Anna-Magnolia made her TV debut in the Capital Area Food Bank's garden!Read More
What we learned from a comms campaign about the food bank's push towards wellness.Read More
Can you believe today is November 1st, and just like that, the season of giving is upon us? Maybe it's because the election is shining light on the struggles many Americans face every day, or maybe it's because bringing a little girl into the world fills the well with limitless love to share....but I hope you all are, like me, thinking about who you can give to before year end, if you're able.
One idea: the Capital Area Food Bank, which I have to admit I miss thinking about daily now that I'm on maternity leave! Speaking of, if you have 25 minutes, I invite you to have a listen to an interview I gave last month about the food bank's work for a new podcast, Breaking Bread--a few listening options are here:
If you've ever been curious to learn more about the CAFB, here it is through my eyes. As always, welcome questions or feedback :-)
Here's to health and sharing!
What happens when you get two optimistic home chefs into a newly owned house with an outdated kitchen? Nick and Kiko's first renovation!
When we moved into our Bloomingdale rowhouse in 2014, we knew there were some fish to fry before we could build the kitchen of our dreams; 2015 was mostly occupied with getting hitched. But with that joy behind us, we moved on to the next one, feeling so lucky that we could create a space to anchor our home our way, and hopefully grow a family in.
So we began meetings with fellow Crispus Attucks neighbor Charles Warren of Teas Warren Architects. This being a first renovation for both Nick and I, we were open to his (and let's be honest, our parents') wisdom, based on the following sure-fire goals:
- Bring the outside inside, and re-orient the kitchen to open up towards the greenery of the park out our back door, through knocking down a structural wall and installing big old casement windows. This is the wall we would lose:
- Re-orient how we move into and out of our house, with most of that happening through the back of the house. This would involve creating a mudroom-like portion of our new kitchen, and some kind of bike shed for the back yard so we could stop hauling them in and out to commute to work every day.
- Replacing EVERYTHING from the old kitchen--from the appliances, to the cabinets, floors and countertops, it all had to go. Literally the only thing we kept was the garbage disposal.
- Replace our big black "disco bathroom" and its unnecessary bath with a smaller powder room.
- Open up the pathway between the kitchen and dining room to let that great light flow from the park towards the front of the house.
We chose to work with Something Different as our contractor, based on a recommendation from our neighbor down the block, and navigated through the contract negotiations as we learned about concepts like "allowances" and "punch lists."
We were told four months, but did add a couple elements like a skylight on our roof, so six months later, we are able to move into our new kitchen!
Spring is really here, and we celebrated last night by cooking my buddy Samin Nosrat's Persian Kuku--a frittata stuffed with chard, dill, cilantro and leeks. Like a champ she of course uses the chard stems and leek greens. Here's the dramatic flip moment--success! Delish, and next time we'll try adding mozzarella.
Enough with the dismal stats about how much food is wasted at each point on the food chain--the unharvested crop that's tilled under, the unsold merchandise at the grocery store, the leftovers uneaten at restaurants, the food that rots in many of our fridges.
Today I'm proud to share some good news about food waste, via work that's been done right under our noses for decades--at food banks! The two hundred food banks across the US don't get as much buzz as a great ugly fruit campaign, or the new grocery stores selling food that would otherwise go bad. But get a load of how the food bank I work for, which serves 530,000+ people across DC, Maryland and Virginia, tackles waste every day:
- Of the 42 million pounds of food the Capital Area Food Bank distributed last year, 33 million was food that would have otherwise gone to landfills. Food banks are inherently food waste fighters.
- When grocery stores buy more than they can sell, food banks come in to pick up that excess food, sort it, pack it up by category, and get it into the hands of non-profits and neighbors who need it. The Capital Area Food Bank's trucks make on average 100 pickups at grocery stores every week!
My job is to spread awareness about how the Capital Area Food Bank is working to improve access to healthy food in the Washington metro area, so last week I hosted a group of young professional women who work in the food sector. As I explained while awkwardly walking backwards in giving a tour of our facility (check out one of their insta-shares above!), food banks connect the food waste issue with our food insecurity problem through their very existence. From their inception in the late 70's and early 80's, food banks have focused on collecting and redistributing excess food from the community to feed the hungry. The CAFB works aggressively to collect nutritious excess food from retailers, restaurants, gleaners, farms, and others.
