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Which Are The World's Cleanest Cities? Robert Malone, 04.16.07, 12:10 PM ET In Pictures: The World's Cleanest Cities There is clean and then there is clean. In the world, as a rule of thumb, the North is clean and the South is dirty. Indeed only two of the top-25 cleanest cities in the world are below the Equator--Auckland, New Zealand, and Wellington, New Zealand. The cleanest cities are largely located in countries noted for their democracy and their industrialization. The only Asian cities represented are in Japan. There are no top-25 clean cities in South or Central America, Africa and Australia. The U.S. has five of the top 25; Canada, a strong five, with the top spot its city of Calgary; Europe has 11 of the top 25; and Japan has three. The 25 cleanest cities are located in 13 countries. It may not be accidental that these countries are among the highest in purchasing power parity according to the World Development Indicator database of the World Bank. Twelve are in the top 20, and only New Zealand lags in wealth, at No. 37 on the list of world's wealthiest. So clean may also mean well-off. In Pictures: The World's Cleanest Cities To be clean a city has to face and solve many problems that otherwise lead to unsanitary conditions and poor health as well as possible economic stagnation. Producing energy for industry, homes and transportation has to be planned and executed reasonably, and this means some form of regulation and control. To be clean means organizing what is done with waste. Landfills are being closed or filled up. Recycling is the only long-range answer, but this takes civic discipline, a system and preferably a system that turns a profit. Green only works well when it results in greenbacks. In addition a city has to look closely at its transportation infrastructure (roads, rail, air, subways) and their impact upon being clean or going dirty or staying dirty. The logistics infrastructure is also critical in terms of efficiency that can translate into money and fuel savings that in turn affect cleanliness (air quality, water quality and ground quality). Taken all together as with clean energy generation, waste control, recycling and various levels of infrastructure reorganization, the challenge is formidable. Some will recommend taking on one challenge at a time, and this may be what President Bush has in mind with ethanol. Bush's advocacy of ethanol is a step towards cleaner fuel and in turn cleaner cities. The idea is also controversial as the resources available for ethanol are directly related to the food supply chain. There can be great friction over sharing such resources. Some are advocating inputs beyond corn grain. "One of the most abundant potential resources we have is the nonfood parts of the corn plant, including the stalks, leaves and husks,” says Dr. Michael Pacheco, director of the National Bioenergy Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The figures for the cleanest cities are derived from studies by the Mercer Human Resources Consulting that cull from 300 cities, identifying overall quality of living as well as special reports on regions. It is interesting to note that size does not appear to be a factor either in terms of size of population or physical size of the city. The most common trait in common to each is a focus on high tech, education and headquartering of national and international companies along with an extensive public transit system.
Corn-based ethanol: The negatives outweigh the positives JEFFREY SIMPSON From Wednesday's Globe and Mail July 30, 2008 at 7:58 AM EDT Canada's governments have done something really stupid in subsidizing corn-based ethanol, and requiring its increased use, but apparently cannot correct their mistake. As a policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, corn-based ethanol is a poor option; as a farm subsidy program, it's also a poor bet. Making matters worse, corn-based ethanol takes corn-for-food out of production, and moves land from other kinds of production into corn, thereby adding to what are already rising food prices. Governments, here and in the U.S., thought they were doing great things for the environment and helping farmers, too. Ethanol policy was, to quote the Harper government, a "win-win." Actually, it was a lose-lose policy for all but corn producers, who, naturally enough, have rallied furiously to protect their good fortune. Many researchers have exposed the follies of subsidizing corn-based ethanol production, the latest being Douglas Auld, in an extremely well-documented paper for the C.D. Howe Institute. Mr. Auld has surveyed the research literature about the putatively beneficial effects of corn-based ethanol on replacing gasoline. The theory is that such ethanol produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline from a vehicle engine. Indeed, it does, but that simple statement ignores what energy is required to produce a litre of ethanol. When the so-called "lifecycle" of ethanol production is counted, Mr. Auld concludes (as have many others) that ethanol doesn't lower GHG outputs. Remember, too, that ethanol delivers less energy per litre than gasoline, so more litres of production are required to move a vehicle a certain distance. Mr. Auld, therefore, correctly concludes, "It is clear from the evidence to date that there is no consensus regarding the efficacy of corn-based ethanol either to reduce GHGs or reduce overall energy demands." But we aren't dealing with "evidence," rather with political optics from governments wanting to look "green" and from