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Talk to Me About Food
25 minutes | Dec 12, 2021
On this episode I consider healing meals; traditional dishes believed to help cure what ails you, physically, emotionally, even spiritually. First, I reflect on my conversation with Ashley Thuthao Keng Dam, a PhD candidate in Eco-gastronomy, Education, and Society at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy. I recently came across their blog post entitled Curative Cuisines of Cambodia. The article reflects on ethnographic research done in rural Cambodia, looking at the impact of seasonal changes on how plant-based traditional medicine complements maternity diets. This is a very focused, maybe esoteric piece of research. But, I think it offers possibilities around how food can cure or heal that go beyond traditional Khmer medicine and what pregnant mothers should consume.I also share snippets from my chat with Amy Foote, Executive Chef at the Alaska Native Medical Center. The traditional food she serves is one important aspect of the more culturally relevant care patients get there. Donations from hunters really help Chef Amy deliver traditional meals - like seal soup - patients really miss and ask for. She explains how the Traditional Native Foods Initiative works and what it means to the patients.I wonder if we can all do more with healing dishes; curative cuisines as Thao coined them. To “eat right” when we’re out of sorts and out of balance despite our best efforts to follow a healthy diet. I suggest thought starters that go beyond boiling milk or making a cup of tea for someone in need. Something more than your go-to soup. Or toast, rice, oatmeal or plain yogurt.
8 minutes | Nov 21, 2021
"I'll have two squares of sea bass with squares of quinoa and zucchini."
In this audio blog post I consider Squareat; a start-up meal delivery company that delivers a box of brownie-sized pieces of animal protein (like chicken breast) and same-size, same-shape squares of veggie and grain side dishes. 21st century food to ponder while you enjoy your Thanksgiving meal.
6 minutes | Nov 1, 2021
In this Halloween audio blog post I muse about the results of an experiment where a human gene that codes for obesity was implanted into the genome of a potato. The spuds grew to be 50% larger! What could be wrong with that? The research is real; only some of the implications conjured here are plausible...
61 minutes | Oct 8, 2021
Farm to Kitchen: The Potential of "Local Food"
This episode looks at what it might take to make locally grown and processed food the hub of our food system. Why? For one, Covid-19 has exposed vulnerabilities in our current food system that is dependent on a sprawling, global web of connections on the one hand, and industrial-scale, concentrated agriculture on the other hand. The longer term threat that’s been creeping up on us for decades is the loss of soil fertility almost everywhere. A sustainable food system would be built on small, diversified farms close enough to form symbiotic relationships with population centers.I first speak with Thomas Locke of Bois d’Arc Farm. He raises livestock using sustainable practices less than 100 miles from the Dallas Farmer’s Market. Thomas shares his story and what it’ll take to make DFW a more vibrant local food scene.I then share part of my conversation about urban farming with Owen Lynch, an associate professor in the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU. Owen is helping folks in South Dallas help themselves to develop a systemic solution to systemic problems around food access by developing a network of professionally run urban farms to support a local produce market. The starting point is Restorative Farms.Jeff Bednar started Profound Foods several years ago as a small food hub in Dallas. Through it he sells his own small farm's 150 varieties of edible greens as well products from 50+ local farms to some 6,000 residential subscribers and a range of restaurant chefs. He tells me how he got started and reinforces the need for more food hubs like his.Next, Zach Correa describes for us how lemonGRAFT works. It's another sort of food hub based on software coordination. lemonGRAFT connects produce eaters with growers - backyard warriors and small farmers alike - who live in the same vicinity. He also talks about the compelling benefits of this system.Finally, Judith McGeary, of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, addresses the elephant the room when it comes to the local food movement; farm policy and regulation. After explaining the factors that have constrained local food, Judith suggests ways that citizen eaters like you and me can make a difference.There is local food potential everywhere. We have to want it…To really want to re-engineer the current food system model in favor of locally grown, raised and processed food. My sense is that we will need to live through more shocks to consider demanding change of others and of ourselves. Photo courtesy of Brad Roa at Restorative Farms
31 minutes | Sep 1, 2021
Gastrophysics - Enjoying food with all your senses
Charles Spence, author of Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating defines this realm of research as the scientific study of those factors that influence our multisensory experience while tasting food and drink.The basic premise of gastrophysics is that all aspects of the eating environment – where, when, how, and with whom - provide essential sensory cue, and that the eating experience is influenced by multi-sensory faculties you don’t even know you have.In this episode I share some of the findings from this book with the help of Charles Spence, Professor of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, and Head of the Cross-Modal Laboratory.Flavor is not experienced with taste buds alone. Not by a long shot. And the smell receptors in the back of the mouth are critical in cataloging memories of what we eat and drink. The sense of smell is what draws emotion into the eating experience. I also look at how sight and touch cues can heighten the appeal of what's on the plate. Charles then shares with me the power of "sonic seasoning" and how all these cross-modal effects can be used to change behavior. He explains how we can eat healthier, for example.Finally, we look at the future of gastrophysics. How can the five senses be manipulated to deliver extraordinary eating experiences?Wine sound associations courtesy of Jozef Youssef of Kitchen Theory at a TEDx LSE conference in 2018.
