Kurt Michael Friese

Kurt Michael Friese is chef/owner of Devotay in Iowa City, serves on the Slow Food USA Board of Directors, and is editor-in-chief of the magazine Edible Iowa River Valley. He is the author of two books, including A Cook's Journey: Slow Food in the Heartland and Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots on the Chile Trail (which he co-authored with Gary Nabhan and Kraig Kraft). He lives with his wife Kim in rural Johnson County.


The facts of knife

The only thing separating you from eating sustainably on the cheap might be a nice, sharp blade -- and the knife skills to use it.


Chef’s diary: Holiday traditions

For some folks, this season is about peace and good tidings. For others, it’s just about the presents. In my family, the holidays were, and still are, all about the food. There are many items that must be on the table at my house, or it simply isn’t Christmas. Among these are the wild rice dressing, cornbread, grandma’s cranberries, and mom’s bourbon pound cake. Now that pound cake is a very closely guarded family recipe, but the other recipes are below. Wild rice Photo: WhitneyI would have never thought wild rice dressing could be improved upon until I discovered the …


Now we’re cooking: How to get Americans back in the kitchen

Photo from the video Tamar Adler Talks About An Everlasting Meal.Editor’s note: It’s unanimous these days: Cooking food from scratch at home is one of the best ways to eat sustainably without breaking the bank. It also enables eaters to easily support food producers who use environmentally sound, ethical, and humane practices. But most Americans can’t pull this off regularly. We recently invited Kurt Michael Friese and Tamar Adler — two people who have strong feelings about the importance of home cooking — to have a conversation for Grist. Adler is a chef, cooking teacher, and the author of the …

500 Words for Change in America

Folks across the country know something is wrong.  There’s just something about the system we’ve created over several decades that is inherently flawed. Some blame the government, others big banks, still others blame political parties, but all agree that there’s something that’s just not quite working the way it should.  People are losing homes, jobs, and health coverage at an alarming rate because of the societal turbulence in the enormous yet formless thing we call the economy. Enter Change.org and their 10 Ideas for Change in America.  Taking advantage of the concept of “the wisdom of crowds,” Change.org launched a …

Swine Kampf

Pig Business: Who owns your food owns you

Ever feel like you were playing checkers and the other guy was playing chess? That’s the impression I get when watching many of the recent spate of food documentaries. Activists announce that this or that is wrong with the food system; on the rare occasion when something appears to be getting done about it, the folks who are doing things badly simply change their tactics, not their strategy. That’s how it’s gone with the British 2009 documentary film Pig Business. I watched this film in several 10-minute segments via YouTube (Part One) because it hasn’t been released in the U.S., …

Still another critic of real food – this time in the NYT

In Sunday’s New York Times, Damon Darlin has now weighed into a debate which I am suddenly making a career of noticing, that of publicly lambasting locavores. Normally a tech writer (and perhaps better suited to it), Darlin has wheeled out some of the same tired points that others have recently, making them officially clichéd. It takes only 12 words before he drops Michael Pollan’s name, whose best-selling books argue eloquently for a better food system, and in the next paragraph he mentions Michelle Obama’s organic garden at the White House, though he makes no mention of her new “Let’s …

California schools are failing and it's because of... school gardens?

Failure to cultivate: Why school gardens ARE important

In the latest edition of The Atlantic magazine, Caitlin Flanagan has written a surprisingly harsh critique of the popular and growing movement to include gardens in our public schools. In a nutshell, she states that pursuing this activity over and above the three R’s will turn our children into illiterate sharecroppers. Right from the start, though, she gets it wrong. She has the reader picture the son of undocumented migrant workers entering his first day at Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley, home of the well-known Edible Schoolyard project, “where he stoops under the hot sun and begins to …

Stirring the pot

Nationwide “eat-ins” show way to a revived National School Lunch Program

Chowing down for better school lunches in Iowa City.Photo: Kurt Michael FrieseAll across the country this past Labor Day, folks gathered for picnics. That’s no surprise, of course. After all, it was a holiday, and the weather was grand across nearly the whole continent. But there was something unique about one group of picnics; 307 of them to be exact, in all 50 states. They were dubbed “Eat-Ins” (modeled on the sit-ins of the ’60s), and they were a call to action by Slow Food USA At those picnics, including one right here in Iowa City, more than 20,000 people …

Shell game

UPDATED: The cruelty of industrial egg-riculture — plus a tasty recipe for your local pastured eggs

Consider the egg. Photo: Kurt Michael Friese UPDATE:  The owner of the hatchery in the video mentioned below has spoken out, says there were violations of procedure but makes no apologies.  He calls “instantaneous Euthanasia” “Standard industry practice.”  Read the story here. Iowa is the number-one producer of eggs in the country, with more than twice the number of laying hens than Ohio, the number two state. There are nearly 20 times as many hens here than there are people, producing a shade over 14 billion eggs a year. As one might expect, their living conditions are less than ideal. …

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