Archive for the ‘Food and Nutrition’ Category

Want to eat more veggies? Eat vegetarian!

Most Americans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, especially not up to the 13 servings recommended for optimum health.  That can seem like a ridiculous amount of produce, unless you eat a mostly vegetarian diet.  And I’m not talking about the unappealing meat-substitute variety of vegetarian–the one where you eat veggies burgers and veggies sausages and soymilk and a bunch of other soy-based meat replacements.  But rather, a vegetarian diet that is full of vegetables!

For about two years now, my family has eaten mostly vegetarian.  I suppose the true term for what we’re doing is flexitarian, as we still eat seafood and bison, although that only happens a couple times per month.  The rest of the time, we eat vegetarian.  And when we do this, we really eat a lot of produce.  For example, last night we had enchiladas.  Rather than being filled with meat and cheese, ours contained black beans, pinto beans, onions, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, zucchinis, summer squash, garlic, green onions, tomato, and cilantro.  Rather than serve them with sour cream and extra cheese, ours were served with guacamole.  I didn’t even bother with a side veggie or salad as the main course was almost entirely vegetables and legumes.  This morning for breakfast, we had our usual banana nut whole wheat pancakes.  Rather than serve them with sausage or bacon, ours came with a generous side of fruit salad.   Continue reading

Stopping GE foods at the source: manufacturers

This is my 400th post on this blog since I started it in August 2007!

My favorite grocery store, Vitamin Cottage (Natural Grocers) had this letter for shoppers today.  I thought it was good enough to share here:

So far this year, there has been a flood of approvals for genetically-engineered (GE) foods, beginning with GE alfalfa.  Soon after the USDA approved GE alfalfa, the agency defied a federal court order which had stopped the planting of GE sugar beets and approved a “partial deregulation” of Roundup Ready sugar beets to be planted in the spring.  Sugar beets are used for sugar production and to make ethanol fuel.  Following on the heels of the partial deregulation of sugar beets, the USDA approved a GE industrial corn to use for ethanol production, which farmers and industry experts fear will pollute our edible corn supply, and a drought-resistant corn which the agency admits performs no better than conventional corn.  Genetically-modified salmon and a GE plum, the “HoneySweet,” are next on the list to be approved.  According to the USDA’s own website, “HoneySweet will cross with other domestic plum trees” and there is a fear that GE salmon will irreversibly affect the wild salmon population. Continue reading

63% of agriculture subsidies go to meat and dairy

The new USDA food guidelines no longer consist of a pyramid–now it is a simple, clean plate with fairly equal portions of grains, vegetables, fruits, protein, and smaller portion of dairy.  However, this article points out that while the USDA is telling Americans to eat this way, less than 1% of U.S. agricultural subsidies go to fruits and veggies, while 63% go to meat and dairy.  Another 20% goes to grain, most of which is used to feed meat and dairy producing animals.

If you’d like to see the government stop subsidizing the same foods that are making us unhealthy and overweight, consider signing this petition.  This petition was prefaced with this text:  “The epidemic of childhood obesity now affects one in three school-age kids.  Yet government subsidies have driven down the cost of sugar-laden, high-fat foods, while prices for fruits and vegetables have increased nearly 40 percent in the past 25 years.  Curbing the taxpayer subsidies to agribusiness that have made a box of Twinkies cheaper than a bag of carrots is an important step toward curbing childhood obesity.”

Update on bill about photographing farms

I recently posted about a bill in three states (Florida, Minnesota, and Iowa) that would make it illegal to photograph farms.  SlowFoodUSA.com collected almost 33,000 signatures on their petition against these bills and for transparency on farms.  The bill has failed in Florida and hopefully will do the same in the other two states.

Even better, over 400 farms uploaded their photos to Slow Food USA’s Facebook page.  Many shots of the pigs are absolutely adorable.  If those photos don’t make you want to support small, local farms, I don’t know what will.

Taking photos of a farm illegal?

Consider signing a Slow Food USA petition against legislation in three states that would make it illegal to photograph farms.  Consumers have a right to see how their food is produced and to know how farms treat their animals.

