David Gans (tnf) Thu 10 Jun 10 14:05
I see a great possibility for collaboration! Who better to organize their online presence than summertomato herself!
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 11 Jun 10 10:23
I just got a cool email reminder for the Eat Real Festival in Oakland, and event I loved last year. http://www.eatrealfest.com/ Darya, what seasonal events and festivals do you try to attend or avoid?
Darya Pino (daryapino) Fri 11 Jun 10 10:53
@gail I try to attend as many as I can, but avoid the big corporate ones (the wannabe chocolate fest at Ghiradelli square comes to mind). Eat Real is great. Slow Food Nation was epic. I enjoy the underground farmers market and other events by Forage SF. There's so many now it's hard to keep up. I do tend to skip the expensive foodie fests (Food & Wine, etc.). Though I'm sure they're great, I'm more of a local foodie than a snobby foodie. That isn't really my scene.
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 11 Jun 10 11:26
Say more about the underground farmers market... I have heard about it but not been to it. Have you blogged about that?
Darya Pino (daryapino) Fri 11 Jun 10 17:55
I haven't blogged about it but there was a write up this week in the WashPost http://voices.washingtonpost.com/all-we-can-eat/to-market-to-market/notes-from -the-underground-mar.html
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Fri 11 Jun 10 22:19
One of my all time favorite foodie experiences was a produce tasting and farmers' market held at the Oakland Museum many years ago. If I recall correctly, the idea was to introduce local farmers to local restauranteurs, and after a few years, they were so successful that they stopped holding the event. It was initially open only to local food professionals, but then open to the public, and you could go to booths where you could taste and compare several varieties of strawberries, each from several different growers. The veggies were cooked in a more or less uniform way for the tasting--all steamed or boiled or baked the same time/temp/etc. So you could learn about the differences the farmer's technique and growing conditions make within a strain of green beans, and get a hint of how broadly different potato types can vary. I can't remember for sure but I think there was a small entrance fee for the public, a few bucks to taste the stuff, and then a fabulous farmers' market afterwards. I still remember almost wanting to cry when I realized I'd run out of cash before I got to Karl Matsumoto's peaches, and couldn't buy any of them. The stuff was that good. Do any of the food events you mentioned provide that kind of experience--comparisons not of processed/prepared foods, but of produce 'straight up'?
Darya Pino (daryapino) Sat 12 Jun 10 13:43
Not really, but that sounds really cool! The best we get here is with fruit or veggies that can be eaten raw. There are samples all over the farmers market, so you can wander around and try each and see the differences in flavor. It can vary from week to week, but it quickly becomes apparent that certain farms just really know what they're doing, and sometimes their price reflects the superior taste! (but not always)
Gail Williams (gail) Sat 12 Jun 10 14:13
I love that idea -- a blind tasting of produce! You could do that with kids, too, as a very good science observation and sensory awareness exercise.
Gail Williams (gail) Sat 12 Jun 10 14:17
I was looking at http://www.summertomato.com/ There is so much good stuff that it is hard to know where to start. Do you have a few posts that you consider your greatest hits, or that caused the most reaction?
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Sat 12 Jun 10 17:00
While we wait for Darya to have a moment to answer that, I'm going to start with this week's For the Love of Food roundup of annotated links to interesting stuff. I'm fascinated by the article about how tiny changes can have big impacts on how kids eat at school--like better lighting and presentation of fruits in the cafeteria displays. In our cafeteria (I work in a hospital) they're very attractively placed right next to the registers at checkout, in always-clean wooden bowls. But recent changes suggest that consumers have pushed back against other 'healthy' changes that were made in the cafeteria layout a year or so ago. The ice cream novelties case is back, and the frozen fruit bars that had replaced them are still there, but their case has been moved to the back corner. The baked chips and pretzels only have given way again to the regular potato chips and a separate rack for the baked ones (I have to applaud this because I'd rather have an honest, less processed fried potato chip than the weird pseudo-food concoction that is mostly non-potato ingredients but happens to be crispy when baked). And the smaller bags of nuts at the checkout have been replaced by larger bags of nuts and trail mixes full of candied and coated stuff and bags of outright candy. Do you know of any research that suggests how easy it is to sustain the success of the suggestions in the article over the long term, and whether there is a lot of 'pushback' to restore the previous status quo?
