The spotlight on the good food movement has been getting hotter, and Jane Black is in the thick of it.
Over the last week, a debate about food has splashed across the pages of TV Guide, the New York Times, The New York Post, the Atlantic Monthly and elsewhere. Big American culinary personalities are asking vital questions about the good food movement--namely, what do we need to do to make America’s culture of eating healthier, more affordable, more accepting and more accessible?
Amid fervent pieces by celebrity chefs Anthony Bourdain, Paula Deen, and Frank Bruni, Jane Black’s nuanced response in the Atlantic offers another take: culinary elitism isn’t helping, no, but the Food Network isn’t the enemy either, and access may not be our biggest problem. Americans, she argues, are their own worst enemies in the struggle for healthy eating--we’re slaves to habit and convenience, and the national culture of food is quite simply stacked against vegetables. If we’re going to shift those attitudes, Black submits that we’re going to need every ally we can get, and that means the Anthony Bourdains and the Paula Deens alike.
Jane also reports on one particularly insipiring success story of just that sort of culinary sea-change in Gilt Taste. If you’ve followed British school-lunch-rabble-rouser Jamie Oliver at all, you might be familiar with his efforts to reform school lunch programs in Huntington, West Virginia. Jane Black, who is currently working on a a book about the food culture of that town, spent time there and revisited the school system Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution” targeted for reform a few years back. The results were pleasantly dramatic, and showed what a little extra commitment and public funding can do for kids.
You can find a third take on the price of cheap food in Jane’s revealing new podcast interview with Slow Food USA president Josh Viertel, who argues that better food doesn’t also have to be more expensive. That epsiode and others of Jane’s Smart Food Podcast are available from Edible Radio.