If a $50 bag of groceries gives you sticker shock, wait until you hear what Bonnie Lane Webber says about the actual cost of raising and transporting the food that ends up in your refrigerator every few days.
The way the part-time Rumson resident sees it, if the hidden costs of pesticide and herbicide impacts, soil decimation and ozone depletion werent dispersed across societyor deferred to future generationsyoud be ringing up charges totaling thousands of dollars every time you visited the supermarket.
That pound of steak you pay $10 for now? That would cost you $815. The tomato on your salad? Well, if its not of local origin, that little baby not only won’t taste as good as a Jersey, but it might cost $374. A typical load of groceries could set you back $32,000.
Try using your FoodTown bonus points to trim that bill.
Webber acknowledges that there’s a lot of poetic license” in the figures, which aren’t derived from any particular study. But they’re meant to get consumers thinking beyond the health issues that usually frame the debate over modern versus organic farming techniques, and to focus attention on the pocketbook as well.
‘Sue from Fair Haven’ lassoed last week’s ‘Where,’ which turned out to be a bucking bronc that threw a number of readers.
The idyllic image of cows and other livestock in a pasture is from a mural painted on the side of What’s Your Beef restaurant on River Road in Rumson.
“Nice mural, though I don’t necessarily need to be reminded of where my meal comes from right before I eat,” Sue writes. “I also steer (no pun intended) away from restaurants with big steer on the rooftops or comical chickens in their ads.”
We see your point, Sue. But how do you feel about Charlie the Tuna? See, he wanted to get caught by StarKist, but StarKist wasn’t looking for a hepcat tuna with good taste; they wanted tuna that tasted good. So he was a symbol for what you wouldn’t find in a can of StarKist…
Anyway. Recognize this week’s entry? E-mail your answers, please.
A Trenton lawmaker is proposing a ban on foie gras, the cracker-meat that comes from, well, read for yourself, from the story in the Atlantic City Press:
“To produce the delicacy, poultry farmers force-feed ducks or geese through metal tubes pushed down the birds’ throats, so the birds’ livers expand to several times the normal size.
The result is a duck or goose liver with a rich, buttery taste.”
That’s just “cruel and barbaric,” says Assemblywoman Joan Voss, D-Bergen. To intentionally induce pain and suffering on these birds just to create a gourmet appetizer is appalling.”
As is often the case, of course, there’s someone to claim a purported commercial interest that should trump any concerns about barbarity. Ariane Daguin, who owns D’Artagnan, a national foie gras distributor based in Newark, tells the Press that prohibiting Garden State farmers from producing foie gras will put them at a competitive disadvantage against other states.
But the Press notes that:
No foie gras farms currently exist in the state. In fact only three such farms operate in the U.S., one in California and two in upstate New York.
Well, that takes care of that non-issue.
Still, D’Artagnan defends the practice of force-feeding ducks and geese as something they tolerate well, and wants to deflect attention to the way other fowl are treated. Go see how chickens are being raised, Daguin said. It’s terrifying. It’s bad. It’s cruel.
Why, yes, we see your point, Ariane! Let’s start force-feeding chickens, too! It’s the only humane thing to do!
Chicago recently banned the sale of foie-gras, and a California ban will become effective in 2012. Worldwide, 16 countries prohibit the production and/or sale of foie gras, according to a spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
First, if you want to eatand you probably willitll cost you $35. The food promises to be terrific, and the money goes to a worthy organization.
But if you cant swing the $35, or have other gustatory plans, dont let the price of a food-access wristband keep you away. Because the main event is a free jazz concert. And this should be one hell of a show.
In fact, it may prove historic. It’s the kind of event that has real potential to boost Red Banks national and even international profile.
Eight years ago, when the Red Bank Farmers’ Market opened in the Galleria parking lot, it had only two vendors.
Today, there are 30, and every week more merchants ask to be let in, some hoping to hawk goods that have nothing to do with the market’s self-defined mission: to promote locally-grown produce. “I had a guy come here once wanting to sell rain gutters,” says Jim Sourlis, who manages the market. “He was so insistent, I had to call the police to get rid of him.”
The gutter guy probably couldn’t have cared less about the origins of the market, where the corn and tomatoes come from, or the feeling of community that springs to life on the blacktop here every Sunday in the summer. But Sourlis, whose family owns the Galleria mall, does. He says the market came into being to help support small farmers, who get first consideration in terms of space allotment. That’s what Jim’s mother, Elaine Sourlis, intended when she dreamed the place up, he says. (Elaine was vacationing in Europe until recently and was unavailable for an interview.)
“We pride ourselves on being a farmers’ market first,” Sourlis says. “The number-one thing is New Jersey farmers. It has to be from here.”
In addition to its weekly crop of vegetable and flower growers, the market features purveyors of honey, organic foods, fresh eggs, handcrafted jewelry, ravioli, a chiropractor, Lithuanian baked goods, stained-glass mobiles, tea, soap, frozen treats and hurly-burly paintings.
