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Farmers Still Struggling With Low Harvests Post-Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene hit over two months ago, but New York’s farmers and Greenmarkets are still feeling the aftereffects of devastation, DNAinfo reports. The severe storm not only flooded fields of crops, but August and September were the second-wettest on record, further damaging farmers’ outputs.

Tropical Storm Lee, which hit the Northeast about two weeks after Irene, struck further blows before many farmers had a chance to harvest their crops already in the ground. Many farmers were then unable to recuperate their losses with another planting. But a collective spirit has taken over the Union Square Greenmarket, where farmers are filling the void of lost crops by purchasing those products from farms that were less severely impacted. Governor Andrew Cuomo has also has created a $15 million Agriculture and Community Recovery Fund, but projected losses are about $45 million. For more info on how to help out the farms, visit Greenmarket’s Hurricane Irene Relief Fund.

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FOOD ARCHIVES NEWS & POLITICS ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES THE FRONT ARCHIVES

Food Curated Shows Us the Effects of Tropical Storm Irene, In Heartbreaking Detail

You may have seen photos and read stories about the effects Tropical Storm Irene had on farms upstate. But few people have been able to capture the devastation and personal loss like Liza de Guia in her latest Food Curated mini doc.

Hurricane Irene Aftermath: One Farmer’s Story from SkeeterNYC on Vimeo.

For more dining news, head to Fork in the Road, or follow us @ForkintheRoadVV.

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FOOD ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES

Farmers Forced to Fundraise After the Flood; Tainted Cantaloupes Kill 13

After the government turned down Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to test a ban on food-stamp use for soda, experts are now urging that the government conduct its own study of such a ban.
[NY Times]

There is now such thing as a foodie magician. His biggest trick? Guessing what your favorite restaurant is. Ta-da!
[NY Times]

Two vets have reignited the vendor wars in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art by returning to the contested spot to compete with the food carts already there.
[NY Times]

Farmers upstate are raising money to help subsidize major losses attributed to Tropical Storm Irene with barbecue dinners and chicken-shit bingo fundraisers.
[NY Times]

A licensing company has secured a deal to pay $1.3 million to use the name Tavern on the Green for restaurants outside the New York area.
[Diner’s Journal]

In the deadliest food-poisoning outbreak in a decade, at least 13 people are dead and 72 sickened by listeria-tainted cantaloupes.
[MSNBC]

The American Egg Board, National Milk Producers Federation, and National Pork Board have banded together for an $11 million PR campaign to fight the label “Big Ag.”
[NY Times]

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FOOD ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES

Fast-Food Chains Try to Get In on the Food Stamp Game; Marcus Samuelsson to Debut Pop-up

Health advocates are worried about fast-food chains trying to get in on the food-stamp program. Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut are all lobbying to get involved.
[USA Today]

More on the effects of Tropical Storm Irene on farms in upstate New York, New Jersey, and Vermont: Greenmarkets are about to start looking rather bare.
[NY Times]

If you’re going out for Fashion’s Night Out, consider these Lincoln Center options: Lincoln Ristorante, Gastroarte, and Kelvin Slush Truck, which will be parked nearby.
[NY Post]

An op-ed calling for the reintroduction of home-ec classes in schools reminds us that the program originally taught the importance of making good, nutritious meals.
[NY Times]

A new study suggests that black kids are more than twice as likely as whites to have common food allergies, especially to peanuts.
[Time]

Marcus Samuelsson is the latest to jump on the pop-up bandwagon. Global Street Food, in the café at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, will coincide with Fashion Week.
[Diner’s Journal]

Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant is an elaborate meal and performance with musical numbers, showing this month at the Irondale Center in Brooklyn.
[Brooklyn Rail]

Your kids’ school lunch program may start to look different this year. Expect involvement from professional chefs and restaurants.
[Nation’s Restaurant News]

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FOOD ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES

As Irene’s Devastation Continues to Play Out, Consider Helping a Farmer

As we reported earlier this week, Hurricane Irene wreaked devastation upon numerous upstate farms, causing massive destruction to cropland and in many cases irreversible damage.

Serious Eats checked in with a number of farmers at yesterday’s Union Square Greeenmarket and reported that only two of the regular vendors were absent due to flooding from the hurricane.

