Food

Courtesy of Cecilia Polanco

Cecilia Polanco’s parents did not dream of their daughter owning a food truck when they emigrated from El Salvador to the United States in the early 1980s. Their expectation was that she would get a respectable profession after college, or even better, a career, like her older sisters who work in law and insurance.

Courtesy of Jon Steinman

The food system is broken and grocery stores are a big part of the problem, according to author Jon Steinman. Steinman spent years researching the money and health and environmental impact of our grocery system, which is dominated by large food conglomerates.

This opinion piece is written by sociologists Sarah Bowen of North Carolina State University, Sinikka Elliott of the University of British Columbia and Joslyn Brenton of Ithaca College. They are the co-authors of Pressure Cooker: Why Home Cooking Won't Solve Our Problems and What We Can Do About It.

family sitting around the dinner table
pixabay

For years health experts have been touting the benefits of sitting down at the dinner table for a family meal. The tradition of a big Sunday dinner after church is not uncommon in the South, but not many people meditate on all of the labor that goes into making a home cooked meal possible.

A photo of Ruth Reichl
Michael Singer / Courtesy of Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl’s first experience with Gourmet magazine was in a dusty bookstore when she was 8 years old. She found an old issue that captivated her and inspired her to try cooking at home. Those early experiences with food later inspired a career.

arbyreed via flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/19779889@N00/28347664145

The Department of Agriculture has put forward new rules that would make it more difficult for some working-age adults to access SNAP food benefits. The suggested rule change comes after a failed effort by House lawmakers to tighten work requirements through the farm bill. Currently, states have flexibility to waive work requirements for some recipients depending on factors including the state’s unemployment rate. The new USDA rule would strip states of that general waiver option.

Elyse Ribbons / WUNC

Vansana Nolintha was sent from Laos to live in the United States when he was just 12 years old. His parents wanted a better life for him and his sister Vanvisa who soon followed her brother to Greensboro, North Carolina. There were major hurdles right from the start. 

Photo of Edna Lewis smiling
John T. Hill

Edna Lewis changed the perception of Southern food in American culture with her cookbook, “The Taste of Country Cooking” (Knopf/1976). She touted the use of fresh, local ingredients before the farm-to-table movement began. But many people know very little about the chef and cookbook author, despite her many contributions to food culture.

Photo of Chef Meherwan Irani
Molly Millroy

Asheville-based chef Meherwan Irani has been nominated for three James Beard Awards and co-founded a restaurant group with his wife, but he has no formal culinary training. He started cooking Indian food as a hobby born out of frustration with the lack of good Indian food options in the United States. With guidance from his mother, Irani recreated his favorite childhood foods in his own kitchen.

photo of a student with a petri dish
courtesy of Paul Dawson

The mere mention of the five second rule conjures up images of all the kernels of popcorn, slices of pizza, and peanut M&Ms that hit the floor without warning. And then there is the mental debate that followed: Is it safe to eat? How dirty is this floor? Is there any hair on it? But it’s the last slice!

Creative Commons / pxhere

Kitchens in America’s top-rated restaurants have long been a boys club in which men hold the positions of power and women have to play by their rules, even when they cross the line. However, the reaction to allegations against top chefs and media darlings like Mario Batali show that the tides may be turning as the #MeToo movement enters the kitchen.

Courtesy of Georgann Eubanks

Being able to walk into a supermarket and pick up a carton of strawberries in January makes it easy to believe that all food should be available at all times. 

Eat Your Feelings: How Hunger Becomes ‘Hanger’

Jul 6, 2018
Petras Gagilas/Flickr Creative Commons

Plenty of people blame feeling angry on being hungry and this year the Oxford English Dictionary added the word “hangry” as a colloquial blend of the two. The term reflects a common experience, but one that had not been well understood.

Hungry Harvest, Food, Produce, Farmers, Ashley Christensen
Leoneda Inge / WUNC

A new food delivery service in the Raleigh-Durham area specializes in distributing fruits and vegetables with cosmetic imperfections. Evan Lutz is the CEO of Hungry Harvest. Its mission is to rescue produce farmers can’t sell because of a surplus or because it’s just too ugly.

Chips aisle in the grocery store
Pixabay

 In his 2018 budget proposal, President Donald Trump proposed a cut of more than $190 billion to SNAP  – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – in the next 10 years. 

Courtesy Rob Dunn

The banana is always in season and always available at the grocery store. A new book explores how the prevalence of the popular fruit is a model for the dangers of a food system that is increasingly dependent on fewer food staples.

“Never Out Of Season” (Little, Brown, and Company/2017) by biologist Rob Dunn, a professor in the department of applied ecology at North Carolina State University, walks readers through the precarious corporate food system and explains how diversity is crucial to crop survival.

Stories from the President's Kitchen Cabinet

Mar 16, 2017

When Adrian Miller was researching his book on the history of Soul Food, he kept coming across references to African-American cooks who had served in the White House.

cream cheese pound cake
Wikimedia Commons

When Eddy McGee started as a mail carrier in the early ‘90s, he knew that he wanted his job to be more than just putting mail in a box. He started to build relationships with the people along his route, and they began an informal exchange of food and baked goods.

