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Chef, author and TV personality Andrew Zimmern meets people all the time who are disgusted by the strange vegetables, insects and fermented foods he samples on his hit series "Bizarre Foods."
The irony, he said, is that the same people don't flinch when devouring a hot dog, "where the ingredients are mostly a mystery."
Given a choice, Zimmern said he would prefer to be in an African jungle, "where the meat is abundant and clean and delicious and prepared by someone's grandmother."
This week, Zimmern will be in Salt Lake City giving the final address of the Natural History Museum of Utah's 2017 lecture series, which has focused on the future of food and agriculture. Tickets are still available for the event, which takes place Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Kingsbury Hall. (See box for details.)
During the presentation, he hopes to get the audience rethinking their global perspective on food.
A self-described "spontaneous speaker," Zimmern said he likes to engage the audience in conversation so bring good questions. "But I do set the table no pun intended with some irrefutable facts" to get the discussion rolling, he said.
He will ponder why, in the United States the richest nation in the world billions of pounds of edible food goes to waste each year while at the same time, 20 percent to 25 percent of Americans, including children, go hungry.
"We are, in fact, a fast, food nation," he said. "In the pursuit of speed and convenience we have created a harmful system of producing food for the masses. By slowing down, we would not only be safer, but healthier. We would feed more people and have less waste."
Social class also is an issue, said Zimmern. How else do you explain, he said, the slick food magazines and growing number of television shows that show people indulging in expensive food and wine, yet others can't afford a loaf of bread?
"Eating well is a class issue in America," he said.
As he has traveled the globe exploring food and sharing it with his Travel Channel viewers Zimmern said he has seen how to repair the situation.
"The solutions come from a whole host of places and most people are unaware how simple and easy it can be," he said.
When it comes to food policies and social justice, Zimmern said he likes to quote Tip O'Neill, the late former Speaker of the House, who famously declared in a 1935 campaign speech, "All politics is local."
Zimmern likes to add that all "food politics are local, as well."
Individually, he said, we may not to be able to change foreign policy in the Middle East, but we can support local agriculture, for example, by joining a community-supported agriculture program or buying at a farmers market.
Getting that fresh food each week forces us to slow down and cook a meal and sit down with family and friends, he said.
"That sends a message," he said. "That is where a grassroots movement starts."
Zimmern dishes about 'State of Our Food'
TV personality, chef and author Andrew Zimmern will talk about "Food: A Global Perspective on the State of Our Food Life" as part of the Natural History Museum of Utah's annual lecture series. As the creator and host of Travel Channel's hit series "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern" and "Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre World," he travels the globe exploring food and sharing his experiences.
When • Tuesday, April 11, 7 p.m.
Where • Kingsbury Hall on the University of Utah campus, 1395 Presidents Circle, Salt Lake City
Tickets • Adults, $12, or $6 for those with a U. of U. ID
Details • https://nhmu.utah.edu/lectureseries