It seems that there is a lot to learn about how we eat. Everyday we ask ourselves questions like should I eat organic vs. local, whole foods vs. procesessed foods, free-range vs. the other. The strange part about these food dilemmas we face is it should not be this difficult. We as consumers have been pushed so far away from the food system that we no longer have an understanding of how it works. Much of the processed food we eat have become so ever present that we hardly even bat an eye before throwing it into our shopping cart. This is not the food our grandparents ate. Even our parents were not forced to ask these questions on a daily basis.
I am not advocating for us all to quit our jobs, move out to the country and buy a farm. I actually think we can do a better job influencing our food system here in the cities and the ‘burbs. By visiting farmer’s markets, local grocery stores and restaurants that purchase food locally, we put our money where our mouth is (no pun intended). Living in a capitalist society where money controls what we eat….we have the choice to give the money to the people that will give us good stuff to eat.
We can still enjoy our Donuts and Doritos every once in awhile, we just need to remember to pick up some fresh fruit at a roadside stand on our way home.
We started watching a documentary film called "Animals" last night. It is about a Canadian urban dweller that decides to become a rural farmer. One of the reasons he wanted to become a farmer was a decision that if he is going to continue to eat meat; he’s going to raise and slaughter the animals himself. This practice is easier said than done…and this is the focus of the documentary. The farmer ends up enlisting the help of some of his neighbors to show him how to slaughter and "dress" his animals. Although I’m not a huge fan of seeing animals get killed, this is the humane and correct way to do it. These animals all lived happy long lives on a farm and were killed with respect (they all had names). And while it is not feasible for all of us to move out of the city to start a farm, it is our responsibility as compassionate (and healthy) people to buy meat from farmers who support this way of farming. Even for larger scale farms, this is still a viable way to raise animals.
The documentary is worth a watch and gives us city slickers a view on what it is like to live on a farm. We will finish watching it tonight and I will let you know if anything else of interest comes out of it.
This came as a surprise to me. I enjoy going to Henry’s Marketplace here in southern California. Henry’s is owned by Wild Oats who is being purchased by Whole Foods for $565 million. I hope that Henry’s is able to continue with what it does best…offer local, organic food at reasonable prices. Although Whole Foods also offers high quality foods, it is often priced at a premium. It remains to be seen what Whole Foods will do with its smaller competitor, but I hope they will embrace a business model that will allow both companies to continue to operate alongside each other.
There are few times when I put topics concerning religion on this site, unless (of course) the topics speak in favor of going veg! This is one such example. With Fat Tuesday over and Lent is beginning, many Christians will be giving up meat on Fridays over the next 40 days….some may give it up altogether for this period. This is a wonderful time to go-veg one day a week! Pick a day (probably Friday in this case), and abstain from eating any meat, fish and chicken. Pretty painless and it makes a big difference, even for this short period of time.
This should help to get you started. Here are a couple of veg-food options for quick satisfying take-out meals.
Vegetarian Sushi- like California rolls or veg tempura
Palak Paneer- and tons of other Indian food
Falafel- with a side of hummus
Black Bean Burritos- everyone loves burritos!
Sub Sandwich- with all the toppings (minus the meat)…’Subway’ has a veggie-pattie (sometimes call the vegimax) that is delicious.
Now that we have a bunch of new recipes on the site and the new forums are up for starting conversations, we think the site will be an excellent resource to aid in your veg-one day a week ‘change-up’. (end *shameless plug*)
I have to tell you about a secret treasure found at most natural supermarkets. These make vegetarian (and non-veg) snacking so easy. Of course I’m talking about the "bulk bins". What a great idea! Take a bunch of good snacks and bulk foods, throw them into a container and you can scoop your own. Some advantages are that very little packaging is used for these products, you get exactly the amount you need and it’s cheaper than pre-packaged stuff. Also, there are all kinds of great things there…like steel-cut oats, peanut butter filled pretzels, trailmix (a million varieties), nuts, yogurt covered pretzels, etc.. And…it’s actually pretty fun to scoop your own stuff. There’s only one rule; keep your hands out of the buckets! (although it is tempting to jump in and pretend like you’re in the chocolate river of Willy Wonka’s factory) So, the next time your at your local neighborhood natural grocery store, make sure to check it out.
It really looks like it’s going to happen. Beginning soon we may start to see meat and milk from cloned animals at our dinner table. One of the issues that remains is whether or not the USDA will require special labels to be put on products containing cloned animal products. The likely answer is "No," there will not be a requirement to label these products.
There are several questions that I have concerning this whole business of cloning. The first one that really stands out is, why do we need to do it? The countries and companies that have this level of advanced technology are also the countries and companies that have the most meat production and consumption. It’s not like these countries/companies are cloning animals to send food to poor countries. Don’t we already have enough meat and dairy products?
