How’s everyone doing today? Can we talk?
Time to catch up with some touchy issues that have been dragging for a while, and then I swear, as God is my witness, I will post sooner rather than later on the deification of Pixar’s Ratatouille . . . . Meanwhile, I am all for deifying Amanda, who wrote me the following at the end of a lengthy email about her fave Mexican food spot (Baja Sol) in Inver Grove Heights:
I know you're on a Thai hunt at the moment, but you really should check this little place out. I counted 73 bodies when we were there (about 8 p.m. last Thursday).
Bravo, Amanda. Thanks for the body count. You are the first one to offer your own numbers up, and I love you for it. See how much fun this is!?
Another reader commented:
Speaking of the delay of the Town Talk crew's pasta bar, here's an even bigger question: What's going on with Tom Pham's two new Lake Street locations? [Mix and Manhattan Martini Bar]
I keep reading about them, notably in this month's Mpls.St.Paul profile of Pham and in the Pioneer Press article from a few weeks ago about how East Lake is the "hip" street in town.
I was on that section of Lake last week and both locations have "For Sale" banners in them. Has Mpls.St.Paul and the Pioneer Press been overzealous in reporting on these establishments? Is Pham too busy with getting Temple to profitable status? Any insider info would be appreciated. It seems silly that local food media are reporting on these places as “coming soon” when there’ve been no leases signed.
True and not at the same time, but a great point. I can only speak from the standpoint of someone who writes for a monthly. Yes, we are all guilty of overzealous reporting from time to time, and short of demanding to see a lease or deed, the way to handle it is to quote your source and let their claims speak for themselves. I have been hoodwinked more times that I can tell you on the old “I’m opening a restaurant” ploy, where would-be restaurateurs get the free pub and use it to create buzz and raise dough for their projects. Re: Pham or Niver/Johnson, I think the truth is that at the time the impending deals were reported, they were valid projects and valid stories. And the next valid stories will be the ones detailing the delay or cancelling of the projects and why.
The USDA is deciding this month (their deadline was 6/10/07) on what non-organic ingredients can be used in organically certified and labeled foods. Sound crazy? Yup. For example, the folks at Annie’s argue that they need non-organic annatto coloring to make their popular kids' meals orange, and there is no organic annatto commercially available. So why not just skip the designation or let your fans know you are 99.9% organic? Because the money is in organic ‘purity,’ that’s why.
The national organic alliances are just as guilty of manipulating the rules as giant petro-ag or the creepy food-producing multinationals. They created a system where organic standards have been diluted to the point that they are essentially meaningless, and they've frozen out the small family farmer who cannot pay for the spendy certification programs, etc. Organic isn’t a standard or a grand idea anymore, it’s a brand, a trademark, co-opted by anyone with the dough or a large enough megaphone.
An organic label should mean 100% organic, and if my kid's mac and cheese is only 95% organic, then as a consumer, I can make my own decision on whether or not to buy it (and I still would). Labeling foods as organic and implying they are 100% organic, when everyone knows (wink wink) that they are not, is to demean and pervert the products, our common sense, our morals, and our values. In an age where truth and transparency are so rare as to make sandbox rules the stuff of Arthurian legend, we need more honesty, not more snake-oil sales tactics and politics, especially in our food chain.
Oh, and the pix are of my son’s first fish! Last weekend he caught six sunfish on eight casts using cut-up leeches and a Scooby Doo fishing pole on his first time out.