Despite the fact that grocery stores are getting increasingly smart in managing their inventory (more good news!), and therefore have less to donate, in the past year the CAFB has increased the amount of excess food donated by retailers by 50 percent. Most of that was driven by an increase in new retail donors coupled with more frequency in pickups. Another factor was an increase in meat donations that was made possible by collaborating with retailers to improve our pickup process. We had to upgrade our own meat sorting capability to make sure that we were able to distribute the higher volume, and set up special meat shopping days so our partner non-profits knew it was available.
Going forward, we will continue to work with retailers and others to make it easier for them to set aside excess food for the benefit of the community. We are currently meeting with retailers to begin a dialogue about the kind of food most desired--which is NOT sheet cakes, or snacks made of corn. Only once we have reduced the amount of soda and candies in our inventory that come in via retail donations, will we be able to use our facility to store the kind of food we are committed to distributing: fresh fruits and vegetables, and shelf stable food that is low in sugar and salt, and high in protein and fiber.
Deb Eschmeyer, whose FoodCorps today places 200 service members into schools (including via my employer, the Capital Area Food Bank!) to promote healthier eating, has replaced Sam Kass as executive director of Let’s Move! and senior policy adviser for nutrition policy: (Politico)
Chipotle suspended purchases from a pork producer that ran afoul of its animal welfare rules, an admirable stake in the ground that bolsters its reputation with diners but threatens sales and profits: (Reuters)
Despite what Paleo-heads may say, the microbiome’s ability to respond to our diet is why our bodies can adapt to so many different ways of eating–regardless of how long it might take for our genes themselves to change: (Huffington Post)
From policing deceptive labeling to protecting food workers, here’s a roundup of last year’s legal victories for food issues, in honor of my legally minded fiancé! (Eat Drink Politics)
Studies showed that students who ate lunch after recess consumed 54% more fruits and veggies than those who ate before–maybe because they weren’t rushing to playtime, or maybe because movement stoked their appetite for the healthy foods: (NPR)
Who else is thirsty for radlers (beers made with citrus juice) and Lambrucha (part lambic beer and part kombucha)? Guess I’m one of those health-conscious women to whom US beverage makers are targeting their new low-alcohol drinks: (New York Times)
In 2015, if you’re not into fat you’d better leave the kitchen. So next time you’re left with a chicken carcass or beef bones, consider making the food trend and health silver bullet du jour: bone broth, which is like stock but with a higher proportion of bones to meat: (New York Times)
Similarly, schmaltz has long served as the backbone of Jewish cooking, but is making a comeback with home cooks who realize that lard isn't such a bad-for-you ingredient, after all: (Huffington Post)
How cool that a publisher exists to put out only children's books about healthy eating? Its latest title is Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious: (Civil Eats)
We knew gut bacteria was necessary for physical health, but a new Oxford study suggests that its presence dictates our mental health, too; prebiotics may have an anti-anxiety effect, as they alter the way that people process emotional information: (Huffington Post)
Yes the economy is improving, but this means about 1 million people will lose SNAP (food stamps) in the coming year as states re-impose the three-month limit on benefits to unemployed adults who are not disabled or raising children: (CNN)
An increasing number of food nonprofits are relying on Walmart to fund their programs, but this author encourages them to consider how what is good for one organization may not be good for the food movement as a whole: (Civil Eats)
While most of us had our eyes on the holiday prize, Senate cleared and Obama signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill; tucked within it was a provision prohibiting the government from requiring less salt in school lunches and allowing schools to obtain exemptions from whole-grain requirements: (New York Times)
Last week at a friend’s dinner table, we noticed the wine label said “contains milk and eggs”; hard to understand, until I came across this article: (Civil Eats)
Tech advances in tuna catching are a boon for commercial fishing, but without more regulation, they could end up killing off the stock: (The Guardian)
A UC Berkeley study showed how methods like crop rotation and polyculture are much more productive than bare-bones organic farming, testament to the fact that simply eliminating pesticides does not make a farming system agroecological: (Civil Eats)
And research demonstrated that we feel less full when we think food has less calories; the hormonal response to this perception can sabotage diet attempts:(Forbes)
