Episode 5

The Alton Browncast

Hugh Acheson

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The Alton Browncast #5: Hugh Acheson

It’s biscuit time on the Alton Browncast. Alton remembers Ma Mae, shares his first experience with buttermilk, and fesses up to how he really makes biscuits at home. He also sits down with poly-hyphenate Hugh Acheson to talk Southern food, Top Chef, and the proper culinary library.

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  • “Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits”

    Love that quote too. Let’s see…
    Hyacinth= Outdoors, bright colors, the Greek god Apollo, beauty
    Biscuits= Childhood mornings, grandmothers, home, everyday life

  • another thing, in case Alton knows about these comments,

    you sir, are an amazing interviewer, an amazing storyteller, and have the humor of Merlin Mann at his best

    the perfect man for the podcast format

    simply amazing

  • @eddie “I don’t think we “need” GMO to feed people. I do think we can learn to farm smarter using what God gave us.”

    You mean like the plant he gave us which we are able to modify with the brains he gave us?

  • Dear Randy, The quality of the food currently available in our mega grocery stores is abysmal. It also tends to consist of “convenience” foods which are often unhealthy.

    I have no doubt that we will continue to have corporate farms producing this low quality of food in commercial methods for years even decades to come. A lot of people, especially the poor do depend on this kind of food to feed, or should I say overfeed themselves.

    Health problems manifest themselves as a result of this low quality and often unhealthy food supply. This increases the need for health care.
    Some of us working class people are getting away from the corporate supplied convenience foods and now relying more and more on the smaller farmers we find in local Co-op stores and farmer’s markets. Or choosing to buy from the “Organic” section of the mega mart.

    Some of us grow a part of our own food or buy from neighbors.
    We no longer buy eggs from the mega mart. We find neighbors who have chickens and buy their eggs. We have plans to buy our own chickens in the future.

    The change will come slowly but it will come as corporations continue to overlook the fact they are producing lower quality foods until they fail the customers entirely and one by one get abandon. Corporations like Monsanto are the biggest problem we face today.

    They are not allowing farmers to farm in the best ways possible. They are greedy and do not know or care what the long term consequences are for what they are doing.

    So I do not agree that GMOs are necessary. I know from personal experience that the current way food is produced is not healthy and that eating in a healthier way is possible even for those of lower income (like myself)

    Do we spend more on some foods that we buy. Yes, but we eat less because what we buy often lasts longer since it is fresher and so money is not wasted on thrown out food. It is also healthier and less “convenient” which costs more.

    So I find your argument that GMOs are needed means to maintain the low quality, unhealthy foods currently being sold in today’s mega marts. To which I say NO THANKS! I couldn’t care less about their profits.

  • What a great biscuit story! My grandmother used *real* buttermilk that came from a farm neighbor with dairy cows, and she used lard. She never kneaded her biscuit dough. Instead she would pinch off a portion about the size of a tennis ball, and roll it between her floured hands until it was flattened to about a 1/2 to 3/4 inch high disc. Then she would place it in the greased pan, which was a very dark (from use) cake pan. Then she would let the biscuits rest in the pan for about an hour or two before putting them in the oven. She said it gave them the sour-dough flavor that she prized. We ate those biscuits with a slice of country ham, something that also came from a farm neighbor. Oh glorious days! I have that cake pan now and bake my own biscuits in it. Unfortunately, they will never taste like my grandmother’s because I have celiac disease and have to use gluten free flour. Sad face.

  • Dear Eddie,

    The main factor that you seems to be missing in your arguments is economics. GMOs are unnecessary in a world in which people either would be willing to work for a below poverty wage or food costs comprise a much larger percentage of household income.
    The many varieties of organic farming techniques can produce higher yields per acre than agribusiness with severely less pollution and much better taste to boot. The downside, however, they rely on human labor. Human labor requires living wages, health care, and retirement etc. etc. These factors quickly put the cost per calorie equation to slide heavily in agribusiness’s favor. Organic farming techniques work great for subsistence farmers and people with disposable incomes; the masses not so much.

  • I did just a moment of research on famines. I found this list.

    All but 2 of these 10 famines had important political elements.The other two had natural disasters as an element. All of them were regional. Starvation could of been prevented if people did have reserves of food set aside for those kinds of events.

    In the Bible Joseph faced a 7 year famine that the nation of Egypt was saved from due to the reserves of grain he advised Pharaoh to set aside.

    The failure to produce food isn’t primarily because plants just keep up with demand. It is often because people fail to think or prepare or consider the result of political plans. Curious how often it is either unchecked major corporate greed or Socialist agendas that end up killing people in a famine.

