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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

What’s for (Vegan) Supper?

by Anne Breckbill, associate web developer

Vegan: Yes We Can
Vegetarian activists demonstrate during a “Veggie Pride” event in Lyon, France.
(photo: Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP/Getty Images)

Exhaustion. A tough day and I was late leaving work when I realized that it was my night to cook for my vegan housemates. What easy, go-to meal did I have in my repertoire that I could whip up quickly without shopping ahead or thinking too much? Chili? Nope, meat. Omelet? Nope, eggs. Quesadillas? Cheese. Spinach soufflé? Eggs, milk and cheese! Arriving home, I glanced at the newly constructed cooking schedule to find that it was not my night to cook after all. A reprieve.

Sometimes work and life collide unexpectedly and serendipitously. This week, as I migrated comments from previous releases of "The Ethics of Eating" show into our current commenting system, I learned, of course, that our listeners are thoughtful, passionate, and diverse. While many expressed appreciation for Barbara Kingsolver’s reflection on her year of eating locally, some were outraged at the fact that she referred to slaughtering animals for food as “harvesting” them. Some found her yearlong experiment to be steeped in economic privilege. Still others considered it to be an impractical if not unsustainable way of life given limits of time and energy.

As I read these comments, I couldn’t ignore the fact that my current situation roots me centrally in these ideological and spiritual questions. Two weeks ago, I welcomed two new housemates into my home for the coming year. Our intention is to not only share expenses and responsibilities, but to share meals together as well. It won’t be simple. They are vegans; I am not. They buy only organic products and shop exclusively at the co-op; I shop sales at a large supermarket. They are home much of the day; I have a full-time job.

Suddenly I find myself challenged with the very questions and decisions that Kingsolver and SOF listeners invite me to face. Some of these challenges expose a lack of clarity in my own belief system, while others expose a misalignment between my held and lived values. So as I embark on my own yearlong experience with (at least partial) veganism, I open myself to these challenges and the myriad questions that accompany them:

  • Is killing a sentient being for food cruel or is doing so simply playing my part in a carnivorous food chain?
  • Am I able to integrate my love of animals and the bond to my pets with eating animal meat and loving a good steak?
  • Am I willing or able to spend the extra money it takes to eat organically and locally?
  • Where will I find the time and energy it takes to work full time and prepare healthy meals?

As I settle into the messiness of these questions, I’ll start planning ahead about what to serve the vegans this week.

Comments

Speak with Farmers
Chris Heagle, producer

Joel Salatin, the farmer featured in this clip (jump to the 4:20 mark) from the 2008 documentary Food, Inc. and owner of Polyface Farms, has found a way to be profitable while staying true to his family’s ideal that nature’s design is still the best pattern for the biological world. After hearing Ellen Davis speak so eloquently about stewardship of land, I couldn’t help but think of his words and Professor Davis’ advice on getting informed about how our food is produced:

Ms. Tippett: So apparently my senior editor, Trent, is Tweeting this conversation we’re having, and he has had a question come in from a student of yours who loves you …So it is how do city dwellers, urbanites, relate to an agrarian mindset without romanticizing it?

Prof. Davis: I think the best way to do that is to listen to farmers and to meet farmers. As we’ve been talking about, that’s easy to do now because there probably isn’t an urban area —

Ms. Tippett: Right. They’re in your city. Right.

Prof. Davis: Yeah, exactly. They’re in our city. So talk to them and find out what they’re doing, what their hopes are, and also what their struggles are. And I don’t know any farmer who isn’t struggling.

And it doesn’t matter what model of farming they’re using. If they’re using small farming, trying to get off the grid, or if they are involved in industrial farming, I don’t know any of them who are not struggling and to some degree suffering. So I think that’s the most important thing that we can do in order not to romanticize it. I’d also suggest that you can read some of what is happening in new modes of agricultural research.

Because some people think that when I or others are talking about agrarianism, we’re sort of talking about going back a hundred years, if not 2,000 years. But it’s not an exercise in nostalgia.

Comments

Reflections of a Fair-Weather Faster

Nancy Rosenbaum, associate producer

Monday was Yom Kippur and this year I decided to fast. Most of my life I’ve been a fair-weather faster. My immediate family in New Jersey gathers each year for a meal to mark Rosh Hashanah, but Yom Kippur and the breaking of the fast that follows it hasn’t been part of our tradition.

When I moved to Minnesota, I was touched by how Jewish friends — and sometimes strangers — reached out to include me in their holiday gatherings. This year, my colleague Molly asked if I wanted to break the Yom Kippur fast at her parent’s house. She promised there would be a lot of food and she did not disappoint.

