For years people and organizations from Frances Moore Lappé to Slow Food have sought to repair and restore our broken food system, making noticeable but still negligible progress. Surely more people today are aware that there’s a problem, and admitting that is the first step, as they say. Read more
W.H. Auden once said of legendary food writer MFK Fisher “I do not know of anyone in the United States who writes better prose.”
This is how I feel about Elissa Altman.
I am far from the first to say so. Altman was once described as “The illegitimate love child of David Sedaris and MFK Fisher,” which is also quite fitting, since she approaches her craft the way she does her life, with humor and love, and not without some occasional sarcasm.
She wields a sharp wit and an even sharper eye for detail in her new memoir, Poor Man’s Feast – A Love Story of Comfort, Desire, and the Art of Simple Cooking (Chronicle, 2013). Read more
They’ll tell you not to judge a book by its cover, but in this case perhaps you should make an exception. In A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories, April Bloomfield delivers exactly what the book’s cover implies – a straightforward approach to food from a working class Birmingham girl who found her niche.
As a child in England, Bloomfield wanted to be a Policewoman, but circumstances conspired as they so often do and she followed her sister into cooking school. Unlike her sister, though, Bloomfield found her way into the profession and on to New York, where her no-nonsense take on real food has won her accolades piled upon accolades. Read more
We have our pantheon of deities in the Food Movement–the people and organizations who have had the most impact on our culinary landscape. We have discernible cuisines in this country, certainly more so than a century ago, thanks to James Beard, Julia Child, and Alice Waters. Carlo Petrini and Slow Food have helped us understand that food and pleasure must be connected to awareness and responsibility. Eric Schlosser showed us the dangers of our “fast food nation” and Michael Pollan illuminated “the omnivore’s dilemma.”
All these and very many more have helped us to start remaking the food system writ large, and while there remains much to do, perhaps none in this Hall of Heroes has had more direct, hands-on, person-to-person impact on the food decisions of individual people than Will Allen. His new book, The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People and Communities, tells the story of how a sharecropper’s son–once a professional basketball player and the first African American to play the game for the University of Miami Hurricanes–found his way back to the land in Wisconsin. Once there, he shaped–and in a very real way–saved the lives of a generation of Milwaukee’s youth. Read more
When I was an intern in Santa Fe, New Mexico a thousand years ago, my mother sent me a three-page letter (yes, a letter. It was that long ago). Worried that her underpaid intern son might be starving in the desert, she wanted to pass along her wisdom on how to cook and eat on the cheap. It was called “Good Old Mom’s Three Days on One Chicken and Other Depression Folklore.” It kept me fed that long hot summer and later became a family treasure.
I was reminded of it recently when I had the opportunity to read An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, by Tamar Adler. Read more
First let’s get one persistent canard out of the way. Yes, the tomato is technically a fruit, not a vegetable, but for purposes of economics the USDA classifies it as a vegetable, and as such it is the second most popular vegetable in the nation after that other burger staple, lettuce. This is surprising in only one respect: A vast majority of the tomatoes consumed in the U.S. every year ($5 billion worth), are devoid of the flavor and nutritive value they once had.
Sure, that plant your neighbor gave you that’s just beginning to enjoy the summer heat will produce lots of delicious, succulent tomatoes come August or September. But in his new book, Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed our Most Alluring Fruit, two-time James Beard Award-winning journalist Barry Estabrook tells us why the modern factory-farmed tomato in most grocery stores is a poster child for nearly everything that is wrong with industrial agriculture. Read more
Food and politics often come together in peculiar ways. It’s not that their coming together at all is unusual – far from it. Civilization and politics are both a direct result of agriculture. But these days food’s impact on political discourse can lead to some odd sights, such as free pizza being delivered to protesters in Madison, paid for by sympathetic activists in Egypt. Read more
When I first started in the food business there were no rock star chefs. The late 80’s and early 90’s began a trend that created hundreds of almost-literal flash-in-the-pan celebrities and a handful of rightfully idolized geniuses. Today there remains a cult of personality around some chefs and TV cooks, but the attention is finally turning (and rightfully so) toward the farmers, without whom we chefs would be pointlessly clanking a lot of empty pans. Read more
You would never participate in slavery, right?
I know, it seems like a bizarre question in this day and age–of course no sane, civilized member of a modern society would take part in the indentured servitude of others. Lincoln ended all that 150 years ago, didn’t he? And of course you and I would never have anything to do with slavery in 2010.
The dirty little secret though is that millions of Americans are contributing to it each week and they don’t even know it. When you buy tomatoes at the local Publix, Ahold, Kroger, or Walmart, you become the last link in a chain that is attached to shackles in south Florida. Read more