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Michael Twitty – African-American Food Historian

I have written about Michael Twitty before, and his explorations into African-American slave cuisine, and how it impacted what Americans eat, even today.

He has written a new book about the road he travelled – The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South

Michael now works in Colonial Williamsburg, where the demonstrates not only the cuisine, but the methodology the slaves used to raise and prepare it.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2017 in Black History

 

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Chumph’s Racism Destroying Agriculture

So…What happens if the Chumph gets his wish to deport all illegal aliens in this country…

The Agricultural industry in the US collapses.

Despite incessant whining by the white right snowflakes of flyover country…There just aren’t going to be any white folks out there picking cotton as long as they can get a welfare check, Even if you raise the pay to be competitive with other work.

Tell me again “who” is exactly unwilling to work for a living?

Wages rise on California farms. Americans still don’t want the job

Trump’s immigration crackdown is supposed to help U.S. citizens. For California farmers, it’s worsening a desperate labor shortage.

Arnulfo Solorio’s desperate mission to recruit farmworkers for the Napa Valley took him far from the pastoral vineyards to a raggedy parking lot in Stockton, in the heart of the Central Valley.

Carrying a fat stack of business cards for his company, Silverado Farming, Solorio approached one prospect, a man with only his bottom set of teeth. He told Solorio that farm work in Stockton pays $11 to $12 an hour. Solorio countered: “Look, we are paying $14.50 now, but we are going up to $16.” The man nodded skeptically.

Solorio moved on to two men huddled nearby, and returned quickly. “They were drug addicts,” he said. “And, they didn’t have a car.”

Before the day was through, Solorio would make the same pitch to dozens of men and women, approaching a taco truck, a restaurant and a homeless encampment. Time was short: He needed to find 100 workers to fill his ranks by April 1, when grapevines begin to grow and need constant attention.

Solorio is one of a growing number of agricultural businessmen who say they face an urgent shortage of workers. The flow of labor began drying up when President Obama tightened the border. Now President Trump is promising to deport more people, raid more companies and build a wall on the southern border.

That has made California farms a proving ground for the Trump team’s theory that by cutting off the flow of immigrants they will free up more jobs for American-born workers and push up their wages.

So far, the results aren’t encouraging for farmers or domestic workers.

Farmers are being forced to make difficult choices about whether to abandon some of the state’s hallmark fruits and vegetables, move operations abroad, import workers under a special visa or replace them altogether with machines.

Growers who can afford it have already begun raising worker pay well beyond minimum wage. Wages for crop production in California increased by 13% from 2010 to 2015, twice as fast as average pay in the state, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Today, farmworkers in the state earn about $30,000 a year if they work full time — about half the overall average pay in California. Most work fewer hours.

Some farmers are even giving laborers benefits normally reserved for white-collar professionals, like 401(k) plans, health insurance, subsidized housing and profit-sharing bonuses. Full-timers at Silverado Farming, for example, get most of those sweeteners, plus 10 paid vacation days, eight paid holidays, and can earn their hourly rate to take English classes.

But the raises and new perks have not tempted native-born Americans to leave their day jobs for the fields. Nine in 10 agriculture workers in California are still foreign born, and more than half are undocumented, according to a federal survey.

Instead, companies growing high-value crops, like Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in Napa, are luring employees from fields in places like Stockton that produce cheaper wine grapes or less profitable fruits and vegetables.

Growers who can’t raise wages are losing their employees and dealing with it by mechanizing, downsizing or switching to less labor-intensive crops.

Jeff Klein is doing all of the above. Last year Klein, a fourth-generation Stockton farmer, ran a mental ledger, trying to sort out the pros and cons of persevering in the wine business or quitting. He couldn’t make the math work.

Wineries pay Klein a tiny fraction of what they pony up for the same grape variety grown in Napa, and the rising cost of labor meant he was losing money on his vineyards. So in October, Klein decided to rip out 113,000 Chardonnay grapevines that once blanketed land his family has owned for decades. Now they lay heaped into hundreds of piles, waiting to be taken to the dump.

