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Gross School Lunches, Record-Breaking Meat-Eating, and More in Food Policy This Week

@Kenji, I agree that Do Something can have a bit of an amateur-hour feel. Since the point of the organization is to work with kids, I understand their attempts at simplifying their messaging. But yeah, doing statistical analysis based on kids' subjective attempts at quantifying nutritional value is pretty unimpressive.

For some balance, here's a blog post that has similar concerns to those posted above about the accuracy/value of this project.

NYC Introduces Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program

Thanks for your comments, all! I totally agree with @STFDeater that it is a definite barrier that FVRx participants must already be seeing a primary care physician (or at least, that is my impression from the research for this article). I would note that the pilot program in New York is being funded in large part by a $250,000 grant from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund - so, not public money. To @Makanmata's point, I completely agree that there are definite structural obstacles to healthy food access for low-income communities and that FVRx is not addressing those structural obstacles. But city politicians - not to mention organizations like Wholesome Wave - are limited in their capacity to affect federal policy, especially when the Farm Bill is in the kind of turmoil it is right now (as we've covered on SE). FVRx is just one of many experiments being tried across the country as states and cities seem to increasingly realize that in our political and agricultural climate, most populations would better benefit from localized solutions than by waiting for the federal government to make sweeping agricultural/food policy change.

Farewell, Serious Eaters!

Best of luck, Alaina! Happy to have had the chance to work with you :)

Michelle Obama's Op-Ed; Chemical-Resistant Weeds; 'A Place at the Table' Film

Hi @zorazen:

Thanks for your question! Here is a link to the USDA's definition of food security and insecurity: http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/definitions-of-food-security.aspx. Hope that clarifies!

--L

Providence: Harry's for Fine Burgers, Great Value

Just went to this place the other night! The fries hit the spot for late-night, though admittedly the cheese sauce would have been a little off-putting if it hadn't been, well, late on a Friday night.

Food for Change: 5 Food Groups Doing Great Work

Thanks for sharing information about these groups! It's uplifting to hear about people doing great work.

Where to eat in DC?

If you're on the Mall, doing Smithsonian, etc, the Museum of the American Indian has the best "museum" food. It is organized by the area of the Americas that the particular native group is from, so there is a range of flavors and ingredients. Lots of options for vegetarians, too.

Serious Reads: Eat the City, by Robin Shulman

Just heard her interviewed, and the book sounds amazing. I'm certainly seeing some of this food interest in my daily life. As New Yorkers become more aware of farming, the benefits of "eating local", and the fun of knowing where your food comes from, I think this will only continue to grow.

Have You Tried Bamba, the Israeli Puffed Peanut Butter Snack?

Halvah-filled Bambas! Oh my god. Yes, please.

10 New Food Books for Beach Reading

@SustyEats - I'm just about to read that one! Glad to hear it's good!

Serious Reads: French Kids Eat Everything, by Karen Le Billon

Thanks for your wonderful insight, everyone! So interesting and valuable to hear about your own experiences in France and around the world.

Serious Reads: The Mindful Carnivore, by Tovar Cerulli

@hollymayberry - I'm in the middle of that one right now - keep an eye out for the review next week!

Serious Reads: White Bread, by Aaron Bobrow-Strain

@kdroste - Thanks! Happy to help!

This Passover, Try Making Sephardic Haroset

I love making Sephardic haroset - usually we have both kinds at our seder. The spices settle so nicely into the fruit and nuts - oh man. I am drooling just thinking about it. Can't wait for Friday night!

In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites

Well, this is quite a discussion! I would agree with @Scott569 that the reaction to "pink slime" has been a bit excessive. But my response has been that ammonia treatment is one of the lesser issues in our meat production system - and I think all the petition-making, letter-writing, column-raging energy would be better directed towards other, longer-term initiatives.

At the same time, there's much to be said for widespread conversation about food production. I like to see initiatives being made - and becoming successful, in the case of the petitions to get pink slime out of schools. Hopefully the slime conversations can lead to more sophisticated and nuanced conversations in the future!

Welcome Our New Editors!

Very exciting! Love working for such a great team :)

Food for Change: 5 Groups Doing Great Work

Thanks for the tips, everyone!!

Vote for SE Columnist Leah's CSA initiative

Thank you @Teachertalk!! It really means a lot. All your votes help!! :)

In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites

@pgtbeau - Yes, it does! I mentioned HFCS to contextualize the debate a bit - HFCS has been the most prominent face of the fructose discussion.

Help Send a Serious Eats Contributor to the White House!

Thank you everyone for all the support! I'm so excited!

Serious Reads: Neurogastronomy, by Gordon M. Shepard

@katrina - I hear you on that! You'd definitely love this one! :)

The Vegan Experience, Day 5: Say No To Faux

Kenji,

I thought I'd push back on a few of the generalizations you make in this and prior columns, not only about vegans but about food production in general. In no particular order...