Here’s proof that fast food chains can be profitable while paying workers $15 per hour: one burger group in Detroit expects all of its workers to be jacks-of-all-trades, which keeps them engaged enough to stay in their job and saves the company from losing money to employee turnover: (NPR)
Sam Kass, the White House chef and head of Michelle Obama’s Let's Move! initiative, is leaving his post to follow his new wife to New York City; I’m curious what private company he’ll join up with to promote cooking and health next: (Wall Street Journal)
Although cooks of centuries past knew that foods change over time, today an ingredient’s life is thought to have ended once time has altered it in any way; this article celebrates uses for chips, bread, milk, and more that are past their prime: (New York Times)
An alliance of six of the largest U.S. school districts announced that its members want antibiotic-free chicken to serve in their cafeterias; if suppliers can't meet the "no antibiotics ever" pledge, they’ll be required to write a plan for meeting the goal: (Natural Resources Defense Council)
Could American and European citizens’ individualism trace back to the wheat-based agrarian society of our forefathers, whereas Eastern cultural tendencies to think interdependently are rooted in a history of rice farming? (New York Times)
None of us want to consider that our parents could be malnourished, but a study found that 60% of patients age 65 and up were under-nourished when they checked into a hospital for other reasons; depression, immobility, and lack of income are factors that put the elderly at risk of not taking in adequate sustenance :-( (Next Avenue)
I don't think there's any sense in masking who we are. My friend Caroline pegged me as a "chouchou" (teacher's pet) back in middle school French class, and sure I like pleasing the chief. But I swear that's not why I wrote about my newish boss, Capital Area Food Bank's CEO Nancy Roman, in the recent issue of Edible DC.
Susan Able, the super fun publisher of Edible DC, has an eye towards including articles about the more challenging issues in our local food system. She liked my idea to create a column in each issue of the magazine called "Department of Homefood Security" to that end, and so allowed me to author the second piece for it.
Having worked at the Food Bank for half a year now, it's ever clear that people don't understand the difference between a food BANK, and the partners who receive food from the bank to distribute to neighbors in need. So in writing this I aimed to clarify that straight out of the gates. Nancy Roman is the kind of leader who has wisdom to spare--both about hunger work through the decades and about management in this field--and is worth a great profile. So I had fun interviewing her for this article.
Hopefully, the Edible team will let me write some more interviews for the Department of Homefood Security in future issues. I have my eye on Councilmember Mary Cheh, who has been a champion of healthy and local food on DC's city council thus far, and Imar Hutchins, who's using his historic Florida Avenue Grill to promote fair wages for food workers and a move towards healthier soul food. But the possibilities are endless!
Don't lose hope if your clan can't often make it home for dinner together--families are making breakfast the new bonding meal: (Wall Street Journal)
Starting next November, menus in American restaurants, theaters and beyond will have to list calories; but whether menu labeling works for calorie reduction remains to be seen, partly because those who change their ordering behavior tend to be outside of the target population: (New York Times)
Since healthfulness isn't typically a food donor's top concern, food banks--increasingly focused on the nutrition they provide to those in need--are coaching the public on the kind of low sodium, low sugar, high fiber nonperishables they actually want: (NPR)
The Ebola crisis is exacerbating food shortages in Liberia, as a lack of labor hinders production; hungry rice farmers are eating the seeds they’d normally hold back for planting next season: (Bloomberg)
A group of employees at a popular SF Chinese restaurant joined Bay Area legal groups in announcing a historic $4 million dollar settlement with the restaurant’s owners; it involves back pay for 280 employees, as well as a 5% raise for non-tipped workers: (Civil Eats)
It’s a crazy point in a farm family’s life cycle when a professional “succession planner” needs to be called in, but that’s what’s happening at some of the roughly 30% of U.S. farms wrestling with parents reaching retirement: (Fast Company)
Friday night wine date at...Starbucks? Looks like they’re taking a cue from the great European-style coffee houses that transition seamlessly from morning to night as they aim to double food sales: (Wall Street Journal)
If more and more evidence is showing that milk consumption may be unhelpful or even detrimental for adults, why does the USDA still recommend that we drink three cups a day? (New York Times)
Researchers who surveyed 9,500 subjects found those who reported cooking dinner at home most frequently (6 to 7 times a week) consumed “significantly fewer” calories than those who relied more heavily on restaurant meals and frozen foods: (Civil Eats)
