This Seattle Chef Is Empowering Children Through Food
By Angela Fichter
Early in his career, chef Tarik Abdullah wanted to do more than work in a restaurant. It has been more than 20 years since he found his calling while volunteering as a children's cooking instructor. Since then, his devotion hasn't waned.
The Seattle native has worked tirelessly to share his passion with his community over the years. His talents have landed him time hosting VICE series Munchies. He was a finalist on ABC cooking show The Taste, and in Seattle, he's best known for his highly favored Morning Star Brunch pop-ups and his four years as a sous chef at popular Mediterranean eatery Cicchetti.
Now, Abdullah will soon be opening an entirely crowd-funded restaurant and cross-cultural arts cooperative venue with business partners Ben Hunter and long-time Seattle organizer Rodney Harold. With community-building at its center, and in the spirit of Seattle's Black and Tan clubs of the 1930s that brought jazz enthusiasts of all races together, Abdullah hopes the highly anticipated Black & Tan Hall will honor Seattle's rich arts history and unite creative people of all backgrounds. The brick and mortar establishment—his first—represents Abdullah's passions—food and the arts, but is only part of his culinary journey.
He continues to offer food literacy courses and encourage cooking as a viable career path for people of color, particularly children, who might not otherwise consider the culinary arts. Food is empowering for Abdullah, and he believes cooking is a necessary life skill.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 12 percent of Americans are facing food insecurity—the majority of whom are black and brown, young and poor. And limited and unhealthy food options are the reality for many. But Abdullah says that doesn't have to be a deterrent to eating well. Learning how to cook healthy meals with limited resources is possible. He wants to make cooking easier for everyone and provide his students with the tools to make smarter, healthier choices that also benefit their communities.
This interview has been lightly edited.
Angela Fichter: Cooking, alone, can be intimidating. But when you consider the cost of cooking healthy foods, where's the best place to start?
Tarik Abdullah: Good food shouldn't just be for people who can afford it. So don't be discouraged. Take $10 or $20, which can get you a long way if you know how to shop. Find a cookbook that has all your basics. Technology has made access to information much easier, even down to online cooking tutorials. Work on a simple but well-rounded 45-minute dish for a few weeks and start to modify the recipe.
We live in Washington where access to great fruits and vegetables is a blessing. Learn how to buy in season. Not all of us can buy organic, but we have places like Rainier Market and MacPherson's that offer good produce.
Fichter: What are some barriers to access for young people interested in learning to cook? How do you handle those barriers?
Abdullah: Money. But, I teach them to cook on a budget. Again, $10 or $20 can go a long way. When I work with youth through the city's Parks and Recreation department, there's a set fee. I also work with a couple of nonprofits and volunteer. The goal is to house my own school, and I'd like courses to be free. I do the best I can to make sure my students know there is good, affordable food out there you can make yourself no matter your age or budget and be confident about it.
Fichter: You want everyone to learn how to cook for themselves, and though it's ideal, it's not always a priority in every household. Why are cooking skills so important?
Abdullah: This is what we're supposed to do, and it only makes sense to pass on these skills to children. I chose food because we live in a chain, fast-food, sugar, salt, and package-heavy society, and young people need to know there's going to come a time when cooking will be a huge factor in their lives. So, in addition to whatever they like to do [sports, video games, etc.], I just want them to incorporate some cooking.
Fichter: How do you pique youth's interest in food?
Abdullah: Start them young. My youngest student was four. I find 70 to 80 percent of kids are really into cooking. Many are uncertain. Once you leave the U.S., cooking at a young age is the norm. If they can spend all that time in front of a computer, phone, and TV, they can handle learning how to work with a knife or sauté pan.
Fichter: You credit your father with teaching you his entrepreneurial skills, starting with his successful sausage business in Seattle's Central District.
Abdullah: As a black kid growing up, especially in the '80s, you likely had an entrepreneurial household: a mom, dad, or somebody in the family who had multiple jobs or was an entrepreneur. My father's debut of his Tasty's all-beef sausage in 1981 in the Central District has to be my most poignant food memory (pork casings were the norm at the time and Abdullah's family is Muslim). It was a homemade product sharing store shelves with corporate stuff. He taught me to find something and get good at it. He plays a vital role in who I am today.
