Which Spices are the Nicest for 2016

Move over, hot sauce.

With the proliferation of food trucks and influx of immigrants from everywhere, American palates are finally getting more sophisticated. Even my grandma knows about Sriracha, smoked paprika, and fennel pollen by now.

And since we’re supposed to be eating less sugar, fat, and salt, we are always searching for ways to replace those ingredients with something healthier that still tastes good.

So we asked husband and wife team Ivan Fitzgerald and Monica Grover of Bazaar Spices in Washington, D.C. for a few recommendations on what seasonings are going to be hot in 2016. Here are their predictions.

Aji Amarillo. The appetite for heat in America is, quite ...

On Beyond Orange: Seeking Out New Citrus Varieties

While thousands of juice jingles have been written about the orange, and many of us can't imagine breakfast without it, it may be time to branch out.

Originally from China, everyone from St. Augustine's first Spanish settlers to modern agricultural speculators from northern states planted orange trees in Florida, and much of the time, they thrived, overcoming the occasional frost and pest.

As the Tampa Bay Times puts it, "The orange is so iconic and entwined in the Florida dream that this agricultural product is considered part of the 'natural' landscape. After all, Florida boasts an Orange County and Citrus County, and towns named Orange City, Orange Park and Orange Springs. The orange ...

What’s in America’s New Dietary Guidelines—and What’s Not

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published in final form today, are less likely to be remembered for what they say than for what they don’t say.

As we’ve reported, bitter battles have been fought over whether the guidelines should specifically recommend less red meat (there's a general nod toward less meat) or acknowledge the impact of food production on the environment, which was stripped out of earlier drafts.

But what the guidelines do say—eat more vegetables, eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods, and limit sugar and salt for a healthier life—should not be swept aside in the uproar over what got left out.

“By focusing on small shifts ...

Good Luck With That: A New Year’s Food Gallery

Superstitions, signs, and omens surround birth, death, and marriage in every culture, but they really get amped up when we turn over the calendar to start a new year.

Naturally, many of the rituals to ward off bad times include eating certain foods. Americans may eat greens that look vaguely like paper money to ensure a prosperous year ahead, and the Japanese may eat buckwheat noodles, which are easily cut, to symbolize a break with the past. Pork is a favorite good-luck dish in many societies, because the animal roots forward when looking for food; it doesn't scratch the ground in a backwards motion, as chickens do.

So whatever food rituals you choose to help ring in 2016, may ...

The 5 Cookbooks of 2015 That Will Transport You

A great book should take you somewhere, and a great cookbook is no exception.

It was a tough job, but I whittled down my 2015 cookbook collection (OK, hoarder’s pile) to five favorites. If you’ve got a foodie on your Christmas list, or you’re looking for your own escape from the festivities, this list may come in handy.

The Nordic Cookbook, by Magnus Nilsson. Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Finland don’t actually enjoy being lumped together as the “Nordic countries,” Nilsson says. Each has its own food and traditions­—Icelandic rotten shark, anyone? How about Finnish beetroot soup? But there are some striking similarities. For example, Icelanders, Finns, Danes, and Swedes ...

Making the Link Between Agriculture, Hunger, and Climate

The CGIAR Consortium may be the biggest international agriculture force you’ve never heard of. It’s publicly funded to the tune of about $1 billion U.S. annually, and plays a major role in agriculture research and funding programs to end hunger, improve nutrition, and preserve the planet.

As the climate conference COP21 kicked off in Paris last week, I had a chance to catch up with CGIAR CEO Frank Rijsberman to talk about why he thinks agriculture needs a bigger forum in Paris and how CGIAR is reforming itself for a brave new world. Our chat has been edited for length and clarity.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with ...

Make Meatless Monday About Inspiration, Not Deprivation

As we go into this week with all eyes on Paris for the big climate change conference, COP-21, we're thinking about how the food we consume impacts the environment. You've read the statistics about how agricultural production uses 30 percent of the world's energy and produces 22 percent of greenhouse gasses. Yet nearly every nation, when they get enough money, seems to want to consume more meat (see Carnivore's Dilemma). And, then there's the related health problems associated with eating too much animal fat.

To address this, back in 2003, a Madison Avenue marketer straight out of Mad Men named Sid Lerner and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health started

To Bring People Together to Fix Global Challenges, Try Food

Some 749 million people worldwide go hungry every night, and almost two billion are overweight or obese. Our food system contributes substantially to greenhouse gas emissions. We overuse antibiotics.

It can be pretty depressing on this planet sometimes, when you think about it.

But Alessandro Demaio, a 30-year-old Australian whose medical work has taken him from Cambodia to Copenhagen, thinks we can solve these outsized challenges by connecting people through food and fun. He's been a global health fellow at Harvard and in 2013 co-founded NCDFREE, a worldwide social movement for global health. Now he's the mastermind behind festival21: a free, all-day celebration and festival on rethinking the future through food in Melbourne ...

The Taste of Food Goes Far Beyond the Tongue

The science of taste is hard to illustrate, as National Geographic producer Kathryn Carlson found out recently. Assigned to produce a video to accompany the Science of Delicious article December's issue of National Geographic magazine, she flew to England to meet with the man whom many regard as the godfather of the neurogastronomy movement, Oxford psychologist Charles Spence.

Spence heads up the Crossmodal Research Lab, where he and his team study how the senses work together to create perception. And taste is heavily reliant on more than just the tongue. "Seventy-five to 95 percent of what we call taste is really smell," he says.

While their discussion was fruitful, Carlson felt ...

By Offering Her Indian Dishes to Others, She Feels Closer to Home

When an Indian mother moves to Queens, New York with her young family, she thinks America is a strange place. People are disconnected. Things move too fast. She nearly has a nervous breakdown.

But that woman, Harpreet Sohal, finds that by cooking traditional Indian meals for other displaced people like her, she could recreate the feeling of home for herself. Now Sohal's whole family pitches in: Her sister preps food, her daughter labels it, and her husband delivers it.

National Geographic Producer Rachel Link chose this film about Sohal by Brooklyn-based Claire Molloy for Geographic's Short Film Showcase. "I really love that food is so integral to this woman's life," Link says. "She's been able to build a business ...

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