Archive for the 'Organic' Category


Compost Those Veggies

Composting your food scraps and yard clippings will produce less waste for the landfill and it also makes great garden soil. Yeah, yeah…”but what if I don’t need compost because I live in an apartment,” (like I do)? Well for one, you can start a small vegetable garden on your deck or window-sill or how about showing some love to the trees and plants in your area by giving them some extra nutrients?

For that “out of sight” compost bin, consider putting it under your kitchen sink. It won’t smell and it’s a convenient place to throw your food scraps (instead of down the disposal). These compost bins can range anywhere from a small Rubbermaid container to a large backyard corral.

Starting a bin is easy and you can find one fit into almost any space you have available. Check out this video for more information. Also, a quick search on a the net will provide some good resources on how to get started.


By now we all know that animal agriculture places an enormous strain on our planet. Between greenhouse gases, pollution, deforestion, soil erosion, cruelty, the list goes on…we have a very compelling reason to go vegetarian, even one day a week. Check out this statistic found by Akifumi Ogino of the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Tsukuba, Japan.

A kilogram of (…conventionally farmed…) beef is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution than driving for 3 hours while leaving all the lights on back home.

Now consider the impact of going vegetarian just one day a week. By making this simple change in the way you eat, over the course of a year you will save 15kg (35lbs) of meat. Based on Mr. Ogino’s research, that’s like driving a car for 45 hours and leaving all the lights on in your home at the same time…more time than a standard work week! This is a pretty easy thing to do and our planet (and every living being on it) will appreciate it.

A kilogram of beef is responsible for the equivalent of the amount of CO2 emitted by the average European car every 250 kilometres, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days.

On the days that you choose to eat meat, consider eating grass-fed beef. A 2003 Swedish study showed that organic beef, raised on grass rather than concentrated feed, emits 40 per cent less greenhouse gases and consumes 85 per cent less energy.

For more information, check out the NewScientist article.

Eat It While You Can- because your great-grandchildren won’t. World water supplies are dwindling and that means the water intense animal based diet will eventually become a thing of the past. “It’s going to be almost impossible to feed future generations the kind of diet we have now in western Europe and North America.” (bbc)

Hate Thy Neighbor- If you are a Confined Animal Factory Operation (CAFO) owner and you move your operation to a new community, prepare yourself to be the most hated person in that community. “Can you imagine what it smells like when they burn a pile of rotting pigs for an afternoon or an entire day and night?” a nearby resident said. “The odor is just absurd.” (vernonbroadcaster)

Meats and Sweets = Breast Cancer- A study of Chinese women who adopted a more Western diet that included higher consumption of meat and sweets showed an increase in breast cancer. “The researchers found that overweight, postmenopausal women who ate a western-style diet had a greater than twofold increased risk of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancers. There was no association between breast cancer risk and a vegetable-soy-fish diet.” (yahoo news)

Have You Hugged a Rat Today?- You should! Rats may be more caring and selfless than their reputation suggests. Or at least they can be very kind to each other, even to rats they have never met before. Ok, so this isn’t vegetarian or food related, but I found it interesting nonetheless. (nytimes)

Slap a Label On It- An overwhelming majoring of folks in the U.S. want to know more about thier food. In fact, 92 percent of Americans want to know which country produced the food they are buying. I hope this has a trickle down effect in create measurable standards for other food labeling initives (e.g. free-range, humane, sustainable), but after seeing what the USDA has done recently to undermine the ‘organic’ standards, I won’t be holding my breath. (msnbc)

Moo Cows Go Poo- I wanted to post this video on wannaveg, but it’s only available on MSN video. This is the PSA I mentioned that was shown at Live Earth last weekend. It encourages people to go vegetarian one day a week. It’s a bit on the gross side, but the message is fantastic! (msn video)

Sheepmower- No need for pesticides or herbicides in this vineyard….also no need for tractors. Some researches are training sheep to clean up vineyard weeds but stay off the grapes. “They don’t use gasoline and keep down weeds — a necessary task to deter pests and keep vines healthy — sans herbicides.” (msnbc)

I didn’t like the name “Rundown:” of the news summaries we post. It really didn’t have anything to do with going veg. So, I came up with this one. Let me know what you think about it….if you would like to suggest another name for our periodic news summaries, let me know.

