James Beard Food Conference 2014 Recap

October 28, 2014

Hi friends! I’m writing today from New York, where I’ve spent the past day and a half learning about food and public health at the annual James Beard Food Conference. I’ve met some of my favorite food heroes, connected with amazing folks in the food movement, and thought a lot about how we can make the American food system healthier and more equitable.

sam kass, michael pollan, james beard

photo credit: james beard foundation (Left to Right: Jane Black, Michael Pollan, Sam Kass)

There were so many amazing panelists and speakers crammed into the past 36 hours, that I’m honestly a little overwhelmed at where to begin. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’ve been feverishly live tweeting, while taking healthy doses of time to just sit and listen. Check out my tweets from the conference here!

A large portion of yesterday’s line up focused on the health issues related to sugar consumption. We watched clips from the new film Fed Up, and discussed sugar consumption in relation to obesity and diabetes with Laurie David, executive producer of the film, Dr. Robert Lustig, who is a prominent researcher of this issue, as well as Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics and NYU Professor and Corby Kummer, Senior Editor of the Atlantic. I told you it was an all-star cast, right?

What surprised me the most about the conference, in a good way, was that the James Beard Foundation was honest and transparent about all of their initiatives, and their funding and sponsorships were in line with what they preach. Good, healthy food for people and for the planet. Unlike the last food conference I attended in D.C. where the corporate sponsors were Walmart and Monsanto. –> link to monstanto owned foods post

The conference also surprised me in the multi-faceted approaches to food and health, the inclusion of diverse communities as well as a strong emphasis on equity in the food system. My introduction to the food movement has always come from a place of justice and equity since working with issues of urban farming and food access. The food system is f’d up because we can’t feed our communities healthy and affordable food. I’m really happy that conversation was pushed to the forefront of the dialogue, instead of as an after-thought.

mark bittman, james beard foundation

photo credit: james beard foundation (Left to Right: Mitchell, VP of JBF and Mark Bittman)

We heard from Architectural designers from Harvard, who are re-inventing the way we think about space and food, we heard from the big shots like Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman, we also got to hear a whole lot from doctors, who are often missing from the conversation. Doctors of all kinds spoke out at the James Beard conference, and wanted to partner with food folks. I would be remiss to not mention the recent launch of Tulane University’s culinary program specifically designed for medical students. So go check that out.

I think what I’m getting at is that the James Beard Food Conference really went above and beyond my expectations. I’ve always revered the Foundation for their recognition of chefs and good food, but JBF really proved themselves a leader in the food movement.

I’m going to share a couple more posts from the conference in the coming days, but I wanted to check in and let you know where I’ve been. Next stop is Sacramento to visit U.C. Davis Agriculture Program, and then a lovely Halloween weekend with my girlfriends in the Bay Area!

Thanks so much to the James Beard Foundation for a wonderful and thought provoking conference! 

Food News Friday

October 10, 2014

The Week in Food

This week’s round up of food news includes restaurant calorie counts, debates over school lunch and coming this Spring a new app, Carrot. It’s dope. 

school lunch, new york times, food news

  • I remember a friend telling me that as a child she and her sister would be rewarded with celery. They LOVED celery, and only received them on their best behavior. I love this article by Mark Bittman on how to ingrain healthy eating to your kids.
  • Every since Michelle Obama came out with her Let’s Move Campaign, school lunch has been a hot topic nationally. Here’s a detailed article about school lunches – a long read, but definitely worthwhile.
  • Restaurant calorie cutbacks should be reducing obesity, right? This article explains how it actually hasn’t made a dent. Yikes.
  • Beautiful photo story about breakfast around the world. I like Istanbul’s, really similar to an Israeli breakfast.
  • Lastly, this new app will make you LOL. But really, do you have Carrot yet?

Currently: September

October 7, 2014

september in review

I can’t believe it’s already October you guys. September was a whirlwind of a month, I guess this should be expected with the wrapping up of summer, a slew of Jewish holidays and lots of exciting plans in the works.

I got this idea from Maggie over at Type and Title, and it was actually a really fun practice of taking a look at what’s been going on with myself. So, here we go:

Starting to study for exams and write my graduate school application. Three years out of school and it seems I’m a bit rusty at this! Excited what will come at the end of this long process.

Enjoying HONY’s worldwide travels, especially the photos from Jerusalem. Definitely making me nostalgic for my year spent living in that wonderful, crazy place.

Reading An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler. Home girl knows her way around a kitchen, how to save everything and cook in such a beautiful and holistic way. This book is really worth a read, I highly recommend it!

Obsessed with the candle I made at Mr. B’s Luminaries. I combined lavender, bergamot and eucalyptus essential oils for a calm and refreshing candle that burns nightly on my bedside table. So good.

Grateful to have spent some time this month in my favorite city, San Francisco. I went up for a couple days to for the Jewish new year and got to see my fiancé (that’s almost a normal sentence for me), his family and some dear friends. Love you, Bay Area.

