What We’re Reading: December 7, 2013

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This week, our editors share stories about the benefits of age, foods that make heirlooms seem nutrient poor, Mexico’s bold new soda tax and more.

Betsy Davidson: The Aged Issue — Kinfolk
Just last week, the mailman delivered a copy of Kinfolk‘s “The Aged Issue” (a magazine that feels more like a book). As I had a minor-milestone birthday last week, receiving anything about aging made me wonder who was this anonymous birthday well-wisher. All puzzlement was dashed upon flipping through the first pages. This is a glorious tribute to all things that get better with time: family relationships, traditions and recipes, well-worn kitchen tools, food and, of course, a good bottle of wine. Gray hairs be damned.

Gabrielle Langholtz: Eating “Wilder” Foods for a Healthier Diet — Science Friday
This “Science Friday” interview with Jo Robinson, author of Eating on the Wild Side, made me realize that heirloom vegetables are (figuratively) just small  potatoes, and that our agricultural debasement of plant genetics is about as old as agriculture itself. Fascinating stuff, complete with what to do about it, even if you don’t own a time machine.

Carrington Morris: Nelson Mandela: prisoner, president…gardener?The Christian Science Monitor
“Pressing his wardens for garden pots was one of his many smaller battles behind bars to compel the apartheid regime to acknowledge the dignity of its political prisoners. Yet he gladly graced his wardens’ tables with the vegetables he grew.” This tribute to one of the great figures of our lifetime shines a light on Mandela’s regard for working the soil—revealing how he deemed access to a garden while incarcerated a recognition of his humanity, and then characteristically returned that recognition in kind.

Brian Halweil: Food Tech Media Startup Funding, M&A and Partnerships October 2013Food+Tech Connect
A recent look at the ever-evolving food startup landscape.

Amy Zavatto: Judy Rodgers, Chef of Refined Simplicity, Dies at 57NY Times
There was so much going on this week on so many different planes (world news, food news, professionally, personally), I missed the very sad announcement of the passing of chef Judy Rodgers — a shock for her age, 57, but also because her cookbook based on her incredible San Francisco restaurant, Zuni Café, remains so vibrant. It has long been one I hold close; a desert island cookbook, if you will. She was on my list of people I wanted to meet and interview someday — or, at least, just to tell her how much I love her book and can’t live without it.

Marissa Finn: ¡Viva México!NY Times
Bravo, Mexico! Some good news from Bittman, and I can’t wait to see how this pans out: A new soda tax “is scheduled to be imposed in the new year, not in the supposedly progressive public health bastions of New York or San Francisco (though that city looks set to vote again on a soda tax in 2014), but in a country many Americans view as backward: Mexico… There’s at least preliminary agreement that much of the money from the new taxes be used for public health, including giving all schools drinking fountains that dispense purified water.”

Lauren Wilson: Vanities, and Hungry New YorkersNY Times
With SNAP waging serious financial battles, local food banks are under increasing pressure. Bellafante highlights a sad and strange sign of the times that hits home; how is it that a recent purchase of Tom Wolfe’s papers by the New York Public Library for $2.5 million is more than twice the amount that has ever been gifted by an individual to the Food Bank for New York City?

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