Best Blog Posts From the 2010 Lettuce Eat Kale Archives

by Sarah Henry on December 29, 2010 · 35 comments

in bay area bites,berkeley bites,canning & preserving,civil eats,food books

As 2010 rolls to a close it’s time to take a trip through the Lettuce Eat Kale archives at, arguably, the year’s best blog posts (horn toot alert).

Some spurred lots of comments, others pointed to national trends or local enterprises, some profiled well-known people who garnered awards for their culinary pursuits, still others focused on little-known folks who worked without fanfare on worthy food causes.

Feel free to check out a post you may have missed, chime in on your favorite piece, or comment on those featured in this list.

And don’t be shy about letting me know what you’d like to see more (or less) of on this site.

I am grateful to Berkeleyside, Civil Eats, and Bay Area Bites, for sharing my stories with a wider audience on a regular basis.

Here’s wishing you, my loyal readers, a healthy, well-read and well-fed 2011.

The Lettuce Eat Kale 2010 Top Ten List

Shakirah Simley/Photo: Michael Bonacore

1. D.I.Y. trend: It was fun to feature local foragers, fermenters, canners, jammers, urban homesteaders, and cooks all living the D.I.Y. life in the Bay Area. Highlights include wild man Iso Rabins, preserver Shakirah Simley, pickle people Alex Hozven and Kevin Farley, city farmer Jim Montgomery, and D.I.Y. Delicious diva Vanessa Barrington.

Cooking Matters in action.

2. Food Security: My social justice journalism roots tend to steer me towards stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things for the common good. Consider: gleaner Anna Chan on a mission to feed the needy, Delana Toler, a parent and garden teacher who started a school produce stand, the team behind Operation Frontline (cooking classes for the underserved now run under the Cooking Matters banner), the folks at Let’s Preserve, which combines canning with community service, and the green thumbs who staff Spiral Gardens, a nursery-education-farm stand in the ‘hood.

3. Meat Matters: For a girl who eats mostly greens, meat mattered this year. There was that culinary confession (spoiler alert: vegetarians may be disappointed), a spotlight on the growing Meatless Monday campaign and a profile of Kim O’Donnel, author of The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook.

4. School Food: On the school food beat I covered celebrities trying to improve what our children eat at school, including a report for The Atlantic on Alice Waters (and a critique of the controversial Cultivating Failure story by the same outlet), an examination of the Limey Lad’s lunchroom antics in a post on Jamie Oliver, and a Q&A with anonymous newcomer to the school food scene, undercover school lunch sleuth Mrs. Q.

I also offered up the accessible academic perspective of Janet Poppendieck, author of Free For All, reported on ten teens bringing about change in school cafeterias, listed five reasons for optimism on the school food front, and reported on the new administration‘s nascent efforts in the school food fight.

Look for a long overdue update on school food news in early January.

Photo: Kate McEachern's CupKates truck.

5. Street Eats: Pavement cuisine continued to excite eaters and readers. I chronicled the adventures of two moms who launched a sandwich truck, delved into why Berkeley isn’t very street-cart friendly, and reported on the Eat Real Festival Lit Fest, a forum for writers to talk about grub on the go.

6. Hospital Food: Quite unexpectedly I became a hospital food expert. I profiled my pal Lucia Sayre, who works with local healthcare groups trying to fix hospital food, went behind the scenes to learn more about the makeover in food in medical institutions, reported on a hospital food forum featuring Michael Pollan and Mollie Katzen and conducted a Q&A with the father of the hospital farmers’ market movement Preston Maring.

Ari Derfel and Eric Fenster

7. Honor Roll: Kudos is due to Hodo Soy Beanery founder Minh Tsai, named one of Food & Wine‘s 40 Big Thinkers 40 and Under. Ditto to the dudes behind Gather Restaurant, Ari Derfel and Eric Fenster. The restaurant’s top chef Sean Baker earned Esquire‘s chef of the year award; the mag also named the eatery one of the 20 best in 2010.

Photo: Alex Velez and Nikhil Arora/Kristen Loken

8. Budding Berkeley Food Businesses: It turns out a flurry of new food enterprises are thriving, despite the economic downturn, including the award-winning Mushroom Guys, a cafe that donates profits to underfunded projects, a new student food cooperative, a single mom who turned a soulful family recipe into a successful food product, and a former UC student who runs a nonprofit cooking club for kids.

Michael Parayno

9. Community Cooking: Chronicling neighborhood efforts to break bread together I stumbled upon the Multi Culti Grill and Birdland Jazz Club, a weekly gathering that garnered gobs of support when I broke the story that the City of Berkeley threatened to close down the event, brainchild of artist Michael Parayno. And I bid adieu to another quirky Berkeley underground food venture, Frugal Foodies, calling it a night after more than five years.

10. Food Films and Books: Michael Pollan picked my pal photog Anne Hamersky’s Farm Together Now as his favorite food book of the season in a list on Grist, saying “it consists of interviews with a wide range of farmers (and activists) who you haven’t heard of. Inspiring without being romantic in the least, it advances the whole conversation about sustainable agriculture and access.”

Many of you had opinions about the film adaptation of Eat, Pray, Love and your favorite fiction and non-fiction food films. Interviews with food writers continued to resonate with readers, while, perhaps not surprising, my most popular posts proved to be monthly book giveaways (everyone, it seems, likes a free cookbook as well as a free lunch.)

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

debbie @ words to eat by December 29, 2010 at 10:47 am

That is one seriously impressive roundup! You’ve had quite the year–give yourself a pat on the back for me ;)
debbie @ words to eat by´s last [type] ..New Year’s Eve Nibbles


Sarah Henry December 29, 2010 at 11:13 am

Thanks, Debbie, sweet of you to say. Truth is, though, I’m constantly in awe of the people doing all this great work around food, much of it in my own backyard.