“I try to make any decision I make not emotional. When you’re running a business, it has to be a financial decision,” he says, sifting through the mangled metal posts.

Five years ago, Klein had a crew of 100 workers pruning, tying and suckering his grapevines. Wineries paid $700 for a ton of grapes, and Klein could make a solid profit paying $8 an hour, the minimum wage.

Last year he could barely get together 45 laborers, and his grapes sold for only $350 per ton. Klein knew his vines were done for when California passed laws raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2023 and requiring overtime for field laborers.

“There’s not enough guys, and everybody is fighting for everybody else’s guys,” he says. “In Napa and Sonoma, they’re getting $2,000 a ton [for grapes]. So, those guys can afford to pay $15. For me, I’m just trying to break even.”

Although Trump earned Klein’s vote, he worries that recent executive orders ratcheting up deportation plans and calling for a wall are putting a chokehold on an already tight pool of workers.

“That’s killing our labor force,” says the 35-year-old grower.

Already, fewer Mexicans had been willing to risk border crossings as security and deportations escalated under the Obama Administration. At the same time, Mexico’s own economy was mushrooming, offering decent jobs for people who stayed behind.

With the grapevines he has left, Klein is doing what he can to pare his crews. Last year, he bought a leaf puller for $50,000, which turns the delicate process of culling grapevine canopies into an exercise in brute force. The puller hooks onto a tractor and, like an oddly shaped vacuum cleaner, sucks leaves from grapevines.

He used to spend $100 an acre culling the canopies, which allows the right amount of sunlight to hit the grapes and turn them into sugar balls. Now, he says, “It will cost me 20 bucks, and I can get rid of some labor.”

Klein says he’ll spend the next five years replacing his 1,000 acres of grapevines with almond and olive trees, which require a fraction of the human contact to grow.

About 80 miles west in Napa, growers aren’t facing quite the same challenge. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in Napa go for nearly $6,900 per ton, 10 times more than in San Joaquin County.

Image result for farm worker pay by county california

Read the Rest Here…

 

Image result for tomato field eastern shore va

Here in Virginia, this is one of my neighbor’s Tomato Fields. This one is run by a major company, and the crop can wind up in anything from your Marinara and Spaghetti Sauces under a major label, to canned tomatoes, depending on what they plant. There are about 300,000 to 3 million plants out there on this field (of which the photo is only of a small part). All of these tomatoes are picked by hand by immigrant labor. Teams of hundreds go out to pick the crop, twice, before the plants are killed, and a second crop is planted. Typically they get two crops a year in Spring to fall. If the Chumph deports these workers…There ain’t gonna be any Mamma Ragu anymore.

Image result for picking tomato field eastern shore va

 

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Where’s The Cheese?

One of he things the Bushit Administration and Republican Congress did was to cut FDA funding for food inspection and food safety. The country has been paying for that with massive salmonella outbreaks and food fraud ever since. Next time you have a Pizza, and what you sprinkle on top tastes like sawdust…

(was?) Made out of the same stuff particle board and Trex wood decking is made from…

FDA Says ‘Parmesan’ Cheese Might Actually Be Cheddar or Wood Pulp

Add Parmesan to the list of foods that come with more than you bargained for: The FDAwarns Parmesan fraud has become a serious problem for American consumers. Tests show products described as “100 percent Parmesan” routinely have cut-rate substitutes — like wood pulp, and cheaper cheeses such as cheddar, Swiss, and mozzarella.

As part of its new leaf, the agency hasstepped up prosecuting industry offenders, and right now it’s in the middle of a criminal case against Castle Cheese, once a top supplier to the big grocery chains, for selling “Parmesan” products that would give old-world cheese-makers in Parma a coronary. Per the FDA, Castle made shoddy cheeses for almost 30 years, and supplied the Market Pantry brand at Target and two others for Associated Wholesale, the nation’s second-largest retail wholesaler, all of which contained “no Parmesan cheese” despite claiming on their labels to be 100 percent.

