Sunday, January 31, 2016

Two More Menus from 1917 and 1918: Magicians and the U.S.S. Oklahoma

The Buttolph Collection of Menus at the New York Public Library has grabbed my attention and I'm wondering if I should start a new blog called "Menu Masala."  A food history nerd could spend a lot of time looking for menus with compelling art, analyzing the how contents have changed over time, searching for special event menus with notable attendees, or menus from historically interesting sites.  This post features menus from the last two categories.

The first is the menu for the 14th Annual Dinner of the Society of American Magicians, which was held in 1918 at the Hotel McAlpin (in Manhattan at Broadway and 34th Street, now an apartment building). Of note are the attractive image from the cover (shown below) and the listing of the executive officers on the second page of the menu (not shown). The great Harry Houdini was the President of the Society for 1917-1918 (he lived from 1874-1926) and I found it exciting to see his name in an off-stage context. The food on the menu served seems typical for the time — celery is in the appetizer section, of course — and none of the items seem connected to magic. It isn't clear whether some diners needed to pull their entrees out of a hat, or if others (like Houdini) needed to escape from padlocked chains before they could dine.  I'm sure that there were some formal performances for the group, and plenty of informal 'shop talk.'

Menu for Society of American Magician's, from Buttolph Collection at NYPL
Cover page of menu for Society of American Magician's 14th Annual Dinner, from Buttolph Collection of Menus at NYPL

The next few images are related to the 1917 Christmas Dinner aboard the battleship U.S.S. Oklahoma (BB-37). The ship was commissioned in May 1916 and entered the European war zone in mid-1918 to protect transport ships, so this was dinner was probably held under relatively peaceful conditions. The menu covers most traditions with meat offerings of turkey, ham, roast beef, and sides like sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and herb dressing (a.k.a. stuffing?). Of course, they served celery: celery relish and celery in branches.

Menu for USS Oklahoma, from Buttolph Collection at NYPL
Cover page of 1917 Christmas menu aboard U.S.S. Oklahoma, from Buttolph Collection of Menus at NYPL
Menu for USS Oklahoma, from Buttolph Collection at NYPL
Menu for 1917 Christmas dinner aboard U.S.S. Oklahoma, from Buttolph Collection of Menus at NYPL

The Oklahoma had a relatively uneventful WWI — most of the casualties were related to the 1918 flu pandemic. She met a terrible end at the start of WWII: hit by Japanese torpedoes during the attack on Pearl Harbor, she capsized, resulting in over 400 crew killed or missing. Salvage operations were attempted and the ship was eventually moved to a dry dock for repair, but she was too old and damaged for a restoration to be worthwhile, so she was decommissioned in September 1944. Oddly enough, after being sold for scrap, she sunk while being towed from Hawaii to California in May 1947, and lies somewhere at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. You can read more about the U.S.S. Oklahoma at the Naval History and Heritage Command.

USS Oklahoma battleship passes Alcatraz Island
The U.S.S. Oklahoma passes Alcatraz Island in 1930

Image Sources
  • "Hotel McAlpin - Society of American Magician's 14th Annual Dinner" (1918), Buttolph Collection of Menus, Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. Downloaded from the New York Public Library Digital Collections. No known US copyright restrictions. Link
  • "U.S.S. Oklahoma Christmas Menu" (1917), Buttolph Collection of Menus, Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library.  Downloaded from the New York Public Library Digital Collections. No known US copyright restrictions. Link 
  • Hand colored photograph of the U.S.S. Oklahoma passing Alcatraz Island in 1930 from Naval History and Heritage Command. U.S. government product (U.S. Navy photograph).

Random link from the archive: L.A. Times Food Section

Sunday, January 24, 2016

During World War One, Some New York Menus Carried a Food Conservation Message

Reducing food consumption on the homefront was a major initiative of the U.S. government during the First World War, even before U.S. troops were fighting "Over There." The U.S. Food Administration (run by future president Herbert Hoover) spearheaded the effort with promotional posters, outreach to restaurants, public education efforts, encouragement of gardens, and more. Some examples that I covered on this blog include civilian-produced cookbooks, my version of a "war bread," and a “Conservation Luncheon” that featured whale meat.

Inspired by a flawed post at Quartz (no links to images!) about some exciting images in the New York Public Library Digital Collection, I started searching in the collection for the item about WWI food conservation (It was not easy because the post didn't have a link.  How could you not include a link in an on-line only publication?).  As I searched, I found many other menus from 1917 and 1918 with conservation messages, and eventually stumbled upon the one I was looking for. The menus are part of the amazing Buttolph Collection of Menus, which has thousands of digitized menus and useful search tools.

Menus Carry the Conservation Message
The item in the flawed Quartz post that I sought was a menu from the Waldorf-Astoria restaurant with a bold conservation message that consumed the entire first page of their menu (note: this assumes that the order of the images in the NYPL collection corresponds to the order in the menu). The "Suggestions to Guests" include "eat plenty," "eat wisely," "but do not waste," "eat less beef, pork, veal, mutton and miscellaneous fried dishes," "eat less sugar...," "eat more chicken, guinea hen, squabs, ... lobster, ... and other sea foods."  From a cursory look at the specials and full menu, it appears that they are practicing what they preach, with little beef or pork on the menu.

