by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Cooking-measurements

Jan 15 2013

Reading food and food politics

I’m also catching up on reading.

This just in:

Wenonah Hauter.  Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America.  The New Press, 2012.

Hauter heads up Food and Water Watch, a tough-minded advocacy group in Washington DC working to preserve and ensure a safe, accessible, and sustainable food supply.  Foodpoly is her manifesto.  She has a lot to say about the problems with food policy, food chains, the organic-industrial complex, the food safety system, factory farms, and corporate control of the food supply.  She urges: “eat and act your politics.”  I’m using it as required reading in my food advocacy course this spring at NYU.

And here are a couple of others I’ve been saving up:

Bee Wilson, Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat, Basic Books, 2012.

I blurbed this one:

Consider the Fork is a terrific delve into the history and modern use of kitchen tools so familiar that we take them for granted and never give them a thought.  Bee Wilson places kitchen gadgets in their rich cultural context.  I, for one, will never think about spoons, measuring cupts, eggbeaters, or chopsticks in the same way again.

W.A. Bogart, Permit But Discourage: Regulating Excessive Consumption, Oxford University Press, 2011.

I blurbed this one too:

Permit But Discourage is an engagingly written examination of a hugely important question: How can laws best be used to protect individuals and societies against out-of-control consumption of such things as alcohol, junk foods, sodas, and other unhealthy indulgences, without doing more harm than good?  The book clearly and compellingly argues for a mix of laws that permit consumption but discourage excesses, and for finding that mix through trial and error.  This fascinating book is as must read for anyone who cares about promoting health as well as human rights in a market-driven economy.

Jun 13 2007

Cooking measurements

This question comes from a careful reader of What to Eat: “in Appendix 1 on page 528, you list 1 gram as being equivalent to 1/5 teaspoon, 1 tsp. as equivalent to 5 grams, and 1 tablespoon as equivalent to 15 grams. As grams are a measure of mass, and teaspoons are a measure of volume, I’m sure you realize these equivalencies make no sense. Even if 1 gram of water has a volume of 1/5 of a teaspoon (I believe it does, more or less), you can’t use them as equivalents for any other
substance with a different density…I wouldn’t normally write someone an email about such a small thing, but you obviously value accuracy, so I figured you’d want to know.”

Here’s my answer: You are of course correct for chemists but most readers are unlikely to use grams or milliliters; they use household measures. For cooking purposes, rough measures work well enough so precision isn’t really required. What I hoped to do was to give readers a rough idea of what the measures feel like. Baking is the one place where precision is important but even there a difference in measurement of a gram or milliliter would not matter much. Readers tell me they are put off by discussions of grams and milliliters and are grateful to have a rough sense of what the amounts mean in
practice. By putting the measures in two columns (see Appendix 1), I hoped to indicate how small the differences were between rough and precise measures. This sacrifices precision, of course, but for what I hope is a worthy purpose. Thanks for being such a great reader!