Fire and spice

Cinnamon-sugar donuts on a table.
Cinnamon-sugar donuts on a table.
Photo: bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images Plus

It was intermission at Lincoln Center, where we’d gone to mix with the haut monde to see the New York Philharmonic’s annual performance of the Brandenburg Concertos, when Rachel said she was hungry.

“Let’s grab a slice afterward,” I suggested.

“I want doughnuts,” she replied. “Apple cider doughnuts.”

I had the next hour to make a plan. During this long-ass harpsichord cadenza that Bach had dropped into the middle of the fifth concerto, my mind wandered. There were no quality doughnut shops in that part of town open past noon. The artisanal doughnut craze had just taken hold of the…


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Women surrounded by posters in English and Yiddish supporting Franklin D. Roosevelt, Herbert H. Lehman, and the American Labor Party teach other women how to vote, 1936.

Historians can point to a number of times and places where a political party for workers showed some signs of possibkle life in the United States. My favorite instance is Henry George’s mayoral campaign in New York City.

“We are building a movement for the abolition of industrial slavery,” he told a packed house at his campaign launch event in the Great Hall of Cooper Union. “And what we do on this side of the water will send its impulse across the land and over the sea, and give courage to all men to think and act.”

George, a prominent…


Examining the personal thrill and political power of free food

A “free food” sign in front of a church.
A “free food” sign in front of a church.
A sign outside the church during a food distribution at the Salem United Methodist Church in Shoemakersville, Pennsylvania, in July. It was the first food distribution for the church, an effort to fill a gap in the coverage of food pantries in the area and as a response to the increased need because of the pandemic. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Sure, the general principle of an opportunity cost — that getting one thing we desire means giving up another we also desire — seems ironclad. Yet, whenever someone invokes this adage it’s always a finger-wagging naysayer with one pithy message: You don’t deserve that.

I’m here to tell you that you do.

Whenever someone asked me as a child what my favorite food was, I always said, “Free food.” I loved the free lollipops at the drive-thru bank teller. Somehow they just tasted sweeter than the ones you actually had…


How Syracuse became a birthplace of hardcore veganism

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I got my first job in the restaurant industry when I was 18, cooking at Mr. Arnold’s Vegetarian Café in Syracuse, New York. At that point, my kitchen experience was limited to mixing pancake batter and brewing tea, so I wasn’t hired on the basis of my culinary skill. But my intense commitment to the animal rights movement and the local hardcore music scene was enough to land me the gig.

You see, it was 1994 and I had recently “gone vegan,” in the parlance of the time. I quickly enlisted myself in the movement with the zeal of the…


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Calls for unity sidestep real political questions progressives must face.

In these heady days of sectarian partisanship, internet call-outs, circular firing squads of leftists, and infighting among progressives, a little unity seems like the perfect medicine. After all, we have to beat Biden and Trump. How can we do that if we’re fighting amongst ourselves?

The tendency to see arguments among the left and center as a kind of family feud is high. But doing so creates a false equivalency — at least in this case. The current calls for unity are the outcome of a spurious event, not a…


Why the school-lunch staple is this Vermonter’s shameless everyday drink

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Photo: Jennifer A. Smith/Getty Images

At the Christmas Eve Children’s Lovefeast at the Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where I make my once-yearly cameo at a house of worship, they serve a “non-sacramental meal” of chocolate milk and cookies. It’s not exactly the Eucharist, but it binds us together as much as any ritual. As the choir breaks into “Good Christian Men, Rejoice,” the grand doors on either side of the altar swing open, and pairs of men and women in glorious white outfits come bearing trays of chocolate milk-filled mugs.


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#stopTrump protest in Chicago

An impressive amount of people are lining up to stop Trump, but his far-Right agenda could thrive under Clinton too. Without a doubt, the forceful protests in Chicago, Albuquerque, throughout California, and those planned at the RNC are an important part of rejecting his candidacy. But too often their substantive message gets buried by louder voices — including those of Bernie Sanders, a handful of GOP defectors, trade unions leaders, liberal pundits like Arianna Huffington, and cultural icons of the Left like Tony Kushner — who profess the solution is at the polls: with a victory for Hillary. …

Jamie McCallum

Sociologist at Middlebury College. Author of Worked Over on Basic Books (2020). Writes about labor, work, politics, and food

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