‘To roam the two narrow aisles of Johnnys Jazz Market for the first time is to wonder what in hell kind of phantasmagoria one has wandered into. This may be the only grocery store in the world that, simply by walking in, you get an unimpeded view into the head of its proprietor. Except that Johnny Jazz would tell you that its the contents of his heart, not his cranium, that are on display.
Steve Bidgood, a co-owner of the Salt Creek Grille in Rumson, is featured in a story about gastric bypass surgery in today’s Asbury Park Press.
Gastic bypass operations shrink the stomach to the size of a golf ball and re-route the digestive plumbing. Two years after the minimally-invasive gastric bypass procedure Bidgood opted for, which included the insertion of an adjustable cinch around his stomach, he’s close to 200 pounds under his pre-surgical weight of 422 pounds.
Press writer Michael Riley notes that weight-loss surgery is only for the morbidly obese, carries serious risks, and requires psychological screening to determine if a patient is up for the lifestyle changes that the surgery demands. Riley also cites data on the long-term effectiveness of the operations.
The American Society of Bariatric Surgery (ASBS) says weight loss usually reaches a maximum between 18 and 24 months postoperatively. But what about the ability to keep the weight off?
The ASBS states the after five years the loss of the excess weight ranged from 48 to 74 percent for gastric bypass and from 50 to 60 percent for banding procedures. What that means, according to [Dr. Frank Borao, of Monmouth Medical Center], is that on average, a patient who needs to lose 100 pounds will have lost anywhere from 50 to 75 pounds…
In a study of more than 600 patients following gastric bypass, the amount of excess weight loss still still exceeds 50 percent at 14 years.
Bidgood tells the Press that he used to be on his feet all day, in pain, popping up to 10 Aleve a day. He’s got no regrets about the surgery. “I see the operation as a tool to help me maintain this lifestyle change,” he told Riley.
Today’s Star-Ledger has an eight-page pullout guide to Red Bank in its “Ticket” section, and a more extensive version at its website.
The section doesn’t aim for depth (thus we’re reminded, repeatedly, that 20 years ago the town was known as “Dead Bank”). But it does have overviews of the arts, dining, nightlife and shopping scenes that visitors will find helpful.
Noteworthy is an interactive map that shows the locations of art galleries, restaurants and other attractions. Kudos to the Ledger for making the map so big and for encompassing everything from Two If By Sea and The Little Kraut on the West Side to Design Front on the east. (Rok+Lola, just few doors east of Design Front, may have a differing opinion.)
The package also includes a terrific slideshow of pictures by staff photographer Aristide Economopoulos. They’re not included the dead-trees version.
Admit it: There was a time, maybe not so long ago, when someone would bring up the subject of organic food and youd start looking around for the nearest exit. Not because you think there’s anything wrong with getting pesticides and other horrors out of our food stream, but because of the mix of moral superiority and harmony-of-the-spheres loopiness that often serves as the verbal packing for such good-sense ideas.
Its hard enough being reminded of your bad dietary choices, especially when the person doing the reminding is a weird-beard or earth mother who tells you that his or her VW bus runs on your French-fry grease. But when the purported benefits of free-range chicken or meatless diets start ranging out beyond the travel limits of the Space Shuttle to the distant galaxies of the universe, you may be tempted to speed-dial Cluck U for a bucket of wings as you as you tear home in your SUV.
Given the millions of Americans who have begun to rethink what goes onto their foods and into the earth, the stereotype of the vegan proselytizer is probably no longer operative. Still, the organic-Prius-herbal-holistic crowd might benefit from a wholesale image makeover, one that replaces some lingering out-there-isms with simple pragmatism.
In that sense, Marcia Blackwell is a compelling ambassador of sorts for the organics movement.
It took five-plus hours, and the end result was more shriveled than shirred. But yesterday was hot enough to cook an egg on a dashboard, as redbankgreen‘s adventurous crew proved in a Saturn station wagon.
Ten quick questions for Gail Mayr of Lenas Bagels and Deli, 441 Broad Street, Shrewsbury.
We understand youre quite well-traveled on the local bagel circuit. So where have you worked?
I started at the Bagel Station on Monmouth Street, where I worked for 11 years. Then I was at the Windward Deli, on Maple Avenue for four years. I went to Grandmas Bagels in Little Silver, but it changed hands, and it just wasnt for me. I worked there about eight months. Ive been at Lenas about four months now. Ive known Lena (Maddalena Caruso) for probably 30 years, and she kept asking me to come work with her, but I wasnt too sure about working for a friend. But then I figured, if Im gonna bust my butt, it might as well be for somebody I like.
Have you had other food-industry jobs?
Oh god, yeah! I worked at the Willow Deli in Little Silver; I was there for nine years. Then the owners started the Cherry Street Deli (in Tinton Falls) and they asked me to help start that up, so I was there for a little while. Then I got TMJ and couldnt work for a year, and after that, they were starting a Doms Deli in Fair Haven, and so I went there for a while. When that got a little slow, I went to the Bagel Station. Actually, it was the Bagel Deli part I worked in.
