Plant Heirloom Garlic Now, Reap Rewards in the Spring

It’s bulb season. About this time of year, people punch holes in the ground and plop in bulbs that sleep all winter, shooting up in the spring. Tiny green blub shoots poking up from the dirt are one of the first and most anticipated signs of the new season in some parts of the world. One bulb has been forgotten by most people in October’s planting frenzy, and it’s surely the tastiest: garlic.

By Italian tradition (also known as being smacked upside the head by a respected elder if you don’t do it), garlic is to be planted on the evening of October’s full moon. This year, it’s October ...

The Brown Revolution: Why Healthy Soil Means Healthy People

The Brown Revolution is happening. If the last time you talked about soil was to call something as boring as dirt, heed what Leonardo da Vinci said: “We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than we know about the soil underfoot.” That was 500 years ago and soil experts agree that it’s still true today.

What we do know is that soil is complicated. One teaspoon of soil has more microorganisms than there are humans on earth, according to George Siemon, a founding farmer of the Organic Valley Cooperative. He spoke last week in Washington, D.C. at Save Our Soils, a celebration of organic ...

What’s the Fuss? It’s Just Mayo

A fundamental truth about revolutions: Some stand to benefit a lot, many in the status quo risk losing it all.

Josh Tetrick, Hampton Creek’s dynamic CEO, says his Silicon Valley company will revolutionize the food system by replacing resource-sucking eggs with the company’s plant-based, inexpensive alternatives. Hampton Creek’s ability to disrupt the egg market became clear to many when its Just Mayo spread started selling at stores from Dollar Tree to Safeway to Whole Foods—an achievement not many products can claim.

Last year, Unilever, maker of Hellmann’s mayonnaise, dropped a lawsuit attempting to force Just Mayo to change its name, claiming that federal law requires mayonnaise to ...

Some Like it Raw: The State of Unpasteurized Cheese in the U.S.

Ever wonder why some cheese tastes so much better in Europe? The view of the Eiffel Tower helps, but a lot of the time, it’s because fromage from across the pond is made from unpasteurized milk—milk straight from the animal, unheated before consumption. Europeans use this “raw milk” as the main ingredient to make much of their fresh soft cheeses, a practice forbidden in the U.S. But that may soon change.

In America, by law, all cheese regulated by the FDA (that is, all cheese that is transported across state lines) must either be made from pasteurized (heated) milk or aged at least 60 days. The rule has ...

Michaelmas: The Day the Devil Spit on Your Blackberries

It’s time to eat as many blackberries as you can find and stuff in a pie. After September 29, those celebrating the feast of Michaelmas warn you not to eat them.

On the list of forgotten holidays, Michaelmas falls somewhere below Arbor Day and the winter solstice. But just as American Popemania is rousing hoardes of non-Catholics, Michaelmas affects the secular world. A religious holiday celebrated by some Christian churches, it is a centuries-old event with a peculiar food history.

In medieval England, farmers used Michaelmas as a way to delineate the changing of the seasons—made sense, as it fell around the change of seasons. Michaelmas was a ...

5 Thoughts From Pope Francis on Feeding the World

Even though my suggested hashtag for the Pope’s visit to Washington, #TheHolyDSee, is sadly not in heavy rotation, I’m still excited for his arrival Tuesday. And not because of the specialty beers or the “Pope Specials” at restaurants whose reach doesn’t extend beyond low-hanging fruit.

I'm excited because Pope Francis I's relationship to food goes far beyond "Popecorn" sold in little paper hats to people lined up along his motorcade route. He has spoken publicly and repeatedly about healthy food access and the “scandal” of hunger and malnutrition (which are different things—people can be obese and malnourished). It should not come as a surprise that a Christian leader would ...

The First State Fair Marijuana-Growing Contest Could Boost Urban Farming

This past weekend history was made in Washington, D.C., but not with peace treaties or war declarations. On September 12 the DC State Fair hosted America’s first-ever state fair marijuana growing competition, solidifying Washington’s place as marijuana-policy innovator; and as an urban-agriculture and sharing-economy capital.

The Best Bud competition was a small part of the festivities, which also featured a pet parade and yoga instruction. But it brought out “people from all walks of life—I had no idea—who grow marijuana in Washington,” according to DC State Fair volunteer spokesperson Anna Tauzin.

Set aside the fact that D.C. is not a state, but a federal district; the ...

Cooking on a Yacht: Between Deviled Eggs and the Deep Blue Sea

It’s September, and right around now photos of beautiful people on summer vacation start popping up in supermarket-checkout magazines I pretend not to read. A handful of shots are invariably celebrities on megayachts, jumping from the top level into the deep blue sea or shooting from the water on motorized jet toys.

Although it may not look like it, people who rent those boats (a.k.a. “chartering”) for personal use have to eat. Food on the water occupies most waking thoughts of Nate Post, a 28-year-old chef. He works on Broadwater, a 163-foot Feadship with five guest bedrooms (plus crew quarters), seven baths, and lots of hungry ...

Corsica: Island of Legally-Protected, Exceptional Charcuterie

If to the victor go the spoils, then to the vanquished go the cuisine.

When the Roman philosopher Seneca was banished to live in exile two millennia ago, he was sent to Corsica, a mountainous island with rugged beaches surrounded by the clear Mediterranean Sea off the coasts of France and Italy. There are worse fates.

Just don’t call it France. Although the island is officially part of that country, Corsicans are fiercely independent, with graffiti of “This is not France” scrawled frequently in Corsu, the ancient Tuscan dialect that many residents still speak. Perhaps because of that spirit, most Corsican foods—singular and delicious beyond belief—rarely leave the island 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, ...

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