Food Workers Scramble to Put Food on Their Tables

“The Plate,” National Geographic • Nov. 14, 2016

One in seven American workers is employed in some segment of the food chain, from apple pickers to packing-house workers, truckdrivers to supermarket clerks to fast food counter staff. And many of them increasingly struggle to put food on their own tables, according to a report released Monday from the Food Chain Workers Alliance, an advocacy group founded in 2009, and the Solidarity Research Center. What’s more, the problem is worse among women and people of color.

To See Food Waste in a New Way, Start With Your Plate

“The Plate,” National Geographic • Nov. 1, 2016

Researchers angling to solve America’s food waste problem are taking cues from Instagram and developing an app to measure food waste from your food pictures.

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From Jiffy to Maseca : The Industrialization of Corn

Presented at the 2016 Southern Foodways Symposium
University of Mississipi
Oxford, MS
October 14, 2016

Mexico, where corn began, understands itself not only as a nation of corn-eaters, but as corn itself. One of that country’s best known idioms is Sin mais, no hay pais: Without corn, there is no country.

But as I look at what’s eaten in both Mexico and the U.S., I have to be honest:  We eat an awful lot of Jiffy and Maseca.

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Eating China: Fast Food Surprises and Market Chaos

“The Plate,” National Geographic • Sept. 12, 2016

We’ve been subsisting a lot on hotel breakfast buffets, which the business joints we’ve been staying in offer routinely. (And do fairly well with, I might add. They’ve not yet resorted to the waffle-batter foil cups and cereal dispensers common in U.S. business motels.) But recently, for logistical reasons, we took an overnight train—which meant no breakfast on offer. And that meant our first stop was KFC for iced lattes—a treat the chain introduced in China just last year—and then to a popular Taiwanese fast food chain for a taste of domestic fast food.

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Eating China: A Land of Many Grains

“The Plate,” National Geographic • Sept. 7, 2016

If you ask most Americans what grain Chinese people eat, I’m pretty sure they’d say rice.

Llike all countries, though China is not a dietary monolith. Diets here can still be deeply regional and seasonal, owing in part to the fact that most agriculture here is still quite small. In the south and northeast, water is relatively plentiful, encouraging crops like rice, that do well in that landscape. But in the drier central and western part of the country, rice doesn’t grow well at all. But wheat does.

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What Chili-Mango Ice Cream Says About Urban Renewal

“The Plate,” National Geographic • Aug. 24, 2016

If I ask you what Detroiters eat to cool off on hot summer days, chances are you think of two Midwestern staples: ice cream and pop. If you know Detroit you might even think Faygo or Vernors. (You may also, to be honest, think beer.)

But folks around Lawndale Street, on the city’s southwest side, have an option that might seem, to outsiders, an odd fit for Detroit: Mexican-style frozen sweets and snacks from a six-table, five-year-old shop called Mangonadas del Barrio. The shop’s namesake, a variation on a popsicle, is a godsend on a steamy August afternoon—and it’s so popular that owner Antonio Hernandez opened up a second shop in June.

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I’ll Have What They’re Having, China Edition

“The Plate,” National Geographic • Aug. 15, 2016

“What are you taking with you to eat?”

This was not the question I was expecting from April, my editor here at The Plate, when I told her I’d be reporting in China this month.

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