a desire to help farmers. And so, the Harper government replaced the previous special tax exemption for ethanol to a producer credit that will cost the country about $1.5-billion. To this sum were added loans, biofuel research grants plus mandatory ethanol content requirements. In other words, the government pushed up the supply of corn-based ethanol through subsidies, then pushed up the demand through regulation. Provinces got in on the act, offering producer credits and mandatory ethanol content requirements. Putting the provincial and federal policies together produced whopping advantages for ethanol of about $400-million a year. For such money, Canadians might expect at least some decline in greenhouse gas emissions. They will be disappointed. There will be few reductions, and Mr. Auld estimates that these might cost $368 a tonne - way, way higher than other per-tonne costs for eliminating carbon dioxide, the main climate-warming gas. By contrast, one part of the Harper government's proposed climate-change policy would see big companies that do not meet their intensity-based reduction targets paying $15 a tonne into a technology fund. World prices for carbon offsetting these days are about $30 a tonne. However, even if this form of ethanol is a climate-change bust, at least it's great for farmers. Not so fast. It's a boon to the corn producers, but to supply all the additional demand for ethanol, up to half the current farmland for corn will be used. As more land is diverted to corn for ethanol, there will be less corn for human and animal consumption. So whereas corn producers will gain, livestock producers will suffer. As their costs rise, so will the price of their products to consumers. It's wrong to blame the rush to ethanol for rising food prices here and abroad. Let's just say the rush contributes to the problem. Mr. Auld estimates that if you take the direct subsidies for ethanol production of $400-million a year, and add the costs of higher food to consumers, the wealth transfer to corn-based farmers could soon be about $800-million. It's the classic case of subsidies distorting markets: One group gains and mobilizes all of its resources to protect its gains, insisting these gains reflect the public good; whereas in reality almost everyone else loses but doesn't complain. So we have a silly policy with hundreds of millions of dollars going down the policy drain, achieving none of the objectives the politicians claimed.
In the Village, off St-Cat west of Papineau and around the corner from Pappas Tapas. Ate there last week. Was already hard to get a reservation for 2 a few days in advance, but with this review it will be even harder. Fine Dining: Mezcla is a wish come true My stellar dinner featured some seriously delicious food, filled with beautiful flavours and diverse textures BY LESLEY CHESTERMAN, GAZETTE FINE-DINING CRITIC OCTOBER 5, 2012 The pork main course at Mezcla, in Montreal on Thursday September 27, 2012. (Allen McInnis/THE GAZETTE) Mezcla Rating: 3 out of 4 $$$ 1251 de Champlain St.(at Ste. Rose St.) Phone: 514-525-9934 Website: http://www.restaurantmezcla.com Open: Tues. to Sat. 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Licensed: Yes Credit cards: All major Wheelchair access: No Parking: Easy on the street Vegetarian friendly: Not especially Reservations: Essential Price range: Starters: $10-$16; main courses $19-$33; desserts: $6-$9. Five-course tasting menu: $39 For a city to be considered a serious gourmet destination, there must be a good mix of established restaurants along with the new and exciting. Montreal certainly has the former, but seems to have hit a bit of a wall when it comes to the latter. Granted, restaurants like Bouillon Bilk, Van Horne and the fabulous new Park and Hotel Herman have brightened up the scene tremendously over the past few years. Yet there are also many newbies that fall flat with fuzzy cooking, tired concepts and waiters who are trying their best to hock the same ol’ seared scallops and crème brûlées. It’s starting to feel like forever since I heard someone go bonkers with happiness over a restaurant. And then, it happened, and of all places on Facebook, where chef and Journal de Montréal restaurant critic Thierry Daraize posted a wildly enthusiastic endorsement of a restaurant called Mezcla. Mez … what? I had never heard of the place. And as someone who keeps a tab on restaurant matters with an obsession some might consider disturbing, I should have. But kudos to Daraize for discovering the restaurant, which opened in May, though his unbridled enthusiasm has made Mezcla one tough table to book. Once I eventually nabbed a table, I headed down to The Village to see what he calls one of his “grands coups de cœur” of 2012. Located on a side street just off Ste. Catherine, Mezcla is a warm, 50-seat space with high ceilings, an open floor plan, and a bistro-ish vibe. The “chaleureux” ambience is further boosted by low lights, sexy background tunes and an open kitchen in the back of the room. The decor provides few clues about the style of cuisine, which isn’t the usual French bistro but … aahhh … nuevo latino. When I think nuevo latino in Montreal, I immediately picture chef Mario Navarrete Jr.’s restaurant Raza. How nice, I always thought while sipping pisco sours, would it be to have more restaurants playing with these Central and South American, Cuban, Puerto Rican and Spanish-Caribbean ingredients and flavours? And now my wish has come true. I immediately recognized our host and waiter, a handsome Venezuelan by the name of Gerardo Labarca, who last served me years ago at