On a rainy November afternoon in Portland, Oregon, 21 high school students took the food handlers’ exam in a church basement. The usual chattering of nearly two dozen young people dropped to a silence as they worked. Sitting upstairs, I could tell when they had finished by the sounds of laughter coming from the basement kitchen.
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Stroll the aisles of your local health food store and our country’s love of “functional beverages”—drinks fortified with vitamins, minerals, and other “healthy” additives—becomes apparent. Products in this $17 billion industry claim to strengthen your immune system, flood your body with antioxidants, and boost energy. It’s faddish, yes. But one of the latest additions, maple water, may also help preserve North American forests and put some welcome cash in the pockets of small farmers. Read more
Armed with a healthy dose of caffeine chronopharmacology, we embark on a global breakfast tour that exposes the worldwide dominance of Nutella, as well as the toddler kimchi acclimatization process. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., we trace the American breakfast’s evolution from a humble mash-up of leftover dinner foods to its eighteenth-century explosion into a feast of meats, griddle cakes, eel, and pie—followed swiftly by a national case of indigestion and a granola-fueled backlash. Breakfast has been a battleground ever since: in this episode, we not only explain why, but also serve up the best breakfast contemporary science can provide. Read more
Big food companies have long pushed for personal responsibility among consumers—the idea that, given the right information, most people can regulate their own diet and make good choices.
Take McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson. According to him, the mega-corporation hopes to, “use our size and scale around the world to help educate, empower, and encourage our customers to make informed choices so they can live a balanced, healthy lifestyle.” Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association’s new public awareness campaign and accompanying Mixify website is another good example. They’re aimed at educating the soda-drinking audience with a “calories in, calories out” message to prevent obesity. Read more
Chef Sean Sherman grew up Ogallala Sioux on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. After working his way up through a number of kitchens in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sherman decided he needed to strike out on his own. In April, he launched his event catering business as “The Sioux Chef.” And he’s working on a restaurant of the same name. Read more
When Amanda West Reade was pregnant with her now two-year-old son, she started eating farmed salmon. As a vegetarian, she knew that getting enough protein, omega-3s, and folic acid to boost her growing baby’s development might be tricky.
“My doctor listed a few meal ideas and I thought I could handle the salmon,” says Reade. “She said to lean more towards farmed salmon because it was higher in omega-3s.” Reade followed her doctor’s advice and added farmed salmon to her diet three times a week. “It became something I really craved,” she says.
Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are good for the brain and eye development of growing babies and salmon has been a go-to meal for those looking for a reliable a low-mercury fish source. When it comes to omega-3s, the message is clear: All salmon is a good choice. Read more
Less than a five minute walk outside his office on the University of California Berkeley campus, Thomas Carlson excitedly points to a towering wild fennel plant and strides towards it with a dozen eager students in tow. The plant’s leaves have grown tough, but he encourages the students to sample its seeds, which are vaguely sweet and taste of anise. For a few minutes, the group tentatively chomps down as he details the plant’s medicinal and nutritional benefits before moving on in search of the next discovery. Read more
When it comes to nutrition and public health, the U.S. can learn a lot from Latin America. Over the past year, Mexico, Brazil, and several other countries in South and Central America have passed some very progressive policies, often placing public health interests above those of the food industry. This is particularly impressive given the expensive politicking the food industry has engaged in in Latin America against public health policies. Here are five recent efforts we should all be watching: Read more
There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence to suggest that cooking at home is better for our health. It’s also well known that eating convenience food is associated with poorer nutrition, obesity, and other metabolic diseases. Food experts, ranging from NYU professor Marion Nestle to author Michael Pollan and New York Times columnist Mark Bittman, have long argued that homemade meals belong at the center of a healthy diet. Read more