Wondering how the next couple weeks will play out- I have so many plans this month that I’m getting a bit overwhelmed! [think: wedding planning, engagement party and lots of travel!]

Watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix starting from Season One. All the fashion faux pas and hurried conversation on that show make for the perfect unwinding after a long day of work. My roommate and I may be addicted. Are you watching?

Loving my new blog theme from Blogzilla! We’re slowly making some changes around here to better fit the look and feel I’d love for this blog. If you’re looking to spruce up your own blog, check out Molly and Natalie’s Etsy site here.

How Does Your Vegetable Rank?

April 19, 2014

I came across this PDF from Food Day and I love this concept. Even though I think if you’re eating mostly vegetables anyway then that’s a better start than most folks. But in case you’re reallyyy curious about how vegetables “rank” I’d say check out this super condensed pdf and make sure to get those servings of fruits and veggies into your diet!

Vegetable Rank

Vegetables, Ranking

 

Interviewing Mark Bittman, New York Times Food Writer

April 8, 2014

Did I ever tell you guys that time I interviewed Mark Bittman? You know, the same guy who started the Minimalist column, has written several books including How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. You know, super casual right? ;) (By the way I’m totally humble bragging bragging, but it’s Mark Bittman!!)

Interviewing Mark Bittman

For those unfamiliar with Bittman, I would highly recommend checking out his column in the New York Times where he writes mostly about food policy and investigative pieces about the most pressing food issues of our time. This guy is no joke, friends.

What I love about Bittman is that he plays no games. He tells it how it is, sometime to one’s own discomfort and I totally respect that. You could chalk it up to the fact that the guy is a New Yorker through and through, but whatever it is, we need more voices like his.

In this hour long interview (I would suggest listening to it while you cook this) myself and another Jewish Food Justice Fellow ask Mark Bittman questions about food stamps, sustainability and local vs. organic food. It was an incredible experience to be able to ask one of my food heroes some of the questions I’ve been thinking a lot about over the past few years, and I feel totally blessed to have had this opportunity. I hope all enjoy this video and please feel free to leave some comments below!

Thank you Mark for spending time with us and sharing your expertise and wisdom!

Thank God It’s Monday

March 17, 2014

Hey bellpeppers!

I was planning to post a meatless Monday recipe from my semi-new Plenty cookbook (Ottolenghi can’t stop, won’t stop), but instead I wanted to offer up a bit of reflection, since today is my birthday!

birthday

Birthdays are so strange. We celebrate the anniversary of our own birth, a moment in time none of us remember, yet in fact shape our whole existence.

I was walking around San Diego yesterday just thinking about birthdays, and being born, and coming into the world. Everyday of our lives we are learning, growing, doing, shaping, making, expanding and we do this without ever pausing to reflect on how wonderful it all is!

This birthday I am taking the day to think about all of the amazing things I have accomplished (which I rarely ever do), the places I’ve traveled, the people I’ve met and cultivated relationships with, the work I have done, the things I have created, the moments of laughter and joy, the moments of crying and despair, my truly remarkable family that accepts my never-ending madness, my friends who I care so deeply about, my boyfriend who has been my source of happiness for the past five years, the many many people I meet and move on, the way my body is growing and changing, and how even though we congratulate one another on being born, what we are really saying is- I’m happy you were born and that we came to know one another.

I am taking my anniversary day of myself to congratulate myself on all the successes, the ups and downs, and just being in the world. I’m so excited for the next 26 years of life and all it has to offer. Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes, and for being so incredibly inspiring to me every single day. Here’s to another expansive year filled with creativity, love and happiness bursting at every twist and turn!

 

Moments from the Weekend

March 10, 2014

I spent the an amazing weekend in the desert at Joshua Tree National Park with six of my fellow fellows. What an incredible weekend hiking, cooking, skill-sharing and rejuvenating in the blissful desert sun. Here are some of the moments from the weekend. I hope you all had relaxing weekends and are ready to jump into the work week :)

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Food News Friday

March 7, 2014

Happy Friday everyone!

Jim Weil, FRAC, Washington

It’s been an especially busy week for me, and for food in the news. This past week I attended the annual Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) and Feeding America anti-hunger policy conference in Washington D.C. The conference had over 850 anti-hunger advocates from around the country in attendance for a 3 day snow-filled weekend. The conference was not only informative, but it was really inspiring to see what others in the field are doing. I was especially impressed with a food bank in Maine that purchases directly from Maine farmers as a way to support their local farm economy, provide farm fresh food to their clients, and also look into ways of preserving the harvest (it’s not sunny San Diego over there!)

Snow, Washington

All in all, between the sessions, meeting interesting folks and exploring D.C. a bit I had an amazing time there. Even the below freezing temperatures didn’t throw me off, though I’d likely want to prepare with snow boots next time!