Cover page of 1918 menu at the Waldorf-Astoria, from Buttolph Collection of Menus at NYPL
Cover page of 1917 menu at the Waldorf-Astoria, from Buttolph Collection of Menus at NYPL
Some noteworthy items on that day's menu include a whole mallard duck ($4.00), a shorebird called a plover ($1.25), something called a "Philadelphia pullet" (one-half for $1.75), and three instances of celery: a celery appetizer, "celery knobs with gravy" (Cooked? What kind of gravy?) and a celery salad. Before you get too excited about the low prices (Wow! Just $1.75 for a half-chicken!), keep in mind that a dollar in 1917 went about as far as $18.52 in 2015 (BLS Inflation Calculator), so the $1.75 half-Philadelphia pullet in 1917 dollars would be about $32 in 2015 dollars, the $4 duck about $74 (If you can even find one:  where does one find mallard duck on a restaurant menu these days?).  For what it's worth, a oven roasted half-chicken with carmelized pearl onions and black truffle sauce at the Bull and Bear Steakhouse in New York's Waldorf-Astoria was $36 when I checked on January 24, 2016.

1918 luncheon menu at the Waldorf-Astoria, from Buttolph Collection of Menus at NYPL
1917 luncheon menu at the Waldorf-Astoria, from Buttolph Collection of Menus at NYPL

The next image is a 1917 menu from Delmonicos, one of New York City's early palaces of fine dining.  They are less overt with their pledge to conserve, placing a note along the side in red text that reads "To further the cause of food conservation, meatless Tuesdays and wheatless Wednesdays will be strictly observed at Delmonicos."  It's important to note that "meat" had a narrower definition in those days, referring only to beef, mutton, and pork. Poultry, rabbit and fish were not considered to be meat and were often touted as good alternatives. A poster from the Food Administration explains the goals in great detail.

Much of the Delmonicos menu is a mystery to me because it is primarily in French and because many the dishes have disappeared from common use.  Some of the more interesting offerings include more celery (celery hors d'oeuvers, celery salad), a whole mallard duck from Lake Delaware ($4.50), succotash nouveaux, clam broth, and consomme (a dish that has almost completely disappeared from restaurant menus — or has been replaced in recent years by "bone broth" — but is still sold in a can by Campbell's).  If you run the inflation adjustment from 1917 to 2015, the $2.50 roast chicken for two is roughly equivalent to $46 and the duck is a pricey $83.

1917 menu for Delmonicos, from Buttolph Collection of Menus at NYPL

Conservation message on 1917 menu from Delmonicos, from Buttolph Collection of Menus at NYPL

The first page of the menu at the Biltmore Hotel's restaurant proclaims their devotion to the goals of the United States Food Administration.  Their devotion continues on the next two pages, and it's not until the last page will you find the food offerings.  Their offerings are less aligned with conservation goals than were the Waldorf-Astoria's, with a few dishes featuring meat, like prime rib, sirloin steak, and Virginia ham.

And of course they have celery — celery relish and braised celery — and offer game meats like mallard duck, venison, and golden plover. 

1917 Biltmore Hotel menu from NYPL Digital Collection
Cover page for 1917 Biltmore Hotel menu, from Buttolph Collection of Menus at NYPL

The January 2, 1918 dinner menu for Healy's Forty-second Street Restaurant has a "Wheat Conservation Day" note at the top of the page.  
Conservation message on 1918 menu from Healy's, from Buttolph Collection of Menus at NYPL
I'm not sure what they meant by wheat conservation day, since the conservation day menu and the menu for the following day look nearly identical (see below). Perhaps their printer couldn't handle more changes than a the conservation note at the top of the menu, and the restaurant participated in conservation by not preparing wheat-intensive dishes — if a customer asked for a wheat-heavy dish like spaghetti or macaroni, they would be told to order something else. Or perhaps the restaurant is reminding their customers to conserve wheat everywhere else that day (a bit late in the day for such a message...).

Some notable items on the menu:  celery relish; "special Indian curries" including curried crab meat with rice, and curried lobster; "Bahar- Milliktani (Curry and Rice)" soup (= mulligatawny soup? That was a popular item in those days); a "half stuffed Phila. chicken" (that Philadelphia chicken again).

Menus from Healy's on January 2nd and January 3rd, 1918, from Buttolph Collection of Menus at NYPL

Healy's Forty-second Street Restaurant must have been a special place for Ms. Buttolph and her collecting team, as there are several hundred Healy's menus in the collection. Every one I have looked at is from 1917 or 1918, so perhaps Ms. Buttolph walked by the restaurant every day during those years and grabbed one for the collection.

The Pennsylvania Railroad restaurant car breakfast menu had a note near the top: "Co-operating with the United States Food Administration, no portion containing Meat will be served on Tuesdays." And so they offer no sausage, no bacon, no ham, no corned beef hash.  The non-meat offerings (using meat word in a 1918 sense) include codfish cakes, fried perch, a half chicken, and fried oysters.