A study found that greater focus on emotional training, versus nutritional training, may be the key to changing eating habits for weight loss: (Food Navigator)
Tracie McMillan again deftly explores the intersection of food and poverty when she examines Whole Foods Detroit; while the store’s executives claim to serve "all of Detroit" with lower prices, McMillan estimates 5-12% of sales go to food stamp customers in a city where 38% are enrolled in the federal program: (Slate)
An avant-garde San Francisco restaurant is setting itself apart through its “living pantry”; herbs float in a closed-loop aquaponic system right up until they’re harvested and served: (Civil Eats)
Four food movement leaders argue that we need an official national food policy, since our national agricultural policy sacrifices public health by boosting the productivity of American farmers that churn out a surfeit of unhealthy calories: (Washington Post)
Talking about proactive public health policy, the landslide passage of a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in Berkeley will encourage other cities to pursue similar initiatives—but not effortlessly, as a 2-cent tax was rejected across the bay in San Francisco on the same day: (USA Today)
And as soda gets out of the way, I’m stoked to see Hint Water—an unsweetened drink alternative—getting distribution in food service settings like universities and hospitals: (Fast Company)
I ate up Mark Bittman’s credo that the solution to hunger, which today takes the form of obesity and diabetes, is not to produce more food but to eliminate poverty: (New York Times)
Whole Foods has started issuing ratings for its fruit, veggies, and flowers—even those flown in from overseas—to measure the quality of farming practices; fresh food is color coded as “good,” “better,” and “best”: (Grist)
The student of innovative retail that I am, it was fun to read this story of how the great idea of doubling SNAP bucks to buy produce was carried all the way from farmers market activists to national legislators: (NPR)
Californians may know a tri-tip steak cut like the back of their hands, but most Americans are confused by the names of cuts at the meat counter; a move to standardize labels on 350 cuts of beef and pork might help: (New York Times)
The new Meat Collective Alliance joins groups popping up around the country to connect local livestock and poultry farmers with consumers interested in bulk purchases of meat: (Modern Farmer)
Far too often, all isn't solved once a struggling household gets something to eat; food comes at the expense of other basic needs that no one should have to live without: (Huffington Post)
The FDA is planning a revision of the current nutrition label; the new label would separate added sugars from naturally occurring, and highlight the number of calories in the amounts of food people actually consume at a sitting: (New York Times)
The Japanese government is trying an experiment to repopulate a farming town losing young residents to the cities; this means sayonara to small farms, as local authorities will consolidate abandoned land for use by private companies: (Washington Post)
At what point do we learn to act fancy around fancy food? Lucky for us, these kids haven’t gotten there yet: (New York Times)
San Franciscans will soon vote on whether to make their city the first to tax sugary beverages; the American Beverage Industry is on the defense with high-priced lobbyists and PR firms placing billboards and expensive ads on radio and TV stations in the area: (Mother Jones)
A new ingredient that looks like blood, has a metallic taste, and is derived from hemoglobin is being tried in veggie foods to make them appealing to meat eaters: (Wall Street Journal)
Brunch may seem like a harmless combo of eggs, mimosas and a hangover, but it has its haters too: (New York Times)
With hemp milk, cashew milk, rice milk and other non-dairy alternatives increasingly showing up at coffee bars, I found this chart comparing them to be helpful; goat milk packs a nutritional punch! (Huffington Post)
We Americans may be stuck in a cereal rut, but children around the world eat some pretty colorful things for breakfast! Here’s some inspiration to try new flavors in the morning: (New York Times)
School lunch in America is a case study on the influence exerted by the USDA, Let’s Move, the School Nutrition Association, big food lobbies, and other players: (New York Times)
Farmers markets get a wholesome wrap, but it turns out many require oversight to prevent fraud by small producers who can be strapped for cash, or tempted to bring in produce they didn’t grow: (Modern Farmer)
Walmart announced an initiative to reduce the environmental impact of its food; is this just marketing speak, or will the country’s largest grocer actually use its clout to sway how much water is used to produce a crop, or to shorten the distance a load of strawberries is shipped? (New York Times)
Out of respect for food traditions and traceability, nearly a fourth of millennial Jews are keeping kosher--almost twice the rate of their baby-boomer parents: (NPR)
Should we reconsider eating octopus, considering its documented intelligence and the labor needed to make it tender and tasty? (The New Yorker)
Hope you’re hungry for food news, because today brings a double serving....