Fichter: Everyone's been waiting for the official opening of Black & Tan Hall, something you call the culmination of your life's work. It carries special meaning since it borrows its name from the racially inclusive Black & Tan clubs of the 1930s. What do you hope to accomplish in the new space?
Abdullah: This is a great way to showcase what community can do. This is a place where people will feel they're a part of something that's going to benefit the neighborhood—and they'll have a stake in how it flourishes. I know there's a group of kids who want to learn how to cook, and I want to teach them. There's folks out there who want to make change, and I want to hang out with them. Together we can change our communities and our mindsets on how we eat, live and interact with each other.
Fichter: What does food mean to you?
Abdullah: It means life. It's our sustenance, our battery, and our bridge to help us move forward to do the work that we need to… whatever that may be. The better I eat, the more I can do, and that's why we need to look at food more seriously.
I'm now expanding beyond my typical Mediterranean and North African flavors. I take inspiration from my friends and their backgrounds. I'm always asking, "How I can mesh these flavor profiles and make them taste good?" If I can get three or four cultures onto one plate and it harmonizes, then we as people can harmonize as well.
You can follow Chef Tarik Abdullah's work and stay up to date with Black & Tan Hall here.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Yes! Magazine.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
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For some combat veterans, the Fourth of July is not a time to celebrate the independence of the country they love. Instead, the holiday is a terrifying ordeal. That's because the noise of fireworks – loud, sudden, and reminiscent of war – rocks their nervous system. Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans.
What Is PTSD?<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/veterans-refugees-and-victims-of-war-crimes-are-all-vulnerable-to-ptsd-130144" target="_blank">PTSD</a> can occur when someone is exposed to extreme exposure traumatic experience. Typically, the trauma involves a threat of death, serious injury, or sexual violence. Along with war veterans, it happens to refugees; to victims of gun violence, rape and other physical assaults; and to survivors of car accidents and natural disasters like earthquakes or tornadoes.</p><p>PTSD can also happen by witnessing trauma or its aftermath, often the case with <a href="https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd" target="_blank">first responders</a> and <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-many-faces-anxiety-and-trauma/202006/invisible-wounds-the-frontline-heroes" target="_blank">front-line workers</a>.</p><p>All this adds up to tens of millions of Americans. Up to 30% of combat veterans and first responders, and 8% of civilians, <a href="https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treat/essentials/epidemiology.asp" target="_blank">fulfill the diagnostic criteria for PTSD</a>. And that criteria is not easily met: symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive trauma memories, difficulty sleeping, avoidance of reminders of trauma, negative emotions, and what we call "hyperarousal symptoms."</p>
Fireworks Can Trigger Flashbacks<p>Hyperarousal, a core component of PTSD, occurs when a person is hyper-alert to any sign of threat – constantly on edge, easily startled and continuously screening the environment.</p><p>Imagine, for instance, stepping down the stairs in the dark after hearing a noise; you're worried an intruder might be downstairs. Then a totally unpredictable loud sound explodes right outside your window.</p><p>For people with PTSD, that sound – reminiscent of gunfire, a thunderstorm or a car crash – <a href="https://theconversation.com/veterans-refugees-and-victims-of-war-crimes-are-all-vulnerable-to-ptsd-130144" target="_blank">can cause</a> a panic attack or trigger flashbacks, a sensory experience that makes it seem as if the old trauma is happening here and now. Flashbacks can be so severe that combat veterans may suddenly drop to the ground, the same way they would when an explosion took place in combat. Later, the experience can trigger nightmares, insomnia or worsening of other PTSD symptoms.</p><p>Those of us who set off fireworks need to ask ourselves: Are those few minutes of fun worth the hours, days, or weeks of torment that will begin for some of our friends and neighbors – including many who put their lives on the line to protect us?</p>
