Tag Archives: vegetarian

On the menu: Breaded cauliflower cutlets

Let’s say that one of your New Year’s resolutions is to eat healthier and lose some weight. Join the crowd, right?

In practice, what we probably mean — among other things — is that we plan to eat more vegetables and less meat.

It’s a challenge.

But if you try this dish — a wonderful vegetarian version of breaded veal (or pork or chicken) cutlets swimming in a marina sauce — you will see how easy and satisfying it can be to turn a resolution into reality.

You start by slicing a whole head of cauliflower into cutlets.

The idea is to end up with thick slabs of the vegetable. One easy method for doing this is to cut the head in half down the center, then turn each half on its cut side and cut the halves into 1/2-inch-thick slabs. There will always be a few loose bits from the ends, but those also can be breaded and cooked as described below.

You’ll want to take care with the breading, too. It’s a three-step process: dust the steaks lightly with cornstarch, coat them well with an egg mixture, then finish them with a layer of breadcrumbs. This is standard operating procedure among culinary pros. The three layers provide a more substantial crust than any other single coating or combo of coatings.

Now it’s time to brown your vegetable cutlets. You could do it in a skillet — just as you would a breaded meat cutlet — but that would require a ton of oil (those breadcrumbs just soak it up).

And remember, it’s the New Year and you’re on a new path. So we bake them instead, which requires a lot less oil. The key is to place the cutlets fairly close to the heat source. In my electric oven that’s the top of the stove. If they’re not properly browned at the end of the prescribed cooking time, just leave them in the oven a little longer.

Then dig in. The biggest flavor is going to come from the marinara sauce. Your brain likely won’t care at all whether the cutlet is veal or vegetable. But your body will thank you.

BREADED CAULIFLOWER CUTLETS WITH MARINARA

Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes (45 minutes active)

Servings: 4

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

I large head cauliflower

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 3/4 cups panko breadcrumbs

1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups speedy marinara (recipe below) or store-bought marinara, heated

Heat the oven to 400 F.

In a small bowl, combine the oil and the garlic. Set aside.

Pull off any leaves from the stem end of the cauliflower and trim off just enough of the stem so the cauliflower stands flat on the counter. Slice the cauliflower head in half down the center top to bottom. One at a time, set each half onto its cut side. Starting from one end of each half, slice crosswise to create 1/2-inch-thick slices. This will yield 3 to 4 cutlets from the center of each half, with the small ends being chunks. The chunks can be prepared as the cutlets, or reserved for another use.

In a shallow bowl or pie plate, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, 3 tablespoons of water and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.

On a sheet of kitchen parchment, combine the cornstarch with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, stirring the mixture with a fork to combine. On a second sheet of parchment, combine the panko with the cheese, stirring with a fork.

One at a time, coat the cauliflower cutlets (and trimmings, if using) on both sides with the cornstarch, knocking off the excess. Next, dip each in the egg mixture, coating them on both sides and letting the excess drip off. Finally, coat them with the panko mixture, patting the crumbs on well. Set aside.

Strain the garlic oil through a mesh strainer, pressing hard on the garlic to get out all the oil. Discard the garlic (or reserve for another use).

On a rimmed baking sheet, spread half of the oil in an even coating. Set the baking sheet on the oven’s top shelf and heat for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and quickly arrange the prepared cauliflower on it in a single layer. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, drizzle the tops of the cauliflower evenly with the remaining oil, turn them over, then bake for another 15 minutes. Divide the cauliflower among 4 serving plates, then serve topped with marinara.

Nutrition information per serving: 490 calories; 190 calories from fat (39 percent of total calories); 21 g fat (4.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 170 mg cholesterol; 1110 mg sodium; 58 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 17 g protein.

SPEEDY MARINARA

Start to finish: 35 minutes (10 minutes active)

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 large cloves garlic, smashed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Hefty pinch red pepper flakes

28-ounce can plum tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted), chopped

Kosher salt

In an unheated medium saucepan, combine the garlic and the oil. Turn the heat to medium and cook, turning over the garlic several times, until it is just golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and a hefty pinch of salt, then bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook at a brisk simmer until the sauce is reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard the garlic. Season with salt.

Nutrition information per 1/2 cup: 60 calories; 25 calories from fat (42 percent of total calories); 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 460 mg sodium; 8 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 1 g protein.

Sara Moulton is host of public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals.” She was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows, including “Cooking Live.” Her latest cookbook is “Home Cooking 101.”

