What We’re Reading: October 26, 2013

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From 40-year-old Italian family restaurant pop-ups to perennial polyculture, here’s what caught our editors’ eyes this past week.

Lauren Wilson: Man Spends 40 Years Building Giant Kinetic Carnival Rides to Advertise Family Restaurant in Italy  Colossal
Hang in there with me with this one — it’s worth it. This beautiful short film might seem slow to start, but it eventually shares the whimsical story of one man’s imaginative strategy to attract customers to his restaurant. Four decades later, and with many more blacksmithing skills than he began with, he’s still building.

Gabrielle Langholtz: Organic Farming Explained Through 80s Sitcom Songs — Smith Meadows
The farmer-writer behind “Gaining Ground”—whom we loved seeing at the Greenlight this summer—explains how the 1980s unexpectedly inspired a new generation of organic farmers through the boldfaced optimism of sitcoms from Different Strokes to Full House.

Marissa Finn: Shrinking Women 
A Barnard student beautifully articulates her thoughts on food and gender at the College National Poetry Slam.

Amy Zavatto: Disruptions — Silicon Valley’s Next Stop: The Kitchen — NY Times
Happy Halloween! Reading the biz section story on Silicon Valley tech geeks taking on food (“Employees at the company do not talk about food as food, but rather as if they were programming an app to be sold at the iTunes store”) frightened me as much as a hockey-mask wearing homicidal maniac. At least the part about the cockroaches and crickets actually deals with a real, live food source.

Brian Halweil: Breaking — GMO Labeling Foes Forced to Reveal Money Trails — Civil Eats
I’m reading Civil Eats, which hit its ambitious Kickstarter goal last week with support from Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, Mario Batali and a wide support from the food community.

Eileen Duffy: The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies
The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies is a manuscript recipe book in the collections of Westminster City Archives. The recipes, recorded in several different hands, span 150 years of British cookery, providing a fascinating insight into culinary craft of the Georgian and Regency periods.

Carrington Morris: Now This Is Natural Food — NY Times
Returning from the Prairie Festival in Kansas, Mark Bittman presents the story of farming for the past 10,000 years—”annual monoculture,” crops planted solo each year, harvested and replanted again (soil depleting)—and an alternative—”perennial polyculture,” crops planted in complement with other crops, harvested but left in the soil year-round (non-soil-depleting). There’s an accompanying video interview with Land Institute founder Wes Jackson, the force of nature spearheading this movement, who for the past four decades has been gradually converting annual grains into perennials.

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