Celebrating the Jewish holidays away from home has meant experiencing them anew — with different foods, people, and rituals. I felt motivated to fast this year knowing that, by sundown, I would have a welcoming place to go and break my fast with others who had done the same.

Comments
Food from ChinaAndy Dayton, Associate Web ProducerLast week, while taking a break from updating the Web site for our program "The Ethics of Eating" I decided to see if I could find any images that would be useful for an upcoming program about China.
Next thing I knew, I found myself reading about ethical eating once again, stumbling upon the image above, which was used in a blog post about organic food products from China. The post briefly discusses the questionable certification of organic foods coming from China, and quotes a 2006 article from the Dallas Morning News:

Fred Gale, a senior USDA economist who has researched Chinese agriculture, said it was “almost impossible to grow truly organic food in China.”
“The water everywhere is polluted, and the soil is contaminated from industry and mining, and the air is bad.”
The story continues:
The USDA National Organic Program does not certify foods as organic; it certifies organic certification agencies. Forty of these are in foreign countries.
Many of the responses we’ve received for the recent rebroadcast of Krista’s conversation with Barbara Kingsolver were skeptical, to say the least. While this article by no means proves that all organic foods from China are fraudulent, it reaffirms for me that this sort of skepticism is probably necessary for this issue. Our cultural relationship with food continues to need reevaluation, but a larger solution may not be so simple as growing food on your own land (if you’re lucky enough to own land) or buying items stamped “organic” at the grocery store.(Photo: Mike Licht/flickr)

Food from China
Andy Dayton, Associate Web Producer

Last week, while taking a break from updating the Web site for our program "The Ethics of Eating" I decided to see if I could find any images that would be useful for an upcoming program about China.

Next thing I knew, I found myself reading about ethical eating once again, stumbling upon the image above, which was used in a blog post about organic food products from China. The post briefly discusses the questionable certification of organic foods coming from China, and quotes a 2006 article from the Dallas Morning News:

Fred Gale, a senior USDA economist who has researched Chinese agriculture, said it was “almost impossible to grow truly organic food in China.”

“The water everywhere is polluted, and the soil is contaminated from industry and mining, and the air is bad.”

The story continues:

The USDA National Organic Program does not certify foods as organic; it certifies organic certification agencies. Forty of these are in foreign countries.

Many of the responses we’ve received for the recent rebroadcast of Krista’s conversation with Barbara Kingsolver were skeptical, to say the least. While this article by no means proves that all organic foods from China are fraudulent, it reaffirms for me that this sort of skepticism is probably necessary for this issue. Our cultural relationship with food continues to need reevaluation, but a larger solution may not be so simple as growing food on your own land (if you’re lucky enough to own land) or buying items stamped “organic” at the grocery store.

(Photo: Mike Licht/flickr)

Comments

Ancestors at Meal Time
Trent Gilliss, Online Editor

Yesterday, Krista had an early evening interview with the chair of the Asian Studies department at the University of Sydney, Mayfair Yang. Thankfully, within the first five minutes (before I had to leave and perform my parental duties), I was able to capture this endearing story.

Her tale about cuisine was a perfect continuation of Krista’s interview with Nicole Mones a few days earlier. I’m trying to find expedient, thoughtful ways of including our readers and listeners in the production process. The product is a bit rawer, but, from what I’ve gleaned from the response to our unedited interviews, people appreciate hearing the savory elements that might not be as polished.

Right now I’m able to film, edit, and upload this video using my Nokia N95 mobile phone. In the coming weeks though, I hope to stream our cuts-and-copy sessions live using this same phone and a great third-party service. I’m testing it now and am astounded at how well it works. In the meantime, please let me know what you think of our endeavors. Post a comment here.

Comments

Building Guanxi
Trent Gilliss, Online Editor

Sitting behind the glass during one of Krista’s ISDN interviews remains a thrilling experience for me. So, I have no problem convincing myself that others may find pleasure in gaining access to material before it makes its way — hopefully — into a radio broadcast. (By the way, I’m struggling to find a better way to say that since a growing number of our listeners are podcasters and streamers. Audio program sounds pretty droll. Got any ideas?)

And, as journalists in public broadcasting, we have the onus of disclosing more and sharing more with our audiences. So I’m doing just that. Armed with a Nokia N95 — the Swiss army knife of mobile phones for collecting, producing, and distributing content — I shot and edited this clip of Krista interviewing novelist Nicole Mones for a potential program about contemporary Chinese society and their reverence for cuisine as a necessary means of relationship and connectedness, guanxi.

Oh, and the tapping your hear in the background is Colleen transcribing a rough copy of the interview for us to reference when we start editing and producing the program.

Comments