WiGWag: Palin selling home, Rubio wearing heels, first lady asked to go vegetarian


Leaving Arizona: 
Sarah Palin’s vacation compound in Maricopa, Arizona, went on the market in early January, listed at $2.499 million. Palin purchased the home in 2011 for $1.695 million, prompting rumors she might run for Jon Kyle’s Senate seat when he retired in 2013 or wait for John McCain’s retirement. The 7,971-square-foot stucco house sits on 4.4 acres of desert landscaping and faux grass.

And the earth is flat: A North Carolina town rejected plans to rezone land for a solar farm after two residents warned local officials that it would cause cancer, stop plants from growing and suck up all the energy from the sun, leaving everyone to freeze, according to the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald.

No room at the shelter: In mid-December, a Kentucky town booted women and children from its only homeless shelter to keep them from “tempting” the men. The shelter’s fundamentalist Christian director told a local news station that an exception could be made for women and children accompanied by male relatives. The women were sent to a shelter in a town 30 minutes away, according to AlterNet.

Steakless state dinner: NBA champ John Salley, a vegetarian since 1990 and vegan since 2008, recently challenged first lady Michelle Obama, an advocate of healthy eating, to take PETA’s 30-day vegan pledge. “Vegan eating is not just a slam dunk for human health; it’s also the most effective way to combat climate change,” Salley wrote to the first lady. There’s been no word on menu changes at the White House.

Vegetarian humanitarian: Ellen DeGeneres, another famous vegetarian, recently won Favorite Humanitarian at the fan-based People’s Choice Awards in Los Angeles. DeGeneres said the award “sums me up perfectly as I am both a human and an itarian.”

City hall brawl: The mayor of Alabama’s largest city and a city councilor beat each other so badly during a backroom brawl at Birmingham City Hall that both landed in the hospital. The two were reportedly fighting over an undisclosed personal issue. 

Sneeze attack: In Joliet, Illinois, a woman was jailed on a battery charge after she “intentionally sneezed” in a bailiff’s face, spattering her with a “mucus type substance,” according to a police report. The sneezy assailant was in a Will County courtroom for a traffic case. The offensive discharge came after the bailiff repeatedly reprimanded the woman for putting her feet on the seats and speaking loudly while the judge was on the bench.

Listen up: Among the many 2016 trend reports WiG received in early January was this dispatch from Voices.com: 2016 is shaping up to be another year of growth for the voice-over industry. Listen for these trends: Out with the “announcer” guy and in with the “girl/guy next door” sound. And scripts with more story.

Climbers down: In 2015, for the first time in 41 years, not a single person stood on the summit of Mount Everest during an entire calendar year. After a record 358 permits were issued to climbers at the start of the year, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal in April, claiming 8,000-plus lives across the country and a record 18 (or 24, the numbers vary) on the mountain, according to London’s Telegraph. 

No hats allowed: An executive producer for the program Good Day Chicago on Fox 32 Chicago banned female reporters from wearing hats during live outdoor shots, saying that women “look a lot better without hats.” But his heart isn’t all frozen. There’s an exception when the thermometer reads 20 degrees or colder, Chicago media critic Robert Feder reported. Male reporters are exempt from the ban.

Rubio’s growing support: Sen. Marco Rubio recently hit the presidential campaign standing 3 inches taller than his usual 5’10,” thanks to a pair of black boots with seriously high heels, reported The Hill. Rubio must have grown tired of looking like a pip squeak next to his former mentor Jeb Bush, who’s 6’3,” The Donald, who’s 6’2” and Ben Carson, who’s 6 feet tall. 

The love boat: Melissa Etheridge recently announced she’s headlining a concert cruise departing Tampa on Oct. 31 and traveling to Key West, Florida, and Cozumel, Mexico. She’ll be sharing the stage with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, The Cains, Lucy Angel, New Howell, Olivia Lane and DJ Tracy Young. Is this the replacement for the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival?

Say what? Wayne State University’s Word Warriors list is out with words the school thinks we should use more often in conversation and prose. The list includes “absquatulate,” “anathema,” “epigone,” “puerile,” “rumpus,” “sockdolager,” “sybaritic,” “torpid,” “turpitude” and “delectation.” WiG’s resolution for 2016 is to use all of these words in its continued coverage of the 2016 presidential race.

10 foods you must try in San Francisco during the Super Bowl

San Francisco is a city with serious food game, whether playing as multi-starred cuisine served in a white tablecloth hush or a simple crab cocktail eaten amid the boisterous clamor of Fisherman’s Wharf.

