Author and food activist Nina Planck was raised on a family farm in Virginia, where she learned to appreciate "real," traditional foods. She worked as a reporter for TIME Magazine and wrote speeches for the U.S. ambassador to London before opening the first farmers’ markets in London. Today her company, London Farmers’ Markets, runs fourteen markets. She is the author of two books: "Real Food: What to Eat and Why," and "Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby's First Foods."
Planck is a Big Think Delphi Fellow.
Question: What is your ideal meal?
my real food luxury would be a raw milk butler. He
would just bring raw dairy products including fresh raw
milk to our house. Once a day
would be fine, every other day I could live with. But we go to some
trouble and expense to get fresh raw milk in our household. And then a real food meal: I just love
roast chicken and when I came off the vegetarian wagon I really, really
what they call in England the parson’s nose. It’s
the chicken tail and it is just this fatty little
thing. It’s delicious. So I
love a fresh green salad with high
quality greens that have been raised in real rich soil and have real
flavor. We love good olive
oil. I’m happy to spend money on
it. Gosh, I love good blue cheese.
I love homemade ice cream and I love to
make pannacotta with raw cream, which I haven’t done for ages. You can actually just use the little
bit of gelatin and it’s a whole raw pannacotta. I
call it pannacrutta.
That recipe is on my Web site somewhere and I love a glass of
wine and I
love chocolate. So those are a few things.
Question: What foods are your guilty pleasures?
Nina Planck: My guilty pleasure is to eat a big salad with nuts and cheese and meat day after day after day, and not to make chicken broth and not to find some good roast beef, so my guilty pleasure is sort of what I call "girl food" or "single girl food." But there is a man at home and there are children at home and so I can’t just feed them salads with blue cheese and walnuts day after day. My industrial food guilty pleasure is definitely white sugar. We have not eliminated white sugar from our household or our diet, but I always prefer whole, unadulterated sugar, so whole unrefined cane sugar or maple syrup or honey are definitely my sweeteners of choice, but the dark chocolate we eat – and by dark I mean 70% or higher – always contains a little bit of sugar, preferably organic, so I have not eliminated sugar from my diet and there are dishes that are just not improved by maple syrup. You know if you want a lemon meringue pie it just doesn’t taste right sweetened with anything other than sugar and I love a little dessert. I used to indulge in nonfat frozen yogurt and also in the sort of imitation crab you get at salad bars, but I now realize that those are lowest form of reconstituted fishmeal and the lowest form of dairy, if in fact there is any dairy in it, so I just don’t even bother now and I don’t even miss those guilty pleasures
Question: Is it hard for you to find "real food" in restaurants?Nina Planck: I make some exceptions for eating out, although I don’t really write them down on a note card, but while I would never ever buy farmed salmon and we have beautiful wild Alaskan salmon in the freezer, in the cupboard all the time I do sometimes find myself eating farmed salmon at weddings or on airplanes, that sort of thing. One of my pleasures of the moment after our three young children are in bed is to walk down the street and for 20 minutes have a dozen oysters and one glass of sparkling wine at the local joint. Oysters, by the way, are great food for men and women who would like to be mothers and fathers.