Raise the Roof: Urban Farms Expand Up, In, and Around

Rooftop farms have sprung up so quickly in American cities over the past decade that even the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t know precisely how many exist.

Chicago is home to many, and New York City is a hotbed, of course, where places like Brooklyn’s Eagle Street Rooftop Farm (pictured above) provide fresh produce to neighborhood markets, and educational and volunteer opportunities for people itching to flex their green thumbs.

Few could argue that these spots have any downsides. They provide a pop of green to the concrete landscapes that surround them, and they encourage healthy eating. But as nice as community-building and locally sourced kale are, does gardening inside city ...

How Milk Goes Down Around the World

Got milk? If so, you also may get bloating, gas, or stomach pain after you drink a glass of it. That’s because most of the world’s adults—an estimated 68 percent—aren’t able to digest it.

Their condition is commonly called lactose intolerance. It stems from a lack of lactase, an enzyme that breaks down the milk sugar lactose. Lactase is present in young children but weakens in most people after weaning, says evolutionary geneticist Pascale Gerbault of University College London.

The enzyme continues to be produced, a trait scientists call lactase persistence, only in small populations of adults around the globe.

Though what sparked the digestion divide is uncertain, Gerbault says, one pattern ...

Tools: 6 Things to Know About Chopsticks

Here in the U.S., we love our sushi rolls, ramen, and carryout Chinese. This means, of course, that we’re pretty familiar with chopsticks—if not totally adept at using them. But beyond the knack they have for grasping just the right bite of tofu, or the satisfying “snap” a fresh wooden pair makes when pulled apart, how much can any of us really say about these ancient Asian implements? Read on, and you’ll have plenty to tell your friends over your next plate of dumplings. (more…)

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 ...

For Chinese New Year, Go for the Goat

The Chinese New Year is here, and that’s a guarantee for plenty of partying, fireworks, and celebratory food. What’s not quite as certain, however, is exactly which animal is being welcomed with all this revelry. That’s because the Mandarin word for this year’s creature is yang, which in English can translate to goat, sheep, or ram. We food lovers here at The Plate are on team goat. (more…)

Chef Dan Barber Says Consider the Clover

"Farm to Table" is so 2009.

According to a pioneer of that widely popular movement, Dan Barber, a better slogan for today might be "Seed to Table." Barber is executive chef of Blue Hill restaurant in Manhattan and Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant in upstate New York. He's known for his thought-provoking TED talks and manifesto-like book, The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food. Among his latest appeals? Start listening to the land, eating more millet, and Instagramming pictures of clover.

We had a chance to sit down with Barber and ask him about millet and other things on his mind. Our conversation was edited for ...

Teresa Ocampo: The “Julia Child of Peru”

Peru gave the world potatoes. It also gave us ceviche, quinoa, and pisco, a high-octane brandy made from grapes.

Tinged with Incan influences as well as Spanish, Chinese, and Italian, Peruvian food reflects the Andean country’s multicultural past. It reflects the landscape too—mountains, coast, desert, and rain forest—and, because of this diversity, Peru is gaining recognition as the home of one of the world’s most important cuisines.

This comes as no surprise to a woman named Teresa Ocampo. A native of Cusco now in her 80s, Ocampo has spent her life making Peruvian food accessible to countless home cooks. She is a culinary icon in her country, so beloved ...

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