On-trend caffeine lovers are adding butter to their coffee--not only to enjoy an incredibly creamy cup, but because the high fat content slows the time it takes to metabolize the caffeine, decreasing the risk of slump later: (Huffington Post)
Donut with that coffee? Krispy Kreme and Dunkin' have made new commitments to source palm oil for frying from suppliers who are not clear-cutting forests; their going deforestation-free signals a shift in the fast food industry: (NPR)
Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper said they’ll work to reduce the calories Americans get from beverages by 20% over the next decade by more aggressively marketing smaller sizes, bottled water, diet drinks, and vending machines printed with calorie counts: (Washington Post)
The Paleo diet has ballooned into a cave-man-inspired lifestyle offering Paleo action figures, beauty products, liquors, sleep masks and clothing: (New York Times)
Poultry companies--even the big guys like Perdue--are turning to probiotics as an alternative to antibiotics: (NPR)
But how should bacteria be kept in check after slaughter? American chicken processors use a cap of chlorine per gallon of water in a tank that chills the carcasses, whereas Europeans banned chlorine treatment in the 1990s: (NPR)
Unable to cope with falling prices for their products due to a Russian embargo, French vegetable farmers set fire to tax and insurance offices in Brittany: (BBC)
Mark Bittman postulates that any cooking project can be plotted along a continuum of time and work, and recommends cooking toward the extremes of that continuum: (New York Times)
Unprecedented demand for supply chain transparency is driving a new wave of tools that aim to boost traceability of ingredients: (Specialty Food)
After this big serving of food news, go take a walk! It's apparently the “superfood of fitness”: (Reuters)
As I pen this, we’re waiting for the results of Scotland’s independence referendum to come in...will Scottish people pay more for food if they go it alone? (Vice)
A top Texas official had a cow this week over Meatless Mondays, accusing school districts that have scaled back on serving meat of succumbing to a “carefully orchestrated campaign” to force Americans to become vegetarians: (Grist)
We Americans, along with the Japanese, Australians and Scandinavians, may bathe and refrigerate our chicken eggs, but here’s why many other cultures don’t: (NPR)
Any of you penny-pinching beer lovers wonder why craft brews are more expensive than mass produced? (Huffington Post)
Suppose you could upload a photo of your fast-food receipts from the past year, and get the corresponding amount of free, healthy, ready-to-prepare food in exchange? (USA Today)
It’s exciting to see healthier food marketing to kids pursued not only by removing junk food ads and toys, but by creating fun, nutritious snack food aisles in the grocery store: (Professional Search for Knowledge)
Big Food skeptics like myself should consider this argument that mega food service providers could be ideally poised to healthify eating habits and offerings in the lunch room with their food scientists, testing panels, and clever marketing: (Forbes)
This report identifies the six "Best Places to Farm" in the US, based on an analysis of the profitability, financial efficiency and growth of farming in nearly 3,000 counties: (Farm Futures)
The Chinese search-engine giant Baidu has rolled out a set of “smart chopsticks” that can detect oils containing unsanitary levels of contamination--useful in a country that has been rocked with scandals from toxic milk to glow-in-the-dark pork: (Wall Street Journal)
Starbucks is testing coconut milk in stores as alternatives to traditional dairy grow more popular; the chain isn't testing almond milk due to nut allergy concerns: (Reuters)
Sometimes Food News can be as simple as one really satisfying, creamy-crunchy dish: if you’re a fan of avocado toast, check out all of the variations people are whipping up these days! (Brooklyn Based)
San Francisco will be the first American city to offer a financial incentive for urban farming; starting this week, owners of empty lots could save thousands of dollars a year in property taxes in exchange for allowing their land to be farmed! (San Francisco Chronicle)
A Harvard study revealed that even though the overall quality of American diets has increased in the past decade, nutritional disparities between the rich and poor are growing; the study’s authors see sugar-sweetened bevvies as a key area where policy can play an even greater role: (The Atlantic)
Perdue, one of the country’s largest poultry producers, announced it will no longer use antibiotics in its hatcheries; the company has overhauled its cleaning procedures and made other tweaks to prevent infection, including experimenting with adding oregano, yucca and herbs to its feeds: (New York Times)
Almost one-third of food workers experience food insecurity at some time during the year; how ironic that one-sixth of our nation's workforce work in the food-production chain, and so many can’t make enough to put healthy food on the table: (Huffington Post)
The food industry and agribusiness allies that oppose labeling of GMO foods spent $27.5 million in the first half of this year on lobbying that involved labeling--triple the amount they spent last year: (Environmental Working Group)