How Healthy Eating Saves You Money On Health Insurance

by | Jun 30, 2010
Day 9

Photo by j.reed

I’ve been a student my entire life so have never had to worry about health insurance. (I’m 30. I know.) As you might expect, I consequently don’t know much about how the whole business works.

One thing I do know, however, is that when I finally have to join the real world and find my own coverage I hope to use it as little as possible. According to today’s guest post, it looks like I’m on the right track.

Yamileth Medina is an up-and-coming expert on health and health insurance plans. She lives in Miami, Florida. Follow her on Twitter @YamilethMedina.

How Healthy Eating Saves You Money On Health Insurance

by Yamileth Medina

We all know eating healthy helps us look and feel our best, but there is another great reason to upgrade your healthstyle: a healthy diet can save you a ton of money on health care costs.

Over the past decade, health insurance rates have skyrocketed. In 2009, monthly premiums in the United States were 131% higher than they were in 2000, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. This is largely due to the high cost of treating diseases related to unhealthy diets.

According to a recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and RTI International, health conditions related to obesity (including type 2 diabetes and heart disease) cost the American health care system over $147 billion each year.

What is this money spent on?

  • Open-heart bypass surgery: up to $20,000
  • Prescription medication and supplies for diabetes: $115 to $177 monthly–for life
  • CPAP machines (to treat sleep apnea): from $150 to $5,000

An obese person costs 42% more to treat than a person of normal weight, which is an additional $1,429. Health insurance plans must pass these costs onto you through higher premiums. In order to recoup these expenses, obese individuals often find it harder to find individual coverage, due to the increased risk of health problems obesity entails.

Much of this cost is passed onto other consumers, since the majority of Americans have employer-sponsored plans from their jobs. Insurers must recoup the increased costs in order to maintain their margins.

Although the Obama administration’s healthcare reform legislation will eventually forbid health insurance companies from denying you a policy due to your health status, that will not take effect until 2014. Still, unhealthy individuals will not be out of the woods: the law also promotes wellness incentives, which promote healthy lifestyle modifications–such as dietary changes. Under the legislation, insurers and employers will be allowed to refund up to 50 percent of the premiums for those who meet the specified goals. That is a significant amount of money that could end up in your pocket if you maintain a healthy weight.

From my personal experience, healthy eating is close to 80 percent of the equation when it comes to weight loss. I was a faithful exerciser for years, but it wasn’t until I changed my diet–to include more vegetables and whole grains–that I started seeing success.

Even if you are lucky enough to be blessed with an extremely fast metabolism, that doesn’t mean that you can eat nothing but junk all day and not suffer any consequences. The “skinny-fat” phenomenon consists of people who appear healthy, but have the cardiovascular profile of someone in poor health. Unhealthy eating habits promote visceral fat, which is invisible to the naked eye but is even more harmful to your well-being than the visible flabby stuff.

In fact, some studies indicate that even if an obese person does not reach a healthy body mass index (BMI), under a healthy eating plan they would nevertheless be healthier than a person of normal weight that had a relatively high percentage of body fat.

Can multivitamins make up for a poor diet? Don’t count on it. When it comes to health, nutrients are not the same as food. There seems to be something special about how all of the nutrients work together in the context of whole foods. In that respect, nature can’t be improved upon.

For several years, insurance companies will still be able to judge your health status and decide on your rates accordingly. Maintaining a healthy weight means you will be free of expensive co-payments for cholesterol and heart disease medication, and benefit from any financial incentives that may come about in the future.

Upgrading your healthstyle also assists you in sticking to a budget; cooking for yourself is far less expensive than eating out one or more times a day. In a nation slowly crawling out of a severe recession, this is especially important.

Above all, your immune system will become stronger–helping you stay healthy and reducing the chance of expensive hospitalizations in the future.

Fortunately the solution for better health is relatively simple. Visiting a farmers market once a week and buying a cookbook or two can save you a substantial amount of money on your health insurance plan in the long run.

Is your diet affecting your health insurance costs?

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Farmers Market Update: Maryland

by | Jun 27, 2010
Lapin & Hedlefingen Cherries

Lapin & Hedlefingen Cherries

My friend E began her healthstyle upgrade at the beginning of 2010, and has shared her journey with Summer Tomato readers in the past. Today she kindly agreed to share her farmers market as well.

