The Food Ten
Ten more great, food-focused items.
In the midst of the GOOD 100, I've come up with an additional list of 10 people, projects, and ideas that are making a difference when it comes to food. Let me know what you think.
1: Sustainable sushi
Environmental regulators can't keep pace with our voracious appetite for wild fish, and consumer changes can only take reforms so far. But a compelling new way to change fishing practices may be coming from behind the sushi bar. Casson Trenor has been advocating for honest, eco-friendly options and U.S. chefs are beginning to follow the lead of places like the U.K. chain Moshi Moshi by implementing a traceable, net-to-knife takes on the classics.
2: Tony Geraci
Geraci is the Baltimore City Public Schools's director of food and nutrition, which might not sound like a glamorous or influential position. But Geraci has made it both by serving locally-grown meals from Maryland farms three days a week. For low-income students in Baltimore-some who only get meals from public school-that can mean a lot. The next step for Geraci and other school lunch reformers: more hot lunches made from scratch.
3: Eat like it's 1930
From Mark Kurlansky's The Food of a Younger Land to pre-industrial pig dinners, eating historically accurate cuisine has never been so cool. This year, the International Association of Culinary Professionals introduced a cookbook category for food history. While Jello, a newfangled staple of the Depression, does not have the same cachet as marrow bones and head cheese-it's about time for a return of regional specialties and nose-to-tail cooking.
4: Barry Estabrook
Estabrook wrote about underpaid tomato pickers for now-shuttered Gourmet magazine. Although Gourmet has been criticized for its tone of exclusivity and foodie elitism, Estabrook was one contributing editor whose insights stretched far beyond the wondrous smell of mushrooms or the delightful views of farms to a starker, more realistic portrait of our food: one showing a need for meaningful political reform.
5: Mobile chicken processors
Now that chickens are the new swimming pool (they're in every backyard), suburban farmers have a problem: the shortage of small, federally inspected slaughterhouses. "There's a lot of back-of-the-barn processing; people who do their turkeys all hush-hush," says Jennifer Hashley, of Pete and Jen's Backyard Birds in Massachusetts. "But as regulations get tougher, I think that's going to get more difficult." Hashley and others in Vermont, Maine, and Washington have been exploring another (legal) option: a roving slaughterhouse mounted on the back of a tractor-trailor.
Forget microbrewed beers and backwoods copper stills. From rotovaps to reflux stills, today's unlicensed distillers are often techie, DIY-ers experimenting in apartments and garages. What's not to like about a little homemade firewater?
7: Nicolette Hahn Niman
Besides being the activist author of The Righteous Porkchop, Niman is a pioneer in raising Boer meat goats. Despite goat meat's bad rap, she says that the animal might offer more protein from less grass, part of her argument that sustainable meat can exist in healthy ecosystems where plants and animals function together.
8: Stop counting
The human body is more than a caloric intake machine. Despite efforts to have mandatory calorie labeling on menus, numbers don't necessarily add up. As Jessica Mudry writes in Measured Meals, the USDA's prescriptive "healthy diet" uses quantitative terms and scientific sounding numbers that often obscure what healthy diets are really about: geography, tradition, pleasure, and, most of all, taste.
9: Trayless dining
Take plastic and metal trays away from campus dining halls, and waste haulers end up taking away less garbage because they load up with less food. Besides cutting waste, this saves food service providers money. The idea has caught on, although there's no word yet on whether trayless dining can hold the dreaded Freshman 15 at bay.
10: Eat heirlooms
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault launched an ambitious, high-profile rescue program for the world's seeds to be housed in a bunker, but to really save plants, we have to eat them. Slow Food's RAFT is one project that promotes heirloom foods that are worth cooking. After recently tasting a Winekist, a rare pink-fleshed apple from Maine that tastes like a strawberry, I'm convinced these heirlooms are indeed worth saving-and worth being used by more chefs.