A noted environmental activist, writer and producer of "An Inconvenient Truth," Laurie David has written a new book (with Kirstin Uhrenholdt) called "The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time." Before her appearance at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, where she demonstrated recipes at the Cooking Stage, David took a few moments to talk about her book, family meals and her eco-friendly kitchen.
She'd come to realize that the dinner table encompasses all the issues that are important to her — food, health, parenting — and that having successfully kept her two teenage daughters present and engaged over dinner was an important accomplishment, and she knew she had to share her recipes, both for food and promoting family interaction.
"It's about creating a really fun atmosphere at the dinner table and getting reconnected to where food comes from," says David, who cooks with local and sustainable ingredients to make dishes like black bean cakes, homemade frozen yogurt and Danish turkey meatballs (courtesy Uhrenholdt's grandmother). "We have lots of recipes for kale, quinoa, a great grains, greens and cheese baked dish. We talk about changing and reusing leftovers to make meals last." More recipes are on reserve for a sequel. "We could fill another book tomorrow," she says.
A big advocate of organic food, she says it's "the one thing people have to figure out a way to do, and how to make it more affordable. It's important to eat food that doesn't have chemicals or pesticides in it." She's not vegan or vegetarian, but eats little meat. "I love vegetables and I talk about Meatless Monday in the book," says David, who has written about antibiotics in meat in her blog at HuffingtonPost.com. "70 percent of all the antibiotics that scientists come up with go into healthy animals, 10 percent to sick animals. Instead of saving them for when we get sick, we're using them on animals. We're going to lose our immunity," she warns.
Another topic covered is how to green the kitchen, which David views as "the greenest room in the house, the best room to teach and practice green values." In her own kitchen, she saves and sorts all her table scraps. "I'm an obsessive composter and I get unbelievable joy from doing it," she says. In her garden, she grows "artichokes, all kinds of lettuces, tons of kale, fava beans. For us, it's all about what we're eating, how we're eating it, where we're eating it."
Not surprisingly, David is hoping for a food-centric Mother's Day gift. "What I want this year is a home-cooked dinner from one of my girls."