A few weeks ago, Slow Food USA challenged Americans to make a meal that costs five dollars or less per person—about the cost of eating fast food—to prove that eating pure (not processed) food doesn’t have to be expensive. It also had the corollary effect of proving that cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as rice and beans. According to Slow Food USA President Josh Viertel, more than 30,000 people took the challenge, and 5,500 events were held that day. Me? I attended Slow Food Urban San Diego’s event in Little Italy and then devoured Chef Chad White’s $5 stew at Sea Rocket Bistro (recipe below). I also asked some fellow San Diego food bloggers to chime in with the $5 recipes they love, and I hope they will inspire you to cook for family or friends tonight. Nothing brings everyone together like a home-cooked meal, and there’s nothing better than being in control of the good ingredients going into it!
On September 17th, Slow Food USA challenged the nation to cook a meal for $5 or less per person to prove that real food is an equally affordable alternative to fast food. From Slow Food Urban San Diego‘s (SFUSD) event at the Little Italy’s farmers’ market to the Let There Be Bite goodie bag giveaway at Sea Rocket Bistro (tasting their $5 stew and much more), it was decidedly an eating extravaganza. Above: SFUSD offered various recipes with ingredients that could all be found just steps away at the market.
My first encounter with Lisa Lillien, or Hungry Girl as her fans know her, was via a 100-calorie snack pack my friend was eating. She said she was eating it because Hungry Girl had recommended it in one of her daily newsletters extolling diet advice. I looked at the ingredients. I looked at her. I asked her if it bothered her that most of them were preservatives or synthetically made in a laboratory. She shrugged and said “no.” Judging from Hungry Girl’s success (several books, a Food Network show, a brand spokesperson), apparently many people are willing to make this trade-off: size 4 jeans today, potential health complications tomorrow.
As some of you know, I am giving away a Let There Be Bite cotton tote packed with award-winning products to one lucky winner who submits a $5 meal recipe by September 25th. Click here for details. But if you happen to be in San Diego on September 17th, don’t miss two fun events being held in celebration of Slow Food USA’s national challenge (as well as a chance to win a second LTBB goodie bag!).
On September 17th, Slow Food USA is challenging people across the country to prepare a meal that costs less than $5 per person to prove it’s possible to eat well and not break the bank. Cook a meal with friends, have a potluck, or host a public event. Read more about the event here. [This is purely informational; you do not need to register on Slow Food’s site unless you’re hosting a public event.]
PHOTO ESSAY: Visiting my brother and his family in Santa Cruz with a stop at Manresa restaurant in nearby Los Gatos
Okay, the purple butterfly might be a little much, but I like the message, don’t you? As I continue to watch floods, tornadoes, and fires stampede across the country (sorry, but no one can convince me it’s not because of climate change and greenhouse gases), I know we can do better. We can conserve more, recycle more, live greener and with better intentions for the future of this ailing planet—at least I know I can. Want to join me?
“30th on 30th“—held on 30th Street on the 30th of each month in North Park, San Diego—is a food and drink event that promotes a handful of neighborhood restaurants while also encouraging the community to come together and celebrate chefs who value sustainable and local ingredients. Eaters can enjoy an affordable bite and one of San Diego’s renowned craft beers in front of the establishments, so people can essentially “food hop,” if you will, from one place to another. In the end, it’s a bit like a food-obsessed block party, and—in the eighth largest city in the country—patrons are able to enjoy the communal bounty of just one tasty street.
Never have I seen such a seductive town as Madison, Wisconsin. Nope, not New Orleans, not New York, but this capital city between two lakes in the northern Midwest, renowned simultaneously for educational research and drinking prowess, tempered by what is at times unbearably frigid weather (but that can be fun, too—who gets a “snow day” in grad school?). Yes, as a double graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, I have watched time and again an eye-rolling high schooler dragged on an admissions tour by her alumni parents (a gleam in their eye so bright with nostalgia they’re practically planning another toga party) only to watch that student show up the next day with the same wide smile and a bright red UW Badger hat, exclaiming, “This place is awe-some!!” Legendary UW football coach Barry Alvarez said when recruiting athletes he just had to take them down State Street, the pedestrian-only main drag that connects the capital building to the campus, populated with restaurants, bars, and shops. The city takes care of the rest.
Perhaps you’ve been following the dialogue I’ve been having with Therese Pompa, the social media manager for the Corn Refiners Association. We started speaking after I posted a Saturday Night Live video satirizing a high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) commercial, and then we subsequently exchanged a pair of letters. As you’ll see below in our second exchange of letters, I felt Therese was dodging my concerns about HFCS, and she in turn felt that I am “not trying to have a genuine conversation.”
So let’s have that conversation. Readers, please leave any comments, questions, or concerns below that you have about high fructose corn syrup. As always, please remain respectful and thoughtful in doing so. Therese, feel free to comment yourself, or ask people from your camp to contribute their ideas.