“We just assume our everyday normal consciousness is the one and the most accurate…there are unseen worlds, there are unseen forces, and you can look them in a religious sense, but you don’t have to.” –Michael Pollan
On the latest Secret Ingredient Podcast Raj Patel and Tom Philpott talk with Michael Pollan about his new book How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.
“Our enemy is apathy.” –Yanis Varoufakis
In 2015 today’s guests were propelled onto the global stage by their efforts to take on the European banking establishment and restructure the Greek government’s financial system. For 5 months they worked to negotiate alternatives to further austerity measures; trying to extend loans while moving Greece toward a more solvent state.
Their efforts to confront the Eurozone and proceed democratically to carry out the wishes of the Greek people were ultimately defeated, but it was this battle lost that was the impetus of their current endeavor—to reform Europe and institute a transnational, pan-European democracy called DiEM25 –Democracy in Europe Movement.
Yanis Varoufakis is the former finance minister of Greece, author of Adults in the Room: My Battle With the European and American Deep Establishment, and co-founder of the DiEM25 –Democracy in Europe Movement.
James K. Galbraith is an eminent economist, an assistant to Mr. Varoufakis while he was the Greek finance minister, and he chronicled his time in Greece with the book Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe.
They were in Austin for a conference on Democratic Reform in Europe at the LBJ School for Public Affairs.
“[Reparation Ecology] is an invitation to observe these big transformations as reparation. Moving away from capitalism moving toward something much better…it is a deeper way of engaging with the politics of possibility after capitalism.” -Raj Patel
On this edition of The Secret Ingredient hosts Tom Philpott and Rebecca McInroy turn the tables on Raj Patel to interview him along with Jason W. Moore about their new book, A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and The Future of The Planet.
“The work we do is too important to the nation. We are the people who make it possible for every meal to exist. We feed the nation and we ask, have always asked, for the possibility to feed our own families in a dignified way without having to be in a vulnerable position all the time…Right now our community is in need and that is going to be the case for a while…but then the most important thing is not how to go back to normal necessarily, because normal for us it’s poor, it’s vulnerable, it’s all the things that make it really scary when hurricanes hit our area.” –Gerardo Reyes Chavez, Coalition of Immokalee Workers
When hurricane Irma hit the Florida coast in September of 2017, one place under siege was Immokalee, FL; the center of the region’s agriculture industry and home to many immigrant and migrant families, where almost 90% of the nation’s tomatoes are harvested during the winter months.
In this edition of The Secret Ingredient, Raj Patel and Tom Philpott talk with Gerardo Reyes Chavez and Julia Perkins from The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, about not only about what is needed now in the aftermath of this devastating hurricane, but also about why this population is so vulnerable, underserved, and exploited, and what they have done to transform the food industry through the Fair Food Program.
“Most of all I would like more coming to terms with what happened…I think what needs to be done is for all of my fellow citizens in this country to understand what happened and to be able to say, this is what was done and now we must think about how to make the playing field level for all of us in this country, and by some ways for all of us eventually in the world. Because we can’t live by ignoring that past.” –Sidney Mintz
In this bonus edition of The Secret Ingredient, Raj Patel, Tom Philpott and Rebecca McInroy revisit the conversation with anthropologist Sidney Mintz about his seminal work “Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar In Modern History.”
The interview took place in September of 2015 and later that year on December 27th Dr. Mintz passed away.
In this extended interview, Mintz not only 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, but he also talks about his development as an anthropologist and thinker. He discusses his time as a student of anthropology and how he was able to study in Puerto Rico, along with who was influencing his thinking at the time. He also 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 past plays in current volatile racial relations in the U.S.
As hurricanes continue to wreak havoc on the Caribbean and our hearts go out to all those who are suffering, we look to Mintz for wisdom and guidance in the days ahead.
“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.
“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.
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.
“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.”
“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.
“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
perhaps in utero
but it was in another machine
I became this:
the result of a thousand
her way into endurance.
A riot scene like magnets colliding:
the result of high population densities expanding
and then imploding across minute distances.
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.
Tom Philpott is an award winning food writer for Mother Jones, who’s ground-breaking work on almonds exposed a myriad of environmental and ethical issues around almond production in California.