We’ve been encouraging viewers around the country to host a potluck for the PBS broadcast of Food, Inc. on April 21st, so we certainly couldn’t get away with not hosting our own office potluck for the film! Despite our busy calendars (the potluck got rescheduled a few times due to traveling schedules, Passover, everyone’s insistence that they be present for the meal, etc.), we managed to come together yesterday afternoon for an incredibly delicious meal, an interesting discussion and a great time.

Check out the photos from the potluck.

The Food
The set-up of the potluck, and the purpose of it, imposed some limitations on the food we brought. Food, Inc. reveals some very shocking truths about our nation’s food system. We tried very hard to bring healthy, sustainable, local and delicious eats.

Read more about the potluck and the discussion, and try a great recipe for the DOC bar…

Being in an office without a proper stove also made it a bit difficult. Our potluck began at 1:00 pm, so how would we keep the food warm? Director of Interactive Theresa Riley brought her meatballs and sauce in crock pot, and Vice President Cynthia Lopez and Coordinating Producer Andrew Catauro heated up their respective proteins (beef and lamb) in the microwave oven. Andrew also made a yogurt sauce with mint, lemon and cucumber right at his desk!

The food included:

artichoke hummus, local cheeses, quinoa salad, string bean salad with red onions, vegetable platter, pasta salad, roasted organic drumsticks, noodles with sesame sauce, local lamb with yogurt sauce, truly tender meatballs with mushroom cream sauce and egg noodles, beef with carrots, organic fruits, biscotti, lime and anise cookies, DOC bars (the undisputed hit of the potluck — recipe below), tarte tatin, cookies from the farmers’ market, local wines and organic beer.

It can be a real challenge to have food that’s healthy and sustainable, but still affordable. The potluck fares were a combination of fresh and organic ingredients, home cooking and careful shopping. We did our best, but many of us acknowledged that eating well is not always easy to do.

The Discussion
The POV staff have all seen Food, Inc. a number of times, read the research and statistics around the issues, and listened to filmmaker Robert Kenner and other experts talk about the dangers of industrial food. Our discussion yesterday reflected some of our thoughts on the topics.

Office manager Betty Cordero talked about how her eating habits have changed since watching Food, Inc. Betty was horrified by the segment on chicken farms in the film, and now avoids buying regular chicken at the supermarket. She also said that she and her family are eating more vegetables and seafood as a result of the film.

Other staff members talked about trying to shop more at farmer’s markets or food coops since watching the film, and trying to eat more locally. The carbon footprint of food that’s been shipped thousands of miles weighs heavily on all of us, and Food, Inc. prodded us to think about the agricultural system as a whole, leading some of us to conclude that not only is industrial agriculture bad for us, it’s bad for our environment as well.

Yet despite all this information, we admitted that it’s a struggle to always eat according to our idealism, and not according to our wallets. Director of Community Engagement Eliza Licht talked about the price difference between organic food and conventional food: often, the organic food costs twice as much as conventional food! On a limited budget, how does one decide what to buy organic, and what not to buy? Other staffers chimed in with information about what they buy organic (dairy, meat, berries) and what they skimp on (beans, and fruits that have peels like bananas or avocados).

The Party
Sure, we ate delicious foods and had a thought-provoking conversation, but the best part about our office potluck was sitting down and spending time with our colleagues. A couple of POV staffers also brought their kids to the potluck. Interns and guests munched and chatted and laughed and drank. Instead of eating in front of our computers, we stopped what we were doing in the middle of the day to come together and share a meal. Good food brings people together.

Throw Your Own Potluck Party
To host your own potluck, follow these step-by-step instructions. Happy eating and watching, post your photos to our Flickr group and visit the POV site for a chance to receive a fantastic gift basketfull of autographed books, DVDs, coffee, tea and much more.

DOC Bar Recipe
These Dates, Oats and Chevre dessert bars were created by our intern Faith Hill, The recipe was inspired by Not Eating Out in New York’s Oat Goat Chip recipe. We cannot rave enough about these DOC bars, and we certainly couldn’t stop eating them! Try them out for your own potluck.

DOC (dates, oats, and chevre) Bars
Recipe by Faith Hill

1/2 C unsalted butter, room temp
1 C raw cane sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 C all-purpose flour
1 C rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 C plain chevre, crumbled
1 C diced, pitted medjool dates

1/4 C plain chevre, room temp
1/4 C confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium/large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until well-combined and smooth. (It will be grainy due to the size of the cane sugar granules. I ground the sugar by hand for a few minutes to make the granules a bit smaller.) Add vanilla and egg, and beat the mixture until fluffy. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder, then stir in the oats. Next, slowly add the flour/oat mixture to the sugar/butter mixture, stirring until mixture is combined. Fold in the dates until combined, and lastly fold in the chevre crumbles (note: it helps to quickly chill the chevre in the freezer just beforehand so it crumbles better).

Scrape dough into a greased rectangular (9×12) baking pan. Spread it out to make a thin layer that is about half an inch thick, like a cookie might be. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. It should not crack on top. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Let cool completely.

While that is cooling, whip together the chevre and powdered sugar in a small bowl until glossy and pastey. Add more sugar if still too thick, but don’t let it get runny. (If necessary, refrigerate to keep it slightly stiff.) Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled oat mixture.

With a knife, cut the rectangle in half and slowly flip one side over onto the other to sandwich the frosting in the middle. Cut into bite-sized bars, roughly 1×1.5 inches. These are very dense and rich; a bite or two will do!

Keep them refrigerated and serve within a couple days, or freeze and serve within a week.

Published by

Former POVer Ruiyan Xu worked on developing and producing materials for POV's website. Before coming to POV, she worked in the Interactive and Broadband department at Channel Thirteen/WNET. Ruiyan was born in Shanghai and graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Modern Culture and Media.