Archive for March, 2007

eric

I don’t eat ham

It has been awhile since I posted a video on the site.   This is a look into what vegans do not eat.  Apparently, Steven the Vegan does not eat ham.  The first part of the video is a little silly, but the end will get a chuckle out of you. ;) 

eric

Corporate Responsibility?

It seems like a lot of these stories are making headlines lately!  First Sainsbury’s (UK based grocery store chain) announced it will only sell eggs from free-roaming chickens, then Wolfgang Puck said he was revamping the menus at his restaurants to include more organic and humanely raised foods and yesterday Burger King announced that it was going to require that 2 percent of their eggs be “cage free,” and 10 percent of its pork to come from farms that allow sows to move around inside pens, as opposed to being confined to crates. 

The companies making these changes are doing so as a direct result of consumer awareness and activism.   Sure, we can say that these measures do not go far enough to protect the welfare of food animals.  It is of course only a small percentage of the animals currently living on factory farms.  This is true, but this is a good place place to start.  Just like the old Chinese proverb says "the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."  This is the first step and like it or not, It is going to take a response from these corporate giants to change the factory farm industry.  They are the quantity buyers and as such are able to force their suppliers to change their practices.  

One of the more positive effects of these stories is all the attention the media is giving them.  Not only are these animals going to live in better conditions, but the media is helping to raise public awareness as well.  When the NY Times does a story on this, it carries a different kind of "objectivity" than say when PETA speaks out about it.  PETA has its place, but they are not generally perceived as being objective.

Burger King has stated that they are not going to change their marketing efforts to reflect this decision.  They have also said that the prices on the menu will not reflect the increased food costs from their suppliers.  It begs the question…Does the common BK customer really care where their $1.50 hamburger came from?  The most likely answer is No.  If they cared about it, they probably would not be buying food from Burger King.   This change is strictly an internal corporate decision.  That can be good and bad.  It can mean that "organic, cage free" is just part of the regular menu, or it can make it easy to sweep under the rug at a convenient time.

Ultimately, it remains to be seen how much companies are willing to commit to purchase ethical food.  Small steps like these are good news, but they are a far cry from fixing the problem.  For this effort to be successful, companies will need to keep increasing the amount of ethical food they purchase and force their suppliers to change the way they raise animals.  It does not need to happen overnight, but measurable goals should be set to stay on target.

Read the NY Times article here

eric

Digital Food Tracking

Have you ever wondered if those coffee beans you just purchased are really "fair-trade, organic?"  How about if that bunch of asparagus was grown locally?  Well technology may be able to help us answer these questions.  Digital tracing tags may soon be added to foods to give consumers an insight into where the food came from.  If this technology catches on, it may be able hold supplier and distributors accountable for the food they sell.


Jan. 26, 2007 — Are you really sure that your specialty store wine comes from a small wine cooperative in Chile? Or that your Indonesian coffee beans weren’t illegally grown?

A new kind of digital tag could tell you yes or no, and even allow you to give some feedback about your satisfaction with the product.

The Fair Tracing project, led by Apurba Kundu of the University of Bradford, aims to narrow the gap between growers in underdeveloped countries and their consumers.

"As well as assuring ethical consumers that their product is not hiding dodgy or unfair practices, Fair Tracing would empower wine and coffee connoisseurs with additional information they already seek," said Kundu.

continue at Discovery News

eric

Good for Puck

When this story came out a few days ago, I was not sure I wanted to add it to wannaveg.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it is awesome what Wolfgang Puck has decided to go organic and purchase humanely raised meat.  It’s just that initially I felt that this is just another celebrity restaurateur that was looking to profit by selling high-end food in a exclusive restaurant.  And… I believe that good food does not need to be expensive.   The reason I finally got "on-board" with Puck was twofold.  First I think that what he is doing is setting the standard for other restaurants to follow (expensive or not) and second because some people in the media are giving him some grief on his decision to make the switch.

Also, as I got to thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that Wolfgang’s approach (high end food at high end prices) is no different than what other industries have done in the past.  Expensive cars had airbags long before economy cars and air travel was once reserved for only the wealthy (with global warming, this may not be the best example).  So maybe Wolfgang is just the catalyst we need for the food and restaurant industry to start offering organic, humanly raised food at reasonable prices.

So I say Good for Puck.

From USAToday
Pioneering celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck is putting his empire’s financial and PR muscle behind an initiative that will guarantee that the vast majority of the meals served in his restaurants are made only with all-natural and certified organic ingredients and meats that come from animals that have been treated humanely. Once the WELL (Wolfgang’s Eating, Loving and Living) program is phased in over the next few months, it will affect the standards at his 14 fine-dining restaurants, 80-plus Wolfgang Puck Gourmet Express fast-casual eateries and 43 catering venues, which served 10 million customers last year. It’s an expansion of a philosophy that already governs his fine-dining establishments.

continue reading at USAtoday

eric

The New Four Food Groups

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine released this chart back in 1991 as a way to promote healthy eating.  It just so happens that it does not contain any animal products.

From PCRM:

This no-cholesterol, low-fat plan supplies all of an average adult’s daily nutritional requirements, including substantial amounts of fiber. The major killers of Americans—heart disease, cancer, and stroke—have a dramatically lower incidence among people consuming primarily plant-based diets. Weight problems—a contributor to a host of health problems—can also be brought under control by following the New Four Food Group recommendations. Try the New Four Food Groups and discover a healthier way to live!


