Waste Not

  Logi, a mythological Nordic warrior, won an medieval eating contest that involved consuming a tray of meat, bones, and the tray itself. (The tray was made of bread in those days, so not such a big deal as it appears.) His gluttonous display was typical of how men proved they were, indeed, men. The more food consumed, the more powerful the man. For centuries now, eating enormous quantities of food has been necessary to maintain one’s social status among the elite as much as it was Read more [...]

Bad News for A & P

George Huntington Hartford and George Gilman, 19th century entrepreneurs, would flinch at this week’s news that the A & P grocery store chain was filing for bankruptcy. The two Georges created the iconic grocery chain in 1859 and built what we now know as the grocery supermarket. They developed the model for grocery stores that sell low-priced food across the U.S. Now, for the second time in ten years, the beleaguered company has less than 300 stores, down from the 16,000 it operated in Read more [...]

Milan Expo 2015: Big Ideas

While “thought leaders” gather around the world to predict the future of food, Italians are hosting this year’s world’s fair, the Milan Expo 2015. The Italians are using the Expo to burnish its brand as the preeminent leader of food innovation. The Italians came up with the Maserati and the Moka pot, so why not edible packaging and digital delivery of food? But wait, what happened to French leadership in all things food-related? If you attend the Milan Expo, you’ll  be hard pressed Read more [...]

A Rare Look at Genetic Diversity in Our Food System

What does a remote Norwegian island 800 miles from the North Pole have to do with our food supply? Much more than you may think. Dr. Cary Fowler, speaking at the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy’s (ALBC) Annual Conference last week in Austin, Texas, explained how the Svalbard Global Seed Vault will protect global crop diversity for the next few millennia. Rarely covered by media and or included in the public debate about our food system, these genetics preservationists are vital to the sustainability Read more [...]

Ebola and Your Chocolate Bar

I picked up a few extra dark chocolate bars at the checkout counter today at the grocery store. It never occurred to me that they might be my last in a very long while. While the human cost of the Ebola crisis is holding our attention for now, other consequences are on the minds of those who move commodities like cocoa beans around the globe. Two thirds of the world’s cocoa beans come from West Africa. While Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia are at the center of the current outbreak, other Read more [...]

The Return of Home Economics, Part I

A colleague of mine at UT invited me to peer into some locked bookshelves located in a conference room in the School of Human Ecology. The bookshelves, hidden from view by wood cabinets that line the perimeter of the room contain stacks of books, musty, and neglected for decades since the school renamed. During the 1980s, university administrators who were flummoxed by feminists scuttled Home Economics departments. Within the wooden cabinets are stacks of books and magazines that once stood proudly Read more [...]

Curious about the Curious

In 1859, The Curiosities of Food was published in London by Peter Lund Simmonds.  Simmonds joined other Londoners at that time, such as George Dodd, author of The Food of London, in a quest to understand food at home and abroad. By then, four hundred million people had been added to the British Empire, each nation bringing a food culture that seemed exotic to the ordinary Victorian. Simmonds wrote the first truly global account of food, one that reflected a fascination with all things foreign. Following Read more [...]

Don’t Cry for Me…..

During a recent visit with a meat processor and a pig farmer in Argentina , I heard two men tell me stories that were disarming. Their stories seemed more suited to pass between intimate friends and unlikely to pass between us, having only met for a few hours.  The stories, while they revealed how chorizo is made, were far more eloquent about their lives than about sausage or animal husbandry. While we’re exploring the food supply chain, we’re often confronting machines, technology, the gears Read more [...]

Baker’s Holiday

January is just about the worst time to meet the owner of a bakery in Buenos Aires, or any business owner, for that matter. Marcelo, the owner of La Sud América, a bakery in the Almagro neighborhood in Buenos Aires, was texting me with the news that he would be available for a brief meeting before he taking off for a holiday with his family. Like our summer months, Argentinian winters are prime vacation months for families with children out of school, which means that many businesses hang a Read more [...]

The Pan in Choripàn

Most food in Argentina comes from somewhere else, at least in its earliest forms. Like wheat. Sure, there’s asado, an ubiquitous dish on Argentinian menus that is mostly a mound of barbequed meat.  But in Argentina, the mishmash of culinary traditions that exists today reflects a long history of immigrants who left very little of anything that can be called truly Argentinian. The view that the Argentinian national cuisine is actually a mix of British, Italian, and French food can be galling Read more [...]