Darya Pino (daryapino) Sat 12 Jun 10 18:24
@gail Yes, that is the difficulty of a blog. The popular content brings people in and sustains the blog, but then it gets buried under new content. I've done my best to use the site design to help people find the content they will most enjoy. For those new to Summer Tomato, my first recommendation is downloading the free How to get started eating healthy guide and subscribing to the newsletter. The 25 page guide is designed to set you up to get the most from the site. You will continue to get caught up on informative posts in the subsequent newsletters. You can also start reading the "Top Healthy Eating Tips" in the sidebar -- Best of Summer Tomato 2009 is a particularly good place to start. Those are my picks for the best of the site. The "Popular Posts" are the ones that get the most traffic. After that I recommend flipping through the Basics section in the top sliding menu. That should be enough to get you started with my best stuff. If one topic in particular interests you, the tags listed at the bottom of each post can guide you to more articles on that topic. You can also use the search function at the upper right. Hope this helps!
Darya Pino (daryapino) Sat 12 Jun 10 18:32
@debunix That is an interesting question that I've honestly never thought about. Generally Brian Wansink's work is rigorous and remarkable. But I don't know how much long term stuff has been done. It is certain that people don't like feeling deprived of foods, and it seems to me a big difference between what was done in the article and what was done at your cafeteria are different in a very important way. It sounds like in your case healthier foods were replacing unhealthy foods, while in the article all the foods were still available but some were in more favorable positions. This has the critical effect of preserving the perception of choice. People hate it when they feel decisions are being made for them, but when they feel they are making better decisions themselves they feel virtuous, which is self-perpetuating. The difference is subtle, but arguably critical. I'm riffing here, what do the rest of you think?
Therese Flanagan (therese) Sun 13 Jun 10 08:59
I just downloaded and read _How To Get Started Eating Healthy: The 7 Essential Steps To Getting Healthy and Losing Weight_ and I wanted to thank you for writing it and sharing it. Your website is chock-full of great information -- I like a bit of science with my food -- and the name, SummerTomato, is fabulous. I look forward to trying out some of the recipes; more importantly, I look forward to feeling better without dieting.
David Gans (tnf) Sun 13 Jun 10 09:29
Welcome to the Summer Tomato club, Therese!
therese (therese) Sun 13 Jun 10 11:14
Hi, David; thanks for introducing us to Darya's web site.
David Gans (tnf) Sun 13 Jun 10 12:21
It's a life-changer!
. (wickett) Sun 13 Jun 10 19:43
To change the subject, I'd like to enquire why you say you eat processed or junk food.
We're carrot people. (unkljohn) Mon 14 Jun 10 04:39
I eat mostly organic food and haven't eaten meat since about 1992, but every now and then, you just gotta grab a bag of chips and veg in front of the TV! (my answer, not hers).
jelly fish challenged (reet) Mon 14 Jun 10 08:39
One of the things I love about Darya is her non-doctrinaire approach to eating well.
David Gans (tnf) Mon 14 Jun 10 08:59
Yes. What's the point of living a long time if you aren't going to enjoy it?
