News for Foodies
By Ty Bannerman
Trouble in the Hen House
Bad news for the burgeoning backyard chicken movement. A new study by the New York State Health Department found that eggs from urban chickens in the boroughs of New York contained detectable levels of lead. It’s not much–generally 10 to 73 parts per billion (with the FDA recommending that no foods for children contain more than 100 parts per billion). It’s probably more of a worry for people raising flocks in polluted urban environments, but the study certainly gave me pause before cracking open one of my own homegrown eggs for a morning omelet. If you’re raising chickens in a formerly industrial area or near heavy car traffic, you may want to test the soil in your backyard for lead. Call NMSU’s Bernalillo County Extension at 243-1386 for information on doing so.
In response, Sunland has issued a massive recall of all their products sold since March 2010. Yes, you read that right: everything they’ve sold for the past two years.
The Quarters Sold
Longtime Albuquerque restaurateur Connie Nellos is looking to get out of the BBQ biz after nearly a half century. He’s already sold one restaurant, The Quarters on Wyoming, and says he’ll entertain offers on the other two locations. The good news is that the new owner of the Wyoming store, Kyler Choi, plans to retain the Quarters name and menu, and possibly even expand.
Pathogenic Peanut Butter
If you’ve been following the news for the past few weeks, you know that the FDA found salmonella contamination in the factory for Sunland, the enormous organic peanut butter outfit based out of Portales, NM. As of this writing, 35 illnesses have been linked to the Valencia Peanut Butter the company produces for Trader Joe’s. In response, Sunland has issued a massive recall of all their products sold since March 2010. Yes, you read that right: everything they’ve sold for the past two years. That includes all Sunland varieties of peanut butter (many sold as store brands at places like Target, Whole Foods and others), but also items like peanut butter ice cream, tahini and Thai ginger butter. Go to sunlandinc.com for an up-to-date list, as well as a grisly description of salmonella’s symptoms. (Spoiler: If you get it, you’ll probably survive, but you ain’t leaving the house for a few days.)
The End of Chile Season
It’s finally getting a bit autumnal down in the Rio Grande Valley, and the word from my chile dealer is that this year’s crop of fresh, local green will soon be a fading memory. Clear out your freezer and get down to your favorite roaster to load up with a bushel or so before it’s all gone.
Waiting on your Vote
As you may have seen mentioned elsewhere, early voting has begun. In addition to all that presidential jazz, there’s one issue on the ballot that stands to make a direct impact on Albuquerque’s food scene: a proposed minimum wage hike. If it passes, tipped employees such as waiters will see their wage increase from $2.13 an hour to about $4 an hour next year. Some of our restaurateurs are fighting this tooth and nail, saying that the extra cost on their payroll will force many small businesses to close down for good. However, as Margaret Wright reported in this paper last week, economic studies of communities who have enacted similar measures show that their rates of job creation and employment levels remain essentially the same. I’m not going to tell you how to vote, but I know I’ll be casting my ballot in favor of happier, well-fed servers that are able to put more of their cash back into the local economy.
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