Who Else Is Affected?<p>Millions of others, though not diagnosed with PTSD, may similarly be affected by fireworks. <a href="https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics" target="_blank">One in five Americans</a> have an anxiety disorder, many with symptoms of hyperarousal. Also impacted are those with autism or developmental disabilities; they find it difficult to cope with the noise, or just the drastic change from life routines. Then there are people who have to work, holiday or not: nurses, physicians and first responders, who have to be up at 4 a.m. for a 30-hour shift.</p><h3>How to Reduce the Negative Impact</h3><p>There are ways to reduce how fireworks affect others:</p><ul><li>For those with PTSD, the unexpected nature of fireworks is probably the worst part. So at least make it as predictable as possible. Do it in designated areas during designated times. Don't explode one, for instance, two hours after the designated time window. And avoid setting them off <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/04/fireworks-ptsd-fourth-of-july-veterans-shooting-survivors" target="_blank">on the 3rd</a>. People are less prepared then.</li><li>If you're aware that a veteran or trauma survivor lives in the neighborhood, move the noise as far as possible from their home and give them prior warning. Consider putting a sign in your front yard noting the time you'll set the fireworks.</li><li>Remember, it doesn't have to be super loud to make it fun. Consider using <a href="https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/504964-its-time-for-silent-fireworks" target="_blank">silent fireworks</a>. And you don't have to be the one who lights the fireworks. Simply enjoy watching while your city or township does it safely.</li></ul>
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By Jeff Berardelli
For the past year, some of the most up-to-date computer models from the world's top climate modeling groups have been "running hot" – projecting that global warming may be even more extreme than earlier thought. Data from some of the model runs has been confounding scientists because it challenges decades of consistent projections.
International Effort to Evaluate Climate Models<p>For the past 25 years the international community has been evaluating and comparing the world's most sophisticated climate models produced by various teams at universities, research centers, and government agencies. The effort is organized by the World Climate Research Programme under the United Nations World Meteorological Organization.</p><p>Climate models are complicated computer programs composed of millions of lines of code that calculate the physical properties and interactions between the main climate forces like the atmosphere, oceans, and solar input. But models also go a lot further, incorporating other systems like ice sheets, forests, and the biosphere, to name a few. The models are then used to simulate the real-world climate system and project how certain changes, like added pollution or land-use changes, will alter the climate.</p><p>Every few years there is a new comprehensive international evaluation called the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP). In the sixth such effort, known as CMIP6 and now under way, experts are reviewing about 100 models.</p><p>Information gleaned from this effort will act as a scientific foundation for the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) next major assessment report, scheduled for release in 2021. The goal of the report – the sixth in 30 years – is to inform the international community about how much the climate has changed, and, importantly, how much change can be expected in coming decades.</p>
A Conundrum Emerges<p>Over the past year, the CMIP6 collection of models being reviewed threw researchers an unexpected curveball: a significant number of the climate model runs showed substantially more global warming than previous model versions had projected. If accurate, the international climate goals would be nearly impossible to achieve, and there would be significantly more extreme impacts worldwide.</p><p>A foundational experiment in every report addresses "sensitivity": If you double levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) that were in the air before the Industrial Revolution, how much warming do the models show? This doubling is not expected for a few more decades, but it is a quick way to communicate the critical role of greenhouse gases in changing the climate.</p><p>The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by 35% since the 1800s because of the burning of fossil fuels. As a result, global temperatures have already increased by more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit.</p><p>In the first IPCC assessment report, published in 1990, the answer to that question about the impact of doubling carbon dioxide gave a fairly wide range of results – between 2.7-8 degrees F of global warming. Since then, four more assessments issued six to seven years apart reached nearly the exact same conclusion on sensitivity.</p><p>But that sensitivity may, for the first time, change significantly in next year's assessment. Why? Because starting last year, numerous models in the CMIP6 collection displayed even bigger spikes in temperature upon doubling of CO2 concentrations. We're in serious trouble if the climate sensitivity falls in the mid or upper range of the previous assessments. But if the new, higher estimates are correct, the impacts on civilization would be catastrophic.</p>
In the above CarbonBrief interactive visualization, the bars offer a comparison in the range of sensitivity in the CMIP5 models (gray) and CMIP6 models (blue).
