We have to do something to take us off this treadmill of ratcheting up land prices.” -Suzan Erem, The Sustainable Iowa Land Trust

On the latest edition of The Secret Ingredient Raj Patel, Tom Philpott, and Rebecca McInroy talk with Suzan Erem about the future of US farming.

Erum is the president and co-founder of the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (SILT), and author of Labor Pains: Inside America’s New Union Movement.

We spoke to her from the studios of Iowa Public Radio in Iowa City, Iowa.

Strawberries is kind of the quintessence of industrial agriculture in California. It’s the fifth highest value crop in the state. It also got the most heavy pesticide regime, by far, of any other crop in the state. And it kind of captures so much of the dynamics of what’s going on in California.“-Julie Guthman

In this edition of The Secret Ingredient Raj Patel, Tom Philpott and Rebecca McInroy talk with Dr. Julie Guthman about strawberry production, what’s happening with chemicals and fumigants in the strawberry fields today, and where she sees hope in the food movement.

Life begins with the seed germinating…we depend on seed and most of the seed is the seed we will produce, have it, save and use in the next planting season. That’s what most of the farmers in Tanzania still do… It was inherited for generations and generations.” –Janet Maro

The seed exchange system that Maro speaks about is currently under threat in Tanzania. Assistance organizations in that country that are seeking to help small farms also supported regulations that banned seed-sharing – a generations-old practice among small-scale farmers. Tanzania passed legislation that made it illegal to share seeds as a condition for receiving development assistance through the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN). You can read more about the legislation in this article.

In this episode of The Secret Ingredient, we wanted to find out more about this new law, so Raj Patel, Tom Philpott, and Rebecca McInroy called up Janet Maro, head of Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT).

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Since this show was recorded in December of last year, Maro said that SAT had a seed stakeholders platform, in which farmers met with Tanzanian officials to discuss the ramifications of the law. Although the small-scale farmers gained more clarity about the overall effects of seed-sharing, she says, they still want exemption from penalties as a result of seed-sharing.

James Baldwin said, “the purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers.” When considering this sentiment in relationship to “nutritionism” one might look at Aya Kimura‘s book, Hidden Hunger: Gender and the Politics of Smarter Foods, as a work of “art” as she explores the questions that remain after the “experts” answer problems of micronutrient deficiencies with the science of fortification and biofortification.

In the latest edition of The Secret Ingredient, Raj Patel, Tom Philpott and Rebecca McInroy talk with Kimura about food and culture, market forces, and what is lost when the “western savior comes in to rescue the global south.”

People are being kept confused, by the fact that they’re being made to focus on nutrients.” -Joan Gussow

These days, it’s understood that eating a variety of whole foods is integral to maintaining a healthy diet. But not so long ago, talking about food was taboo in the field of nutrition.

In this episode of The Secret Ingredient Raj Patel, Tom Philpott and Rebecca McInroy talk to Dr. Joan Gussow.

Gussow is the author of many books including The Feeding Web, The Nutrition Debate and Growing, Older: A Chronicle of Death, Life, and Vegetables. The New York Times has called her the “matriarch of the eat-locally-think-globally food movement.“

“Building unity across divide is possible. Building something even better than we had before, out of terrible tragedy, is possible. A movement for change is never more ripe than when we are, in some cases, at our lowest moment. Because it’s the moment in which we are going to demand absolute transformation, and I have every faith and hope that we will do that now.” -Saru Jayaraman

In this edition of The Secret Ingredient Raj Patel, Tom Philpott and Rebecca McInroy talk with Saru Jayaraman, author of “Forked: A New Standard For American Dining” about the November 2016 election results and what they mean for restaurant workers nationwide.

Jayaraman is the Co-founder and Co-director of The Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at The University of California, Berkeley.

 

Op-Ed by James K. Galbraith

From The New Deal until the present moment the architecture of The United States formed around some basic principles of public policy; principles that will no longer apply under a Trump administration. With all the questions that are on the table when it comes to this transition, Dr. James K. Galbraith asks: “Is the study of public policy still useful? And can it serve as the basis of a rewarding and productive life?”