Conservation message on 1918 menu from the Pennsylvania Railroad, from Buttolph Collection of Menus at NYPL

I barely scratched the surface of WWI-era menus at the NYPL (there are more than 1500 from 1916-1918, though many are from Healy's), but it's clear from the examples above that the Food Administration was successful at spreading the message, reaching lofty venues like Delmonicos and more every-day places like Healy's and the Pennsylvania Railroad. 

Image Credits
  • Garden army poster:  United States School Garden Army, Bureau of Education, Department of Interior. “Join the United States School Garden Army.” USDA National Agricultural Library. Special Collections, public domain. Link
  • Buttolph Collection of Menus, Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. "Waldorf Astoria" (1917), The New York Public Library Digital Collections. No known US copyright restrictions. Link 
  • Buttolph Collection of Menus, Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. "Delmonicos" (1917), The New York Public Library Digital Collections. No known US copyright restrictions. Link
  • Buttolph Collection of Menus, Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. "The Biltmore" (1917), The New York Public Library Digital Collections. No known US copyright restrictions. Link
  • Buttolph Collection of Menus, Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. "Healy's Forty-second Street Restaurant" (1918), The New York Public Library Digital Collections. No known US copyright restrictions. Link for January 2nd menu, link for January 3rd menu
  • Buttolph Collection of Menus, Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. "Pennsylvania Railroad" (1918), The New York Public Library Digital Collections. No known US copyright restrictions. Link

Random link from the archive: The Yogurt Routine

Monday, January 11, 2016

Items from the New York Public Library Digital Collection: The Menu from the "Whale Steak Luncheon" (1918)

On January 6, 2016, the New York Public Library announced that it was expanding access to more than 180,000 public domain images through improved interfaces and tools (e.g., APIs, metadata). I started looking through the collection and found some amazing items (so far, dozens of images reviewed and 20 "keepers" for further review). Now and then, I'll be posting some images connected to previous posts on Mental Masala.

Let's start with three images from a unique menu from the Buttolph Collection of Menus:  the menu from the "Whale Steak Luncheon" sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History.

It was held in February 1918, during World War One, when food conservation was a big deal in the United States (the goal was to reduce consumption of certain foods like wheat and red meat so they could be shipped to our allies and troops in Europe).  The "conservation luncheon" at the American Museum of Natural History was intended to spotlight a food that offered the potential to quickly increase the supply of high-protein food:  whale meat.  Yes, whale meat, a food that is as “‘delicious a morsel’ as the most aesthetic or sophisticated palate could possibly yearn for,” according to Federal Food Administrator Arthur William, as reported in an article in the February 9, 1918 New York Times.  Much more about the historical context for the whale meat luncheon is in my original post "A "Conservation Luncheon” in 1918 featured whale meat."

Here's the cover page for the luncheon ("In the interest of food conservation").  

Cover page for Whale Steak Luncheon, from Buttolph Collection at NYPL
Cover page for Whale Steak Luncheon from Buttolph Collection at the NYPL

The menu, which featured whale in a "Whale pot au feu" and "Planked whale steak, a la Vancouver."  The guests were impressed, saying that it tasted like venison or beef pot roast.

Menu for Whale Steak Luncheon, from Buttolph Collection at NYPL
Menu for the Whale Steak Luncheon from Buttolph Collection at the NYPL

The last page is an acknowledgment to the Victoria Whaling Company, which provided the whale meat and supplied whale meat recipes for the guests, like "Curried Whale on Toast." I don't think I'll be looking for these recipes in on-line archives....

Last page for Whale Steak Luncheon, from Buttolph Collection at NYPL
Acknowledgement page for Whale Steak Luncheon from Buttolph Collection at the NYPL

You can get another view of the menus in the What's on the Menu? tool.

The Buttolph Collection of Menus was privately started by Miss Frank E. Buttolph (1850-1924). A passionate collector of menus, Miss Buttolph  amassed over 25,000 menus from around the world by writing to restaurants and placing advertisements in trade magazines. During her active collection phase, she donated her archives to the New York Public Library and kept seeking new menus to add to the collection. It's a remarkable resource, made even better by the What's on the Menu? project. The project aims to transcribe the 45,000 menus in the collection, dish by dish, drink by drink. An intriguing ‐ but not always correctly working — feature is a time-line showing the frequency of a menu item over the years.  Looking at consomme, you can see this term disappear in the mid-20th century (from the thus-far-analyzed menus).

Screenshot of a Consomme page at What's on the Menu?

Whale Steak Luncheon menu, Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. "The American Museum of Natural History" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1918. Public domain. Link, also in What's on the Menu?

Random link from the archive: Why Eucalyptus Trees Cover the East Bay Hills

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Examining the hangover cure in the Western "El Dorado": Was Asafoetida Known in the Old West?

For some forgotten reason, I recently watched the 1966 Western El Dorado. It's one of the better Westerns I have seen, with more humor and a lot less racism than the typical Western (though there's a short cringe-worthy stereotyping of Chinese near the end). The film has a top-notch cast and crew: the great Howard Hawks directing, John Wayne playing a roving gun for hire, Robert Mitchum as a troubled sheriff, and James Caan as a mysterious man from the South with a mysterious grudge (they call him "Mississippi"). The performances are engaging: John Wayne is in full "John Wayne mode" but not over the top, Mitchum gives a laid-back performance that feels more 1960s than 1860s, and Caan is enthusiastic in his supporting role.

