About Tamar Haspel

Photo by Maggie Cole

Tamar Haspel is a journalist who’s been on the food and science beat for the best part of two decades. She writes a monthly Washington Post column, Unearthed, which covers food supply issues: biotech, pesticides, food additives, antibiotics, organics, nutrition, and food policy. The column has earned two James Beard award nominations, and took home the award in 2015 — the same year one of her columns was selected for Best Food Writing 2015.

Haspel is knee-deep in the public food conversation, and speaks frequently at venues where the debates about our food supply play out, including the National Academy of Sciences, food- and ag-related conferences, and SXSW. When she’s tired of the heavy lifting of journalism, she gets dirty. She and her husband, Kevin Flaherty, raise their own chickens, catch their own fish, grow their own tomatoes, hunt their own venison, and generally try to stay connected to the idea that food has to come from somewhere. They also have an oyster farm, Barnstable Oyster, where they grow about 50,000 oysters a year in the beautiful waters off Cape Cod. Haspel revels in the idea that New York diners pay $3. a pop for their product, and she can eat as many as she wants.


You can reach Tamar at tamar@starvingofftheland.com.

33 people are having a conversation about “About Tamar Haspel

  1. Hey Tamar!

    Any lady with a man named Kevin Flaherty has superb taste in my book!

    We love your blog – just maybe write another post in between modelling neoprene waders (I have notified Vogue magazine) and shooting bear 🙂

    I guess it’s not too much of a coincidence that your goals and ours are quite similar, if 5,000 miles apart. Thing is that you made the BIG move. We just modified our existing environment. Respect to you guys.

    The very best of good luck and our best wishes to you both.


  2. Danny — Thanks for your good wishes, and for bringing my neoprene-clad backside to the attention of Vogue. I’ll be following your exploits at Cottage Smallholder.

  3. eileen cashin says:

    Just met you at Osterville Library and found you so fascinating, keep up the great dirty work. See you soon. eileen

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  4. Couldn’t resist saying hello when I saw your name on the Cottage Smallholder site. My middle name is Tamar and I haven’t come across anyone else with that name apart from my Godmother who I was named after. My husband and I moved out to Latvia last year and earlier on this year took responsibility for 33 acres of wood and arable land. We also have a modernised Soviet era apartment with an allotment out the back. We are doing pretty well for veg and next year hope to branch into chickens.

  5. Hearing adventures like yours confirms my desire to return to farming and living a more self sufficient life. Having grown up on a farm in upstate NY, we grew our own veggies, , can our crops, churn butter, make wine, milk cows, tend to the chickens, and a butcher would slaughter and clean our meat. It was a great life and I’m slowly beginning to embrace that again. With the limits of my evil home association, I’m composting (shh, don’t tell), container gardening and vowing to never buy bread from the store again.
    My husband and I are looking to get out of AZ to buy some property that we can farm and raise chickens. Did I mention my disdain for home associations?
    Loving your blog so far. My sister Amy sent me to it; she attended a oven building class with you last weekend.


    12 Large eggs
    1/2 cup regular mayonnaise
    3 tablespoons yellow mustard
    2 or 3 tablespoons of vinegar
    3 tablespoons of sweet relish
    3-4 tablespoons of bacon bits
    salt and papper to taste
    paprika for garnish

    I hope you like it THANK YOU

  7. Hi there,
    Lovely to come across your blog. I’ll be reading as you continue to post. I feel as though we’re on similar paths, though in very different locations. 🙂
    Here’s to making our own.

  8. I saw your picture draining the turkey in the NY Times Reader’s Thanksgiving photos and I thought I would stop by your website. wow! I still can’t believe your relocated from Manhattan…but it looks like heaven where you are now.
    Good luck!

    Laurel Springs NJ
    (18 miles south east of Philly)

  9. patti morse says:

    congrats on all you have accomplished. Can you help an old friend who is pre diabetic?
    I was in an accident and gained weight. I know to stay away from sugar but any helpful hints? I learned I can thankfully enjoy avacadoes and blueberries


    • Patti! Nice to hear from you. Sorry to hear about the accident. I think the answer to being pre-diabetic, like the answer to so many other health problems, is to knuckle down and lose the weight. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s trying to get thinner, but we all just have to suck it up and do it. Enjoy the blueberries!

  10. brother Marty says:

    hey how you pirates makin it thru this long winter-spring hope the weather breaks soon.Any how I was lokin at that spackle bucket of herring you had in your basement and was wondering if its still down ther doin its thing.Ya know my brother (yer coconspirater on this adventure of a life time) you guys did give me a late springtime invite to do some stripe bass fishing-electrical upgrade type barter thing but hey all also throw in my time tested and tru picled;creamed herring receipie comes with hands on instruction handed down to me by the infamous Walter Scmitke himself his family receipie from Russia belevie me yall never buy a jar of Vita or anything else again.Even though the ides of March are upon us all those trout are waken up in the pond the Stripers are gettin ready to unmold themselves off there wood piles and woder back to the salty seas the mackerall will mifrate first up to ya follewed right behind by the blues and before ya know itr its on baby its all on again here we go be ready Marty

  11. I just found your blog while perusing Tovar Cerulli’s blogroll over at the Mindfulcarnivore.com. I’m sure glad I did! Your writing is wonderfully witty and refreshing and congratulations on all that you’ve done so far. And you’re my neighbor from up here in good old NH! Keep it up! Linked and subscribed!