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Dr. James K. Galbraith holds the Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations and a professorship of government at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. He holds degrees from Harvard University and Yale University. He studied as a Marshall scholar at King’s College, Cambridge in 1974-1975 and then served in several positions on the staff of the U.S. Congress. He directed the LBJ School’s Ph.D. program in public policy from 1995 to 1997. He directs the University of Texas Inequality Project, an informal research group based at the LBJ School. Galbraith’s most recent book is “Inequality and Instability: A Study of the World Economy Just Before the Great Crisis” (Oxford University Press, 2012). Previous books include “The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too” (Free Press, 2008), “Created Unequal: The Crisis in American Pay (Free Press, 1998) and “Balancing Acts: Technology, Finance and the American Future” (Basic Books, 1989). “Inequality and Industrial Change: A Global View” (Cambridge University Press, 2001) is co-edited with Maureen Berner. He has co-authored two textbooks, “The Economic Problem” with Robert L. Heilbroner and “Macroeconomics” with William Darity Jr. He is a managing editor of Structural Change and Economic Dynamics.

From agriculture to restaurant kitchens, the American food system is dominated by immigrants – and has been for over a century. On this edition of The Secret Ingredient Raj Patel, Tom Philpott and Rebecca McInroy talk with Dr. Krishnendu Ray  author of “The Ethnic Restaurateur” about what this means for how Americans understand everything from good taste to what it means to be “native” in light of President-elect Donald Trump’s recent election.

 

 

 

“The history of slavery in the Caribbean is traumatic. It’s a difficult legacy and I don’t think that it’s been well processed. So the serving of tea becomes this way to sort of address that. To consider, how can we move forward? What does it look like to think about healing in a space like that?” -Annalee Davis
Annalee Davis is a Barbadian artist and activist, whose work addresses the complicated legacy of slavery in the Caribbean. On this edition of The Secret Ingredient Raj Patel, Tom Philpott and Rebecca McInroy enjoy her serving of (Bush) Tea at the KUT studios in Austin, Texas where she was preparing to open her show This Ground Beneath My Feet – A Chorus of Bush in Rab Lands at the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her exhibition is on view until December 15, 2016.

“There isn’t a single aspect of what we eat that is not touched by industry spin.” –Anna Lappé

There are so many logistical barriers to healthy, fresh, ethically produced and farmed foods — from food deserts to our busy daily schedules — that managing to eat well is a challenge. But there is another layer to the story of our food and that is “Spin.”

Companies spend billions of dollars on messaging to convince consumers that their products are good for us, even when they are packed with everything from high-fructose corn syrup to saturated fat and salt.

In this edition of The Secret Ingredient Raj Patel, Tom Philpott and Rebecca McInroy talk with the award winning founder of the Small Planet Institute and The Small Planet Fund and author of Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It, Anna Lappé about the work she is doing to combat “Spin.”

The story of sugar in the Western world is sordid and bitter, however this past gets quickly candy coated in our day to day lives as consumers. In this special op-ed from the eminent economist, writer and historian James K. Galbraith we get a peak into the sickly underbelly of the sociopolitical and economic past of sugar.

“As the food movement has gotten stronger and stronger, and people have been asking many more questions, not just about, where is my food coming from? But, how is it produced? Who’s being harmed along the way? Food service directors have been asking those same questions.” -Alexa Delwiche

When you think about school food, certain repressed memories might bubble to the surface – boneless BBQ rib patties, mystery loaf, blocks of government cheese, or expired chocolate milk. But today’s food consumers are proving to be a little more savvy than those of us who fell for ketchup as a vegetable back in the day. Students and their parents are asking not only about the quality of the food they’re eating, but also about the choices food purchasers are making when it comes to how this food is produced.

