First, a little book update: Last week, I reached that stage of research where you (or at least I) start to despair that none of it is making any sense and everything I thought I knew was wrong. I’ve been exploring lots of disparate threads, having conversations with all kinds of eaters, and was not yet seeing the connections I need to find. I sent a panicked email to a wise writer friend, who immediately called me up and said, “Start writing. 500 words. Go.” And she was right. 500 words turned into 1000 words the next day, and 1000 the day after, and now here we are a week later and I have almost 7,000 words, 5,000 of which are maybe okay and the start of a chapter.
That mess on the big board above is my first stab at said chapter’s outline. Don’t zoom in! None of it is ready for primetime. But I promised behind-the-scenes peeks in this newsletter, so welcome to the inside of my brain. I like to map things out visually, so after I do a bunch of writing, I like to print it all out, cut it apart and puzzle piece it back together with Scotch tape and markers. (The metal board is a recent upgrade, to protect our walls from the creative process.) For some reason, my arguments make more sense when I can see them this way. And it’s just satisfying because suddenly it looks like I have a lot of work done.
What I don’t have is a thoughtfully written piece of analysis for this newsletter. So here’s a smattering of food news and stories by other people, that I’ve been reading and thinking about this week:
The USDA is studying whether SNAP benefits (food stamps) can be used for online grocery shopping. Seems genius for low-income families who live far from an affordable big box store, as well as those in urban “food deserts” if grocers like FreshDirect can make produce more accessible (and affordable?).
Doctors don’t learn about obesity in medical school, according to this new analysis. I guess depending where you fall on the “is obesity a disease?” debate, this might be good or bad news, but it does help explain why overweight people are often frustrated by inadequate medical care. (I like Dr. Arya Sharma’s parsing of the data here.)
OK, this last one isn’t about eating, but it is damn good writing: Kiera Butler’s The Scary Truth About Childbirth (Mother Jones) does an amazing job navigating through a landmine-riddled subject. She manages to take both hospitals and the natural birth community to task for inadequately preparing women for childbirth, while also not demonizing either side.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about any of the above. And if you’ve been reading anything great about food (or not), feel free to share.
PS. I have never cooked (or even bought!) artichokes, but I might experiment on friends coming to dinner Saturday night, because this roast lamb with artichokes and lemons sounds so good.