Making Chicken, Stew, or Stir-Fry? There’s a Pot for That

Every kitchen is full of tools taken for granted—tongs, peelers, spatulas, you name it. But perhaps no kitchen workhorse is as essential as humble pots and pans.

Cooking vessels are as essential to our diets as the foods that go into them—after all, those hot chicken pieces and sustainable chickpeas aren’t worth a hill of heirloom beans without a pan to cook them in. Yet with all their dings and scratches, stockpots and woks will never be the stars of the show.

Not that cooks don’t revere their pots and pans, mind you. Every home cook can pull out their favorite, and if it’s been in the family ...

Raising a Barnyard in the Living Room

Humans have looked at animals as dinner since, well, we became humans. And before the grocery store separated us from what our food actually looks like, hunting was the primary method for getting a boar or fowl from the forest to the spit or chopping block.

But around 15,000 years ago, humans began the process of raising certain creatures to stay close, starting with canines, who were domesticated to aid in hunting down the other, still-wild meat sources. Domestication of animals like pigs, goats, and sheep soon followed, and that naturally made it much easier to attain diets richer in animals proteins, from meat to animal ...

All Hail Asparagus, First Spear of Spring

With the arrival of April, farmers markets come alive again after the winter doldrums in the Northern Hemisphere. For many of us, that means the return of asparagus spears—primarily slim and green in North America, and chunky and white in Europe. (As for white asparagus, it's not actually a different plant. Unlike the green spears, which grow in the sun, the white version is shielded from sunlight as it grows to prevent photosynthesis.)

It seems we often end up talking about plants that aren’t grown from seed in these photo gallery posts, like apples (grafting), and bananas (cloning). While asparagus can be cultivated from seed, doing so means you'll wait an ...

The Simple, Edible Pleasures of Pennsylvania Dutch Country

Travel down the rural backroads of Ohio, Indiana, or Pennsylvania, and you're likely to pass a horse-drawn buggy or see a team of horses pulling a plow through a field. Both are sure signs that you're in Pennsylvania Dutch country, also frequently referred to as Amish country.

But first, let's clear up some misconceptions about the people who live there: Pennsylvania Dutch, Amish, and Mennonite aren't interchangeable terms. "Pennsylvania Dutch" refers to the descendants of German-speaking settlers from Europe who settled in the U.S., mainly in the 18th century. While that includes many Amish people, not all Pennsylvania Dutch are Amish. Some are Mennonite, Brethren, Lutheran, or adherents of ...

5 Cool Ways Food Waste Is Getting Upcycled

Readers of The Plate are no strangers to the colossal problems of food waste and food loss: the countless crates of imperfect, but perfectly edible, produce dumped at the U.S.-Mexico border; the massive amount of food purchased by restaurants that is never served; the meats and produce that go to waste due to lack of proper cooling in many parts of the world, and the forgotten items moldering in countless refrigerators in others.

Across the globe, there are efforts large (the new Rockefeller Foundation initiative) and small (communities that have enlisted cab drivers to transport restaurant excess to the hungry) designed to tackle ...

Seeking Sustainable Seafood? Find a Good Fishmonger

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, it was easy to take fresh seafood for granted. The bounty seemed endless: salmon, flounder, rockfish, shrimp, mussels, oysters ... And not only did we regularly eat fresh-caught Dungeness crab; my dad caught it himself, walking through sea grass at the crack of dawn decked out in rubber waders.

Most of the rest of the delicious fresh seafood we enjoyed—salmon, clams, prawns—we acquired with the help of a middleman: the fishmonger. It seemed that whatever you wanted for dinner, the fish market folks could pull  it off ice, fillet it, weigh it, and wrap it in butcher paper in ...

What’s Behind That Box of Valentine’s Chocolates?

Valentine’s Day is on the way, and with it—in many parts of the world, at least—a veritable explosion of pink and red hearts, roses, treacly greeting cards and…chocolate! Lots of chocolate. Like, 58 million pounds worth, eaten in just the U.S. alone during Valentine's week.

(By the way, we don’t know definitively how chocolate became a Valentine’s Day obsession, but we did share some fun theories in “Why We Want Chocolate for Valentine’s Day.”)

But we don't save up our chocolate cravings for just one holiday. Given how ubiquitous chocolate is all year round, you might think it’s relatively easy to make. But readers of The Plate know that ...

How the World’s Butcher Shops Link Farm to Plate

Even the the most avid meat eaters would agree: animal butchery isn’t pretty. It’s bloody, it’s messy, and it requires confronting death—not to mention the ecological and potential health effects of a meat-heavy diet.

Watching a butcher in action also means considering our relationship with other living, breathing things. Fewer than five percent of Americans call themselves vegetarian or vegan, but many meat eaters don’t necessarily want to look deep into a lamb's eyes before tearing into a juicy chop.

But no matter how one feels about non-vegetarian diets, the majority of the world’s people either consume meat or aspire to. That means animal slaughter and butchery—whether in ...

Yes, We May Have No (Cavendish) Bananas

Around the world, millions of people start their day with a banana—in cereal or porridge; as fritters; or blended into a smoothie or licuado. If you're really lucky, you might end your day with one, too, fried in hot oil, cooked into custard, or topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

And bananas aren't just treats. In many parts of the world, bananas are a primary source of  nutrition. But the fact is, in places where bananas arrive on container ships, they're cheap, widely available, and often taken for granted.

But perhaps not for long. Nearly all the world's bananas produced for export are of a single variety, the Cavendish, and its days may be ...

For a Zesty 2016, Start With the Spice Rack

As 2015 came to a close, people across the globe feasted on culinary delights fragrant with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and ginger. (You can read about the history of gingerbread, about German aachener printen, and feast on a gallery of holiday sweets.)

But as billions of people in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America can tell you, if most of your annual spice intake happens in November and December, you’re missing out.

Sure, Westerners have been seasoning their foods with spices for centuries—dishes flavored with saffron and nutmeg are sprinkled throughout Shakespeare’s works, nutmeg has long been a key element ...

Show More Stories