"Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables from small farmers, and you'll do OK." That's the simple approach to healthy eating put forth by chef-activist Michel Nischan, owner of the Dressing Room in Westport, Connecticut. His book, Sustainably Delicious, explores the philosophy with dishes like a chopped salad with eight different vegetables.
Nischan's efforts to get Americans to eat better go beyond cookbooks: Since 2008, he's been helping underserved communities gain access to local food through his foundation, Wholesome Wave. "There's a stereotype that the poor just want to eat McDonald's, and it's so not true," he says. "The people we work with can't even afford Happy Meals. They are desperate for fresh food."
To bring the cost within reach, Nischan has helped create a new program to double the value of food stamps at certain farmers' markets, like a new one in Miami's historic but low-income Overtown neighborhood. "When a woman who'd lived there her whole life saw the market, she started weeping. She couldn't believe she finally had access to good food." She filled a whole bag with vegetables before heading home.
Nischan's Superfast Vegetable Dishes
Instant Tomato Sauce Chop overripe tomatoes and cook with a small pat of butter and fresh herbs until soft. Toss with pasta.
Raw-Corn Salad Cut fresh corn kernels off the cob and toss with cilantro leaves, shaved white onion and fresh lime juice.
Tomato-Avocado Spread Coarsely chop varied heirloom tomatoes and smash in a bowl with a ripe avocado and sliced scallions. Season with salt and spread on crusty bread.