Your Shot: Ripe Tomatoes for Summer’s End

For food lovers, summer brings a bounty of luscious fruits and vegetables: peaches, plums, zucchini, okra, watermelons … the list goes on. But perhaps no hot-weather fruit is more beloved than the tomato (and yes, it is indeed a fruit—though it is generally considered a vegetable for culinary and statistical purposes).

Ripe, juicy tomatoes, with their rainbow colors and sometimes bizarre, bulbous shapes, steal the show at the summer farmers market. And as the season wanes, tomato fans are in a mad rush to enjoy these savory-sweet beauties before they’re gone (because every tomato lover knows out-of-season tomatoes are a pale comparison to their summer cousins).

But the tomato ...

“Making Groceries” in a New Orleans Food Desert

What if you had to take three city buses on a half-day round trip to buy groceries? Burnell Cotlon’s neighborhood, New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward, was in just that situation.

Cotlon was born and raised in the L9, as it’s called, and except for a stint with the U.S. Army in Germany, he lived there his whole life. After Hurricane Katrina, he realized his neighborhood was a food desert—there were no grocery stores, and chains didn’t think they could make enough profits to move in. So he decided he was going to build an oasis.

Describing himself as “an average guy with above average dreams,” Cotlon put his life savings ...

A Calif. Olive Oil Maker Thrives, Despite the Drought

California is in the middle of a historic drought, but nearly half a million olive trees are thriving in the state. What’s more, the trees have been planted on land previously used to grow crops that required thousands of gallons of water.

The olives are being grown by California Olive Ranch (COR), which manages over 14,000 acres across Northern California. CEO Gregg Kelley says before olives, much of the land was being used for unsustainable agriculture. An example of that—the west side of the Sacramento Valley was previously planted with rice. “That land is in a very marginal water district,” Kelley says. Rice prefers to grow in clay soil ...

Europe’s Olive Trees Are Dying. Here’s Why You Should Care

Olive oil, staple of the much-ballyhooed Mediterranean diet, is about to get a little more expensive. 

The world’s top producers, Spain and Italy, have faced a series of plagues that led one Italian newspaper to refer to 2014 as “the black year of Italian oil.” Ninety-five percent of the world’s olive trees are in the Mediterranean. Italy’s woes have knocked it down to third place in production, behind Spain and Tunisia, but it remains the world’s largest olive oil exporter. (A quirk in Italian labeling laws allows Italy to ...

Bakery Bolsters a Long-Neglected Corner of New Orleans

Can food evoke both tradition and bestow an identity upon a new New Orleans neighborhood, rising not from ashes but from asphalt parking lots?

That’s a lot of pressure to put on buttermilk honey biscuits, but Willa Jean, a bakery and café opened just a few steamy weeks ago (August 6) in the northern reaches of the Crescent City’s Central Business District (CBD), is aiming to try.  New Orleans’ restaurant emperor, chef John Besh, and his executive pastry chefs Kelly Fields and Lisa White, have conspired to bring back the notion of the corner bakery to a corner that, two years ago, didn’t even exist. But it’s so much more than a bakery.

The area ...

Your Shot: The Spread of the Supermarket

Once upon a time, American women went to the butcher, the baker, and the grocer to gather ingredients for supper. And the shops weren't necessarily all on the same street. And the women had to be waited on one by one. The whole process took hours.

Then around 1916, a Piggly Wiggly opened in Memphis, Tennessee, on the premise that customers would save money if they wandered the aisles and filled their baskets themselves. By 1930, Andrew Cullen opened the first true supermarket in Queens, New York, offering low prices to a nation gripped by the Great Depression. The concept launched a whole new business of food packaging and marketing.

This new market concept certainly liberated women from spending all day food shopping. And ...

Big Ideas at World Expo: Air-Cleaning Concrete, Food That Orders Itself

In Italian, it's generally an insult to be called "bacchettone," a word for someone who is fanatically old-fashioned to the point of being closed-minded.

I think it's a little bacchettone to criticize the World Expo (a.k.a. World’s Fair) for being filtered, because the pavilions are all sponsored and paid for by countries or corporations. To some extent, of course, everyone is putting their best faces on. But the beauty of Expo lies in the ability to get a sense of the world in one place, gathered this year over food as we did in the past around cooking fires. Then too, we told stories of our pasts, presents, ...

Humane Animal Treatment Fields a New Generation

While the headlines and gotcha videos focus on the inhumane treatment of animals, Temple Grandin has focused her career on improving treatment for cattle in factories. But there are a slew of other experts advancing animal welfare on the range and beyond.

“Horse whisperers” like Buck Brannaman practice a non-violent form of training called natural horsemanship. Instead of treating a horse abusively, cowboys use gentle exercises that mimic how horses interact with each other in a herd. A naturally-trained horse won’t even buck when it carries a saddle and rider for the first time.

Treating horses gently became a gateway ...

Temple Grandin, Killing Them Softly at Slaughterhouses for 30 Years

For nearly three decades, Temple Grandin has been leading the charge for animal welfare reform in the cattle industry from the inside out. I wanted to know exactly how she did it, and why she kept going in a world that didn't always appreciate her. This is part one of a two-part look at the state of farm animal welfare.

First of all, there’s no reason to tippy toe around it: Burger and steak are made of cow. More likely, they are made of steer, because males are expendable (sorry, guys.) And that steer was alive for two years. During its lifetime, it met cowboys, ranchers, veterinarians, truck ...

Georgia Chef Takes Food From Farm to Plane and Beyond

Linton Hopkins—restauranteur, entrepreneur, much-lauded chef—is sitting at a quiet back table in his flagship Atlanta restaurant, eyeing a salad. And fretting.

The salad is small, chunky and colorful: cubes of cucumber and tomato, crisp shards of olive bread, a swath of aioli underneath, a drizzle of dark vinegar and grass-green olive oil. It is a modern take on a panzanella, an Italian peasant dish that uses the juices of ripe summer tomatoes to revive stale bread.

If he were making it in his restaurant kitchen and serving it to his restaurant customers, Hopkins could control the dish exactly, prepping the panzanella just far enough ahead to deliver it at the ...

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