Top 16 TED Talks for Foodists

by | Mar 19, 2014

JO_ted

This week the amazing TED conference is going on in Vancouver. For those of you who have never heard of a TED talk until today, you’re welcome.

TED collects the most interesting people in the world and gives them the stage for 20 minutes. Inevitably they will expand your mind in some way or another, even in topics you didn’t think you were interested in.

To commemorate the awesomeness which is TED, I compiled a list of my favorite TED talks to educate and inspire foodists. These talks focus on food, health, habits, happiness and quality of life. I’d love to hear which are your favorites and what you enjoy most about them.

Stay thirsty, my foodists.
Read the rest of this post »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

For the Love of Food

by | Nov 8, 2013
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

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

This week broccoli is 43% less pretentious than kale, weight loss improves your sex life, and a new secret to making workouts more enjoyable.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

Read the rest of this post »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Food Labels: The Only Thing You Need To Know

by | Sep 23, 2013

Photo by {Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester}

It’s no secret that my favorite foods rarely have labels. Whenever possible I recommend starting with raw ingredients from the produce aisle, fish counter and butcher, and building your meal from scratch. Seasonal ingredients from your local farmers market are better still, and tastier to boot.

But I’m also aware that we don’t live in a perfect world, and sometimes we find ourselves in circumstances that aren’t particularly conducive to healthy eating. Eventually most of us will end up staring blankly at the back of a plastic container or cardboard box, wondering what evils will descend upon us if we choose this packaged morsel over another.

Food labels have become stupidly complicated, not to mention misleading. Instant oatmeal mixes have “30% more protein” (huh?). Several brands of granola and crackers at my favorite health food store include “love” on their ingredient list (how is this legal?). Products without any animal-based ingredients proudly showcase that they’re “cholesterol free,” as if it were possible for plants to produce cholesterol (or dietary cholesterol even had a measurable impact on your health). And sometimes it seems like every processed food under the sun has the American Heart Association’s stamp of approval (Thanks guys, real helpful.).

Don’t kid yourself, these labels are not about health. They’re about selling more food at higher prices. The data consistently show that people (that includes you and me) are willing to pay more for a product if we think it has a special health benefit. Unless the system changes, expected to be bombarded with misleading food labels for the rest of time.

Fortunately, navigating the insanity is fairly simple.
Read the rest of this post »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Nutritionism 101

by | Jun 19, 2013

Photo by {Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester}

Long time readers know that I’m a huge fan of today’s guest blogger, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, and his pithy and entertaining blog Weighty Matters.

Read the rest of this post »

Tags: , , , , ,

For The Love Of Food

by | Feb 15, 2013

For The Love of Food

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

This week vitamin C fights colds for real, working out less may be more and why you’re eating more than you realize.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

Links of the week


What inspired you this week?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Truth and Marketing: Why Sliced Bread Was Never A Great Invention

by | Aug 13, 2012
sliced bread

Photo by mattburns.co.uk

Food marketers have been at it for nearly a century. They’re saving us time, making it ever easier for us to consume their products, and all they ask in return is to charge us a little extra for the “convenience.” Bless their hearts.

When pressed, most of us will acknowledge that the top priority of food marketers is not to make our lives easier or tastier, but to get us to eat (and spend) more. What’s truly remarkable is that despite knowing this, we still parrot and defend their ideas as ardently as if we’d thought of them ourselves.

Do you really believe Krispy Kreme makes the best doughnuts, Ben & Jerry’s makes the best ice cream or life is impossibly difficult without pre-sliced bread? My guess is you probably do, or at least did at some point.

But the reality is none of these things are true, and that we think they are is just a sign of brilliant marketing.

Food isn’t like other products. There are people who buy every single gadget that Apple creates, and if Apple started making twice as many products per year those people would still buy them all. But humans can only eat so much food, which makes it difficult for food companies to expand their market and be competitive.

Enter “added value.”

Sliced bread, instant oatmeal and single serving Go-gurt are all examples of foods designed to be easier to eat. And companies correctly assume that we are happy to pay more for the free time these conveniences allot us.

