Category: Food

Fooling the Nine Billion: Why We Need Good Food, Not More Food – Ricardo Salvador

Fooling the Nine Billion: Why We Need Good Food, Not More Food – Ricardo Salvador

This spring I was able to attend an amazing lecture by Ricardo Salvador called, “Fooling the Nine Billion: Why We Need Good Food, Not More Food.” Salvador is the senior scientist and director of the Food & Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.  This group is working with citizens, scientists, economists, and politicians to transition our current food system into one that grows healthy foods while employing sustainable practices.

His lecture gave an overview of the history of our food system in the U.S., the role of government and citizens in this system, and talked about how our current system was a vision or project that came into fulfillment.  It was one of the best presentations I have seen in quite a while.  Savador was a dynamic speaker, and had not just slides but animations that supported what he was presenting. 

He began by talking about how we experience the system by eating out (and imagining what we want to have) and  usually getting what we want in 5-20 minutes, whether it is season or not,  or local or not.  We also go to the super market and browse over 50,000 items and ususally use the criteria of choosing things that we can try to assemble into a meal in 5-20 minutes.  Behind  this is a system with great power which uses materials and energy.

“The Future of Food is a question that can be approached using direction and prediction, but it is up to people to decide what the future of the food system will be,” he stated in his introduction.  He went on in his talk to talk about the history of our food system, the overproduction of food and how this is used and how our system is supporting diabetes and obesity.  “Diabetes – has a public cost of 92 billion,  Obesity $147 billion, Cardiovascular Disease – $444 billion and is the  #1 killer.  We pay for the production and cost of this disease

He then had images and a recent example of the price of purchasing traditional versus healthy food at McDonald’s which showed how our current food system makes it so it is not possible for McDonald’s to offer the healthier choices at a equal price.  The healthy foods also do not add up to many calories.

The last part of his lecture called for a shift in our food system, and  he mentioned a current project called “An Apple a Day” – which is a education and advocating for how our current food system is wasting government money, wasting lives, and wasting medical costs.    Promoting the food problem as a system that is wasting government money, wasting lives, and wasting medical costs is something that can go across government parties.

I recently got the link of Recardo’s recorded lecture which can be seen online.  It is good quality audio and video – and I strongly recommend that you watch it to get a new perspective on our food system and the future of food (and you can eat an apple while you watch.)


Image Sources and Links:

Ricardo Salvado – Watch the Lecture Fooling the Nine Billion  – Video

An Apple A Day – Video

 Union of Concerned Scientists 

Ricardo Salvador 






The Dream of Flying – A Gastro Geographical Aerobanquet

The Dream of Flying – A Gastro Geographical Aerobanquet

I recently got an invitation to a unique banquet – of sights, sound, and taste.  I could not attend, but found this event to be an interesting combination of performance, site, and food.

The event was part of The Wind Tunnel Project, which is a series of events that brings together new commissions and performances by artists in the UK and other international artists.  The events all take place at the flight testing center buildings, which were used to advance British aviation techniques, and have been closed for over 40 years.

On Friday June 20th and 21st will be the Dream of Flying – A Gastro Geographical Aerobanquet, which will be held in the air return duct of the 24ft, 1935 wind tunnel. (Unfortunately – I can not attend.  Can’t make it to England by then..)

Artist Caroline Hobkinson will host an aerobanquet that tells the story of the dream of flying in 7 courses.  Hobkinson’s work can be seen on her Stirring with Knives site.  Past banquets she has created have incluced high protein rolls made with insect flour, a fur lined cup filled with liquid, a whole alligator served up on a table, 3d printed food, and spherified liquids.

Her work  combines not just unusual food but touch and sound.  The artist calls it cross modal stimulation, and for this event she is using locally sourced food.  Her work curates dining experiences that encourage diners to reassess the way they eat.

Her work looks at the world through food: its history, the rituals how we eat and the traditions of how we prepare it. She is obsessed with the spectacle of eating and how we can modulate flavor by using different sound frequencies.

Her three favorite ingredients are fishing wire, helium and liquid nitrogen.


