06 May

Pita and Hummus: The Next Great American Foods?

“The Plate,” National Geographic • May 6, 2016

Picture a traditional American meal, and chances are good that you’re headed for the 1950s: burgers and fries, fried chicken and potato salad, maybe an Italian-turned-American-staple like pizza (see How Italian Cuisine Became as American as Apple Pie.)

But chances are good that the cuisine of the Middle East, a region whose immigrants to the U.S. face varying levels of acceptance, does not come to mind right away.

And yet, at the James Beard Foundation Chef and Restaurant Awards this week, a Lebanese restaurant was named an “America’s Classic.…more…

04 May

How Italian Cuisine Became as American as Apple Pie

“The Plate,” National Geographic • May 4, 2016

If you’re wondering about how and why food gets appropriated—i.e. when Americans consider it their own—think about this: Eating Italian food was once considered “slumming.” So what does it take for a foreign cuisine to melt into America’s pot? We talked to Krishnendu Ray, the director of NYU’s Food Studies program and author of The Ethnic Restaurateur, a book about how immigrants to the U.S. shape the food culture, who gave us a step-by-step breakdown of how a cuisine can go from unnoticed to avant-garde; from popular to prestigious. …more…

02 May

Supermarket Beef Is Battleground for Deforestation Debate

“The Plate,” National Geographic • May 2, 2016

One of Brazil’s largest supermarkets, Pão de Açúcar, has agreed to stop selling beef produced on deforested land or with forced labor by June 1. But while advocates hailed the announcement, they also questioned whether the retailer was being realistic about the promises it’s making. …more…

02 May

At Food World ‘Oscars,’ Category Sneakily Redefines All-American Cuisine

The food glitterati will gather in Chicago Monday night for the black-tie James Beard Chef and Restaurant Awards, known as the “Oscars of the food world.” Most of the categories sound like industry fare: Outstanding Restaurant Design. Best Chef: Great Lakes. Best New Restaurant. Rising Star Chef of the Year. There’s not much of interest for anyone outside the foodies and food world orbit. Except, that is, for a sneakily subversive category: America’s Classics. …more…

22 Apr

Recipes for a Healthy Planet Make Worms and Algae Tasty

“The Plate,” National Geographic • April 22, 2016

Earth Day is a good time to think about what we’re eating and its impact on the planet. While chefs have long played a role in changing our ideas about food, Alice Waters and other sustainable foodies may have some international competition brewing, if Lars Charas has anything to say about it. …more…

19 Apr

Are Restaurants Big Food or Small Business?

“The Plate,” National Geographic • April 19, 2016

Oil, banks, and big box stores are some of the industries that probably come to mind when you hear the term “powerful lobbyists.” Now, a new report aims to add one more to the list: restaurants. …more…

07 Apr

New Ally in the Fight Against Diabetes Wears a Cape

“The Plate,” National Geographic • April 7, 2016

A red-suited superhero alights on top of his foe, bringing his fist down with a blow that smashes his enemy to smithereens. The foe’s name, though, isn’t the Joker or Lex. It’s diabetes. …more…

31 Mar

Can We Afford to Pay U.S. Farmworkers More?

“The Plate,” National Geographic • March 31, 2016

Giving the 3.5 million workers picking produce on American farms a raise to match the $15 an hour many fast food workers are fighting for sounds unaffordable, right?

Not really. According to University of California-Davis agricultural labor economist Philip Martin, the likely additional cost to American shoppers of that wage hike would be about $20 a year. …more…

30 Mar

The Global Cooking Class That Promotes Diplomacy

“The Plate,” National Geographic • March 30, 2016

 

When Razi Jafri, an Indian-American from Detroit, saw a Facebook post about a cooking class with an Iranian chef, he knew he wanted in on it. “I love cooking for people and I love looking at different types of cuisine,” he said. Plus, said Jafri, a fellow with micro lender Kiva, he was fascinated by Persian food and diplomacy; he’d followed the Iran nuclear deal closely. This would be perfect.

The catch? It required an application, and if Jafri made the cut, there would be no trip to a formal kitchen. Instead, he’d share a lesson over a Google Hangout with eight or nine others. …more…

28 Mar

Organic Foods Still Aren’t As Mass Market As You Might Think

“The Salt,” National Public Radio • March 28, 2016

Organic food has gone majorly mainstream, right? Wal-Mart has been driving down the price of organic with an in-house organic line. Whole Foods has begun experimenting with cheaper stores to catch up. And the increase in sales of organic food has dramatically outpaced that of conventional food. What’s more, 30 percent of shoppers report an interest in paying more for organic food — and a significant interest even in low-income neighborhoods. Given all that, it’s easy to assume that organic has become just as common in downmarket groceries as in upscale ones.

But a recent study in the Journal of Food Products Marketing suggests that the growth of organics might not be so diversified. …more…