    Socialist/totalitarian governments every bit as dangerous as something like Monsato or The East India company, in fact more.

  • On another topic…. Do all famous Chef’s skip class in high school or just the ones Alton inberviews? ;-) Iron Chef Flay said he used to skp class so did Acheson. Just saying…

  • I don’t buy it….You don’t need GMOs to feed everybody. You need smarter ways to farm. You need to use plants that are appropriate to the land your are growing on. God has already provided enough genetically variability in plants that you don’t need to worry about making them better by temporary genetic changes that nature will eventually reverse or override.

    Monsanto is a behemoth that needs to have it’s monopoly broken. It should not be allowed to sue farmers for making their own seed, even they are based on their work. Nature should not be copyrighted.

    “They” have always said there isn’t enough land to feed all the people… but starvation has never been more than a local problem confined to areas where political problems (wars, etc.) have been the culprit, not the world’s inability to produce food.

    In the end GMO’s are irrelevant, not evil. But I would like to hear Alton back up his statement (that we need GMO’s) some facts, Real hard facts, not propaganda.

  • Nobody’s paying me to leave comments (unfortunately).

    The benefits of GMOs can, of course, vary. GMOs increase nutrition, or yields, or taste, Right now, it seems that most GMOs are intended to increase yields (sometimes at the expense of nutrition and taste). Besides yield, a lot of ‘em are also modified to be resistant to pesticides and fungicides (of course, this often means that farmers will use more of these chemicals, which is bad). But like almost any technology, there’s good uses too, for example “golden rice”, a modified version of rice that produces beta carotene, intended for vitamin A deficient countries. You certainly can’t make a statement like “GMOs don’t increase crop yield at all.”

    And, like many technologies, GMOs have a lot of potential for harm. Just look at corporations like Monsanto. When a company is famous for making Agent Orange, you can’t expect much good to come from them. They’re guilty of everything from suing farmers to letting un-certified GMOs into the wild. They even sue people who don’t even use their seeds (and somehow win the lawsuits)!

    Also, I’m certainly not advocating GMOs as a silver bullet. If these issues can be solved better with other technologies, then it doesn’t make sense to use GMOs. Localized food production would certainly be more favorable, especially in cutting down on waste from storage and transportation. Not to mention better flavor from fresher foods.

    I’d certainly like to see a lot of legal reform, stricter testing and regulations, and more control over GMOs. Mandatory labelling would be a great start, as Alton mentioned. But it’s silly to say that all GMOs are bad.

  • if you’re asking us to bet he *isn’t* a shill you’ll have to lay pretty heavy odds.

    Eddie’s right on, increasing yield per crop isn’t necessary to feed all; localized food production might help far more. And GMOs don’t increase yield per crop at all, especially if factoring in nutritional content per ounce.

  • @eddie we in the US may not strictly “need” GMOs, but they’re necessary in many other parts of the world. And the population is growing so quickly that we’re running out of land and food. If you’ve got some hidden cache of arable land somewhere, I’d love to hear about it. But right now, lots of people are cutting down rainforests, redirecting rivers, and engineering crops to be able to grow food in places where we couldn’t before.

    And it’s not like we’re just using “what god gave us”. Ever since we first developed agriculture, we’ve been breeding plants, levelling fields, clearing forests, capturing rainwater, damming rivers, building greenhouses… We stopped sticking to “nature” when we left our hunter-gatherer origins.

    As for gravity, what goes up does not always come back down.We’ve got satellites still orbiting that were launched in the 1960s. We’ve got the Voyager probes that will drift in space until the end of the universe. Not because we “ignored” the laws of gravity, but because we exploited them! (And also because these spacecraft are far enough away that their orbits aren’t slowed by the earth’s atmosphere)

    Genetic engineering doesn’t come from ignorance of genetics, it comes from understanding and controlling genetics.

  • You said in an earlier episode that you thought that we needed GMO food to feed the world. Why? In a world where we pay farmers not to farm and still have lots of arable land yet to farm, where food is so abundant many of us have to watch what we eat, What makes you think we are anywhere close to the point of needing Genetically modified food to feed people?

    I’m not opposed to progress in farming methods but I don’t think we “need” GMO to feed people. I do think we can learn to farm smarter using what God gave us.

    On another level like you said when you quoted Jurassic park, life will find a way. I think “Nature”, the nature that God designed will always in the log run incorporate whatever man does into the design that God mapped out and eventually it won’t matter what mad does to the genetics of any organism.

    You simply can’t push it beyond the natural limits.Gravity works and always will. You can escape it for a time but what comes up, must come down Remember Skylab and all the other satellites we have put into orbit? You can never destroy the laws of physics or genetics. Nor can you ignore them.