Castle is the FDA’s highest-profile case of Parmesan-maker-gone-awry — its president is supposed to plead guilty this month to charges that could mean a year in prison and a $100,000 fine, and Bloomberg notes its scam cheeses made money hand over fist, enough to adorn the factory “with crenelated battlements and curved archways” so it looked like “a medieval castle.” But while the company actually filed for bankruptcy in 2014 after a fired factory worker ratted the company out to the FDA, people in the industry still say packs of grated Parm are full of fraud: One cheese-maker fighting for stricter labeling laws says 40 percent of what’s out there isn’t even a cheese product, and a Dairy Farmers of America subsidiary claims its tests showed only one-third of labels are accurate.

Bloomberg also ran some lab tests on brands of “100 percent” grated Parmesan to see how much cellulose, the main ingredient in paper, they contained. The results were disconcerting:

Essential Everyday 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, from Jewel-Osco, was 8.8 percent cellulose, while Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Great Value 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese registered 7.8 percent, according to test results. Whole Foods 365 brand didn’t list cellulose as an ingredient on the label, but still tested at 0.3 percent. Kraft had 3.8 percent.

Spokespeople for Kraft Heinz, Walmart, Jewel-Osco, Target, and Whole Foods each questioned Bloomberg‘s findings, but they assured reporters their companies were most definitely “investigating” or at least “looking into” this matter.

 

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2016 in Domestic terrorism, General, Stupid Republican Tricks

 

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Re Re and Ms Patti Battle of the Pumpkin Pies

Things are getting ready to get deliciously interesting here as Aretha Franklin enters into the food market that Patti La belle has done very well in. Now, Ms Patti is getting a lot of accolades for her pies sold through Walmart – but her Barbeque sauce will titillate your tongue and get your toes wriggling!

I hungrily look forward to this competition…

Aretha Franklin: ‘Ms. Patti Is Gonna Have To Move That Pie To The Side!’

It appears Aretha Franklin wants a piece of Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pie success. Well, sort of.

During an interview with Detroit’s WDIV Local 4 news on Wednesday, Franklin was asked by a correspondent if she tried LaBelle’s popular Wal-Mart sweet potato pie.

“No, I haven’t, but Ms. Patti’s gonna have to move that pie to the side,” Franklin said before sharing that she is currently working with a Phoenix-based food group to launch her very own line of food products.

The Queen of Soul says her line of products will include chili, gumbo and baked chicken.

Franklin’s forthcoming food venture will add to the pair’s alleged rivalry, which made headlines in 2014 following a rumored fist fight between the two in Atlanta. Despite the reports, Franklin later dismissed the encounter in a statement to USA Today.

“I’ve never heard anything crazier — regarding myself and Patti allegedly fighting on March 20, in Atlanta,” she said. “Patti and I are cool and we always have been. I enjoyed her at the White House. Classic Patti.”

Ms Patti’s BBQ and Lime Sauces

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2016 in Giant Negros

 

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The Battle at Mayonaise!

This one has been going on for about 2 years believe it or not. Some folks just take their Mayo more seriously than others. Of course with Southern favorite, Dukes moving north and gaining traction, Hellman’s, the largest Mayo brand in the US, is beginning to feel some pressure. A small company came up with the idea of Vegan Mayo…And that’s when the troops rallied, the cannons began to fire, as the stuff became so popular, Whole Foods couldn’t keep it in stock… Just another case of how big business can kill off the little guys, with government help.

And then there is the stereotype forwarded in the really bad “Undercover Brother” movie of years gone by that black folks don’t like mayo…

A Food Giant Wanted to Squash Eggless Mayo. It Just Lost.

In the great mayo wars of 2015, there is finally a winner.

For those who haven’t been following the scandal-filled sandwich spread controversy, a bit of background: It all began in 2013, when the egg-alternative food startup company Hampton Creek launched a vegan mayonnaise-like product called Just Mayo, which soon became Whole Foods’ most popular mayonnaise.

So popular was Just Mayo, in fact, that in November 2014, Unilever, parent company of market leader Hellmann’s, sued Hampton Creek for false advertising and unfair competition. The food giant argued that Just Mayo, because it contained no eggs, “damages the entire product category, which has strived for decades for a consistent definition of ‘mayonnaise’ that fits with consumer expectations.” Unilever dropped the lawsuit about a month later “as consumers heaped scorn on the company for what they viewed as a frivolous lawsuit,” the food industry news site Food Divereported.

