Hol­i­day meals bring peo­ple together. At least, they bring peo­ple to the table.

What hap­pens after that is either a com­plete sur­prise, or a pre­dictable out­come. Who gets invited to share the meal has some obvi­ous impli­ca­tions of how the table talk may go.

Good com­pany at any gath­er­ing is about enjoy­ing food, drink and pleas­ant con­ver­sa­tion. Safe top­ics revolve around travel, music and lit­er­a­ture. Sports is an all Amer­i­can obses­sion that can dom­i­nate some of the meal­time exchange.

Pol­i­tics and reli­gion have long been the tin­der box of explo­sive dis­course to avoid. At the very least, they give way to polite dis­agree­ment. They both are part of the every­day chat­ter that keeps house­holds choos­ing sides.

Pop cul­ture and sports fig­ures have their share of con­tro­versy these days. Celebrity sta­tus gives a plat­form to speak­ing up and speak­ing out. Like it or not, the micro­phone gets passed.

Read more: Table Talk →

Onions, cel­ery and some­times car­rots. Those sound like rea­son­able ingre­di­ents to start a deli­cious soup.

Gar­lic, leeks, pota­toes, mush­rooms and squash are all viable con­tenders.

Hardly any veg­etable needs to stand down from the win­ter soup pot. There are uncom­pli­cated short­cuts for mak­ing any num­ber of soups come alive and taste bet­ter.

Using home­made broths and stocks are supe­rior to any off-​the-​shelf vari­a­tion. This sin­gle tip will push the fla­vor pro­file of any good recipe. Hav­ing kitchen basics on-​hand will shorten prepa­ra­tion time and give a leg up on the cook­ing process.

Con­sider sav­ing pieces and bits (dis­carded por­tions of cel­ery stalks, onion ends and car­rot tops and ends). Toss them in a freezer bag and keep adding to the bag.

Read more: Soup Season →

In the realm of fresh food prod­ucts, either retail or food­ser­vice, prod­uct recalls are not par­tic­u­larly unusual.

A recall is the action or method of remov­ing or cor­rect­ing prod­ucts that are in vio­la­tion of laws admin­is­tered by the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA).

A food recall occurs when there is rea­son to believe that a food may cause con­sumers to become ill. A food pro­ducer ini­ti­ates the recall to take foods off the mar­ket. In some sit­u­a­tions, food recalls are requested by gov­ern­ment agen­cies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA) and the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (USDA). Obvi­ously, prod­uct can be recalled for many rea­sons. This can include (but not be lim­ited to), the dis­cov­ery of organ­isms such as bac­te­ria like Sal­mo­nella or for­eign objects like bro­ken glass or metal. It can be due to a major aller­gen (dairy or nuts) not being dis­closed on a label.

Most prod­uct recalls are char­ac­ter­ized as being “vol­un­tary”. This term is some­what ambigu­ous and may lead indi­vid­u­als to believe that a vol­un­tary recall is optional. That is def­i­nitely not true.

A vol­un­tary recall is an indi­ca­tion that the man­u­fac­turer, grower or ship­per of the poten­tially harm­ful pro­duce has been in com­mu­ni­ca­tion and coop­er­a­tion with the fed­eral agency.

Read more: “Voluntary“ →

Cold and flu sea­son is on the hori­zon. Some work places have already seen the unwanted viral spread of germs, coughs and sore throats.

This is a good time of year to refresh the fun­da­men­tals of pre­ven­tion. Invest­ing in healthy habits is a good jump start to ward­ing off a lousy cold or flu bug.

Flu vac­ci­na­tions are avail­able at nearly every phar­macy, gro­cery store and clinic in town. Dou­ble down on pro­tec­tion by boost­ing your immunity.

The Cal­i­for­nia cit­rus sea­son is just under­way. Some of the best sources of vit­a­min C are cit­rus fruits. Juic­ing up with new crop navel oranges, grape­fruits, tan­ger­ines, man­darins and lemons gives the body a lift and sup­ports the body’s nat­ural defenses.

A well-​balanced diet, rich in veg­eta­bles and fruits– leafy greens, cau­li­flower, mush­rooms and cit­rus fruits– pro­vides the nutri­ents to resist pathogens. Atten­tion to what goes on the plate is par­tic­u­larly impor­tant when fight­ing sea­sonal bugs.

Read more: Flu Shots →