Archive for September, 2009

Rosie to Handle Food

Because she’s less likely to lick her fingers and contaminate ingredients during food production, Rosie the Jetson’s robot may take the place of people when it comes to food handling.

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So much for creating new jobs…  Jeff Burnstein, President of the Robotic Industries Association, thinks that food-borne illnesses are caused by people that come into contact with food.  He’s partially correct – improper food handling during growing, harvesting, processing, storing, shipping and preparing foods can cause contamination.  But foods may also have harmful bacteria in them without people having anything to do with it.  Ciguatera, for example, is a toxin produced by algae – and guess what, Burnstein, people aren’t the ones that cause it and you can’t destroy it with cooking.  Nonetheless, Burnstein believes robots are better at preparing food.

“The fact is that robots are cleaner than people,” he says.  Burnstein proposes that we will be seeing more robots in the packing and production stages of food — and in restaurants.  Supposedly, there are now places that own robotic sushi-makers.  Call me a robot-racist but can Rosie really whip up Hamachi?!

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The Tabula Rasa Speech

Mr. Bill Williams, my headmaster from middle and high school, began each school year with a welcoming speech.  It was the new year, he said, and all students had a chance to enter into it with a clean slate – a “tabula rasa.”  Secretly I enjoyed the Tabula Rasa Speech, coined by my fellow classmates.  Though many said they considered it boring, they were as rapt an audience as high-holiday temple goers.  Which brings me to my next thought…

Poly Prep

With Rosh Hashana only four days away, it dawned on me that the Tabula Rasa Speech coincided at a good time.  Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year, and as the Jews welcome it in, they throw bread into the water.  The act is “tashlich,” signifying the “casting off” of sins from the past year.  Sure, just because we throw bread into the water doesn’t mean those wrongs are suddenly righted.  But it helps to confront them – so one may feel the tabula rasa that should accompany the new year.

Does the water carry away your apologies, thoughts, prayers, whatever, as the bread floats away?  Well, if it’s stone-ground whole wheat, maybe 🙂  No, nothing is a substitute for being direct with oneself and others.  Tashlich is the start of that reconciliation- the tabula rasa – allowing you to take on the new year with a clear head and heart.

The apples and honey signify the sweetness of the new year

The apples and honey signify the sweetness of the new year

I’m not religious – but this time of year makes it hard not to feel closer to my family and people.  It is typical to consume apples and honey – both sweet in taste – to represent the beauty and sweetness of the new year.  Besides the symbolism of eating this treat, I would argue that tasted together apples and honey are two of the most fittingly combined foods a human body can enjoy.  L’shana tovah (happy new year!)

Ireland and the Food

On Sunday, I came back from a beautiful trip to Ireland.  I have some family over there on my Uncle’s side and it was nice to visit the cousins.  The land is greener than those hot neon spandex I wore in the 90s!

This picture was NOT enhanced.  Incredibly GREEN!

This picture was NOT enhanced. Incredibly GREEN!

I stayed on my cousin’s farm – like my professor Joan Gussow, many people grow all of their veggies and fruits on their own land.  Some think it’s ludicrous that the world gets their foods shipped all over the place.  I also tried unpasteurized milk for the first time – tasty!  Very creamy.  Then again, everything in Ireland is creamy… The country is full of butter, scones and other saturated, earthly delights.

YUMMMM, Irish Soda Bread

They are also really into tea and toast.  I don’t know how this happened, but in a matter of ONE WEEK- my healthy diet went from heart-healthy to heart-noxious.  About a couple of pounds later, I found myself waddling home from across the pond, ready to get back to my flaxmeal and oats, exercise and work…  And here I am to tell the tale.

Me and the sheep

Me and the sheep