Archive for June, 2007

eric

Veggie Booty Recall

Look in your cabinet, if you have this product, get rid of it!  All lots and sizes of Veggie Booty Snack Food have been recalled, following a report of 51 cases of salmonella poisoning that may be associated with the product.

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections, especially in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.  Other symptoms include uncontrollable gambling, mind bending euphoria, sex, a desire to get drunk and eat donuts.  (oh wait, those latter examples are from my last weekend, (kidding of course, as there isn’t a decent donut shop around where I live)). ;)

Robert’s American Gourmet has asked consumers who purchased Veggie Booty and still have the product in their homes to discard the contents and contact the company at 1-800-626-7557 for reimbursement.

more information can be found at the manufacturers website.

eric

Charlie Is One Sad Tuna

The next time you visit Japan you could be surprised at what’s in your sushi. You may ask, is that octopus or crab, no wait it’s catfish!? Actually, it’s horse meat…but don’t worry, it’s still raw (in the words of Homer Simpson….mmmm horse meat). That’s right, the Japanese are starting to feel the effects of over-fishing and now they’re trying to find a suitable substitute for sushi. Tuna is becoming rare and expensive, and other markets like the US and Europe are demanding more of the fish. Currently, the Japanese fishing fleet is having to compete more than ever to fill Sashimi rolls.

Make no mistake about it, Japan is not the only country responsible for the over-fishing of tuna. The two other big consumers, the US and the EU are pointing fingers, accusing each other of abuse the fish stocks…and both are correct.

“The Bluefin tuna quota shared between Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain was set at about 17,000 tons. That is the maximum amount recommended by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, an international organization with more than 40 member countries. But it is roughly twice the limit stipulated by the commission’s own scientific advisers.”

…and

“Tuna experts like Carl Safina, the president of the Blue Ocean Institute, a nonprofit conservation group based in New York, places much of the blame for the collapse in west Atlantic Bluefin tuna stocks on the United States, which, he said, continues to allow fishing in spawning areas in the Gulf of Mexico.”

It’s plain to see that as this trend continues, tuna (and most marine life) are in trouble and as supply drops further down, prices and illegal poaching will increase. Last November, the NY Times published a report predicting a global collapse of fish species by 2048…given the recent news on the declining tuna population, this prediction may be well on its way to being realized.

On my journey to find new and exciting information to present to you, our wonderful readers, I found this ebook that has a boatload of information about vegetarianism. The book was written by Rudy Hadisentosa at veggie123.com and I must say it’s an impressive read and it’s obvious that Rudy put in a ton of time researching and writing it (FYI, it’s 205 pages).  I particularly liked the chapter on the history of vegetarianism, the part on Dr. Kellogg was pretty weird, and the chapter on parasites was interesting.  

As an aside, there’s a special place in my heart for parasites (no, not Heartworms)… during my high school years I worked part-time for a veterinarian and part of my job was to check "samples."  My coworkers would pile them up (no pun intended) for me during the day and when I got to work, after school, I would spend the first 45 minutes or so preparing and examining these samples.  Needless to say this wasn’t my favorite part of the job (it was a close second behind cleaning cages out), but it did expose me to the world beneath the microscope, which I found interesting. 

Anyway, back to the book.  If you’re going vegetarian full time or one day a week, I think you will find the book to be a good reference tool.  At the very least it’s a fun read.  You can download the .pdf below or at veggie123.com.

How to Become a Vegetarian


image credit: corpwatch.org

Last Wednesday Tyson Foods said it would no longer sell antibiotic loaded chicken to consumers.  This move was prompted to "provide mainstream consumers with products they want."  I have written a couple of articles like this in the past and it never ceases to amaze me that little moves like this from large companies get this kind of publicity.  It’s obvious that Tyson is feeling the competition from smaller farms and is planning to leverage their economies of scale to undercut these farms with their own version of "natural" chicken.  Sure, consumers may be (and I stress may be) eating a healthier chicken, but the issues that plague our food system are perpetuated.  This switch does nothing to address animal welfare, animal waste entering waterways, worker safety and the list goes on.   This is purely profit driven move.  It’s no wonder why in 2000 they were listed as one of the top ten worst corporations.

Tyson is planning to spend $17 million to advertise it’s new "antibiotic" free chicken (In my head I picture the packaging depicting a small farm with happy animals roaming about).  That is a bunch of cash to set aside for just advertising, think about the things they could do to make their business more sustainable and responsible with that money!?  The guy that runs Tyson Foods, Richard L. Bond, says that the company’s move to antibiotic free chicken should not lose money and they hope to see an increase in chicken sales.   Personally, I would think that if they changed their business practices and made a genuine commitment to corporate stewardship, animal welfare, the environment, worker safety, etc., Tyson Foods would actually be able to sell less chickens with more profit margin.