And with the Super Bowl heading to nearby Santa Clara, the hungry hordes hankering for a taste of the local food scene won’t be disappointed. If you’re lucky enough to be among them — whether you’re looking to dine on one of the city’s iconic standbys or venture into cutting-edge cuisine — here’s a guide to 10 foods and drinks San Francisco is famous for and where to find them.

BEER

Anchor Brewing and San Francisco have a history that goes all the way back to 1849, when German brewer Gottlieb Brekle arrived with his family. The brewery weathered earthquakes, fires and Prohibition just fine, but almost went under entirely when mid-century Americans developed a taste for mass-produced beer. In 1965, Fritz Maytag saved the place from bankruptcy, bringing back Anchor Steam Beer and writing a new chapter in suds history. You can get a first-person look at the brewery via tours available most days except holidays. The tours cost $15 per person, take about 90 minutes and conclude with a tasting. Reservations are required; you can make them here: http://www.anchorbrewing.com/brewery/tours . Another option is the 21st Amendment Brewery & Restaurant (563 2nd St.), which has a selection of house beers served with traditional pub grub.

CIOPPINO

This is the fish stew created in San Francisco by Italian fishermen in North Beach in the late 1800s. They’d toss into a pot whatever seafood was left from the day’s catch — crab, shrimp, clams, fish, etc. — along with onions, garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, wine and herbs. Italian restaurants started serving the dish and soon it was part of the region’s culinary lexicon. A solid bet in North Beach is Sotto Mare (552 Green St.). Tadich Grill  (240 California St.) also is a good choice.

COFFEE

This is a fully caffeinated city with coffee shops on just about every block. For something out of the ordinary, try Ritual, a pioneer in the craft caffeine movement. The flagship location is 1026 Valencia St. in the Mission District. Blue Bottle, which began across the bay in Oakland, has a spot in San Francisco’s Ferry Building. And for coffee with that little extra kick, try the famous Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe in Fisherman’s Wharf (2765 Hyde St.).

CRAB

You can pick up a traditional crab cocktail at one of the many vendors lining Fisherman’s Wharf, http://www.fishermanswharf.org . For a different take, try it roasted and served with garlic noodles at Thanh Long (4101 Judah St.). Like your crab crispy? Get it shelled, battered and deep-fried at the R & G Lounge in Chinatown (631 Kearny St.).

STREET SCENE

For meals on wheels, check out Off the Grid, a roaming event featuring food trucks, carts, tents and live entertainment. Download the app to get information on schedules and participants. http://offthegridsf.com/

OYSTERS

Oysters on the half shell are a longstanding San Francisco tradition. For an elegant take with a great view of the Bay Bridge try Waterbar (399 The Embarcadero). Starting Jan. 30 dinner will be accompanied by a free light show with the return of the Bay Lights, a display that flashes nightly on the west span of the bridge. Also on the waterfront, Hog Island Oyster Bar in the Ferry Building.

SOURDOUGH

The region’s tradition of sourdough — bread leavened with a wild yeast starter or “mother” dough — dates back to the Gold Rush. Boudin Bakery, established in 1849 — according to bakery history the original “mother dough” was saved in a bucket during the 1906 earthquake — has a veritable shrine to sourdough at its Fisherman’s Wharf location (160 Jefferson St). It includes a museum and demonstration bakery. Another good place to try this crusty creation is Tartine Bakery (600 Guerrero St.).

TEA

Whether you’re parched from purchasing Pradas and other goodies from the boutiques of Union Square or simply resting up from an afternoon of window shopping, The Rotunda at Neiman Marcus is a fun spot to enjoy the elegant refreshment of afternoon tea. Set under a stained glass dome with views of Union Square, the restaurant serves teas, starting at $45, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 2:30 to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday (150 Stockton St., Level Four). Or try the Samovar Tea Lounge at Yerba Buena Gardens (730 Howard St.). English tea service starts at $24.

TIKI

If you like Tiki bars, a stop at the Fairmont Hotel’s Tonga Room is mandatory. Set around what used to be the hotel’s indoor swimming pool, the bar features rain shows, live music and more kitsch than you can throw a tiny paper umbrella at (950 Mason St.). Another option is Smuggler’s Cove, which has more than 400 rums (650 Gough St.).

VEGETARIAN

Into veggies with a vista? Greens Restaurant is not just a vegetarian restaurant, it’s a high-end spot that has been nominated for best overall restaurant in America in the James Beard Awards and is set in historic Fort Mason Center with views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands (2 Marina Blvd., Fort Mason Center Building A). You also can find bountiful produce at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Markets held Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays. http://ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/farmers_market.php For a futuristic take on food, try Eatsa (121 Spear St.). There are no waiters or cashiers here. You place your order on wall-mounted tablets, then wait for one of the illuminated cubbies lining one wall to display your name in lights, indicating your order’s ready. Eatsa specializes in quinoa-vegetable bowls in myriad combinations. All are vegetarian and some are vegan.

