Tag Archives: food politics

bittman and colbert: cheeseburgers, SUVs, and the environment.

i’m busy planning the go game event for sxsw interactive in austin next week, but here are some entertaining/educational tidbits for your day. first off, other people joining michael pollan on my list of intellectually crush-worthy public figures are mark  bittman (kickass cookbook writer and food blogger) and steven colbert (i know you know who he is). i just read and loved bittman’s newest book, the smart and straightforward food matters, which he discusses in this clip from yesterday’s episode of the colbert report:

i am a dumbass when attempting to embed things, so you can watch here via serious eats.

one of the most interesting topics covered by food matters and mentioned in this clip concerns the impact of industrial food systems, especially meat production, on the environment.  i find it interesting that this isn’t discussed much in terms of what the public can do to help affect climate change, an idea that i’d like to talk about in more detail at some point. if you’re interested in learning more, here’s an article that bittman wrote for the new york times back in january.

to distill some sound bites from the video and article,  in case you don’t have a six minute attention span, know how to read,  or you’re actually ‘working’ right now…

‘serving a family of four a steak dinner for four is the equivalent of driving around in your SUV for 3 hours with all the lights on at home [in terms of energy consumption].’

‘if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan — a Camry, say — to the ultra-efficient Prius.’

oof. pretty fascinating stuff.  we all know about driving less and turning lights off, but not many people connect meat consumption to climate change. does he mean we should stop eating meat? not at all – that’s a pretty unpopular and unrealistic idea for most people. but cutting down on meat consumption and eating sustainably raised meat would be healthier for our bodies as well as the planet. read the book!

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826, food politics and renewing a love for cooking

One of the fantastic things about caring about food and food politics is the convergence of my desires to eat really really delicious food and for that food to be humanely and sustainably produced. As one of the audience members at 826 put it, you don’t really have to make a choice between hedonics and ethics, because for the most part, the most humanely raised cow makes the best tasting beef. Sure, there’s always exceptions, but the cow that lived a long life munching the grass that its stomach was evolved to digest is going to taste better than a cow eating ethanol waste (!) and getting pumped full of antibiotics. The organically raised, locally grown early girl tomato just trucked from the farm to the farmer’s market tastes a million times better than the vaguely reddish balloon-like item at the supermarket that’s been sitting on a truck for a week. It definitely makes it easier for me to fully support conscious eating, because it doesn’t mean restricting yourself. I’d way rather eat a buttery tart filled with organic strawberries than a nasty-ass sugar-free snack cake or Hostess Twinkie and I feel better about where it came from (btw, read Twinkie, Deconstructed for a fascinating yet also horrific account of all the chemicals that go into both twinkies and…rocket fuel!)

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826, food politics, and i have an intellectual crush on Michael Pollan.

after letting the ideas from the 826 food politics discussion marinate in my brain, i’ve decided to serve up some thoughts in bite-size morsels rather than one huge and  indigestible essay. sorry, the whole evening ended with a nod to bad food puns, i can’t help myself.  i’m doling out ladlefuls from the jumbled soup pot of topics and carving off idea slices from the humongous turducken of food politics thought in my brain (that’s a gross mental picture. i’ll stop now).

here’s some details about the evening and the panelists, thoughts about food culture and ecology and production systems, and a whole lot of michael pollan…

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ethicurean? eco-gastronome? conscious foodie? what’s in a name?

i’m having issues distilling the immense amount of information from last night’s panel, so here’s a quick snippet of an issue i wanted to address. i took a brief glance at Ethicurean.com before the panel last night (the group blog of the panelist Bonnie Azab Powell), and I’m intrigued by their explanation and definition of the blog title:

eth•i•cu•re•an n. (also adj.) Someone who seeks out tasty things that are also sustainable, organic, local, and/or ethical — SOLE food, for short.

i’ve been searching for a concise way to describe my personal food choices recently, and this definition encapsulates many of the considerations i try to keep in mind when deciding what to eat.  the word ‘tasty’ is a key point in the definition, and i appreciate inclusion of all four of the SOLE initials (oh acronyms..so often ridiculous yet also so useful). what is organic isn’t necessarily local, what is local isn’t always ethical, etc., but it’s important to try to cover as many bases whenever possible. however, i also feel a bit  pretentious and preachy describing myself as an ethicurean or someone who eats SOLE food. aron, a friend in one of the food photos last night, suggests the phrase eco-gastronome to address both the love of food but also the environmental angle, but that doesn’t really do it for me either. i’d like to just say i care about food and i care about how it becomes food, but there often seems to be a need to define yourself in just a few words.

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826 valencia and an incredible food discussion. for now, food but no discussion.

i just got back from a fascinating and thought-provoking food science and politics discussion at 826 valencia. yeesh. i don’t even know where to start with all the incredible topics covered over the three hour talk and it’s almost 2am, so i’ll leave the heavy thinking for tomorrow. for now, i’ll post some photos of the incredible food served at the event. i didn’t even know until fifteen minutes before it started that they were serving food, and then it showed up on mission mission like a specially delivered message from the blogosphere to my stomach.  thanks interwebs, for saving my ass from eating dinner so i didn’t show up full when they’re serving stuff like this:

chanterelles

and this:

s6300105

ooh, you ask, what are those, mei? and i’m like, ummmm, you know,  some delicious mushroomy shit and some awesome creamy asparagusness bruschetta thingy. okay, i don’t know. but they were mighty tasty. luckily, the creator of most of the dishes, a chef named leif hedendal, not only knows how to cook but knows how to get all arts and craftsy:

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food politics and science, culinary movements in brooklyn, and hot men in beards.

i am seriously excited to be going to a discussion on food writing tonight at everyone’s favorite writing workshop/pirate store, 826 valencia. i consider myself lucky to live around the block from this truly unique nonprofit that organizes tutoring, publishing, field trips, and other writing-related educational activities for kids,  and also raises money and tickles your imagination by selling eye patches, lard, swabbing mops, and all sorts of pirate’s bootyliciousness.  tonight’s talk focuses on food politics and science, and features a heavyweight panel of speakers including food world superstar michael pollan. i’m a huge fan of  the omnivore’s dilemma and the botany of desire and find that my values of food and eating are pretty closely aligned with his eater’s manifesto, so i’m super excited to see him in person. the evening will explore these food themes but also cover topics on writing, publishing, and running a successful blog. i actually bought tickets to the event before starting this blog, just because i love the topic, but after tonight prepare for familystyles to be EVEN MORE AWESOME. ha.

speaking of michael pollan references, if you’re looking for some interesting food reading, there’s an awesome article in today’s nytimes on brooklyn’s new culinary movement. it talks about our  ‘culinarily minded generation’ and how all these young people are making thoughtful, honest, straightforward, traditional, anticorporate foods like handmade pickles, cheeses, chocolate, ales, coffees, and knives (okay, that’s not a food, but they are also thoughtfully handmade in brooklyn). in the words of one attractive bearded chocolate making man (what is up with the hot guys and chocolate connection?), it’s “Slow growth, slow design, slow food. Slow, but without being flaky.” yeah, i read pollan and make my own ricotta, but these guys are seriously dedicated. can’t wait to see for myself as i eat my way through brooklyn in a few weeks…

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