Hello, readers. I’m sorry for the hiatus — I’ve been working all sorts of odd hours the past two weeks, so sleep has recently taken priority over research. My plan is to have a post up this weekend! In the meantime, though, some of my friends and family have started to send me interesting links about food, so I thought it might be fun for me to share some things I’ve been reading/learning this week about food, history, and everything in between. Here we go:
“Don’t let the apron deceive you: Bakers are mad scientists.”
Speaking of baking chemistry, if you’ve ever wondered why red velvet cakes are red, i09 credits it to science. Speaking of food color, 17th century fraud helped spur on bright orange cheese. And speaking of cheese, macaroni and cheese used to be the food of royalty, so even if we’ll never be royals (royals), you can still pretend to be one as you eat your Kraft.
“For longtime food obsessives, today’s foodie is like the person who just discovered the band that you’ve been loving since the ’90s, and who tells everyone, with no sense of self-awareness, how great this new band is.” So says Gabrielle Gershenson in First We Feast’s “State of the Union: What does the word ‘foodie’ mean in 2013?“, a snarky but interesting collection of opinions from food experts.
“Too much of too little” is a great read from the Washington Post about how the “food stamp diet” leaves people both hungry and obese. An excerpt that sums up the problem pretty nicely:
“Hidalgo County has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation . . . which has led almost 40 percent of residents to enroll in the food-stamp program . . . which means a widespread reliance on cheap, processed foods . . . which results in rates of diabetes and obesity that double the national average . . . which fuels the country’s highest per-capita spending on health care.
This is what El Futuro looks like in the Rio Grande Valley: The country’s hungriest region is also its most overweight, with 38.5 percent of the people obese. For one of the first times anywhere in the United States, children in South Texas have a projected life span that is a few years shorter than that of their parents.
It is a crisis at the heart of the Washington debate over food stamps, which now help support nearly 1 in 7 Americans. Has the massive growth of a government feeding program solved a problem, or created one? Is it enough for the government to help people buy food, or should it go further by also telling them what to eat?”
But while the article shows children from poor families are more likely to be overweight or obese, the Pew Research Center found that obesity and poverty don’t always go hand-in-hand in adulthood. Any thoughts on that?
I’ve been reading “Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat” on and off for the past few weeks, as time allows. Bee Wilson’s writing is quite lovely and conversational, making even ruminations on the history of spoons sound interesting:
“Spoons hold up a mirror to the surrounding culture precisely because they are so universal. There are fork cultures and there are chopstick cultures; but all the peoples of the world use spoons. The particular form they take is therefore very revealing: a pretty Chinese porcelain blue-and-white spoon for wonton soup is part of an entirely different culture of eating than a Russian spoon filled with sticky preserves or the lade-like wooden spoons used in poor European households to eat soup from a communal pot, passed from mouth to mouth.”
If you don’t have time to curl up with the whole book, the New Yorker highlighted some of its historical gems in an article about it.
So, what have you learned this week? Anything interesting?