Like many Westerns, the central conflict is access to water: a big rancher wants to take a family's water. The town sheriff (Mitchum) recently had his heart broken by the main female character and has been drowning his sorrows in a lot of alcohol, so he can't help in the battle for justice against the nefarious rancher and his goons. But when things get really serious, the sheriff needs to sober up.

Mississippi suggests a sure-fire potion to free someone from alcohol's grip that has a bunch of odd ingredients, including asafoetida (full recipe at Booze Movies). When I heard Mississippi say "asafoetida", I was quite surprised. It's something that I completely associate with Indian cooking and not at all with the United States in the 19th century or medicinal use (to be sure, that's a subject that I'm ignorant about). So I started wondering: Was it put into the script because the word "asafoetida" has an exotic sound that makes it a perfect ingredient for a quack remedy? Or was this ingredient actually known in the U.S. in the late 19th century so that Mississippi could have run across it (in his fictional life)?

Screenshot from El Dorado movie
Screen capture from El Dorado with subtitle. L to R: James Caan as Mississippi, Arthur Hunnicutt as Bull, John Wayne as Cole Thorton. The drunken Sheriff (Robert Mitchum) is locked in the jail cell.

Screenshot from El Dorado movie
Screen capture from El Dorado with subtitle

Leigh Brackett wrote the screenplay using Harry Brown's novel "The Stars in their Courses" (1960) as source material (Brackett's screenwriting credits include Rio Bravo and The Empire Strikes Back; Brown's credits include Ocean's Eleven, A Place in the Sun). With some difficulty, I was able to find a copy of the novel in the UC Berkeley system. I got about 30 pages into it and I saw little resemblance to the film. The novel is set in the old West, there are feuding rancher families, but there's no sheriff, and only one of the main characters appears (Maudie). Thumbing through the rest of the book, I found no scenes in the town jail, so my initial guess is that the novel doesn't have the hangover cure.

Asafoetida drawing from Flore Médicale by Chaumeton et al
Before continuing on this odyssey, some background is in order.

Asafoetida (also spelled asafetida, assafetida, assafoetida; called hing in parts of Asia) is a resin collected from shrubs like Ferula foetida Regel, F. assafoetida, F. narthex, F. rubricaulis Boiss. and a few other species that are native to the Mediterranean region and Central Asia. Like many other plants (such as sugar maple or rubber trees), a wounded plant will exude sap, gum or resin. A harvester makes shallow slits in the plant's root and later comes back to collect the resinous material that has been exuded. These days, most of it comes from Iran and Afghanistan, and primarily goes to India for culinary uses.

The word asafoetida arises from the combination of aza, which is Persian for mastic resin, and foetida, which is Latin for stinking [Davidson] (names in square brackets point to the list of references at the bottom of the post). It has a strong aroma that I associate with onions, garlic, and pineapple (!). One article [G.S.] notes that it had the folkname "Devil's Dung." This name should not be surprising to anyone who has a container of the stuff in their spice cupboard — I always keep my container inside another container to isolate its funkiness (and have a strong memory of my mother recoiling from the aroma when we were preparing a South Indian dish).

Summing Up Before Drilling Down
Based on the articles I found in the UC Berkeley literature collection, it is clear that asafoetida has been known as a medicinal ingredient in Western Europe and the United States for a long time — in Europe since at least the first millenium BCE; in the U.S., it had United States Pharmacopeia/National Formulary recognition from 1820 until 1960 [G.S.] and was listed as a remedy for hysteria, mania, or hypochondriasis in important medical texts published between 1733 and 1936 in Europe and the United States [Hobbs].

Asafoetida was a known medicinal ingredient in 19th century United States (and territories). It was part of a reputed cure for cholera [Haggard], fits into the category of "Home Remedies" in Texas [Mixon], and some in the Oklahoma Territory advised putting a bag of asafoetida around the neck to ward off disease [Johnson].

Based on this cursory look, it seems possible that Mississippi could have found asafoetida in a local pharmacy or doctor's office.

After the break, I have more details from each of the references cited above, as well as additional information about this aromatic resin that has been known for its medicinal and culinary uses for millennia.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Garbage In, Garbage Out: Low Quality Feed Produces Low Quality Crickets

Crickets are a hot ingredient for some sustainability advocates and start-ups. In marketing materials and other articles, you'll see claims about how these "mini-livestock" are a low-impact food with enormous potential: they can eat almost anything, they don't need much land, and so on (you'll find plenty of examples in my two round-ups about insects as food: 1 and 2). Sometimes it can even seem like magical thinking of South Park's famous underpants gnomes:
  1. Create a cricket farm/energy bar/snack company
  2. ???
  3. 100% sustainable protein source
With so much hype about insects as food, I was pleased to see a well-designed study on cricket farming from the University of California at Davis (h/t Alissa Walker at Gizmodo) that reminds us of a reality of raising living creatures: they need high-quality food to thrive. This is valuable research, because if insects are going to be an important food in the future, insect husbandry needs be given significant attention.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

"Crickets Are Not a Free Lunch: Protein Capture from Scalable Organic Side-Streams via High-Density Populations of Acheta domesticus", by Mark E. Lundy and Michael P. Parrella examines how diet affects the growth of domestic crickets, with special attention given to diets of processed food waste and crop residues. The researchers raised production-scale populations of crickets on five different feeds and measured the growth rate over the course of their lives (with three replications for each feed, each test was about 60 days). The feeds were commercial poultry feed plus rice bran, two types of processed food waste, and two types of crop residue*. The crickets that received the poultry feed thrived, the crickets that ate the first food waste had a satisfactory growth rate, and those that ate the second food waste or the crop residue showed poor weight gain and significant mortality. In other words, the study demonstrated their title — crickets are not a free lunch — and also the classic computer science proverb: garbage in, garbage out.