But, as they pointed out, the bumper crop at the Greenmarket may prove to be an anomaly as the full extent of the damage manifests itself over the coming weeks. All of which is to say that this is a good time to help a farmer, and thanks to Grow NYC, it’s easy to do. They’ve set up a donations page on their website for Greenmarket farmers directly impacted by the hurricane, and anyone who donates $50 or more between now and September 30 will get a free Greenmarket poster illustrated by Claudia Pearson. Of course, you can also show your support by shopping at the market — although you won’t get a poster, you will get some delectable reminders of why we’re so lucky to have so many great farmers’ markets, and why we can’t take any of them for granted.

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DOH Cracks Down On Dogs In Bars; Michelin Tweets About Closed Resto

Afternoones Restaurant on Staten Island was heavily damaged during Hurricane Irene, to the tune of at least $75,000. Unfortunately, the owner isn’t eligible for hurricane relief funds, which are only being allotted to eight counties upstate.
[CBS News]

The FDA is preparing strict new standards for food items labeled “gluten-free,” which until now have not been regulated and can still contain some gluten.
[CBS News]

A Dutch aquaculturalist has developed a revolutionary eight-tiered system of tanks in which to raise fish that keeps disease at bay and recycles waste.
[AP]

The Health Department, in its latest misguided effort, is cracking down on bars that allow dogs, because beer, wine, and spirits are classified as food.
[Atlantic]

The food blogosphere is still atwitter about Michelin tweeting this yesterday: “What an incredible dinner at Le Bernardin last night.” Le Bernardin is closed this month. Oops!
[Atlantic]

The Waffle House food truck is known for being the first business to open after a hurricane. Even FEMA uses it to gauge the seriousness of weather damage to an area.
[Wall Street Journal]

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FOOD ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES

GrowNYC Now Has a Hurricane Irene Relief Fund

If you’ve been keeping track of the damage done by Hurricane Irene as we have, then you know that while us city folk may have gotten off pretty easy, many farmers upstate and along the Eastern Seaboard did not. Now, as Edible Manhattan reports, there is a way for you to help those who suffered most.

GrowNYC, the organization that operates the city’s Greenmarkets, has set up a page on its website that allows you to donate to farmers throughout New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Your apartment may have been spared, but wind and water have devastated many of the farms that provide fresh produce to your local farmers’ market. As Robert Sietsema pointed out earlier, that damage may not be obvious on this weekend’s market shop, but its effects may become apparent in the months to come. So … dig deep!

 

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FOOD ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES

You’ll Never Guess What Zabar’s Renamed Its Fake Lobster Salad; Le Colonial Restaurant Sued

Zabar’s has renamed its lobster salad after complaints that it contains no actual lobster. The crayfish-based product will henceforth be known as “zabster zalad.”
[NY Times]

For decades, patrons at 21 Club‘s bar were forced to stand. Next month, the new bar will be unveiled, featuring 10 bar stools.
[NY Times]

Gordon Ramsay’s financial woes migrated to Australia this month, where his year-old maze and maze Grill restaurants, in debt for some $5 million, were put into liquidation.
[Wall Street Journal]

A few openings to look out for this fall: the Hung Huynh-cheffed restaurant in the Meatpacking, Floyd Cardoz’s North End Grill, and Matthew Lightner’s Atera.
[NY Post]

The Food Bank for New York City has announced that food-stamp recipients who lost food due to Hurricane Irene can reclaim the value of their losses.
[Wall Street Journal]

The latest labor lawsuit is against Le Colonial Restaurant, in Midtown, where Chinese workers say they were forced to take meal breaks in bathroom stalls.
[Reuters]

Foodily has launched a Facebook app that allows users to share recipes, search friends’ recipes, and keep track of what friends are cooking.
[MarketWatch]

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Cocktails That Drink Like a Meal; Restos and Food Shops Survey Irene’s Damage

Weather-related disruptions to the food supply could “ratchet up prices,” according to experts.
[Bloomberg]

Astronauts traveling to Mars will likely have to grow and cook their own food. Maintaining food supplies remains a main issue in planning Mars missions. [Discovery]

Restaurants are offering hearty cocktails that drink like a meal, like the gazpacho martini at Zio, a grilled-cheese martini at Beecher’s, and a beet cocktail at Gastroarte.
[NY Post]