In this edition of The Secret Ingredient, Raj Patel, Tom Philpott and Rebecca McInroy speak with Alexa Delwiche about ethics when it comes to food purchasing and the school system. Delwiche is the executive director of the Center for Good Food Purchasing (CGFP). The work she and her team are doing in the Los Angeles public school system serves as a model for ethical food purchasing for the nation.

“Race is a construct…the problem is a white supremacist framing of what is healthy.” -Breeze Harper

On this edition of the Secret Ingredient the secret ingredient is Whiteness. Join Raj Patel, Tom Philpott, and Rebecca McInroy as they sit down with Dr. Amie Breeze Harper, author of Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England, as well as the creator of the Sistah Vegan project and blog, www.sistahvegan.com, as they discuss what it really means to be vegan, how “whiteness has been a part of every movement in this country,” and how Harper is combating the inter-sectional racism that occurs even in the most ethically driven of foodscapes such as veganism.

“It was not just the land, it was not just the seeds, it was not just the tools, it was not just the transportation infrastructure. You had to have somebody who did all the digging, and the harvesting, and the taking care of the cotton plant. In the United States that had been resolved through enslaving Africans.” -Sven Beckert 

Cotton. Not quite a food item, but a plant nonetheless with a rather complicated history and an enduring relevance in our lives. Today, a typical day cannot pass without using this pillowy crop that rules our commodified lives.

In this edition of The Secret Ingredient with Raj Patel, Tom Philpott, and Rebecca McInroy: Sven Beckert, Harvard University professor, historian, and author of the 2014 book “Empire of Cotton,” discusses the significance of cotton as the most important commodity of the 19th century, as well as the violent history cotton production has in the Southern United States, and most importantly the pivotal role cotton plays in the enterprise of capitalism we know today.

We ‘d also like to welcome a very special guest to our show for a new segment called “Letter From a Correspondent,” it’s the world-renowned economist Dr. James K. Galbraith; author of, most recently, Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe.

“When it comes to breastfeeding the ideal of choice verses the illusion of choice are two very different things,” argues Kimberly Seals Allers when talking about her new book, “The Big Let Down: How Medicine, Big Business and Feminism Undermine Breastfeeding.”

In this edition of The Secret Ingredient, with Raj Patel, Tom Philpott, and Rebecca McInroy, Allers makes the distinction between choices and options, and illustrates the confounding paradoxes when it comes to babies, mothers and health.

If one’s only knowledge about the Greek economic crisis of the early 2000s came from the television news or the New York Times, the complexity of the situation and what it means to the Greek people could well have been lost.

On this edition of The Secret Ingredient, Raj Patel, Tom Philpott and Rebecca McInroy recorded a show in front of a live audience at the Cactus Cafe in Austin, Texas with the eminent economist James K. Galbraith author of, “Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe.”

Galbraith was an advisor to the former finance minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis, during the crisis, and his account of the events, discussions and nuances of the process shed a critical and urgent light on the Eurozone – and the future of Europe – as he talks about inequality, the Greek debacle, prospects for social democracy in America and more.

_____

The response to the crisis and austerity measures from Greek artists and poets is significant. Karen Van Dyck’s “Austerity Measures”  and Theodoros Chiotis’ “Futures: Poetry of The Greek Crisis” , offer poignant and cutting insights. Chiotis was kind enough to send along one of his poems from his new collection to include here.

Perfusion by Theodoros Chiotis

1.

Yes –

perhaps in utero

but it was in another machine

I became this:

the result of a thousand

mechanised eyes.

2.

Laura Mars

furiously click-clicking

her way into endurance.

A riot scene like magnets colliding:

the result of high population densities expanding

and then imploding across minute distances.

3.

The perfect grip of a hand

that is no longer of any use

landscapes the present.

 

“We can produce all the great food in the world, but if we’re not working to transform the very nature of the relations of power in the food system, having good food will be null and void.” -Blain Snipstal

On this edition of The Secret Ingredient Raj Patel, Tom Philpott, and Rebecca McInroy talk with peasant farmer Blain Snipstal about Agroecology, food sovereignty, and class struggle.

