A few times I've come across Anthony Bourdain's food show No Reservations. Bourdain is the "bad
boy" of TV gourmets--he's profane and sarcastic, and apparently an erstwhile
user of hard drugs. This is, of course, a different persona for a host of a
On the Shelf
Nature's Second Chance: Restoring the Ecology of Stone Prairie Farm
Back in the '70s when Steven Apfelbaum told his mom he was
studying for a degree in ecology, his mother didn't know what to think. Unable
to accept or perhaps even understand this new specialty, she told friends that
"Little Stevie was going to be a veterinarian." She wasn't the only one
Hunger and Happiness: Feeding the Hungry, Nourishing Our Souls
About ten years ago I started to become vegetarian. But although my menu shifted, my Christian observance continued pretty much the same. A cradle Anglican, I was a graduate student at King’s College, Cambridge. Evensong in chapel was a staple of my spiritual diet, often followed by dinner in the hall. Although physical sustenance came right after spiritual sustenance, I had little sense of a link between the two beyond the notion that sharing food with others was a good thing to do and that one should not take too much food in order to leave plenty for others. As a Christian, I was not unusual in failing to make connections between faith and food.
As Bill McKibben explains in this issue, people love the Tuscany region of Italy because of its comprehensibility. From a hilltop you can see vineyards and olive groves in their entirety, and you can trace the course of rivers. And you can see where much of your food comes from.
A breakfast frequently served at my son’s school—where over half the children receive government-supported meals—consists of commercially produced French toast sticks and syrup. The list of ingredients on the package for this meal is as long as this paragraph. It includes not only partially hydrogenated soybean oil and high fructose corn syrup, but also more mystifying additives like gelatinized wheat starch, calcium caseinate, lecithin, guar gum and cellulose gum. The story of how these items arrive at a school cafeteria and are designated as food is a long and complicated one involving the interaction of farmers, government policy makers and the food industry. The modern story of why we eat what we eat begins in the 1930s, when President Franklin Roosevelt faced the challenges of the Depression. He saw that many farmers were poor and that one in every five people in the country was undernourished. Farmers and other Americans were too vulnerable, he believed, to the cycles of boom and bust.
Rosalie Higgins has had a hardscrabble life. She didn’t make it into the air force and she couldn’t complete nursing school. The jobs she was able to get with the computer skills that she picked up in trade school paid no better than $6.50 an hour. At age 66, she lives on her Social Security check of $623 a month, which is less than the rent for a one-bedroom apartment.
In 2008, we have the opportunity to celebrate the centennial of MSG! In 1908, Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda isolated MSG—monosodium glutamate—and introduced the concept of a fifth taste: umami. I personally hadn’t heard of it until this past autumn and had been getting along just fine with salty, sour, sweet and bitter.