The Main Course - Summer 2017 - 2
Words on Waste
The largest appetite for food in America is found at
our landfill sites. That is where much of the estimated
70 billion pounds of food waste in our nation goes
each year. Internationally, it's estimated that one third
of food produced worldwide, worth around US $1
trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and
consumption systems. The United Nations
Environment Programme "waste facts" include:
* In the United States, 30-40% of the food supply is wasted,
equating to more than 20 lbs. of food per person per month.
* Nationally, organic waste is the second highest component of
landfills and the largest source of methane emissions
(a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming).
Meanwhile, up to 14% of Americans have food insecurity and globally,
millions of people are at best, malnourished and at worst, starving. Food
waste may seem like a benign problem but it's linked to much larger global
problems and presents a great opportunity to help address hunger and
economic insecurity both today and in the future.
Food enters the waste stream at many links along the chain of food
production and consumption. The Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) estimates that 40-50% of food waste comes from consumers and
50-60% from businesses. One of the major causal factors in America is
that quality standards at the retail level are largely based on appearance.
Growers, farmers, supermarkets and retailers throw out produce with
minor blemishes believing that those products won't sell. Fortunately,
there are companies of all sizes addressing this issue.
Imperfect is a California-based company that sources from growers
across the state and delivers boxes of imperfect and discounted produce,
via a subscription service, directly to customers' doors for $12-$18 per box.
The startup's goal is to repurpose produce that retailers and distributors
reject while helping to generate extra revenue for farmers and making local
produce more affordable.
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Another good example of a company dedicated to effective waste
management of produce is Snact, in Kent, England. Snact buys unwanted
produce from British farmers that is either "too big, too ugly or simply too
abundant." They blend this unwanted fruit into a smoothie of sorts, then
dry the mix into "fruit jerky."
One of ICE's major suppliers, Baldor Foods, is gaining national
attention for its leadership in tackling food waste. They are leading the
charge on finding innovative uses for typically discarded food scraps and
"reshaping perceptions of what is truly worthy of going in our landfills."
Their food scraps, such as vegetable and fruit trimmings, have been
rebranded as "SparCs" and are now being sold to a wide range of
customers including restaurants (for their stocks), juice companies and
animal feed producers.
Some of the world's largest companies are participating in food waste
initiatives. Walmart found it expedient to dump an entire carton of eggs if
one was cracked, rather than replacing the damaged egg with one of equal
freshness. Now the company is testing a program that uses a laser system
to etch individual eggs with product information, enabling workers to
easily substitute a new egg with the same specs. If adopted nationally,
Walmart projects that the system could save roughly five billion eggs a year
from premature scramble.
For its part, ICE is committed to supporting the movement to eliminate
food waste. In fact, ICE has partnered with The New School to host the
innovative Zero Waste Food conference in April, bringing together
visionary chefs like Massimo Bottura and Missy Robbins to explore ways
to minimize food waste. Sustainability is one of our most significant
long-term challenges. Food professionals have the opportunity to make an
impact by creating more sustainable food networks.
by Timothy Cooper
Until the late 19th century, the breakfast meal in Europe and America
was typically seen as either a privilege of the elite, or simply a necessary
precursor to working in the fields or factories all day. Breakfast foods
didn't exist as a separate category of cuisine; the meal typically
consisted of leftovers from the previous night's dinner, along with
porridge, bread, cheese, and perhaps ale. At some point eggs were
added as an easy supplement (since chickens lay eggs in the morning,
and egg dishes require minimal planning and preparation), as were
cured pork and other preserved meats that didn't have to be
slaughtered just before consumption.
In the late 1800s, the Industrial Revolution saw more workers
moving from farms to factories, which was generally more sedentary
work than laboring in the fields. At that point, heavy "farm breakfasts"
received a bad rap for causing indigestion-a major health obsession
at the time-and lighter breakfasts became the ideal. By 1925, the
breakfast foods that we think of as conventionally American were set:
cereals, bacon and eggs, rolls, bagels, and croissants.
THE BATTLE OVER BREAKFAST CEREAL
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Aside from porridge and oatmeal, dry breakfast cereals were not
widely consumed or manufactured until they emerged from the
popular sanitarium movement at the very end of the 19th century.
Sanitariums were health resorts, often founded on various religious
principles, which aimed at improving American health through spa
treatments and dietary changes. A leader in this movement was the
Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, based on the
health precepts of the Seventh-day Adventists-including the
sanitarium's chief medical officer, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, who
supervised the property from 1876 onward. Battle Creek Sanitarium
became especially popular among both middle-class visitors and the
rich and famous, reaching a height of popularity from 1906 until the
onset of the Great Depression.
According to Dr. Kellogg's beliefs, religious morality and purity
could be improved through healthy regimens and vegetarian diets, like
those embraced at his sanitarium. In particular, starting the morning
with bland foods, whole wheat bread instead of white bread, and other
vegetarian dishes could counter poor health. Kellogg's 1878 invention,
Corn Flakes, was meant to embody this ideal start to the day.
Interestingly, one of Dr. Kellogg's patients at Battle Creek was
C. W. Post, who was inspired to start his own company-today known
as Post Cereals-based on the dietary foods he noticed being used at
the sanitarium. Mr. Post invented Grape-Nuts in 1897, and his own
version of Corn Flakes in 1904, which he eventually called Post
Toasties. Dr. Kellogg later alleged that Mr. Post had stolen his formula
from the Battle Creek Sanitarium office safe.
