Category Archives: Food and Drink

Smoking Regulations Or A Smoking Ban?

One thing I’ve yet to see from someone supporting bar and club smoking bans is a serious attempt to justify a ban as such. Even assuming that you’ve established that there’s a public interest in, say, protecting waiters from smoke, and that this interest justifies regulations, you still have to show that you can’t achieve your goal with something weaker than a ban. If incentives or regulatory “nudges” do roughly the same work, then they’re to be preferred.

In the case of smoking bans, there are a lot of replacement options, and it’s a heavy burden to argue that they wouldn’t suffice. Here are a few ideas I’ve brainstormed–someone more familiar with restaurant or OSHA regulations could surely find more:

  1. Require expensive licenses for bars that allow smoking
  2. Auction a limited number of smoking permits
  3. Mandate a wage-supplement for servers and bartenders in smoking restaurants (perhaps this wouldn’t work because it couldn’t apply to cooks, etc).

Bear in mind that roughly a third of the American public smokes, and food service workers are presumably no exception. There’s little reason to worry about them being exposed to second-hand smoke, so even a regulatory regime that leaves a substantial fraction of bars might be compatible with protection for workers.

There’s a lot of variance in state and local smoking bans, so this challenge applies quite differenly to them. Pennsylvania, for instance, allows smoking in any establishment that makes more than a certain percent (80% maybe?) of its income from alcohol sales. Such laws are much more forgiving, and I legitimately can’t be too bothered by them. That said, I think that they could still be better. Once you’ve admitted that some bars can have smoking, why is the relevant feature the percentage of income coming from booze?


UN Rejects Limits On Bluefin Fishing

I’ve had a tiny amount of bluefin tuna in my life, and it was absolutely exquisite.  At the time, I was conflicted about it, because they are so overfished, but if anything, the experience made me even more concerned about its preservation.

What’s remarkable is that Japan lead the opposition to the ban, even though by overfishing bluefin, they’re engaged in a sort of minor cultural suicide.  No one will lose out more than the Japanese if bluefin are no longer available.

Mother Jones on the Limits of Organic Food

Mother Jones has a long piece on alternative forms of agriculture.  I won’t try and summarize the article, but it hits a lot of pet obsessions of mine: the limits of organic and local food and the existence of environmentally friendly alternatives to organic food, written from a perspective that’s sympathetic to the broad goals of the organic movement.  (Side note: I didn’t really find the associated Michael Pollan interview to be that great.  He’s probably overextended).


Apologies that this and the last post were glorified link posts.  I’ve mostly tried to stop doing that, unless the link is too good, or I have something to add.  Otherwise, I’ve been sticking links I want to share in the sidebar.  For those who have the privilege of reading what I share on google reader, the lists partially overlap, but are non-identical.

Coffee Roasting

Wandering around the Sweet Maria’s site, I found this pictorial guide to the stages of roasting coffee beans, just before I returned to roasting from a hiatus.  Hopefully it will still be interesting to the 99% of you who don’t roast your own coffee.  I also picked up a tip from them not to put your beans in a fully sealed container for the first 12 hours.

On that note, I’m increasingly aware of how unevenly an oven roasts the beans.  With a lighter roast, which is what I’ve been aiming for, the batch ends up being four different colors, so the variation is immediately apparent.  All this by way of saying that I’m now officially lusting after a couple of coffee roasters.  Or rather, I’m lusting after the state of having a coffee roaster.  I don’t know which of them I’d like.

No Ideas and the Ability to Express Them

First thoughts on listening to Michael Pollan (we had an audiobook in the car): “He is such a goddamn journalist.”

I’m at the beach for the week, and with intermittent internet access, I’ll be reading and posting in batch mode, or not at all.

Sweet Peas

I’m not feeling up to a real post, so here are pictures of a small part of my dinner


Actually, they’re raw as pictured.  It’s strange that they’re different sizes! That’s because they’re from the CSA, rather than being frozen.  The little ones are so sweet, you could give them to a child as candy.  I recommend the “open your mouth and close your eyes” routine so that the child does not figure out that he is being fed vegetables.

Capresso Gets a Call Tomorrow

I do not recommend using a mortar and pestle to grind coffee, but if you do, the Chemex will be forgiving.  Pour slowly, but expect a weak brew. I’m not one for flavored coffees, but the understated hints of cumin and coriander are quite interesting.