still cookin'

food, nutrition, and health news



Upcoming Event: Taste of Cambridge 2013


It’s been a couple years since I attended Taste of Cambridge, but it was a great event the last time I went. This year’s was supposed to be held last night, but has been postponed until next Tuesday, June 18, 2013 due to weather. All proceeds go to local charities.

When: Tuesday, June 18, 2013

WhereUniversity Park Common & Sidney Street

What to expect: Delicious food from local restaurants plus a beer and wine garden. Participants include 100 restaurants, from Upstairs on the Square to Lord Hobo, and local breweries like Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project.

Tickets start at $50 ($75 for VIP access) and include samples (as many as you can eat), 4 drinks, and other freebies. More info here.

Upcoming Event: The Weight of the Nation

This coming Monday evening, HBO will be screening the new documentary The Weight of the Nation in Boston. Following the screening, Boston-area experts, including Tufts researcher Dr. Christina Economos, will speak on a panel about some of the issues raised in the documentary. If you’re unable to attend the screening, check the HBO website for showtimes.

Here’s the description from HBO:

Bringing together the nation’s leading research institutions, THE WEIGHT OF THE NATION is a presentation of HBO and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), in association with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and in partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Kaiser Permanente.

The centerpiece of THE WEIGHT OF THE NATION campaign is the four-part documentary series, each featuring case studies, interviews with our nation’s leading experts, and individuals and their families struggling with obesity. The first film, CONSEQUENCES, examines the scope of the obesity epidemic and explores the serious health consequences of being overweight or obese. The second, CHOICES, offers viewers the skinny on fat, revealing what science has shown about how to lose weight, maintain weight loss and prevent weight gain. The third, CHILDREN IN CRISIS, documents the damage obesity is doing to our nation’s children. Through individual stories, this film describes how the strong forces at work in our society are causing children to consume too many calories and expend too little energy; tackling subjects from school lunches to the decline of physical education, the demise of school recess and the marketing of unhealthy food to children. The fourth film, CHALLENGES, examines the major driving forces causing the obesity epidemic, including agriculture, economics, evolutionary biology, food marketing, racial and socioeconomic disparities, physical inactivity, American food culture, and the strong influence of the food and beverage industry.

Nutrition & Health News, week of January 20

  • Amongst flying rumors on the interwebs, Food Network queen Paula Deen announced that she has been living with a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes for the last couple of years. Her announcement was no surprise to anyone who knows her fondness of everything buttery and deep-fried, and conveniently timed with the launch of her partnership with diabetes drug manufacturer, Novo Nordisk. She’s struck a lucrative deal with Novo Nordisk to peddle Victoza in their new diabetes management campaign, Diabetes in A New Light, causing many people to question her motives and her lifelong promotion of high-calorie foods. Of the criticism, Deen has said, “Honey I’m your cook, not your doctor…I’ve always encouraged moderation.” Really? Her “princess bites” don’t seem very moderate. [The Atlantic, Serious Eats]
  • Research by the CDC indicates that obesity rates in the U.S. have plateaued, with 35.7% of adults and 16.9% of children qualifying as obese. Although this stall is positive and may be due in part to increased efforts to control obesity, the fact remains that the rates are not declining. We will be seeing the impact of obesity for years to come. [New York Times]
  • At a meeting of the nation’s mayors in Washington, D.C. this week, the mayors formed a Food Policy Task Force led by Boston’s own Mayor Menino. According to the agenda, the task force will “focus on issues including reducing obesity, increasing access to healthy affordable food in low-income communities, and increasing local food procurement and entrepreneurship in cities. The task force will review issues and policy barriers to addressing food access, food security issues in urban areas including recommendations on increasing SNAP (Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program) participation via recommendations on best policies and practices, 2012 Farm Bill, support for farmer’s markets, food desert mapping and healthy food retail.” In Boston, Mayor Menino has been instrumental in beginning a number of food policy initiatives for the city. [NPR]
  • Mayor Menino pledged to lose 2lbs per month over the next year during his State of the City speech on Tuesday. He made this promise when talking about efforts to reduce obesity in Boston, where over half of residents are overweight. Will the mayor’s promise encourage citizens to follow suit? [Commonhealth]

Upcoming Event: “Let’s Talk About Food” at Boston’s Museum of Science

Marion Nestle, food policy expert, will be speaking at a forum called “Let’s Talk about the Farm Bill” at Boston’s Museum of Science in a couple weeks. This is part of the MOS “Let’s Talk About Food” lecture series.

