Archive - February 2012

Household Water Bills May Triple


According to a recent U.S. government report, America spends roughly 2 percent of GDP on infrastructure, about half what it did 50 years ago. Europe spends around 5 percent and China 9 percent.

Reuters claims the United States has fallen sharply in the World Economic Forum’s ranking of national infrastructure systems. In the forum’s 2007-2008 report, American infrastructure was ranked 6th best in the world.

The 2011-2012 report will show America at No. 16, with South Korea overtaking the United States during the last year, according to a copy of the rankings obtained by Reuters. A 2010 GAO report found that one in four bridges in the country is either “structurally deficient” and in need of repair or functionally obsolete.

What we hear less about is the worn and broken down pipe infrastructure that transports one of our most precious resources: drinking water.

A report by the American Water Works Association warns much of our drinking water infrastructure, the more than one million miles of pipes beneath our streets, is nearing the end of its life and needs to be replaced.

The [pdf] report, “Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge”, claims the cost for rebuilding buried drinking water infrastructure total more than $1 trillion nationwide over the next 25 years, assuming pipes are replaced at the end of their service lives and systems are expanded to serve growing populations.

The report warns the level of investment required to replace worn-out pipes and maintain current levels of water service in the most affected communities could triple household water bills.

The growing national need affects different regions in different ways. In general, the report claims the South and the West will face the steepest investment challenges, with total needs accounting for considerably more than half the national total.

The report notes this is attributable to the rapidly growing population of these regions. In contrast, in the Northeast and Midwest, growth is a relatively small component of the projected need.

But the report advises that the population shifts away from these regions complicate the infrastructure challenge, as there are fewer remaining local customers across whom to spread the cost of renewing their infrastructure.

Small communities may find a steeper challenge ahead on water infrastructure because they have fewer people, and those people are often more spread out, requiring more pipe “miles per customer” than larger systems. In the largest water systems, costs can be spread over a large population base.

Overlooking or postponing infrastructure renewal investments in the near term will only add to the scale of the challenge, and increases the odds of facing the high costs associated with water main breaks and other infrastructure failures.

Aging water mains are subject to more frequent breaks and other failures that can threaten public health and safety, such as compromising tap water quality.

The report emphasizes that these impairments weaken the economy and undermine our quality of life. As large as the cost of reinvestment may be, not undertaking it will be worse in the long run by almost any standard.

Review Dahlicious Lassi

Gracie the Cow from Dahlicious Farm

I recently received samples of Dahlicious Lassis. For those of you that are not familiar with lassis, they are Indian yogurt based drinks. Sometimes they are made with yogurt, water and spices. Fruits can also be incorporated. I receive a lot of samples, but I won’t write a review unless I really enjoy the product. These I was glad to receive and will pick up when I see them at the market.

Dahlicious Farm VermontHere’s the skinny on why I liked them:

Made on a family farm in  Whiting, Vermont
120 calories in one bottle
I can pronounce all the ingredients
Contains 15 billion probiotic cultures (why do I feel like Jaime Lee Curtis all of the sudden)
Milk from 150 grass fed cows that are not given rBGH (yay – no corn, no growth hormone)
The cows are milked at 2pm and the lassis made just a few hours later.
Flavored only with fruits (30% of what is in the bottle is fruit)

The Flavors

Ecuador Banana: Creamy and silky on the mouth. The banana flavor is intense, like a sweet ripe baby banana.

Alphonso Mango: Wow. It actually has the texture of mango and a pleasant tang. There’s no cloying sweetness either. This is a treat.

Oregon Strawberry: Feels great on the tongue, good texture. Sweet, but not too sweet and just enough acidity to make you want to swallow.

Wild Maine Blueberry: This was my least favorite of the bunch (one of them had to be). Tasted like fresh blueberries and taste quite natural, but I loved the rest much more.

Lawmaker: Girl Scouts, Cookie Sales Linked to Communism & Homosexuality


According to freshman Rep. Bob Morris, an Indiana Republican representing Fort Wayne, Girl Scouts and the cookies they sell, promote communism, lesbianism and subvert traditional American family values.

In a letter Morris wrote to Republican House colleagues obtained by the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Morris writes:

“This past week I was asked to sign a House Resolution recognizing the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouts of America. After talking to some well-informed constituents, I did a small amount of Web-based research, and what I found is disturbing.”

Morris continues: “Many parents are abandoning the Girl Scouts because they promote homosexual lifestyles…As members of the Indiana House of Representatives, we must be wise before we use the credibility and respect of the ‘Peoples’ House’ to extend legitimacy to a radicalized organization.”

As proof the Girl Scouts have been infiltrated by feminists, lesbians, and Communists, Morris notes that the “radically pro-abortion” Michelle Obama is honorary president of Girl Scouts of America, which “should give each of us reason to pause before our individual or collective endorsement of the organization.”

