biergarten in tubingen


Dried seaweed and algae as snacks.  Low in calories, low in carbs, heaps of vitamins and minerals.  And don't forget about iodine, which is going to make its big comeback this year.  Since no one is eating iodized table salt and everyone has gone Kosher salt, goiter is going to rear its ugly head and the only thing that's going to save us is kelp chips. 

Kale is still hot.  Kale chips with truffle salt.  Kale, chopped fine, makes a divine intervention into otherwise plain white rice.  Kale juice is the next logical step because it takes so much masticating to consume it.

Almond butter is coming back.  I just re-upped at the health food store with the "grind-your-own" machine.  Peanuts kill.  Almonds are one of the more civilized nuts.  Throw a tablespoon in your kale smoothie - not kidding.

Chia remains on its warpath.  Like a platoon of Incan warriors marching up the coast, chia continues to work its way into the parlance of the water cooler.  This superfood is not only beginning to dethrone Flaxseed as the big Omega 3 champ, but it is dipping its mitts into baked goods too as a fat substitute.

Hempseed is seeing another renaissance.  Not since Bill Clinton didn't inhale have I seen as many hemp products on the shelves of Main Street.  It is also high in Omega 3, protein, fiber, and tastes great.  Tastes like the '60's as I'm told.


Authordavid koch

Dr. Nammy Patel, the Toothhugger

Green dentistry pioneer, Dr. Nammy Patel is the first dentist to make a serious commitment to green sustainable business practices in San Francisco.  She takes a unique approach to combine dentistry and conserve the environment, using non toxic products, reducing waste and being minimally invasive.

Dr. Nammy conducts research and development to set standards in Green Dentistry and serves as a Enviro-mentor for the San Francisco Environment Agency to help small business become green.

Here is a recent interview we had:


1) Why the name Tooth Hugger?  You can't really hug a tooth unless you have really small arms!

It’s metaphoric, you see tree huggers save the trees, and toothhuggers save natural teeth!  That’s why we use small tools rather than arms to "hug" the teeth.

2) I'll bet you get this question all the time.  Do I really have to floss?

Absolutely yes!  Flossing is more important than brushing because it gets the bacteria in the gums and in between the teeth, so it cleans areas a toothbrush cannot reach.

3) By being green, do I have to use hemp floss that tastes like patchouli?

NO!  When it comes to flossing, you have the find the one that feels most comfortable for you. Some times people like thicker floss because they have larger spaces, some like it thin because their contacts are tight.  My personal favorite is Glide.


4) Can I use regular toothpaste, or do I have to use Tom's of Maine?

You can use any toothpaste that is SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) free. SLS causes sores in the mouth.

5) What natural things are good for my teeth, is there a secret blend of 13 original herbs and spices?

It’s great to eat foods that wash away easily. For example a apple is great becusec it does not get stuck to your teeth and saliva washes it away quickly.  Almonds are a great source calcium and protein, which helps maintain calcium in the teeth.

6) Can I still eat chocolate?  Coffee?  Marbles?

You can eat whatever food you like as long as you brush and floss!  Avoid the marbles they will crack your teeth!

7) What about mouthwash?  Most mouthwash that I've used in my life is already the color green...  

You technically don't need mouthwash!  The bacteria is removed by mechanical act of brushing and flossing. Mouthwash makes your breath fresh. It is best to avoid  mouthwash that has alcohol because it dries the mouth out.

8) I started using a tongue scraper recently, I'm not scraping my taste buds off am I?

 No, using a tongue scraper is like exfoliating your skin. Your body makes taste buds have a natural exfoliation process. Just don't scrape too hard.  My rule of thumb is scrape ten times.

9) If only do one thing to help my teeth last longer, what would it be?

FLOSS, use an electric toothbrush, and see your dentist



Thanks Nammy!

360 Post St. #704
San Francisco, CA 94108

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The National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) announced their "Sofi Award" winners which recognize excellence in specialty foods and beverages in 32 categories.  The NASFT is a "not-for-profit business trade association established in 1952 to foster trade, commerce and interest in the specialty food industry."  