End of meat? Startups seek meat alternatives for the masses

Patrick Brown is on an improbable mission: Make a burger Americans love, minus the meat.

Veggie patties have been around for decades, but Brown and others want to make foods without animal products that look, cook and taste like the real thing — and can finally appeal to the masses.

“We are not making a veggie burger. We’re creating meat without using animals,” said Brown, a former Stanford scientist who has been scanning plants in search of compounds that can help recreate meat.

Brown’s company, Impossible Foods, is part of a wave of startups aiming to wean Americans off foods like burgers and eggs, and their efforts are attracting tens of millions of dollars from investors. The goal is to lessen the dependence on livestock for food, which they say isn’t as healthy, affordable or environmentally friendly as plant-based alternatives.

The challenge is that most Americans happily eat meat and eggs. That means that, without a breakthrough, those seeking to upend factory farming risk becoming footnotes in the history of startups.

To understand the difficulty of their task, consider the transformation raw chicken undergoes when cooked. It starts as a slimy, unappetizing blob, then turns into a tender piece of meat.

LEARNING TO MIMIC NATURE

In its office in Southern California, Beyond Meat works on “chicken” strips made with pea and soy proteins that have been sold at places like Whole Foods since 2012. But founder Ethan Brown concedes the product needs work.

To give the “meat” its fat, for instance, canola oil is evenly mixed throughout the product.

“That’s not really how it works in an animal,” said Brown, a vegan. “The fat can be a sheath on tendons.”

To form the strips, a mixture is pressed through a machine that forms and sets the product’s texture with heating and cooling chambers. The method isn’t new in the world of fake meats, but the company says it fine-tuned the process to deliver a more realistic offering.

Brown dismisses the idea that fake meat might weird people out and says it’s a “desirable evolution.”

“It’s like moving from the horse-drawn carriage to the automobile, or the landline to the iPhone,” he said.

But Beyond Meat isn’t quite there yet; The Huffington Post described the strips as having an “unpleasant” taste that inhabits a “strange territory between meat and vegetable.”

At Impossible Foods, the patty is made by extracting proteins from foods like spinach and beans, then combining them with other ingredients. The company, which has about 100 employees, expects the product to be available in the latter half of next year, initially through a food-service operator.

Few have tasted it, but the vision continues to gain traction. In October, Impossible Foods said it raised $108 million in funding, on top of its previous $74 million. Among its investors are Bill Gates, Google Ventures and Horizons Ventures.

CULTURING MEAT, JUST LIKE YOGURT

Another startup isn’t totally ditching the cow.

With $15.5 million in funding, Modern Meadow in New York City takes cells from a cow through a biopsy and cultures them to grow into meat. At a conference in February, company founder Andras Forgacs likened the process to culturing yogurt or brewing beer.

“This is an extension of that,” he said.

Modern Meadow doesn’t have a product on the market yet either. The company says it doesn’t necessarily want to replicate steaks and burgers, and gave a hint of the type of foods it might make by presenting “steak chips” for attendees at a small conference last year.

Only about 200 people have tried the chips, which Forgacs describes as “crispy, crunchy beef jerky.”

Citing the demand for more openness about how food is made, he sees a day when people tour meat plants, as they do with breweries.

“There could be your friendly neighborhood meat brewery,” Forgacs said.

BANNING THE WORD ‘VEGAN’

In San Francisco, Hampton Creek’s mission is to replace the eggs in products without anyone noticing. In trying to appeal to the mainstream, co-founder and CEO Josh Tetrick has a simple rule.

“Number one, never use the word ‘vegan,”” he said.

To avoid perceptions its eggless spread Just Mayo won’t taste good, Hampton Creek even removed the V-word from the label. Tetrick says what makes the product different is that it tastes better and costs less — not that it’s made with a protein from a Canadian yellow pea instead of eggs.

“The egg-free thing is almost irrelevant,” he said.

Swapping out a single ingredient in a product may make it easier for people to swallow change. It may also make change simpler to achieve; Just Mayo’s consistency and taste are similar to mayonnaise. The product, which is available at retailers including Target and Wal-Mart, is gaining enough traction that the American Egg Board, which is responsible for slogans like the “Incredible, Edible Egg,” sees it as a “major threat,” according to emails made public through a records request.