Here’s the story (nytimes)

eric

The True Cost of Food

I recently ran across this video on the Sierra Club website called "The True Cost of Food." The film was designed to raise awareness of the foods we eat and the real cost of that food in terms of money and environmental impact. Although I believe there may be an over-exaggeration in the "check-out price" (you’ll see what I mean), overall I think it’s a good educational film. The picture quality isn’t the best, but the sound is good and I think you will be able to get gist of it. Runtime: 15 min.

**EDIT**-  Google took the video down, I will see if I can find it somewhere else.  Ok, the best way to see this is to click this link and save it to your computer.  You will need to have Quicktime installed to view it.

eric

Farmer’s Market Shopping Tips

What better way to spend part of your Saturday or Sunday (or Mon-Fri) than paying a visit to your local farmer’s market? Going to the market is a mix of culture, community and of course, free tastings. One of the huge advantages to shopping at the farmer’s market is being able to ask the farmer questions about the food that he or she is selling. Another major benefit is knowing that the food you are about to buy is fresh, humane, and locally grown (as opposed to being shipped 1,800 miles). These are important things for our environment, and they are important for our farmers and our local economy.

Listed below are some tips to help you make the most out of the food you buy and the experience you enjoy, (they are not in any particular order). If you have any more to add, please let us know.

  • When was this picked?- Usually farmers pick their produce the day before or the morning of the farmer’s market. Knowing when it was picked will give you an idea of how ripe it is. Generally speaking, farmers want to harvest produce when it’s perfectly ripe, so you shouldn’t have to wait very long before you can eat it. It’s not a bad idea to ask. Also here is a guide on how to choose perfectly ripe fruits and veggies.
  • Where’s the farm?- This is another important question to ask. Our assumption is that all the food at the farmers market was grown locally. This is not always the case. If the food was trucked in from hundreds of miles away, then shopping at the farmers market will be no better than shopping at the supermarket.
  • Organic- Not all the foods at the farmers market are organic. The best practice is to ask. Many times, local farm representatives will tell you that their food is “organic,” despite the fact that they do not carry a “certified organic” label. The reason behind this is that for some small farms these certifications cost a lot of money that can prove financially prohibitive. In general I trust the farmers at the market, and in most cases, I think their hearts and practices are in the right place. If they say their produce is organic, I believe them. However, even if the food is not organic and was grown conventionally (using pesticides and fertilizers) and locally, this is still a good thing and definitely the next best choice in environmentally friendly agriculture. You may just want to subtly ask your farmer if they have plans to go organic in the future.
  • Sustainable- If you’re interested, you can ask your farmer if they perform crop rotations and employ bio-diversity on their farm. These practices usually help the farm become a closed loop where the plants, animals and soil all benefit from each other.
  • Are those free range eggs- There is a stand at our farmers market that sells eggs. If yours has one also, it may not be a bad idea to ask all of the above plus whether the chickens are allowed to roam about freely. I noticed the last time we were at the market the egg stand put up a sign that listed all of these answers, so they must get these questions frequently.
  • Is it in season- Because most food at the farmers market is grown locally, generally it’s in season. Just in case you are curious, here is a link to check what’s in season in your area.
  • Recipes and Storage- Who better to ask how to prepare and store the food than the person that grew it? Farmers usually enjoy the produce they grow and have some good tips and tricks on cooking it and making it keep for awhile. Who knows, you may even walk away with an old family recipe.
  • Create a list, and get those items first- Sometimes the excitement of the farmers market can send us into a buying frenzy…I think cheap, fresh food has that effect. However, stick to the list. If you’ve got your meals planned out for the week, get those necessary ingredients first. After that, you can check out some other treats. The key is not to buy so much food that it spoils before you can eat it. Since most of the produce is ripe when you buy it, it’s shelf life is probably only a few days.
  • Give the kids a couple bucks- Let them choose and purchase some fruits and veggies on their own. You never know, they may be more inclined to actually eat the healthy items that they picked it out and paid for.
  • Bring your own bags- Globally, we use 1 million plastic bags per minute. They fill up our landfills, open spaces and oceans. If you take one thing away from this post, let it be this, please use reusable bags to help reduce this number.

