Clean Your Plate: Getting a Handle on Food Waste

The food-saving ideas of the past may not be so quaint, considering that we waste about 30 percent of the food we produce on this planet.

The Clean Plate Club is a suspiciously elusive organization once cited by mothers urging unhappy kids to spoon up their pea soup or polish off their broccoli. And it owes its existence to World War I.

In 1917, the government, worried about wartime food shortages, passed the Food and Fuel Control Act, giving President Woodrow Wilson the power to “regulate the distribution, export, import, purchase and storage of food.” Wilson used his new mandate to create the U.S. Food Administration under the direction of Herbert Hoover, ...

Ancient Alcoholic Drink’s Unusual Starter: Human Spit

You never forget your first fermented spit drink.

In the rainforest of Peru, locals chew yuca and spit the masticated root into jars for fermentation. The resulting alcoholic beverage is a local staple called masato, and a few weeks ago, I was offered my first cup.

The masato smelled like pickle juice spiced with cloves. Refusing a drink is social suicide in Amazonia, so I smiled and took a pathetic, thimble-sized sip. It tasted fruity, like sherry. Then I knocked back a more confident gulp, probing the murky drink with my tongue for any hint of saliva. Instead I came away with a cedar aftertaste. The jungle beverage was shockingly refreshing.

Masato, only one of its ...

Gardening in Space Gets Ready for Lift-Off

Feeding space colonoists farm-fresh produce is one step closer to reality, now that NASA's Veg-01 experiment results are in from the International Space Station, showing resounding success with red lettuce. Locavore astronauts are readying for their second space-farm-to-fork mission.

Last month 100 finalists were named out of 200,000 applicants to be Earth’s first inhabitants of Mars when the one-way ship launches for the red planet just ten years from now. It’s one of those things you keep hearing about but you think will never happen, like self-driving cars (now with bumpers on the outside, to protect pedestrians, yikes) or your 40th birthday. But it’s almost here, and we ...

Tequila’s Savior May Be the ‘Bat Man’ of Mexico

For the last 20 years, scientist Rodrigo Medellin has worked to protect a particular endangered species of bat that just might help protect something else in danger – your tequila.

Growing up in Mexico City, Medellin always knew he wasn’t like other children. His first word was “flamingo.” He kept vampire bats in his bathroom. And don’t tell his kids, but he almost flunked out of junior high because he spent so much time with animals.

“There was a deformity in my brain,” he tells The Plate on a recent visit to Washington, D.C. to promote a BBC documentary about his work called “The Bat Man of Mexico.”

Tools: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Spatulas

I’m a woman who likes order. This may be why cooking appeals to me. I enjoy what the French call mise en place—the extremely satisfying process of prepping ingredients and arranging them into neat piles on a board.

Call me a weirdo (it wouldn’t be the first time) but even a perfectly folded napkin or a tightly lidded pot can bring me a certain amount of joy.

You know what else brings me joy? Spatulas. They are every neat cook’s dream. A spatula can help you flip a piece of sautéing chicken without tearing the slightest bit of skin. It makes quick, clean work of scraping batter or sauce from ...

The Filipino Food Wave Is Coming

Three years ago, T.V. chef Andrew Zimmern proclaimed Filipino food to be the next big thing–but how come it hasn't really happened yet?

While Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants can be found in any respectable-sized U.S. city and many random shopping malls in the suburbs, it’s just not the case with Filipino food. It's a little hard to pin down something that originates from somewhere among 7,100 islands hugging a low corner of the South China Sea known as the Philippines. One challenge is, it's very hard to describe.

Chef Yana Gilbuena is trying. She has a wide smile and a half-shaved head topped by spiky blonde or green hair, depending on ...

Caffeine: The Buzz That Keeps Us Coming Back

March is Caffeine Awareness Month, and - depending on what and who you read – it’s either time to up your coffee intake or drop it altogether in favor of fruit smoothies or herbal tea.

Caffeine – though certainly not the most flashy - is possibly the world’s most popular psychoactive drug. People have been hooked on it for at least 5,000 years, ever since the legendary Chinese emperor Shen Nung - also known as the “Divine Farmer” – discovered naturally caffeinated tea.

The ancient Mexicans were getting a caffeine buzz from cacao at least 3,500 years ago, according to Murray Carpenter’s comprehensive Caffeinated; and coffee has been with ...

As Appetite for Meat Grows, Farm Antibiotics Use Will Soar

Recently, it looked like antibiotic use in agriculture in the United States was trending down–the result of decades of pressure by consumers on companies such as McDonald's and Perdue Farms. But a new analysis by academics who study antibiotic use predicts that the drugs may not actually be going away. They might just be relocating.

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Ramanan Laxminarayan of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP) in Washington, D.C. and colleagues predict that global use of agricultural antibiotics will rise by two-thirds by the year 2030—and that use in emerging economies such as China and India will double.

The authors, who hail ...

Lembas and Butterbeer: Your Favorite Fictional Food

The results of our  fictional food survey are in, and it’s clear that the place we’d all most like to picnic is J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

Earlier this month, we shared a series of posts on food and literature, including  Our Books, Ourselves: What Fictional Food Says About Us and Want to Know an Author? Read Her Menu, where we waxed poetic about everything from Charles Dickens’ roast goose  to young Francie Nolan’s stale bread in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Then we asked you to tell us your favorites. Hands down, most of you went with hobbits and friends.

From the

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