Certified Health and Nutrition Counselor and author Cynthia Lair is in my kitchen today, chatting about cooking curiosity and ditching the all-white diet.
Cynthia on the faculty of Bastyr University’s School of Nutrition and Exercise Science, and is culinary curriculum director for its new BS in Nutrition and Culinary Arts degree program. She’s a contributing editor for Mothering and Super Consciousness magazines. Her popular cookbook, Feeding the Whole Family (Sasquatch Books, 2008) has sold more than 50,000 copies. Cynthia is also the cocreator and host of the online cooking show Cookus Interruptus.
1. Why is living organic important to you?
Each choice we make has an effect on others and ourselves. I choose organic because I want to support producers who are working to make a higher-quality product. Also, consuming materials such as antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides, gets in the way of vitality rather than contributing to it. Paying more? Well, I’d rather pay for excellent food than spend money on doctors and drugs, as long as that is an option for my family and me.
2. What was your favorite food growing up?
I grew up in Wichita, Kansas, and I was a world-class picky eater. This gave me the tools as an adult to address parents about the issue. My favorite things were white: white sugar, white flour, and mashed potatoes. I often remark that it is amazing I survived. I was ill often as a child. Since changing the way I eat, I am lucky to have rarely been sick.
3. What’s your go-to comfort food now?
Ah, it sounds so hippy-dippy, but I truly love brown rice. The Be Bop Breakfast we show on Cookus Interruptus gives me joy (rice, greens, egg, kim chee). And I think I will always equate potatoes with a homey feeling.
Cynthia’s Orange Glazed Salmon Kebobs
4. What’s the one thing in your kitchen you just couldn’t live without?
The cast-iron skillet. I use it every day. So sturdy, willing, and ready for action. Love it.
5. What magazine, website, book, album, or product are you most obsessed with right now?
I teach about food and cooking at the university level. Keeping on top of my topic is stimulated by my own curiosity as well as questions from students. I am obsessed with wherever the answers are. If I want to know more about feeding dogs or piecrusts or polyphenols, I will scour the Internet, books, and more to find what I am looking for.
6. What’s the most important news story today that you think we all need to pay more attention to?
The stories that are ongoing and not very scintillating. For me, school lunch programs and government farm subsidies are problems we must never turn away from. The links between the government regulations around food and the school lunch, how we feed our children each day, and the major health issues in this country are a chain that is easy to see but very difficult to break.
7. Where do you get your news?
I follow certain blogs and online newspapers. Marion Nestle’s blog Food Politics is of interest to me. I listen to NPR. My favorite place to catch up with the news is The Daily Show. The humorous spin can’t be underestimated.