First, to say "you won't find TOO many vegans driving SUVs," and similar statements, assumes that this ill-defined population of "vegans" has adopted a sweeping moral imperative that is simply not felt by all members of that population. Who knows what all vegans think about carbon emissions? Maybe that SUV gets 50 miles to the gallon? As prior commenters have mentioned, it's not like vegans are saints - or meat-eaters sinners. To paint a monochromatic picture of the environmentally-sensitive vegan is tired and makes conversation less interesting.

Similarly, saying "smart vegans" would counter that you don't need to kill an animal to use it in sustainable food production makes me uncomfortable. What's a dumb vegan? Someone who has an unappealing justification for foregoing meat?

I'd be interested to hear more on your position that faux-meats are not good for the environment. The Elsevier link you posted is sign-in only and I can't gather much from the abstract. Any more info you've found in researching that idea?

And not to go on, but I am a food policy nerd after all - the idea that the meat that we're eating is from pasture-fed cows who spend their days grazing and fixing nitrogen for us is just wrong. It would be great if we were all eating small amounts of sustainably grown, pasture raised beef that was beneficial to the environment - but we all know that that is not the situation in developed nations today. I would say there is only a tiny minority - if one at all - of vegans/vegetarians that would advocate for a completely vegetable-fed world in which ruminant animals roamed wild. Similarly, I have never heard the argument that having a farm animal around to eat grass and poop fertilizer is "exploiting" that animal.

Something I've been mulling over throughout your last few posts is that if a long-time vegan or vegetarian were writing this column, I doubt there would be such a tenor of loss or disappointment in the discussion of culinary options available to them. Yes, they would have had more experience making vegan food fun and delicious. But they would also likely have a strong ethical reason for making the dietary decisions they have made. (I recognize this is also a generalization - but as a longtime vegetarian with many longtime vegetarian friends, I have had myriad conversations on this topic.) Recognizing and considering those ethical decisions might make this month more of an intellectually challenging experiment, and do justice to the many ethical reasons for adopting a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle.

It would be great to see this column turn into an exploration of why a vegan diet is becoming more appealing to more people, and what the benefits are of that diet - rather than primarily a culinary approach that highlights the lacking ingredients and sad restaurant experiences of a vegan.

All that being said, I hope this continues to be an active conversation amongst all SE'ers! Veganism is real and important, and it does make an impact, and the reasons for removing animal products from one's diet are complicated and personal. Keep it up! :)

In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites

Thanks, hungrychristel! :)

In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites

Grisha, in fact that entire report is about sustainable agriculture. "Agroecology," as defined in that study, is a set of farming practices meant to maintain the biodiversity of nature while still allowing for productive farm activity. Among the paper's enumerated qualities of agroecology include "recycling nutrients and energy on the farm...integrating crops and livestock...diversifying species [in ecosystems]..." and so on. These are actually much more nuanced farming practices than those dictated by the USDA Organic certification. The conclusion of the paper is that agroecology can be very highly productive and restorative to the land, but policies must be implemented to allow these types of faming practices to be affordable and profitable for farmers.

Perhaps you were confused by Estabrook's use of the word "organic" in his article. I think he was generally referring to sustainable, low-input, high productivity farming. The use of the word "organic" leads the reader to think he's talking about certified Organic, but in the context of his article it's clear that he is using the word more generally. His citations include papers on USDA Organic as well as other internationally-recognized types of sustainable agriculture - like agroecology.

Estabrook is a rigorous and well-read author - while he certainly asserts an opinion, his citations are important and respectable papers. Perhaps it is not only ideology that would drive someone to believe in sustainable agriculture, but rather examination and consideration of hard facts.

Eating in Front of the Customers

Huh! For some reason I'm way less offended by this than the general consensus. Maybe it's because I've read so much about the industry, but if I saw an employee at a busy lunch spot taking a quick bite of taco as I walked in the door, I would assume that they hadn't had a break and were starving. Obviously it's more appropriate to apologize and resume providing great service than to continue eating. But if you're happily eating food from your own shop, at least I know my meal will be delicious too!

That being said, surely the tips provided by prior commenters - bite-size snacks, sneaky protein shake - will help both you and your customers feel more at ease.

A Sandwich a Day: The Reuben at Louis Restaurant in Providence, RI

Louis Restaurant has been an early morning/very latenight staple for college students and Providence locals for decades. The menu is standard diner fare: eggs any way, hash browns, and fluffy pancakes, in addition to off-menu items like tofu scramble scribbled on sheets of paper posted on the wall. The gruff but warm-hearted waitstaff will make you pretty much anything you want, as long as the ingredients are in the kitchen. That's how a friend of mine ended up with this killer reuben. More