New York City Requires Restaurants to Freeze Raw Fish Before Serving – The New York Times

For years, many New York sushi restaurants have lured gourmands by boasting of the freshest fish in the city. But soon, those claims may call for an asterisk.

New regulations, published this week by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, require that fish served raw, undercooked or marinated raw in dishes like ceviche must first be frozen, to guard against parasites. In March, the Board of Health approved the regulations, which now align with Food and Drug Administration recommendations and are set to take effect in August.

That means that by the end of summer all fish used in sushi, sashimi, tartare and other popular raw dishes will make a pit stop in the freezer before they end up on diners’ plates.

Though some customers might blanch at the idea that their coveted crudo and sashimi — sometimes costing hundreds of dollars — emerged from a deep freeze, the truth is that many chefs in the city’s top restaurants have long used frozen fish to prevent serving their raw fare with a side of pathogens.

via New York City Requires Restaurants to Freeze Raw Fish Before Serving – The New York Times.

Chew On This: The Science Of Great NYC Bagels (It’s Not The Water) : The Salt : NPR

One of the first life lessons I picked up in college was this: The secret to the shiny crust and chewy bite prized in New York bagels is boiling. Any other way of cooking them, my Brooklyn born-and-raised, freshman-year roommate told me, is simply unacceptable.

Now, many years later, it turns out she was pretty much right. In a new video, the American Chemical Society breaks down the chemistry of what makes New York bagels superior to the also-rans — the disappointing “bagels” you often encounter outside of New York that merely taste like bread with a hole in it.

According to popular mythology, the uniquely superb texture of the New York bagel has to do with New York City’s water — specifically, its low concentrations of calcium and magnesium, which make it softer.

via Chew On This: The Science Of Great NYC Bagels (It’s Not The Water) : The Salt : NPR.

It’s Plastic Foam Packaging, Not the Food, That’s to Go Under a New York Rule – NYTimes.com

The proposed mayoral ban — swift, decisive, stirring in the moment — does not always take.

New Yorkers can still get cozy with an outsize soda, the carbonated nemesis that former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg failed to fell.

Horse carriages, which Mayor Bill de Blasio once pledged to expel on “Day 1” of his administration, continue to rumble through Central Park.

But now, it seems, City Hall’s two most recent occupants have successfully combined to vanquish a common foe: plastic foam.

via It’s Plastic Foam Packaging, Not the Food, That’s to Go Under a New York Rule – NYTimes.com.

NYC Health Dept unveils ad campaign targeting sugary drinks

NYC Health Dept unveils provocative new ad campaign targeting sugary drinks: \’Your kids could be drinking themselves sick\’

New York City’s Health Department has unveiled a new anti-obesity campaign highlighting the potential health risks of excessive sugary drink consumption.

The provocative new ads allege that “sugary drinks can bring on obesity, which can lead to diabetes and risk factors for heart disease”, and feature the strapline: ‘Your kids could be drinking themselves sick.’

The ads – which encourage New Yorkers to replace sugary drinks with water, seltzer, unsweetened teas, fat-free milk and fresh fruit – will run on TV for the next three weeks, and in subway cars through January, and form part of the Pouring on the Pounds campaign.

“Obesity is an epidemic in the United States and in New York City and it has, in turn, fueled the diabetes epidemic,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, Health Commissioner.

“Over 50% of adults with diabetes who receive medical care have high blood sugar levels, increasing their risk for serious complications such as amputation, kidney failure and blindness. Maintaining a healthy diet is one critical component to controlling blood sugar levels and possibly preventing these complications.”

A spokesman for the American Beverage Association was not impressed by the approach, however, telling FoodNavigator-USA: \”Here they go again. It\’s time for the NYC health department to stop misleading New Yorkers and start focusing on real solutions to obesity.\”

via NYC Health Dept unveils ad campaign targeting sugary drinks.

Obesity up 25 percent in NYC | New York Post

Obesity up 25 percent in NYC

By Carl CampanileSeptember 30, 2013 | 3:40am

Reduce the obesity rate in New York City? Fat chance!

More New Yorkers than ever are living large, despite Nanny Bloomberg’s war on sugary drinks and fast foods, statistics obtained by The Post reveal.

The city’s obesity rate among adults has skyrocketed 25 percent since Mayor Bloomberg took office in 2002, city Health Department figures show.

That year, nearly one in five New Yorkers was considered obese. Now almost one in four is.

The figures are surprising given Gotham’s residents are doing better according to other health indicators.