“Not only is Rep. Morris off the mark on his claims, it’s also unfortunate in his limited research that he failed to discover that since 1917, every First Lady has served as the honorary leader of Girl Scouts including Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush and Laura Bush,” said Michelle Tompkins, Media Relations, Girl Scouts of America.

“If the freshman representative wishes to discredit the contributions that hundreds of thousands of Indiana women and girls have made through the Girl Scouts program over the last 100 years, then he’s entitled to his opinion,” said Tompkins.

“We believe that leadership is about hearing from all sides of an issue before making up one’s mind. We only wish we had the chance to speak with Freshman Representative before he distributed his letter,” said Tompkins.

Morris told Indiana’s NewsCenter that the letter was only intended for his colleagues and that it was leaked to the media.

Currently, Morris is the only representative who will not sign the resolution. Morris said that legislation is coming forward to address this topic and that there could be discussions as early as Tuesday.

Sexism Rampant in The Restaurant Industry


WNET’s John Farley comments on the still pervasive inequity in and around restaurant industry kitchens.

“It’s an incredibly male dominated culture,” said Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of the labor advocacy group, Restaurant and Opportunities Center, and the former executive director of its New York branch. “Only one in five chefs in America are women.”

Farley cites a recent report by the Restaurant Opportunities Center United claiming 37 percent of all sexual harassment claims came from the restaurant industry in 2011.

“The report shows that women who work in the industry face systematic discrimination, poverty wages, a lack of sick days, and five times more harassment than the general female workforce. One major cause of poverty for these working women is that restaurant lobbyists have succeeded in keeping the federal minimum wage for servers and other tipped workers frozen at only $2.13 per hour for the past 20 years.”

The report goes on to explain that lower minimum wage for tipped workers is essentially creating legalized gender inequity in the restaurant industry. In most industries, the gender wage gap is due to employer discrimination, but in the restaurant industry, it’s also a matter of law, since 66% of tipped workers are women.

According to the report, seven of the 10 lowest-paid occupations in the United States are restaurant occupations. Most of these occupations are majority female and pay median wages below the poverty line.

Nastaran Mohit, a 29-year-old Brooklyn resident and veteran of the restaurant industry, said harassment is rampant.

“I started catering in Bayside, Queens, when I was 14. That was my first experience with sexual harassment on the job, from an older manager who frequently harassed the female employees — the hostesses and waitresses,” said Mohit.

After that, she worked in restaurants in New York City and Binghamton, N.Y., while attending college, where she said harassment continued.

“It was something that was so common that I think a lot of female waitresses and hostesses assumed that it was just part of the job,” said Mohit, who claims her worst experiences occurred at a Greek restaurant in TriBeCa, where the owner made lewd and racist comments.

“I’ve seen other girls be put in compromising situations, where if they didn’t say ‘yes’ to a manager who asked to go out on a date with them or something stupid like that they’d have their shifts cut back. I saw that a lot, particularly in New York City, not up in Binghamton,” she said.

The Restaurant Opportunities Center United report also disclosed that the majority of higher paid salaried jobs in the kitchen and in management are occupied by men and on average, female servers are paid only 68 percent of what male servers make.

FriendsEAT Favorite Blogger of the Week: MoniQue Shaldjian


Every week, we will be highlighting some of the most interesting and active members of our community on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus to help foodies get to know their fellow foodies.

This week’s FriendsEAT’s Favorite is MoniQue Shaldjian, Chef, Writer, Social Media Manager at Q the Chef. Get to know her better through the quick interview we had with her.

Tell us a bit about what you do:
Culinary Nutrition Specialist, Writer, Social Media Manager

What’s the best meal you’ve had recently and where did you have it?
The best meal I had recently was made at home, as a joint effort between husband and myself. He loves grilling proteins, and I can’t help but create a big mess in the kitchen while developing new vegetable recipes to compliment that awesome grilled taste. Our favorite meal: grilled fillet served with sauteed Brussels sprouts and rice pilaf.

What’s the most exotic food you’ve ever tried?
The most exotic food I have ever tried came from something my mother made me taste: Dinuguan. It is a Filipino dish, and even though I’m half-Filipino, I can’t get used to this. The name translates to “pork blood stew.” I’m a fan of pork, but not its blood. The finished product ends up being a brown color, so I grew up calling it “Chocolate meat.”

Do you have a favorite celebrity chef or TV show featuring food?
While I don’t watch very much television, I do like Iron Chef. It’s fascinating to me to watch the chefs compete and to see their final products, after being under so much pressure. Nothing like a good cooking competition.

Where do you live?
Phoenix, AZ

Share with us an insider tip for your city!
Phoenix is full of foodies, farmers’ markets, great restaurants, and a wide variety of food trucks. You can get just about anything you may be craving here. I love the local farmers and food artisans. Insider tip: We grow more than just corn and cotton here.

