Pretty much everyone appreciates good food, but “foodies,” as they’re known, are another breed entirely. We all know at least one spice hoarder that fits the bill, and finding a gift to please their palate can be daunting, especially when you’ve seen them tackle ingredients out of one of Chopped’s crueler episodes. Thankfully, we’ve selected 15 of our favorite food-themed treats to make your life—and your holiday shopping—easier. Whether you’re on the hunt for something wearable, hangable, or, of course, edible, our well-seasoned selection of gifts for foodies has something just for you.
Even if you’ve never heard of Greyston Bakery, chances are good that you have, in fact, eaten their baked goods. Ever had a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie, or spooned your way through a full pint of Half Baked? Congratulations! You’ve had a little bit of Greyston in your belly. And it’s no coincidence that both of those flavors made it to Ben & Jerry’s top 10 list last year—Greyston’s brownies, which you can now snag in four flavors at UncommonGoods, are mind-blowingly tasty.
That’s not all, though. Like UncommonGoods (and Ben & Jerry’s), Greyston Bakery is a proud B Corp, and it’s New York state’s first Benefit Corporation, too. Founded by Zen Buddhist Roshi Bernie Glassman in 1982 in Yonkers, New York, Greyston is best known for its unique hiring model, dubbed Open Hiring™. “Open Hiring is simple,” says Ariella Gastel, Greyston’s VP of Marketing and Business Development: “If you want a job, come to the bakery, sign your name on a list, and wait to be called. No questions asked. No resume or interview needed.” Designed to break down barriers for those seeking honest work, Greyston’s policy provides opportunities to Yonkers locals who might otherwise encounter difficulty obtaining a job, whether that means they’re single parents, have trouble speaking English, or once struggled with homelessness. “It is hard to imagine how many people want to work but can’t because of barriers,” says Ariella. “Our mission is [to] create thriving communities through the practice and promotion of Open Hiring.”
Though most of our real live visits are to artist’s studios, we couldn’t resist making the trip up to Yonkers to visit Greyston’s facility ourselves. The promise of brownies, of course, was a draw, but we were equally excited to see Greyston’s mission in action and to have the chance to meet Ariella and longtime team members Cece and Raymond. Armed with questions and juuust enough space in our tummies for a brownie or two, we set off for Yonkers from Grand Central Station, a mere half hour from our final destination.
Picture this: You want to cook a meal. In the US, this is an easy enough proposition, if occasionally tiring. You take a trip to the grocery store, prep your ingredients, and leave them to cook, whether in an oven, on a stovetop, or in a slow cooker. Before too long, you sit down and eat. Simple, right?
In rural Africa, no such luck. For many women, making a meal is a long, costly process fraught with danger. Every day, women across the continent spend up to seven hours collecting firewood to use for cooking, walking between 3 and 6 miles, taking away time that could be spent working or bonding with family members, and risking sexual assault and attacks by animals along the way. Those who don’t collect firewood often cook with charcoal, a fuel that eats up a sizable chunk of a rural family’s income—think along the lines of one third. The actual cooking takes hours, and the use woodfuels combined with that of an open flame contributes to potentially deadly levels of indoor air pollution. In providing for their families, these women make sacrifices that are unimaginable to many, risking their health and livelihood for the sake of a single meal. A trip to a packed Trader Joe’s at 6 o’clock on a Tuesday pales in comparison.
For South African entrepreneur Sarah Collins, this was a key problem. Her lifelong mission to empower rural Africans has manifested in many types of work, from conservation to political action, but perhaps her most meaningful contribution has been the invention of the Non-Electric Slow Cooker, also known as the Wonderbag. Now available for purchase from UncommonGoods, Sarah’s slow cooker—made from patterned cotton fabric stuffed with repurposed foam—keeps food brought to a boil cooking for up to 12 hours simply by trapping heat. For every Non-Electric Slow Cooker purchased in the developed world, another is donated to the Wonderbag Foundation, an organization that distributes Sarah’s invention to communities in need throughout Africa. Because the Non-Electric Slow Cooker doesn’t require an open flame to keep food cooking, it reduces pollution and deforestation throughout Africa and keeps rural women and families safer and healthier, freeing up their time and money for work, play, and family bonding.