E. Foley is a geek girl extraordinaire. She writes amazing online dating profiles for geeks and non-geeks, helping clients all over the world find love. Her writing can be found at Examiner.com, Dating Sites Reviews, and elsewhere as a ghostwriter. By day, she is the Copywriter at ThinkGeek.

Follow her @geeksdreamgirl on Twitter.

Dating profiles for geeks =http://geeksdreamgirl.com

Farmers Market Update: Maryland

by E. Foley

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of Darya’s constant Californicating. Those of us on the best (aka East) coast of the U.S. appreciate our farmers markets on a far deeper level because we only get them from May through November. Such is the case in my home state of Maryland.

(Really, I love Darya and the Californicating actually helps me plan for things coming into season over here.)

Maters

Maters

Summer Veggies

Summer Veggies

I’ve been working with Darya on my healthstyle since the beginning of 2010 and am proud to report I’ve lost about 20 pounds without ever feeling deprived. In fact, I feel like I eat way tastier things now. I’m still having the occasional cookie or bacon cheeseburger, but on the whole, my healthstyle is much improved as a result of having her coaching me.

My boyfriend and I have visited all the farmers markets in a 20 mile radius and we’ve decided to call the Olney Farmers and Artists Market home. Out of all the markets we visited, this one seemed to have the best mix of vendors. These pictures are from my trip on Sunday, June 13th.

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

Fresh Corn

Fresh Corn

One of the common things I’ve heard from the farmers is that the unseasonably hot weather lately has pushed the growing season up a bit. Last week, I tried two new-to-me things: garlic scapes and saskatoon berries. With the garlic scapes, I made a delicious (albeit really strong!) pesto. I also threw them into pretty much everything we cooked last week. Saskatoon berries taste like a cross between a blueberry and a sweet apple. They were great in pancakes as well as a spread I made by blending them with local chevre.

This week, neither scapes nor saskatoons were available. Asparagus, another spring favorite of mine, has also disappeared. Since we have absolutely fabulous local goat cheese from Cherry Glen Farm, I was making lots of Asparagus & Goat Cheese Quesadillas. (Feel free to throw garlic scapes in there if you still have them!)

Red Onions

Red Onions

Flowers

Flowers

But summer is moving in quickly! Last week’s strawberries are being pushed out by blueberries, cherries, raspberries, and blackberries. I’m getting over mono, so I can’t drink alcohol quite yet, but I’m sensing a blackberry mojito in my future.

Mojito Time!

Mojito Time!

Blackberries

Blackberries

My one beef with this market is that some of the farmers don’t put up signs to identify what farm they’re from and me being me, I forget to ask. The list below is labeled as best as I could!

Purple Kohlrabi

Purple Kohlrabi

Purchases:

  • Organic Spring Mix (Sligo Creek Farm)
  • Cherries (Falcon Ridge Farm)
  • Eggs (Fox Hollow Farm)
  • Green Bell Peppers (Penn Farm)
  • Cucumbers (Penn Farm)
  • Purple Kohlrabi
  • Shelled Peas
  • Pattypan Squash
  • Beets (with the most BEAUTIFUL GREENS!!)

I have a question for you Summer Tomato fans. What’s your favorite thing to do with kohlrabi?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Jun 25, 2010

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Outstanding reading to be found this week on the interwebs; tough cuts were made. Please read the landmark essay about why the gulf oil spill may be the last we know of bluefin tuna. You should also read about what is going down over California’s strawberry crop. The good news? Gourmet Magazine is coming back…in iPad form!

I’ve also had a lot of fun recently answering questions over at Formspring. Have a question? Ask me anything! www.formspring.me/daryapino

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete reading list join me on Digg. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