Organic’s better? - A ten year study finds that organic tomatoes have more flavonoids (anti-oxidents) than conventionally grown tomatoes. I’d say most people didn’t need a study to find out that organic is better….but thes studies are nice to see. (bbc news)

Methane Kills- Literally. Five people died last week in a pool of liquefied cow shit. It seems that they were overcome by methane gas while cleaning out a pipe in the lagoon. “You cannot smell it, you cannot see it, but it’s an instant kill” (cnn)

Subsidizing Snacks- Our food system is based on five commodity crops (soybeans, corn, rice, wheat and cotton). Not one of these subsidized crops is a fruit or vegetable. Subsidies lead to cheap snack foods and soft drinks, made from ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Meanwhile, the lack of subsidies for fruits and vegetables makes them expensive by comparison. (ny times)

Live Earth: Go Veg One Day a Week- Say what you want about Live Earth, (see also: ‘Hippie Episode’ on Southpark) they apparently had a publice service announcement tell people about the environmental benefits to going vegetarian one day a week. Good news for wannaveg! P.S. if anyone can find and send us this video, we would be greatful! (

Concientious Meat Eater- From the Magazine, “Food: The Way We Eat.”  In his Meat Manifesto, Fearnley-Whittingstall corners the reader: “Are you, among the millions of consumers putting pressure on farmers to produce mountains of cheap meat of dubious quality, by dubious means?” and “Have the animals you’ve consumed lived well? . . . Have they been cared for by someone who respects and enjoys their contact with them?” (ny times via Ethicurean)


Sustainable Harvest International

baby with baby greens

Obviously, rainforest destruction is a heated topic of discussion. Many popular websites claim to plant trees in exchange for donations, and even Dell has hopped on the bandwagon. When you buy a new computer you can select “plant a tree for me” as you checkout and help offset your carbon footprint. Planting trees can be a good thing, but are we really making progress if we do nothing about the source of the problem? Sustainable Harvest International is heading straight for one source. This small non-profit organization “has worked with nearly 1,000 families and 900 students in Honduras, Panama, Belize and Nicaragua implementing alternatives to slash-and-burn farming, the leading cause of rainforest destruction in the region.” Malnutrition is a huge problem in this area of the world, and many vegetables are considered a luxury item. SHI teaches new farming techniques to the local families, such as alley cropping, organic vegetable gardening, and seed saving and storage.

Since 1997, SHI has successfully:

· Planted more than 2,000,000 trees.

· Converted 6,000 acres to sustainable uses, thereby saving 30,000 acres from slash-and-burn destruction.

· Improved nutrition through the establishment of more than 200 organic vegetable gardens.

· Increased farm income up to 800%.

· Built 165 wood-conserving stoves (saving 1,650 trees per year)

Now, did you know that it’s possible to eat yogurt, help these farmers, save forests, and get free organic chocolate and tea all at the same time? Stonyfield Farm is featuring SHI along with two other non-profits on their yogurt lids this summer. Vote for your favorite non-profit and help direct funds their way, while getting cool prizes!

Visit for more information on SHI and Stonyfield’s “Bid With Your Lid” program.


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!


Book and a Beer

the omnivore's dilemmaThere are few things better than a beautiful San Diego night and a cold pint of local ale.  Last night Meg, Adam and I went to the Stone Brewing Company in Escondido, CA to attend their first "Book and a Beer" Club.  Appropriately, the first book up for discussion was the Omnivore’s Dilemma.  I say "appropriately" because Stone Brewing Company and World Bistro practices many of the concepts highlighted in Michael Pollen’s book.  They buy locally, organically and represent the best of the slow food movement whenever possible.  This was Greg Koch’s, vision when he co-founded the company, and I would like to use this blog posting to highlight some of the interesting people I met and the perspectives I gained.

Greg Koch and the vision of Stone
Greg spoke about how far the company has come but also about how far he still needs to go before he will satisfied with the ethical food quality served at his restaurant.   This is an evolving process that takes time and lots of research.  Stone has a great menu filled with tons of the freshest ingredients from the area.  Almost any dish can be made vegetarian, and regardless of your choice,  you can be assured that a great deal of thought has gone into the creation and preparation of your meal.  One thing I learned… if you’re a farmer that raises grass-fed beef organically and in CA, you may want to give Greg a call…because he’s looking for it.  Did I mention the ice cold locally brewed beer?  It’s the best!

Barry Logan and La Milpa Organica
Other interesting topics and points discussed last night came from Barry Logan, owner and operator of La Milpa Organica, and his son Nick.  La Milpa Organica is an organic farm located in Escondido that supplies fresh, local, organic produce to Stone Brewing Company and other businesses in the area.  To learn more about the farm, check out the excellent write-up here.  Both Barry and Nick believe in "powering down" which is a simple concept to encourage us to minimize our use of energy and cut it out where it is not necessary.  This may sound a bit daunting…but it is really easy.  How?  We can all start by driving a little bit less less, buying a lot more local, eating more whole (unprocessed), and turning off the lights when we leave the room. 

Above and beyond everything they spoke about, there were two things Barry and Nick said last night really struck a chord with me.  The first was "Know your farmer, know your food" and the second was "Old food from far away".  Both of these highlight how we have lost touch with where our food comes from.   Can we really be sure of the contents making up our food and the process by which it reached us if we don’t know where it came from?   Knowing and trusting the person that grows the food you eat removes the ethical and safety questions that are arising on a daily basis.   The key is that this food that hasn’t been shipped across the country (or planet), it’s fresh, ripe and in season.   Barry and Nick remind us to ask not "How long will this food last," but "How long before I can eat it?"

