Chef Lois Ellen Frank, PhD, is a cultural anthropologist, chef and food educator, activist, and self-described “mixed corn” amalgam of many different peoples and cultures.
Raised on Long Island by a mother from the Kiowah tribe and a Jewish father (and a much more complex lineage than that describes), Frank was taught to accept and honor all parts of herself so that she could be a whole human being.
Interested in food and cooking from a young age, Frank studied to be a chef but found the classical European tradition stultifying, and oppressively gender-based. (Men got to be chefs; women had to settle for being “cooks.”) She rebelled against the wastefulness inherent in making the same dish over and over until the client was satisfied, and throwing out all the “failed” attempts.
Next Frank turned to food photography, and set up a successful commercial practice. But again, after tossing gallons of pancake mix and hundreds of perfectly good pizzas while trying to get the perfect corporate photo, she realized that making money photographing unhealthy, unsustainable, and highly processed industrials foods was not her calling.
Always connected to her Native American heritage, Frank began cooking, teaching, and writing about Native American cuisine – to the consternation of food publishing houses and academics who insisted there was no such thing.
Her book, Native American Cooking: Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations, was published in 1991, followed in 2002 by Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations: Native American Recipes, and Taco Table in 2009.
Frank cooks and eats plant-based, and has partnered with the Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) to create the Native Power Plate program to reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes among the Native American population through ancestral foods.
We talked about her childhood, and how her upbringing influenced her views on growing and preparing food.
We spoke about the life of a professional food photographer, and the training to become a chef in the classical French Escoffier tradition.
Frank explained the four stages of Native American life and cuisine: pre-contact (whole foods, mostly plants); first contact (introduction of domesticated animal agriculture); colonialism (oppression and rations of lard and white flour, which gave rise to survivals foods such as fry-bread), and the current “New Native” reclaiming of traditional ways and diets.
We talked at length about identity, and the elements that create it. And how our identities can support our personal and communal health once we embrace our traditional cuisine and “foodscape.”
And we spoke about how TEK (Traditional Ecological Knowledge) held by indigenous peoples around the world can restore balance and honor the interconnectedness of all people.
Native Power Plate program with PCRM
Looking for Transformational Change?
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You CAN Change Other People!
Well, that's what Peter Bregman and I claim in our provocative book of that title.
What we really mean is, you can help the people around you make behavioral changes in their own best interests. If you think you're powerless to help people change, it's because you've been going about it the wrong way.
Discover our straightforward, replicable process here: You Can Change Other People.
Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight
Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.
It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂
This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by clicking the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.
The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.
It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.
You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.
Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – Katharine Floyd – Meryl Fury – for your generous support of the podcast.
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