Why so many stops along the deli & bagel trail?
You know, its the funniest thing. I was at the Bagel Deli for 11 years, and Im really more of a deli personDominick Melicia and his wife, Joan, taught me everything I knowcatering, lunches, everything. But Ive baked bagelsI used to do it one day a week at the Bagel Station. I can do everything with bagels except hand-rolling. It looks easy, but it takes a knack. Anybody can do it, but the bagels have to be uniform in size, and thats hard to do.
Whats the most important step in making bagels?
The most important step is proofing the bagel. After they roll the bagels, the dough is at room temperature. You put a vinyl cover over the bagels and the heat from the dough makes it proof. If theyre not proofed theyre going to come out very small and almost hard.
What is it about bagels that people love so much?
Well, in the 80s, the bagels were very big. They just really caught on, because there was no sugar in themthey used malt. That went on for I betcha eight years. But now all of a sudden its wraps. People dont come in and buy dozens of bagels anymore. Really. People would come in, buy a dozen, two dozen, cream cheese, butter and take them to the office. People dont do that anymore.
So do customers follow you from one store to another?
Oh my god, yeah. OHMYGOD! I FOUND YOU! You know what it is? I was at the Bagel Station for so long, and people knew that I wouldnt sell them anything that I thought was bad. If I wouldnt eat it myself, I wouldnt sell it to you. Thats another thing that Dominck taught me. He said, If you want a thriving business, you never sell anything you wouldnt eat yourself. Plus, Im very friendly. I always remember peoples names, ask about their families. I must have that kind of face people confide in. Sometimes, you get a new customer whos just nasty, and I pour it on being nice, and the next time they come in, youd think I was their best friend in the world.
When you say ‘things I wouldn’t eat,’ you’re not talking about things that are just a matter of preference, I presume.
When I worked for (IDENTITY OF A FORMER EMPLOYER WITHHELD TO KEEP redbankgreen FROM GETTING SUED INTO OBLIVION), if he thought something was bad, hed tell you to just wash it off. Somebody would ask for egg salad, and if I knew it was sitting there for two days, Id say, No, you dont want that. So that was their clue.
Whats your favorite bagel?
My favorite bagel is the everything bagel, with butter. Im not a cream cheese person.
Whats your least favorite?
Cinnamon raisin. I just dont know what it isI dont like it.
Which is more important to human happiness, bagels or comfortable shoes?
Oh, jeez. Human happiness? Im going to have to say the shoes.
We’re not sure what to make of the responses to last week’s WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS, mainly because, well, there weren’t any. Not a one.
So does that mean we totally stumped everyone, even the dueling Steins, Dayna & Larry, winners of the first two WHERE contests? Has a strain of summer-onset lethargy taken hold of our readers? Has the Stein domination of the game intimidated potential challengers? Is everyone waiting for a tangible prize to be introduced, like an I WON AT WHERE t-shirt? We await your comments.
Meanwhile, undaunted, we WHERE on. Please send your answers to this week’s contest to us by e-mail, not the comment function, to help us maintain whatever scintilla of suspense this exercise may generate.
And, drum roll… last week’s image, showing a concrete pillar with the words ‘Monmouth Terrace’ embedded in bronze, is located on Spring Street, right at the point where it meets Branch Avenue, in Red Bank LITTLE SILVER. (Corrected June 23. Thanks to Alicia for pointing out the error.)
Ten quick questions for Chef Kevin Lynch, executive chef and manager of the cheese, dairy and bakery departments at Sickles Market, Little Silver.
Are you a foodie? Yes.
Which is more important, quality food or comfortable shoes? Tough question. You gotta remember that chefs are on their feet a lot. But Im going with food.
Whats your earliest food memory? Having my grandfather come down from Jersey City and give me and my brother $100 to go to Leroys Fish Market on Route 36 in Middletown. He’d have us buy shrimp, crabs, lobster tails and a smoked eel. He liked smoked eelevery Christmas wed give him one with a bow on it. This was around 1970, when I was 10. A hundred dollars was a lot of money back then.
Who was the biggest influence on your life, foodwise? My mother. She would cook something different every weekshe always liked to look at recipes. Id always make the salad when I was a kid.
What was your first cookbook? I think it was Betty Crocker. My mother still has it.
Whats your favorite cooking show on TV? I liked the PBS series, The Great Chefs, because I thought that was very knowledgeableit got into the nuts and bolts of it. Currently, I watch Behind the Scenes and Best Of, but once in a while for laughs I’ll watch Emeril, or sometimes, Rachel Ray. Sara Moultons show I like too. Shes the executive chef for Gourmet magazine.
Whats one ingredient you couldnt live without? Garlic!
Have you had formal training? No. I went to school for computer science down at Stockton College, and became kitchen manager and then chef at the Smithville Inn.
Whats the one junk food you cant say no to? Pretzels.
Where do you go when you eat out? Indigo Moon in Atlantic Highlands. I know the chef there, and the owner, Janet, used to work with me at Readies Fine Foods in Red Bank.