Nevertheless, in August of this year the FDA ruled that Hampton Creek couldn’t call its product mayonnaise. “The use of the term ‘mayo’ in the product names and the image of an egg may be misleading to consumers because it may lead them to believe that the products are the standardized food, mayonnaise,” the FDA said in a statement.

Then, in September, internal emails from the American Egg Board surfaced. They showed that the industry group had tried to stop Whole Foods from selling Just Mayo—and that Egg Board members were really worked up over Hampton Creek. From the Guardian:

More than one member of the AEB made joking threats of violence against Hampton Creek’s founder, Josh Tetrick. “Can we pool our money and put a hit on him?” asked Mike Sencer, executive vice-president of AEB member organization Hidden Villa Ranch. Mitch Kanter, executive vice-president of the AEB, jokingly offered “to contact some of my old buddies in Brooklyn to pay Mr. Tetrick a visit.”

Egg Board CEO Joanne Ivy retired early in the wake of the episode.

While all that was going on, Hampton Creek was working with the FDA on a compromise, and today, the company announced that it will be allowed to keep the name Just Mayo, as long as it makes its eggless-ness even clearer on the product label. The AP’s Candice Choi reports:

The changes include making the words ‘egg-free’ larger and adding ‘Spread & Dressing.’ An image of an egg with a pea shoot inside will also be smaller.

Now, all this hoopla over a “spread and dressing” and its picture of a pea-shoot-bearing egg might seem ridiculous, but keep in mind that this business played out against the backdrop of a devastating avian flu outbreak that hobbled the egg industry. What’s more, in April two former egg industry executives were sentenced to jail time for their connection with a 2010 salmonella outbreak that is thought to have sickened as many as 56,000 people.

All those egg woes aside, there’s another reason behind egg purveyors’ massive freak-out: At least according to writer Rowan Jacobsen, unlike most other eggless mayonnaise products, Just Mayo actually tastes good.

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2015 in Domestic terrorism, General

 

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Kitty Food Produced By Slaves

Slavery in the SE Asian FIshing Industry is common. In this case a well known Company, Nestle decided to audit it’s supply chain to determine if any of the fish caught by slaves was entering the chain and being sold by the company. This is one of the few proactive moves by a Food Company to root out unscrupulous suppliers.

Nestlé​ admits slavery and coercion used in catching its seafood

Impoverished migrant workers in Thailand are sold or lured by false promises and forced to catch and process fish that ends up in global food giant Nestlé SA’s supply chains.

The unusual disclosure comes from Geneva-based Nestlé​ SA itself, which in an act of self-policing planned to announce the conclusions of its yearlong internal investigation on Monday. The study found virtually all U.S. and European companies buying seafood from Thailand are exposed to the same risks of abuse in their supply chains.

Nestlé​ SA, among the biggest food companies in the world, launched the investigation in December 2014, after reports from news outlets and nongovernmental organizations tied brutal and largely unregulated working conditions to their shrimp, prawns and Purina brand pet foods. Its findings echo those of The Associated Press in reports this year on slavery in the seafood industry that have resulted in the rescue of more than 2,000 fishermen.

Labourers from poor countries

The labourers come from Thailand’s much poorer neighbours Myanmar and Cambodia. Brokers illegally charge them fees to get jobs, trapping them into working on fishing vessels and at ports, mills and seafood farms in Thailand to pay back more money than they can ever earn.

“Sometimes, the net is too heavy and workers get pulled into the water and just disappear. When someone dies, he gets thrown into the water,” one Burmese worker told the non-profit organization Veritécommissioned by Nestle.

“I have been working on this boat for 10 years. I have no savings. I am barely surviving,” said another. “Life is very difficult here.”

Nestlé​ said it would post the reports online — as well as a detailed yearlong solution strategy throughout 2016 — as part of ongoing efforts to protect workers. It has promised to impose new requirements on all potential suppliers and train boat owners and captains about human rights, possibly with a demonstration vessel and rewards for altering their practices. It also plans to bring in outside auditors and assign a high-level Nestle manager to make sure change is underway.