Faith Kramer December 29, 2010 at 1:14 pm

As far as I’m concerned, every post you write is informative, entertaining and inspiring.

I rely on Lettuce Eat Kale for much of my local food “journalism”.

Looking forward to more in 2011.


Sarah Henry December 29, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Well, Faith, that is too kind.

Here’s to reading and writing more food news in the year ahead.


Melanie Haiken December 29, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Thanks for this roundup, so helpful to follow up on the bits and pieces I missed during the year. I’ve particularly enjoyed the street eats and DIY themes this year. Speaking of which, food trucks are way big in Austin nowadays; if you get a chance to go, you should!


Sarah Henry December 29, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Thanks, M. I think I’ll be in Austin next year for a food conference…so I suspect TX street eats are in my future. Thanks for the tip.


Dianne Jacob December 30, 2010 at 8:20 am

Prolific, entertaining and oh so relevant. I’ve enjoyed the whole year. Thanks, Sarah.


Sarah Henry December 30, 2010 at 8:44 am

Back at you, DJ.


MP December 30, 2010 at 9:19 am

My favorite posts are in category #2 and #4. Keep ‘em coming!


Sarah Henry December 30, 2010 at 10:55 am

Duly noted, MP.


Tracey Taylor December 30, 2010 at 9:44 pm

A very impressive collection of stories — and this is just the tip of the 2010 iceberg. I look forward to reading more of your wonderful work here and on Berkeleyside in 2011.


Sarah Henry December 31, 2010 at 7:22 am

Thanks, boss…now, about that story I owe you…


Ruth Pennebaker December 31, 2010 at 7:44 am

I’ve so enjoyed your writing this year, Sarah. It’s opened a whole new world to me.
Ruth Pennebaker´s last [type] ..Best of 2010- In My Opinion


Sarah Henry December 31, 2010 at 8:23 am

Thank you, Ruth, I really appreciate hearing that (and, while we’re in the business of dishing out compliments, I could say the very same about your own work). Glad we found each other online in 2010.


Alexandra December 31, 2010 at 8:03 am

Thanks for writing this blog. It is one of my favorites. I love reading about all the exciting initiatives going on in California and hope they spread across the country in 2011. Happy New Year to Lettuce Eat Kale!
Alexandra´s last [type] ..To Pack or Not to Pack


Sarah Henry December 31, 2010 at 8:25 am

Seriously, Sandy? Way to make a gal blush. Thanks to you for being such a loyal reader — and for fighting the good fight on the environmental front too.

Happy New Year to you.


Merr December 31, 2010 at 8:27 am

Over the year I learned a lot about food culture and ethics in both very micro and macro ways. I do not live in No. Cal but it doesn’t matter because you’re discussing global movements, in a way. I think that focus–the global story told locally–is what makes your site unique and original.


Sarah Henry December 31, 2010 at 9:57 am

Wow, Merr, maybe I’ll get you to write my first book bio;)


Kerry Dexter December 31, 2010 at 9:07 am

especially enjoy your thoughtful and insightful interviews, Sarah — and the social justice perspectives as well. look forward to reading more of your writing in the years to come. happy new year…
Kerry Dexter´s last [type] ..New Years Eve


Sarah Henry December 31, 2010 at 9:58 am

Thanks, Kerry, and to you too.


Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi December 31, 2010 at 9:52 am

I’ve loved the last year on this blog. I especially loved the posts with DIYers and started fermenting after your post about it!
Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi´s last [type] ..Frugal Kiwi’s Top 10 Events for 2010


Sarah Henry December 31, 2010 at 9:59 am

I’m honored, Melanie, that such an accomplished as your good self learned something about the Domestic Arts on my site. Makes me happy.


Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi December 31, 2010 at 10:35 am

So many things to learn, it could make your head explode. Or implode. Or just turn to jelly!
Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi´s last [type] ..Frugal Kiwi’s Top 10 Events for 2010


Jeanine Barone December 31, 2010 at 1:24 pm

It’s great to have such an informative round-up at this time of the year. This learning experience is always a great way to start the New Year.


Sarah Henry December 31, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I do like the process of looking back on the year to see what got accomplished (and note what didn’t get done as well). It’s valuable, too, I think, to spend some time reflecting on the food themes of the year and how and why they emerged.


Sheryl December 31, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Thanks for a great year filled with witty, well-written, interesting and informative posts. I never know what I’ll learn – but it’s always something new! Here’s to a prolific 2011.


Sarah Henry December 31, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Thanks, Sheryl, appreciate this sentiment from a fellow blogger juggling multiple outlets. Best to you too in 2011.


Susan January 1, 2011 at 7:08 am

What a diverse and interesting range of ideas and personalities. Looking forward to reading more about this in 2011. Happy New Year, Sarah!


Sarah Henry January 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm

And to you, too, Susan.


MyKidsEatSquid January 1, 2011 at 9:06 am

Love your discussions of food trends and cafeteria sleuthing. Can’t wait to read more in the new year.


Sarah Henry January 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Love your term “cafeteria sleuthing,” MKES.


Donna Hull January 2, 2011 at 7:14 am

Great round up. Caught up with a few posts that I had missed. I always enjoy your writing. Good stuff.
Donna Hull´s last [type] ..Saturday’s scene- Flying High


Alisa Bowman January 4, 2011 at 4:25 am

I’m just getting more and more signs about my need to go more meatless. Another from reading this post.
Alisa Bowman´s last [type] ..Come to My Twitter Party


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