David Bronner and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps
David Bronner from Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps also attended the discussion last night.  David is a dedicated vegan that is a strong proponent of organics and fair-trade.  He spoke about Michael Pollen’s first book "The Botony of Desire" and how genetically modified organisms are infiltrating our food system.  He also discussed the notion of "beyond organic," meaning there are different types of organic foods.  The "organic" food you buy at the supermarket was probably produced on a large commercial farm that could be some distance away.  While they don’t use chemical fertilizers or pesticides, they still use a great deal of petroleum to facilitate shipping and refrigeration.   The notion of "beyond organic" takes the definition of healthy organic beyond the avoidance of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and encourages us to pay attention to where the food is produced.   Food produced locally does not have unnecessary energy calories caused by refrigeration or food "miles."

Eric, Meg & Adam’s Take

After the discussion ended, the three of us grabbed a table, a few more Stone IPAs and had a delicious local, organic dinner.  Overall, I’d say the first Book and a Beer group was a rousing success and given the large number of people that showed up for it (at least 40), we should make sure to get there early for the next one.  Cheers!

It’s not far from the truth!  Researchers predict that if poor countries switched to organic farming methods, they may be able to produce as much or more food than they do currently.  The benefit really shows when the farmers no longer need to depend on chemical fertilizers, pesticides and genetically modified seeds, thus making it cheaper to farm.   Additionally, farmers would be able to have their crops organically certified, and that would demand a premium on the export market. 

Of course one of the other key benefits to organic farming is its reduced footprint on the environment.  With all kinds of studies showing that the poor will be hardest hit by climate change, it makes sense for poor nations to adopt a more natural way of growing food.  Although, we in industrialized nations need to get with the program faster than poor countries (we produce way more nasty stuff than they do). 

Read the story at the Yahoo News

image credit:

I am out of town today, so I decided to put up an article from the past.  The weather looks to be pretty nice around the country….good weekend to visit the farmer’s market.  Have a great weekend, talk to you on Monday!

This article covers five areas that make farmers markets so cool.  Farmer’s markets are making a difference in the way we are eating and are growing in popularity all the time.  This is an excellent trend and I hope it continues.

1.  Freshness
2.  Variety
3.  Organic
4.  Creativity
5.  Cost

Farmer’s Markets, offering fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers, nuts, honey, herbs and jams, are becoming more prevalent and increasingly popular in urban and suburban neighborhoods. Cities gladly cordon off designated blocks one morning a week or a month to give residents access to locally grown produce and to stimulate commerce. The Union Square Farmer’s Market in New York City is legendary for bringing the farm to the urbanites and the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market in Southern California has been called the “crown jewel” of such markets by Los Angeles Times food writer Russ Parsons.

These street markets are changing the way you eat. Farmer’s Markets are influential in food freshness, variety, nutrients, creativity and cost. Here’s how: continue here at Associated Content


Eat Greener

Our third installment of our "Earth Day" series will focus on simple tips to eat greener foods.  It just so happens that eating greener coincides with eating vegetarian.  We have seen the positive impact that going vegetarian just one day a week has on our planet.  By following some simple guidelines there are additional ways to green up a vegetarian diet. 

Remember these are simply guidelines, not rules!  Make the effort to follow them when it is practical.  It would be best if we could follow these all the time, but sometimes it is just not feasible.  So, do it when you can, but you do not need to live your life by them to make a difference.  For example, try to adhere to them at home, but on Friday night when you go out for Mexican food, don’t worry about it.

  • Buy locally - all kinds of benefits can be had with this one.  It is probably the most important guideline to follow.  You support your local farmers, your food is fresh and the energy inputs, such as fuel to transport the food is negligible.  Most of the time this food is also grown organically.  With Spring here, what better time to visit your farmers market?  For listings of farmers markets in your area, click here.
  • Buy organic- probably the next best thing.  Your food has not been sprayed with pesticides and the ground it was grown in was not flooded with fertilizers.  Pesticides are not good for your health and fertilizers are not good for our planet’s health.
  • Buy seasonal- Let nature determine what foods are ready to eat, not the grocery store.  What’s in season in Chile may not be what’s season in Oregon.  Eating seasonal provides the best tasting foods.  Combine this with buying locally and the benefits of fresh, healthy great tasting food will abound.  To find out what’s in season in your area, click here.
  • Grown your own- You do not need huge plots of land and a tractor to grow your own food, just throw some pots on your back deck and start an herb garden or tomatoes or peppers or all of them!
  • Bring your own bag-  This is too simple not to do.  You will always have them if you keep them in the trunk of your car (or bike).  For more info read ban the bag.

These five simple tips can have a big impact on our planet.  Vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike can make a difference by following them.  Not only do these guidelines benefit our planet….they also help to make us healthier and more connected with our food supply.

Next »

Sitemap | Posts