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The Love Lives of Farmers: How to Make Rural Romance Work

When a friend of mine moved to a rural part of California, she called her new home “BYOB” or “Bring Your Own Boyfriend.” “The pickings out here are slim,” she said.

The problem with this advice was that my dater’s luck in the city hadn’t been so great either. And on the many nights when I waited for a guy to call, I doped up on rural romances. I treated my disappointment with the hope that outside city limits there was a place—Farmland, America—where the cowboys were monogamous and the vegetable growers knew how to ask a girl out. Read more

Cooking with Your Kids

As a little girl, I loved sitting on the kitchen counter while my mom cooked. While I kicked my feet against the cabinets, she taught me how to peel an onion efficiently and how to crack an egg and use my index fingers to get all the white out before tossing the shells into the compost bin. And I still vividly recall the excitement I felt over the beautiful, golden, sesame seed-studded  loaves of braided challah we baked in my second grade class at the Woodstock Children’s Center–they were like some kind of miracle. Childhood is such an important, impressionable time of life when the vast majority of our lifelong habits are formed, or at least pointed in the direction in which they’ll head. That’s why my husband and I want to introduce our son, Will, to growing and cooking food alongside us. Read more

“100 Days of Real Food” Pledge

A little over a year ago, our family made a bold move by pledging to follow strict “real food” rules for 100 long days. A few of these rules included no white flour, no sugar, and nothing out of a package with more than five ingredients. And there were no exceptions whether we were traveling, out to eat, at a birthday party or with friends. We started this little experiment of ours simply to draw attention to how dependent Americans have become on highly processed food.

Just a few months prior, we ourselves had been relying on the very same factory-made junk and the scary part was we didn’t even realize we were doing anything wrong. So, after our little wake up call, thanks to Michael Pollan and Food, Inc., we didn’t think it was good enough to just make the appropriate changes within our own family. We felt compelled to share the shocking news we’d learned with others and “blow the whistle,” so to speak, on what Americans were really eating.

Once our fairly typical family in the suburbs of Charlotte, N.C. took on this extreme and sudden “real food” pledge, it led to quite a few interesting and surprising experiences. Here are some highlights: Read more

Men in the Kitchen: Review of Man with a Pan

One of the how-did-we-get-here narratives of food goes something like this: Starting in the late 1960s, the women’s movement called upon educated women to forge a new path into professional life while an increasingly convenience-driven industrial food complex conspired with demanding weekday schedules to culminate in empty kitchens and the near extinction of home cooking. It’s a tale that oversimplifies the reality. But when Michael Pollan, in his 2009 New York Times essay “Out of the Kitchen Onto the Couch,”  singled out Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique as the tome that convinced women that cooking is drudgery, he set off a feminist firestorm. Several angry blog posts and counter-defenses later one thing is clear: If more home cooking is essential to changing the food system, men had better get into the kitchen as well.

It’s happening. In 1965, fathers accounted for only five percent of the time spent cooking for the family; now they’re in the kitchen nearly one-third of the time. John Donohue’s new book Man with a Pan, a collection of essays by fathers about cooking for their families, celebrates this change. Read more

Finding the True Value of Food

The problem with being interested in food is that it seems so frivolous. Sure, everybody has to eat, but caring about what you’re eating seems, well, indulgent. If you can afford enough food to feed your family, then you should stop there. Because there are more important things in life than food — war, disease, global warming, getting your hair cut. Right? Read more