What’s your favorite thing about +FriendsEAT?
I look to +FriendsEAT to post all sorts of food photos that make me hungry, make me laugh, make me think, and definitely make me want to share….the good stuff. I especially like the fact that FriendsEAT engages. That’s the most important factor when being a part of a social media community.

Anything else you’d like the FriendsEAT community to know about you?
Food is my passion, all aspects of it. I have dreams about food, I love to talk about food, and most importantly, I do not eat to live, I live to eat. Food is an experience for me, and I love to share it with the world.

To find out more about MoniQue, you may get in touch with her  on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and her blog.

You too can become one of our weekly favorites. Learn more by following us on Google Plus and answering these questions. We look forward adding you to our Spotlight next week!

Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe


I adore mayonnaise. I hardly ever eat it because of its health (and waistline) implications. When I do it is a treat and I make a ritual out of it. Basically, this means I make my own. It’s actually quite simple. Mayonnaise is an emulsion. The idea behind an emulsion is that you take two liquids that normally don’t get along (oil and vinegar) and add an emulsifier (the lecithin in egg yolk) to make them combine.

The hardest part is getting the perfect balance of ingredients. If you like a thicker mayo, you can up the amount of oil.

**There is a caveat. One egg yolk can only emulsify 7 oz of oil. This means that if your mayo becomes too thin, you can fix it by beating more egg yolk in. The more you practice, the more intuitive this will become.

Basic Mayonnaise Ingredients

1 1/2 cup neutral flavored oil (you can play with flavored oils later to infuse the mayonnaise)
1/4 cup Wine vinegar (same here, try a rosemary vinegar or tarragon vinegar to make fun mayo flavors)
2 Egg yolks
Seasonings (dry mustard, salt, pepper, lemon juice – the choice is up to you)


Ingredients should be at room temperature (aids in emulsification)
Mix the egg yolks, vinegar and seasonings together.
While mixing, add the oil very slowly.
When the mixture starts to look like mayonnaise, you can add a constant stream of the oil while mixing.
You’ve got mayonnaise.

Important stuff

Refrigerate the mayonnaise immediately. You’re working with raw eggs here (risk of salmonella). To be a bit safer, use clean, grade A or AA pasteurized eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.

Bars Use Facial Recognition Software To Track Patrons


Some businesses in Central Florida plan to use facial recognition technology to increase sales. Billboards manufactured by Immersive Labs targets ads to match a subject’s age and demographic.

Immersive Labs claims to provide adaptive advertising technology designed to optimize content based on actual viewership on digital signs for retailers and out-of-home advertisers. The technology is a combination of anonymous facial detection, sophisticated machine learning and strategies specified by the marketer.

“For example, if a woman was to walk up to a mall directory, a camera inside would take a photo. It will recognize her gender, age and race and instantly provide an ad for the appropriate products. So, if the shopper is a 30-year-old woman, she might see adds for makeup, shoes and clothing.”

(Click “Next” to see Bars Use Facial Recognition Software To Track Patrons)

Earn Money Eating Astronaut Food For NASA


Researchers at Cornell and University of Hawaii are accepting applications for qualified individuals to participate in a four month simulated trip to Mars.

The social media news website Mashable explains that Cornell University and University of Hawaii-Manoa researchers want six people to eat space food and wear spacesuits on a lava flow in Hawaii for 120 days.

“Although, participants won’t actually go to space, the participants will act as if they are on Mars. The researchers will record the participants’ reactions to typical NASA foodstuffs, such as flour, sugar and dried meat.”

Participants will try instant foods, and ones with shelf-stable ingredients, and scientists will record their reactions. The goal of the experiment is to discover what foods people like to consume consistently.

The researchers said that because of microgravity, astronauts eat prepackaged rehydratable or ready-to-consume foods for all their meals. The meals are convenient to prepare and eat in microgravity and hundreds of different foods have been prepared for this purpose by space agencies worldwide.

The study background states:

Humans eating a restricted diet over a period of months ultimately experience “menu fatigue”, also known as food monotony. They tire of eating even foods they normally enjoy, and their overall food intake declines, putting them at risk for nutritional deficiency, loss of bone and muscle mass, and reduced physical capabilities. Moreover, all foods decline in nutritional and eating quality over time, and only a few of the many available astronaut foods have the 3-5 year shelf life required of foods for a Mars mission.

Among other things, applicants are required to have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, in engineering, biological or physical sciences, mathematics, or computer science. Professional experience (including graduate school) of at least three years beyond the bachelor’s degree. And applicants must be tobacco-free for at least 24 months.

Forbes notes that in addition to the free food, those chosen for the study will be given cooking classes and taught to work in space’s microgravity environment. They will also earn round-trip travel to Hawaii, lodgings and $5,000.

You can apply for the study here. The deadline is FEB 29 2012.