Some of my favorite stories I’ve written for The Washington Post and other publications.
POLITICS & SUSTAINABILITY
• What Paula Deen didn’t bring to the table, January, 22, 2012
What was missed in the outrage over Paula Deen’s admission that she has Type-2 diabetes was the opportunity for a serious, sensible debate about how we eat.
• How to save small farms, November 1, 2011
Keep farmland in farmers hands. Land trusts can help.
• It’s time for food reformers to step down from their pedestals, Oct 14, 2011
Being right all the time feels good. But by itself, it isn’t an effective way to fix our broken food system.
• Can Food Network chefs help solve obesity?, August 25, 2011
A Times op-ed says access to real food is the solution. But what about the people who have access and still eat junk?
• Culture clash over local food in Appalachia, July 27, 2011
Steven Hopp, a.k.a. Mr. Barbara Kingsolver, tries to bring locavore dining to Appalachia.
• School Lunch is Not the Answer, February 24, 2011
Improving school food is just one small step to beating back childhood obesity.
• The War on Pizza, February 14, 2011
The federal food policy take aim at the sacred slice — and pick a smart fight.
• Op-ed A new front in the culture wars: food, Nov. 27, 2010
People have to make finding and preparing fresh food a priority at a time when everything about our modern food system urges us not to bother. And that won’t happen if people think healthy food is an elitist plot to take away their McRib.
• Sean Brock reimagines Southern cuisine, Aug. 25, 2010
The Charleston chef is opening a new restaurant, Husk, to “preach the gospel of cornbread and country ham.”
• Green cuisine not always as ordered, December 6, 2009
Think you’re dining green? Menus can be misleading. Award-winning restaurant Founding Farmers in Washington struggles to deliver on its promises.
• To help change food policy, Michelle Obama looks to children, July 15, 2009
In three short months, Michelle Obama had accomplished what other food advocates could only dream about. Good food was no longer just virtuous. Now what?
• A squeeze for tomato growers, April 29, 2009
Appalled by grim working conditions for farmworkers in the Florida tomato fields, Bon Appetit Management promised to boycott winter tomatoes if growers don’t change their ways. The threat is the latest salvo on a new front of the sustainable-food wars: social justice.
• Simplicity becomes a selling point, April 4, 2009
Michael Pollan recommends people steer clear of processed food with more than five ingredients. The ones taking it to heart? Food marketers who have quickly realized that simplicity sells.
• Go slow foodies, it’s the way to win, January 23, 2009
Food reformers want to fix, well, everything. To succeed in Washington, they need to focus their message and their ambitions.
• The CSA that isn’t one, January, 6, 2009
To spread the gospel of organic produce, one company is catering to the masses but keeping its core values.
• What’s in a number?, September 17, 2008
How the press got the idea that food travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate.
• In a trial run, Chipotle heads for the farm, March 2, 2008
Serving local pork at Chipotle was easier said than done. The company’s experiment is emblematic of the enormous hurdles that face national chains hoping to embrace the eat-local trend.
• On the road for change, January 7, 2009
For two idealists, the goal is a White House garden.
• Snob appeal August 12, 2009
Why won’t someone knock heirloom tomatoes off their pedestal?
• Let them eat chicken December, 2008
When Chris Kimball founded Cook’s Illustrated, he broke all the industry rules. Now he’s beating the glossies at their own game. Has his scrappy, undeniably geeky enterprise in Brookline Village come up with a new recipe for successful magazines?
• Typos a la carte: Ever the specialty of the house, June 17, 2008
Most people have a superhero fantasy. In mine, I enter a restaurant, order and sweetly ask the waiter if I can “hold on to the menu” during dinner. Then, using a distinctive purple pen, I copy-edit the descriptions of the dishes.
• Craving a dimmer for dinner, January 27, 2009
Come on DC restaurateurs. Would someone please turn down the lights?
• Surprise Slice of My Cook’s Tour, August 28, 2007
It was an epic journey in search of an undiscovered culinary delicacy. But sometimes the best things to eat are easy to find.
WASHINGTON POST SMARTER FOOD COLUMN
• A bright idea for grocers, May, 2013
For years, sustainable-food advocates and environmentalists have preached that businesses should “do the right thing” by investing in costly projects for the good of the planet that would, along the way, also lead to better-tasting food. BrightFarms isn’t relying on ethics or morality to drive its business.
• Restaurants sell stealth health, April, 2013
LYFE Kitchen uses no butter, no cream, no white flour, no high-fructose corn syrup, no trans fats, no additives, no preservatives. Not that they are boasting about it. “We don’t sell health,” says Mike Donahue, the company’s chief communications officer. “We sell taste.”
• Turning teachers into gardeners, March, 2013
Enthusiasm for school gardens has reached a new high. DC Greens is showing teachers how to make their gardens grow.
