February’s Top 10 on HRN

This month, HRN’s 40+ series explored some of the most pressing issues facing the food industry and the world at large. The Farm Report projects progress for creating sustainable food and farm practices and policy, while Eating Matters looks beyond food banks, soup kitchens and SNAP benefits to understand what it will really take to end domestic hunger. As the pandemic and the isolating winter months continue to take a toll on us all, The Big Food Question dives deep into psychological well-being in the restaurant industry and Processing addresses a listener letter about grief and mourning. 

Levity can also be found in our lineup through compelling human interest stories, inspiring career journeys and celebrations of Black History Month and African American cuisine. Hear from the soul food school scholar, Adrian Miller in conversation with Chef Todd Richards, enjoy learning more about Why Food? host Vallery Lomas in an interview on All in the Industry, and gain insight from the entrepreneur aiming to create America’s first West African fast casual restaurant chain. Plus, peek into a Dallas-based community garden and open your eyes and ears to the wide world of the global spice trade. 

Find our staff-selected February playlist below and share your favorite episodes with us on social media using #FoodRadio.


The Farm Report Episode 415: A Sustainable Food and Farm Policy Forecast for 2021 (And Beyond)

The White House is already making moves that will affect food and agriculture. Plus, the shift in Congress means it’s also a new chapter for food and farm legislation. In this episode, Eric Deeble—policy director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)— joins host Lisa Held to talk about what’s ahead. They discuss address racial equity, climate action via conservation programs, and much more.


Cooking Issues Episode 442: Remembering Maria Guarnaschelli

We remember Dave's editor extraordinaire, Maria Guarnaschelli, whom we lost this month. We are honored to be joined by her daughter, Alex Guarnaschelli, as well as a variety of authors who worked with Maria: Rick Bayless, Kenji López-Alt, Jim Lahey, and Harold McGee. Together they share some of their favorite memories of Maria.


Soul by Chef Todd Richards Episode 15: Adrian Miller

Adrian is a scholar of African-American food ways. He is the author of several books including Soul Food, which won him a 2014 James Beard Foundation award, and The President's Kitchen Cabinet, for which he was nominated for the 2018 NAACP Image Award for outstanding literary work - nonfiction. He is also a self-proclaimed "recovering lawyer" and served as a White House advisor to US President Bill Clinton. 

Todd may be most excited to be talking about barbecue, because, as everyone knows, he just opened a barbecue restaurant with his partner, Josh Lee, and Adrian's writing a book on barbecue called Black Smoke: African-American United States of Barbecue, which is to be released in April of 2021. 


Meat and Three Episode 102: Feelin’ The Heat: How Spices Have Flavored Our World

Meat and Three’s global trade mini-series continues with one of the most distinguishing elements of a cuisine: spice. Where would any regional food culture be without its unique blend of spices? Where would Italian food be without oregano, or Thai food without the bird’s eye chili? Historically, spices are associated with a nation, a region, or perhaps a dish. Yet, in our contemporary world, the average home cook can find the world in their spice rack.

Although we can’t encapsulate the entirety of historic and modern spice trade and its influence in this episode, we consider four unique stories on the histories and implications of flavoring food. We explain the universal adoption and adoration for the chili pepper, and how its violent historic exchange still shrouds many regional foodways. We take a look at the economics of saffron and why it’s so expensive. Then we explore the perception of well-known flavor enhancer, MSG, and why its controversy may be unfounded. Finally, we examine the impetus for current farmer protests igniting in India and what that may mean for the future of global spice trade. Listen in as we continue our global journey with bites of everything strange, interesting and important in the world of historic and contemporary trade.

The Big Food Question: Episode 28: How Can Restaurants Support Staff Mental Health?

At a time when many people are struggling with their psychological well-being, we’re taking a close look at the structural and cultural issues that make restaurant workers especially vulnerable. Producer Hannah Fordin starts with the big picture, in conversation with Hassel Aviles co-founder of Not 9 To 5. They look at the restaurant industry and the ways deeply ingrained hierarchies and structures need to shift, as well as widely accepted destructive coping methods, need to shift. Then we zoom in, seeking advice from experts like co-hosts of HRN’s Processing, Zahra Tangorra and Bobbie Comforto, as well Restaurant After Hours’ Zia Sheikh, on how we as individuals can tend to our psychological well-being and what sort of support is out there. 

All in the Industry Episode 280: Vallery Lomas

Shari Bayer's guest is Vallery Lomas, an attorney turned food personality, who transitioned from hobby baker and blogger to full-time foodie after winning Season 3 of ABC's Great American Baking Show. Vallery’s debut cookbook of 100 recipes will be published September 2021 by Clarkson Potter, imprint of Penguin Random House.  She is a regular contributor to Food Network Kitchen and has appeared on CNN, Fox, ABC, & NBC.  Her writing and recipes have appeared in The New York Times, Food & Wine, Food 52, the cover of Better Homes & Gardens, People Magazine, and Taste. She is also a contributor to NYT Cooking, and co-host of Why Food? on Heritage Radio. Network. This episode also features Shari's PR tip to take a leap of faith; speed round game, and outdoor solo dining experience at Wu's Wonton King, NYC.

Item 13: An African Food Podcast: Taking West African Food Casual with Ruth Nakaar

Ruth Nakaar is the founder and owner of Fudena, a food concept currently based in Philadelphia that aims to be America’s first West African fast-casual restaurant chain. Think Chipotle but with the bold flavors of West Africa. Initially an idea she started working on while pursuing her MBA at Wharton, Ruth went from hosting recipe tastings for friends and classmates in her tiny studio apartment to cooking out of a commercial kitchen and serving all of Philadelphia. The love for the food she grew up with as a first-generation Ghanaian American drives Ruth’s passion to push West African cuisine into the U.S. culinary mainstream. 

Eating Matters Episode 173: Ending Domestic Hunger 

The fight to eliminate hunger entails measures that go well beyond food banks, soup kitchens, and SNAP benefits. Prior to Biden’s inauguration and the release of the Administration's COVID & economic relief proposal, host Jenna Liut interviewed Joel Berg to discuss how higher wages, affordable housing, universal health care, school meals and nutritional education are each vital to ensuring widespread food security. Joel is the CEO of Hunger Free America, a national advocacy and direct service organization dedicated to designing programs and policies to end hunger in the U.S.

Fields Episode 6: Drew Demler, Community Growing, and Growing Community 

What's it like, farming at the Texas State Fair...during a pandemic? Drew Demler is the head grower at Big Tex Urban Farms, which stands on the grounds of the Dallas State Fair. Drew joins Melissa and Wythe to talk about starting a farm in the middle of a giant concrete carnival. He talks about how his operation started in raised beds on a vacant lot and moved indoors to a hydroponic greenhouse—doubling his food production capacity. All of the food grown at the Fair is donated to local community centers. Drew also helps South Dallas churches build community gardens. It’s an inspiring conversation that covers a lot of ground, from technical talk about soil-free systems and farm management to working with non-profits and coming together—and keeping your plants growing—during the pandemic.


Processing Episode 50: Listener Letter: Mourning in Covid

We read a listener letter about the painful realities surrounding mourning our loved ones in the times of Covid. The complex nature of grieving is made bitterly painful by the inability to gather and be around people for comfort, support, touch and food. Thank you to Blair for your touching letter, and we are honored to help you unpack some of these hard truths in this week's show.


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