But does this freedom really make our lives better?

I would never argue that time doesn’t have value. Though I think there is a strong case for slowing down and taking time to eat mindfully, I certainly see the appeal of fast and portable food. As a PhD student, writer and website owner I know what it means to be busy.

But convenience is not the only thing you get when marketers sell you on their products. You also eat more, and you eat worse.

Because sliced bread is easier to eat, people tend to eat more of it, along with whatever they choose to put on top. Additionally, since real bread quickly becomes stale when cut into smaller pieces food companies have had to find new (non-ecofriendly) packaging and add preservatives, dough conditioners and other chemicals to keep breads soft.

The ingredient list on a loaf of Wonder Bread is truly remarkable:

Wheat Flour, Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup or Sugar, Yeast, Contains 2% or Less of: Ferrous Sulfate (Iron), B Vitamins (Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Folic Acid), Barley Malt, Soybean Oil, Salt, Calcium Carbonate (Ingredient in Excess of Amount Present in Regular Enriched White Bread), Wheat Gluten, Dough Conditioners (Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Mono and Diglycerides, Calcium Dioxide, Datem and/or Azodicarbonamide) Vitamin D3. Calcium Sulfate, Vinegar, Yeast Nutrients (Monocalcium Phosphate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Ammonium Sulfate, Ammonium Phosphate and/or Ammonium Chloride) Cornstarch, Wheat Starch, Soy Flour, Whey, Calcium Propionate (to Retain Freshness), Soy Lecithin.

In contrast the bread I buy at Acme, my local bakery, is made of flour, water, yeast and salt. Special loaves may contain olives or herbs, but you get the general idea.

I have to cut it myself and it doesn’t last long if I leave it on the counter (it freezes absolutely beautifully), but the bread at Acme is also some of the best tasting bread I’ve had in my life.

Are you shocked that my Acme loaf costs around $2, while Wonder Bread costs close to $4?

I don’t eat much bread, because it is not particularly healthy. But I enjoy burgers, pizza, sandwiches, naan and other traditional foods way too much to cut it out completely. Reasonable quantities of bread can easily be incorporated into a healthy diet, particularly if you exercise regularly. But bread is not health food and eating as little as you’re comfortable with is generally a good idea.

We do not need unhealthy foods to be more convenient or less expensive. And if you’re going to put health aside and eat them anyway they should also taste absolutely amazing, not good or even pretty good.

Does pre-sliced bread really make the cut? I don’t think so.

Sliced bread was never a great invention, it was great marketing. ”The best thing since sliced bread” was derived from an ad campaign claiming it’s invention was “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped.”

The phrase may be perfect for describing brilliant marketing (“The best added value campaign since sliced bread”) but do we really need to continue propagating the message that low-quality convenience food is the best invention of the past 100 years?

If we want a true benchmark for greatness, maybe we should change it to “the greatest thing since the iPhone.”

Just for fun, here’s a video of Seth Godin’s TED talk about marketing and the sliced bread campaign.

How great is your bread?

Originally published September 1, 2010.

Tags: , , , , ,

For The Love Of Food

by | May 25, 2012

For The Love of Food

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

Why eating organic food doesn’t make you a jerk, how a pastry chef in Paris keeps his man-ish figure, and how NOT to get your husband to eat better.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomatoGoogle+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

For The Love Of Food

by | Oct 28, 2011

For The Love of Food

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

Good stuff this week, particularly the new data about why diets don’t work, why probiotics do work and some interesting examples of how the food industry is responding to the food movement. Oh yes, and the invention of super broccoli.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links on Twitter (@summertomato), Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

Tags: , , , , , , ,

For The Love Of Food

by | Sep 30, 2011

For The Love of Food

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

I had to restrain myself from including 20 articles in this week’s post, but for your sake I kept it to my usual top 10. Whatever you do don’t miss Bittman’s calculations on the price of broccoli versus McDonald’s, how easy it is to sell fruit to kids, how global warming is affecting the fishing industry, how the food industry is responding to the Real Food movement, and the other five articles.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links on Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,