 

“Pathogens are in someway, something of a mirror of our civilization,” says Dr. Rob Wallace, evolutionary biologist and author of “Big Farms Make Big Flu: Dispatches on Infectious Disease, Agribusiness, and the Nature of Science.” However, most of us avoid gazing at this intense reflection for too long, much to our peril.

In this edition of The Secret Ingredient, Raj Patel, Tom Philpott and Rebecca McInroy talk with Wallace about his, more than a decade long, search behind the microscope, where he discovered the disturbing connections between our relationship with pathogens and how colonization that’s still happening today affects that relationship.

 

People are interesting animals. We look to many things to help us understand our place and identity in this world. We have maps, passports, languages, families, clothes, books and (among so much more) we also have food.

At first thought, we might not consider food as part of our identity. We might have toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, soup for dinner and go to bed not thinking much about how that relationship to food constructs, not only your psychical bodies, but also our national identities.

We might not think much of it, but anthropologist Arjun Appadurai does.

“It is the most artificial thing that humans have ever built,” says Appadurai of nationalism. “That seems the most natural.”

In this edition of The Secret Ingredient, Raj Patel, Tom Philpott and Rebecca McInroy talk with Dr. Arjun Appadurai about food and nationalism – food trucks, Maggi noodles, cook books and much more.

“While no one would argue that Bolivian farmers shouldn’t get a good price for their crop, these trends cannot be ignored—or left up to global market forces. Perhaps most tragic of all is that this boom (and booms are always followed by a bust) is leading the poorest, most vulnerable farmers to degrade their own environment—i.e. the material basis for their very survival and cultural identity—in the name of short-term food security.” Tanya Kerseen “Quinoa: To Buy or Not to Buy…Is This the Right Question?”

In this edition of TSI, Raj Patel, Tom Philpott and Rebecca McInroy talk quinoa with Tanya Kerssen, author of Grabbing Power: The New Struggles for Land, Food, and Democracy in Northern Honduras.

Our secret ingredient, for this special live taping, is SXSW! We wanted to explore the future of food on this show, and what better way to ask questions about the future of anything, than through the lens of this tech heady conference that descends on Austin, Texas every March.

What will it mean to eat food in the future? What will food look and taste like? Will things like fake meat, Soylent, and Quorn, replace the Sunday dinner of rump roast, potatoes, and collard greens? And if they do, would that really be so bad?

In this episode Raj Patel argues the case for Soylent green, Rebecca McInroy asks if GMOs are going to kill us all, and Tom Philpott illustrates what’s really at steak, and in your steak, when talking antibiotics.

Enjoy the show!

 

What is Golden Rice? If you know the answer to that question, chances are you have a strong opinion about it. That’s because a lot of the rhetoric swirling around Golden Rice is heated, but many times ill informed.

Golden Rice is a technology that was developed in the 1990s to try to make the endosperm of rice contain beta-carotene. It’s been hailed as having nutritional possibilities that could, “save a million kids a year,” according to Time Magazine.

Yet, as Tom Philpott asks in his article for Mother Jones, “If golden rice is such a panacea, why does it flourish only in headlines, far from the farm fields where it’s intended to grow?”

In this edition of The Secret Ingredient we talk with Dr. Glenn Davis Stone. His research on environmental anthropology, political ecology, food studies, and science & technology studies, takes a deep look into the world of GMOs and the science behind them.

Scoville scale says … “It’s time to talk peppers!” They’re grown all over the world, bear cultural meaning and can satisfy your tastebuds like little else. Why do we eat them? Why can your grandma pop a habanero in her mouth and you pass out when a simple jalapeno meets your lips? And what’s up with Hillary Clinton eating them? In this edition we talk capsaicin with Gary Nabhan, author of “Chasing Chiles – Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail,” “Why Some Like It Hot: Food, Genes and Cultural Diversity,” and “Cumin, Camels, and Caravans: A Spice Odyssey.” Nabhan is an internationally-celebrated nature writer, food and farming activist, and proponent of conserving the links between biodiversity and cultural diversity. He is also the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Arizona Southwest Center, where he works to build a more just, nutritious, sustainable and climate-resilient foodshed spanning the U.S.-Mexico border.