5 minutes | Aug 11, 2021
The Mystery of Blue (color) Food
A brief musing about the natural absence of blue in our foods and drinks. A few food scientists are exploring ways to create a natural, bright-hued blue to replace FD&C Blue #1, but there aren't that many artificially colored blue foods either, even though blue is our favorite color...
16 minutes | Aug 6, 2021
Tips from a Sustainability Minded Chef
In this Talk to Me About Food "mover and shaker" profile I share snippets from a conversation I had with Amanda McLemore, chef, and founder of Baguette & Butter, the first sustainable digital food space. Amanda tells me about how she became a sustainable cooking activist and shares her suggestions for how to cook more mindfully: It's about setting up your kitchen to work efficiently but also about being flexible in how you approach the whole process of planning and preparing food.
8 minutes | Jul 26, 2021
Upcycle your thinking with upcycled foods
In this blog post I touch on the growing efforts to reduce food waste by packaging and marketing upcycled food products. This can be produce that's deemed not fit for the supermarket display or an ingredient that's in the waste stream of some food production process, like barley used in brewing beer. Products like these can now qualify to use a packaging mark from the Upcycled Foods Association.
7 minutes | Jul 17, 2021
Vegan food - the Next Generation
The audio blog post muses about vegan foods by comparing two very different approaches to creating plant-based foods and dishes. The owners of the Herbivorous Butcher in Minneapolis draw upon their creativity to offer a wide variety of plant-based butcher fare that mimics meats and cheeses as closely as possible. The chefs at Eleven Madison Park in NYC express their creativity by designing vegan dishes that make veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, and fungi shine in new ways that don't mimic animal-based food.Move over faux burgers, crumbles, and nuggets.Photo Credit: Christopher Ison/English Heritage
9 minutes | Jul 6, 2021
"Big Food" and you...a co-dependency
This audio blog post muses about the relationship between consumers and producers of packaged food in light of a recent article about Nestle's admission that a good part of the world's largest food and beverage company's products "doesn't meet any recognized definition of health."
37 minutes | Jun 30, 2021
The Future of Kitchen Design
According to Houzz.com, one of the key tastemakers in home design today, 25% of Americans renovated their kitchen in 2019, and we spend a lot more on updating the kitchen than any other room in the house. The open concept kitchen has been on trend for a while now, but that might be changing per the same Houzz survey, as well as HGTV celebrities Jonathan Scott, one of the Property Brothers, and Erin Napier of “Home Town.” That got me thinking about what might be driving the future of kitchen design.I first speak with Johnny Grey, a kitchen design pioneer about his first principles and how they apply to social and demographic trends, like telecommuting, multigenerational living and Boomers wanting to “age in place.”I then share some home/kitchen design predictions from IKEA, the largest furniture manufacturer in the world, based on what they’ve seen and heard from consumers during the pandemic.The episode also explores how kitchen design can influence how we might live more sustainably. I talk about a kitchen concept from GE Appliances exhibited at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2020. I conclude with snippets from a conversation with Clive van Heerden of vhMDesignfutures. Clive led a team that created a provocative, sustainability-first concept called the Microbial Home; a zero waste design featuring five kitchen components.Sounds courtesy of jjhouse4, pingel,dbosst and dlandat freesound.org
8 minutes | Jun 6, 2021
Endangered food species
In this audio blog post I muse about the fate of some our staple foods in the face of climate change. Humans continue to contribute to the extinction of species across the kingdoms of life. Some are trying to rescue endangered or even lost food species, but the trajectory of many others does cause a pause for reflection.
8 minutes | May 10, 2021
Isn't all food brain food?
In this audio blog post I muse about how functional ingredients are being added to foods and beverages to enhance short-term cognitive skills, keeping in mind that Homo Sapiens has been consuming "brain food" for a very long time.
12 minutes | Apr 12, 2021
To bee, or not to bee
Blog post musings about bioengineered bee-less honey, and other look-alike, taste-alike substitute food products.
