Monday, December 7, 2009

Food Stories: Is Garlic An Alternative to the Stock Market? Should we Have Slow-Food Restaurants? Journal for Monday

Amid the world's anxiety, there are SOME things to make us smile.....

As a lover of Italian food, who enjoys cooking with garlic, I heard an amazing story abot how Chinese investment in garlic has proved to be as valuable as gold!

I did not know, until this weekend, that China is the world's largest producer of garlic.  NPR's "All Things Considered" featured a thought-provoking and humorous story about what appears to be a "Garlic Bubble" in China. 

Here's the short scoop:  When the world economy went south, farmers began to produce less garlic---50% less, which is a significant amount.  Then two things happened....

First, the H1N1 flu broke out. Chinese believe in the healing properties of garlic, and its ability to prevent illness.  So schools wanted to order truckloads of this humble bulb.  Second, the Chinese banks started freeing up funds and loaning money to stimulate their economy...and some crafty people saw an opportunity with the garlic shortage: borrow money to buy stockpiles of the stuff, so thast its scarcity would drive up the price, and then sell it when the price maxed out. One guy, according to the story, bought a Toyota with his proceeds. 

Next time I review my retirement investment....Instead of real estate, I might look into flipping garlic!


And now from Italy:  Not fast-food, but Slow Food! (click for full story)

Again, thanks to NPR for making me aware of a sensible and somewhat amusing answer to Fast Food Nation..."In Praise of Slow Food".

Carlo Petrini founded the Slow Food movement initially as a protest against McDonald's setting up a shop at the base of the Spanish Steps in Rome.....(they opened, but without the Golden Arches). 

Petrini's manifesto can be summarized as follows:

"He collaborated on a manifesto damning the “fast life” of uprooted traditions, later adopting a swirly-shelled snail as mascot. He blasted the shrink-wrapped industrial system of modern capitalism and called his resistance “eco-gastronomy,” urging eaters to think of themselves as “co-producers,” along with farmers and artisans like parmesan makers. He also floated the proposition that any meal worth eating is one that’s “good, clean, and fair”—good as in delicious, clean as in environmentally sustainable, and fair as in contributing to equitable social ends. He proposed paying farmers and their workers a living wage, supporting community merchants, and ensuring access to decent food for everyone. As manifestos go, it combined boilerplate material from Italy’s communist brain trust of the 1970s with the crucial addition of an idea that red lefties had always spurned as a bourgeois corruption: the importance of gastronomic pleasure."

This is great news for an Italian hybrid like myself; I remember with love and fondness the Jell-O molds my grandmother made with cream cheese filling in the color of the Italian flag! And the sauces, and the meatballs, all simmered with meticulously sliced slivers of GARLIC....and the circle is complete.  BUON APETITO!


  1. I am a huge fan of garlic and Italian cuisine and go through it like mad in my cooking. I wasn't aware that China was such a big supplier of Garlic. Here in CA, the Garlic Capital of the World is Gilroy, CA, about 50 miles south of my location where Christopher Ranch Co. is reputed to be the largest shipper of garlic in the world.

    All I know is that I enjoy my visits to that region and the pungent odor of the "Stinking Rose". Every year they have a three day garlic festival that draws over 100,000 visitors. I have yet to make it to the festival, but Gilroy is still Heaven-On-Earth for garlic lovers!

    Yummmm! Tasty post, Tom!

  2. Glad you liked it, Tom. Dinner will be at 5....!