this is why restaurants are all about entertainment. The counter at Sushi of Gari on Columbus Avenue is not just about his artful jewels of omakase. The theatre of the experience consists of watching Gari make each delicate morsel: squid, ume, plum, shiso.

7. Is it moral to spend, say $300, on dinner for two? Or is a meal at a restaurant indistinguishable from other forms of entertainment? Is it moral to spend one’s life writing poems that perhaps 300 people will read, risking living in poverty and eating cereal for dinner? We know that few get the food and literature they deserve. Many live in poetry deserts without a fresh poem in sight for miles. They have never read anything not assigned to them, probably in high school.

8. If you can cook well, you can pay attention to detail; know which flavors work together and what the effect on the tongue will be. I don’t have any information on whether chefs are literate, but if you can write, you know which words work together and what the effect on the ear will be.

9. I read that James Merrill would give people a dozen eggs as gifts—with a line of poetry on each egg. Neruda described the salt mines as a “mountain of buried light,translucent cathedral, crystal of the sea, oblivion of the waves.”

10. If I could either cook well or write well, I would write well. Cooking is too time-consuming and the result is eaten in moments. Writing takes longer than cooking, but can be consumed over time, more than once. I once wrote that flamingo tongues were a delicacy at Roman feasts: so much of culture is not contained in our literature, but in what people ate. These are lost to the caverns of memory, the way the edge of the egg crisps in the pan, from translucent to brown to black. It is no longer the vehicle for new life; its energy is transferred from the ground to the grass to the chicken to the egg, and to the person sitting at the counter on Columbus Avenue.

 

Each month a contemporary poet presents three poems and one personal essay in which food is consumed, passed over, or reckoned with. Sean is our poet for May, 2014.

Sean Singer was born in Mexico in 1974. His first book Discography won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. His second book, Honey & Smoke, is forthcoming from Eyewear Publishing in 2015.

 

 

TIE Poet of the Month: Sean Singer

Red Beans and Ricely Yours

Louis Armstrong thin sliced hog’s head
cheese, souse, and horseradish, slices
of pickles—with his sisters—and the thin

tomato. Juicy cold the gravy burns
into the lull of the earth. It is Louis,

a dozen large raw oysters, and French
bread with the muff of crumbs

whipped with grits fried in butter
into squares, the veal of his head

peeking gut bucket. Don’t throw
away the vegetable pulp

it makes for an excellent
Creole omelette. Louis not lean
plump as claw meat, chopped with shallots

Yes I’m the Barrel stuffed filé
raw shrimp in a dark roux
arrived at giddy fire andouille

he fades into the smoke
celery-color fluffy as an oyster
till they curl, parsley and green onions

It is ham fat and thyme with bay
leaves flopped by the bay a carcass

dark and light, flurry of brass
and Harlem sets of livers and gizzards

She loves my baked chicken
corn bread dressing whole eggplants—
“Louisiana caviar.” She said ride my hips

Stirring constantly prevent scorching
Fiery skillet of daube glace Lil I love you

 

Each month a contemporary poet presents three poems and one personal essay in which food is consumed, passed over, or reckoned with. Sean is our poet for May, 2014.

Sean Singer was born in Mexico in 1974. His first book Discography won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. His second book, Honey & Smoke, is forthcoming from Eyewear Publishing in 2015.

 

Cracking Crabs

by Tolly Wright

“Are you moving home?” This is the question I hear on a daily basis, now that I am graduating from college. I scoff at these curious acquaintances; I’ve been living New York for five years, I have friends and a job here, the Big Apple is my home. Still, I have to admit, Baltimore does sound a bit tempting.

My friends who have moved back to Charm City have found careers (not just “jobs”), have beautiful apartments (under $2000 a month), and enjoy $3 beers on the regular. Their obsession with the Ravens and the Orioles are not seen as a novelty. They are not fazed when they run into John Waters in local establishments. Yet, one major fear stops me from truly considering moving home and it’s not the notoriously high crime rate. I don’t know how to eat blue crabs.

I take a great deal of pride in being from Baltimore. My mother and father are Baltimoreans, as were their parents, and their parent’s parents. In fact, since leaving Europe, none of my ancestors, on either side, have been born anywhere but in the state of Maryland and within a close distance of the Chesapeake Bay. On my mother’s side this tradition dates back to the eighteenth century. She was born in the same Baltimore zip code she still lives in today. My father gets disgruntled anytime he is asked to travel outside the Baltimore beltway. The black and yellow-checkered city flag might as well have been stamped on my head at birth.

