One of our favorite Behind The Plate questions that we ask interviewees is “If you could ask the future President to consider a food issue that needs to be addressed, what would it be?” What we learned is that food policy is key to the health and wellbeing of our country. From protecting the land and the workers, to keeping big business and empty calories in check—we want change, and the government can help.
- Jeremy Kranowitz (@SustainableAmerica) – We should change food subsidies to encourage healthy, nutritious calories and by taxing cheap calories. It has been said that obesity is the face of hunger because cheap calories are high in sugar, salt, and fat. We should still make those calories available to those that want them, but they should be harder to obtain and more expensive to buy than fresh vegetables, fruits, and grains.
- Emily Summerlin (@etsummer) – I would ask the future President to consider the soil! 2015 was the International Year of Soils and a lot of great things happened around that, but I want that momentum to keep going. Not only does healthy soil produce nutritious and delicious food, but it also sequesters carbon! It’s one of the keys to reducing our climate impact and it is very worth taking care of, not only for the future of farming but for the future of the the entire planet.
- Rebecca Sparks – At present there is a movement in the government to limit access to SNAP benefits by making it a block grant where states can make decisions of eligibility and access. This is a crime. Every American resident should be guaranteed the right to food.
- Matthew Preston (@diginn) – Land access and ownership. The first barrier for young people interested in the farming industry is access to land.
- Sanjay Rawal – About 20 million Americans work in the food sector, many of whom barely make ends meet. Without their service we have no food security. Same goes for the 3 or 4 million undocumented workers who are in the food sector (farmworkers, meatpacking, distribution, dairy, etc). Without job security and dignity much less a non-draconian immigration policy, our food system will absolutely disintegrate. I am shocked and appalled that the issue of equity in our food system isn’t being discussed in even the most basic way.
- Palak Patel (@palaknyc) – Addressing the increasing role that corporations have on our food system. We must understand where our food comes from. Right now, we’re headed toward a future where decisions about our food are decided in closed boardrooms by executives putting profits before people.
- Jill de Jong – I would ask the president to demand that companies take the chemicals OUT of our food. No colorants, preservatives or additives. That would make a huge difference.
- Simran Sethi – There should be a lot more scrutiny around the Trans-Pacific Partnership and implications for domestic farmers, preservation of heirloom seeds and transparency around what consumers know about their food sources.
- Jessica Sennett (@cheesegrotto) – What concerns me the most is farm workers’ rights and agricultural practices. Limited water resources are a present day reality in California. We have to change our practices and not let a few large food corporations and buyers determine the method and quality of our farming. They control the whole industry and subject farm workers and owners to endless cycles of debt and dependence. The framework that exists does not take into consideration resource depletion.
- Massimo LoBuglio – I would love for a lot of things to be addressed, but to pick one… How about an environmental impact statement included on nutrition labels! Data about the carbon pollution associated with food choices.
One of our favorite Behind The Plate questions that we ask interviewees is “What was your biggest #foodfail?” We’re all human, and even the best chefs have disastrous kitchen moments. Here are ten of our favorite answers.
- Audrey Snowe (@unconventionalbaker) – Broccoli cheesecake. Worst idea ever! Don’t judge! I try lots of crazy things—sky is the limit—and I often land on winners that become “cult classics” on the web. But this one was clearly out of range. When I made it at first it was absolutely delicious—tasted nothing like broccoli at all (in case you’re wondering). Just a beautiful pale green cheesecake. I left it in the freezer for a week amidst all my other frozen cakes, and when I re-tasted it later it tasted absolutely horrible. Like broccoli gone horribly wrong with sugar and roses on top.
- Noni Vaughn-Pollard (@darkchocolatepeanutbutter) – Homemade injera, never again.
- Emily Summerlin (@etsummer) – Ridiculously enough I’ve done this more than once. I make a smoothie and upon the first sip realize that I didn’t rinse the soap out of the blender well enough beforehand. No thanks to soapy smoothies.
- Jessica Sennett (@cheesegrotto) – My biggest #foodfail was a persimmon tart. This was before I knew how to pick persimmons that wouldn’t be cloying and drying in the mouth. (If you have tasted an underripe persimmon, you know what I mean.) I tried to cook the tart anyway, and it really wasn’t edible.
- Emily Van Raay (@modelsforwellness) – I have food fails all the time. I’m not an expert in the kitchen but I love making new dishes and tend to bite off far more than I can chew… Roasting acorn squash is something that I can NEVER seem to get right! I end up leaving it in for far too long or taking it out way too early and can never get it off the skin. It’s probably one of the easiest things to make. Help!
- Matthew Kenney – One of the first times I served raw cuisine to a group I spent a lot of time preparing our zucchini lasagna in sheet pans ahead of time. I had never served this at a large event before, and the extra moisture turned the lasagna to mush. I had to serve a group of my peers this horrible dish and was mortified. I never plated this in advance again!
- Jill de Jong – Cauliflower crust pizza. It drove me crazy; I was trying so many different things but I have not been able to master it and have given up!
- Palak Patel (@palaknyc) – Generally baking. But my biggest fool fail happened in Paris while I was attempting to make meringues for a French-Indian pop-up dinner. Meringues have a reputation for being easy to make, but that night things got surprisingly complicated for a dish containing just two ingredients! I calculated the conversions incorrectly, plus using a French oven made my meringues lifeless and flat. Needless to say, I proceeded to crumble them and presented the dessert as “deconstructed”.
- Margaret Gifford (@MargaretG) – My biggest food fail was the split pea soup I tried to prepare for my stepdad’s birthday. I didn’t know you had to soak the peas.
- Jennifer Emilson (@JenniferEmilson) – I made fish tacos. The tortillas were made with amaranth flour. They were thick, chewy, not a texture my hubby liked at all. And I didn’t marinate the cabbage long enough. All in all, too raw a meal. He said they didn’t deserve to be called fish tacos!