Food News

Now on to the news! It’s been a really busy and exciting week for food this week, so let’s get to it:

  • Food Labels: The USDA just announced a overhaul of the federal nutrition label. Advocates have been pushing for changing in this for years, and it’s finally happening! They are getting rid of “calories from fat”, making the number larger, identifying added sugars and putting a small label on the front of packages. This is really big news, and I could not be happier that this is finally happening!
  • California Bans Inhumane Eggs: As you all know, I always try and eat eggs that are organic and cage free. In the sea of organic products and confusing labeling (see above), it is the one thing that I am always in staunch support of because I understand the difference so clearly. California is passing a law that all eggs need to come from chickens that have room to stand up, turn around and extend their wings. Pretty simple right? Think again, six states (Iowa, Alabama, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri) are suing California. Should be an interesting legal battle.
  • California’s drought continues on, Obama signs legislation for a drought information system, and Californians are happy for the rain, but it makes little dent on agriculture. (yikes, its dry out here!)
  • Almost 500 products contain an additive that is found in…. yoga mats. Apparently it helps keep bread squishy, same as your yoga mat. Yikes. Just another reason to commit to a whole foods diet.

That’s all for now, bellpeppers. This weekend I am heading to Joshua Tree for a camping trip with my fellowship. I’m so looking forward to being out in the desert, unplug for a few days and restore and rejuvenate after a very busy week! How about you guys, any fun weekend plans? I’ll see you all here next week, for a very fun giveaway! Stay tuned!

Rituals

March 5, 2014

Have you ever felt like there wasn’t any time during the day in between emails, phone calls, running errands, maybe chasing after your kids or doing homework, catching up with friends, and the many other things that catch our attention throughout the day- to really focus on your craft?

I’ve been feeling this in full force as of late, and wishing that I didn’t need to sleep. Do you ever meet people who somehow fit so much into their day? It’s pretty infuriating.

Daily Rituals, Routine, Artists

I picked up this book about Daily Rituals of artists, writers and other creatives throughout history, and cannot put it down! Mostly it’s helping me realize that everyone- really everyone- goes through rough patches, procrastination, frustrations, road blocks and the like.

Our rituals, whether they are taking a walk around the park, waking up at 4am, standing while writing, or in my case owning up to the fact that writing is useless after the sun goes down- makes us that much bolder, and maybe, just maybe, we can accomplish something that we are proud of.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction describing Franz Kafka’s frustration with his work:

“Frustrated by his cramped living situation  and his deadening day job, he complained, ‘time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.‘ …For most of us, much of the time, it is a slog, and Kafka’s subtle maneuvers are not so much a last resort as an ideal. Here’s to wriggling through.”

Here’s to wriggling through bellpeppers! Tell me, what is your daily ritual for work? Have you been able to move past any frustrations in your craft or daily life, from a minor change? I’m so curious to know!

 

Community Garden in South Africa

February 21, 2014

Happy Friday Everyone!

South Africa, Community Garden, Farm, Food Justice

I received a friendly email yesterday from Justin Rose, a student in South Africa who made this short film about community gardens and food access in his home country. The video, 12 minutes of beautiful veggies, tells the story of three individuals learning to reconnect with the land, including one who used to work as a supply chain manager for McDonalds.

South Africa, Community Garden, Food Justice

I got the chance to ask Justin a few questions about his motivation for creating this film- his answers are below.

Why did you decide to make this film? Tell us a bit more about the process:

South Africa is a country of contrasts and divides in many respects with food being no exception.  Over-nutrition, under-nutrition and malnutrition are all common features, and connections between people and their food systems seem to be getting weaker and more remote by the day. While inequalities are everywhere apparent, Nature’s Happy Meal focuses on the positive actions that individuals in different communities are taking to help reverse this trend and reconnect people to the food they eat.   

South Africa, Community Garden, Food Justice

Ntsako and I were inspired to make Nature’s Happy Meal both because we are each keenly aware of the importance of sustainable food systems in South Africa, and also because we met three remarkable characters: 

Barry, whose life has completely turned around based on a renewed relationship with food; from managing the logistical supply chain for MacDonalds and KFC in South Africa, to designing and running a beautiful local farm that is the focus of an alternate community committed to healthy and sustainable living.

Daniel, a wonderful guy and among the most knowledgeable and capable agriculturalists I’ve met, was forced by his okra seeds to carry them with him on the journey from his homeland of Zimbabwe to South Africa.

Jackie, whose garden in Oceanview has become a real center of activity for the local community and provides a safe place for positive learning for many at-risk children in the Seven Sisters housing estate.

We hope you enjoy it!

Justin and Ntsako

 

Nature’s Happy Meal from Barefoot Workshops on Vimeo.

Thank you Justin for sharing with us! If you want to know more about the video, check out the film’s facebook page and the community garden facebook page.