Veg-Stand-@1020

I want to call attention today to Dan Barber’s New York Times opinion piece from a week and a half ago, “What Farm-to-Table Got Wrong,” and his new book The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food. Both address the “odd duality” of our country’s embrace of sustainable agriculture, local food, organic food, farmers’ markets, and the farm-to-table movement with the fact that Big Food is getting bigger. Corn and soy account for 50% of the farmed land in this country (mainly a variety of corn that’s not edible until processed, I’m guessing). The current agricultural situation seems untenable in the long haul. In the short term, it’s created a population so sick we currently rack up a billion dollars a day in health care costs. On the other hand, do I really Read On »

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  My thoughts on seeing “Fed Up,” the documentary about the causes of the American (and now increasingly global) obesity epidemic are not complex. It’s all pretty mortifying, if completely unsurprising. Sugar is bad for you if you eat too much of it. So is lettuce. The problem is, sugar is turning out to be the most dangerous nontoxic compounds you can eat, and it’s in 80% of the 600,000 items stocking our grocery stores. Whereas it would be really hard to eat too much lettuce. And there isn’t much difference between eating a bowl of sugar and eating a bowl of cereal. Most people in America are unable to eat anything other than products with added sugar. And the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Food Marketing Institute, and other Big Sugar factions are doing all Read On »

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Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

You’d think a health news piece in the venerable NYTimes questioning a NYTimes op-ed linking illness and salt would make me happy, but it only makes me angry. What is the media’s problem? Nobody knows anything for certain—that is the only possible story. Nobody really knows anything for certain. Not your doctor, not your nutritionist, not ABC News, not the Times, and, for sure, not me. Today’s op-ed by Nicholas Bakalar questions an earlier op-ed by Dr. Thomas A. Farley, former commissioner of health for New York City (both articles linked above), who wrote that excess salt is killing 40,000 to 90,000 people a year (according to “best estimates”—what exactly does this mean?). Think about this number. It accounts for more deaths than breast cancer. If he is right, shouldn’t we all be wearing little Read On »

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Deep-fried-egg-for-blog 2

  “Mindfulness.” Being “mindful.” I wish I liked the word because the meaning behind this new-agey, woolly notion is important. What does it mean? If I were cranky, as I happen to be now, I’d tell you that it means, “Not being a dumbass.” Seriously, that’s my translation of being mindful. Is that mean-spirited? Well, sometimes that’s what it takes. How would I describe “mindfulness” to my 14-year-old-son (who is not a dumbass, he’s just 14)? I would say, “James, it means, Paying Attention. If that didn’t get through? PAY ATTENTION! THINK! (Thinking is an underrated activity, especially in America. Thinking is probably the most important cooking technique I know—why I devoted the first chapter of Ruhlman’s Twenty, a techniques cookbook, to it.) What got me started on this was watching the below TED Talk by Read On »

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Anthony Bourdain On Today's Chefs.

A few months ago, in Vegas with Anthony Bourdain and the Parts Unknown crew, I had uncommonly sweet digs and a lot of downtime. Tony probably speaks with more chefs around the world than any other person living. So in between his facial and his pedicure, I talked to him: M.R.: What issues do you see facing chefs today? I think a number of chefs are trying to figure out how to be good citizens of the world, and also serve the one percent. Trying to find a balance when their whole business model is built up around expensive markup of bottles of wine, only the very best parts of the fish, the rest has to be disposed of one way or another. A lot of chefs are trying to reconcile that. Chefs generally are good-hearted Read On »

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