  • Tuna’s End <<You probably don’t want to know why you shouldn’t eat tuna. No one likes to hear that what they’ve been doing since childhood is devastating our world, but I urge you to be a bigger person and look at the facts. We cannot eat tuna anymore, but maybe there are alternatives. (New York Times)
  • Misleading Food Labels <<Fat-free half & half? WTF? (Michael Ruhlman)
  • Pork Board Issues Cease-and-Desist Letter Over Unicorn Meat <<BS of the week. I’ll start by saying that ThinkGeek’s offending action was a #@$%ing April Fool’s Day joke. I’ll continue by stating that nutritionally pork is red meat, not white meat, despite the misleading slogan the Pork Board claims rights to (in my opinion they should be sued for false advertising). I’ll end with this quote, “The National Pork Board has just proven, beyond all doubt, that they are the stupidest motherf*ckers on the planet.” Nuff said. (Vegan)
  • Controversial Pesticide Worries Scientists <<The growing trend of scientists being blatantly ignored by government is beyond troubling. Anyone who enjoys facts should be outraged–especially if you eat strawberries. (NPR)
  • Don’t Sound Like a Tool: The Most Mispronounced Menu Words of All Time <<Have a date coming up? You’ll thank me for this one (hint: there’s audio). (SFWeekly)
  • Restaurant Offers Lion Burgers. They’re Grrrrross! <<I wish this were BS of the week, but unfortunately it’s true. I think it has something to do with soccer. I don’t know what to say. (TreeHugger)
  • Gourmet Magazine Revived for the iPad <<Don’t know about the rest of you foodie tech geeks, but this made my week. (New York Times)
  • Coffee Might Guard Against Head, Neck Cancers <<I’m starting to wonder why anyone ever thought coffee was bad for you. Maybe it seems too good to be true, but all I’ve seen are positives for moderate coffee consumption. Mmm…data. (Medline)
  • Iodine Levels a Worry as Salt Use Declines <<Everyone is hating on salt these days, but like most things it does have its place in a healthy diet. Though most people in industrial societies are not deficient in iodine, pregnant women and people on very low salt diets should be sure they are getting their minimum iodine levels. (Medline)
  • Grilled Steak and Arugula Salad with White Beans and Shiitake Mushrooms <<Supposedly this recipe can break the mushroom hater of their unfortunate aversion. Steak to the rescue! (The Bitten Word)

What greatness did you read this week?

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Greek Fava Bean Stew Recipe

by | Jun 21, 2010

Favas unshelled, shelled and skinned

Favas unshelled, shelled and skinned

My friend Benjy recently pulled up to my door with 5 lbs of magnificent fava beans from his overflowing garden. And as luck would have it, along with the beans came an amazing recipe for a Greek fava bean stew.

I cooked it this past weekend and can’t recommend it enough. It is simple, elegant and insanely delicious, yet it is unlike any fava dish I’ve had in the past. This recipe is a true gem.

Since I didn’t have rice like the recipe calls for I added a bit of cooked farro to the stew. I also garnished it with a hint of crème fraiche, because I had it.

Huge thanks to Benjy for sharing this wonderful recipe.

Benjy Weinberger has been eating food for over 30 years, and has held strong opinions for almost as long.

Read his personal blog: http://jamknife.blogspot.com/
Follow him on Twitter: @benjyw

The Fabulous Fava Bean

by Benjy Weinberger

As Tennyson wrote, “In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love”. In my case, it turns to love of the fava bean. This delicious legume makes an all-too-brief appearance in the late spring and early summer. Blink and you’ll miss the fava season. So don’t blink, get down to your favorite farmers market and load up.

Favas, or broad beans, are a staple in Egypt, where they are known as ‘Ful’, and are popular in Iran, Italy, Greece and elsewhere around the Mediterranean. Many recipes use dried favas, which are available  year-round, but there’s nothing quite as good as the fresh variety.

Fava bean root nodules

Fava bean root nodules

Favas are easy to grow, with a single plant growing multiple stalks up to 6 feet high and yielding several pounds of unshelled beans. Plant them in late fall for a spring crop. Like all legumes, favas are notable for fixing nitrogen in their root nodules, thus replenishing the soil throughout the winter. As a result they make a great cover crop, and can be plowed under to make way for summer plantings–after harvesting the precious pods of course.

Favas are high in protein, fiber and other nutrients, and have a strong, meaty flavor when cooked, so that you don’t need a lot of them in a dish.  But note that two pounds of unshelled pods yields just under a pound of shelled beans. Fava bean pods can be 6″-10″ in length when fully mature. After shelling, a pod yields 3-6 beans, each of which is encased in a skin. Some recipes require removal of this skin, and the best way to do this is to soak the beans in boiling water for a few minutes, after which the flesh will pop out easily.

One caution: In rare cases, people with G6PD deficiency, a hereditary disease, may have an adverse reaction to fava beans. In these severe cases the disease is known as “favism”. So make sure your dinner guests know what you are serving, which is a good practice anyway.

Pasta dishes love fava beans–try sauteing the skinned beans in olive oil with some chopped leeks, and add a little cream, black pepper and shaved parmesan on some penne. Or blend some cooked, skinned beans with parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper and spread on crostini as an antipasti. Or of course you could follow the advice of Hannibal Lecter and serve them with liver and a nice chianti….

