How to Get Your Neighbors to Cook Dinner For You Every Week

In my family growing up, small children were given knives. There were five kids and two parents, and right around the time my youngest brother turned seven and my oldest was 13, my parents had an a-ha moment: What if each member of the household could take responsibility for supper one night a week, slyly delegating a fairly large amount of labor? The results were uneven. You might even get oatmeal.
But it turns out that getting tossed into the kitchen at such a young age was a good thing. Cooking food, after all, is one of the most basic human skills—some have argued that it's essentially what makes us human. My parents weren't so philosophical about things. I suspect it was purely communal efficiency that drove them.
My wife and I recently had our first child and were lavished with the customary pans of mac and cheese and containers of hearty soups and stews that materialize from friends and neighbors when you bring home a baby. One chef friend even made us his killer duck confit and smokey baked beans. We were carpet-bombed with calories in the very best way. All this food magically appearing on our doorstep got me thinking about something I started calling a "food pyramid scheme"—or what some folks call a supper co-op.
The idea is simple: you get together with two or three other households in your neighborhood and enter into a sort of pact of reciprocity. You cook a meal that is enough to feed you—and them. In turn, they do the same on some other weeknight. See how that works? You get three suppers but you've only cooked one. And as much as I enjoy lingering over a meal with friends, that's not what this is about—at least for me. It's about labor-saving, resource-sharing, and sampling home cooking from someone else's home. recently arrived in the States after launching in Amsterdam—a sort of airbnb for your leftovers. It's active in New York and spreading to other cities quickly. I'm not interested in putting a price tag on my home cooking, though. I just want to share and share alike, like a culinary creative commons.
Right around the time I got this notion, the San Francisco farm fresh grocery delivery startup Good Eggs launched and its founder Rob Spiro invited me to try it out. I'm lucky to have Other Avenues, a great worker owned co-op, just a couple blocks from my house, so it couldn't be easier to get my hands on local organic produce. But Other Avenues is completely vegetarian, so they don't offer fancy grass-fed beef, artisanal pork belly, or Monterey Bay Aquarium-approved seafood options. That's where Good Eggs comes in: they arrange weekly neighborhood drop-offs of carnivore-friendly grocery orders—and they're right around the corner from me.
Good Eggs has four trucks delivering supplies from 120 Bay Area producers—everything from pancetta and a "forest-raised pork sampler" to sugar snaps and Japanese tatsoi greens. They've even got local trout, baby food, and pizza dough. Who's their customer? "Someone with a values system that aligns with good food," says Spiro. "Maybe they've read Michael Pollan or seen FOOD Inc. They get sustainable and local, but they're urban and really busy and they can't compromise on convenience." Brooklyn and Los Angeles: look for Good Eggs in your streets in the next few months.
I was tempted with bacon—locally processed and cured for five days in brown sugar and spices. I can't get that at my local hippie grocery. "We love farmer's markets, but most people run out of that food in a few days—at the most," Spiro told me. "We think of this as the mid-week re-stock." So for my first foray into the dinner co-op, I ordered a slab of that bacon along with some yellow Finn potatoes, green garlic, leeks, and a couple bunches of chard that would be the basis for a big pot of spring stew. Paired with a couple loaves of bread from an Oakland bakery and local butter, I had myself a pretty darned good meal.
I chatted up my friend and neighbor Mark about my little scheme. He's also a new dad instantly saw the value in having his neighbors cook for him on the regular. So one Saturday we had a quick food swap right there on the sidewalk in front of my house. He made off with my bacon-thickened spring stew with bread and butter, and I got his famous vegan jumbalaya. (Stop cringing, Cajuns—it's actually really tasty.) I still had enough of my stew to feed another couple of mouths, so I packed that up and brought it down to another neighbor—another new dad. "No strings attached," I told him. "But if you're interested, I've got this little thing going I call a food pyramid scheme."
My wife is also working the new mom angle. I've got her putting the word out at 'rhyme time' at the local library—a weekly Wednesday gathering that draws the stroller set in droves. Mark and I swapped once again since that stew—he got my spicy yellow daal and I got his lasagna—but then he and his family up and moved to the East Bay, far out of range.


I lost the first true believer in my scheme, but I'm still hopeful. After all, Michael Pollan's fresh best-seller will no doubt make home cooking a rallying cry, and the sharing economy is in boom times. Someday soon I just might find myself cooking only one night a week, just like my parents.

via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

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via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

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For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

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In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

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But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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