So far, Hampton Creek has attracted $120 million in funding. It continues to screen plants for compounds that can help replace eggs in recipes and plans to eventually introduce a scrambled-egg product.

ON THE CUSP OF SOMETHING BIG?

For those looking to lessen the reliance on animals for food, there are encouraging signs all around.

Last year, Pinnacle Foods, the maker of Hungry-Man dinners, paid $154 million to acquire Gardein, which makes frozen veggie patties, nuggets and crumbles. Pinnacle CEO Robert Gamgort said he thinks meat alternatives are in the “early stages of a macro trend,” similar to the way soy and almond milk changed the dairy category.

But for now, vegetarian products remain a niche market. And even if people cut back on meat and eggs for health, environmental or animal welfare reasons, they might not want literal replacements.

Morningstar, a longtime maker of vegetarian products owned by Kellogg, says people are becoming more accepting of vegetables as main ingredients. As such, it wants to evolve from a maker of meat substitutes to a brand known for its “veggie cuisine,” such as bowls with brown rice and black beans.

Yves Potvin, Gardein’s founder, also thinks veggie alternatives don’t have to replicate meat, so long as they taste good. It’s why Gardein’s products are shaped to be reminiscent of meat, but don’t try to mimic their exact flavor and texture.

“What people like is the experience,” Potvin said. “They like the memory.”

Horrific animal abuse documented at slaughterhouse that supplies Hormel

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it saw “completely unacceptable” actions depicted on an animal welfare group’s undercover video from a Minnesota slaughterhouse that supplies Hormel Foods.

Compassion Over Killing said the video shot last month at a Quality Pork Processors plant in Austin shows workers taking “inhumane shortcuts that lead to extreme suffering” to keep the slaughter lines moving. “If USDA is around they could shut us down,” one worker can be heard saying on the video.

An edited version of the video that was posted on YouTube shows workers cheering as they beat and drage pigs shaking in fear and pain as they are being slaughtered. Federal law requires livestock to be stunned before they are killed. Many pigs covered in feces and riddled with puss-filled sores are headed for the production line.

Quality Pork Processors said it has already disciplined two employees shown on the video and will take further actions if necessary. Nate Jensen, vice president of human resources and quality services at QPP, said the company was disappointed to see employees who did not appear to follow its policies requiring the humane treatment of animals.

The USDA said will investigate further if it confirms the video’s authenticity.

“The actions depicted in the video under review are completely unacceptable,” said Adam Tarr, a spokesman for the federal Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The plant is one of a few across the country that’s testing a relatively new inspection system that involves fewer USDA inspectors and quicker processing lines.

Erica Meier, executive director of the Washington-based Compassion over Killing, blamed the system for the alleged horrific abuses, which she said included pigs being beaten, shocked, dragged and improperly stunned out of inspectors’ views, as well as animals with abscesses and covered in feces.

“By allowing facilities like Quality Pork Processors to operate at these increased slaughter speeds, combined with the reduced federal oversight, the USDA is essentially giving the industry a free pass to police itself,” Meier said on a conference call.

The USDA disputed the pro-vegetarian group’s claim that the faster inspection system was to blame. Tarr said that system is being used only farther down the production line, where carcasses are sorted.

Jensen said the company’s own video monitoring caught the two employees even before officials learned of the undercover investigation, and that the employees were given written warnings and ordered to undergo retraining. He said the company is working with the USDA, will modify its training programs as necessary and has safeguards in place to keep contaminated products out of the food supply.

Austin-based Hormel issued a statement saying it has a “zero tolerance policy for the inhumane treatment of animals” and holds its suppliers to the same high standards. Hormel said it has reviewed the video and will work with QPP and the USDA to take “any necessary corrective action.”

Meier said her group provided the full video to the USDA on Oct. 27 and shared it with the Austin Police Department, which forwarded the information to the Mower County attorney’s office. 

You won’t miss the meat or bread in this veggie oven hash

Heading into crisp weather, I crave the holiday classics that beg to be made this time of year. One of my favorites is stuffing. Seasoned cubes of dried bread sautéed with celery, onion, herbs and butter, then baked up to crispy-outside-soft-inside perfection?

Yes, please!

Except: My extended family has three vegetarians and my daughter is gluten-free. So my challenge was to make a dish that scratches the stuffing itch for them without making it seem like the ugly duckling of the Thanksgiving table. The solution ended up being a roasted vegetable medley that I promise will be the most-requested recipe of your holiday. It is that good, and full of nutrients, too.