Thai and Burmese Workers Held in Cages

Nestlé​ pledges change

“As we’ve said consistently, forced labour and human rights abuses have no place in our supply chain,” Magdi Batato, Nestlé’s executive vice-president in charge of operations, said in a written statement. “Nestlé believes that by working with suppliers we can make a positive difference to the sourcing of ingredients.”

Nestlé​ is not a major purchaser of seafood in Southeast Asia but does some business in Thailand, primarily for its Purina brand Fancy Feast cat food.

For its study, Verité interviewed more than 100 people, including about 80 workers from Myanmar and Cambodia, as well as boat owners, shrimp farm owners, site supervisors and representatives of Nestlé​’s suppliers. They visited fish ports and fishmeal packing plants, shrimp farms and docked fishing boats, all in Thailand.

Boat captains and managers, along with workers, confirmed violence and danger in the Thai seafood sector, a booming industry which exports $7 billion of products a year, although managers said workers sometimes got hurt because they were drunk and fighting.

Boat captains rarely checked ages of workers, and Verité found underage workers forced to fish. Workers said they labour without rest, their food and water are minimal, outside contact is cut off, and they are given fake identities to hide that they are working illegally.

Nestle found that some of the slave product wound up in their cat food

Generally, the workers studied by Verité were catching and processing fish into fishmeal fed to shrimp and prawns. But the Amherst, Massachusetts-based group said many of the problems they observed are systemic and not unique to Nestlé​; migrant workers throughout Thailand’s seafood sector are vulnerable to abuses as they are recruited, hired and employed, said Verite.

Monday’s disclosure is rare. While multinational companies in industries from garments to electronics say they investigate allegations of abuse in their supply chains, they rarely share negative findings….Read the rest here

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2015 in International Terrorism, Uncategorized

 

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The Mack Truck That Hit Paula Deen

Have to say I’ve certainly enjoyed cooking up a Paula Deen recipe or two. Most of her food is guaranteed to send you heart doctor into apoplexy over your sky high cholesterol…

But it was so damn good!

 

Paula is authentic deep South. Unfortunately for some folks that carries a lot of racial baggage. Some of that baggage is in the form of using distasteful racial epithets in common conversation between folks sharing the same background. Usually anymore when there is nobody else around to overhear.

Now, Paula – like myself is old enough to have lived through some of those bad old days of segregation. Led by racist and segregationist Democrats and Dixiecrats making a last stand at the schoolhouse door, folks from her world tried to stop folks from my world from having equal rights.. Attacking and abusing Civil Rights workers at the Lunch Counters. At the worst, even murdering them as they drove down back country roads. There are those who followed those very same Dixiecrats to the Republican Party, where that type of racism was made safe by Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan for their kind as amply demonstrated even today.

And then there are a lot more Southern  folks who left those ignorant attitudes with the times- even though they seldom to be quite enough in the majority to get elected…

Decent people seldom do anymore.

So…Paula has said some racist things. And judging from how quickly the companies who were partners in her business empire are scrambling  for the door – there is a lot more “bad acting” that hasn’t hit the presses that they are afraid will be uncovered.

But in the scale of things…Whose racism has done more damage t America, Paula and her well used butter dish and southern fried sympathies…

Or the 4 racist thugs in robes and their Uncle Tom sitting the highest court?

Now…Don’t gt me wrong. I don’t feel sorry for Paula. But the reason has a lot less to do with her racism and a lot more to do with a lack of professionalism. Professionalism?

Yeh. When you run a multi-million dollar business – You don’t get to make an ass of yourself like Dan Cathy of Chick Fil A – without some hurt coming down from some pissed customers…And partners who know what it takes to run a business and don’t want to be hit by the shrapnel of an idiot imploding.

Obviously Chick Fil A agrees with Mr Cathy’s lack of professionalism because he is still there.

Since in Paula’s case she is the company, Paula is going to have to suffer the consequences.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2013 in The New Jim Crow

 

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