Overall, these tips should help you make an educated decision on the food you are about to buy. You’ll probably only need to ask them once, as you’ll purchase from the same farmers from week-to-week. After awhile, you will get to know them and they will usually take special care of you in pointing out the best produce and give you more tips and suggestions.

Happy shopping!

eric

…and we’re back

Our apologizes for being down yesterday.  Our hosting provider has some problems with the server wannaveg is on.  I am not sure what the problem was because they never told me….so, I think we will start shopping for a new provider.  Thanks for your patience.

The EU has been slacking as a global purchaser of genetically modified foods.  For some strange reason, they think they can survive as a civilization without eating Frankenfood?  Absurd. The United Corporations of America United States and other countries like Canada and Argentina are complaining that the EU has setup unfair market barriers to keep GM food from entering the continent.  A six year moritorium on importing GM foods ended in 2004 and last year the World Trade Organization ruled that banning this gene-altered food was illegal.

“If we fail to implement our own rules, or implement them inconsistently, we can — and probably will — be challenged,” Mandelson said in a speech today in Brussels. He also said the EU may undermine European industries such as livestock by falling behind in endorsing products in the $6 billion global biotech crop market.

The European Commission, the 27-nation EU’s regulatory arm, faces resistance to gene-modified foods from member states including Austria and Greece. Surveys show opposition to such foods by more than half of European consumers, who worry about risks such as human resistance to antibiotics and the development of “superweeds” impervious to herbicides."

I bet you’d never guess who’s behind all this commotion?  Did you guess Monsanto?  Ding, ding, You are correct!  Our friends at Monsanto (and BASF) want to force their infamous wears on a group of countries that don’t want them.  That’s like if a telemarketer called you up to sell you insurance,  when you tell them you’re not interested…they sue you. 

Hopefully, the EU can get some rules and guidelines in place quickly to avoid potential repercussions.

read the news story here. (bloomberg)

I don’t have any children, so I’m not sure how this whole process works.  But, processed food marketers seem to influence children as much cigarette manufactures influence teenagers.  The only difference between the two products is a legal one, it is unlawful to sell cigarettes to minors under 18 years old.  Meanwhile highly processed, fatty, sugary foods like cereal can be sold indiscriminately to unsuspecting parents to feed to their children.  Both products are similar in that they have immediate and long term health risks such as obesity and lung cancer.

This article "Hey Kids, We’ve Got Sugar and Toys" sheds some light on this subject. (u.s. news)

Denny’s Chicken Supplier, Shown Door- An undercover video showing all kinds of bad stuff happening at chicken factory farm, House of Raeford (sounds like a Tarantino horror movie), led to Denny’s dumping them as a supplier. Apparently, Arby’s doesn’t have a problem with it. (opednews)

Factory Fish Farms- Fish consumption has doubled in the last 40 years. It’s estimated that in another 40 years, ocean harvested fish will be no more. So, if the oceans can’t supply enough fish, why not farm them? Environmental contamination, disease and over fishing of “feeder fish” are three reasons. Good thing President Bush has an answer for us. (cnn)

The New Diet Craze- Atkins, Southbeach, Zone….meh, so passe`. Try the foodstamp diet. Instead of limiting the types and quantity of food you eat…limit the amount of money you have to spend on food. “Uh oh, you just broke a jar of peanut butter? You’re going to be really thin soon.” (sfgate)

What in your chicken?- More than just arsenic, chicken now come complete with and injection of extra water, sodium and seaweed. This so called “enhanced” chicken has up to 8 times the amount of sodium injected into it as compared to it’s “natural” counterpart. That’s 370 mg of sodium vs. 45 mg for the same size portion. (baltimore sun)

EU Standardizes Organic- The European Union finally agrees to rules around organic farming and standardizes labeling to inform consumers about the food they buy. The food must be 95% organic to be considered “Organic”. There is some debate over a rule that allows for .9% GM contamination to still be considered organic. Farmers say this is unavoidable. (international herald tribune)

US Loosens Organic Standards- Not to be outdone by the Europeans, the USDA may to loosen organic standards. (wait, that’s opposite of what the EU is doing). The new standard allows for 38 nonorganic new ingredients to be added to products that would still be labeled “organic”. Our trusted officials at the USDA apparently think the current standard is too tough for food processors to abide by. (la times)

FDA Moves to Risk Based Approach- A new approach in the way the FDA keeps our food safe. Switching to a risk based approach will require importers to supply the FDA with paperwork explaining how the food was packaged, produced and transported. So, are they inspecting food, or paperwork? You be the judge. (wall street journal)


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