Click on the image to get the .pdf. 
Click here to go to the PCRM site.
Click here for the vegetarian starter kit

food groups

eric

Organic pet food on the rise

Yesterday my boss at work was telling me about a friend of hers who’s dog had to be put to sleep two weeks ago due to renal failure.  This was before the recall happened and the vet did not have an explanation for it.  I have read about these sad stories being repeated in the news over the past few days.  I had no idea that one company made so many brands of pet food, this in itself seems to be a problem as there is a single point of failure (as evidenced by this recall).  Unfortunately, our pets do not get to escape the industrial food system either.

This article from Reuters discusses possible advantages for organic and natural foods for pets.  It is still unknown what ingredient in the recalled food is causing pets to die, but organics and natural food may be worth looking into.  To see if your pet’s food is on the recall list, click this link

TORONTO (Reuters) - Organic pet food makers and retailers across North America may be the winners as the fallout settles from the recall of nearly 100 brands of pet food manufactured by Canada’s Menu Foods Inc..

"I just want to find something that won’t kill my dog," said Adriana Pierce as she watched her four-year-old border collie, Tango, race around a downtown Toronto dog park. "I’m so afraid of him getting sick that I’ve been feeding him table scraps for three days."

Natural and organic products may provide the alternative, analysts say.

"I’d say this is an in for the organic manufacturers and retailers," said Vivian Ma, a senior retail analyst at CIBC World Markets in New York. "At this point, consumers see them as an option that represents a source of comfort."

continue reading at Reuters

eric

Go to the source

On March 6th I wrote about questioning where our food comes from.  This article from the San Francisco Chronicle discusses the issue as well. 

By Carol Ness
In the age of conscious consumerism, even water is complicated.

Deciding what kind to order in a restaurant — and to drink at home — has taken on the same complexity as buying what used to be simple foods like eggs (Do the hens roam free? What do they eat?) and milk (Do the cows graze on grass? Are they given antibiotics?).

And that makes bottled water in restaurants a worthy first topic for the Food section’s new ongoing feature, Food Conscious. Stories every few weeks will aim to feed Northern Californians’ growing demand for reliable information about what they eat and drink.

So hungry is the Bay Area for food facts that 2,000-plus people recently paid $10 apiece to see Michael Pollan, author of "The Omnivore’s Dilemma," chat with Whole Foods CEO and founder John Mackey about the future of food. The event sold out UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall.

"Why would 2,000 people pay to come see a journalist and a grocer?" Pollan asked the crowd, before answering his own question: "I think we’re witnessing a social revolution."

continue at San Francisco Chronicle

Sainsbury’s is one of the UK’s largest grocery store chains.  So it was big news when they announced that they would no longer sell eggs from chickens raised in battery cages.  Around 40 percent of the eggs they sell are produced this way (surprisingly, 60 percent are already from free-range chickens).  One of the most interesting things about this change is the reasoning behind it…the public refused to buy these eggs anymore.  I find it fascinating (and exciting) that shoppers in the UK have become so ethically aware that they are boycotting eggs from chickens raised in these conditions and opt to purchase the slightly more expensive free-range (certified) eggs.

This is a perfect example of what happens when we put our money where our mouth is.  Money controls what we eat.  We have the choice to give it to people that will give us good stuff to eat.  The people in the UK are becoming aware of this and change is underway.  I would like to think that we here in the US will start doing the same soon.

On a side note, while I was perusing the Sainsbury’s site I found this link that traces the origination of their organic produce by entering a couple of numbers from it.   Now that is pretty cool.

battery cages

Sainsbury’s sells around 150million battery-cage eggs a year - one in four of all those on its shelves.  The company’s policy will effectively remove some 600,000 hens from cages over the next four years. Trading director Mike Coupe said: "Sainsbury’s is firmly committed to phasing out all its caged eggs ahead of 2012, and is currently working with its egg suppliers to achieve 100 per cent UK cage-free eggs as soon as possible.

"This commitment reflects the company’s seriousness in addressing how it sources ethically, as well as responding to its customers concerns."

continue reading at DailyMail

eric

Easy farmers market tips

Going to the farmers market is something I always look forward to.  Usually on Sundays after we finish a long run we hit the farmers market before coming home.  In my opinion nothing starts the morning off better than a crepe made fresh right in front of you, then wandering around to pick out  your week’s worth of produce.  With spring upon us, there is no better time year to visit your local market.  The weather is becoming beautiful and the produce is coming into season.  To find a farmers market in your area, click here.

The 100milediet.org has given us 13 easy tips to ensure we get the most from our farmers’ market experience.

The typical vegetable now travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate. Now’s the season to buck the trend and reconnect with your food at your local farmers’ market. Here’s how.

1. If possible, plan to walk, ride a bike, or take public transit to your farmers’ market. Parking can be a hassle. Mid-week markets are quieter, but weekenders often have the best selection.

2. Shop early in the day to get the best food and to avoid missing out on unusual items.

3. Arrive with sturdy cloth bags, a backpack, or a basket, and plan to pay cash. Bring more money than you think you’ll need, and lots of small bills and change.

4. Three ways to save money: First, walk the whole market to check prices. Second, look for foods at their peak of seasonal abundance. Third, make arrangements with market farmers to buy bulk at a discount or to visit their farms for U-pick savings.

get the rest of them at 100milediet.org

Following in the tradition of The Great American Smokeout, the Meatout encourages us to kick the meat habit.  Quitting meat altogether may not interest you, so maybe avoiding it one day a week, or two or three meals a week or only March 20th would be more feasible.  Any way you shake it, cutting back or eliminating meat in our diets will make us and our planet healthier. 

I encourage you to find a meatout event to visit.  This link will show you all the events in your area.  If you are unable to attend an event, you can certainly go it alone to achieve the same result.
http://www.meatout.org/events/mevents.htm

This is the link for the Meatout mainsite.
http://www.meatout.org/home.htm

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