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Part love letter to the ingredients that give us daily pleasure, part wake-up call to the homogenization that is threatening to wipe out the diversity of our food supply, Bread, Wine, Chocolate explores the history and cultural importance of our most beloved tastes and the modern challenges they face.
Food has always been connected with joy, desire, and comfort. Love – in the culinary sense – can be found in extreme and exotic places but also (or even more so) in the most simple of everyday pleasures. Taste is both primitive and sophisticated, inherent and evolved. Our response to sweet, salty, bitter, or sour reflects biological characteristics as well as emotional connotations.
Bread, Wine, Chocolate shows us not only what it means to pay attention to these things, but what it means to lose them. Simran Sethi explains how the foods we hold dear are under threat of genetic erosion – a slow and steady loss of diversity in what we grow and eat. American food is beginning to look and taste the same, whether you're strolling through a San Francisco farmers market or at a Midwestern potluck. In fact, 95% of the world calories now come from only 30 species. Even when faced with what seem like endless options in the potato chip aisle or ice cream freezer, a deeper look reveals the superficial differences, primarily in flavor and brand.
Award winning journalist, Simran Sethi meets with scientists, farmers, chefs, wine makers, beer brewers, coffee roasters and more to discuss the multiple and interconnected reasons for this loss, and the consequences it has on food supply, safety, and qualitynot to mention cultural loss, as the knowledge of how to prepare certain foods and the customs and rituals associated with them disappear. She travels to Ethiopian coffee forests, British yeast culture labs, and Ecuadoran cocoa plantations, collecting fascinating stories that will inspire us all to taste more deeply, better understand both familiar and new foods, and learn what it takes to save the tastes that connect us with the world around us.
Simran Sethi is a journalist and an associate at the University of Melbourne's Sustainable Society Institute and the former host of the PBS Quest series on science and sustainability. Her work has appeared on NBC Nightly News, PBS, Oprah, MSNBC, the History Channel, and NPR. She was the national environmental correspondent for NBC News, the anchor/writer of Sundance Channel's first dedicated environmental programming, and the host of the Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary A School in the Woods.