ROME, Italy – The year 2007 saw the United Nations World Food Programme - the world's frontline hunger agency - battling against the effects of climate change, soaring food prices, and the needs of millions of hungry people across the world. Thankfully, the growing problem of global hunger has inspired new, creative efforts to galvanize more support to feed a hungry planet. The internet, with its immense power and reach, combined with social networking, chalked up many successes. Freerice.com : 11.5 billion grains of rice donated to WFP -- enough to feed more than half a million people for a day -- since this vocabulary-based game (http://www.freerice.com) became an overnight success just three months ago; 500,000 to 1 million people have been playing on-line at any one time, including 500 registered groups on Facebook. Chez Pim : US$90,300 raised (more than 9,000 raffle tickets sold) through a leading international food blogger's seasonal fundraiser, "Menu for Hope" (http://www.chezpim.com). Through sales of on-line tickets that give purchasers a chance to win a variety of donated "foodie" items, a unique connection was made between people with a fascination for fine food, dining and gastronomic delights, and the lives of impoverished farmers in Lesotho who stand to benefit from the funds raised. Food-Force.com : 6 million copies now in circulation of the world's first and most popular humanitarian video game (http://www.food-force.com) designed for kids to understand more about hunger, an increasingly invisible and distant concept in the developed world. Hungerbytes! 140,000 viewings of a provocative video designed to inspire students, would-be filmmakers and others unleash their creativity through a unique, international competition to produce the best, short video about 'byting' global hunger on YouTube ( www.youtube.com/hungerbytes) Walk the World : In its fifth year, over half a million people participated in "Fight Hunger: Walk the World" -- a global walk in all 24 time zones which raised US$1.5 million, supported by WFP's corporate partners, TNT and Unilever. Rugby World Cup : Billions of rugby fans learned more about hunger through the "Tackle Hunger" campaign which was launched during the Rugby World Cup in France. WFP is the humanitarian partner of the International Rugby Board. "World Hunger Relief Week" : Through its customers in 35,000 restaurants inmore than 110 countries and territories YUM! Brands raised awareness of hunger and mobilised over US$10 million to feed hungry people during its October campaign. "Child Vitality" : Unilever's marketing campaign in the Netherlands, Pakistan and Indonesia raised almost US$200,000 to support school children, while spreading the word about global hunger. Top Chefs for Home Cooks ("Topkoks voor thuiskoks") : The current number one bestseller in the Netherlands, this recipe book brings together 52 famous international chefs to help WFP feed thousands of school children in Malawi through book proceeds ($10 per book); one of many initiatives launched by WFP corporate partner TNT. The above initiatives helped strengthen efforts to get ahead of the hunger curve, but much more needs to be done: Hunger's toll: 25,000 people a day die from hunger-related causes – one child every five seconds. WFP: Will feed some 80 million people this year, in 80 countries -- more than 80 percent of those assisted are women and children. Almost 80 percent of the food WFP purchases with cash donations is bought in developing countries, benefiting local farmers. In 2007, WFP received over $2.6 billion in contributions, mainly from donor governments. Low overhead: Out of every dollar donated, 93 US cents directly supports WFP field operations.
January 2008 Archives
By Chinkai Rosario Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, sushi master and owner of Nobu Restaurant in New York, once talked about his fondness for kitchen cutlery. “Knives are extremely important utensils to me—they are like extra fingers or extensions of your arms. Use them correctly and put your mind and heart into them. In my opinion, a mentality of treating your knives well develops a positive attitude towards your work that then reflects in the way you treat your customers.” This statement definitely supports the way Chef Dick Franco, a faculty member at the De La Salle University – College of St. Benilde (DLSU-CSB) School of Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management, explains why the mighty knife is such a kitchen essential. He says, “You can't go to war without a gun, and in the same way you can't go to your kitchen without a knife. I would rather not have tongs or a spoon, as long as I have my knife, I can cook and I'm safe.” Choosing a Knife Make the right choice by choosing a knife that feels comfortable on your hand—that's typical advice heard from chefs. When testing the quality of the knife, softly tap the tip of the knife on a stainless table. You would know the knife is made with fine quality material when it produces a higher pitch. Knives are either stamped or forged. Stamped knives are cut from a piece of of sheet metal, as they have been for centuries. Forged knives generally are of superb quality and are easily distinguishable by their heavy blade and pronounced heel. Plenty of knife manufacturers trace their roots back to the 18th century. Several tried-and-tested names include J.A. Henckels, Wusthof, and Sabatier from Europe, MAC and Dexter Russell from the United States, or Global and Kershaw Shun from Japan. The name brand, however, is not the only thing: no brand can perform well without the master orchestrating at the helm. Knife Styles and Materials Blade materials are usually made of stainless steel, high-carbon stainless steel, laminated titanium, ceramic, or plastic. Chef Franco remains loyal to stainless steel. “As long as it's sturdy, it's good. Stainless steel doesn't rust and doesn't corrode. It's easy to disinfect, it's not porous, and it doesn't easily break,” he says. Knife handles come in four different types—wood, plastic, composite, and stainless steel. Although each type has its own share of pros and cons, the composite handle is considered the best choice by many chefs because of its good grip, durability, and unsophisticated maintenance. On the other hand, the wooden handle is the least favored since its porous material can attract more organisms, making it most likely to crack. These days, as more professional kitchens attempt to bag halal certification, color-coded rivets—those metal pins used to join the scales to the tang to form the knife handle—have entered the picture. “Colored rivets have corresponding color-coded chopping boards to avoid cross-contamination,” explains Chef Franco. So if you see orange-colored rivets on a knife, coupled with an orange chopping board, it simply means that this knife and board are used for poultry. Take note that when yellow boards are unavailable, orange ones stand as their subsitute. Sharpening your knife Knife sharpeners come in many different forms. Manual knife sharpeners are often considered more efficient than sharpening steels. Electric knife sharpeners are ideal for sharpening frequently used knives and are generally easy to use but do not offer the same control level as manual knife sharpeners. Sharpening stones are either round or rectangular and are usually one-half-inch thick. Whetstone and the carborundum stone are the two most popular sharpening stones. Traditional sharpeners that come in rectangular blocks have varied smoothness. Chef Franco has the dual rectangular stone—dual because both sides can sharpen a knife in different ways. One side has a smoothness of 1,000 and the other of 240. The lower the number, the more the stone feels rough and grainy. “I don't use the grainy part because it's more damaging,” he confesses, “When using sharpening stones, soak the sharpener in plain water for five minutes,” recommends Chef Franco. “Your knife will contour to you; whatever you do with it will depend on you.” Traditional sharpeners may require more effort but allow the user to be more in control. The best way to sharpen steels is to place your knife against the tip of the steel in a 20-degree angle. The knife blade is drawn in an arcing motion across the grinding surface to eliminate impurities. Run the knife against the steel honer “to maintain the integrity of the blade,” says Chef Franco. “To eliminate wrong angles in sharpening, let the knife hit the roller,” he adds. The true test of a well-sharpened knife is by way of a tomato. If, after you lightly run the blade across the tomato skin, the knife leaves a mark, it is considered sharp enough. Cleaning and storing To avoid the buildup of germs on the knife, wash off any residue by cleaning it with soap and water. Chef Franco suggests leaving knives with wooden handles out to dry before storing them in the drawer or the knife block. For copper-made knives, Chef Franco recommends to wipe a small amount of cooking oil onto the blade after washing and cover it with cling wrap to reduce oxidation. As with any cooking tool, store your knife set in a well-sanitized dry place, free of debris, and disinfect your knives once in a while with alcohol or chlorine so that, according to Chef Franco, your knives won't smell.