Tag Archives: Italy

Friday Linkage 11/3/2017

Could Washington D.C. be a bigger shit show right now?  Just when you think that American democracy has hit a new low, Donald J. Trump and his sycophants come out with some new affront to decency.  At what point do people look around and tally up the damage done—Russia, cronyism, nepotism, money laundering, and the list goes on for sure?  Is it 2018 yet?

On to the links…

This One Quote Shows What Angry White Guys Mean when They Talk About Government Overreach—Nothing says America like making a truck belch thick plumes of diesel smoke.  Oh wait, nothing says ‘Merica quite like the practice of rolling coal.  My bad.  The sooner that politicians stop pandering to this segment of society the sooner we can move on to a more advanced phase of our development as a country.

The Trump Administration Is Teeming With Climate-Change Deniers—It is like Donald Trump sat down with his chief of staff and asked, “Can you find me the biggest sack of sorry ass climate deniers to staff my administration with because…fake news.  Sad.  Isn’t Ivanka amazing?”

Scott Pruitt Is Using the Bible as His Guide for Reorganizing EPA’s Science Boards—If you thought it could not get worse, it usually does with the Trump administration.  I always wonder why these guys manage to peel out the parts of the Bible that they like without actually having to follow all of its prescriptions like, say, not eating shrimp.  Just consider this list of things “banned” in Leviticus.

Scandals Pile up for Interior Secretary—Sam Clovis did not even get to assume his post, so maybe we can now focus on the organizational dumpster fire that is Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.  We’ve got campaign finance chicanery, disaster relief scandals, plane scandals, and a whole bag full of other crap.

Global Solar Market Demand Expected To Reach 100 Gigawatts In 2017—What does 100 GW mean?  It would be a 30% increase over what was installed in 2016.  This makes solar the fastest growing form of energy in the world.

US Wind Energy Pipeline Nears 30 Gigawatts—This is not 30 GW worldwide, but 30 GW just in the United States.  Suck it coal.

Trump Admin. Desperate To Keep Coal Power Plant Alive With Taxpayer Dollars—It is not and it never was about the free market.  Trump’s obsession with coal goes back to his need for adoration and coal barons are always ready to give Trump the love because he is their last hope.  The market does not love them.  The utilities do not love them.  Trump does love him some coal.

Italy To Phase Out Coal By 2025—Another one bites the dust.

Electric Buses are Coming, and They’re Going to Help Fix 4 Big Urban Problems—If I had to put my money behind the electrification of transportation in America I would start with buses and garbage trucks.  There are few vehicles I see that could benefit from the advantages of an electric drivetrains and getting black smoke billowing diesel engines out of our cities would be a good thing.

Vikings Razed the Forests. Can Iceland Regrow Them?—The moral of this story is that it is hard to undo damage.  Especially when that damage occurred over a thousand years ago and your country happens to be a volcanic hot zone.  It does not mean, however, that you do not try.

If You Care About Cleantech, You Have To Change Your Diet—There are few more impactful things you can do in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than changing your diet to one that does not feature meat or other animal products.

Why You Shouldn’t Exercise to Lose Weight, Explained with 60+ Studies—You are what you eat.  Literally.  It does however make sense for you to exercise to be healthy.  There is nothing more liberating than following an exercise regimen to reach a goal that is not weight specific.  The scale is no longer your enemy.  It’s just another diagnostic tool.


Olive Oil Fraud

Olive oil is one of those foods that we are supposed to consume with abandon.  In terms of health, it is rich in monounsaturated fats—particularly oleic acid—that is associated with a “heart healthy” diet.  It is a prime component of the so-called “Mediterranean diet” that is touted as a lifestyle choice that can lead to longevity.

In my house, olive oil and butter—not margarine, but real honest to God butter—are the two fats that get used in cooking the most.  Each has their place and the flavors are quite different.  However, after hearing an interview with Tom Mueller, author of Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, I have deep reservations about the bottle of goodness in my pantry.

Apparently, it’s a charade.  You may think you are buying extra-virgin olive oil imported from Italy.  In reality, you are probably buying some other grade of olive oil that was actually grown and pressed in a country other than Italy.  To become “Italian” the oil was imported to Italy for bottling and exported from that location thus “Italian” olive oil.  That would be no different than sending a big jug of wine from New York to Bordeaux, changing the bottle, and calling it “French.”

How pervasive is this problem?  In the interview, Mueller posits that approximately 4 out of 10 bottles labeled “Italian” are merely packaged in Italy.

Even worse, there is a lot of olive oil that is adulterated.  At the worst, according to Mueller, is that producers include non-olive oils in blends and sell the resulting product as “olive oil.”  Another trick is to use low quality olives, refined through a process to resemble extra virgin olive oil, and selling the result as tradition extra virgin olive oil.  This is all a play to produce cheap olive oil.

