Gift Guide for Food Lovers

by Julia Raymond

I confess: I love buying gifts for friends and family. But my tolerance for crowds, customer complaints, and traffic during the holiday season has diminished significantly over the years.

Patience isn’t the only diminishing factor, particularly for graduate students. Limited time and funds can impose additional constraints on our gift giving capacity. Despite this, I make every effort to find some small token of appreciation for friends and loved ones.

Meet my favorite shopping companion – the Internet. Online shopping not only enhances convenience but also creativity. Websites like Etsy.com, an online marketplace where independent artists sell handmade and vintage items, have expanded gift options exponentially.

Here are a few creative, food-inspired gift suggestions for your family, Friedman friends, and food enthusiasts alike.

1. DIY Cheese Kit – Perfect for anyone with culinary curiosity. The kits are easy-to-follow, affordable, and fun. Choose from mozzarella, ricotta, paneer, queso blanco or chevre. All you need is one hour and some milk.

Cost: $19-$50. Available at http://www.dailygrommet.com/products/urban-cheesecraft-diy-cheese-kits.

2. Box Appetit Lunchbox – Friedman students boast an impressive array of Tupperware and other food carrying vessels. Encourage your friends and family to bring lunch with this reusable lunchbox, which features a lid that locks securely, a separate sauce container, a built-in fork, and a microwavable dish so you can keep foods separate and heat only the parts that need it.

Cost: $22. Available at http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/box-appetit-lunch-box.

3. Farmers’ Market Bag – This bag has specialized compartments and pockets to protect delicate produce like peaches and tomatoes, loops to hold bottles and longer vegetables like leeks in place, and a structured mesh design that maintains the bag’s shape. Designed by California innovator Peter Watchel, the bag is not yet in production phase. Quirky.com, a crowd-sourcing website that takes product-idea submissions and finances the best submissions, is waiting to get a commitment from 1,500 buyers. They already have over 800 committed buyers. With any luck, the bags will be produced and ready for the Spring farmers’ market season.

Cost: $19. Available for presale at http://www.quirky.com/products/78-Mercado-Farmers-Market-Bag.

4. Molecular Jewelry – Now you can study your favorite compounds and wear them too! Choose from a variety of compounds including caffeine, dopamine, glutamate, theobromine (chocolate), and serotonin.

Cost: $50. Available at http://www.etsy.com/shop/molecularmuse.

5. Sam Adams Holiday Beer – Skip the hats and scarves. Sam Adams’ Holiday Porter is the other winter warmer. Its sweet and malty taste is complemented by notes of coffee and chocolate. A great gift for beer fans or Boston fanatics. Look for it in Sam Adams seasonal variety packs.

Cost: $14-$16. Available at select liquor stores in the Boston area or online at http://www.bevmo.com/Shop/ProductDetail.aspx?utm_source=froogle&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=froogle&ProductID=3045.

6. Taza Chocolate Mexicano Sampler – My favorite eating mantra is “everything in moderation, including moderation.” I usually err on the side of less moderation, especially when eating chocolate. Established in 2006, Taza Chocolate is a socially responsible chocolatier located nearby in Somerville. Go to the factory and sample their wide variety of chocolates or send something sweet like this Mexicano sampler directly.

Cost: $20. Available at http://www.tazachocolate.com/store/Products/MexicanoSampler.

7. FoodPod – Most food gadgets are useless. Still, I can’t resist buying the latest ones to disprove my theory. My most recent acquisition, the FoodPod, succeeded in doing just that. This silicone basket can be used to boil, blanch, or steam a variety of foods. Plus, the built-in grip lets you remove the vessel and reserve the cooking water for other foods. It’s easy on your wallet and the environment.

Cost: $15. Available at http://www.fusionbrands.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=197.

 8. Donate  – Embody the true spirit of the holidays with a charitable donation in someone’s name. Find an organization that matches the recipient’s interests using websites such as JustGive and Network for Good. Many organizations send a certificate or acknowledgement of the donation to the honoree, or you can make your own to include in a card.

Julia is a first year Nutrition Communication student at the Friedman School. She enjoys food and cooking, traveling, the New York Times, and a daily dose of inspiration from TED.com.

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