July 21st, 2014
12:45 PM ET
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She chops. She sautés. She whips up whole healthy meals.

Eleven-year-old Esther Matheny is a natural when it comes to the kitchen, using her cooking skills and creativity to contribute to her family's dinner table in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

This spring, she won a chance to represent her state at the White House Kids' State Dinner by creating and submitting a recipe for Michelle Obama and the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a contest co-sponsored by food site Epicurious. Winners from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands were invited to attend the dinner.

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Filed under: Kids • Video • White House


The complicated politics of the school cafeteria
July 16th, 2014
09:30 AM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Kat Kinsman is the managing editor of CNN Eatocracy. She wrote this essay for the place-themed issue #52 of the SFA's Gravy quarterly.

Angela H. pulled me aside in the lunchroom to tell me that everyone thought my family was poor. This was news to me. So far as I could tell, my sister and I didn’t look anything like the barefoot, swollen-bellied children on the sides of the UNICEF cartons into which we slipped spare pennies. Nor did anyone attempt to gift us with sacks of half-eaten sandwiches, the likes of which our Grandmother Ribando said starving Armenian children would be most grateful to have. (Clean your plates, girls. Clean your plates.)

I pressed her for evidence and she relished the words, tumbling them around in her mouth like a disc of butterscotch before spitting them out on her Jell-O dish: “My mom says it’s weird that your mom wraps your sandwiches in Saran Wrap instead of a Ziploc. And why do you always have carrot sticks and a couple of potato chips when we all have cookies? Did your dad lose his job or something?”

I bought my lunch for the rest of sixth grade, making sure to spring for the chocolate milk instead of white—extra nickel be damned (and sorry, faraway UNICEF urchins). It’s not that I especially enjoyed the grey-meated burgers and leathery green beans slopped on my plate by a rotating cast of conscripted parents, but I loathed the notion that my peers thought they could infer anything personal from my lunch tray.
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Serving food while sick
July 14th, 2014
07:15 PM ET
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"Stay home if you're sick."

That's the message to food industry workers from the nation's public health watchdog, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The problem is staying home isn't an option for food industry workers - 70% of whom are low wage employees with no paid sick days.

The health agency last month issued a bulletin that said the worst food-borne illnesses originated from contaminated food handled by sick workers.
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National security, policy making and ketchup packets
July 14th, 2014
05:00 PM ET
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On America’s 190th birthday in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the “Freedom of Information Act,” a law he described as crucial to the democratic principles of our country.

And FOIA, as it now known, has since become a cornerstone of government openness and individual rights, and was most recently renewed in 2014.

The idea is simple: provide American citizens with information and space to complain regarding the country’s most pressing issues: national security, policy making and ketchup packets.

Yes, ketchup packets.
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July 9th, 2014
09:45 AM ET
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Nidal Hussain clutches a shopping bag as she crosses the four-lane street, weaving through cars and trucks that inch along a main thoroughfare in central Baghdad.

It's late morning under a sweltering sun, and Hussain has joined men, women and children walking to a market where canopied stalls line sidewalks and sometimes spill into the street. It's part of her near daily ritual of buying fresh bread, vegetables, fruits and fish to feed her family.

She steps over broken concrete and puddles of fetid water to get to the Karrada market, named for the central Baghdad neighborhood where it sits.

"Shetreed," a vegetable seller asks Hussain. What do you want?

She inspects a tomato from a green plastic crate, puts it back and chooses another.

Some of these are not that good, she says.

What do you expect with all the trouble? he says.
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Filed under: Disaster • Human Rights • Hunger • War


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