Tom Philpott - June 2012

Tom's Kitchen: Summer Veggie Pasta With Chickpeas and Walnuts

| Wed Jun. 6, 2012 3:00 AM PDT

In Austin, where I grew up and where I'm spending time now, summer arrives with the subtlety of a two-by-four to the back of a head. You wake up one day, and suddenly its 95 degrees and humid—and not getting cooler until October. It's barely June, and we've already crossed that threshold.

But I've noticed an important compensation for the brutal heat: Peak-season summer produce arrives early, too. In the high country of western North Carolina, where I've lived for years, we don't start harvesting green beans, garlic, and squash until July, and tomatoes don't come in until August. On a recent Saturday visit to Austin's excellent inner-city Boggy Creek Farm, I was surprised to find all of that and more on display.

So I grabbed a bunch of it and did what I have done so often at Maverick Farms with similarly excellent produce: minimally cooked it and tossed it into a pasta, goosing it with chickpeas, walnuts, and Parmesan for a little extra flavor and protein.

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Are Our Oceans on a Collision Course?

| Wed Jun. 6, 2012 3:00 AM PDT

Back in 2006, a team of scientists from Canada, the United States, Sweden, and Panama published a landmark report in the prestigious journal Science on the state of the oceans. The researchers highlighted what they called an "ongoing erosion of diversity" in sea life that, if left unchecked, would lead to the "collapse of all taxa currently being fished by the mid-21st century."

Stripped of scientese, what the report described was the real possibility of the ocean as a vast, fetid gray zone, not quite dead but no longer able to provide a significant amount of food to humanity. And not in some unimaginably distant future, but rather in just four short decades, around the time when your aughts-era infant will reach middle age.

When the report dropped, it grabbed attention in the eco-foodie world like a great white shark sunning its dorsal fin in the shallows off a crowded beach. I was just beginning to write about food politics at the time, and the Science study jolted me from my land-locked fixations and opened the ocean as a rich and urgent topic.