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Faces & Visions of the Food Movement: Samin Nosrat

Samin Nosrat creates community around food as a cook, writer and teacher in the Bay Area. From Chez Panisse to Tuscany, Piemonte to the northern coast of Iran, she has spent the past 14 years immersed in a life of cooking and learning beside groundbreaking chefs, home cooks, farmers, writers, and artists.  Drawing on this broad spectrum of experience, she brings to her all of her varied work a sense of humor and joy as well as a deep desire to empower and encourage people to find their own comfortable place in the kitchen.  She is currently at work on her first book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, to be published by Simon & Schuster in Spring 2015. Read more

Michael Pollan on The Farm Bill: New Film From Nourish (VIDEO)

Every five years, we have the chance to influence the way our food is produced, our land is conserved, and our health is protected. The legislation that addresses these issues is known as the Farm Bill, and in 2012, it’s up for renewal. “It isn’t really a bill just for farmers,” says food journalist Michael Pollan, in this video from Nourish Short Films. “It really should be called the food bill because it is the rules for the food system we all eat by.” Read more

Michael Pollan: New Food Rules, But No Need to Be Neurotic (VIDEO)

Sometimes a spoonful of sugar does, indeed, make the medicine go down. Though you won’t find that catchphrase in the just-released hardcover edition of Food RulesMichael Pollan‘s best-selling little eater’s manual.

Food Rules does sport the whimsical and witty illustrations of well-known artist Maira Kalman, however. And the new book also boasts 19 new rules—many gleaned from eaters around the country that Pollan wished he had thought of and included the first time around.

Take two is again full of commonsense kitchen wisdom such as If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re probably not hungry; and When you eat real food, you don’t need rules.

The takeaway message: food need not be complicated, and the act of eating is as much about pleasure and communion as it is about nutrition and health. In other words: lighten up a little and enjoy your dinner. Read more

Nikki Henderson: On the Frontlines of Edible Education

People seem to have an insatiable appetite for food matters right now. Case in point: the public tickets for Edible Education 101 at UC Berkeley were snapped up in 12 minutes on Monday, according to a tweet from Alice Waters, who played a key role in bringing the curriculum to the university.

The 13-week course, co-taught by J-school professor and The Omnivore’s Dilemma author Michael Pollan, and Nikki Henderson, the executive director of People’s Grocery, a food justice organization in West Oakland, will examine the rise and future of the food movement. Student enrollment for the one-semester course also filled within minutes after it was listed online, as Berkeleyside reported earlier this month.

Why such interest? The class offers undergrads, grad students, and regular folk a chance to critique current food systems and dissect food politics with Pollan, Henderson, and Waters, as well as a slew of other big names in the food movement, including Marion Nestle and Eric Schlosser. The course kicks off with a lecture by Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini on August 30th. The class also coincides with the 40th anniversary celebration of Chez Panisse restaurant. Read more

Wal-Mart Promises Local Food, While Big Ag Gears Up for a Fight

Last week, Wal-Mart–the largest grocer in the world with over 8,600 stores in 15 countries, two million employees and sales of $405 billion–made news when it launched sustainable agriculture goals for the U.S. and emerging markets focused on regional food systems. The move is part of decade-long trend of food businesses–from producers to purveyors–adapting, or at least claiming to adapt, to the consumer demand for sustainable food.

Wal-Mart’s decision–the details of which I will get to in a moment–comes on the heels of the success of chains like Whole Foods, which also touts local foods. But unlike Whole Foods, which is considered “niche”, Wal-Mart is mainstream. Some say that this announcement is going to shake the ground under agri-business, which has vehemently fought against anyone suggesting changes to the food system for years now. But agri-business companies are not going to take this shift in consumer demand lying down.

In fact, agri-business elites have been trying either covertly or otherwise to convince the consumer that sustainable food advocates have misled them into thinking the current food system is unsafe, unjust, and unhealthy. And the evidence shows that more of the same is coming down the pipeline. Read more

Food for Health Forum: An Rx for Doctors

Today, the man who encourages us all to eat food, mostly plants, and not too much will bring his prescription for a healthier population and planet to a group that, surprisingly, he hasn’t spoken to before: Doctors and other healthcare professionals.

The man, of course, is Michael Pollan—who talks about the importance of eating and growing sustainable food to folks as diverse as urban ag advocates and Oprah fans. The best-selling food book author will address physicians, dieticians, hospital food service staff, and others at the Food for Health Forum in San Francisco sponsored by HMO giant Kaiser Permanente. Read more

Last Mile Access: Let the Hotel Valet Open the Door to a Food Conversation

The valet made me do it. We bared our souls and talked with each other about food. We did it in the middle of the tastefully decorated lobby of a reputable Cannery Row hotel in Monterey, CA. It began as a very unexpected moment, and has become one of my all-time favorite experiences talking about access to good food. Because it was a conversation not with a chef, foodie or expert. It was with a regular person who longs to connect to food and is somehow stuck, marooned on an island alone, full of latent desire.

The valet—let’s call him Paul—asked me the very question I yearn to hear, and with him I had the discussion that I never tire of. Paul had parked my car when I checked into the hotel, had smiled professionally at me and held the door three mornings in a row when I sashayed excitedly out into the sunlight. The cause of my excitement was a food issue conference hosted by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The Cooking for Solutions Sustainable Media Institute is an annual gathering of journalists and experts who cover food system issues ranging from sustainable seafood to GMOs. It is the highlight of my year, second only to the Ecological Farming Association annual meeting. Read more

TED Talks Food: Broadcasting Voices and Ideas To The Public

TED is a non-profit devoted to broadcasting innovative ideas spoken by persuasive thinkers. Its website spreads information through “TED talks,” a video component that spans a wide range of topics. Here is a selection of TED videos focusing on issues from the political food world—child obesity, industrial meat production, school nutrition programs, ecologically safe fish farming, food access within an urban landscape, re-envisioned permaculture—presented by some of the top enthusiasts and specialists. Read more