By Naomi Starkman
originally published on May 2, 2014
Here’s some good food news: Civil Eats was just named the James Beard Foundation’s 2014 Publication of the Year! The Foundation’s Journalism Committee, said:
In judging its Publication of the Year, the Journalism Awards Committee of the James Beard Foundation recognizes a publication that demonstrates fresh direction, worthy ambition, and a forward-looking approach to food journalism. Civil Eats, through its declared passion for “promoting critical thought about sustainable agriculture and food systems,” practices the kind of thorough and fair journalism that helps us make sense of the increasingly complex matter of getting food to our tables.
It’s an incredible honor to receive this award, which acknowledges the spirit and soul of the collective work of our edgy, funky, community supported blog. On behalf of our hundreds of contributors, I am so grateful to the Foundation and the Journalism Committee for this remarkable recognition amongst our esteemed peers.
It is especially meaningful that the Foundation chose to elevate sustainability in food journalism and is placing high value on our unique vision of food reporting through a wider lens. Having made this site my labor of love for many years, and a true passion project, it is truly rewarding to know that we’ve reached a critical mass.
Six years ago, I was brought on to head up communications for Slow Food Nation (SFN), an event that was considered by many to be a watershed moment in the food movement. While crafting the SFN website, we placed a blog front and center, in order to garner more discussion and interest in the event. And it worked. By inviting and curating voices from across the food movement, we attracted nearly one million unique visitors to the site in just a few months.
Slow Food Nation was attended by upwards of 80,000 people and included a victory garden in front of San Francisco’s City Hall, a marketplace, and multiple discussion panels including luminaries such as Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, Wes Jackson, Vandana Shiva, and Alice Waters. It planted a seed that has grown into today’s food movement, a full-fledged garden.
When the event ended, a few of us decided to keep the momentum going, including Editor-at-Large Paula Crossfield, who joined me to accept the award in New York City today. Thus sprang Civil Eats, which has produced thousands of stories by hundreds of contributors since 2009.
Our goal was simple: Create a platform to publish unreported stories from the voices on the frontlines of food politics; be inclusive and support the leading NGOs in the space and help them tell their stories; and stay ahead of and often break news. We did all that and much more for many years, without pay, and without being able to pay our contributors.
All of that changed when we launched our Kickstarter campaign last October. As our readers and supporters know, we successfully raised $100,000, the highest amount to date for content for an online daily news site via Kickstarter. With our new funds, we’ve since been able to bring on a new managing editor, Twilight Greenaway (who’s kicking ass) and have begun to pay our writers and contributors. Our goal is to be able to pay a full staff (including me!) and hire a Washington D.C.-based reporter to cover food policy on the ground.
The James Beard Foundation award for publication of the year proves that content-driven, in-depth dialogue on food systems issues matter. Civil Eats is a spark that ignited the food movement and this award is for everyone who believes that storytelling can transform the world. Thank you all for being such powerful advocates for critical thought and positive change in the food system.
You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and sign up for our new weekly newsletter (coming soon!). Continue to expect big things from us at Civil Eats.
- See more at: http://civileats.com/2014/05/02/civil-eats-named-james-beard-foundations-2014-publication-of-the-year/#sthash.gFmxJmHi.dpuf
by Maria Goody
The Salt PBS originally published June 30, 2013
Being "born with a silver spoon in your mouth" has long been known to
have advantages. Apparently, eating off a silver spoon also has its
perks — it seems to make your food taste better.
word from a group of researchers who've been studying how cutlery,
dishes and other inedible accoutrements to a meal can alter our
perceptions of taste. Their , published in the journal Flavour,
looks at how spoons, knives and other utensils we put in our mouths can
provide their own kind of "mental seasoning" for a meal.
of my wine-drinking colleagues would have me believe that flavor is
really out there on the bottle, in the glass or on the plate," says , a
professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University. "But I think
it is much more something that we ... understand better through looking
at what's happening inside the brain, and not just the mouth of the
person eating or drinking."
Alterations in taste perceptions
aren't necessarily the result of the cutlery itself, he says, but of the
mental associations we bring to a meal. "Silver spoons and other silver
cutlery, I'm guessing, are more commonly associated with high-quality
food in our prior eating experiences," Spence says.
years, psychologists have found that the color and shape of plates and
other dishes can have an impact on the eating experience. Studies have
found, for example, that people tend to eat less when their dishes are
in sharp , that the can alter a drinker's perception of how sweet and aromatic hot cocoa is, and that drinks can when consumed from a glass with a "cold" color like blue.
So why study cutlery? For starters, there wasn't any real scientific literature on the topic, Spence tells Linda Wertheimer on Weekend Edition Sunday.
Or, as he put it to The Salt, cutlery is "one of the few things we
stick in our mouth that others have stuck in their mouths. So it's a
Among Spence's findings so far:
will rate the very same yogurt 15 percent tastier and more expensive
when sampled with a silver spoon rather than a plastic spoon or a
lighter (by weight) option.
Combining a heavier bowl with a heavier spoon will tend to make yogurt taste better.
Plastic packaging or plate ware that's more rounded will tend to emphasize sweetness.
plates tend to bring out the bitterness in food, which works well for
dishes like dark chocolate or coffee-based desserts, Spence says.
People will rate cheeses as tasting saltier when eaten off a knife, compared to a toothpick, spoon or fork.
general, foods tend to be perceived as more enjoyable when eaten off
heavier plates and with heavier cutlery – perhaps because heft is
equated with expense.
Such research isn't merely
academic, Spence says. Food companies use these kinds of studies to
inform how they package their products. And in a world where modernist
chefs already pay lots of attention to how foods are arranged visually
on the plate, cutlery, he suggests, presents a new frontier for fine
Spence has already teamed up with some of the world's
top modernist chefs, using their restaurants as real-world settings to
test findings from the lab. Working with Ferran Adria, the culinary
superstar behind Barcelona's now-shuttered El Bulli, Spence tells us, he
learned that strawberry mousse tastes "10 percent sweeter and 15
percent more flavorful on a white plate than on a black plate."
And this summer, Spence says, he'll explore how ridged spoons impact the dining experience at , the restaurant run by British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal. A previous collaboration between the two resulted in ,
in which diners eat oysters and other seafood while listening to an
iPod playing the sounds of crashing waves. It's become a signature dish
on Fat Duck's tasting menu.
"Maybe in a year or two," Spence tells The Salt, "we will have signature cutlery associated with this chef or that."
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