Kelli Best-Oliver

I'm a former teacher who is currently working on a doctorate in education while starting an urban charter school slated to open in August 2011. However, I'm also a food nerd who loves slow food and conviviality. I work part-time in a kitchen shop that teaches cooking classes and spend my free time growing food in my St Louis yard. If you doubt my street cred, check my deep-freeze, where you'll find a frozen pig's head. When I'm not in a kitchen, I'm reading, writing all over the interwebs, going to rock shows, sitting on my porch, or bumming around St Louis.


Sipping on:

homegrown mint tea, but only because I'm hungover.

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    In the U.S. and Canada, the raw milk debate rages. Should it be legal? Is it safe? Should small farmers be able to sell it to individuals? At farmers' markets? At grocery stores? Who will regulate it? Raw milk has been described as the "sexy bad boy of the dairy industry" as consumers try to get their hands on the oft-maligned milk.

    But a few other famous boys are raw milk drinkers, too (no, not the Jonas Brothers). The world's most famous groom-to-be, Prince William, and his brother Prince Harry are raw-milk drinkers on occasion, although I doubt the creamy beverage will be served at Wills' royal wedding to Kate Middleton this spring.

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    Picture this: You order a meal at your favorite restaurant. Then, when the bill comes, you realize: You can pay whatever you like!

    Believe it or not, this scenario happens at many restaurants nationwide. Several independent pay-what-you-wish restaurants -- many supporting non-profit organizations -- have been in operation for years. Even national chain Panera Bread has opened multiple pay-what-you-wish locations across the country. Now, the trend is extending into fine dining as well; the concept is being touted as another way to turn slow business periods into money makers.

    But can restaurants profit using the pay-what-you-want model? Do patrons really pay a fair price for their meal? Better question: Would you pay? How much?

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    When I think about food, it's generally in a positive, I'm-a-foodie-and-slightly-obsessed way. But it's not that way for most women. Lots of ladies use food as a way to make themselves feel horrible about themselves. They see food as something they are not supposed to have, something that makes them look and feel terrible. How unappetizing!

    If only we thought about food the same way that men think about sex. Who can forget Meg Ryan's orgasmic experience in the deli in When Harry Met Sally and the iconic line that followed, "I'll have what she's having." Consider this: 36 percent of men think about sex every 30 minutes, 25 percent of women think about food every 30 minutes, reports the Daily Mail.

    While women have a Cathy-esque laugh about our stereotypical preoccupation with eating and men's with doin' it, a recent study had some more concerning findings about how women view food.

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    Recently, a veteran LA Times restaurant critic, S. Irene Virbila, was dining at Beverly Hills' Red Medicine restaurant when a co-owner took her photograph, then kicked her out. The co-owner then put her photo on the restaurant's Tumblr site, without her permission, and banned her from the restaurant. The owner claimed it was because he did not like her reviews.

    Instead of using the opportunity to showcase the strengths of their restaurant, Red Medicine ownership chose taking petty, unprofessional action against someone doing their job. This is just one more public misstep by restaurant management in handling critics, both professional and amateur alike. As social media evolves, and with it, the spread of public forums for critiquing restaurants and other services, some restaurants are choosing to evolve with it. Some are not, and I for one can't understand that. What are restaurants trying to hide?

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    For a group of California residents, feeding the hungry during the holiday season had its benefits: FREE POT.

    That's right. Granny Purps, a marijuana dispensary in Soquel, CA, offered patients a deal to help them collect canned goods for their holiday food drive for Second Harvest Food Bank. For every four cans of food a patient donated, Granny Purps would give the patient a free joint. Patients were limited to three free joints a day.

    It was a little holiday "puff, puff, give," if you know what I mean.

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