Wednesday, May 8, 2013
The Feed: May 8, 2013
The Feed is my weekly round up of interesting food-related stories from newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites.
Washingtonian: “The Meaning of Local,” by Todd Kliman.
When it comes to food, “local” is the new “organic.” It’s what a certain food-conscious consumer is looking for. It’s what high-end grocery stores make pains to point out for certain products. It’s what certain restaurants tout on their menus. But what does it really mean? As a descriptive word, it’s about as useful as “natural” is on food packages. In D.C., where many farmers markets sell produce that’s trucked across two states to get here (and let’s face it, in our densely populated region, “local” probably has to be a fairly flexible term), what does it mean to buy or offer “local?” Kliman offers a thoroughly researched piece on the subject, talking to farmers, chefs and others, discussing the changing nature of the term and the seemingly elusive ideal it implies. It’s a long piece but worth the read and is even at times funny (I wonder if he had to struggle to keep a straight face when speaking to the young restaurateur who used the phrases “über thing” and “touch point”).
Bloomberg Businessweek: “Whole Foods Local Forager Elly Truesdell Is a Grocery Tastemaker,” by Claire Suddath.
Following nicely on the themes in the Kliman story is this profile of a “local forager,” a new position at Whole Foods Market. The forager, Ms. Truesdell, visits farms and food producers in her region looking for potential products for the grocery store chain. The company started the effort in response to criticism from Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma over the market’s use of large-scale organic vendors he viewed as problematic as their big-agriculture counterparts. Her role includes not just finding the products but also helping the suppliers made adjustments to be able to offer their products in the store, which may include needing to increase their output volume.
Time: “Beepocalypse Redux: Honey Bees Are Still Dying—and We Still Don’t Know Why,” by Bryan Walsh.
I’d heard the honeybees were in trouble, but apparently the situation is getting worse, as recounted here by Time. More than half of the 6 million honeybee colonies that existed 60 years ago are now gone. A certain pesticide is suspected, although still in use, since it’s not been proven to be the culprit and other factors could be at fault, including bacteria diseases and parasitic mites. If you think the loss of honeybees would only mean the loss of honey, consider that we rely on bees to pollinate many of our crops. Their loss would be far more devastating to our food supply.
Hunter Angler Gardener Cook: “My Olympic Medal,” by Hank Shaw.
For a food blogger, rubbing elbows with chef/TV personalities like Sara Moulton and Chef Kevin Gillespie at the James Beard Awards, during which said food blogger wins an award (and they do not) must be a rather surreal experience. Hank Shaw, winner of this year’s individual food blog award for Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, recounts his personal experience of the evening (“I felt like I was levitating as I went to the stage, and Ted went to put the James Beard medal around my neck”). Congratulations Hank Shaw!!! (all the 2013 James Beard Award winners here.)
Washington Post: “Serve a better-looking plate,” by Lisa Cherkasky.
Food stylist Cherkasky offers tips for plating food to make it more visually appealing. She shows how three dishes traditionally served at table look better if plated in the kitchen with a few touches to add color and interest. Love the accompanying graphic with sliders to move between the “before” and “after” shots.