No to the Needle

Late last week, a news team at Portland's KGW-TV revealed that the leaders of the famed Tillamook Creamery Association had voted to pledge its 147 members to stop using the artificial growth hormone rBGH to promote greater milk production. Good news for animal-welfare supporters and consumers worried about their diet; bad news for the multinational ag-science conglomerate Monsanto, which manufactures the hormone. The Tillamook board tried to keep the whole business private, but as soon as news of the pending ban leaked out, Monsanto reps were in Oregon putting together a coalition of dairy farmers to resist the association board's decision. Monsanto points to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval of the product (trade name Posilac) as evidence that there's no reason to worry about health risks; they don't mention the risk to the cows from the biweekly injections, though. Farmers say that milk production does rise (more like 5 percent than the 10 percent to 15 percent Monsanto claims) but at the cost of a less healthy, more stressed animal. That's why Canada, New Zealand, Australian, Japan, and the EU ban the use of Posilac and similar products. The Oregon decision has Monsanto running scared. Tillamook is one of the nation's biggest and best known premium butter and cheese producers, and its decision will swing a lot of weight with others in the industry. Monsanto's flacks managed to get enough Tillamook members to sign on to their campaign to force a full meeting of the association to vote on the issue. On Monday, the members voted nearly two to one to ban the needle. Way to go guys! Planet Eats Food blogs are primo water-cooler fodder for chefs, foodies, cookbook editors, and unabashed worshippers at the shrine of the Celebrity Chef. As the new century wears on, the queen bees and wanna-bes of the national food scene are moving their shop talk online, and Seattle-based sites like eGullet.org and TastingMenu.com (the latter hosted by Hillel Cooperman, a James Beard Award nominee for his bloggery) are right up there with New York blogs like Josh Friedland's TheFoodSection.com. All this online punditry could only lead to one thing: the culinary metablog. At the beginning of February, Cooperman debuted TasteEverything.org, whose aim, according to its mission statement, is to balance out PR-driven "traditional food media" with maverick opinions, obscure recipes, and a much more personal attitude toward food writing. On Tuesday, Feb. 22, the site kicked things up a notch by announcing the winners of its first Independent Food Festival Awards, an entirely virtual event that handed out kudos in our backyard (Chinatown's Maekawa Restaurant won "Best Dish Still Moving on the Plate When Fully Cooked" for its pan-fried lotus root sprinkled with bonito flakes, which flutter from the heat) and across the planet (Tokyo's Boulangerie Aux Bacchanales won for best croissants outside of France, while Dampa Sa Libis walked away with "Best Eatery Serving All-Filipino Food in Metro Manila"). For food-blog addicts, the list—with dozens of quirky categories, long enough to burn a whole lunch hour—is like crack cocaine. For the uninitiated, it's an excellent place to start. Visit www.tasteeverything.org/festival/default.htm for the list of winners; the discussion board, seemingly modeled after eGullet, is at http://discussion.tasteeverything.org. Food and/or beverage news? E-mail Hot Dish at food@seattleweekly.com.

 
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