This Christmas, when lots of folks are thinking about others, we unwrap our conversation with Fred Bahnson, author of “Soil & Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith,” touching on his spiritual journey through agriculture and how some faith-based organizations are re-energizing the conversation around hunger and poverty.

We talk with Janet Poppendieck, Professor of Sociology at Hunter College, City University of New York and author of “Sweet Charity? Emergency Food and the End of Entitlement,” about the complexities of food charities, governmental food programs, and the overall condition of our economy, our nations growing poor, and the stark realities of inequality we all need to face.

As we observe Thanksgiving in the U.S., The Secret Ingredient takes a step back with this episode on Salmon with Valerie Segrest. Valerie is a native nutrition educator who specializes in local and traditional foods. As an enrolled member of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, she serves her community as the coordinator of the Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project.

In 2010, she co-authored the book “Feeding the People, Feeding the Spirit: Revitalizing Northwest Coastal Indian Food Culture.” She received a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University in 2009 and a Masters Degree in Environment and Community from Antioch University. She was a fellow for the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy and was recently the first Native to receive the King County Municipal League’s Public Employee of the Year Award for 2015. Valerie inspires and enlighten others about the importance of a nutrient-dense diet through a simple, common sense approach to eating.

Photo by the Native PTAC.

Dr. Daniel Moshenberg discusses the wide-ranging impact of food on prisoners in the U.S. prison system. Dr. Moshenberg has worked with women in community-based organizations and social movements which are majority women but are not (yet) identified as women’s organizations or movements. That work has been under the aegis of women’s literacy development and promotion. Most of his hands-on field work has been based in the United States, primarily among immigrant women, and in South Africa. Daniel Moshenberg researches women’s involvement in mass incarceration and in mass household-based labor, largely in the context of global political economies. He is one of the conveners of Women In and Beyond the Global, an open access feminist project.

Photo by The Columbian

A conversation with Dr. Alissa Hamilton about milk and her book, “Got Milked? The Great Dairy Deception and Why You’ll Thrive Without Milk.” Hamilton’s critical take on the dairy industry and its pervasive marketing campaigns chronicle a history of public policy messages that have skewed our perspective on a healthy relationship to milk. We talk about why milk has its own food group, how important it is to get our calcium from a wide variety of foods, and how to demystify the messages we receive everyday about dairy.

Photo by Liz West (CC)

Soda. We’ve all had it. But why is it so difficult to find accurate information on soda consumption? How did the industry get to where it is today, and what advocacy groups and consumers are doing to fight back. In this edition of The Secret Ingredient, we talk with Marion Nestle about her latest book “Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning).” You can find out more about Marion on her website: http://www.foodpolitics.com/

In this episode our secret ingredient is Bananas! We talk with feminist writer and professor Dr. Cynthia Enloe, who’s latest book, “Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics,” investigates the long history of oppression in the banana industry, and the intricate power structures involved in bringing this yellow fruit to grocery stores all over the world.

In each episode we chose one food to investigate, and talk with the people who’s life’s work has been to understand the complex systems of production, distribution, marketing and impact, these foods have on our lives.

Come with us as we tour more than 100 years of southern cooking with Toni-Tipton Martin, author of “The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks!” Join KUT’s Rebecca McInroy, along with food writers and hosts of KUT’s newest podcast The Secret Ingredient, Tom Philpott and Raj Patel, as we explore the rich social, political, and economic history of the south, through food. And what could be more Southern for breakfast than pancakes!

We talk with anthropologist Sidney Mintz about his seminal work “Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar In Modern History.” Mintz takes us through our prehistoric relationship to sweetness–from the bloody history of slavery and sugar production to our current state of the mass production and consumption of sweetness worldwide. He talks about how factories developed on the sugar plantations and the way slavery developed in the New World, as well as the role this brutal pasts plays in current volatile racial relations in the U.S..