The chart below shows the growth rate for each feed treatment (it comes directly from the paper, shared here in compliance with the Creative Commons license of the article). The x-axis shows the number of days since hatching, the left-hand y-axis shows the mass per individual. The filled symbols are for poultry feed (PF) and the first food waste (FW1), which both allowed the crickets to grow steadily. The empty symbols are for the other three waste feeds (food waste FW2 and the two crop residues), which resulted in terrible performance: high mortality and certainly not a commercially viable crop.

Figure 1 from Lundy and Parrella, PLOS ONE 10(4), used under CC license

To gain better understanding of how the inputs affected the outputs, the authors fed the results into an analysis tool. The tool generated a model that has a primary input that the authors called the "feed quality index." The index depends on the feed nitrogen (N, a proxy for protein), acid detergent fiber (ADF) and crude fat (CF) as (N / ADF) + CF (a detailed explanation of terms can be found in this PDF). 

The next figure shows the cricket mass at day 30 versus the feed quality index. The relationship is clear: you need good feed to raise healthy crickets. To some extent this is not surprising, but its importance has been somewhat neglected in the excitement about insects as food.

Figure 2 from Lundy and Parrella, PLOS ONE 10(4), used under CC license

The primary lesson I take away from the article is that insect husbandry needs to be taken seriously, not ignored with an "bugs will eat anything" attitude.  With proper focus, it might be possible to find blends of low-grade waste streams that crickets and other insects will thrive on. Or, to use selective breeding to find insects that thrive on waste streams.  Consider farmed salmon:  in just a few decades, the salmon farming industry has made huge improvements in feed conversion efficiency, reducing the amount of feed protein needed to produce a quantity of salmon protein by more than a factor of three between 1972 and 2009 [2].

Other Waste Streams

Out of curiosity, I looked up the properties of some other food stuffs to see how they would fare on the feed index. I found properties for a few major waste streams — spent grain from beer brewing, olive cake leftover from olive oil production, okara from tofu and soymilk production — and also for a seaweed, which is a food with high promise for sustainability.

Shoveling spent grain from the mash tun
"Spent grain" is the dry material leftover from beer brewing and is produced in huge quantities. I suspect that most of it goes into livestock feed or is composted, but there are also some less common uses of the grains in human food, like in granola bars and or in bread (Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads book has a recipe). I found the properties for spent grains in a Nigerian study about using spent grain to enhance the nutritional value of cookies [3], which had the following properties for spent brewery grain: N = 0.0372, ADF = 0.246, and CF = 0.0279, for a feed quality index of 0.179 (note: all feed properties in this post are as fraction of dry weight).

I also thought that the olive cake leftover from the oil milling process was worth looking into since there are large quantities of olive oil produced around the world. As I looked for the properties, I began to suspect that olive cake would be a bust. Olive Processing Waste Management [4] has this to say about olive cake: "Olive cake is not attractive as an animal feed ...The nutritive value of olive cake is also very low...This nutritional value is close to that of straw."  An animal feeding wiki called Feedipidia  had properties for the residue that remains after the three-phase processing of olives and stone removal [5]:  N = 0.015, ADF = 0.463, CF = 0.237, for a feed quality index of 0.27, which isn't good but not quite as terrible as I had expected.

Centuries old olive press at Mission San Jose de Guadalupe

Okara, the fibrous byproduct from tofu and soy milk manufacturing, fares much better since it is high in protein, low in fiber, and high in fat. A Canadian paper about feeding ducks with food wastes [6] had N = 0.053, ADF = 0.12, and CF = 0.12 for a feed index of 0.57, which falls between the two most successful feeds in the study.

One of the food wastes in the duck study was something called pogo, "a weiner on a stick enveloped in dough and deep fried, discarded because of over- or undercooking, being misshapen, or held beyond the expiration date." Pogo is another name for "corn dog," and not surprisingly this food was quite high in protein and fat, and quite low in fiber, so its feed index was more than 4.5! Being so far off the chart, I suspect that the model formulated by Lundy and Parrella would not work for pogo.

Since they can be cultivated readily in the ocean without any additional input, seaweeds could be sustainable food (a recent article by Dana Goodyear in the New Yorker explores the topic; Goodyear and chef Brooks Headley talked to Evan Kleiman on KCRW's Good Food about seaweed). Seaweeds are typically quite high in fiber and low in fat, though, so the feed quality index is low. Feedipedia has a nutritional table for giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) with N = 0.016, ADF = 0.13, and CF = 0.04, for a feed index of 0.16 [7]. One of the most important points in Goodyear's article is that there are thousands of species of seaweeds and so far there has been little selective breeding to create varieties that would be better for human or livestock consumption.