  12. Jack Berryhill says:

    Love the website, the writing, the recipes…there’s just one thing…I’m sorry that you weren’t born’d and raised in the South. I don’t mean anything mean against the North, mind you. You just seem to be more of a Southern type of gal. Like you were accidentally placed in the wrong part of the world. I would have been right proud to have ya’ll as neighbors. ~ Jack ~ Charlotte, NC

  13. Jack and Sahil (belatedly, Sahil — I must have missed you back in December) — Thanks for the kind words and moral support. Jack, I’m not sure they’d let me cross the Mason-Dixon line with my haircut! Besides, I was never one for grits. But, still, it’s nice to know I’d be welcome in Charlotte.

  14. Tamar, I absolutely love your blog! I so enjoy your writing style; and frank nature in which you share your experiences. So many of your frustrations (coupled with triumphs, of course!) are struggles anyone working toward this lifestyle has felt. Today while working in my herb garden, which sounds picturesque unless you saw my weeds, a question occurred to me: have you ever considered adding a rabbitry to your homestead? The more I thought about it the more I am convinced you should try it! Then I can read your account and decide if I should try it myself! 😉 thanks again–I just love this blog!

    • Stephen, thanks for the love! And my sympathy for the weeds in the herb garden. I most definitely feel your pain. As for rabbits, we’ve considered them, but for some reason that I can’t quite put my finger on, they don’t really appeal to us right now. If we were on a serious quest to raise all our own food (rather than this silly half-assed lark), we would definitely do it, though. Rabbits make a great deal of sense. So, maybe *you* should try them, and then we can learn from your experience …

  15. Hi Tamar and Kevin! I keep watching the StyCam! It’s really cool! Thanks for the eggs! We made them sunny-side up and they are really good!

    • Cooper! Nice to hear from you. I’m glad you’re enjoying watching the pigs and eating the eggs. You’re welcome to come visit us again any time.

  16. Hi, Tamar. I came to your website from the Washington Post piece. I loved it and wanted to read more about the transition to living off the land! (I actually misread the article and thought Starving Off the Land was a book and was quite dismayed to see it wasn’t. I hope one is in the works!)

  17. Hi Tamar.
    I’ve been following your blog for a while now. Seeing as how you are very interested in living of the land, I would like to get your ideas on aquaponics. Here’s the link to the concept. http://www.aquaponics.net.au/chops.html

    You are welcome to Google Murray Hallam’s system in Australia.

    Looking f rward to hearing from you. Best regards.

  18. Hi Tamar.

    Re: Post article on GMOs:

    One of the main concerns with GMOs is use of more and stronger pesticides on the land. It is far more dangerous than the question of the altered GMO seeds. The seeds resistance to pesticides and herbicides allows for more usage of these dangerous chemicals on the soil. They no longer plow fields when using GMO seeds, they just kill everything in the soil and then plant. I have a farm that adjoins another farm using GMO planting methods. I don’t fear the GMO products as mush as I fear the Monsanto Round-Up herbicides and pesticides inundating the surrounding soil. The GMOs don’t resist the weeds and pest as much as they resist the heavy chemicals that are now being used.

  19. Found your blog perusing cape cod and the islands WGBH NPR website. I too am planning a move from Manhattan to Cape Cod under similar aspirations of some level of self sufficiency. Thanks for the blog. I”ll be keeping my eye on it.

  20. Jack Lickerman says:

    Hi Tamar!

    I read your article entitled “Junk food is cheap and healthful food is expensive, but don’t blame the farm bill” in the Washington Post and I found it thoroughly informative. I am currently writing a paper about food access, urban farming, and food distribution. One of the key points of my paper is that one’s reasonable access to healthy food in the US is determined by the community in which they live and therefore effectively their income. In making this point, I want to explain historically how this disparity in food access came to be. One significant influencing factor that has always come to mind on this topic for me is agricultural subsidies. Until reading your article, I was under the assumption that processed food is more affordable than whole and fresh foods in part because of significant subsidies and tax relief granted to large-scale industrial producers of corn and wheat and other commodity crops. After reading your article, I am still a little bit confused about your stance. Roughly, I have taken away that: even though farm subsidies reduce the cost of commodity crops, the production costs (farming, transportation, maintenance, etc) of produce are significantly higher than that of commodity crops. Therefore, were proportional subsidies to be applied to produce instead of commodity crops, it would still not create a significant enough price reduction in produce to equal the price of commodity crops, subsidized or not. Is this what you were trying to communicate? Also, feel free to suggest any further resources or authors that come to mind on the topic.

    Hope to hear back from you.


    Jack Lickerman

  21. …… “disrupts gut bacteria, which are susceptible to its mechanism (disrupting the shikimate pathway), even though humans are not”……Did you do your homework? ?…..Well sure humans are not DIRECTLY IMPACTED because we do not possess the shikimate pathway BUT OUR GUT DOES !!! (e.g., lactobacillus), therefore humans ARE impacted !!!! How do you think aromatic aminos are ultimately processed into neurotransmitters

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