Trying to fix food system
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-
Tyler Florence: “We are at the dawn of enlightenment of understanding that we are what we eat.”