that great tapas restaurant Pintxo. Turns out Labarca is an owner at Mezcla along with Marie-Hélène Barrière. Already that’s great news because the ever-smiling Labarca made my first Pintxo meal so memorable. As for the talent in the kitchen, that belongs to two gentlemen, Marcel Larrea, who trained Cordon Bleu in Peru and worked here at Thai Grill, and Georges-Étienne T. Tremblay, whose Montreal experience includes La Chronique and Les Enfants Terribles. Larrea may have last been cooking Thai, yet his background is Peruvian. Peruvian cuisine is hailed as the next big thing, and whenever I hear that I roll my eyes a little as the Peruvian cuisine I’ve sampled (and I’m no authority by any measure here) hasn’t been what I’d call earth moving. Yet after tasting this kitchen’s take on it, I’m intrigued. These boys are making some seriously delicious food, filled with beautiful flavours and diverse textures. Like Daraize, I gotta say, dinner at Mezcla turned out to be one of my best meals of the year. The wine list is another plus. Spanish heavy, well-priced with a good mix of private imports and SAQ selections, the list also features bottles well suited to this spicy/meaty/seafoody cuisine. The Albarino Condes de Albarei 2011 we enjoyed not only enhanced everything we ate, but at $42, didn’t put a dent on my budget. Nice. Now on to the food, which started with a simple plate of ceviche. Wait, did I say simple? Scratch that, because what started out looking like a pretty mound of raw fish and seafood bathed in a slightly spicy sauce turned into a complex dish when we were given a trio of crispy ingredients to mix in, including fried corn kernels, twisty yucca chips and a tangle of deep-fried carrot strands. Was it ever great, with the soft and silky seafood and salmon chunks mixing in with the crisp bits of chips and the crunch of the corn. Every taste was so clean, so fresh and I loved the surf and turf contrast between the fish and the vegetables. Huge. The next dish was almost as amazing, and consisted of tuna tartare set atop potato croquettes placed alongside mounds of crabmeat with avocado and coriander. Again, what a play of textures — dewy, crispy, creamy, chewy — along with all those fresh and bracing flavours. Really gorgeous. And I saved the best starter, the shrimp, for last. Served wrapped in fried yucca ribbons, the jumbo shrimp were meaty, fresh, resilient and cleverly served with two contrasting sauces: a close-to-fluffy avocado cream and a sweet chicha syrup made with smoky black corn. With every bite I said to myself, this is the best thing I’ve tasted all year, and considering the amount I eat, that’s saying a lot. I can’t wait to come back and try this dish again. There’s more. When I asked for a menu recommendation, Labarca’s face lit up and he said the blood pudding was a must. He’s right, it’s very good. Served on a light corn cake, the round of blood pudding is layered with julienned apple and slices of chorizo. Don’t want to get boring here, but again, the mix of textures won me over, and I also admired that these boys are using organic chorizo from Charlevoix, and finished the dish off with a Calvados-laced beurre blanc. What a pleasure to see updated ethnic cuisine made with the best local ingredients. Now that’s what I call modern cooking! More traditional but just as scrumptious was a simple plate of grilled duck hearts, with papa amarilla (yellow potatoes), choclo (corn cob, in this case, black corn) and gently spiced “panka” sauce made with dried amarillo peppers. I’m big on hearts for their filet mignon-meets liver taste and consistency, and these babies were wolfed back in record time. The size of the starters is larger than tapas, yet I’d still recommend ordering many plates to share. Main courses are more costly (in the $30 range), but the quality of ingredients merits such prices. For instance, the main I enjoyed was a duo of Gaspor pork that included three chops from the rack as well as a melting slice of braised flanc. Add to that chanterelles, carrots, parsnip purée and a light ’n’ herby sauce, and you have yet another reason to race over to Mezcla. As for desserts, I cannot deny I was discouraged to see only three, and three that included that predictable Montreal trio: crème brûlée, molten chocolate cake and pouding chômeur. Cue the groans. But wait, not so fast. Just when I thought I’d had my fill of molten chocolate cake, along came one so deeply chocolatey and ideally crusty-melty that I remembered what seduced me about this famous dessert in the first place. And that unemployment pud was also staggeringly good, full of maple flavour, firm yet still unctuous without falling into the dreaded mushy/icky/cloying pouding chômeur trap. To say I had a faultless meal at Mezcla would be an understatement as it was so creative and just downright delicious as well. And I only scratched the surface of this menu. All I want to do now is go back, go back to try the clams with chimichurri, the braised bison, the fish stew, the Cornish hen with yucca fries. Or better yet the five-course $39 tasting menu, which considering the quality of ingredients sounds like the deal of the century. What an orgy of tastes this restaurant has to offer. And at risk of never being able to get a last-minute table here myself, I end this review with just one suggestion: GO. [email protected] For more food and wine talk, tune in to Dinner Rush with Lesley Chesterman on Saturdays from 4 to 5 p.m. on News Talk Radio CJAD 800. © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Fine+Dining+Mezcla+wish+come+true/7343470/story.html#ixzz28X00XnVC