For example, the percentage of adults who drink one or more sugar-sweetened beverages a day dropped to 28 percent last year from 36 percent in 2007, says the Health Department’s Take Care New York 2012 report.

The data also show more people are physically active and eating vegetables.

Both improvements come after Hizzoner pushed for the expansion of bike lanes and healthier school meals.

The city also banned unhealthy trans fats from eatery menus starting in 2007.

The obesity epidemic is one reason Bloomberg and city Health Commissioner Tom Farley issued the edict last year to limit the sizes of soda and other sugary drinks to 16 ounces. It has been struck down in court.

Health officials admit fat is a formidable foe.

“Despite recent declines, sugary-drink consumption remains far higher today than it was in the 1970s, when the obesity epidemic began to surge,’’ a department spokeswoman said.

“Nationwide, adult obesity rates have been going up for at least the last 30 years, and we expect a lag in changes in the adult obesity rate after a change in diet.

“We are seeing declines in obesity in children, and [the] fall in sugary-drink consumption may have prevented our city from having even higher obesity rates.”

Nutrition experts praised the Bloomberg administration for releasing anti-obesity ad campaigns and requiring calorie counts for meals in fast-food joints.

But they said education goes only so far.

“It’s easier to gain weight than lose weight. We live in a toxic environment of junk food and excess. It’s a culture we still embrace,” said Lisa Young, an NYU nutrition professor who writes The Portion Teller blog.

Noting that the city cut tobacco use by banning smoking in bars and restaurants and boosting cigarette taxes, Young said similar efforts must be waged for obesity.

“We need radical change in the environment. That’s why I supported the soda ban,” she said.

via Obesity up 25 percent in NYC | New York Post.

Bartenders are now turning out cocktails based on, yes, vegetables – NY Daily News

Bartenders are now turning out cocktails based on, yes, vegetables

At places like Colonie and Gran Electrica in Brooklyn and The Wayland in Manhattan you can get drinks made with cucumber, carrots, kale and peas

NOAH FECKS

It’s easy to eat your veggies when they come with a buzz.

Seasonally-minded mixologists are increasingly using produce like kale, peas, carrots and cucumbers, adding them to vodka, tequila and rum.

Not only do these vegetables offer interesting flavor combinations, but some bartenders believe these juiced-up cocktails might actually be… healthy?

Seasonal restaurant Colonie in Brooklyn Heights serves up a $12 Cool Hand Cuke cocktail, made of fresh-squeezed cucumber juice, organic cucumber vodka, and mint syrup.

Colonie owner and mixologist Tamer Hamawi says he was “particularly interested in working with vegetables” for their cocktail menu, since unlike fruit, they were rarely used in mixed drinks.

“It’s also about making drinks somewhat nutritious, as well,” Hamawi says. “You can’t deny that you’re getting some nutrients in there, even though it’s combined with alcohol. You’re still going to get those nutrients into your body.”

Other bars like to play doctor with their concoctions. Chinatown cocktail bar Apotheke calls their drinks “prescriptions” and mixes liquor with organic produce from local greenmarkets — or grown on their rooftop garden. One standout “prescription” is the Edamame and Shiso, made with vodka, edamame puree, muddled cucumber, shiso (an Asian herb) leaf, shaved ginger, and a “wasabi-pink Himalayan salt rim.”

If you’re hoping to sharpen your vision, Gran Electrica, a Mexican restaurant in DUMBO that has the same owners as Colonie, makes a seasonal orange-colored cocktail called the Margarita 20/20. It mixes carrot juice with blanco tequila, among other things.

And why bother choking down a wheatgrass shot when you could throw back a wheatgrass vodka cocktail at Candle 79 on the upper East Side?

The Wayland in the East Village makes the Garden Variety — a mean, bright-green margarita with kale juice. The drink started out as a health remedy for owner Jason Mendenhall, who also creates the cocktails. “Whenever I’d feel a little ill, I would drink kale juice, ginger juice, a little bit of cold-pressed green tea, agave nectar and lemon,” he says.

One day when friends were over, inspiration struck, tequila was added, and the kale-juice margarita was born. It’s one of the most popular drinks on their menu, which rotates out cocktails every 14 days — except for the Garden Variety.

Mendenhall credits its popularity to the flavor combination. And don’t worry if you don’t like kale. “Ginger is the most pronounced flavor in the drink,” he says.