Eno Publishers

A long wait for grape pie, the intricacies of hard crab stew, and a good life for a pig named Crisco are some of the stories in the new book "The Carolina Table" (Eno Publishers/2016).

Nigerian Chef Tunde Wey was invited to cook in Durham by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, CEFS.
Leoneda Inge / WUNC

Editor's note:  This story is part of an occasional series on what area community leaders and residents are doing to balance "peace and pride" in their neighborhoods.

The restaurant at the Durham Hotel is known for its eclectic, changing menu. But on a recent day, visiting Chef Tunde Wey turned it up a notch with a first course that included cow foot, tossed in palm oil, a citrus vinaigrette, kumquats, shallots and jollof rice, a popular dish in many West African countries.

Hunter Lewis
Courtesy of Hunter Lewis

Hunter Lewis grew up in a big family in North Carolina where gathering for meals was the centerpiece of the day.

He deepened his passion for food when he moved to New York to work in some of the top restaurants in the city. Eventually he merged his love of food with his journalism skills. He became food editor at Bon Appetit, then editor of Southern Living and now, editor of Cooking Light.

photo of a spread at Grady's Barbecue in Dudley, N.C.
Rien Fertel

North Carolina is the number two producer of pigs in America, and barbeque is by most accounts the state’s food. But historian Rien Fertel argues that most barbecue writing is hyperbole. 

In his new book “The One True Barbecue: Fire, Smoke, and the Pitmasters Who Cook The Whole Hog,” (Touchstone/2016) he examines the history of the southern barbecue art, and the wide range of mythology surrounding the meat and those who tend to it.

Image of Breakfast Sandwich
From Orange Lavender & Figs: Deliciously Different Recipes From A Passionate Eater By Fanny Slater. Reprinted by arrangement with Atria Books, Copyright © 2016 Fanny Slater

Fanny Slater’s journey into the kitchen starts with what she calls the “brownie legacy:” a few years before she was born, her parents started business that revolved around her mother’s infamous brownies. As a young kid, Slater remembers watching her mother diligently hand wrap each brownie, and hearing stories about catering parties for Jane Fonda. She continued to spend time in the kitchen throughout her teen years, learning how to cook fresh and healthy meals from her father.

John Shelton Reed did not think of himself as a southerner until his classmates at MIT pointed it out.

The Tennessee native was going to school in the northeast just as the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s took off. It was the beginning of a career dedicated to the study of southern culture.

He came to it as a kind of outsider in his own home but quickly returned to his roots, helped create the Center for the Study of the American South at UNC-Chapel Hill, and has become one of the preeminent voices on the "correct" way to make North Carolina barbecue. 

This month's edition of 'Movies on the Radio' looks at movies about food or movies with food scenes.
Eric McGregor / Flickr Creative Commons

Chefs are fond of saying "we eat with our eyes," but that phrase takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to movies about food.

Films like the classic "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" or Stanley Tucci's "Big Night" have had stomachs rumbling for decades. But more recent movies like the animated "Ratatouille" or Jon Favreau's "Chef" have also been material for aspiring chefs and foodies. 

Sara Foster is the owner of Foster's Market and has written a cookbook of the favorites from the gourmet restaurant.
Christopher Baker / Story Farm

Sara Foster was in many ways destined to open Foster’s Market, a gourmet restaurant and store in Durham, N.C.

As a young kid she spent a lot of her time at her grandfather’s small country store in Tennessee, watching old men playing checkers and scouring the buckets of penny candy. She later went to culinary school in New York, juggled multiple gigs at restaurants and catering companies, and serendipitously landed a gig as a chef in Martha Stewart’s growing business.

Author Laura Wright
Ashley Evans

For author Laura Wright, being a vegan is a choice in diet and identity. It shapes what she eats and wears, as well as how she is perceived in a culinary culture that revolves around meat.

Produce, Shopping, Grocery Stores
www.usda.gov

The main principle of a cooperative organization is to give ownership to the people who use its services. Every member has a say in how the business is run and shares the profits.

But for African-American communities in the United States, cooperative economics have also historically been a method of survival. 

NC State students school Howling Cow ice cream.
NC State University

As the North Carolina State Fair opens today, some of the concessions are bound to draw as many thrill-seekers as the rides. 

The fair website boasts a Food and Ride Finder that features 26 new menu items, from Carolina Crab Bites to Deep Fried Klondike Bars to S'moreos Specialty Apples.

Scott Strother owns S-2 Concessions which will present two new deep-fried items this year. One is a bacon-wrapped jumbo Tootsie Roll. The other: A peanut butter pickle.

Sandra Gutierrez is the author of 'Beans and Field Peas' and other cookbooks looking at Latin American and southern cuisine.
Matt Hulsman

From soft-shell crabs down east to baked beans cooked with a slab of pulled pork, crabs and beans are unquestionably essential to southern cuisine especially in North Carolina. 

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