Image Sources and Links:

The Event –  Eventbrite

MAD Symposium at the Drawing Center

MAD Symposium at the Drawing Center

Last year I got into reading more sites and blogs about food and culture.  Last summer many sites were reporting on the MAD Symposium, an annual gathering of few hundred writers, chefs, scientists, historians and fermentation activists.  This year MAD was held in Copenhagen in August, and was dedicated to the topic of “guts.” At MAD, chefs from around the world gather and discuss the challenges and responsibilities that go beyond cooking.  Talks and discussions center on new questions to ask, and how to become more imaginative and inquisitive.

A new lecture series at the Drawing Center in New York brings chefs together on Mondays to talk about food, culture and other issues. I wasn’t able to attend (I am in Durham, NC) but I read a great review of the event on which listed the “top 10 quotes” of the event which focused on what it means to be a chef.

The event was moderated by Lucky Peach editor Peter Meehan and had 4 chefs and 1 author engaged in a conversation about chefs and cooking..  Some of the topics that emerged included the growing star power of chefs, whether cooks today are any better or worse than they were 10 or 20 years ago, and the impact of new cooking technologies.

You can read more about the top 10 quotes from the night from the review of the event  on

Here is a sneak peak of the topics of the top 10 quotes:

1) Batali, on the impact of food television:
2) Hanson, on how the cooking career path has changed
3) Batali, on his changing place in the restaurant community
4) Nasr, on why the food at Balthazar worked
5) Batali, on balancing customer-driven service with chef-driven vision
6) Hamilton, on shifting power dynamics:
7) Hamilton, on expansion:
8) Nasr, on his changing role as a chef:
9) Hamilton, on new cooking techniques and technologies:
10) Nasr, on the plus side of HR


Links and Image Sources:



Processed Views –  Landscape of Processed Foods

Processed Views – Landscape of Processed Foods

Fruit Loop mountains and canyons made of chips might be someone’s dream and another person’s nightmare.  Artists Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman created a series of landscape images in 2012-2013 made of processed food.  On their website, the artists write “As we move further away from the natural sources of our food, we head into uncharted territory replete with unintended consequences for the environment and for our health.”

The work references the work of photographer, Carleton Watkins who created landscape views that framed the American West.  The images influenced the public’s views of the national parks.  Ironically, they were commissioned by the corporate interests of the day that included the Central Pacific Railroad and the lumber, milling and mining industries.

With processed views, the detailed images examine consumption and the changing landscape of our food. The images can be viewed on the project website.


Links and Image Sources:

Farmer’s Fridge – A Salad Vending Machine

Farmer’s Fridge – A Salad Vending Machine

Vending machines are usually stocked with chips, candy bars, and other packaged foods  In Illinois, Farmer’s Fridge is creating a new type of vending machines, that are filled with salads.  The company makes the salad fresh every day, and daily deliver them to a vending machine.  The idea behind the company is that healthy and tasty food can be easy to get.

The team behind the project write on their site about the project:

“Don’t think of the Farmer’s Fridge kiosk as a vending machine. It’s a veggie machine. And just as each salad is a culinary thing of beauty, the kiosk is a work of art in its own right. Made from reclaimed wood (provided by Modern Urban Woods of West Chicago) and even some recycled materials, each one is unique and user-friendly.”

Here is the daily schedule of how the kiosk project works:
1.  Fresh produce arrives every morning to where the salads are made.
2.  The team behind the project arrive at 5 a.m. and make everything from scratch.
3.  The salads are delivered to the machine at 10 a.m. and remove the unsold salads (which are donated to a local food pantry.)
4.  Any unsold salads are discounted by $1 at 6 p.m each night

The packaging, kiosk materials, napkins, and utensils are all recyclable or biodegradable

Sound good?  Currently there currently two Farmer’s Fridge locations, one at the Garvey Food Court and one at the Lake Forest Tollway Oasis.  Next time I drive to Wisconsin, and stop at the Lake Forest Tollway Oasis – I am going to plan on looking for the Farmer’s Fridge.

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