At a recent food conference, I had the great honor of speaking on a panel—Food and Nutrition Education. It was a unique day with many accomplished and fascinating folks, thought provoking conversation and good food, all in a fairly intimate setting.
The other day my younger son came home from school with a green lollipop in his mouth. “Where did you get this?” I asked. “From our treasure box at school Mom,” he replied with a little too much sass for my liking. While I do let my kids dabble in the super bad junk every so often (candy, hot dogs, etc.), I don’t leave it to them to choose when (especially not my 7 year old with health challenges). Despite the fact that I provided his teacher with ample supply of Hunter-safe junk (apparently she ran out) and my child is very clear on what he can and can’t have, he always pushes the limit. But he’s a kid and that’s what he’s supposed to do. So as the parent, I am frequently coming up with new ways to communicate with him about food and give him the tools to want to make better choices.
Have you heard about Whole Foods Market’s most recent debacle? Before getting into the nuances of what comedian Fred Armisen calls “an elaborate practical joke that got really out of hand”, I want to be open about the fact that I bought stock in Whole Foods Market in 2001—a company that I wholeheartedly believed in. And one whose growth I have happily watched over the years, give or take the occasional disappointment.
Chefs have the great task of nourishing others. And hopefully that means caring about every ingredient they are using. Though just as consumers turn a blind eye to food choice, so do many culinary wizards. And while I realize and appreciate that everyone has a different starting point, it’s time that we help these incredible men and women take on the role of agents of change, understanding the true value of quality ingredients.
Partaking in social media is one of my necessary evils. Likely many 40-somethings feel the same way—we were just not raised on this kind of communication. But as I try to get into the groove for this nouveau kind of gab, posting information on food matters that move me (good or bad) seems to be my shtick.
Now, I am not an avid meat eater. In fact, if my body didn’t downright crave animal foods I would be a hardcore vegetarian. But it does so I thoughtfully nourish. Three weeks ago while waiting for the bus to take me from New York City to home, I popped into a newly opened fast casual joint (it was super cold outside and I was craving French fries). Glancing at the menu, I noticed that “100% all natural Angus beef, no hormones and no antibiotics ever” was center stage.
I ditched bottled water long ago, only turning to it in an absolute pinch. It was a lecture at my kids school several years back when folks from Long Island Clean Water Partnership, Suffolk County Water Authority and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation came to town to talk about what I call liquid life.
My friend recently asked, “Who of all of our cronies has the best pantry?” Let me preface my answer by saying that the woman who asked knew that her's was not my top ranked larder (a running joke). I hesitantly answered as I have a general rule of thumb when I go to family and friends’ houses—to keep my mouth shut.
Reflecting back on family dinners during my adolescent and young adult life, one of my strongest memories is awaiting the inevitable question about world politics from my father. After too many to count occasions of silence, my dad just stopped asking. If I can’t speak intelligently about a topic, I prefer not to and when it came to the wonders of the world in my younger years, keeping my mouth shut was my best option.
Each summer my family ventures to Maine for a little vacation. We stay on a friend’s waterside organic hog farm; visit farmsteads and farm stands; and pass time with my colleague John Bagnulo and his family whose house, built into a hillside, is surrounded by lush food baring gardens, chickens and goats. So, of course much of our time is spent cooking and eating!
A few years ago a journalist contacted me regarding a story she was writing for a national health magazine. Her assignment was to highlight that a gluten-free diet was more nutritious than a gluten-containing diet and was indeed weight-loss promoting. Immediately a red flag went up but my ears were wide open.
My kid was born with feeding issues. I am thrilled to know that the powers that be have a sense of humor!
Shortly after Hunter (now almost 5-years old) was born, my sweet husband remained with him while the nurses did their necessary newborn testing in the nursery. As I was in and out of sleep, my man with little guy and nurse in tow came into the room to tell me this, “Hunter’s tongue is heart shaped.”