JuJu Harris didn't set out to write a cookbook, but then again, she didn't set out to raise seven children or accept public assistance to feed them, either. Harris always wanted to work with nature.
"My dream job was, I was going to grow up and be a national park ranger," she says. It didn't quite work out that way. She drifted from job to job in Oakland, Calif., where she was born. At 32, she joined the Peace Corps, traveling to Paraguay to help local farmers improve their crops.
While she was supposed to be helping the men - the ones who held the farming jobs and the money - she found herself drawn to the women and children. She encouraged the families to put their money into both their agricultural businesses and their children.
"I learned the importance of nutrition for women and how it impacts her family," Harris says. When the women improved their diets, they had "more mental energy" to deal with their children, too, she says.
Years later, back in the states, Harris found herself in a similar situation — with small children, post-partum depression, and little money. She knew she needed to take better care of herself, so she began experimenting with a garden, baking bread, doing whatever she could to supplement the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food program staples she was receiving. She taught herself to cook with kale, collards, cabbage and other inexpensive and nutritionally dense produce. Neighbors came over. She taught them to cook, too.
Although she's not yet reached her dream of becoming a park ranger, Harris gets to spend plenty of time outdoors these days.
She's now teaching low-income families how to choose and cook healthy produce. She's a culinary educator and SNAP outreach coordinator with the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, a nonprofit group dedicated to creating a more equitable local food system in the Washington, D.C. area.
She drives the Center's Mobile Market bus - a kind of farmers market on wheels — into some of the poorest neighborhoods in the city.
"Working at the Mobile Market, I talk to a lot of moms, and many of them tell me, 'I don't know how to cook.' A lot of them are teen mothers. They pick up vegetables and say, 'I don't know what this is. Is it good? Is it hard to cook?' " Harris says. So she talks up the squash and the Swiss chard, offering tips on how to store and cook them.
"You can bring the food to people's doorstep and make it affordable. But if they don't know how to cook what's available, in the end, you haven't changed anything," she says.
Cooking skills are just one barrier to healthy eating. A recent survey by the nonprofit Share Our Strength shows that 85 percent of low-income families say eating healthy is important, but only 53 percent say they cook healthy dinners most weeknights. A majority of the 1,500 respondents said cost and time to plan, shop and cook are the biggest barriers to improving their nutrition.
After having dozens of these kinds of conversations a day, Harris decided to put together a shopping guide and recipe book she could hand out to these moms.
"Nothing fancy," she says, "just a little something on some nice cardstock."
She told a couple of her Arcadia colleagues about the idea, and they helped her take it a step further. With the help of Arcadia volunteers and some major grant money, Harris published a coffee table-worthy cookbook. It features saturated color photographs and simple recipes combining food assistance staples like milk, eggs and beans, with seasonal produce - dishes like Garlic-Cilantro Fish Marinade and Beet Greens With White Beans And Bacon. It also includes tips for setting up a pantry and a seasonal guide to everything from apples to turnips.
Shoppers on food assistance who frequent the mobile market can now get free copies of the cookbook. The Arcadia Mobile Market Seasonal Cookbook is also available to the general public for $20 a copy.
Harris wants to get the word out before June, when the WIC program begins handing out farmers' markets checks, which recipients can use to purchase items from the Arcadia bus and other farmers' markets. That's when young moms and others on limited budgets who want to improve their health really come out, Harris says. But many are afraid to try new foods for fear of wasting money, she says, so she gives them guidance, suggesting small changes, like one new meal a week.
Harris has an easy manner with these moms because she gets it. She's been where many of the people who come to the Mobile Market are now, says Pamela Hess, Arcadia's executive director and the editor — as well as all-around-wrangler — of the cookbook.
"JuJu is one part fairy godmother, one part good witch. Her garden is incredible — great tangles of flowers and honeybees and roses and vegetables climbing trellises, and always another bed being laid. Her food bears the same stamp of wild and whimsy and fundamental integrity," Hess says.
"I think some of these programs - people are well meaning, but they've never lived the life. I was on WIC till my kid was 5, and one year my husband broke his leg. I've worked at a food bank, I've been on food stamps," Harris says.
She says she's just doing her part. "The problem of food insecurity is so big, I just do what I can do. And I can cook." She hopes the Arcadia cookbook will show that "it's possible to eat healthy on a budget. Not easy, but possible."
Garlicky Kale Salad
From The Arcadia Mobile Market Seasonal Cookbook
3 cloves garlic, peeled
½ cup lemon juice
¼ cup soy sauce
3 inches fresh ginger, peeled (ginger is easily peeled with the side of a metal spoon)
½ teaspoon of black pepper
1 cup olive oil
1 bunch kale, washed, de-ribbbed, and leaves chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup garbanzo beans
In a blender, add the garlic, lemon juice, soy sauce, ginger, and black pepper and puree. Using the lid opening, slowly add olive oil with the motor running on low to thicken the dressing.
In a large bowl, add kale, carrots, cabbage, cranberries and garbanzo beans. Pour dressing into the bowl and toss to coat. Mix thoroughly and let salad sit for at least 20 minutes.
