Tamar Haspel: “Time on the Steep Part of the Learning Curve Builds Confidence”

Interview: Tamar Haspel

Tamar Haspel writes the James Beard Award-winning Washington Post post "Unearthed," which looks at how our nutrition affects us and our planet. She’s moreover written for Discover, Vox, Slate, Fortune, Eater, and Edible Cape Cod. With journalist Mike Grunwald, she co-hosts the Climavores podcast, which examines food’s impact on climate and environment.

Her book, To Boldly Grow: Finding Joy, Adventure, and Dinner in Your Own Backyard came out older this year.

I couldn't wait to talk to Tamar well-nigh happiness, habits, and food.

Gretchen: What’s a simple worriedness or habit that unceasingly makes you happier, healthier, increasingly productive, or increasingly creative?

Tamar: Doing something I’ve never washed-up surpassing considering that first iteration – from zero to one – is where you learn increasingly than any subsequent iteration. I can work and work – for decades! – at rhadamanthine a largest writer, but the increments of resurgence are small and uncertain. Undetectable, even.

But over the last decade, I’ve built a yellow coop, grown shiitake mushrooms, unprotected fish, raised several kinds of livestock, and (this is a big one) learned to when up a trailer. What it taught me, besides those very skills, of course, is that spending time on the steep part of the learning lines builds conviction and competence. It makes you ready to tackle the next thing.

When the new things you tackle are food-related, it’s a self-improvement two-fer: your nutrition gets better, and your own self does, too.

What’s something you know now well-nigh happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

It doesn’t seek you out; you have to find it. You have to want it.

You’ve washed-up fascinating research. What has surprised or intrigued you – or your readers – most?

I write well-nigh food, and supplies is personal. The most intriguing – and, let’s squatter it, irritating – research findings are the ones that mismatch with our preferences. The most hate mail I’ve overly gotten was when I wrote that all eggs taste the same. Yes, if you taste them veiling (and it’s gotta be veiling considering eggs often squint different) the ones from your yard chickens – or mine – taste exactly like the lowest-common-denominator supermarket eggs.

I superintendency well-nigh the life of the hens that lay my eggs. I want them to know happiness to the extent a yellow can. The fact that their eggs taste like other eggs doesn’t transpiration that.

Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?

I am a Questioner (a sensible type for a journalist to be).

Does anything tend to interfere with your worthiness to alimony your healthy habits or your happiness?

I’m sorry to say that it’s laziness. I know, from long and varied experience, that I thrive on new activities, but sometimes I just stay on Twitter too long. I’m working on that.

Have you overly been hit by a lightning bolt, where you made a major transpiration very suddenly, as a magnitude of reading a book?

In 2012 I read Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Righteous Mind. It’s a very compelling subtitle of the shortcomings of human decision-making, and why facts are so stubbornly unpersuasive. As a journalist, I’m supposed to evaluate vestige for a living, and Haidt’s typesetting convinced me that humans veritably suck at that.

That conviction reverted my journalistic M.O. I learned to be skeptical of my own conclusions, to develop strategies to trammels my own bias, and to squint for opportunities to transpiration my mind. It has made me slower to form opinions, and to be less dug-in on them once they’re formed. Don’t get me wrong! There are still hills I will die on. Just not very many.

In your field, is there a worldwide misconception that you’d like to correct?

Oh is there! It’s that supplies is the province of experts. The human species’ worthiness to feed itself has propelled us to planetary dominance, yet there’s a kind of learned helplessness well-nigh supplies in the modern, ripened world. Growing it, cooking it, choosing which of it is good for us – those things just aren’t that hard, and we can often handle it with minimal expert intervention.

In a ramified world, there aren’t many problems we can solve single-handedly. If something goes wrong with your job, or your marriage, or your finances, or plane your dishwasher, chances are you can’t fix it all by yourself. But if you’re unhappy with your diet, that’s a problem you can solve.