Gail Williams (gail) Mon 14 Jun 10 10:41
I just stumbled on a sobering article about the local and organic food movement. I think one of the appeals of buying the right produce is that it subverts politics with a capital P. This article asserts that the failure to support these movements on the federal level may doom them. It's very interesting... here's an excerpt: "Obama seems to want to boost visibility and demand for organic food, but his policies don't offer meaningful support for the people who grow it. Doling out a few million dollars to clean up organic certification or connect local farmers with existing USDA programs is farcical and tragic -- at current levels it would take 50 years of USDA organic research spending to match what it laid out for conventional ag research in 2010 alone. Meanwhile, rural farm populations continue to decline. Less than a quarter of all U.S. farmers are under the age of 45." http://prospect.org/cs/articles?article=slowed_food_revolution
Darya Pino (daryapino) Mon 14 Jun 10 10:44
@wickett I searched through the conversations and couldn't find where I said I eat junk food. Could you show me what you're referring to? That being said, I consider all bread or ANYTHING made with flour or sugar to be processed food and I do eat it occasionally. I consider tofu processed food and I eat it every now and then as well. I really don't eat what I consider junk food. The occasional slice of bread or dessert that I eat are usually exquisite, from talented local artisans or homemade. Probably as industrial as I get is an occasional bite of Ben & Jerry's (I blame my bf for that!). I found myself in a Safeway the other night, the first time I had been in one in years (I shop for food at the farmers market, my local produce shop and occasionally Whole Foods). I was horrified by what was there, just row after row, shelf after shelf of pure junk. It was a bit shocking to realize that pretty much the only thing I would buy there is alcohol. Check this out: http://yfrog.com/1q2n9gj So no, I wouldn't say I eat junk.
David Gans (tnf) Mon 14 Jun 10 11:11
I had a similar experience a few weeks ago, while on tour. I couldn't find a restaurant, walking along the main drag in Fallon NV, that didn't give me The Fear. So I went into the Safeway, conveniently open late. Just for the hell of it, I bought a Lean Cuisine. And some fruit, to be sure, but - I nuked that Lean Cuisine in my room. It is not food. It tasted awful, the textures of the various components were horrifying. It's no wonder our society is so unhealthy.
. (wickett) Mon 14 Jun 10 15:01
Darya, the mention you made to eating junk or processed food was in your summertomato blog and I was curious about why. Unfortunately, I cannot find the exact quote at the moment. Many possible reasons popped into my mind, certainly some were so as not to appear doctrinaire or self-righteous, or because an occasional bite or meal is assumed not to do much harm, or you were hungry, or you wanted better to connect with readers who truly are eating horrendously, or.... I had a similar experience to David's in eastern Washington state. I was hungry. We went into a market filled with teenagers at lunchtime. We were as alien to them as they were to us. We scoured the shelves and come up with a can of sardines. We routinely keep cans of sardines, almonds, and water in the car at home, but weren't in our car at that moment. I was grateful to the sardines, but would have chosen to remain hungry rather the eat what those poor kids were queuing up to purchase. Another question: I'm quite interested in the history of how the US managed to get into the current food mess. Kellog and Post were health nuts; the chemists who concoct junk are themselves sons, daughters, possibly parents. Who would/do they feed it to? I know that people flog cigarettes and other harmful and addictive substances, but how did we become a nation of purveyors and eaters of tasteless, flavorless, non-nutritious, fattening, disease-producing, expensive items called processed food?
Darya Pino (daryapino) Mon 14 Jun 10 19:34
@wickett Hopefully my last explanation was mostly satisfying. I remembered since writing it though, that I do have a penchant for Mexican food, especially in Southern California where I grew up (it's amazing there, 10x better than SF). I still wouldn't call it junk food, but let's just say I don't skip the tortilla chips. As for your question, I'd point you to two resources. The first is a book called The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (who David mentioned earlier). The second is a book called Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. I think these explain well what happened to food in the US. To summarize, government subsidies for corn and soy made the price so low that the big food companies needed to figure out new ways to sell it all. Thus the birth of junk food (mostly corn and soy). No one knew how bad all this stuff was back then. The problem is now that we know, it's very hard to go back. Hopefully enough people will choose to start voting with their forks and opting out of the industrial food chain to send a message that we want our real food back.
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