After narrowing down their selections from 2,191 entries the winners were announced June 30 at the 54th Summer Fancy Food Show in New York.  The complete list can be found here, but these are some of the items that I would especially like to take home and put into my face:

Barefoot Contessa's Pantry's Lemon CurdOutstanding Jam, Preserve, Honey, or Nut Butter 

Bissinger's Handcrafted Chocolatier's Blueberry Acai Gummy PandasOutstanding Confection 

Callie's Charleston Cheese BiscuitsOutstanding Baked Good, Baking Ingredient or Cereal 


Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company's Spruce Head Smoked Scallop Lobster BisqueOutstanding Soup, Stew, Bean or Chili 


Lettieri & Company, Ltd's Giuseppe Riccardo Balsamic VinegarOutstanding Vinegar 

Nuovo Pasta Productions, Ltd's Roasted Portabella and Truffle Gourmet Sauce - Outstanding Pasta Sauce 

Route 11 Potato Chips, Sweet Potato ChipsOutstanding Snack Food 

Saaf Ginger Beverage Company LLC's Gingernize Ginger Lemonade RushOutstanding Cold Beverage 

Stella Cadente Olive Oil Company's Basil OilOutstanding Oil 

Stonewall Kitchen's Balsamic Fig DressingOutstanding Salad Dressing 

The Cheese Works Ltd.'s Ortiz Conservas Boqueroned Marinated White AnchoviesOutstanding Meat, Pate, or Seafood 

The Seasoned Palate Inc.'s tsp spices Sweet BasicOutstanding Food Gift

Transatlantic Foods Inc.'s Aux Delices des Bois Black Truffle Butter Outstanding New Product 

Vermont Butter & Cheese Company, Inc. - Outstanding Product Line

 Congratulations to all the winners!

Authordavid koch

Coconut - photo by anitasarkeesian

There's been a ton of hype about Coconut Oil in the health food news lately and I went digging to see what I could find.  What started this article was a friendly argument with my sister in-law last April.  I knew that Coconut Oil wasn't as bad as the press has made it out to be.  But at the time, I couldn't tell her why...

Remember the movie theater popcorn "butter" backlash?  coconut oil was implicated and I remember signs saying "No Coconut Oil used here" after the showdown.  As far back as 1994, the LA Times among others reported that, "A medium-sized "buttered" popcorn at a typical theater contains "more fat than a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, a Big Mac-with-fries lunch and a steak dinner with all the trimmings combined," article found here.

Two days after the dialectic with my sister in law, I went to Chicago for the 10th Annual Spring Fancy Food Show.  There, I met a representative for Coast Coconut Farms who convinced me to eat a teaspoon of their "Extra Virgin."  Because the melting point is 74 degrees Fahrenheit, he handed me a spoonful of a pure white solid but it instantly melted in my mouth.  It was delicious.  The other surprise was that it didn't coat my mouth like butter, shortening, or an animal fat would have.  

I was intrigued.  I told him about the discussion I had just days prior and he filled me in on two commonly overlooked health benefits of coconut oil.  

  1. Although coconut oil is mostly saturated, the fatty acids are of small and medium length fatty acid chains, making up medium chain triglycerides.  Which are good for you, read about them here.
  2. Coconut oil is one of the best sources of lauric acid (44-45% of its total makeup)  - which is believed to not only have antimicrobial/antiviral properties but may naturally raise the metabolism. 

Small chain fatty acids (SCFA) contain less than 8 carbon atoms.  Medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) contain 8-14 carbon atoms.  Large chain fatty acids (LCFA) contain more than 14.  

Coconut oil may be mostly saturated fat (90%); however, it is mostly made up of SCFA's and MCFA's.  Almost 70% by volume via  As long as you are consuming unrefined, non-hydrogenated, and non-fractionated coconut oil, you are consuming a natural and healthy product.

By contrast, olive oil is mostly made up of Oleic acid, a monounsaturated LCFA (55-83%) and Palmitic acid, a saturated LCFA (7-20%).  Even though it is mostly LCFA's, we all know how much the health benefits of olive oil are touted by the western medical world.

 I have since bought some and use it often.  Spreading it on toast, frying with it [especially eggs, yum!], and although I have not baked with it yet, they say it can be substituted ounce for ounce with shortening.  This is a great tip if you are looking to remove trans-fats from you pie crusts or biscuits.

Give it a chance, I personally like Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil 54oz.


Authordavid koch

What's on your stethescope? - photo by pixel bunny

From WebMD, the ever-increasingly-popular, online resource, for-all-that-ails-you, comes an interesting article about food trends in 2008.  No surprise, it all revolves around eating healthy.  