What’s the big deal about the farm bill? An interactive “teach-in” explores the ways that subsidies and regulations impact the quality and cost of the foods we consume here in New England. Learn about the process and meet some of the stakeholders, share your perspectives, and find out how the public can have a voice in reshaping the face of agriculture.

Speakers include: Marion Nestle, PhD, professor of nutrition and public health at New York University, author of Food Politics and What to Eat; Representative Chellie Pingree (Maine), member of the House Committee on Agriculture; and Tim Griffin, PhD, Director, Agriculture, Food and Environment Program, Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy, Tufts University.

When: Sunday, January 29th, 2012 at 3pm

Where: Cahners Theater, Museum of Science

Find out more details and register for the event here.

Boston Health News, week of December 2nd

  • With flu season just around the corner, the Occupy Boston encampment in Dewey Square, poses a significant health risk. Occupiers partnered with the Boston Public Health Commission to set up a free flu clinic on site for occupiers to receive vaccines in order to establish herd immunity among the campers. [Commonhealth]
  • The 2011 Health of Boston report, released yesterday, indicates the city is doing well in some respects, and poorly in others. The BPHC said of the results, “Boston is one of the healthiest city in America, but, obviously, there is still work to do…That’s why it’s important that we continue to sound the alarm about the bad health consequences of sugary beverages and tobacco, while continuing to provide support for community gardening, Farmer’s Markets, and create policies and programs that allow residents to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine.’’ Read the full report here. [Commonhealth]
  • Boston was recognized for its impressive Farm to School initiative by the Mother Nature Network. The city’s public schools receive locally grown, fresh produce from area farms to incorporate into school meals. The meals are offered in conjunction with additional nutrition education and some cafeterias have had professional guest chefs cook their meals. [Grub Street Boston]


Upcoming Event: Slumbrew Launch Party TONIGHT

What: The launch of Slumbrew, the experimental beer research arm (aka brewlab) of Somerville Brewing Company. Try their first three beers: Flagraiser IPA, Happy Sol, A Blood Orange Hef, and Porter Square Porter.

Where: The Independent Restaurant, Somerville, MA

When: TONIGHT, 5-8pm

More about Slumbrew: “We produce a lot of small-run, pilot beers at the Slumbrew Beerlab, but only a small number make their way to commercial production. The Somerville Brewing Company contracts with regional breweries to make the best recipes for wide-spread commercial release, but each recipe is an evolving process of refinement. This model for beer production provides an opportunity to experiment with innovative local ingredients to produce craft beers that stand apart from typical formulations.”

Info here.

Upcoming Event: CBC Great Pumpkin Festival

Don’t have Halloween plans yet? Then check out the Cambridge Brewing Company’s annual Pumpkin Festival this Saturday! Sample 40 different pumpkin beers and pumpkin-inspired foods for the price of admission ($10, with a free pint glass). We had a great time last year! More information here.

Even better, I’ll add more beers to my list of pumpkin brews – I made an October goal to sample all (well, most) the pumpkin beers Cambridge has to offer and have thus far tried the following:

  • Dogfish Head Punkin Ale – Solid choice, but brown ales tend to be a bit too sweet for me
  • Brooklyn Brewery Post Road Pumpkin Ale – a new-to-me brew that has a more subtle, fresh pumpkin flavor (my favorite so far, available at Meadhall)
  • Shipyard Pumpkinhead – an old standby that’s sure to please
  • Saranac Pumpkin Ale – spicy!
  • Cambridge Brewing Co. Great Pumpkin Ale – tastier than last year’s!

