Pies Offer a Glimpse of Local Homemade

Liane Hansen talks with a woman who has just finished a cross-country road trip devoted to pie-eating. Diane Hatz is executive director of Sustainable Table, a New York-based organization that promotes the eating of local food. Hatz says she chose pie because it is a metaphor for homemade, locally grown food that's meant for sharing.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

There are good ideas and there are great ideas.

Diane Hatz had a great idea. She decided to write her bus from California to New York and eat some pies along the way - lots of pies. All in all, Hatz sampled hundreds of pies in 25 towns and cities.

Now, we should point out that there was a larger purpose behind all this pie eating. Diane Hatz dubbed her trip The Eat Well Guided Tour of America. It was intended to promote the benefits of eating locally grown food.

And Diane Hatz is at the office of Sustainable Table, the New York-based group she founded four years ago. Welcome to the program.

Ms. DIANE HATZ (Founder, Sustainable Table): Thank you so much, Liane.

HANSEN: I don't want to start out by being insensitive, but you mind telling me how much weight you put on in the last five weeks?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HATZ: I actually weighed myself yesterday and believe it or not I didn't put any weight. I think I lost a pound.

HANSEN: Good for you.

Ms. HATZ: A lot of boxes we were lifting.

HANSEN: Ah. Okay. So you worked it off. Let me ask you, why pie?

Ms. HATZ: We've been using pie as a metaphor. But it also - when you think of pies, you think of family. You think of drawing people in a community-based effort that we're trying to promote along with the sustainable local food.

HANSEN: So pie pretty much says home.

Ms. HATZ: Pies says home.

HANSEN: Yeah. What were some of the most surprising pies that you've tasted?

Ms. HATZ: One of them, I must say, was an Oyster and Shitake Mushroom Pie. It wasn't oyster. It was oyster mushrooms.

HANSEN: Mm-hmm. Okay.

Ms. HATZ: We had in Jackson, Wyoming. Unfortunately, it came in second in our competition, but it was unbelievable to taste.

HANSEN: Huh. What came in first?

Ms. HATZ: It was a Mixed Berry Pie. And however they made it like the flavors just pop out.

Another unusual one is Green Tomato Pie in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. And it was sweet, and I thought it would be savory. And it just had a really delicious taste. I also have a Tofu Pot Pie in Ypsilanti, Michigan, which tasted unbelievable. It was actually one of the winners of the pie competition there. That and the Zucchini Cranberry Pie. Those are probably the most unusual I had on the trip.

HANSEN: Ah. So it includes things like pizza pie and…

Ms. HATZ: Yes.

HANSEN: Yeah.

Ms. HATZ: Peaches. Yeah.

HANSEN: Yeah. Your tour is to promote locally grown food and we found a recent study, which is actually have a surprising conclusion. It suggested if you factor in more aspects of food production than simply the miles food has traveled to market that you can be actually more energy efficient to buy foods from far away. Can you make the case for eating local?

Ms. HATZ: If you are walking down the road or you're biking or driving to your local farmers market, you're saving gas. The farmer's not driving as far. The food's picked quick - it's picked when it's ripe. It's not picked way before its ripe and shipped thousands of the miles, so I haven't read that report but I do know it's (unintelligible).

HANSEN: Maybe sworn off pie for a while now?

Ms. HATZ: I think I have to get back to the gym and not eat pie for a few weeks.

HANSEN: Diane Hatz has just completed her Eat Well Guided Tour of America. She spoke with us from the headquarters of Sustainable Table in New York.

Thanks for your time.

Ms. HATZ: Thank you. Bye.

HANSEN: This is NPR News.

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