The Future of Food

November 12, 2008 by · Comments Off on The Future of Food 

How Science Will Solve the Next Global Crises

Stephen Doyle and Zack Zavislak have created a visual article (they call it an “atlas”) for Wired Magazine (Issue 16.11) that illustrates possible “green” solutions to the world’s future food shortages. Charts describe topics like Global Crop Yield, Corn, Beef Steer, Future Farming, and Catfish.


“Demand for food is rising, and the world’s farmers are struggling to keep up. It’s time for a new green revolution.

“Forty years ago, we defused the the Population Bomb with the Green Revolution. Modern fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides boosted crop yield and fed an expanding population. But now the chemical age of agriculture is running out of juice. Yields—production per acre—have gone flat while demand is rising faster than ever…”

The full article appears on the Wired website at The Future of Food.

Holiday Gifts: Go Green, Pick Practical

November 7, 2008 by · Comments Off on Holiday Gifts: Go Green, Pick Practical 

by Kate Heyhoe

This year I’ve picked gifts with either a green sheen or a very practical profile—from stocking stuffers to big family gifts, including handy tools for Thanksgiving and holiday parties. For more ideas: The Global Gourmet Store and the New Green Shopper are filled with tasty treats, great tools and green gifts. Cookbook Profiles and I Love Desserts feature sample recipes from the year’s best books. And come back for more new picks in December, including sweet treats and dessert tools (our past holiday picks may also include products that are just as perfect today, but somehow Santa skipped).

Happy holidays, part one!
Kate Heyhoe



Calphalon LX Series 15-piece Knife Set

Sometimes labels help. I know I’m not the first cook to pluck the wrong knife out of the block, then fish around until I got the right one. Calphalon’s LX set was made with me in mind: the bottom of the handles identify the knife, with handy but unobtrusive etchings like 8″ Chef” or 3″ Paring. But user-friendly ID’s would be meaningless if the knives didn’t perform. I’m not saying you need to break out the band-aids for this set, but cooks who appreciate sharp knives will find these babies do the job right. Use these knives with care: they’re sharp! And according to Calphalon, they hold their edge longer than stainless because they’re made of German high-steel carbon with Molybdenum and Vanadium, forged in a single piece (blade, bolster and tang). The ergonomic handles feel good, with enough weight to aid chopping but without causing fatigue. The snazzy black block holds the full set of an 8″ chef’s knife, 5″ santoku, 3.5″ parer, 8″ bread knife, 4.5″ tomato (serrated), 6″ utility knife, and a sharpening steel, shears and 6 steak knives.

Buy a Calphalon LX Series 15-piece Knife Set



Dual Thermometer Tests Food and Oven Temp

CDN’s Dual-Sensing Probe Thermometer/Timer (DSP1) measures both the temperature of the oven and the internal temperature of the food being cooked. My book Cooking Green (March 2009) contains oven-fuel saving tips, including cooking several items at the same time, or skipping preheating. This dual-sensing device tells you if the oven’s cranking at the proper heat, especially handy whenever you cook simultaneously, or after you’ve opened the door to take one dish out, or shut the oven off early so foods cook passively. Instant read-outs of both the internal food temperature and ambient oven temperature help you adjust your oven as needed. You can also program desired settings for both the food and the oven temperature: it chimes one sound when the oven temperature is reached, and another sound when the food is done. It also features a digital timer, and an overtime alert signals when food is left in the oven too long.

Other Features: A 39-inch high-heat resistant sensor cable. The stainless steel probe is 6-3/4 inches long. Registers from 32 to 573 degrees F (0 to 300 degrees C). USDA recommended temperatures for food safety are printed on the thermometer. Can be mounted by magnet or stand. The timer counts in minutes and seconds up to 10 hours. Once the set time has been reached, the timer counts up from zero to indicate how much additional time passes. It runs on one AAA battery (included). Visit for where to buy, and information on How to Recalibrate Your Thermometer, Thermometer Technology and 25 Tips for Food Safety.