Despite the Friday and Saturday rush to stock up for the hurricane, stores like Fairway and Astor Wines reported a loss in sales over the weekend.
[Crain’s]

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FOOD ARCHIVES NEWS & POLITICS ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES THE FRONT ARCHIVES

Upstate Farms in Schoharie and Mohawk Valleys Devastated by Irene [Updated]

View from Vroman’s Nose of the Schoharie Creek south of Middleburgh, New York, including fruit, vegetable, and dairy farms underwater. The line of small trees near the opposite shore marks the creek’s usual path. (Photo courtesy Amy Colyer Fogerty; click to enlarge.)

After seeing aerial pictures of massive destruction in the northwest Catskills, including many farms totally underwater along Schoharie Creek — where Fork in the Road picks berries every summer to make jam — I decided to check in on the prospective state of the city’s Greenmarkets, post-Irene, to answer the question, Did massive crop destruction occur in the storm’s wake?

The answer, as demonstrated by a Catskill farmer’s comment to an earlier version of this post, is an emphatic “yes.”

According to Ken Jaffe of Slope Farms in Meredith, New York: “There is widespread damage to the best cropland along river valleys in the Catskills and Hudson Valley, the Schoharie being the largest, most productive, and most impacted. Transportation is a under lockdown in most Catskill counties, and will be slowed indefinitely by numerous bridges that have been washed out, and road(s) that are literally gone. There are major losses to farmers who are literally underwater, and often under evacuation.”

Kat Kinsman (@kittenwithawhip) of the website Eatocracy has compiled Web and Twitter accounts , published on the CNN website, on the plight of upstate communities that have suffered extensive flooding. It’s easy to see that many farms have been irreversibly damaged, with crops destroyed and topsoil washed away.

While much of the damage that has occurred is not yet obvious in the Greenmarkets, we are likely to be missing a key portion of these markets for months, if not years. In this context, the early assessments of the impact on Greenmarkets seems overly optimistic.

Text of the earlier post:

I got in touch with Liz Carollo, a Greenmarket publicist, and she told me, “We’re currently doing a damage assessment. Yes, there were farmers missing from the market this morning, but we don’t know the cause. Highways are flooded between here and there, and some farmers may have stayed home to fix damage — say, to stake up tomatoes again, even though the crops may still be OK.” As part of the damage assessment, the Greenmarket administration has sent out emails and is making phone calls, though, as Carollo noted, “we know that many farmers don’t have electricity back on yet.”

The effects of the storm were much worse upstate and in parts of New England than they were here. In Vermont, the storm has been called the worst since 1927, and there have been Twitter reports of cars floating down the main street of Bennington, Vermont.

At today’s Union Square market, I talked to David Hughes, the affable guy who sits in the little green manager’s tent. He reported that the usual number of vendors was 33, but today there were 27 — but several of those were Saturday market participants who called and asked if they could come today, since they’d missed their regular market. A quick tally indicated that 11 farmers had not shown up today. “But it could be because the roads were flooded, or because they had no power or phone and couldn’t call in. Still, things don’t look too bad.”

There were notable gaps in the Union Square Greenmarket today.

The real damage inflicted by the storm won’t be obvious for a few weeks at Race Farm.

Hughes went on: “Heck, we didn’t even know if we were going to have a farmers’ market today until 6 p.m. on Sunday. Con Ed was using the whole square as a staging area for their trucks. We had to call the farmers and tell them we were on for today.”

Ed Huff, of Central Valley Farm in Asbury, New Jersey, looked exhausted as he stood behind his display of beautiful yellow, red, and green heirloom tomatoes, which had been reduced to $2.75 per pound. “We were up all night staking up the plants,” he said of Saturday. “The wind was more a problem than rain.”

Ryan Race of Race Farm in Blairstown, New Jersey, had a glummer assessment. He noted that his corn had been flattened, but “some of those stalks may straighten up again, and the peppers might, too.” What really worried him were the winter squashes, including pumpkins. “Those are lying in water, which makes them prone to fungus and rot. We won’t know the real damage for a few weeks.”

Enjoying an alfresco meal of heirloom tomatoes and melon in one of the gaps left by missing vendors at Union Square.