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Here are quick links to the farmers featured in today's cover story on these unlikely adopters of social media, plus a few that didn't make it in:

Dietzler Farms: on Twitter
Green Acres Farm: on Facebook
Heritage Prairie Farm: on Facebook and Twitter
Three Sisters Garden: on Facebook
River Valley Ranch: on Facebook and Twitter
Seedling Orchard: on Facebook, and Twitter
Ellis Family Farm: on Facebook
Nichols Farm and Orchard: on Facebook and Twitter

We're particularly tickled to see Nichols Farm on Twitter. Looks like they signed up the day after we'd chatted with Todd Nichols (at right), one of the sons of the farm's founder, Lloyd Nichols. 5-18 podgo farm 8.jpg

Todd, 28, who's had a personal Facebook account since the site's get-go, says he took it upon himself to start a Facebook page for the farm earlier this year.

Pa Nichols "is so computer-illiterate. At his point in life, he doesn't even want to learn. In fact, he was surprised when he heard your message about this story, because he didn't know we had a Facebook page," Todd Nichols says.

We'd like to think we had something to do with the new Nichols Twitter account; but alas, as their second tweet says, it was Oak Park locavore-to-the-core Rob Gardner who's responsible. Anyway, Pa Nichols, if you're reading this (which you probably aren't, based on what your son is saying about you), consider yourself informed.

Hey you, with the camera - stop pissing off the chefs. Take your camera back home for dinner, and enter our inaugural Sun-Times food photo contest!

We want to see your best food photos, shots you've taken of food you've cooked, photos that are going to make us hungry. Submit up to three photos at by May 12, for a chance to win a behind-the-scenes session with Chicago culinary photographer Stephen Hamilton (four runners-up will get some pretty sweet cookbooks).

Chances are, you've seen Hamilton's work without knowing it. He's shot for McDonald's, Starbucks, Quaker and Kraft. He'll be our judge for the contest, and having spent some time with him in his West Fulton studio, we can attest that the guy is the master at food porn.

A little trivia: Who came up with that phrase anyway?

"Julia Child -- that's what I always heard," Hamilton says.

We couldn't confirm that with Julia, obviously, but the first reference we could find to 'food porn' comes not from within the cooking or restaurant worlds, but from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The food police, if you will. The nutrition watchdog group has published a column called Food Porn in its Nutrition Action Healthletter since 1974, in which it pits a processed or packaged food against a nutritious one.

Executive director Michael Jacobson takes credit for coining the term.

"I think we were probably just figuring how we could lampoon junk foods and put it in Nutrition Action," he said. "And it's long been our readers' favorite part of the newsletter."

Speaking of junk food, that's another of Jacobson's phrases, "if you believe Wikipedia," he says. "I know historians have tried to track down the first use of the term and found those words coming out of my mouth or pen, but I suspect those words have been widely bandied about informally for a while. 'Empty calories' has also been attributed to me."

These days, "food porn" is playfully bandied about as a reference to impossibly luscious photos of food. Fish purveyor extraordinaire Carl Galvan posts links to "fish porn" all the time on his Twitter feed. But in Jacobson's world, the phrase still suggests what it always has -- "foods that are obscene, just shameful to have in the marketplace."

Foodie the iPhone app debuted four months ago (the brainchild of Chicago food writer Ari Bendersky and his business partner and digital strategist, Matt Marcus), and it was a good idea from the start -- a way for diners to book tables at some of the city's most popular restaurants AND get daily specials and little dining perks (a free dessert here, a discounted prix fixe there) exclusive to Foodie users.

Good turned to great this week, as Foodie has launched a Web site, making those 'exclusive' deals available free to the masses now, not just iPhone users (the app costs $1.99). More than 60 restaurants (Graham Elliot, Spiaggia, Lula Café, and so on) offer deals through Foodie.

Speaking of iPhone apps, Vienna Beef has gone viral, too, with a Vienna beef hot dog locator app. Users can zero in on the closest purveyors in their zip code. It gets better: They also can play hot dog cop, flagging hot dog stands that are "No Ketchup" violators, a release states.

The Vienna iphone app is free and available at or here.

Cheers to Sal Bednarz, the owner of a cafe in North Oakland, California. I hope what he has done at his cafe catches on.

It's amazing, in a way, that what Bednarz has done has gotten so much attention, but maybe the more attention he gets, the more widespread the practice will become. Quite simply, he has asked the patrons of his cafe to unplug the laptops -- or better yet, leave them at home, at least just for one day. He's asked that patrons of his cafe go "unplugged" from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, in hopes that people may actually interact with one another, instead of hiding behind their laptops and other such devices.

Why is he doing it? Well, as he told a San Francisco paper, "When we opened this place we wanted to create a community. Instead it's just been a room full of laptops."

Even worse, for someone trying to earn a living by operating a cafe, the story points out, is to discourage the practice by patrons of "buying a $2 cup of coffee and spending all day using a table that could be taken by a customer purchasing lunch, visiting with friends or otherwise spending money and then leaving." That's why even the cafes that haven't instituted "unplugged" days now charge for wireless access or give wireless passwords that expire after an hour.

Another North Oakland cafe -- which billed itself as an Internet cafe when it opened -- has reduced its electrical outlets to just one, and it's had a positive impact on the vibe of the place.

"Chatting is now starting to overcome the keystrokes," said Ricardo Moran, manager at the Nomad Cafe. "It's really changed the feeling of the place. It's really nice."

Lights, camera ... Cantu

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Some details about moto chef Homaro Cantu's not-merely-rumored-but-indeed-actually-happening TV show, as told to us by the kitchen renegade himself:

† Filming will start Oct. 15 and run through Dec. 15 at the restaurant at 945 W. Fulton.
† The downstairs private dining room is being turned into a lab -- "basically my dream kitchen," Cantu says -- that will serve as the set for the show.
† The show will air on a major cable network.
† Cantu has signed on for two seasons.

"Think 'American Chopper' goes into moto," Cantu says.

So here's your chance, dear diners: Get thee to moto between Oct. 15 and Dec. 15, and you might just find yourself an extra on the show.

Meantime, check out Cantu in Wednesday's Food section. He's our cover boy. Well, if you want to get technical, his iPhone is.

The story looks at how the Twitter/Facebook craze has infiltrated the food world and how the more media-savvy chefs use it to their advantage.

Cantu hardly needs help in this department. Check out his Web site. Oh, and good luck figuring it out.

The Webcams are coming! The Webcams are coming!

During her cooking demo at the recent National Restaurant Association show, Stephanie Izard shared this interesting tidbit: She plans on installing a live Webcam to show the build-out of her restaurant, The Drunken Goat (expected to land in the West Loop in December or January).

After the restaurant opens, Izard says she'll keep the Webcam up in the kitchen so that diners can watch the chefs in action. (She admits she may have to tone down the back-of-house cursing, however).

Sarah Stegner of Northbrook's Prairie Grass Café, meanwhile, has a Webcam set up in her backyard garden.

Stegner (that's her below, with her husband, Rohit Nambiar, and co-chef George Bumbaris) is keeping it up all summer long as a sort of inspiration to home gardeners. She also is tracking her garden's progress on Facebook. It's kind of like watching grass grow -- wait, it's exactly like watching grass grow! -- but still, pretty cool.

9-16 podgo cafe 1.jpg

About the blog

Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.



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