While Mendenhall wouldn’t go so far to call his concoction healthy, “It almost tricks you into thinking you’re doing something healthy,” he says. “It has very healthy ingredients.” For what it’s worth, Mendenhall says he’s drank six of them in an evening without getting a hangover.

But don’t bank on getting your vitamins at the bar, warns Maria Bella, a registered dietitian with Top Balance Nutrition.

“Theoretically, you could” get the health benefits of the vegetables’ nutrients from these cocktails, she says. However, “It really depends on the rest of the ingredients you’re getting in that drink.”

The calories from the liquor plus the simple syrups many mixed drinks include overrides the benefits of the veggie juice, according to Bella.

“I would steer my clients towards a glass of wine,” she says.

Or they could try the Spring Pea Mojito from upper East Side restaurant Rouge Tomate.

“We always try to find cocktails that are lower in added sugar and that are seasonal,” says Pascaline Lepeltier, the sommelier there. “We really try to use only the natural sweetness from the ingredients.”

Instead of using the simple syrup agave as a sweetener, Lepelteir uses a biodynamic elderflower syrup made in Austria, which has no additives. The Spring Pea Mojito sprang onto the menu in June and will be taken off around the last weekend in August, as the sweet vegetable goes out of season.

So hurry and drink up — to your health.

-additional reporting by Jonathan Forani

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via Bartenders are now turning out cocktails based on, yes, vegetables – NY Daily News.

NYC Doctors Are Now Prescribing Fruits And Veggies : The Salt : NPR

NYC Doctors Are Now Prescribing Fruits And Veggies

by KATHARINE O’MARRA

Doctors typically give patients prescriptions for medications. But a new program in New York City has doctors prescribing fruits and vegetables to obese or overweight patients.

Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley launched the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program Tuesday. It aims to give at-risk families greater access to healthy foods.

Under the program, obese or overweight patients can be prescribed Health Bucks redeemable for produce at local farmers markets.

Health Bucks are a part of the city’s GrowNYC initiative to make locally grown produce available to low-income New Yorkers. The vouchers are accepted at more than 140 New York City farmers markets.

The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program is meant to benefit whole families and communities at a time. Patients in the program receive $1 in Health Bucks per day for each person in their family for a period of at least four months. Each month, patients check in with the hospital to have their prescriptions renewed, and their weight and body mass index evaluated. They also receive nutritional counseling.

Bronx resident Tammy Futch says her family has seen positive changes since starting the program.

“My son lost 40 pounds [being on] this program,” she says, “and also I lost weight doing it with him. … I have four other kids also doing the program.”

The prescription program was started by Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit that connects low-income people with local, farm fresh foods. In 2011, the group piloted the program at sites in Massachusetts, Maine, California and Rhode Island. It has now expanded to seven states.

This summer, Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx and Harlem Hospital Center became the first New York State facilities to participate in the program.

Dr. Shefali Khanna, chief of pediatrics at Lincoln Medical Center, says she thinks the program will bring lasting benefits to the city.

“We’re not only teaching them just about eating healthy,” Khanna says. “This is really an investment for the future. And we hope we have a whole generation of kids who benefit from this, and reaches adulthood at a healthy optimal weight.”

Stay tuned: Later this summer, we here at The Salt plan to follow a patient on the program to see how it works.

A version of this story originally appeared on member station WFUV’s website.

via NYC Doctors Are Now Prescribing Fruits And Veggies : The Salt : NPR.

Composting On The Way Up In New York City High-Rises : The Salt : NPR

Composting On The Way Up In New York City High-Rises

by JOEL ROSE

Compost bins at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket in Brooklyn, N.Y. are part of a pilot program to get New Yorkers to recycle their food waste.

Courtesy of Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket

High-rise apartment buildings might not seem like fertile ground for making compost.

But officials in New York want to capture and recycle more of the city’s food waste — even in some of the nation’s most vertical neighborhoods. They’re expanding a pilot program that’s also trying to encourage composting by turning greenmarkets and libraries into drop-off sites for residents’ food waste.

New York’s experiment with high-rise composting is already underway in a handful of Manhattan apartment buildings, and officials say they plan to reach 70 buildings in the coming year. Helena Durst is a vice-president at the Durst Organization, the company that owns a luxury rental building near the Hudson River. The city has given each household in the building a small brown plastic bin for organic waste that might otherwise go in the trash. Durst say there’s a reason the bin only holds a single gallon.

