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Eating the Pyramid

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New year, a bazillion new diet industry ads. Ellen Tarlin of Slate's "Clean Plate" column cuts through the fads and begins an attempt to stick to the food pyramid for a week while examining the conflicting nutritional information and research that can make it so difficult to understand what we need to eat. The food pyramid experiment is the first of several planned experiments Tarlin will be sharing on Slate.

Chances are Tarlin won't be eating a lot of manufactured food while sticking to the pyramid. If she did, she might want to talk to Chef Stephanie about what's really in her food. Chow visits with the Canadian research chef about the biggest secrets in food manufacturing. Such as, you're probably not allergic to MSG, great frozen meals are real and expensive, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods really do have higher standards, and you have no idea what's going on with your orange juice.

Chef Steph doesn't share the secrets to finding the perfect watermelon, but David Feela does. In his Small Farmer's Journal piece, republished by Utne Reader, Feela retells the story of a chance grocery store meeting with a librarian that leads to learning the secrets of watermelon. Try to remember them in six months.

Julia Child could probably pick a melon. The New York Times reviews the latest book about Child, "As Always, Julia". The book's a collection of letters between Child and her food-loving friend Avis DeVoto. The two met in 1950 when DeVoto's husband complained of dull paring knives in a Harper's piece, and Child responded by sending him a French knife. Mrs. DeVoto sent Child a thank-you note, which began a two-year correspondence before they met in person. "'It doesn't seem at all possible that less than two weeks ago you were all of you but words on paper,' Child writes afterward. 'It did not then seem that love on paper would not blossom into love in the flesh, and it certainly did with an all-embracing bang.'" This collection of the correspondence chronicles the publication of Child's "The Art of French Cooking".

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