Bad Burger Syndrome

Never again. I will not eat a burger against my better judgment. This is not a condemnation of meat, or even burgers in general. It’s a red flag raised against our food system and its inherent dangers. Every year, 3,000 Americans die of foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized and 48 million get sick. I knew […]

Dining with Dioxin

A fried fish served at a restaurant in Sepon, Laos, near the old Ho Chi Minh Trail, in a region that was sprayed with herbicides during war. In the past seven years of research on unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Laos, we’ve often wondered about the safety of foods we’ve eaten and encountered along the way—the […]

Do You Really Want to Eat That?

Did you know up to 38 percent of all American cattle have E. coli 0157:H7 at the time of slaughter? Hmm. I’m swimming in information from the past year of food research. My latest story for The Faster Times presents a few health and safety factoids about burgers, pesticides, butter wrappers, canned tomatoes, microwave popcorn, […]

Off to Camp

Free-range, hand-gathered, hand-packed eggs without hormones, pesticides or antibiotics from Lori’s Farm, Albuquerque Did you see that moon on Saturday night? We did, a crowd of us facing east, eyes as wide as that orb rising on the horizon. What a beautiful scene, and what a beautiful night for the season’s first barbecue. We wiped […]

Banning the Cluster Bomb

A farmer in Sepon, Laos, stands in his field, which he cleared of ordnance by himself. He said he found many munitions. The small banana behind him grows in a bomb crater. An international treaty banning the cluster bomb takes effect today. Cluster bombs are large weapons that hold up to several hundred small explosives […]

New Directions

We pulled into the driveway for the first time in five months, and we found a yard dressed in full regalia—budding pomegranates, blooming sage, plump cacti with new paddles spreading in every direction. And most notably: dozens of fuzzy little peaches on a tree we had planted three summers ago. These are the tree’s very […]

Lao Hai Time

Village kids share lao hai during an annual festival honoring the spirits in Sophoon, Laos Sabaidee Pimai! Happy Lao New Year (and Khmer and Thai and Burmese and, and, and…) Much of Southeast Asia is sweating and celebrating in this hottest, most festive of seasons. Here in Laos, it’s drinking time. In the northern villages, […]

What’s the Trouble with a Little Smoke?

Roasting chiles for market, Bangkok. A lot, in terms of health. Fire by far constitutes Asia’s most popular cooking method, and with good and practical reason. Smoked foods taste great. Fire is easy and accessible. But the long-term health and environmental effects are vast. A massive “brown cloud” covers much of Asia, and researchers are […]

Things You Don’t Want to Know About Your Fish Sauce

We recently visited a small fish-sauce operation near Battambang, and our tuk-tuk driver said he used to work for a similar factory. “I know it’s not good. Sometimes the workers piss into the vats. The men, sometimes they’re lazy. They don’t go to the toilets.” I really didn’t want to know that. He also told […]

The Truth of the Matter

Dirty dishes, Siem Reap roadside rain Some days, I just don’t care very much about food. I go through moods and, at times, all I want to do is feed the machine so it keeps on churning. And sometimes, as in this week past, I suffer a gut bug and I take drugs (not very […]