“The reason we don’t want this to be large container is because what organic waste can be known as it putressable waste,” says Durst. “Which means it becomes putrescent if it stays in one place too long with too much of itself.”

In other words: It stinks. Smell is usually the first issue that comes up when you mention compost to apartment-dwelling New Yorkers. But city officials say recycling food waste could improve the city’s aroma.

“We actually expect it to reduce odor issues and actually reduce vermin issues in New York City,” says Ron Gonen is New York’s deputy commissioner for recycling and sustainability.

Gonen says food waste represents 20 percent of what New Yorkers throw away. So if the city can divert that waste, it’ll create a useful byproduct while also saving taxpayers money.

“Ten years from now, people will look back at the fact that we were exporting our food waste to landfills, and spending $100 million a year,” Gonen says. “And they’ll look back and wonder what were we thinking paying all this money.”

New York is not the first city to turn its food waste into fertilizer. It’s already required in a number of cities, including San Francisco and Seattle. In fact, when it comes to recycling in general, New York lags far behind other big cities, with a recycling rate of just 15 percent.

But Gonen says thousands of new recycling bins are about to appear on city streets.

“It becomes habit-forming,” says Gonen. “People see the recycling containers on the street corners. They participate with them. They seem them, and they go home, and begin to recycle.”

If the city is ever going to be a national leader on recycling, a lot of New Yorkers will also have to welcome those little brown compost bins into very small apartment kitchens.

New York’s food waste recycling program is voluntary, at least for now. Mayor Bloomberg is expected to announce more details on a citywide plan in the next few months. But city officials say that if the expanding pilot program continues to succeed, they can imagine a day when the Big Apple will send all of its apple cores to a big composting facility.

via Composting On The Way Up In New York City High-Rises : The Salt : NPR.

Next Steps in Bloomberg’s Obesity Fight: Up the Stairs

 

 
By MONA EL-NAGGAR
Published: July 17, 2013
  • Under his watch, New York City has required food chains to post calorie counts, eliminated trans fats from restaurants and fought unsuccessfully to limit the size of a soda. Still, even as his days in office are numbered, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg continues his campaign against obesity, this time by urging New Yorkers to take the stairs.

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Follow us on Twitterand like us on Facebookfor news and conversation.

Mr. Bloomberg said on Wednesday that he had issued an executive order requiring city agencies to promote the use of stairways and use smart design strategies for all new construction and major renovations. Mr. Bloomberg has also proposed two bills that would increase visibility and access to at least one staircase in all new buildings around the city. This would include putting up signs on the walls, especially near elevators, with one central injunction: take the stairs.

“I’m not here to tell you how to live,” Mr. Bloomberg said at a news conference, adding that New Yorkers live close to three years more than the national average and three years longer than they did a dozen years ago. “But we must be doing something right.”

The effort to bring attention back to the stairs follows a series of steps by Mr. Bloomberg to improve the general health of New Yorkers, a defining feature of his 12-year tenure. It started as far back as 2003, when Mr. Bloomberg outlawed smoking in bars and restaurants, and eventually at parks and public beaches. Then he banned the use of trans fats in restaurants and forced food chains to publish the calorie count for their standard menu items. This was coupled with pushes to lower sodium consumption, reduce the din of the city and encourage alternative forms of transportation like biking.

Now, the mayor is charting a comprehensive approach to city planning and design that could tackle chronic disease and make New York a more livable city.

Mr. Bloomberg said a new nonprofit organization, the Center for Active Design, would promote and advise on strategies that encourage daily physical activity and access to healthy food. One such strategy has to do with making the staircase a more prominent part in the design of a new building or retrofitting an old staircase to ensure that it stays open, clean and well lighted.

“We want people to move, we want people to choose this option,” said Joanna Frank, executive director of the new center. “The elevator is there, but it doesn’t have to be the first thing you meet.”

Open staircases, however, pose problems as well, especially in buildings in which stair doors are kept closed as a safety measure against fires. Mr. Bloomberg is trying to circumvent this legal challenge by passing a bill that would permit the use of “hold-open devices” to keep the doors open while allowing them to shut automatically in the case of fire.

Speaking at the New School, just across from its new landmark building on Fifth Avenue that features an expansive staircase as the centerpiece of its architectural design, Mr. Bloomberg cited health research as the basis for several of the recommendations. Obesity, he said, is the second leading cause of preventable death in New York City — just after smoking. According to the health department, more than half of adult New Yorkers are overweight or obese, and close to 40 percent of New York City’s public school students, from kindergarten to eighth grade, are also overweight or obese. Obesity is estimated to cost the city $4 billion a year in health care costs.