To make that happen, I rely on a mix of roasted vegetables for a caramelized sweetness that feels roasty and homey. And I add meaty mushrooms sautéed in garlic and the trifecta of holiday cooking herbs: rosemary, sage and thyme. A Granny Smith apple cut into tiny cubes brings just enough acid for depth, while a surprise little hero tucked into the recipe — toasted walnuts — adds texture, along with some nice healthy fats to fill up vegetarians who will be skipping the turkey.

Easy, healthy and satisfying. Your healthy or vegan or gluten-free guests will feel satisfied, not sidelined.

VEGGIE OVEN HASH

Start to finish: 40 minutes

Servings: 8

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups cubed butternut squash

Olive oil

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 cups small cauliflower florets

2 cups small broccoli florets

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced

2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary

1 tbsp minced fresh sage

1 tbsp lemon juice

½ cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

Directions:

Heat the oven to 400 F. Line two baking sheets with kitchen parchment or foil.

Mound the squash on one of the baking sheets then drizzle with about 1 teaspoon of oil. Toss to coat, then season with salt and pepper. Arrange evenly, then roast until tender, 30 to 35 minutes, turning once or twice.

While the squash is roasting, mound the cauliflower and broccoli on the second sheet. Drizzle them with 2 teaspoons of oil, season with salt and pepper, then arrange in an even layer and roast for 25 minutes, turning halfway through or until the cauliflower is golden. All of the vegetables should finish roasting around the same time. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over medium, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the onion and celery and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms, then sauté until the mushrooms are starting to get tender, about 7 minutes. Add the apple, thyme, rosemary and sage, then cook another 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender (but not floppy). Stir in the lemon juice, remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl.

Add the slightly cooled roasted vegetables and the toasted walnuts. Stir and adjust seasoning if needed.

No charges against farm workers shown abusing hogs

A prosecutor said that he has decided against charging any employees of a Minnesota hog farm who were recorded on a graphic undercover video treating animals in a way that their own employer called “disturbing.”

Los Angeles-based Last Chance for Animals released video in August that it shot at a Christensen Farms breeding facility in the southwestern Minnesota city of Luverne. At the time, the company, one of the country’s largest pork producers, said it had suspended seven employees and launched a full internal investigation. CEO Glenn Stolt said in a statement that it was “unacceptable that this behavior was allowed to continue, and was not brought to our attention immediately.”

Assistant Rock County Attorney Jeffrey Haubrich told The Associated Press on Friday that he won’t file the animal cruelty charges that Last Chance for Animals sought. In a letter to Sgt. Jeff Wienecke of the Rock County Sheriff’s Office, which Haubrich provided to the AP, he said the videos are not admissible in court and that an outside veterinarian found nothing at the farm that could provide a basis for criminal charges.

“Our primary consideration is that there are substantial evidentiary issues with the material provided by Last Chance for Animals. The video and reports are obviously highly edited and filtered to enhance the position they are advocating and they lack the basic requirements for admissibility in court,” the prosecutor wrote. “Namely, there is a lack of foundation and no chain of custody for the main pieces of the evidence that have been presented.”

Haubrich also wrote that it appeared the veterinarian did not find any widespread problems at the farm or with people employed there. He found that the facilities and its methods were acceptable “within industry standards” and that “the animals appeared well cared for.”

Adam Wilson, director of investigations for Last Chance for Animals, said the group doesn’t consider the case closed and that he will write to Haubrich detailing its concerns with the decision. He said the group offered the prosecutor and detectives full unedited copies of its original recordings, and offered to make its undercover investigator available to corroborate their authenticity and other details of what the investigator witnessed, but got no reply.

“The decision was a political one — not to go after a very large corporate farming operation that’s a Minnesota company,” Wilson said. “It seems very obvious the investigation is not complete and it was not taken with the best intentions.”

The video released to the public showed sows bleeding from open sores and other injuries, including protruding organs, or lame from swollen legs. It also showed one worker repeatedly jabbing a lame sow with a pen to try to get it to move, leaving wounds on its back. The group said it recorded numerous instances of sick and severely injured sows being left to suffer for weeks.

Officials with Sleepy Eye-based Christensen Farms and the company’s attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment late Friday afternoon. Nor did an attorney for the employees, and it wasn’t immediately clear if they still work for the company.

Defending the diet

An international team of researchers examined the ways in which people defend eating meat. They found the vast majority of omnivores defend consuming animals using one of four rationalizations: it is natural, normal, necessary or nice.

