Try­ing to fix food sys­tem

Florence

Austin American-Statesman - - FOOD & LIFE - Con­tin­ued from

sim­ple, fam­ily-friendly or ev­ery­day the recipes are. (Florence will sign copies of the book at 7 p.m. Mon­day at BookPeo­ple.)

The dishes — es­pe­cially how he mixes un­ex­pected fla­vors and tex­tures such as a lemon cu­cum­ber salsa that tops the grilled ar­ti­choke or the pick­led mango with le­mon­grass and sriracha dress­ing paired with Dun­geness crab — feel in­ven­tive and mod­ern.

Some of the cook­ing tech­niques he em­ploys, par­tic­u­larly sous vide, are still for­eign to most home cooks, but Florence has put in enough hours (and pages) show­ing us how to make mac and cheese and frit­tatas to take an artis­tic, if some­what high­brow de­tour.

Mak­ing the jour­ney even more en­joy­able are gor­geous im­ages from John Lee. How­ever, one of the most strik­ing parts of the book isn’t the recipes or the pho­tos, but the five-page in­tro­duc­tion that tells you ev­ery­thing you need to know about how the Amer­i­can food sys­tem is bro­ken.

Us­ing more sci­en­tific data and lingo than you’d ex­pect from a celebrity chef, Florence makes the link be­tween Amer­i­cans’ de­clin­ing health and trans-fats, highly pro­cessed su­gars, farm sub­si­dies and ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied foods, go­ing so far as to claim that GMOs are be­hind the rapid in­crease in al­ler­gies to foods such as peanuts, gluten and milk.

“You have to watch what you eat, not just from a diet stand­point,” he says.

Florence ac­knowl­edges peo­ple are re­spon­si­ble for their own eat­ing de­ci­sions, but he wants to be clear that the food in­dus­try, in its quest for in­ex­pen­sive food and high profit mar­gins, should shoul­der much of the blame.

“This is why we are as un­healthy as we are,” he says.

When asked about why he has taken on a more vo­cal role in such a po­lit­i­cal is­sue, he said he didn’t feel like it was a dif­fi­cult choice. “When you’ve been given the op­por­tu­nity to have a plat­form, you have to say the right thing,” he says.

“We are at the dawn of en­light­en­ment of un­der­stand­ing that we are what we eat,” Florence says. “There’s so much in­for­ma­tion out there, that for many peo­ple, the domino has started to fall,” all the way to the top of the Food Net­work chain.

Take Paula Deen, he says. Since be­ing di­ag­nosed with di­a­betes sev­eral years ago (and pub-

GUS­TAVO CA­BALLERO / GETTY IM­AGES

Tyler Florence: “We are at the dawn of en­light­en­ment of un­der­stand­ing that we are what we eat.”

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