HEADLINES / TRENDS l STATS l RESEARCH l MEDIA l PEOPLE

November/December 2004

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The Year Was Rich for Foodies,

in Film and Books

The culinary world is rich, diverse and ever-expanding. Films released this year illustrate that point. “Chef,” a dramedy directed and written by the talented Jon Favreau, who also stars, looks at the lighter, trendier side of the food business. Released at the Tribeca Film Festival, “Chef” tells the story of Carl (Favreau) who must leave his kitchen at an upscale restaurant after clashing with a food critic.

Carl’s ex (Sofia Vergara) urges him to start a food truck business, so he and his friend (John Leguizamo) begin doling out Cuban sandwiches from their mobile business. More than turning a spotlight on this trendy food business, the film is a funny, feel-good look at self-rediscovery and connecting with family.

On the other end of the spectrum, is the darker, true story of the nation’s farm workers, told in Eva Longoria’s documentary “Food Chains.” The film, also shown at the Tribeca Film Festival, exposes how farm workers are routinely abused and robbed of wages, and, in extreme cases, beaten or even enslaved. The film, which will be released nationwide November 21st, focuses on a group of tomato pickers from Southern Florida, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers or CIW. It is a story of hope, morality and dignity.

The world of food, chefs and others in the supply line is a hot one, so expect to see more from this arena in film.


There were undoubtedly even more books than films about food this year, making it tough to choose only a few standouts. A couple of books caught our eye for their simplicity, a theme with great culinary appeal. In Picture Cook: See. Make. Eat. (Ulysses), author Katie Shelly offers clever step-by-step illustrations rather than instructions. The cookbook, with its simple line drawings for 50 classic dishes, including omelets, gazpacho and enchiladas, hits us on a more primal level than words can convey and nurtures the instinctive cook in us.

Starting from Scratch: What You Should Know about Food and Cooking (Owl Kids) is ostensibly a children’s book, and that’s what gives this cookbook its back-to-basics flavor. And that flavor is suited to adults as well. There are primers that dissect a recipe, shed light on the math skills that every recipe requires, and explain how to get properly prepped. Starting from Scratch is written by Sarah Elton and whimsically illustrated by Jeff Kulak.

The year showed no slowdown of the tidal smoothie movement, evident by the many smoothie cookbooks released. 365 Vegan Smoothies: Boost Your Health with a Rainbow of Fruits and Veggies (Avery) by Kathy Patalsky is one of our favorites for its precise nutritional breakdown for each recipe and for the tasty treats you’re destined to blend. We also like Smoothie Secrets Revealed (mykitchenshrink.com) by Elyse Wagner, MS, for its lessons in picking produce, making nut and seed milks, and great recipes. Wagner, a licensed mental health therapist, also offers strategies for overcoming emotional issues in diets. Finally, pick up The Blender Girl (Ten Speed) by Tess Masters, who offers fine explanations of the nutrients in each ingredient, and their benefits.

With recipes for almond crackers and spring rolls, among others, Masters also shows why blending is not just about smoothies.

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N U M B E R S

 

Complementary Medicine Favorites

 

18%

Percentage of Americans using herbal supplements

8.5%

Those going for chiropractic/osteopathic manipulation


8.4%

Those who practice yoga

 

Source: US National Center for Health Statistics

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Vitamin D Helps Ease

Winter Itch in Children

Daily supplements of vitamin D helped soothe a form of eczema among children in a recently published study.

Researchers from Massa­chusetts General Hospital and the National Dermatology Center in Mongolia studied 107 Mongolian children between the ages of 2 and 17. All had atopic dermatitis, an extremely itchy, rash-producing skin condition that often worsens as the weather turns colder.

Some of the children took vitamin D every day as odorless, tasteless drops; the others took placebo substances. After a month kids in the vitamin D group showed “significantly greater” improvement, according to results appearing in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Results of this study supported those of a smaller investigation conducted in Boston.

The researchers believe having low vitamin D levels to begin with may increase a child’s chances of developing symptoms. Because vitamin D is created in skin exposed to sunlight, living where winters are cold and marked by short days increases the risk of deficiency.

Atopic dermatitis, estimated to afflict up to 30% of all Americans, often begins in infancy or childhood. Scratching can lead to secondary bacterial infections.

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