“The relationships people have with animals are complicated,” said researcher Jared Piazza of Lancaster University in the UK. “While most people enjoy the company of animals and billions of dollars are spent each year on pet care and maintenance, most people continue to eat animals as food. People employ a number of strategies to overcome this apparent contradiction in attitude and behavior. One important and prevalent strategy is to rationalize that meat consumption is natural, normal, necessary and nice.“

The researchers asked adults in the United States why it is OK to eat meat. The No. 1 reason? Eating meat is “necessary” to the diet.

Piazza said people who rationalized eating meat as natural, necessary, normal and nice also attributed fewer mental capacities to cows and were more tolerant of social inequality. 

The research, co-authored by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Edinburgh and  Melbourne University, was published in the journal Appetite.

PETA activist Pamela Anderson serves vegetarian lunch at jail

Some inmates at the Maricopa County Jail in Arizona did a double-take after seeing actress Pamela Anderson serving their lunches.

The former “Baywatch” star was in Phoenix this week to help promote Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s all-vegetarian meal program.

Arpaio says cutting meat from the meals served to the more than 8,000 inmates has saved an estimated $200,000 per year. The jail has been serving vegetarian meals for 16 months. 

Inmates are served a peanut butter sandwich with oranges and some crackers for brunch and a hot meal comprised of different vegetable and soy dishes for dinner.

Anderson is a longtime vegan and a spokeswoman for the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The group came under fire for its association with Arpaio, who has long faced criticism that he unfairly targets minorities for law enforcement. 

Anderson said she hopes the meal initiative stands as a model for prisons and jails across the country.

She said in a news release issued by the sheriff’s office: “I believe people can be rehabilitated from the inside out. Jails are full of people wanting to change, to make amends, to learn healthier habits and understand compassion and empathy.” 

The sheriff’s office, in the release, explained the benefits of the vegetarian service: “Reduced electricity costs, not having to tailor a variety of meals to suit different religious convictions and other special requests, and providing healthier meals that don’t spoil as quickly as animal products. The sheriff had previously cut salt and sugar from the diet for health purposes, as well as coffee and other condiments for cost considerations.”

Anderson, PETA senior VP Dan Mathews and the sheriff marked the occassion with lunch at a vegetarian restaurant in the city.

How does this little piggy get to market? | What producers don’t want you to know

At any given moment at Reichardt Duck Farm in Petaluma, California, about 200,000 ducks are living in tightly cramped pens, suffering disease, injury and starvation until they join the ranks of the million ducks the farm slaughters in a year for the food industry.

That’s a fact only known to the world at large thanks to the activist group Mercy for Animals, which in late October released “Ducks in Despair,” a secretly-filmed video that quickly went viral as viewers saw workers burning ducklings’ beaks and brutally breaking injured ducks’ necks. The images were captured by an undercover Mercy investigator working as a barn-cleaner on the farm, and also show birds being denied access to food, water and veterinary care.

Reichardt is no isolated incident. Other viral videos, filmed by Mercy and other undercover investigators, show animal abuses on farms providing dairy, eggs, beef, pork and poultry to consumers nationwide.

Videos show calves, being raised for veal, crammed into feces-covered boxes so small they cannot lie down. 

Videos show pigs being stowed in crates so small they can’t turn around, and being beaten with metal rods.

Videos show live chicks getting tossed into machines to be mashed into feed.

And here at home, a Mercy investigator released hidden-camera footage in early 2014 from Wiese Brothers Farms, a dairy farm in Greenleaf, Wisconsin, where workers were shown kicking, stabbing and whipping cows, even dragging downed animals around by chains attached to their legs and necks.

More recently, on Nov. 12, Mercy released an undercover video from Andrus Dairy in Birnamwood, Wisconsin, showing workers kicking and punching cows, hacking at their tails with pruning shears and dragging animals by their necks with ropes attached to tractors. The dairy was identified as a supplier to Ohio-based Great Lakes Cheese, one of the largest cheese companies in the country and a supplier to major grocery chains. 

“The handling of the dairy cows in this video is not acceptable,” Dr. Temple Grandin, animal welfare expert, said after reviewing the footage.

More than 80 undercover investigations have been conducted at U.S. factory farms in the past decade, resulting in dozens of videos that reveal animal abuse and real threats to food safety. And even as campaigns are launched to implement policies that can prevent such cruelty, counter-campaigns are trying to prevent undercover investigations in the first place. 

Earlier this year, the state of Idaho enacted an “ag-gag” law that criminalizes undercover investigations, making unauthorized recordings punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. 

The measure is not the first of its kind, and it likely will not be the last.

