Craig Gundersen - Soybean Industry Endowed Professor in Agricultural Strategy
It’s National Hunger Month, what does this mean to you and the work you do with the Family Resiliency Center?
Food insecurity has garnered increased recognition as a crisis in the United States due to its magnitude (over 40 million Americans were food insecure in 2016) and its serious health consequences and subsequently, higher health care costs. The Family Resiliency Center has been at the forefront of our efforts nationally and in Illinois to reduce food insecurity. This work has examined everything from the household-level determinants of food insecurity to the community-led efforts to alleviate food insecurity to federal nutrition programs. I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with all of them there.
What impact does the Farm Bill have on individuals and families across the US and why is its renewal so important?
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is an enormously successful program insofar as its central goal is to reduce food insecurity and it achieves this goal with stunning success. Given its size, any comprehensive coverage of paths to lowering food insecurity must involve SNAP. Due to its size, it also constitutes a large proportion of the USDA budget and, therefore, is central to Farm Bill discussions. If one has the goal of further reducing food insecurity, expansions to SNAP would certainly help in meeting this goal; in fact, there is no better way to achieve this goal. Alas, there have been some proposals that would inhibit the ability of SNAP to serve as this critical social safety net. In particular, the entail block granting the program and imposing restrictions on what people can purchase with SNAP. Both of these proposals would have serious negative consequences for the most vulnerable persons in our country.
Speaking of food, what is your favorite meal?
Brats cooked in a very specific way. Namely, as follows:
20 - brats (I always use Johnsonville Brats; others would be fine but do not purchase brats that are flavored in some way)
2 - Vidalia onions (other sweet onions can be substituted but one will be happier with Vidalia onions)
4 - 12 oz. Miller High Lifes (this has to be the beer used; one cannot use, say, craft beers or, heaven forbid, Budweiser)
20 - brat buns
condiments if so inclined
Cooking process: After coarsely slicing the onions, put the onions, brats, beer, and 48 ounces of water (i.e., each beer should be matched with the same amount of water) in a large pot. Heat until just boiling, then turn to the lowest setting. Simmer for 2.5 to 3 hours; you may have to add some more beer. Pour over a large colander and put the brats back in the pot. Save the onions remaining in the colander and set aside. Get the grill ready at high heat. (The brats will definitely taste better with a charcoal grill but, if this isn’t available, a gas grill will work.) Since the brats are already cooked, the grilling is just to slightly brown them so only grill for about two minutes a side.
Serving process: Allow people to create the brats as they see fit. I strongly encourage putting the remaining onions over the brats in a bun but others, for some reason, choose not to do so. I will also generally put some deli mustard on as well. My younger son also puts ketchup on but I’m not convinced of the wisdom of that decision.