It goes without saying, but I’ll say it – this year was super-challenging for all in the food industry. COVID-19 affected everything about how our food was made, transported and sold to us. This administration’s farm policies negatively affected the profits of most farm-based industries in Ohio (despite the fact that many of the farm counties are the ones who made our state go Trump – which makes zero sense to me!) Many of us went back to our roots and cooked more than we have in our lives. And many more of us packed on the COVID 20, with our stay at home sedentary lockdowns this year. I was reminded of how small my 1923-designed kitchen is and how much ‘island envy’ I have of my siblings and friends. If I ever want my own cooking show, I’ll have to find a larger kitchen.
Being present with and talking on an intimate level with restaurant owners this year gave me an even greater respect for their entrepreneurialism, creativity, passion and grit to survive. As a member of the club of over 34 million insulin resistant Americans, I explored baking and cooking with low glycemic affect sweeteners like erythritol, monk fruit, and nut flours. I found low carb collagen marshmallows, cauliflower wraps (yuck) and Jicama wraps from Trader Joe’s (super-yum). I found sugar free chocolate and spiraled kohlrabi “French fries.” I have been successfully practicing veganism since November, and am now on a vegan shake 10 day cleanse.
From a research standpoint, I found out some very interesting things. Cincinnati Chili was called Mexican chili until it was coined Cincinnati Chili in the 1960s. And, Empress might not have invented the threeway. I found out how Atari ruined American pitted fruits. I found out how Indian food made it to Cincinnati. I learned how to make Catawba Grape Catsup, Italian Tri-Color cookies, quince jam, paw-paw bread, and zucchini vegan lasagna. I explored savory fusion streudels with mushrooms, the Indian halwa carrot dessert, and smoked artichokes. I took a deep dive into Jewish cuisine, including the knish, the blintz, corned beef, and kosher wine, thanks to the fabulous Kosher section at my Remke Marketplace.
But some of the more interesting things I found out in research this year were the plight of local farmers and the challenges regulations have put on them. I found the challenges of vineyardists in Ohio and the plight of native grape growing. I found out from an eggnog roundup the plight of Ohio dairy farmers.
So this year, while still tracing regional American foods and their roots, I am also going to be focusing on the plight of Ohio Farms and what we as voting and activist citizens can do to help improve the quality of our foods by helping local responsible farmers. I will also be (maybe offshooting) on the topic of low glycemic, low fat, low carb healthy eating and veganism.
My food family trees have finally been getting noticed, culminating in a project with UC that I hope to expand this year. I am super excited to have started writing with this year’s newest food magazine the Midwesterner – started by Jed Portman right here in Cincinnati. I also started a video blog called Stammtisch about local Germanic food businesses as an online content builder for the German Heritage Museum, and plan to start being more present in video form this year. I’ll of course use low lighting and fuzzy lensing to lesson the blow to the viewer.
Despite the challenges from this year in the food industry – it gave us a great pause how to move forward and lessons to learn from. We MUST support our local farmers, restauranteurs, and small food entrepreneurs. We MUST take a more active role in learning where our food comes from and how we can guarantee the survival of healthy foodways and logistics. We MUST eat healthier and more responsibly and get out to enjoy the outdoors.
So here’s to a happier, healthier, tastier, more loving, hug-filled, handshaken, kiss-on-the-lips 2021 – Cheers, Prost, Skal, Salud!!