All this is to say, I should know the secrets to cracking crabs.

For all of the bad things Baltimore is known for—drugs, corruption, gang violence, STDS and more—blue crabs have continued to be our bright unifying beacon. We not only have access to one of the freshest supplies of the crustacean, but we also know how to cook them. No party is complete without an appetizer of crab dip or crabby melts and no restaurant goes without at least a crab cake on their menu. Any summer celebration involves a feast of steamed crabs served with our city’s favorite watered down cheap beer, National Bohemian, or as we know it Natty Boh.

I suppose I do know how to pick apart a steamed crab. I know that first I must pull off each of the legs and claws at the knuckle (the joint where the leg meets the body), pull the meat off with my teeth, and finger any remainders in the shell. Second, I take a hammer to the claws to crack open the shell, peel it off and get the most delicious juicy meat. Third, to get to the body’s contents I must shove a knife into the chink of the Crab’s armor—the thin point on top of the “apron” (the crab’s white underbelly). Once the shell is off, I remove the gills (lungs), the mustard (hepatopancreas) that many Baltimore natives will tell you is delicious (they’re lying), break the body in two, and eat all the good stuff. I can follow these steps to a science, but I’m as slow doing it as a yokel from the Midwest who’s never even seen the bay and certainly can’t define the words “brackish” or “estuary.”

I’d love to be able to blame my family for my deficiency, but it is not their fault I avoided this important practical lesson. As a child I refused to eat crabs cooked anyway. When my family went to crab shacks my mother would give me a dinner of buttered noodles or chicken nuggets before we left the house. My sisters and family friends attempted to teach me how to crack crabs, but when I touched the brown clumps of Old Bay spice that coated the food, I demand that I wash my hands. I’d claim the seasoning—a product of the Maryland spice company McCormick—had gotten into my hangnails and that it burned my delicate skin. Sometimes this was true, but usually I was lying through my teeth.

When I got to high school and finally started eating crabs it was almost always dishes with lump meat—crab cakes, crab imperial, crab casserole, crab Normandy. I occasionally ordered crab claws at restaurants, and became an expert at opening those, but anybody can do that—it takes no art. It wasn’t until after my senior year and with a slew of crab feast graduation parties to attend that I realized how insufficient my knowledge of crap cracking really was.

I was too embarrassed to ask my friends for help. I tried to learn how to open them by observing others, but Chris, my high school boyfriend—who was not even from Baltimore, but instead had moved to there from Canada—was so quick that I couldn’t keep up. Instead I opened the crab by using the memories of my family do it a hundred times before. It was a frustrating and slow task and when Chris wasn’t looking I pinched clumps off of the mounds of meat he collected. He eventually turned around, saw my carcasses, and grew exasperated by the amount of meat I was leaving in the crevices of the shell. While he dug out the remainders, I grabbed the claws from the crabs in front of him and ate my fill.

Now, with no kind-hearted boyfriend to take advantage of, I am weary of attending a Baltimore crab feast. Surely if I moved back to Mobtown, I would eventually be invited to a crab shack. What if I can’t do it? Would my menial skills mean I get less food than the all the others? Worse yet, would the other 20-somethings, many of whom could be transplants, mistake me for a non-Baltimorean?

Instead of facing that shame, I’m better off staying in New York where steamed crabs are too rare and too expensive on a young artist’s budget, and most of my friends can’t even tell the difference between girl and boy blue crabs. Here I can safely brag that I can open a crab faster than them. If I can’t, how will they know?

 

Tolly Wright is passionate about pop culture, Elizabethan culture, and the strange culture of her motherland, the city of Baltimore.  Her writing can be found in Time Out New York, The Villager, and other publications. Sometimes she remembers to tweet @tollyw.

Starling

by Karen Resta

I once ate a starling.
-it tasted nothing like stars.

it tasted like hard muddy yard with rough grass and rocky garden
(married with  quiet conviction)
(while not being fully convinced)
to the box of vinyl-sided house, its rooms too small for real-sized people
in that working-class town.

like dirt, hard, with little granite stones for flavor
seasoned with bright green lawn grass

it’s a lot of work to
capture\
kill\
pluck\
eviscerate\
clean\
season\
cook\
a starling.

ignore if you will the delicate wings,
the goldenrod beak
the sharp warrior sword of tail
discard the grasping horned feet
just do the work
for the miniscule mouthful
of tough gamy meat

and there you’ll have it.
A starling for supper, and
an old woman with steady eyes
carefully watching the birdtrap she’s set
there in her yard

a woman who remembers a farm in Italy
now teaching me her childhood ways of
hunger
and appeasement.
trusting me now with birds who sing,
little birds who can be eaten.