But my favorite Fava dish has to be the hearty breakfast stew of mashed favas, onion, garlic and lemon juice that is known in Egypt as Ful Medames. It is best eaten with hummus. The following recipe is a variant on
this stew, possibly of Greek origin.

Eti’s Fava Stew

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 lbs of fava bean pods (yielding just over a pound of shelled beans)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 bunches of green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large or 2 small bunches of fresh dill, chopped
  • Juice from 1 lemon.
  • Optional: 4 chunks of marrow bone.
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Boiling water

Directions:

  • Shell the pods. Skin 1/4 of the beans by blanching them in boiling water for a few minutes and removing the skin.
  • Nick the skin of the remaining beans carefully with a paring knife so the cooking sauces can permeate the bean.
  • In a deep saucepan, saute the onion, green onion and skinless beans in some olive oil.
  • For extra-deep flavor, add in the marrow bone chunks.
  • Add salt and pepper.
  • Add remaining fava beans, drizzle with the lemon juice and stir.
  • Sprinkle the chopped dill on top.
  • Add boiling water until the dill is covered and bring to a boil.
  • Cover the saucepan and simmer for 2-3 hours, adding water if needed.

Serve over rice.

How do you cook fava beans?

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Farmers Market Update: Father’s Day

by | Jun 20, 2010
Assorted Sweet Peppers

Assorted Sweet Peppers

I want to start today by saying there is no one on earth I love more than my dad. Walking around the farmers market this weekend I wished more than anything that he could be with me to see and taste all the amazing produce we have right now here in San Francisco. He’s such a sucker for good food made or grown by people and families who truly care about what they’re doing. I know he’d love it here and I can’t wait until he visits next.

This is a particularly special time of year for fruit lovers. Last week the best cherries were the deep red bing and brooks varieties, but this week the yellow-red rainier cherries finally came into their own, rivaling the sweetness of even the best of the red cherries.

Rainier & Bing Cherries

Rainier & Bing Cherries

White Peaches

White Peaches

We are also in the middle of the fleeting dark berry season. Most of the dark berries are hybrids of blackberries and raspberries. Boysenberries are the most well known hybrid, but today I also found fresh logan and olallie berries. Olallies are my dad’s favorite (I bought 3 boxes in his honor).

Peaches & Nectarines

Peaches & Nectarines

Mature Fava Beans

Mature Fava Beans

But of course, fruit is not all that is special about this time of year. The fava beans are peaking and now’s your chance to get in on this springtime delicacy. I’ll be featuring a spectacular recipe for a Persian fava bean stew next week.

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

Squash Blossoms

Squash Blossoms

Also in the early summer you can find beautiful squash blossoms. These are a wonderful treat that pair particularly well with eggs or on pizza. They are also delicious stuffed with goat cheese and herbs, and fried in tempura batter. Decadent, but certainly worth it.

Spanish Red Garlic

Spanish Red Garlic

Sweet Red Onions

Sweet Red Onions

Garlic and onions, while generally consistent, are at their best this time of year. It is nearly impossible for Photoshop to do justice to the neon fuchsia color of the sweet red onions in this photo, but in person they seemed to almost glow with radiance in the morning sun.

Lavendar and Sweet Peas

Lavendar and Sweet Peas

Violet Sweet Peppers

Violet Sweet Peppers

Looking ahead, peppers are what I am most excited about in the coming months, but they are already starting to impress me with their smell and color. This is, however, a fantastic time to start buying pimientos de padrón (another of Dad’s favorites), as they will continue to get spicier as the season progresses.

Happy Father’s Day Dad!

xoxo

Today’s purchases:

What’s your dad’s favorite fresh produce?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Jun 18, 2010

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Some great reads this week. There’s scary news for those of us who spend a lot of time at the computer, as well as a terrifying example of what it means to be a food-like product. On the other side, there’s some good news about cholesterol.

I’m still participating in the Inkwell interview at The Well with David Gans and Diane Brown until June 23. Have questions for me or just want to eavesdrop? Come join us! http://bit.ly/9n1v8O

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you there. (Note: If you want a follow back on Twitter introduce yourself with an @ message).

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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Summer Salad With Poached Egg

by | Jun 16, 2010
Poached Egg Salad

Poached Egg Salad

Several weeks ago I wrote about how to make your salads more satisfying by adding extra protein, fat and whole grains. In this recipe I experiment with poaching eggs, which turned out to be easier than I expected.

