The Man Who …

... in a way ...  holds the future of French cuisine in the palm of his hand, French Agricultural Secretary Bruno Le Maire: Given this short biography, it's not clear where farming enters into his background: Bruno Le Maire became Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries in June 2009. Prior to this appointment he was…

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Disappearing Act: Will Centuries-Old French Fruits and Veggies Go the Way of the Dodo?

According to an article (in French) recently posted on the ASFS (Association for the Study of Food and Society) discussion list (a great list for people interested in food and culture in all their permutations), 25 --- yes, 25 --- familiar fruits and vegetables  --- many that you might consider quintessentially French ---  will soon…

Panning for Gold: Harvesting Honey

Left to their own devices, bees usually built their hives in hollowed-out trees or other such spaces. Through the centuries, people learned how find beehives with their highly sought-after honey. And they started creating new homes for bees, in a number of ways and styles. The following picture essay illustrates some of these unique, and…

Elizabeth Romer’s Chronicle of Tuscan Agriculture

Contemplating the impact of Food Network's publishing juggernaut on the current food scene in America, I find myself turning backwards, to some of the "earlier" writers on food in Italy. Many of these people, like Elizabeth Romer in The Tuscan Year: Life and Food in an Italian Valley (1985), wrote of day-to-day practices, of times…

The Random Herbalist: The Church as Farmer

The Catholic Church influenced many things, even (especially?) agriculture, as this passage from History of the English Landed Interest: Its Customs, Laws, and Agriculture, by Russell Montague Garnier (1908) 2nd. ed, vol. 1, implies. The monastery libraries also held much treasure, opening up the monks to the wonders of old knowledge and enabling them to…

National Agricultural Library (NAL) and Agriculture Network Information Center (AGNIC)

For all those concerned with agriculture and farming these days, check out treasure troves just waiting to be mined. And you'll find both right at your fingertips: the National Agricultural Library of the United States (NAL) and Agriculture Network Information Center (AGNIC). The National Agricultural Library is one of four national libraries of the United…

Reveling in Books: DIY (Old) Food, Knowledge Lost and Now Found

Want to make your own cheese? How about pickles or chow-chow? Sausage and headcheese? Raise a couple of cows or keep a flock of geese? At a time when people want, no, need, to know the how-tos of old foodways, it seems that there’s a book for making just about everything. Fortunately, because this knowledge…

Obama’s “Secretary of Food”: An Idea Whose Time has Come, Thanks to Nicholas Kristof

In the his December 10, 2008 column in The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof states that the name of the department responsible for food and agriculture in the United States should be called the Department of Food. His reasoning is that only 2 percent of the American population actually farms, but 100 percent eats. Good…

Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture: Who Should It Be?

As a food-obsessed person, I am interested in more than just who will be President Barack Obama's White House chef --- I also eagerly await his announcement for his pick for Secretary of Agriculture. In certain circles, people are speculating about who will head up the USDA. George W. Bush has had three different agriculture…