As a certified B Corp, UncommonGoods is committed to offering sustainable, socially responsible products. When we first heard about the Non-Electric Slow Cooker, we were intrigued—we’d never heard of a slow cooker made out of foam! Once we learned of its impressive effect in Africa, though, we knew we needed to hear more from its inventor. Read on for more of Sarah’s story—including advice on how to contribute to her mission, even from afar.
Years ago, I came across Wild Fermentation, a book by Sandor Ellix Katz that turned me and millions of others onto the idea of home fermentation. I don’t remember how I came across it, or why I bought it. But I read the first few chapters and became enthralled with the IDEA of fermenting.
The book, published in 2003, made Katz a fermentation rockstar. (I’m not kidding, he really is) As for myself, as I read, I was all ready to leave Brooklyn and move to the author’s organic farm commune in Tennesee to begin my new, fermention-centric lifestyle. Because I liked the IDEA.
I successfully made delicious yogurt a few times. And I’ve made a lot of bread, though not sourdough bread.
But despite feeling totally gung-ho, fermentationally speaking, that’s as far as I went. Katz made a passionate, informed case for probiotics (and this was back in 2003, before it was a thing). Almost all store-bought sauerkraut, he said, is pasteurized, which kills the probiotics.
I wanted to make my own sauerkraut and achieve Total Gut Health. But I looked into buying a stoneware crock with a weight (to weigh the cabbage down), and for a beginner, they seemed rather pricey and heavy. I didn’t feel it was wise to commit to something like that without knowing I’d use it more than once.*
And I got stuck there. For years. Until I saw our DIY Fermentation Crock.
Last summer, I canned for the first time with fellow UGooders and loved sharing and eating the spicy pickles and peach blackberry jam we created. While both received many compliments, I knew I’d be nowhere without our fearless leader Louise’s technical expertise in the kitchen. As for pickled veggies I haven’t made myself; pickled onions have turned many a salad from mediocre to magnificent, and from a health perspective, I’ll take all the probiotics I can get. As soon as I saw this DIY Fermentation Kit come into the UncommonGoods assortment, I had to try it for myself.
The pot calling the kettle black. A stitch in time saves nine. She saw the light. There’s no shortage of idioms—phrases that mean more than the sum of their parts—in the English language. But while some are more or less self-explanatory, others are far more perplexing. Chief among them: The proof is in the pudding. What proof? What pudding? Why would one hide anything in pudding?
There’s a logical reason this one doesn’t quite add up. Over the centuries, the phrase was shortened from the original: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” In other words, if you want to know if the pudding is any good, you have to try it out. Hence the current phrase’s meaning that something (say, a plan) can’t be deemed successful until it’s put into action. The original proverb hails from about 14th century Britain, back when the word “proof” meant “test” and “pudding” could also mean “sausage”. Which, in medieval times, was something that really, really needed to be tested before being fully consumed.
Proof is in the Pudding Bowls | $28.99
Ah the days of the Romans, when they would recline at the table for their one square meal a day. That’s right—one. We may take the idea of eating three meals a day for granted now, but it’s a relatively new phenomenon. Back in the Middle Ages, before the dawn of electricity, humans rose early to make the most of the daylight. By midday, with six hours or so of work under their belts, people would break for their meal—the largest and usually the only. But as artificial light entered the game in the 19th century, the wealthy started shifting their days and the main meal was consumed at later and later times. As such, the custom of mid-day snacking arose. By the time the Industrial Revolution hit, workers needed calories to continue working further into the evening hours. That’s when lunch went mainstream in the Western world. As for the idea of the hallowed family dinner, we have the 1950s to thank for that. No matter what and how much of it you eat when, enjoy it—and rest assured that you’re not breaking any longstanding biological traditions.
Stackable Lunch Pot | $24.95
I’m a known dumpling lover. I’ve always wanted to make ravioli, because 1) it’s a form of dumplings, 1a) dumplings are the best, 2) it’s delicious, and 3) pre-made ravioli seems too expensive for what it is, and 4) the one time I did I buy store-bought ravioli, it was suuuuper suboptimally subpar. As my mom says, “The dough gets leather-y.”