New and Encouraging Evidence Is Emerging<p>At first, scientists were uncertain whether the new model runs were on to something, so the international modeling community dug in to produce multiple studies. The results are not yet conclusive, but a gradual collective sigh of relief seems to be materializing.</p><p>"Evidence is emerging from multiple directions that the models which show the greatest warming in the CMIP6 ensemble are likely too warm," explains Dr. Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.</p><p>For example, <a href="https://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/esd-2020-23/" target="_blank">a study</a> released April 28 evaluated the past performance of the models making up the CMIP6 ensemble. The team assigned weights to each model based upon historical performance of their warming projections, weighing the poorer performing models less. By doing so, both the mean warming and the range of warming scenarios in the CMIP6 ensemble decreased, meaning the warmest models were the ones with weaker historical performance. This result supports a finding that a subset of the models are too warm.</p><p>That conclusion is supported by another new study evaluating one particular model – the Community Earth System Model (CESM2) – that showed greater warming. Using that model, the researchers simulated the climate in the early Eocene era, about 50 million years ago, when rainforests thrived in the Arctic and Antarctic. The CESM2 simulated a historical climate that seems way too warm compared with what is known about that era from geological data, indicating that the model is likely also too warm in its future projections.</p><p>Two other recent studies of the CMIP6 models being evaluated use clever analysis methods to <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/esd-2019-86/&sa=D&ust=1589209938203000&usg=AFQjCNHYwFB-1KqndGfJ4sXdrrm9DpbLaQ" target="_blank">narrow the range</a> of future warming projections and also <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/12/eaaz9549&sa=D&ust=1589209938203000&usg=AFQjCNEhKY1YZ19qgjSZ_hJM14JmzqXOXw" target="_blank">reduce the projected warming</a> of the CMIP6 models by 10 to 15%.</p><p>Through the intensive research spurred by the CMIP6 climate-sensitivity curveball, scientists have been able to turn a confounding challenge into a confidence builder, providing even greater certainty than they had before in both the abilities of the climate science community and in the computer models used. Moreover, the experience has helped unearth uncertainties remaining in the modeling process.</p><p>Experts conclude much of this uncertainty probably lies in the complexity of clouds. "We have been looking as a community at why the models with greater warming are doing what they are doing – and it's tied to cloud feedbacks in the southern mid-latitudes mostly," explains Schmidt.</p><p>In fact, <a href="https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/26/eaba1981" target="_blank">a new study</a> addressing the increased sensitivity was published in Science Advances stating, "Cloud feedbacks and cloud-aerosol interactions are the most likely contributors to the high values and increased range of ECS [sensitivity] in CMIP6."</p>
Understanding the Complexity of Clouds<p>It's long been known in climate modeling circles that cloud processes and interactions are a potential weak link for climate modeling. That reality has been brought front and center by the urgent challenges posed during this CMIP6 evaluation period, but the current evaluation of models also provides an opportunity for discovery and improvement.</p><p>Cloud complexity comes from the reality that clouds have a multitude of sizes, altitudes, and textures. Some clouds cool Earth by providing shade, reflecting sunlight back into space. Others act like a blanket, trapping heat and warming the world.</p><p>Given that about <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/icesat_light.html" target="_blank">70% of the globe</a> is covered by clouds at any given time, it's no surprise that they play an integral role in regulating the climate. The challenge is to figure out which types of clouds will increase, which will decrease, and what the net effect will be on cooling or warming as the climate changes.</p><p><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0310-1" target="_blank">One study</a> last year reached an alarming conclusion: Left unchecked, the release of CO2 into the atmosphere may lead to a tipping point where shallow low clouds disappear – leading to runaway, catastrophic warming of nearly 15 degrees F. While scientists see that outcome as only a remote possibility, it drives home the urgent need to better understand clouds.</p><p>"We have a saying at NOAA: It isn't rocket science – it's much, much harder than that," quips Dr. Chris Fairall, ATOMIC's lead investigator. "One of the major problems for modeling is there is not clean separation of scales." The photo below is one that Fairall took from the NOAA P-3 aircraft.</p>
Investigating the Secrets of Clouds<p>To address the urgent question about the dynamics and role of clouds in a warming world, NOAA and European partners launched their ongoing research effort unprecedented in scale. The U.S. contribution, ATOMIC – short for Atlantic Tradewind Ocean-Atmosphere Mesoscale Interaction Campaign – is an international science mission that was featured recently on "<a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/video/study-aims-to-examine-links-between-climate-change-and-clouds/" target="_blank">CBS This Morning: Saturday</a>."</p>
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