28 minutes | Apr 6, 2021
Foraging - harvesting what nature sows
Hunting and gathering is in our DNA. Very few of us in America subsist on doing either one these days. Major disruptions raise the profile of both activities. COVID 19 has not only reduced income for tens of millions of Americans it has also led to shortages of staple foods. An increase in the number headlines and of books published on growing your own food and foraging suggests that some of us want to take food self-reliance to the individual level. I explored the idea of growing of your own food last year in a dedicated Talk to Me About Food episode. In that story I looked at examples of a food forest, or forest garden, where humans plan out, plant and harvest from perennial food sources like fruits, nuts, edible greens, and mushrooms. I was also intrigued by the idea of foraging in the wild; of harvesting what life produces on its own and leaves us for the taking, season after season, year after year.I recently reached out to two expert foragers who forage very different ecosystems. Twila Cassadore lives in Arizona. Sam Thayer is in Wisconsin. They share with me how they got into foraging, what they get out of it – which goes beyond better taste, higher nutritive density, and cost -- and how many of us can also benefit from harvesting what nature sows.
48 minutes | Feb 21, 2021
Living on the fat of the land - Regenerative Agriculture Part 2
Regenerative agriculture is practiced on a very small percentage of total farm and ranchland in the U.S., maybe 3-5%. This figure is growing by the day because it is a sustainable approach to growing and raising food that also mitigates some of the effects of climate change.This is Part 2 of a two-part story. It looks at how and why food grown using regenerative agriculture practices tastes better and can be better for you, then delves into the challenges and opportunities around upending the current model of agriculture and the food system it supports.First, Allen Williams and Gabe Brown, farmers/ranchers and consultants with Understanding Ag talk about the importance of biologically active soil in improving both the taste profile and nutrient density of food.Suzan Erem, director of Sustainable Iowa Land Trust, and Jack Algiere, farm director at Stone Barns Center paint a picture of the challenges farmers face in making the switch, as well as possible ways to provide incentives to embrace regenerative farming: providing access to affordable land and more equitable ways of sharing equity and profits.Rebecca Chesney of IDEO, a global design firm, talks about the surprising level of collaboration and commitment from food makers and distributors to enabling regenerative agriculture by building and/or evolving both physical and information infrastructure.I talk with Monica Rocchino, co-owner of The Local Butcher Shop, a custom butchery in Berkeley, CA that buys directly from local farmers and ranchers who grow and raise food sustainably. More of her suppliers are calling themselves “soil farmers” and more of her customers are asking about regenerative agriculture.Finally, I share my thoughts on what each one of us, as consumers and eaters, can do to help create a market for foods grown using regenerative agriculture practices. This touches on where, how, and what we buy.Antonio Vivaldi violin concerti courtesy of John Harrison Music
5 minutes | Feb 17, 2021
World Pulses Day...unfurl the banners
In this blog post I muse about lentils, chickpeas, and beans (the magical fruit) on the heels of World Pulses Day, a day set aside by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to sing the praises of pulses.
7 minutes | Jan 29, 2021
Indoor farming - tasty tomatoes with no soil...really?
Audio blog post musings about the rise of large-scale indoor farming and what we might miss by not growing stuff in the rich soil of a good vegetable patch.
38 minutes | Jan 19, 2021
Living on the fat of the land - Regenerative Agriculture Part 1
Regenerative agriculture is practiced on a very small percentage of total farm and ranch land in the U.S., maybe 3-5%. This figure is growing by the day because it is a sustainable approach to growing and raising food that also mitigates some of the effects of climate change.This is Part 1 of a two-part story. It seeks to define what regenerative agriculture is, how it’s different from conventional agriculture, and why we should care. Part II will delve into the challenges and opportunities around upending the current model of agriculture and the food system it supports, including our role as consumers in this system.Matt Ridenour, Senior Portfolio Lead at IDEO, a global design company, helps me set the stage by sharing an overview of the Rockefeller Foundation's Food System Vision Prize and the emergence of regenerative agriculture as a major theme. Jack Algiere, farm director at Stone Barns Center, gives us a snapshot of what happens on their land. Stone Barns is one the pioneers in the regenerative agriculture movement.Then, I try to define more broadly what is regenerative agriculture. On one level, it is a set of principles and practices. Gabe Brown and Allen Williams, farmers, ranchers, and consulting educators at Understanding Ag lay out their approach.Regenerative agriculture is also an ethos; a value system that advocates for a more equitable relationship across the food chain. Rebecca Chesney, who leads much of IDEO’s work on redesigning the food system, and Linyee Yuan, Founder and Editor at MOLD, a platform exploring the future of food, expand on this shift in philosophy. Finally, Allen Johnson helps me look at why we should care about considering this alternative but disruptive approach to growing and raising food. The starting point is a dire picture of soil health and fertility, and the resulting environmental challenges. On top of that, the inequalities in the food system that flows from conventional agriculture are reason enough, for some, to embrace a reimagined system underpinned by regenerative agriculture.Sounds courtesy of diegolarat freesound.orgImage courtesy of Gabe Brown of Brown's Ranch near Bismarck, ND
9 minutes | Jan 2, 2021
Audio blog post sparked by perusing a new book called "Digital Food - From Paddock to Platform." I muse about how food factors into the digital world of photo sharing, online video content, and meal sharing apps.
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