These new boxed cereals truly caught on as the 20th century
progressed, with their popularity closely tied to their health benefits.
In the 1930s and 1940s, research began to emerge about the
advantages of vitamins in healthful diets. Breakfast cereals were
quickly fortified with these vitamins, then heralded as a rich vitamin
source. At the same time, due to World War II, women were entering
the workforce in record numbers, increasing the need for quick family
breakfasts requiring minimal preparation. Thus, cereal advertisements
of the time heralded cereals ease and speed-along with a hefty dose
of implied maternal guilt over providing children with the most
MARKETING THE BUSINESS OF BREAKFAST
In the 1920s, Edward Bernays, founder of the modern field of public
relations (who happened to be a nephew of Sigmund Freud), was hired
by the Beech-Nut Packing Company to increase demand for bacon.
Earlier, he'd aided Dixie Cups with a campaign alleging that drinking
out of glasses was linked to deadly diseases, so disposable cups were a
In this case, Bernays's strategy was to get one doctor to vouch that
protein-rich breakfasts (bacon and eggs) were healthier than lighter,
less protein-heavy breakfast-as well as more American. Bernays then
managed to get 5,000 doctors to sign the statement, and convinced
newspapers to publish the signed statement as if it were a scientific
study. The medical recommendation tipped the trend toward heavier
COFFEE FOR BREAKFAST
Before the arrival of coffee in Europe, a more likely breakfast beverage
would be hard cider in the U.S. (even among children), or beer soup
in Germany: dark beer, cream, fat, and flour or egg yolk, occasionally
with spices, onions, or cheese added. When coffee arrived in Europe
in the 1700s, it became an aristocratic beverage, but by the mid-18th
century, it had already shifted into a drink the masses could afford and
The timing was just right for the Industrial Revolution, as coffee
was the perfect choice to keep poorly paid textile workers going during
long hours. In the U.S. after the Boston Tea Party in 1773, coffee
became the more socially acceptable and patriotic beverage. By 1880,
Mark Twain wrote in A Tramp Abroad that "the average American's
simplest and commonest form of breakfast consists of coffee and
THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL?
The notion of breakfast as "the most important meal of the day"
emerged from studies largely funded by particular bacon and cereal
companies-Kellogg and Quaker Oats among them. Naturally, these
industries had a vested interest in studies that reveal favorable results.
The majority of recent studies, however, show that people who skip
breakfast demonstrate no appreciable difference in weight gain or loss
from those who do eat breakfast regularly. And other studies show that
blood-sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and resting metabolic rates are
unaffected by skipping breakfast. That said, a few papers have shown
that an early meal can boost metabolism and stabilize blood-sugar
levels, among other benefits.
BREAKFAST AROUND THE WORLD
A major difference between American breakfast traditions and those
of other countries is that neutral, savory, fermented, and even sour
foods are prevalent in other cultures-versus the sweeter foods
popular in the U.S., such as muffins, doughnuts, sweet cereals,
pancakes, breakfast bars, and sweetened breakfast beverages.
Pakistan does have a popular sweet option, especially among
children: milk mixed with the sugary, rose-inflected, bright red herbal
syrup known as Rooh Afza. And a popular Scandinavian breakfast is
filmjölk, a yogurt-like dairy product made from sour fermented milk,
typically mixed with cereal.
But there are far more examples to be found on the savory side. You
may already be familiar with the Australian and New Zealander
breakfast of toast with Vegemite, a salty paste made of brewer's yeast.
A Chinese citizen might start the day with jook, rice porridge topped
with egg (sometimes a century egg, aged for weeks in a wrapping of
clay, salt, ash, lime, and rice), dried meat, and perhaps pickled tofu. In
India, idli is popular: a steamed cake of fermented lentils and rice.
And a breakfast found at many a street stall in Ghana is waakye, rice
cooked in beans.
Many countries' breakfasts feature complex, savory flavors that
American palates might consider more appropriate for lunch or
dinner. For example, in Pakistan and Bangladesh, as well as Muslim
areas of India, you'll find siri paya (translated literally as "head feet")-
a stew of lamb, goat, or cow head and feet slowly cooked with onions,
tomatoes, and curry, eaten with bread. In Jamaica, ackee-a fruit that
resembles scrambled eggs when prepared-is served with whitefish.
Breakfast in Vietnam is often pho, the popular soup of rice noodles in
a fragrant broth with cilantro, lime, bean sprouts, and chicken or beef
and beef tendon. And a standard Korean breakfast is a plate of kimchi
(fermented spicy cabbage), a bowl of rice, and a clear vegetable soup.
BREAKFAST PAST, BREAKFAST FUTURE
Worldwide, the minutes available to prepare breakfast in the home are
decreasing-perhaps due to the rise of families in which both parents
must work. This trend, combined with globalization, has meant that
Western breakfast traditions are being exported to Asia and Africa,
including cereal, doughnuts, chocolate milk, coffee, and even bacon.
Today, 70 percent of breakfasts in America are still consumed at
home. But the breakfast categories that are growing the fastest are
"convenience foods"-affordable, pre-prepared, and able to be eaten
with a single hand, like yogurt, cereal bars, and breakfast sandwiches.
As a result of careful industrial marketing techniques, strategic public
relations, and shifting workplace and family dynamics, American
breakfast is a constantly changing and evolving meal.