“The economic benefit is you will live longer,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “The whole idea here is not to change what you have to do, but to give you the idea or the impetus to do something that is in your own interest.”

This very notion of guiding New Yorkers’ decision making, however, has generated resentment of many of the mayor’s initiatives.

“It’s a good idea, but he shouldn’t try to impose his rules, and he does that a lot,” said Shawn McCray, 24, while smoking a cigarette outside his office in Midtown. Mr. McCray said he already opted to take the stairs at home most of the time. But, he said, everyone is entitled to make bad choices. “It’s a free country. I smoke. I know it’s not right, but it’s my choice.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Bloomberg shrugged off this line of reasoning with a simple thought. “Exercise is good for you,” he said.

Next Steps in Bloomberg’s Obesity Fight: Up the Stairs

 

 
By MONA EL-NAGGAR
Published: July 17, 2013
  • Under his watch, New York City has required food chains to post calorie counts, eliminated trans fats from restaurants and fought unsuccessfully to limit the size of a soda. Still, even as his days in office are numbered, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg continues his campaign against obesity, this time by urging New Yorkers to take the stairs.

Connect With NYTMetro

Metro Twitter Logo.

Follow us on Twitterand like us on Facebookfor news and conversation.

Mr. Bloomberg said on Wednesday that he had issued an executive order requiring city agencies to promote the use of stairways and use smart design strategies for all new construction and major renovations. Mr. Bloomberg has also proposed two bills that would increase visibility and access to at least one staircase in all new buildings around the city. This would include putting up signs on the walls, especially near elevators, with one central injunction: take the stairs.

“I’m not here to tell you how to live,” Mr. Bloomberg said at a news conference, adding that New Yorkers live close to three years more than the national average and three years longer than they did a dozen years ago. “But we must be doing something right.”

The effort to bring attention back to the stairs follows a series of steps by Mr. Bloomberg to improve the general health of New Yorkers, a defining feature of his 12-year tenure. It started as far back as 2003, when Mr. Bloomberg outlawed smoking in bars and restaurants, and eventually at parks and public beaches. Then he banned the use of trans fats in restaurants and forced food chains to publish the calorie count for their standard menu items. This was coupled with pushes to lower sodium consumption, reduce the din of the city and encourage alternative forms of transportation like biking.

Now, the mayor is charting a comprehensive approach to city planning and design that could tackle chronic disease and make New York a more livable city.

Mr. Bloomberg said a new nonprofit organization, the Center for Active Design, would promote and advise on strategies that encourage daily physical activity and access to healthy food. One such strategy has to do with making the staircase a more prominent part in the design of a new building or retrofitting an old staircase to ensure that it stays open, clean and well lighted.

“We want people to move, we want people to choose this option,” said Joanna Frank, executive director of the new center. “The elevator is there, but it doesn’t have to be the first thing you meet.”

Open staircases, however, pose problems as well, especially in buildings in which stair doors are kept closed as a safety measure against fires. Mr. Bloomberg is trying to circumvent this legal challenge by passing a bill that would permit the use of “hold-open devices” to keep the doors open while allowing them to shut automatically in the case of fire.

Speaking at the New School, just across from its new landmark building on Fifth Avenue that features an expansive staircase as the centerpiece of its architectural design, Mr. Bloomberg cited health research as the basis for several of the recommendations. Obesity, he said, is the second leading cause of preventable death in New York City — just after smoking. According to the health department, more than half of adult New Yorkers are overweight or obese, and close to 40 percent of New York City’s public school students, from kindergarten to eighth grade, are also overweight or obese. Obesity is estimated to cost the city $4 billion a year in health care costs.

“The economic benefit is you will live longer,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “The whole idea here is not to change what you have to do, but to give you the idea or the impetus to do something that is in your own interest.”

This very notion of guiding New Yorkers’ decision making, however, has generated resentment of many of the mayor’s initiatives.

“It’s a good idea, but he shouldn’t try to impose his rules, and he does that a lot,” said Shawn McCray, 24, while smoking a cigarette outside his office in Midtown. Mr. McCray said he already opted to take the stairs at home most of the time. But, he said, everyone is entitled to make bad choices. “It’s a free country. I smoke. I know it’s not right, but it’s my choice.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Bloomberg shrugged off this line of reasoning with a simple thought. “Exercise is good for you,” he said.