The figure below rounds up the results. On top of the original black and white figure from the article, I placed the results for spent grain (SG), olive cake (OC), okara (O) and giant kelp (GK).

Figure 2 from Lundy and Parrella, PLOS ONE 10(4), with four new data points (green circles), adapted under CC license.  New points: BG = brewery grains, GK = giant kelp, OC = olive cake, O = okara.
To be sure, looking at single waste streams isn't the most practical exercise because commercial cricket operations will use a blend of ingredients that are chosen to meet meet financial, logistical, and sustainability targets.  Perhaps an operation launches in the Sacramento area to take advantage of the streams of okara after Hodo Soy Beanery revives the recently closed Sacramento Tofu Company factory, spent grain from local microbreweries, olive cake from the olive megafarms to the north, and agricultural waste from every direction.  Or the companies currently supplying feed for the companies that raise crickets for the pet food industry will start working on new feed blends. If a serious market appears for insects as food for humans and livestock, optimization of feed will follow.

* The five feeds: PF = 5:1 ratio of poultry starter feed and rice bran; FW1 = solid, pasteurized, post-process filtrate from an aerobic enzymatic digestion process that converts grocery store food waste; FW2 = minimally processed post-consumer food waste from local municipalities; CR1 = 1:1 ratio of wheat and maize silage (dairy cow feed) with approximately 50% straw; CR2 = 2:1:1 ratio of poultry manure, wheat straw, and rice straw silage

[1] M.E. Lundy, M.P. Parrella, Crickets Are Not a Free Lunch: Protein Capture from Scalable Organic Side-Streams via High-Density Populations of Acheta domesticus. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0118785, 2015. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118785
[2] Ole Torrissen , Rolf Erik Olsen , Reidar Toresen , Gro Ingunn Hemre , Albert G.J. Tacon , Frank Asche , Ronald W. Hardy & Santosh Lall (2011) Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar): The “Super-Chicken” of the Sea?, Reviews in Fisheries Science, 19:3, 257-278, DOI: 10.1080/10641262.2011.597890
[3] K.O. Ajanaku, F.A. Dawodu, C.O. Ajanaku and O.C. Nwinyi (2011). Functional and Nutritional Properties of Spent Grain Enhanced Cookies, American Journal of Food Technology, 6: 763-771, 2011. DOI: 10.3923/ajft.2011.763.771
[4] M. Niaounakis and C.P. Halvadakis, Chapter 10 ("Uses") in Olive Processing Waste Management: Literature Review and Patent Survey, Elsevier (London), 2006.
[5]  Heuzé V., Tran G., Gomez Cabrera A., Lebas F., 2015. Olive oil cake and by-products. Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO.  Last updated on May 11, 2015, 14:32.  Nutritional table
[6]  A. Farhat, L. Normand, E.R. Chavez, and S.P. Touchburn, Nutrient Digestibility in Food Waste Ingredients for Pekin and Muscovy Ducks, Poultry Science 77:1371–1376, 1998, via ResearchGate
[7] Heuzé V., Tran G., Giger-Reverdin S., Lessire M., Lebas F., 2015. Seaweeds (marine macroalgae). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. Last updated on October 14, 2015, 16:26

Image Credits

Random link from the archive: Charting the chocolate chip cookie

Monday, November 16, 2015

Container Shipping History in Charts

Updated below

After my review of The Box and my port mapping exercise, I thought I'd sail back into port and unload a few port-related charts.

The first shows the growth of three big West Coast ports: Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland. As international trade has expanded and the container shipping industry has become more efficient, the number of containers moving through the ports has increased dramatically for the Southern California ports and increased modestly for Oakland. To measure throughput, the container shipping industry often uses the "TEU," which stands for "twenty-foot equivalent unit." Since containers are multiple sizes, they are all scaled to 20-foot length when it's time to count:  a 30-foot long container is 1.5 TEU, a 15-foot is 0.75 TEU, and so on.

Between 2004 and 2014, the Port of LA increased its TEU count by 3.3 times [1]; the Port of Long Beach raised its throughput by 2.2 times [2]; and Oakland increased its TEU count by 1.6 times [3]. The 2008 Great Recession and subsequent (partial) recovery are clearly visible in the data. 
Chart of port throughput data for Los Angeles, Long Beach Oakland - data from each port
Sources:  Port of L.A. from [1], Port of L.B. from [2], Port of Oakland from [3]

It took major infrastructure investments to make this growth possible — new terminals, bigger cranes, harbor dredging, railroad upgrades, investments in trucks, to name a few — so it would be interesting to chart the capital expenditures at the ports, both private and public. Do they track TEU growth?  Is the rapid increase at Long Beach between 2003 and 2006 the result of one or more new terminals opening?  I didn't feel like digging for that information this month, but maybe some other time (The public expenditures should be available, though possibly scattered among different sources, e.g., state, county, city, ports.  Or perhaps there is a report out there that nicely summarizes it all.).

