1/13/11 Nourishing News Roundup

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Proposed New School Lunch Standards

Today, the USDA unveiled new school lunch nutrition standards (the first upgrade in 15 years). Among the proposed changes: more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat and skim dairy products.

Jamie’s Cold Reception

We’re enjoying a balmy, sunny week here in Los Angeles, but we’ll bet British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is finding it chilly. He recently arrived in town to film season 2 of “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” for ABC. Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Times reports, he was shut out by the Los Angeles Unified School District (they didn’t want to participate in a reality TV circus), so Oliver has opened a branch of Jamie’s Kitchen in Westwood to offer free cooking classes to the public. Ouch! But upscale Westwood seems an odd choice of location, since Los Angeles has its fair share of food deserts that could really use Oliver’s help, but, heck, maybe students from UCLA will drop by for a meal and a cooking lesson. Still, we think Oliver’s boyish charm–the man is willing to run around in a giant pea pod costume, for crissakes!–will melt the hearts of L.A.’s blase, celebrity-chef-fatigued residents.

Research We Love

We’re big fans of the culinary insights by the market research firm The Hartman Group. Among their fave trends for 2011: Spanish smoked paprika (which they liken to vegetarian bacon in flavor and predict will dethrone chipotle chile), 00 flour (how did they know I wanted to experiment with this superfine flour for pizza crust?), hyper-local foraged fare, and avid interest in vegetable cookery.

Time to Clean Your Dishwasher?

Gee, I always figured the dishwasher itself was getting a decent scrub along with the dishes. Not so, according to Apartment Therapy. A regular cleaning helps it run more efficiently.

The True Costs of Farming

Nicolette Hahn Niman (of Niman Ranch) weighs in on the true cost of large-scale agri-business vs. sustainable farming. Los Angeles Times

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

We’ve noted that the USDA has made impressive strides supporting the growth of organics. But don’t expect the agency to turn its back on conventional and GMO agriculture anytime soon. In a statement regarding the environmental impact of genetically engineered alfalfa, agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made it clear the USDA believes there’s room in the field for all kinds of cultivation.

“We have seen rapid adoption of biotechnology in agriculture, along with the rise of organic and non-genetically engineered sectors over the last several decades,” Vilsack said in December. “While the growth in all these areas is great for agriculture, it has also led, at times, to conflict or, at best, an uneasy coexistence between the different ways of growing crops. We need to address these challenges and develop a sensible path forward for strengthening coexistence of all segments of agriculture in our country. All are vital and a part of rural America’s success. All should be able to thrive together.”

Top Chefs in Crappy Little Kitchens

In New York, even top-name chefs often have to make do with cramped home kitchens (New York Times). Feel their pain? Check out our story about the practical space-saving tips in Jennifer Schaertl’s cheeky book Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens.

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