Uncle Sam Wants YOU… to be a Farmer

“What would it take for you to join a farm?” asked my editor. I raised my eyebrow as if the answer wasn’t obvious.

Who wouldn’t want to drop everything and become a farmer? Spending the day working outdoors, in the dirt, under the sun, and out of an anemic cubicle? Long hours? No problem. Fresh air? Yes, please. Growing food with your own two hands? Sign me up. (more…)

Project Learning Garden: Teaching Kids to Grow Vegetables, Like Math and Love School

Two dozen elementary-school kids watched intently as Linton Hopkins, an award-winning chef with the white coat and expensive knives to prove it, lit a burner under a frying pan, drizzled in olive oil and honey, sliced an orange and squeezed it, tasted the mixture and sprinkled in some salt, and then tossed in double-handfuls of raw broccoli leaves—leaves that had been growing 10 feet away 15 minutes ago, until the kids fanned out across the school garden and picked them.

Hopkins tipped the warm salad into a giant metal bowl, beckoned the kids off their benches, and showed them the result. “Salad’s done,” he said. “Who wants a taste?” ...

When Yogurt Grows on Trees: Why Home Gardens are Important

Julian Scheer’s classic picture book, Rain Makes Applesauce, is a rollicking nonsense poem, with the title as refrain: “The stars are made of lemon juice,/and rain makes applesauce./I wear my shoes inside out,/and rain makes applesauce.”

“Oh, you’re just talking silly talk,” an unseen critic periodically puts in. It’s a delightful children’s read, but these days it’s a little worrisome, too. The fact is that many American kids today—if not quite convinced that rain makes applesauce—come pretty close. (more…)

Changing the Way We Eat Meat

Sitting on a stage in Washington, DC at National Geographic some months back, I was on a panel that started to discuss meat consumption and how, really, we should be eating more vegetables.

When I exclaimed to the audience, “Vegetables are sexy!” I also had to quickly add that yes, in fact, I am opening a restaurant with the word “meat” in the name, a celebration of the carnivores in the heart of Las Vegas. People started laughing, the topic soon changed, and we moved on. I never felt like I got the chance to explain, so let me do so now. (more…)

Vegetarianism: More Than “Meats” the Eye

Lauren Pollack, George Washington University

When I was growing up I too often had to explain my vegetarian diet and the soy substitutes I ate to my friends at lunch time; the phrase I seemed to gravitate towards to explain my unconventional lunch box foods was, “I don’t eat meat, but I eat fake meat”. My classmates always replied to that statement, perplexed: “Wait, you eat plastic?”

Obviously “fake” was not the best word to describe these foods—but with the limited vocabulary that I had at such a young age, it was the best I could do.

I have always struggled explaining exactly why I am a vegetarian. At nearly every meal someone ...

School Makerspaces: Growing Farmers, Gardeners, and Cooks

When my son took his preschool application intelligence test (yes, seriously), the test administrator said, “He cooks with you, so he will likely score higher than other children.”

Turns out, intelligence tests incorporate examples of everyday objects that many kids no longer see—whisks, measuring cups, loose buttons, sewing needles, spools of thread. Necessary items for tasks done by hand.

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Considering Grace: The Value of Saying Thank You

I was raised Roman Catholic, which means that I was raised in a family that said grace.

Most nights of my childhood, my parents and my siblings and I sat down to dinner together, and my father said the Catholic version of the prayer before meals: “Bless us, Oh Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord, Amen.”

Once I left home, though, saying grace dropped out of my life. For years it wasn’t something I practiced, or even thought about; it was a relic I was content to leave behind, along with martyred saints and fish on Fridays.

Lately, though, ...

EAT: (Almost) Everything You Wanted to Know About Food

“Food is a very sensual act; it is the only way to get into someone’s body without actually touching them.”—Padma Lakshmi

Wondering whether food television can educate without putting people to sleep? Lakshmi’s words from National Geographic Channel’s miniseries “EAT: The Story of Food” should retire any doubt. Her quote reflects EAT’s careful marriage food’s primal biological power with its civilizing intellectual force. (more…)

Recipe: Browned Butter Maple Pumpkin Bread

It’s true. This time of year is all about pumpkin spice everything.

I’m not quite sure what it is about the bloated, orange gourd. There are so many other varieties of squash out there. Why we are not carving butternut squashes and slapping them into lattes and yogurt, I’m not sure. What is it about pumpkin?

(more…)

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