Tag Archives: food

Straws, bison and sustainability

Ted’s Montana Grill is a restaurant chain co-founded by Ted Turner, best known for his pioneer efforts in cable television, chiefly Cable News Network (CNN). Since retiring from mass media, he has devoted himself to philanthropy, particularly environmental issues. One project involved buying up land around the migration paths of migratory herds such as the buffalo (American bison), and in the process Turner now owns the largest buffalo herd in the world.

What do you do with a large buffalo herd? You could try to buffalo people, or you could try to wean people away from beef (mostly derived from European and Asian stock) and towards the very American buffalo, which is a richer, leaner meat, and not as hard on the environment. These buffalo, in turn, could be used by restaurants, such as Ted’s Montana Grill.

Ted’s Montana Grill has an interest in sustainability that goes beyond buffalo: it extends to straws. One upon a time, in the previous century, straws were made of paper. Then someone had the bright idea that straws should be made of plastic, and that seemed to be the last straw for the paper straw market.

There are problems with plastic straws. Unlike their paper counterparts, you can’t easily and safely burn them. If you throw plastic straws out with the trash, the straws don’t break down, and last practically forever. Plastic straws are also a grave danger to wildlife, ranging from people (the plastic often has chemicals that cause cancer) to birds (which often try to eat the straws with bad consequences) to marine life (see problems with eating straws) to pretty much every living creature. Most zoos and aquariums ban plastic straws because of the danger they present to animals. Oddly, restaurants and movie theaters and other establishments do not ban plastic straws due to the dangers they present to humans.

But, you say, if paper straws no longer exist, and you don’t want to burn (or freeze) your lips when you sip, what can you do? For several years, Ted’s imported paper straws from Canada. Eventually, the market for paper straws revived, and Aardvark Straws came into being, manufacturing paper straws in the United States. Why it is named for an African anteater is not entirely clear, but that’s another story…

Paper straws at Ted's Montana Grill
You will find only paper straws at Ted’s Montana Grill.

If you don’t happen to have a Ted’s nearby, Aardvark Straws are available through Amazon. Unlike hard drives, Amazon can probably deliver paper straws competently.

Trivia: Buffalo is a city. Buffalo is an animal. Buffalo is also a word. So a buffalo in Buffalo can bully a buffalo, or put simply: Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. If this seems silly, keep in mind that the scientific name of the American buffalo is: bison bison.

Adventures in grocery shopping

In the old days, all shopping was organic. You went to the store and got flour and beans and other dry goods in 25 or 50 pound sacks, got fruits and vegetables in baskets or bushels, and then went home and spent all day washing, soaking, peeling, and otherwise preparing the organic food to be consumed by organic people.

Today, we have prepared foods, designed to reduce the pain and suffering of shopping. Sometimes.

According to legend, I am allergic to nuts. I have no knowledge or memory of this, but allegedly I once consumed three of my favorite nuts, stopped breathing and passed out.

Second important fact: I like brownies. Put these two facts together, and I think Giant Foods is trying to kill me:

Deadly brownies in Giant Foods
Deadly brownies in Giant Foods. Either that, or nutty labels.

On the other hand, the mislabeled poisonous brownies cost the same as the non-deadly versions.

In other news, I discovered Giant also sells milk from condensed goats. Condensed goats are perfect for an urban area. In scientific terms, I suppose they have a reduced x-height and are more tightly kerned (and possibly churned):

Condensed goats
Condensed goats

Gourmet taste, no less. And apparently organic, though I’ve never heard of an inorganic goat.

Finally, I found a possible cause for Frank Herbert’s Butlerian Jihad, mentioned in his Dune novels:

Where will you find Erewhon cereal?
This either caused Herbert’s Butlerian Jihad in “Dune” or a novel approach to utopia.

Or maybe that was Samuel Butler. In any event, nowhere around here. But organic.

Mad desserts at Mad Fox

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Mad Fox Brewing Company in Falls Church, Virginia, is obviously known for their beer. Not being beer drinkers, we looked for other items of interest — and found them.

A group of four of us split three different desserts. Not only did they taste delicious, they also looked delicious.

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A chocolate and carmel tart. It has a graham cracker tart shell, and is topped with whipped cream and smoked sea salt.

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This was a dessert pizza. Italians will instantly recognize it as something other than a pizza. They’re just jealous.

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Don’t remember what this was called but it looks like Twinkies in a cup. This observation was vigorously opposed by the diner who ordered it.