To me poached eggs have always seemed like an impossible delicacy best left to San Francisco’s finest brunching establishments. The few times I tried poaching eggs before turned out to be a disaster, so I erroneously assumed the skills required were beyond my grasp.

Turns out I just wasn’t doing it right and it is actually pretty easy.

As you might guess, my fear of cooking poached eggs was conquered by the wisdom of Mark Bittman in his book How To Cook Everything. For me the problem was in the temperature of the water. To keep the eggs from being torn apart by boiling bubbles, the temperature must be kept just below the boiling point.

Problem solved.

Summer Salad With Poached Egg

Ingredients:

  • Gem lettuces
  • Treviso (or radicchio)
  • Summer tomato
  • Yellow crooked neck squash
  • Mediterranean cucumber
  • Avocado
  • French green lentils (cooked)
  • Green onion
  • Basil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Farm fresh eggs
  • White vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

For the eggs, start heating a deep skillet or shallow pot with 1 inch deep water. Add 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp white vinegar. Heat the water until it barely bubbles, around 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

For salads I recommend using your best farmers market greens, but anything colorful you can find will work (this salad is wonderful with frisée). The list above is what I used, but obviously whatever you have around is fine.

I’m a big fan of adding raw summer squash to salads, but the quality of the squash is very important if you are eating it raw. The fresher the better.

Chop your greens and vegetables while your water is heating and prepare your salad dressing. With eggs I love to use a red wine Dijon vinaigrette. Something about the mustard and egg combination is divine.

My vinaigrette recipe is as simple as it gets:

Add 1/4 cup high-quality extra virgin olive oil and just under 1/4 cup red wine vinegar. Add 1-2 tsp Dijon mustard to taste, salt and pepper to taste and whisk with a fork for a few seconds. Taste and adjust the condiments until you like it.

Personally I do not think it is necessary to add sugar to salad dressing, but some people do. You can also add 1 tsp of finely diced shallots or some minced garlic if you want extra flavor.

In a large bowl, toss your vegetables with your dressing. After this add your lentils (or brown rice or nuts), and toss again. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Use tongs to plate your salad and get ready to prep your eggs.

Rinse your eggs and crack them one at a time into a small bowl or large serving spoon. Gently lower each egg into the warm water and release it into the pan (use a larger pan for batches greater than 2). Allow the egg to cook until the yolk has filmed over and the white is set, about 3-5 minutes.

Remove egg with a slotted spoon, drain off water and carefully place the egg on top of your salad. Garnish with pepper and serve immediately. Poached eggs go particularly nicely with sour toast.

Do you have any tips for poaching eggs?

Originally published June 24, 2009.

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Changing Seasons: Why Fresh Food Is Never Boring

by | Jun 14, 2010
Cauliflower

Cauliflower

People sometimes ask me how I am able to constantly write about healthy food. It’s a valid question, in a little over a year I’ve published nearly 400 articles on the subject. How do I have so much to say? Don’t I ever get bored? Don’t my poor readers and fellow eaters get tired of hearing the same thing?

Diet (a word I can’t stand to use) often gets lumped into the same category as fitness and exercise. And in many people’s minds the associations are not pleasant. Healthy eating means plain boring salads, steamed vegetables, flabby chicken and no fun whatsoever. Exercise means slaving away on a treadmill getting nowhere.

Only crazy people like to talk about this stuff all the time, right? I think so. But of course that is not what I’m talking about.

There is a huge difference between exercise and sports. Sports are fun, they are goal oriented. They are social, build friendships and self-esteem. People in every part of the world enjoy both watching and playing sports in some form or another. Sports are even fun to talk about.

When’s the last time you got into a long discussion at a bar about your bicep workout?

A similar difference can be pointed out between fresh, seasonal foods and flavorless diet foods (or even typical processed foods and chain restaurants). While steamed broccoli and grilled chicken can get old in a hurry, the changing seasons brings us a non-stop assortment of the freshest, most delicious foods in the world. It’s impossible to get bored when cherry season only lasts a few weeks and asparagus is gone before you know it.

Not only does the changing seasons mix up our plates and inspire new kitchen experiments, but the seasons are different year to year. Just like wine vintages fluctuate in quality depending on weather, so do all other crops. The cool thing about food though, is different plants flourish under different conditions. So each year brings new highlights and surprises.

Food is by far one of the most interesting, dynamic and pleasurable aspects of life. It brings us joy, makes us healthy, builds friendships and strengthens our community.