And get this, these adulterated products—even if they contain lower quality olive oils—do not possess the health benefits of true extra virgin olive oil.

So, what’s the solution?  Like everything with regard to food in the modern world, it’s about knowing and trusting the producer.  Unlike tomatoes or pork, it is very tough to source olive oil from a local producer in Iowa.

First, read this report from the University of California-Davis.  It is a very rigorous study that details many brands of olive oil which passed several levels of testing in order to be considered virgin or extra virgin.  Surprisingly, or not so surprising if you have listened to the interview with Tom Mueller, is that 69 percent of imported olive oils and 10 percent of California olive oils failed the sensory standards for extra virgin status.  This would be unsurprising if all of these samples had not been labeled as extra virgin.  Talk about fraud.

Second, find a brand of olive oil you can trust and stick with it.  Recently I have changed my purchasing habits away from imported olive oil toward California grown olive oil.  Why?  I want to keep the dollars in the U.S. economy and there is less incentive to lie about the origins of U.S. olive oil, unlike the Italian appellation.

At my local Costco, I found this olive oil:

Olive OilCalifornia Olive Ranch was one of the companies that had all of its samples pass the sensory panels in the UC Davis report.  The Miller’s Blend is supposed to have more flavor than a traditional extra virgin olive oil.

Getting two 1 liter bottles for ~$15 is just icing on the cake.  Or drizzle on the ice cream if I follow the advice of Tom Mueller.


Friday Linkage 10/29/2012

Two solid days of rain this past weekend and two more this week have really changed the drought landscape in eastern Iowa.  More than twelve percent of the state was classified out of the “severe” drought category this week.  That is a good thing looking forward to the 2013 growing season because a lot can depend on the soil moisture before winter sets in.  Here is to hoping that the forecast that calls for rain continues to be accurate.  Even if it makes for a miserable night game against Penn State on Saturday.

On to the links…

Ten Charts that Show the Planet is Warming—As if anyone needed any more proof about human driven climate change…oh wait, is that the crickets I hear chirping when looking for major political parties’ stance on climate change?  Yep.

Larry Ellison Plans to Turn Lanai into an Eco-Lab—I have always wondered why Hawaii is not even further down the road to energy independence through renewables.  The state has an isolated electrical grid.  The electricity rates are some of the highest in the nation.  Most of the power is generated from imported oil that is an accident waiting to happen.  Maybe good ol’ Larry Ellison can make some things happen.

The Great White Whale of American Cheesemaking—This is an interesting profile on someone trying to recreate Italy’s buffalo mozzarella in the United States.  No easy task.  The entire set of articles in the food centric article of the New York Times Magazine are pretty excellent.  Take a moment to read them all.

Eat the Goats to Save the Goats—It may seem counter intuitive, but when goats are raised as a dairy animal approximately 50% of the goats born in an operation will be of no use, i.e. the newborn goats are male.  With little economic value in the U.S. because there is a limited market for goat meat these animals are frequently euthanized.  What a waste!

Is the Search for the Perfect Aquaculture Fish Over?—I remember reading about barramundi in Paul Greenberg’s Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food.  Oh snap, I said people should also read his book.  The moral of the story is that instead of trying to engineer or breed a fish for aquaculture systems, maybe we should find a fish that does well in aquaculture.

Seed Diversity In Pictures—Farmers breed resilience into the system because they understand at the lowest level what resilience means for their own survival.  The more varieties of plants that we lose to neglect because Monsanto and their ilk are successful in destroying these systems the greater the chance for an epic collapse of a particular crop.

Inside Google’s Kitchen—All you have to do is move the M&M’s into the dark corners of your cafeteria and maybe your employees will eat better.  Or they will turn into characters in a zombie survival movie hunting down the last Twinkie on Earth.  Just saying.

By the Numbers, the Facts about Gasoline Prices—Mitt Romney is a serial liar.  Think Progress did a great piece running down the numbers about gasoline prices, oil production, and Mittens’ attempts to obscure the truth.  Or was he trying to disguise the fact that he has no plan?  I get so confused.

The Failure of “Drill, Baby Drill” as a Policy—Oil is a global commodity thus prices are the result of global supply and demand. I know this is hard for the sound bite portion of the Republican Party to understand, but merely increasing U.S. production will not necessarily provide price relief although it will enrich their donors.  What is the real game here?

Hybrid and EV Sales are Up—Each year brings more news about the success of hybrid and electric vehicles in the market place.  As these vehicles become more spread out across vehicle types and manufacturers the growth is only sure to continue.

Will Algae Ever Power Cars—Along with hydrogen, fuel from algae seems like the Holy Grail of transportation fuels in the United States and, perhaps, the rest of the world.  But will we ever actually fill our gas tanks with bio-diesel made from algae?  Good question.