  • Food Trend No. 1: Eco-Friendly Foods
    • "Captain Planet called, he's wondering happened to The Planeteers..."
  • Food Trend No. 2: Local, Natural, and Fresh Foods
    • Organic asparagus from Chile? Or, local asparagus... that have been sprayed?  Hmm, so many choices these days.
  • Food Trend No. 3: Concern About Food Safety
  • Food Trend No. 4: Higher Prices
    • Keith Collins, former chief economist for the Department of Agriculture, estimates that biofuels have caused 23 to 35 percent of the increases in food costs. (from
  • Food Trend No. 5: Prebiotics and Probiotics
    • So don't forget to eat your yogurt and drink your kombucha or one day you may need a fecal transplant!
  • Food Trend No. 6: Whole Grains
  • Food Trend No. 7: Simple Ingredients and Clearer Labels
    • Clear Labels?  Grams of fat?  Americans don't know the metric system! It's no wonder we're fat!  Why is food the only thing for which we use grams?
  • Food Trend No. 8: Emphasis on Lowering Salt
    • From, "But the salt industry says that with the exception of a minority of patients with high blood pressure, there is no clear proof..."
  • Food Trend No. 9: Alternative Sweeteners
    • Isn't it funny how Sweet 'N Low in the US is made from saccharin (which is banned in Canada) and Sweet 'N Low in Canada contains cyclamate (which is banned in the US). - from 
  • Food Trend No. 10: Bottled Water Backlash
    • From, "In 2006, Americans drank about 167 bottles of water each but only recycled an average of 23 percent. That leaves 38 billion water bottles in landfills."

I hope soon that our society will begin to look beyond a minimalist approach to health; beyond just calories, grams of fat, proteins, carbs, and the % of RDA of vitimins A-E.  

There is so much more.  Polyphenols,  flavonoids (or bioflavonoids), resveratrol, peptides!  We are only starting to discover these because we had blinders on.

Take an apple for example, the FDA labels it as having potassium, fiber, sugar, 2% of Iron, 2% of Vitamin A, 8% of Vitamin C.  Pretty meager really.  

The breakfast cereal Lucky Charms chimes in with far more vitamins.  Recent studies have finally isolated folic acid, quercetin, flavonoids, phytonutrients, and  procyanidin are all contained within apples (these are good things).

We have known all along about what, "an apple a day" will do for you.  We're just begining to learn why.


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Yelp - photo by Dave Schumaker

If you haven't had pop up recently in a Google search for a local business I'd be surprised.  Here in San Francisco it happens all the time.  Yelp allows people to post reviews - and although most people immediately think about restaurants, it is a fantastic resource for choosing other vendors where trust is important.  I'm talking about auto repair, plumbers, contractors, doctors, and dentists.  

This is a great tool if you have recently relocated to a new city and don't know many people... how do YOU pick a dentist?  The Yellow Pages?  Ick.

Lately, I've been utilizing a few of the other features within Yelp.  They have a forum at where people can post questions and get answers from fellow "Yelpers."  The forums are VERY active.  One recent post titled, "Arrogant inlaws.  how do you deal with them," received 46 responses in the first hour alone.  Yelp Talk topics are obviously not limited to business reviews.

Another useful section is on local events at  Besides searching within posted events, you can sort by date, category (including music, fashion, food, charities, etc.), most popular, and my favorite way to sort, free.  People can post comments about the event and you can see if any of your Yelp "friends" are planning on attending, for whatever that's worth.  

There are a lot of postings in the events section if you like to get out.  Today, a Tuesday, is showing 20 events near San Francisco including everything from an AC/DC concert to a bike light giveaway.  

Of course their bread and butter is still restaurant reviews; but when I recently had to plan a birthday dinner for 15, I found that using both the review section and the Talk section I was able to pin down exactly what we were looking for.  Thank you yelp, I'm a fan.


Authordavid koch

From, comes some interesting insight into holiday dining and drinking trends.  Citing a fragile economy, it indicates that business is down for restaurants and bars.

"two-thirds (66 percent) of fine dining patrons admitted they are going out less often compared to a year ago...and 52 percent of casual dining visitors." 

They delve into how grocery and convenient stores may be picking up the slack as people consume their beverages of choice at home.

Some other interesting factoids in the survey are:


  •      Expect an increase in online alcoholic beverage shopping, especially wine.
  •      On-premise retailers may begin to push customer loyalty programs.
  •      Some states may increase the legal hours for alcohol purchases, Sundays for example.
  •      Due to the "localization" trend in consumerism, domestic wines and spirits are making gains against imports.  
  •      Alcoholic beverages are traditionally more recession-resistant than other products.
  •      There will likely be an increase in giving alcoholic beverages as gifts this year. (like's Best Selling Gifts)



     The Nielsen Company's Senior Vice President for Beverage and Alcohol, Richard Hurst gives some advice to retailers

“[They] should consider multiple store display locations to capitalize on impulse purchasing, as well as providing gift accessories nearby, such as bottle openers, gift bags, mixed drink party pack ingredients and glassware.”

 - Dave Koch

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