You may say "Oh well, I will just buy organic milk and meat." Good point, as we saw in the article ‘what does "USDA Organic" mean,’ this is a way to avoid eating food from cloned animals. But…wait just a minute, although the USDA mandates that bio-engineered foods can not be labeled organic, it makes no reference to the offspring of cloned animals (progeny). Even if we rely on the "organic" label to "protect" us from eating meat from cloned animals, there is no way to keep up with the bloodlines of animals. Animal factories have thousands of animals on their "farms" and there simply isn’t a way to track them all. Some recent studies have shown that progeny from cloned animals may already be in our food system.
The facts show that cloned animals have a significantly shorter lifespan than their un-engineered counterparts. You may say "Who cares, food animals only have to live long enough to reach slaughter weight." This again is a good point. Even though cloned animals may have a shorter lifespan, they do in-fact live long enough to reach slaughter weight. But, postmortem autopsies are showing that these animals are dying early from pneumonia, liver disease, cancer and a lower level of antibody production. 1 Needless to say, I certainly don’t want to put products from these animals into my body…do you?
You may say "All hope is lost, there’s nothing I can do." -Yes you can, the FDA is taking public comments until April 2007. The most important thing that you can do is make yourself heard where it can make a difference…
Send letters and emails to your State Congress and Senate Representatives. Tell them that this process in unacceptable to you.
Use this link to send your comments directly to the FDA. Remind them that they have a responsibility to maintain the integrity of our food chain.
FDA Comments OR… Use this link to fill out a "pre-written" letter and submit it directly to them. Democracy in Action
I hope your 2007 is off to a great start and any lingering hangovers are long gone! This is the time of year for reflection and renewal, and with that…I would like to encourage you to go veg one-day-a-week (1-in-7), if you haven’t tried it already. The difference you make is huge and the change in your lifestyle is minimal. Try it for your health and well-being.
In recent weeks, there were some interesting developments in the animal kingdom. Unfortunately, all is not well. Over the holidays, the FDA not only announced that it was safe for meat and milk from cloned animals to be sold to consumers but that producers are not required to label it as such. Just to clarify, (as the oddity of this may not come immediately across) scientists have been successfully cloning animals for only a few years, but the FDA is certain as to the safety of their consumption. For me, this is a bit much. All ethics and lab science aside, how can the FDA be so sure that there will not be adverse effects from this? Wow.
In other news, over the holidays, scientists announced that they found and “knocked out” the gene responsible for making the protein that causes Mad Cow disease. Now they are working to genetically engineer cows to not have this gene. It is important to note that Mad Cow disease or “brain wasting disease” is caused by cows eating other cows (or other ruminants) infected with the disease, a practice that is common in industrial factory farming. With this new development and its potential to eliminate the disease from the chain, I wonder how much longer it will be before the chain breaks altogether?
Now…let’s switch focus. It’s not all doom and gloom, and neither is the news this year. Continue Reading »
This week I have learned about so many exciting things that I would like to share with you! Last night we went to the Telluride Mountain Movie Festival (on tour) at the Natural History Museum. They are playing more movies tonight and tickets are still available if anyone is interested http://www.sdnhm.org/education/brochure/mtfestival-filmlist.html. All of the movies were awesome. One in particular focused on the urban organic farming happening in Havana, . Apparently when the soviets pulled out in the 80’s they took with them the stable food supply coming from Europe. This left the Cubans with little food and strict government rationing. The government, which had previously outlawed farming in the city of Havana and free trade, reconsidered this law and allowed people to start farming organically in any open space in Havana (e.g. rooftops, vacant lots, in front of office buildings, courtyards). The government even gave people plots of land for free if they promised to grow food on it. The organic piece is pretty important in this equation. Pesticides and fertilizers are outlawed because in the urban area, these chemicals will leech into the soil and contaminate the groundwater. This whole experiment has proven to be very successful! The amount of organically grown food produced on the thousands of small farms in this urban area now contributes 50% of the total food needed to support Havana. is now on the road to go entirely organic and it has become the largest organic model in the world. Although they may have other problems…This they have certainly figured out! For more information check out http://www.twnside.org.sg/title/twr118h.htm
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So the World Vegetarian Day festival in San Francisco was pretty interesting. I don’t think it was bad….but it wasn’t great either. I was happy to see the amount of "normal" people there. That reinforces that I’m not a freak J (at least not by being a vegetarian). Saturday evening we went to a restaurant called Greens http://www.greensrestaurant.com/, I highly recommend it when you visit San Fran. The menu changes daily depending on the fresh food delivered for the day. This makes dining at a good veg restaurant a unique experience. The meal was one of the best vegetarian meals that I can remember. I’m not sure exactly what we had…but if you ask Meg, she can run through the whole menu for you!
I know some of you may be taking a pass on Veg day this week because I neglected to change out one of my players on my Fantasy Football team, but I encourage you to change up your week and skip meat for a day this week anyway! I checked my team earlier last week, but I obviously missed it. I will make sure everyone it playing next week!
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