What’s really in our food? Pesticides, MSG, and Food Dye

I believe it is very important to feed your children organic food free of artificial ingredients.  I recently recommended the book Superbaby, which has a chapter on how to feed your child.  The section on pesticides and food additives is particularly compelling.  I thought I’d share some of the information from that chapter here:
  • By feeding your children organic food, you eliminate nearly 90% of their pesticide exposure.
  • After only 5 days on an organic diet, children in a University of Washington study found pesticide levels nearly undetectable.
  • There are currently 600 chemicals that farmers are legally allowed to use on produce.  At least 50 of these are classified as carcinogenic, according to the FDA.
  • Nine out of ten kids under the age of 5 are exposed to 13 different neurotoxic insecticides in baby foods, according to the EWG. Continue reading

Baby food

We are currently working on shaping my 7 month old’s tastes.  Well now, this actually has been going on since he was conceived, as research seems to suggest that fetuses can taste what Mom eats in the amniotic fluid (which caused my husband to request I consume spicy food while pregnant to create a child that likes spicy food!) and then after birth, taste it in her breast milk.  But now, we are more actively working to shape his food preferences.  This is something we mostly did with my two older children, but after reading Feeding Baby Green, I’m much more motivated to make sure that the “baby food” my son eats is flavorful and consistent with the foods our family enjoys.  So there is no bland rice cereal in our house and no perfectly smooth purees.  We are feeding him the foods we eat, spices and textures and all, as much as possible.  If the consistency isn’t safe, we blend it with a little water and feed it to him.

Interestingly, he actually prefers the potent flavors.  I made a curry squash soup the other day and before adding the curry and coconut milk, I gave him the somewhat bland puree.  He did not like it.  The next day, I was eating the soup with all the flavors and gave him a taste.  He loved it!  He fussed until the next bite was in his mouth.  Today, he ate a curry lentil soup and loved it too.

And it doesn’t hurt that this makes my life easier.  :)

Our taxes going to support conventional agriculture campaign

Looks like the federal government is giving California conventional agriculture money to launch a campaign against the EWG’s campaign to bring awareness to consumers about pesticides on their produce (surely by now you’ve heard of the “dirty dozen“).  Here is some information I just received via email from the EWG:

Our Shopper’s Guides to Pesticides — watch CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s report — has had such a big impact that powerful agribusiness interests and pesticide manufacturers have mounted a bizarre P.R. campaign trying to stop us from giving you good information about pesticide residues in food. The Alliance for Food and Farming — the group working to silence EWG on pesticides in fruits and vegetables — just got a $180,000 federally-funded grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the US Department of Agriculture to counter “activist groups [on] unsafe levels of pesticides.” Click here to join the tens of thousands who have told USDA that taxpayers’ money shouldn’t be used to fund agribusiness disinformation campaigns and help us get to 50,000 signatures!

Home cooking tips

We have always made time for home-cooked meals, but lately with 3 boys, I find it nearly impossible to cook in the evenings of weeknights.  Rather than resort to frozen pizzas all the time, we’ve tried some of these tricks to make it work:

  • We double every meal we make and eat the leftovers the next night.  That way we only have to cook every other night.
  • The late afternoons and evenings are too hectic in our house, so I sometimes try to cook mid-day while the kids are at school.
  • When possible, we make even more than double and freeze it.  This is especially true this time of year with all the extra produce we have from our garden and CSA.
  • We make many dinners that don’t really require recipes–enchiladas, lasagna, pastas.  I can make them with quite a variety of ingredients and it saves me time since I don’t have to look up recipes, write down ingredients, and look for specifics in the store.  Rather, I just buy several “Italian” or “Mexican” themed veggies and ingredients and make up a dish as I go.

Happy hens make healthy, safe eggs

On August 13, 228 million salmonella-tainted eggs were recalled.  That recall has been expanded to now include more than half a billion eggs produced by two Iowa companies.  This is the biggest recall in U.S. history and it certainly makes me glad that I get my eggs from a farm 2 hours from my house.

My eggs come from organically fed, pasture raised hens that truly do get access to the outdoors.  The farm has converted old school buses into chicken coops that travel around the farm, giving the hens fresh pecking grounds and spreading their waste as fertilizer all over the farm.  And my farm isn’t afraid to send me images of how they care for their hens.

Where do your eggs come from?  How are the hens treated?  Have you bothered to find out more about the kind of producer you are supporting?  Try looking into supporting a local farm.  It’s quite easy for us to do this as the eggs come to a delivery location in our neighborhood.  And they cost about what we’d pay for organic eggs at the grocery store.

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