Happy Halloween!

Mayor Menino Speaks at Boston Food Day

Earlier this afternoon, I attended Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s speech for Food Day at Tufts Friedman School. In his speech, Mayor Menino encouraged the audience to “[work] together to make Boston the capital of good, healthy food.” He started off by displaying a number of visual aids he brought with him in a shopping cart – his CSA box full of vegetables from his own farm, an improved school lunch menu, an empty soda bottle, a Bounty Bucks voucher, a carton of locally produced ice cream (which he joked he wanted to take home with him), and a “reserved for food truck” street sign.

The mayor then spoke to the goals of Food Day by outlining his vision for Boston’s food revolution:

  • access to fresh, reasonably priced food – has opened 25 new full service supermarkets in the city since becoming mayor (talked up the controversial Whole Foods in Jamaica Plain), started the Bounty Bucks program 
  • making Boston a healthier city, especially through our youth – taking action against childhood obesity by taking soda and junk food out of school vending machines, and introducing locally sourced foods to school menus, taking sugary drinks out of public buildings, bringing healthy foods to the city through community gardens  
  • supporting Boston’s food economy – through our restaurant community and food trucks, which are “serving up jobs” as well as good food (he also highlighted Clover and their soy BLT sandwich); more greenhouses and farmers’ markets, including the new Haymarket public market

Tomorrow, the city will be kicking off Boston Canned Share (their 25th anniversary) and Mayor Menino asked for support from the community to help needy families. The funds raised through this initiative go towards the Bounty Bucks program.

He ended by taking some questions from the audience, but providing vague or tangential answers.

  • Q. Professor Alice Lichtenstien asked whether MA is considering following NYC’s example of mandatory calorie labeling in restaurants? A. Mayor Menino stated that they’re working with the MA Public Health Dept to work on this issue at the state level, instead of just the city of Boston. [note: mandatory menu labeling for chain restaurants is a component of the health reform law already]
  • Q. Brandy Brooks, from The Food Project – how is Boston working to strengthen the regional (New England) food system? A. He has encouraged other mayors to promote healthy living in communities but there are a number of challenges (e.g. budget cuts) to engaging them.
  • Q. What types of things is the city doing with respect to increasing availability and space for kids to engage in physical activity? A. He mentioned that the Boston Center for Youth & Families hosts after-school programs and  talked about the need to engage and reach out to kids who aren’t currently involved in physical obesity (like kids in public housing). He also called for the many groups working on childhood obesity to work together.

Although I learned more about the nutrition- and food-related initiatives that Boston already has, I was a bit disappointed that Mayor Menino didn’t map out his vision for the future of Boston’s so-called “food revolution.” Instead, it felt like he was patting himself on the back by talking about all the things we already do. I’d like to know what new and innovative ways we’re trying to tackle childhood obesity, eliminate food deserts, and encourage nutrition education in homes, etc. moving forward!

Upcoming Event: National Food Day

On October 24th, 2011, the first ever Food Day will be held across the country. Food Day is a national event advocating for “healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way,” hosted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and a long list of partner organizations. The goals of Food Day are:

  • Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods
  • Support sustainable farms & limit subsidies to big agribusiness
  • Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
  • Protect the environment & animals by reforming factory farms
  • Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
  • Support fair conditions for food and farm workers

In Boston, the event will be hosted by none other than Tufts University (woo!). Mayor Menino will be on hand to speak about the importance of Food Day’s message, and his vision of the future of Boston’s food systems.

When: October 24th, 2011 from 1-2pm

Where: Tufts University School of Medicine (Sackler Auditorium)

The event is open to the public and registration is here. If you can’t attend in person, you can watch the webcast on the Friedman School website.

Learn more about the event here and check out how other cities, communities, schools, organizations, etc. are celebrating.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: