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 [...]
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 [...]
At a recent gathering in downtown Austin, the breakfast fare said it all. Organic yogurt, locally produced honey, fresh breakfast tacos broke from the usual offerings of croissants and Danish pastries. This crowd was invested in their food, mostly emotionally, some economically, as farmers, chefs, city planners, food activists, non-profits, and individuals gathered to learn about the possibility of a public food market in Austin.
Austin has farmers markets but no public market, yet. And even the Read more [...]
Some things are best left unsaid, and my experience as a pig cloner comes up in conversations only to cause nervous twitching on the part of my listeners. “How”, they wonder, “could someone dedicated to conservation and the environment wander off into the black art of biotechnology?”
During the years when I was raising heritage breeds of livestock in Maine, I found that one of our precious swine bloodlines was drying up. The farm, founded for the purpose of conserving rare breeds of livestock, Read more [...]
I recently visited the new exhibit at The American Museum of Natural History in New York called Our Global Kitchen, Food, Nature, Culture. As more and more Americans learn about their food, they can now feast on a museum exhibit that attempts to tell the whole story.
To tackle food as a broad subject is to launch upon a vast ocean in a small barque amidst thousands of hidden reefs. Topics such as genetic modification of foods lurk beneath the surface of most conversations about food. But this Read more [...]
The daily revelations emerging from the discovery of horsemeat in lasagna purchased in Ireland reveal the complexities of our food system. When EU health commissioners tracked down the source of the horsemeat, they found a trail that passed through multiple countries, processors, dealers, brokers, Romania, England, Cyprus, Poland, the Netherlands, and in some cases, through illegal hands.
Since much of our meat is processed, ground up, blended with flavorings, shaped into meatballs and stuffed into Read more [...]
Many of us wish for an opportunity to share our latest projects, especially if we’re crazy-passionate about it. Speaking at a TED conference is one of those opportunities. Recently, I had the privilege of speaking at the TEDx Austin event. As a speaker, I was witness to the miracle of a TEDx event, a day-long immersion into the inspiring and motivating lives of the speakers and attendees.
My talk came at the end of the day, and although I prepared for this talk more than I had ever prepared Read more [...]
In November’s Meatpaper: Issue 19, you’ll find this essay, a short piece inspired by a trip I took with my dear friend, Linda.
Early Californians lusted after gold, traveling up and over the chiseled granite Sierra Nevada on their way to the Gold Country. Two summers ago, a dear friend and I had high prospects of climbing Mt. Whitney, repeating the trek we had previously taken over thirty years ago. We hove up and over the majestic peak before returning to our encampment at the base Read more [...]
Over fifteen years ago, Rob Savenor, owner of Boston’s Beacon Hill grocery store, sat with me on his loading dock to discuss how much he’d pay me for my leg of lamb. I had traveled to Boston from my farm in Maine with a cooler full of “heritage” meat. “Heritage” is a term used by foodies, even then, to describe meat from a few remaining breeds raised by farmers centuries ago. Much like heirloom seeds, these animals are no longer commercially viable and so are left to conservationists, Read more [...]
Eating out of the box, in the box, and from the box is a culinary activity that is drawing new and fortuitous attention. Eating OUT of the box is the challenge issued by food nutritionists and foodies who want consumers to resist the temptation to buy processed, ready-made meals that are sold in microwaveable boxes. Eating IN the box is an activity that takes place in large, industrial buildings owned by such behemoths as Wal-Mart and Costco. Those “big box” enterprises are often castigated for Read more [...]