Michel Nischan is a two-time James Beard Award-winning chef who co-founded and now runs Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit sustainable food advocacy group that has forged partnerships with health care providers nationwide to prescribe and make farm-fresh produce available in low-income communities.

READINGAncient Wisdom, Modern World,” by the Dalai Lama, has been an important read for me because of his advice on how to live a life with compassion and integrity. Most people look at it as a way to govern their behavior but I read it and thought, wow, it’s also a way to run a business.

And James Beard’s book “Beard on Bread,” I go back to constantly. You feel you are reading something written by someone who deeply, passionately and spiritually cares about bread. I wish I could have known him.

LISTENING The chickens outside my bedroom window in the early morning as they peck and coo over the food I put out before returning to the warm covers next to my sleeping wife. Also the sounds of my five children, ages 13 to 29, actually getting along and having intelligent conversations. It’s been interesting to watch them develop respect for each other as they’ve grown older. My wife and I sit back amazed that it all worked out O.K.

For music, Lou Reed, Willie Nelson, John Prine, Johnny Cash and Jack Johnson rule my world of personal music, but listening to my 13-year-old nail Coheed and Cambria solos note for note on his electric guitar is transformational.

WATCHING I’m digging a variety of shows on people and families living in Alaska, like “Alaska: The Last Frontier” and others I forget the names of. A lot of what’s on the news can give you a headache. So it’s kind of nice to watch something where folks are just trying to get enough wood and catch enough fish.

FOLLOWING The Hagstrom Report is all about what Congress and government agencies are doing about agriculture. It’s very nonpartisan as well as factual and real time. Civil Eats is also a go-to. It’s written by people who understand the impact of food on things other than taste buds and the tummy.

FLIPPING I am in love with my two wooden Spaddles by the artist Gordon Chandler. Like a spatula but better, they let you flip, press and lift and are only available at Resource in the Serenbe community near Atlanta. They are simply one of the most elegant and versatile kitchen tools.

PLAYING While I didn’t get to know James Beard, I did end up meeting one of my childhood heroes, Jacques Pépin, and we became very dear friends. He’s the one who turned my wife and I on to pétanque, which is kind of the French version of bocce. We caught on quickly enough — Jacques doesn’t like playing with people who can’t play — that he invited us to join his league and we play every other Sunday during the summer. It’s a really social and remarkably fun game.


Correction: February 15, 2015
The Download feature on Feb. 1 imprecisely described the role of Michel Nischan in the nonprofit sustainable food advocacy group Wholesome Wave. He is a co-founder, not the founder.Kate Murphy is a journalist in Houston who writes frequently for The New York Times.