Buy a CDN Dual-Sensing Probe Thermometer/Timer

mortar and pestle

Designer Porcelain-Bamboo Mortar & Pestle Set

You really connect with your ingredients when you grind or crush them by hand. A mortar and pestle is the most effective tool for releasing the oils and essences of herbs and spices, and it also comes in handy for times when you need to grind medicines for people or pets. The Kuhn Rikon Mortar & Pestle set has details that make this functional, low-tech tool even better. Besides the porcelain pestle, it features two mortars: a porcelain one that nests inside an earth-friendly bamboo mortar and stand. Designed by award-winning Swiss designer, Philipp Beyeler, the set is featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s catalog, and features added functionality in clean, crisp design, including:

  • A pouring spout on the coarse porcelain bowl, handy for grinding fresh herbs and spices with wet ingredients as pastes for dressings or marinating.
  • A 6×6-inch bamboo base for grinding dry spices such as peppercorns, cardamom and mustard seed, or for homemade curry blends.
  • A porcelain pestle with a small hole in the handle to strip leaves off herb stems, and which stores compactly inside the porcelain bowl.

Suggested retail price $50; at specialty and online retailers including Museum of Modern Art catalog ( or

serving knife


2-in-1 Serving Knife Acts as Spatula

Multitasking meets kitchen tool. Kuhn Rikon’s Serving Knife slices like a serrated knife and serves like a spatula. I like to serve at table, but two tools can be awkward and messy; either the knife or the server falls into the casserole or onto the table. Not so with this handy tool; simply slice, twist the wrist, slide it under the food and serve. It’s not as complete as a Swiss Army knife, but it’s got that same Swiss logic. For instance, it features nonstick coating and an offset handle to make slicing and serving even easier, and prevents slipping back into the pan. A protective sheath keeps the knife secure for safe storage and transport, so you can take it to potlucks or tailgate parties. In Red or Metallic Silver, in two sizes: 10-inch knife at $14 msrp, and 12-inch knife at $16 msrp. At specialty and online retailers including

potato ricer

Versatile Potato Ricer Delivers Two Textures

Never mash potatoes with a food processor: they’ll get gummy. Hand mashing’s okay, but you’ll get the fluffiest results with a potato ricer, especially the Kuhn Rikon Potato Ricer. It’s a handy low-tech tool for all sorts of vegetables and even baby food. The ergonomic design eases leverage, so with a simple squeeze of the handle, light strands of potatoes extrude through the ricer. You can rice one large or two medium sized potatoes at a time, and a handy pull-out clip lets the ricer rest on the rim of a pot or bowl. It comes with two stainless steel disks: larger holes for mashed spuds, and smaller holes for making puree. (Store the extra disk in the ricer’s built-in compartment.) Go beyond the standard mash to create potato pancakes, gnocchi, lefse and spaetzle. What else can it rice or puree? Berry sauce for desserts, tomato puree, parsnips, carrots, baby food and blanched greens. Dishwasher safe, in black or white.

Buy a Kuhn Rikon Potato Ricer

water kettle


Capresso H2O Plus Water Kettle

This electric tea kettle always makes my list of functional green appliances: It boils water with less fuel than a cooktop, shuts off automatically, and you can use the hot water for more than just tea. This model boils water faster than on a stove, keeps the kitchen cooler, and it’s handy when you want to rehydrate dried mushrooms, dried tomatoes, and powdered soups; or to jumpstart a pot of water for pasta, steamed vegetables, or potatoes. The Capresso H2O sports a glass carafe, so you can see the progress without lifting the lid (and it’s fun to watch the bubbles: like an aquarium without the fish). It holds a manageable amount, letting you boil from 2 to 6 cups. It’s one of my handiest kitchen appliances, in its snazzy black and silver design, and makes a great gift for almost everyone, even non-cooks.

Buy a Capresso H2O Plus Water Kettle


More New Green Basics product reviews include: