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Thank you, Mark Bittman!

2 Feb

Mark Bittman’s most recent op-ed, A Food Manifesto for the Future. A great read. I can really get behind everything he’s bringing up here. Our food system is seriously broken and he offers some great suggestions. I can’t wait to hear him flesh some of these ideas out in the future. I’ve always appreciated Mark Bittman’s recipes and cookbooks but I’m so appreciative that he is using his voice and notoriety to bring these important issues into the forefront for the greater public to consider. We need a food revolution in this country and education is the first step to bringing real change.


Those Progressive Swedes

24 Oct

Just read this article in the New York Times about folks in Sweden experimenting with measuring and labeling the carbon footprint of the foods they’re eating. I feel like we are so behind the times here in the USA. Imagine if we thought about food not just in terms of it’s nutritional content as fuel for our bodies but in terms of the health of the planet??? In this country we don’t seem to get the connection – our health and the environment’s health are one and the same. What would it take for Americans to think in these terms? Would your eating habits change if you were confronted with the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the production of that pound of ground beef in your grocery shopping cart? Or those bananas? Or that box of cereal?

Want to calculate your impact? Check out this great tool.

If you’re interested in reducing your food miles here are some good resources.

Confronted With My Own Garbage

12 Nov

When I was teaching environmental education back in 2000, one of the exercises that got brought up at every single training I was at, was making your student carry around everything they throw away over the course of a week. The idea being, if they have to carry their trash around they will see first-hand the impact of their choices.

I never used this activity, it always seemed more punitive than educational to me. However, just this evening I was reminded of that activity when I came face to face with my accumulated week’s worth of garbage. Continue reading

Food Fighters in the New York Times

22 Oct

The New York Times hits another home run with their great slide show on “food fighters.” In the piece they profile 7 groups of young people who are challenging us to think about our food in new ways, and putting the structures in place to connect thought and action.

I was particularly struck at the intersection in most of these profiles between writing and action. Many of the projects are spearheaded by at least one author. I love the way these folks are connecting the power of land and language.

Check out the slide show at the New York Times site.

What Kind of Change?

27 Sep

We all know that green is the new black. It goes with everything: Green Jobs, Green Business, Green Homes, Green Cars, Green Cloths, Green Gadgets…. Most the these green affiliations are shallow marketing attempts to ride the wave of environmental consciousness that is slowly becoming a cultural meme. This shallow greening of everything, and the hip connotations that accompany this trend, have converged with America’s longstanding affinity towards consumptions and abundance creating some interesting cultural tension as a new meme is taking hold while the old worldview has not yet faded away.

This conflict seems to mirror the contradictory images of smoking in our culture. Through years of research, marketing, legislation and public education smoking has been demonized to the point that for large portions of society smoking is no longer cool. And yet, the images of smoking in Hollywood and elsewhere point to the fact that there is still an ingrained association between smoking and hipness. Similarly, we Americans still love our cars and our speed while we are growing to hate petroleum and lament our carbon footprints. Within these points of tension exist a profound potential for change. The question is, what kind of change? Continue reading

Food Photography, part 4

14 Aug

What the World Eats

What the World Eats

The Dong family in the living room of their one-bedroom apartment in Beijing, with a week's worth of food. © 2005 Peter Menzel from 'Hungry Planet: What the World Eats'

Thanks to EatingIthaca ( I stumbled upon a project from 1995 called Hungry Planet by Peter Menzel. Menzel is the author and photographer behind Material World in which he traveled the globe and photographed families with all their worldly belongings spread out infront of their home.

(Read more and see more photos below)

Continue reading

Food Baby

24 Jun

Many of you know that Erica and I are expecting our first baby this October, so you can predict an increasing number of posts about the intersection of parenthood, babies, and food. Facebook clipHowever, instead of writing about baby food right now, I want to write about food babies.

In college, when we would gorge ourselves at the all you can eat dining hall (see this post for more on that phenomena) my friends and I would complain of feeling as though we had a “food baby.” Sometimes we even looked like it too.

However, I recently added a widget to my Facebook page which takes the notion of food babies to an entirely new level. Each week this little tool updates itself to track the growth of our baby. Both Erica and I agree that there is something really nice about watching the progress of our child as it develops. However, the creators of this widget chose food as the unit of measurement and comparison for tracking our baby’s growth. As I have watched our baby grow, comparing it to heirloom tomatoes (I appreciated the nod to heirloom veggies there), carrots, eggplants, and squashes I often wonder why the designers thought of food as the logical point of comparison. Continue reading

You Are What You Waste

31 May

I stumbled on this blog post in my ramblings across the world wide web and the headline – “US wastes 27% of food available for consumption” – caught my attention. I thought it might catch yours too.

When I was in college one of the big activities of the Environmental Action student group was a multi-year “Waste-watch” in the campus dining halls. We essentially stood by the trash bins and as students came up to toss their left overs we had them scrape the food waste in one bin and the paper/other waste in another. At the end of the night we would weigh the food waste and post it up in the dining hall – challenging students to do better.

Continue reading

How We Value Food: Organic, Local, Diverse

25 Apr

In the beginning, organic was radical. Not long ago authors and foodies, environmentalists and farmers, took up the mantle of organic as a key principle in our fight for healthier communities, healthier diets, and a healthier environment. It was a way for small farmers and local businesses to compete with an increasingly super-sized economy made up of industrial agriculture and big box stores. The organic label allowed small farmers to compete and distinguish their products on the store shelves and a combination of factors coincided to make organic not only good for our health, but hip too.

However, if there is one thing capitalism is profoundly good at, it is subsuming counter culture ideas just when they are getting hot, and using them to make a profit. Before long every retailer from the local grocery store to WalMart had organic products on their shelves, and the idea of organic, while still serving as a sort of moral and health compass began to get increasingly watered down. As big box stores began to mass-produce organic versions of all their products, we saw that the industrial economy could be applied to organic food as well. Continue reading

Don’t Eat Anything That Doesn’t Rot

20 Apr

I have had a link to this article stuck in my digital notebook for a while, a kind of electronic dog-eared page on teh web prompting me to get back to it and post it here on the blog. Finally, I have had a moment to do just that.

Back in early March Amy Goodman had Michael Pollan on her show (Democracy Now) and the full interview is posted over at AlterNet. The entire interview is worth a read, but here are some highlights:

On Threats to Food:

Food’s under attack from two quarters. It’s under attack from the food industry, which is taking, you know, perfectly good whole foods and tricking them up into highly processed edible foodlike substances, and from nutritional science, which has over the years convinced us that we shouldn’t be paying attention to food, it’s really the nutrients that matter. And they’re trying to replace foods with antioxidants, you know, cholesterol, saturated fat, omega-3s, and that whole way of looking at food as a collection of nutrients, I think, is very destructive. Continue reading