• Shopping matters, February, 2013
It has become conventional wisdom that Americans don’t know how cook. But shopping for food, especially on a budget, is for many an equally daunting prospect. In a world where busy schedules mean that reheating a frozen pizza counts as cooking, shopping smart might be even more important.
• Beyond trayless dining, January, 2013
College students are taking on waste in the dining halls — and helping to feed the needy.
• Foodies’ new year’s resolution: Get antibiotics off the farm, December, 2012
Food-reform advocates need to rally around one issue that can unite them all. My vote: ban antibiotics in livestock.
• Turning garbage into food, November, 2012
Compost Cab turns residents’ trash into compost for small, urban farm.
• Making Learning Gardens grow, September, 2012
Technology millionaire Kimbal Musk is figuring out how to scale school gardens.
• Save now, save later: coupons for healthier eating, August, 2012
Linkwell Health doesn’t let ideal eating be the enemy of better eating, and the strategy is working.
• For farmers, a spreadsheet alternative, July, 2012
A software program works to make sustainable farming sustainable for the farmers.
• Want people to eat fruits and vegetables? Prescribe them, June, 2012
An innovative program prescribes healthy produce to low-income families to help them eat better and support local farmers.
• Saving food, one sheet of paper at a time, June, 2012
A teenager’s invention–paper infused with a mixture of organic spices and botanicals–extends the life of perishable produce and prevents waste.
• Produce to the people, April, 2012
New York’s Green Cart program brings fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income neighborhoods with a minimum of fuss. No wonder so many cities are taking note.
• It takes a village, March, 2012
Jim n Nick’s Nick Pihakis is bringing sustainable food to the world of casual dining, where pre-shaped burgers, frozen fries and gallon-size bags of salad dressings are kitchen norms.
• Reinventing the CSA, February, 2012
Community supported agriculture has always catered to the most dedicated foodies. Now flexible models are sprouting up around the country that make it easier for busy families to get their money’s worth.
• A farmers market with the a difference, January 3, 2011
An innovative market in Wooster, Ohio, solves the problems of farmers and the shoppers who love them.
• Turning the tide for Louisiana shrimpers, December, 13, 2011
Lance Nacio is proving that being sustainable is the most profitable way for Gulf shrimpers.
• Sweetgreen: the Logistics of Keeping it Local Nov. 8, 2011
Local salad bar chain Sweetgreen is growing at a rapid clip but staying true to its roots.
• The Pizza Starts Here, Oct. 4, 2011
On the ground in 10 states, FoodCorps adds fresh, local ingredients to school fare.
INGREDIENTS & TRAVEL
• An Ice Cream Wizard Brings the Magic Home June 15, 2011
The founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream says she has cracked the code for non-professionals in her new book.
• DIY Not? Aug. 11, 2010
Could homemade ketchup beat Heinz?
• The next big thing in bacon: Discuss, June 23, 2010
Where bacon is celebrated, people will come. But Camp Bacon was a one-day Davos of America’s favorite meat.
• The kimchi fix, January, 20, 2010
Since I made my first batch of kimchi several months ago, there has been only a single 13-day period when I haven’t had some in the fridge. They were 13 very long days.
• Marinated in the morning, grilled at night: The charms of Peru’s fusion cuisine, March 31, 2009
Eating ceviche, the South American country’s best-known dish, is a must in Lima. But there are also tiraditos, a Peruvian take on sashimi; Chinese stir-fries spiked with Peruvian chili peppers; and sushi rolls filled with scallop and Parmesan cheese.
• The big cheese: Burrata, October 23, 2007
Burrata is the “it” cheese of the moment. And it’s no wonder why.
• Trail of tiramisu, July 10, 2007
Did a pastry chef in Baltimore invent one of Italy’s most famous desserts?
• If it tastes good, it’s in Charlottesville, May 6, 2008
College towns are known for greasy pizza and late-night takeout. But in the city best known for Thomas Jefferson’s architecture, there’s sushi worthy of Nobu, rustic but transcendent tapas, plus standout bread, real espresso, artisan chocolate and locally brewed beer.
• Frank Ruta: The best chef you’ve never heard of, October 20, 2010
He has won every industry accolade, from Food & Wine’s best new chef from to the James Beard for best Mid-Atlantic chef. But Ruta is the rare modern chef who prefers to be in the kitchen.
• Sometimes love means asking for separate menus, February 10, 2009
Food obsessives divide the world into two kinds of people: those who seek out truffles, sea urchin and single-estate chocolate, and those who don’t. And when an avid food lover falls for one of the others, life gets complicated.
• H is for happening, June 24, 2008
Independent, inexpensive and quirky are the hallmarks of the new restaurants on H Street in Northeast Washington.
• Online, A community concocts a restaurant, July 26, 2008
Washington food lovers are shooting to be the first to “crowdsource” a restaurant.