Menu for a Hot Planet

In many ways the human race hit the skids when we stopped throwing spears and gathering berries. Once we started planting seeds and harvesting the produce, we grew shorter, fatter, sicker, and considerably more overworked. An alien visiting from another planet during that critical transition period to a more settled existence might easily have thought that we were being domesticated by our...
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Going Organic

Ten years ago I visited Slovenia to do a report on organic farming for the Bay Area-based organization Food First. I was drawn to the former Yugoslav republic because it had recently joined with several neighboring Italian and Austrian provinces to create the world’s first organic bioregion – the Alpe-Adria. Organic farming made a lot of sense for Slovenia since its farms were relatively...
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Eating History

The GDR Museum in Berlin is actually two museums in one. And these two parts, both devoted to everyday life in the German Democratic Republic, subtly contradict one another. That might not have been the intention of the museum founders. But this tension actually captures the ambiguities of East Germany and the ambivalence that many Germans feel today about the erstwhile communist state. The...
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Jeju Island: Paradise with a Dark Side

I’m standing with a social worker beneath the palm trees outside a municipal building in the main city of Jeju Island. We’re talking about a nearby naval base, which the South Korean government is trying to build and a number of islanders are trying to prevent. She’s repeating a familiar refrain about Jeju — that it’s a paradise on Earth, but one with a dark side. The naval base is...
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Smart Mouth: Extending the range of a food lover, and a marriage

Washington Post, September 2, 2011   When I was in my early 20s, on break from university in England, I spent a whole month in Budapest because I’d read in a guidebook that there are three great world cuisines: French, Chinese . . . and Hungarian. The author of the book was Hungarian, and I was naive. But still, because I was willing to go anywhere for a really good meal, I spent...
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