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Thinking Outside the Kitchen

I had a bit of an aha moment the other day when one of my professors asked the class how many of us are outliers in our families, foodie freaks if you will – now, my family would never use such harsh terminology (although i believe “food police” has been used on occasion), but I have to admit I can clear a room pretty quickly with some of the things I am studying and learning on a daily basis.  Try, for example, offering me a cold, refreshing BudLite and rather than politely declining (because I am not a frat bro) I can’t help but inform you that BudLite is nothing but fermented hi-fructose corn syrup…not exactly what I consider beer.  If you are lucky, I will control myself and stop there.  If not, I give you permission to walk away.  Talk about a buzzkill. (And now this outrageously funny Deadspin article is making me reconsider Heineken!).

Ok so I can be a food freak at times but in my defense I was not always this way.  Graduate school can do funny things to people.  Which brings me back to my two-fold aha moment.  I have been so focused on sharing recipes and cooking techniques that I seem to have forgotten that I went back to school to get out of the prep-kitchen basement in search of what else the food world might have to offer.  I decided that if everyone was reading current food/health research and keeping up with food news, there would be a lot more oddballs like me.

My point in all of this is that I think it is important for people who are interested in food and cooking (I am assuming that includes you folks reading this) to also find time for understanding more about our food system and how we can each make more informed decisions and create change for the better.   I want to start sharing some of the things I am learning in class, interesting articles or books i’ve read, food policy news, you get the idea.  I hope you will find it all interesting and informative, so maybe I will have people to talk to at parties.

Here it goes…

1. What I am reading: The Third Plate by Dan Barber


Dan Barber is the Chef and co-owner of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. He is not only an award-winning chef but also a highly respected advocate for sustainable farming practices.  This kind of book can be a little heavy handed when it comes to details about the food system or farming practices and about 3/4 of the way through, I usually give up.  I have yet to hit that point with this book (I am only at 54%) but if a whole book seems daunting, you could get the general idea of Barber’s message from his insightful and honestly quite funny Ted talks.

2. The New York Times Magazine Food Issue – I enjoyed all of the articles and there is a little something for everyone!

How School Lunch Became the Latest Political Battleground – did you know the sauce on a slice of pizza counts as a serving of vegetables!?

Getting Your Kids to Eat (or at least try) Everything – one of my favorite people in the food world, Mark Bittman, on what dinnertime was like when his daughters were growing up.  It reminded me of how things were in my house: absolutely no junk food, out of the 7 boxes of cereal in the cabinet, 6 contained the word “bran” in the name, the 1 sweet cereal still had to have whole wheat as the first ingredient and was considered a “condiment”.  Meals were eaten all together at the table, my mom made food she and my dad wanted to eat, and if we did not like it well that was just too bad – a tactic I have used more than once.

3. Food Shopping: I have recently discovered and am obsessed with Instacart – grocery delivery from your neighborhood Whole Foods or Food Emporium within two hours!! Amazing.

Hope you are still awake and enjoyed some of the articles.  Stay tuned for more Food World News!

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