April 04, 2009

On Pistachios

The last time I bought pistachios was just before Christmas when I was making batches of Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti as gifts for friends and neighbors. Then, last week, I was cruising the aisles of the grocery late one afternoon looking for a snack. Wouldn't you know it, I chose pistachios.

Over morning coffee a few days later I read about the pistachio recall in the newspaper. As the story grew, I found out both types of the pistachios I bought were on the recall list. I didn't get sick and not all pistachios everywhere were recalled, but there it is, stuck in my mind forever--Pistachios and Salmonella.

It's stuck there along with spinach and tomatoes and jalapenos and peanut butter and peanuts--the subjects of past recalls, some long over with, but whose memories nevertheless linger in the back of my mind. I'm not likely to soon forget that I avoided Mexican restaurants all of last summer.

Hello food processors and manufacturers--I'm tired of having to dig through my trash looking for discarded packaging to see if your product is the one on the recall list. It seems to be happening way too often.

Hello FDA--I'm tired of being the last to know. Am I going to have to start reading this list first thing every morning?

It's no wonder folks are finding their own gardens, locally grown food and CSAs looking better and better every day.

I followed a link in the original newspaper article to the Western Pistachio Association website (where they are now attempting damage control) and I found an offer for a free recipe booklet. Despite the bad press pistachios were receiving, I somehow still felt the need to request a copy for myself. After all, I didn't plan on eating the brochure. I'd worry about overcoming my newly formed aversion to pistachios later.

I wasn't too surprised when it arrived in my mailbox in record time.

I received America's Favorite Chefs Share 10 Delicious Recipes (not dated, 22 pages) and another brochure explaining how pistachios are a healthy food. From information on the website, I believe these were probably published in late 2008.

I like the little play on words found on the cover: "Go Green with U.S. Pistachios".

There are ten celebrity chef recipes along with lovely photos of each dish. This WPA press release (pdf) tells all about the booklet. Here's a sampling of some of the dishes found inside:

Arugula, "Pickled" Strawberries, Candied Pistachios and Crumbled Bleu Cheese Salad:

Tuna Crudo with Pistachios and Pistachio Oil:

Chicken and Pistachio "Fried Rice" with Fresh Ginger and Chinese Hot Mustard:

The other brochure contained tidbits of nutritional information such as:

  • There are 49 pistachios in one serving.

  • A single serving of pistachios has a comparable amount of potassium to that of a small banana.

  • The amount of fiber in one serving of pistachios is the equivalent of eating about 1/2 cup of broccoli.
The main point of this brochure is to tell us that "Pistachios are a Proven, Cholesterol-Free, Heart-Healthy Snack."

Well, sometimes they are, and sometimes they aren't.


At 9:17 AM CDT, Blogger P-Dot said...

I did not know that pistachios were on "that" list too. Yes, it does stay in your head no matter how long ago it was. Whenever I bite into a fast food hamburger I think of all those people including children that died all those years ago. And I have hardly used hamburger since. I buy roasts and grind my own.
Maybe it's Gods way of telling us to get back to food the way He intended it. Fresh, natural, and unadulterated and therefore good for you.
Thanks for the info and hope this finds you feeling better.

She did look better early on. Too bad she fell for all the Hollywood hype.

At 11:24 AM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

Penni - I became really fussy about where I bought my hamburger. I haven't ever tried grinding my own, perhaps I ought to try it.

At 7:30 PM CDT, Blogger P-Dot said...

I just buy what ever roast. Depends if I want it lean or not. For chili I buy chuck which has the fat you need to make chili yummy. I cut it up in smaller chunks then put it in my food processor and away we go. I am careful not to do it too long as I think it ruins the meat. The other way I have purchased ground beef is through Trader Joe's and I buy the Kosher. I know that there are stricter guideline for processing Kosher meat.
If the world can screw up veggies with things that can make you sick if not outright kill you, I am afraid that nothing is really safe anymore. We just have to practice as much safe purchasing as possible.
There was a case recently here in California where there were some bad spices used solely by Asian restaurants. There was quite an article the other day where each place was disavowing that they ever used that brand. Made me laugh...
Here is to healthy eating.

At 2:50 PM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

Penni - Thanks for the instructions. I'll have to try it.

At 11:49 AM CDT, Blogger ~~louise~~ said...

Hi Kathy,
GREAT post. I came so close to buying pistachios about 2 weeks ago on my weekly jaunt taking a few senior citizens food shopping. I had the bag in my hand, read the label and said, gee, after the last doctor's visit and the cholesterol alert, I thought, why not. I don't know why but for some reason, I just put them back. Thank goodness.

Long Island has been all in a frenzy about this latest recall. However, the Setton place filled with contamination was never told to make a recall until just a few days ago. You know what that means, there's tons more somewhere.

I don't know why they can't keep track of these things. Especially in these days of everything having an UPC. Millions, perhaps, billions pieces of mail get transported with tracking available, GPS tracks travelers. Why oh why can't they track out food???

Well, at least you got a cookbook. Who knows, it may be worth something someday to a collector who will like yourself and others, NEVER forget the pistachio recall.

Thank goodness, you didn't get the bug. Douse yourself in antitoxins to be sure and drink gallons of fluids!!! Yogurt too!!!

At 4:29 PM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

Louise - They probably can track all our food, but, for their own reasons, prefer to drag their feet about informing us when there needs to be a recall. Bad for business, ya know. Last year my father took some recalled medicine every day for well over a month before some generic letter finally arrived from the pharmacy. It sure explained why he felt so bad during that month. I think the recalls wouldn't bother me half as much if I thought I could trust the timeliness of their reporting.

At 6:42 AM CDT, Blogger ~~louise~~ said...

Happy Easter, Kathy!!!


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