Worldwide, the growth in container shipping has also been dramatic, as the next chart indicates [4]. Between 1980 and 2013 the mass of material shipped in containers increased by almost 16-fold. Again, the 2008 recession is apparent.

Chart of container freight data from United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
Source:  United Nations Conference on Trade and Development [4]

As worldwide container trade has grown, so have container ships.  The next figure shows the average and maximum size ship for 1980-2004 (average) or 1980-2013 (maximum) [5]. The average is slowly creeping up (the lifetime of a container ship is a few decades). The size of the biggest ship is growing faster.  This makes sense since that is a measure of a single ship, something that could have been a vanity project (much like the eternal quest for the tallest building). Eventually, the size of the biggest ship will stop growing for a few reasons: if too deep, fewer ports are available; if too wide, cranes can't reach the containers; if it holds too many containers, the loading/unloading time could be problematic (shippers want to keep their ships at sea as much as possible, not tied up at the dock).

Chart of average and largest container ship size
Data from references in note [5]

I suspect that port-side equipment improvements and ship size have tracked closely since it's not economically effective to have ships that are too large for the shore-size equipment, that can't get into the port, or that take too long to unload. There is quite a bit of time between placing an order for a new ship and taking delivery, so the shippers and ports have probably been working together so that port equipment is ready when large ships make their first calls.

A long piece from City Lab had this nice summary of the big ship situation:

By the late 1980s, 4,500 TEUs were being transported on Panamax class ships that were able to fit—just barely—through the Panama Canal. Post-Panamax ships, too big for the canal, soon began plying other routes, and by the 2000s were carrying 8,000-plus TEUs. Today, the Triple E class container ships built for Maersk Line are the world's largest ships, first brought into service by the shipping giant in 2013. The Triple E class can hold 18,000 TEUs. That's enough to transport 111 million pairs of sneakers, or enough to shoe over one-third of the United States in a single trip. The Triple E is 1,300 feet long (a quarter of a mile), 194 feet wide, and 240 feet high. It is a floating Empire State Building.

An expansion of the Panama Canal is underway and expected to be completed in mid-2016. After the wider canal opens, it will allow "New Panamax" ships of 12,000-13,000 TEUs to pass through.

Update, 12/3/15: Via SFist, news that the Port of Oakland is upgrading 4 of their 33 cranes to handle ships that carry as many as 14,000 TEUs. The project will cost $13.95 million, begin in April, and last 10-12 weeks.

Update, 1/18/16 Quartz has a piece about the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, a container ship that is 396 meters long and 54 meters wide with a capacity of 18,000 TEUs.  Recently it became the largest container ship to visit a California port. These first visits were more of a dress rehearsal for future visits by this and other huge ships — determining if upgraded equipment is ready, improving preparation protocols and so forth.  The article includes a chart showing that shipping capacity is growing faster than demand for shipping capacity.  Some great photos of the visit are on the Flickr pages of Atsushi Kumagai, the Port of Oakland, and photo101.

Switching gears away from charts, I'll end with shout outs to three other port-related sites. First, the art of Mike Kimball, an artist who draws inspiration for some of his work from the ports.  He frequently shows work at the City Art Gallery in San Francisco and his personal webpage has a few collections of his port-related work, like this one.  Second, a huge collection container photos and info about each one is on the The Intermodal Container Web Page. They aren't intended as fine art, but it's possible to see artistic value in the photos.  Third, KCRW radio's five-part Cargoland series looks at a variety of topics like automation and how workers get hired.

[1] Port of Los Angeles
[2] Port of Long Beach
[3] Port of Oakland
[4] Container freight data from Figure 1.2 in Review of Maritime Transport 2014, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. (PDF)
[5] Average and largest ship data for 1980-2004 from Slide 27 in presentation called "Global Economic Trends in the Shipping and Terminal Industries," by Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd and Aegir Port Property Consultants, presented at AAPA Joint Public Relations & Maritime Economic Development Seminar, Galveston, Texas, April 5, 2005 (PDF). Largest ship for 2013 from gCaptain.

Random link from the archive: Eating in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Old Maps Show the Evolution of Wilshire Boulevard

Not finding a satisfactory history of the evolution of Wilshire Boulevard in Kevin Roderick's Wilshire Boulevard book, I started to look into map archives for some answers (my review is here).

The Los Angeles Past blog led me to the 1897 edition of Maxwell's Los Angeles City Directory at the California Digital Library (details about each map used in this post are at the bottom).  This map covers a radius of 3.5 to 5 miles around Los Angeles Plaza Park (Olvera Street, the historic center of Los Angeles). As Figure 1 below shows, Wilshire was just four blocks long at that time, with its eastern end at the edge of Westlake Park* (renamed MacArthur Park in 1942 after General Douglas MacArthur) and its western end at Hoover Street (where the N-S and SW-NE grids meet). It appears that the basic skeleton of today's Wilshire is in place, with its future 'conquests' of Sixth Street to the west and Orange Street to the east already in use as active streets. (Bizarrely, there is a discontinuity in Sixth Street where the two grids meet at an uncompleted section of Hoover Street. Why did this happen?  It seems like a major planning oversight.)