There are intense debates underway in the United States over the question of targeted killings of terrorist suspects abroad - particularly when those individuals are U.S. citizens.
Some argue that once the president has received authorization to use military force, the executive's war-making powers give him the right to target enemies at war with the United States. When an enemy is diffuse and splintered, like al-Qaida, the definition of the battlefield changes, proponents argue. And if that enemy poses a threat to the United States, even from a non-traditional battlefield, that person is a legitimate target — American citizen or not.
Others are troubled by this line of thinking. The Constitution affords all citizens the due process of law, they argue, and defining the battlefield so broadly undermines the intent of the Founding Fathers. Killing outside of the U.S. justice system, they say, must only be a last resort in response to a truly imminent threat.
Two teams recently debated the motion, "The president has constitutional power to target and kill U.S. citizens abroad," in an Oxford-style debate for Intelligence Squared U.S. In these events, the team that sways the most people by the end of the debate is declared the winner.
Before the debate, the audience at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia voted 29 percent in favor of the motion and 44 percent against, with 27 percent undecided. Afterward, 54 percent agreed with the motion, while 39 percent disagreed — meaning the side arguing that the president should have the power to target and kill U.S. citizens abroad won this particular debate.
Those debating were:
AGAINST THE MOTION
Hina Shamsi is the director of the ACLU's National Security Project, which focuses on U.S. counterterrorism policies and practices violate the Constitution or the U.S.'s obligations under international law. Shamsi has been involved in the legal proceedings of numerous cases about post-9/11 torture, unlawful detention, discrimination against racial and religious minorities, and the freedoms of speech and association. She teaches a Columbia Law School course on international human rights and has monitored and reported on the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay.
Noah Feldman is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and Bloomberg View and the author of five books, on topics from constitutional law to the ethics of nation building. He helped draft the Iraqi interim constitution, or Transitional Administrative Law, with members of the Iraqi Governing Council and served as senior constitutional adviser to the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Feldman is a law professor at Harvard University and a senior fellow of the Society of Fellows. He studied Islamic Thought at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.
FOR THE MOTION
Alan Dershowitz is a professor of law at Harvard Law School. He has published more than 1,000 articles in magazines, newspapers, journals and blogs such as The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Harvard Law Review, The Yale Law Journal and Huffington Post. Dershowitz is the author of numerous bestselling books, including his autobiography, Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law.
Michael Lewis, also a Harvard Law School professor, has written extensively on various aspects of the laws of war and the conflict between the U.S. and al-Qaida. Lewis has testified before Congress on the legality of drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen and on the civil liberties tradeoffs associated with trying some al-Qaida members or terrorist suspects before military commissions. Prior to earning his J.D. from Harvard Law School, he served in the U.S. Navy from 1987 to 1995.
We don't know a whole lot about the upcoming season of Orange Is The New Black, but Netflix put out three images today that might give you something to at least chew on. It certainly appears that we'll be picking up where we left off, in a very immediate sense.
The nation's entire power grid could be blacked out for months if as few as nine of the nation's 55,000 electric substations were put out of commission by saboteurs, The Wall Street Journal writes, citing a "previously unreported" study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The Journal's report follows accounts of what happened last April at a power station near San Jose, Calif.
As we reported here and here, snipers apparently fired at the station's transformers. Seventeen of the transformers were knocked out by the shots. Officials avoided a local blackout by rerouting power around the site. No one has been arrested in connection with the incident.
That attack led former FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff to tell NPR and other news outlets that there's a dangerous lack of security around key parts of the nation's power grid. He called for "mitigation measures," including the placement of concrete barriers in front of transformers so that they can't be shot at from outside power stations.
Now, there's word from the Journal that the FERC study concludes "that coordinated attacks in each of the nation's three separate electric systems could cause the entire power network to collapse, people familiar with the research said." Such attacks would be especially damaging if they came on day when the power grid is already under stress — such as a hot summer day when demand for air conditioning is especially high.
The reason such attacks could do so much damage, the Journal writes, is that "a small number of the country's substations play an outsize role in keeping power flowing across large regions." Regulators believe that "knocking out nine of those key substations could plunge the country into darkness for weeks, if not months," the Journal says.
Thirty substations are considered "critical," according to the Journal, which notes that it "isn't publishing the list." FERC has told power companies they have until June to come up with new, tougher security standards.
Movie trailers have changed a lot, and if you show a teenager now a trailer from (for instance) 1997, it will seem almost comedically anachronistic and corny.
But this is how, for many years, we got excited about the movies. And these growly narrations — which were recently the subject of Lake Bell's fine comedy In A World — were a big part of that excitement.
Along with guys like Don LaFontaine, who died in 2008, Hal Douglas provided a lot of those voices — including the one for Con Air, above, as well as Forrest Gump and Lethal Weapon. The New York Times reports that he died last Friday at the age of 89.
So take a moment and appreciate this big voice that many of us heard so very many times. The lines were so cheesy, and the delivery was so satisfying.