food

Tom Mueller's book, "Extra Virginity."

Marcie Sillman talks with author Tom Mueller about his book, "Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil."

The Joys And Ethics Of Insect Eating

Apr 3, 2014

A week ago today, I ate my first crickets.

It was a first step into entomophagy, the practice of insect eating. I wrote about this topic here at 13.7 in January but had never before tried it myself (excluding accidental ingestion of the insect parts often found in peanut butter, chocolate, vegetables and other foods).

For lovers of fatty tuna belly, canned albacore and swordfish kebabs, here's a question: Would you be willing to give them up for several years so that you could eat them perhaps for the rest of your life?

If a new proposal to ban fishing on the open ocean were to fly, that's essentially what we might be faced with. It's an idea that might help restore the populations of several rapidly disappearing fish – like tuna, swordfish and marlin — that we, and future generations, might like to continue to have as a food source.

There's an old saying in the South: "A child's gotta eat their share of dirt."

Mamie Lee Hillman's family took this literally, but they weren't after just any old dirt.

"I remember my mom and my aunties eating that white dirt like it was nothing," says Hillman, who grew up in Greene County, Ga., and used to go with her family to dig for their own dirt to snack on. "It was an acceptable thing that people did."

Remember the fat-free boom that swept the country in the 1990s? Yes, we know from the Salt readers who took our informal survey that lots of you tried to follow it. And gave up.

"I definitely remember eating fat-free cookies, fat–free pudding, fat-free cheese, which was awful," Elizabeth Stafford, an attorney from North Carolina, told us in the survey.

If you want to trace Americans' fear of fat, the place to start is the U.S. Senate, during the steamy days of July 1976.

That's when Sen. George McGovern called a hearing to raise attention to the links between diet and disease.

And what was the urgency? The economy was booming, and many Americans were living high on the hog. A 1954 Capitol Hill restaurant menu offers a glimpse of what lunch looked like then: steak with claret sauce, buttered succotash and pineapple cheesecake. But soon, that prosperity began to cast a dark shadow within the halls of Congress.

Flickr Photo/ron.heasley (CC BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Sheryl Wiser of Cascade Harvest about what spring will bring to local farmers markets.

The Secret To These Sauces Is Nuts

Mar 26, 2014

I grew up thinking of nuts as junk food: full of fat and calories, a guilty treat for holidays and special occasions. I remember bowls of salty cocktail mix, nut-covered cheese logs, sweet buttery honey-roasted peanuts and cashews, or Jordan almonds in their strangely addictive sugary coating. They were in the same category as potato chips and candy: irresistible, but not good for you at all.

A few years ago, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver kicked up a foodie firestorm when he told the audience at the Late Show with David Letterman that vanilla ice cream contains flavoring from a beaver's ... um, derriere.

"Beaver anal gland — yes," Oliver shouted bluntly, as the crowd booed and hissed. "Oh, come on! You're telling me you don't like a little beaver? ... It's in cheap sorts of strawberry syrups and vanilla ice cream."

Leave it to the folks at Reddit to uncover the hidden treasures of the Internet. Recently, they were gabbing about Google's nutrition comparison tool, which was quietly launched at the end of 2013 and escaped us here at The Salt.

As a culture, we tend to suffer from the angel-or-devil mindset. Especially when it comes to food.

And for 40 years now, saturated fat — found in high amounts in meat, cheese and other full-fat dairy products — has been one of our top nutritional demons.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines urge us to limit consumption because of concerns that saturated fat raises the risk of heart disease. But after decades of research, a growing number of experts are questioning this link.

Kate Christensen's book, "Blue Plate Special."

David Hyde talks with writer Kate Christensen about her nonfiction memoir, "Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites."

As the title suggests, the book is about food. But it’s also about how her parents’ abusive relationship influenced her own life.

This interview originally aired on September 16, 2013.

The Dark History Of Green Food On St. Patrick's Day

Mar 17, 2014

Green food may mean party time in America, where St. Patrick's Day has long been an excuse to break out the food dye. But in Ireland, where the Irish celebrate their patron saint on March 17, green food has bitter connotations that recall the nation's darkest chapter, says historian Christine Kinealy.

When Congress passed a farm bill earlier this year, it expected to save $8.6 billion over 10 years by tightening what many say is a loophole in the food stamp, or SNAP, program. But it's not going to happen.

You see, Congress left states an opening to avoid the cuts. And so far, nearly half of the states participating have decided to take that option — a move that could erase the promised savings.

Many of us can barely make it through the morning without first downing a cup of hot coffee. It's become such a big part of our daily rituals that few actually give much thought to what it is that we're putting in our bodies.

To help us break down the little-known things about caffeine, NPR's David Greene spoke with Murray Carpenter, author of Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts and Hooks Us. These are the things you probably aren't thinking about as you wait in line at your local coffee shop.

Caffeine is a drug. Treat it as such.

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