Detail of Maxwell's City Guide to Los Angeles, 1897
Figure 1: Area west of Westlake Park, from Maxwell’s city guide (1897). (Click to enlarge)

Figure 2 below is also from Maxwell's directory and shows the area between Westlake Park and downtown. Orange Street connects the center of the park with downtown, ending at Figueroa. Wilshire eventually took over this part of Orange plus an extension that required a combination of building demolition and building modification to create a continuous path to today's terminus at Grand Avenue (a piece from Southland explains how that extension happened with before, during and after photos). 

Detail of Maxwell's City Guide to Los Angeles, 1897
Figure 2: Area east of Westlake Park, from Maxwell’s city guide (1897). (Click to enlarge)

You can see the final eastern path of Wilshire in Figure 3, which is a detail of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) "Hollywood" map from 1953 (scale 1:24,000). Wilshire is the red diagonal line in the middle of the image that runs through MacArthur Park to downtown. The big Wilshire-related differences between the 1897 maps and this one are a clear path between the park and Grand Avenue and the park is bisected by the boulevard (a project completed in 1934).

Detail of 1953 USGS map of Los Angeles
Figure 3:  Area east of MacArthur Park, from USGS (1953). (Click to enlarge)

Figure 4 is a detail of a 1902 map produced by Henry Rueger (also obtained from the LA Public Library).  It covers the same territory as the Maxwell map (and probably used the Maxwell map as the starting point). Between 1897 and 1902, Wilshire took over Sixth Street west of Hoover, while Sixth Street took over Ward Street west of Hoover.  At last, both streets were properly aligned at the grid shift.

Detail of Henry Rueger map of Los Angeles, 1902
Figure 4: Area west of Westlake Park, from Henry Rueger map (1902). (Click to enlarge)
The western boundary for both the 1897 and 1902 maps is Arlington Street, so they don't show the far western edge of Sixth or Wilshire — like whether there was a connection to the old Rancho roads or just a dead-end or tee somewhere out in the western grasslands or oil fields. I found a partial answer while poking around the LA Public Library's map collection in the form of a USGS map from 1900 that covers a significant amount of the Los Angeles area (scale 1:62,500; E-W: Santa Monica to Monrovia, N-S: La Crescenta to Vernondale). In Figure 5, it looks like today's Wilshire doesn't pass over the 1900 roads (the solid lines; dotted lines are city boundaries, I think). If you go west from West Lake (green arrows), the road veers to the west-north-west (red arrow) onto a road that may or may not have a modern counterpart (perhaps it is part of 3rd Street?). Out to the west (blue arrows) the old road looks like the current boulevard:  the road goes E-W through Rodeo de las Aguas (now Beverly Hills), makes some wide curves, passes through the Soldiers Home (near the present-day VA complex and military cemetery), and lines up with Santa Monica's grid on the left of the figure.

Annotated detail of 1900 USGS map of Los Angeles area
Figure 5: Annotated area around Rodeo de las Aguas and Soldiers Home, from USGS (1900/1908). (Click to enlarge)

Figure 6 is a larger piece of the 1900 USGS map that shows vast open areas between downtown and Santa Monica.  There are many interesting things in the map, but here are two: 1) Were railroad lines were converted to roads? For example, was the right of way of the Pasadena and Pacific Railroad given over to Santa Monica Boulevard?  2) In relative terms, the city of Palms (absorbed into Los Angeles long ago) is quite large. Palms' grid of about 10 streets is the biggest street network between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica — Beverly Hills is non-existent, as is the Westside. So the next time I'm in Los Angeles and pass through the Palms area, I'll have a lot more respect for it, perhaps making a point of looking for 'historic' central Palms (and, if the stars align, eating a meal at Niki Nakyama's highly regarded n/naka).  The town of Palms seems to be a real estate speculation project from the 1880s with a name — and plenty of imported trees*** — to proclaim that residents can live "the good life" in the new city. 

Detail of 1900 USGS map of Los Angeles area
Figure 6: From Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles, from USGS (1900/1908). (Click to enlarge)

Wilshire's Evolution
To sum up, here is a summary of Wilshire's historical growth, moving from downtown to the ocean:
  • Orange Street from Grand Avenue to the eastern edge of MacArthur Park
  • A roadway through MacArthur Park that was finished in 1934
  • The original Wilshire Blvd on the west side of MacArthur Park
  • Sixth Street for some unknown distance
  • A new roadway through today's Miracle Mile area
  • Historic Rancho roads through Beverly Hills and Westwood
  • Nevada Avenue in Santa Monica to the bluffs above the ocean

* This alignment would doom the park to bisection a few decades later — how typical of Los Angeles to put a major road through a park instead of instead continuing Sixth Street to the northern corner of the park to connect with the other Sixth Street. But that might have required harming some commercial interests. Note that Los Angeles is famous for having a relatively small amount of city parks on a per capita basis.  The city's growth was so developer-driven, fragmented, and unplanned that there was not the foresight to set up a huge park like New York's Central Park or San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. 
** Palm trees aren't native to Los Angeles and they needed to be imported.  99% Invisible has a podcast about the palm trees of Los Angeles.

Image Credits

Random link from the archive: No Knead Bread