This food is worth talking about.

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Farmers Market Update: Tuscany

by | Jun 13, 2010

Favas

I am absolutely honored to introduce Judy Witts: Tuscan market maven, cooking teacher, Italian life coach and author of the Divina Cucina book of Tuscan recipes.

Judy lives, shops and teaches cooking in Florence, the central city in the Italian region of Tuscany. I spent several months in Tuscany during college (my home was in Siena) and I’m delighted to have someone as knowledgeable as Judy share with you the magic of the region.

What I find particularly fascinating and inspirational about Judy’s account is her emphasis on the vendors themselves. Though at a farmers market we tend to focus on the food, it is essential to remember that none of it would be there without the care and passion of those who produce it.

Find more of Judy’s market adventures and recipes at her blog Over A Tuscan Stove and follow her on Twitter @divinacucina

Thank you Judy, and I hope the next time we share a meal it is in your neighborhood!

Farmers Market Update: Tuscany

by Judy Witts

I have had a thing for markets for as long as I can remember. Before working in hotels and starting a professional career in food, I loved to travel and was always drawn to markets to explore what the locals ate before heading out on my own.

I lived near the Plaka in Athens for 3 month–over 30 years ago–and can still remember the smell of brined olives and huge cauldrons of boiling tripe and soups at the late night market. Sitting and eating there was like living in a Fellini film.

Duccio Siena

Duccio Siena

Antonio

Antonio

When I moved to Florence in 1984, I found myself drawn once again to the hectic market space to learn the language of food in my new country. Shopping was my way to understand not just the language but customs, and also gather recipes.

In every new town I visit markets are still the first stop for me to see what is the same and what is different.

New Garlic

New Garlic

New Potatoes

New Potatoes

For my cooking classes we plan our menus at the market, celebrating local traditions and the seasons. Why plan a menu only to arrive and find you have chosen ingredients which are not in season?

New Red Onions

New Red Onions

My Italian mother-in-law taught me to spend more time shopping and less time cooking.

The secret behind this is to buy ingredients in season at the height of their flavor peak, which means you need less fussy cooking to create a great meal.

Tenerumi

Tenerumi

Apricots

Apricots

Having a few high quality pantry items also makes your cooking taste better.

Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano

In Tuscany this means extra virgin olive oil and some sea salt. I have traditional balsamic vinegar and some homemade red wine vinegar, which is popular in Tuscany.

Porchetta

Porchetta

Just Eggs

Just Eggs

I shop at the local markets weekly or head down to Florence for their covered Central Market. Recently I toured Bologna to visit the Slow Food Market and Rome to see the newly rebuilt Mercato Trionfale.

Meat

Meat

Herbs

Herbs

Not only do I go to the markets for the food, but also for the artisan butchers and the purveyors.

Mannetti Maialino

Mannetti & Maialino

For Italians, these are not just jobs but traditions which have been passed down through generations. Each artisan is an expert in his field. What better way to learn to cook and, more so, how to eat?!

Giovanni

Giovanni

Marcello

Marcello

We are currently heading into the summer. tomatoes are sold green from local farms and ripe red from Sicily and Puglia, where the sun and volcanic soil work quickly to ripen fruits and vegetables.

Green Tomatoes

Green Tomatoes

Bad weather is also a gift, a raining day followed by heat, gives us porcini mushrooms.

Hug your butcher. Bring cookies to your vegetable purveyor–your health is in their hands!

Stefano Conti

Stefano Conti

Ricardo

Ricardo

Love yourself and treat yourself to the best, you deserve it.

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For The Love Of Food

by | Jun 11, 2010

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Let’s start with some news. I’ll be on The Block Radio podcast this morning sometime between 7am and 10am PST talking about how to make the most of your farmers market trip. It will be archived on the site once it airs. The interview was inspired by an article/slideshow I had at The Huffington Post last weekend, Top 10 Mistakes Made By Farmers Market Noobz.

Also, for the next two weeks I’m participating in the Inkwell interview at The Well with David Gans and Diane Brown. Have questions for me or just want to eavesdrop? Come join us!

Lots of good news in the food world this week. Brian Wansink demonstrates that it’s pretty easy to trick kids into making smarter food choices at lunch. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn posting calories really does help people eat less. And local meats are easier to find than ever. w00t!

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you there. (Note: If you want a follow back on Twitter introduce yourself with an @ message).

Links of the week

What good stuff did you learn this week?

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