Karen’s work is at the Best American Poetry Blog, The Christian Science Monitor, Red Rose Review, eGullet,  Serious Eats, One Million Stories, and the danforth review. Herblog ‘Postcards From the Dinner Table’, has over 1600 facebook fans and her blog ‘foodgeekology’ harbors a large collection of food art, history, and culture.

TIE Poet of the Month: Sean Singer

Eating in Silence

Anger is a pulse whose clattering
is inside the glass heart and the grey cathedral.

Slice the peach through the plush mantle
into the wiry devil’s den. It is her splendor.

The woman next to me won’t sleep with me
and the woman I want is in Romania.

The Danube’s blue architecture haunts
the bears’ dreams; they dream of blueberries.

Do not resist the rage; instead, face into
its burled finials and artichoke fringes.

Food rests through the taste buds,
where it wakes to the thunder of collapsed ideas.

Hunger, that unwanted weather, soaks
the outer fabric but leaves the skin dry as a pelt.

I reach into the fog to touch your shoulder—
the blade and its rose whispers cut the air.

The riddle does not exist…
See the solution in the vanishing of the problem.
 
Crusty bread, the consonant between vowels
of butter, coaxed among cloud cover of a spring day.

No one can guess the time from the raisin-colored light.
He drones like hot magic. She is cradled by night root ground.

Tongue against reed, dear constancy, tongue against tongue.
Romania is a distant place, powdered with snow and the lost name.

 

Each month a contemporary poet presents three poems and one personal essay in which food is consumed, passed over, or reckoned with. Sean is our poet for May, 2014.

Sean Singer was born in Mexico in 1974. His first book Discography won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. His second book, Honey & Smoke, is forthcoming from Eyewear Publishing in 2015.

TIE Poet of the Month: Sean Singer

Gin & Sonnet

1 part gin. 1 part vermouth. 1 part Campari.

It is the bitterest dream. We announce
Ourselves down sluice rush and sip pine needles
Through an orange sieve. Take my arm through
The vista of red drapery where red
Chairs get us there through candlelight. An ounce
Of snowfall as the glass empties a riddle:
Whether life be sweet, or bitter, we do
Our best to enjoy the sipping from bed
To bed. Drink up the sap from a tree’s bones.
It’s rainwater doused with vanilla, clove,
Anise and the rose of orange. This one
Woos me out the room, sucks into love.

 

Each month a contemporary poet presents three poems and one personal essay in which food is consumed, passed over, or reckoned with. Sean is our poet for May, 2014.

 

Sean Singer was born in Mexico in 1974. His first book Discography won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. His second book, Honey & Smoke, is forthcoming from Eyewear Publishing in 2015.

Looking

by Craig Morgan Teicher

I look to prove what I already believe, that each thing my eyes touch with their light is something they have touched already, whose grain or smoothness, whose rippling or cloudy uncertainty is another example, an iteration of the facts I’ve been able to gather. It’s not that I know everything, or that I will, but, mostly, my eyes tell me I know now most of what I’ll have time to find out.

Yet eyes can’t verify anything, most susceptible of all the senses, least beholden to what can be had firsthand, as it were. Everything is seen at a distance; distance is the prerequisite, the very mode, the means of sight.

In this way everyone looks into the future, though its foolish to count on arriving at exactly what one has seen, even if only a few steps away: time changes everything, nothing is as it appears, and everything appears somewhat before it is.

The fingers and tongue apprehend facts, textures against their own roughness; ears always report truly, though memory distorts the sound; and who would deny the concrete mystery of the nose, which maybe has the nearest claim to the truth, the pipeline to and from the heart. But eyes, at best, seek illusions, the fenceposts drawing their lines right up to heaven, and we are too eager to believe in beauty, too afraid not to name ugliness at first sight.

 

Each month a contemporary poet presents three poems and one personal essay in which food is consumed, passed over, or reckoned with.  Craig is our poet for April, 2014.  

Craig Morgan Teicher is the author of three books, most recently To Keep Love Blurry, and the chapbook Ambivalence and Other Conundrums. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and children.