Model ag-gag bills have been circulated by the right-wing, corporate-backed American Legislative Exchange Council as early as 2002. ALEC, the organization behind so-called “Stand Your Ground” legislation and anti-immigrant bills, published a draft that year misleadingly titled the Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act that would prohibit “entering an animal or research facility to take pictures by photograph, video camera or other means with the intent to commit criminal activities or defame the facility or its owner.”

Seven states have thus far passed ag-gag measures aimed at blocking whistleblowers from revealing abuse or unsafe conditions at livestock facilities. Advocates say farmers and livestock producers need the laws to guard against intrusions into their homes and businesses.

progressive pushback

But a broad progressive coalition has come out against the bills, with constitutional challenges pending against ag-gag laws in Utah and Idaho. It is a cause that intertwines animal welfare, the environment, labor rights, free speech, freedom of the press, food safety and consumer protection.

Some 70 groups have publicly stated opposition to ag-gag laws. Plaintiffs in the federal challenge to the Idaho law include the Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Food Safety and Farm Sanctuary.

The law is “deeply distressing because it is aimed entirely at protecting an industry, especially in its worst practices that endanger people, at the expense of freedom of speech,” says professor Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law expert and dean at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. “It would even criminalize a whistleblower who took a picture or video of wrongdoing in the workplace.”

In fact, an undercover investigator punished in Idaho faces far more severe penalties than a farmworker who abuses animals. Animal cruelty in the state can result in a mere six months in jail; people caught filming abuse face up to a year and a $5,000 fine.

Those who shoot, circulate and defend the hidden-camera videos say the films do much more than shock viewers. The videos obviously can have an immediate impact on how people shop, and what they put on the dinner table. But the videos also impact how workers, farms, factories, corporations and government regulators operate.

Seven years ago, a Humane Society of the United States investigation at a slaughterhouse in Chino, California, revealed workers using forklifts and chains to push and drag cows too sick to stand to the killing floor. Much of the meat from the slaughterhouse was for the National School Lunch Program. The undercover video pushed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to order the nation’s largest meat recall.

More recently, a Mercy for Animals investigation of an egg farm where dead chickens were rotting in cages with egg-laying hens prompted major retailers and restaurant chains to drop the supplier.

The full impact of the video from the Andrus Dairy in Wisconsin isn’t known. But quickly Great Lakes Cheese issued a statement of outrage and said it would no longer accept milk from the farm.

And Mercy’s investigation at the Wiese farm resulted in arrests and convictions of the animal abusers, as well as a corporate pledge of change. The Brown County Sheriff’s Department arrested four men for animal cruelty in connection with the Wiese video, and all four were convicted on multiple counts of animal cruelty and ordered to pay fines.

Mercy, in statements, praised the sheriff’s department and the district attorney’s office for “taking swift and decisive action in pursuing justice for these abused and exploited animals.”

The organization’s efforts in that case extended far beyond Wisconsin. At the time the footage was taken, Wiese Brothers supplied cheese to DiGiorno Pizza, owned by Nestlé. And Mercy called out the company for its association, with Mercy’s executive director Nathan Runkle saying in a news release, “No socially responsible corporation should support dairy operations that beat, kick, mutilate and neglect animals. Due to its complete lack of meaningful animal welfare standards, DiGiorno has allowed a culture of cruelty to flourish in its cheese supply chain.”

Nestlé publicly deplored the abuse and, last January, announced changes in how it scrutinizes suppliers. “We will not do business with companies that do not adhere to our strict standards, and we are always looking for ways to do better,” a company statement read.

By August, Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, had announced what Mercy called “the most comprehensive and far-reaching animal welfare policy of its kind.”

Nestlé vowed to eliminate many of the cruelest forms of institutionalized animal abuse from its supply chain, including an end to:

• Tail docking and dehorning of dairy cattle.

• Castrating piglets without painkillers.

• Confining calves in veal crates, pregnant pigs in gestation crates and egg-laying hens in battery cages.

Nestlé also vowed to phase out pharmaceutical growth promoters for poultry.

Runkle, in a statement, said, “We are heartened that Nestlé not only took notice, but also took action after egregious cruelty was exposed at one of its dairy suppliers. Nestlé’s new industry-leading policy will reduce the suffering of millions of animals each year and hopefully inspire other food providers to implement and enforce similar animal welfare requirements.”

Opponents of the ag-gag laws say Nestlé’s response to the documented abuse at a dairy farm and to the U.S. government’s response to abuse and health and safety issues at the California slaughterhouse prove the value of whistleblowers and undercover investigations.

Still, animal welfare activists expect a dozen ag-gag bills to be introduced in state legislatures in the next two years.

On the web…

http://www.gotmisery.com