Tag Archives: food

White House Garden Petition

Here’s a great blog post linking to a petition to our next president to plant an organic garden in part of the White House’s 18 acres of lawn, like has been done in the past. In a time where food prices are rising, this would be a great example for the rest of the country to attempt to grow food in our own yards.

Read the post on DigginFood (there’s a video you can watch about it),
and then click to sign the petition.

Yum, I can't wait to eat you!

Yum, I can't wait to eat you!

P.S. A few of my grape tomatoes are finally starting to redden!!

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High Fructose Corn Syrup

Here’s the basic process for making HFCS:
corn –> (milled into) corn starch –>
(processed into) corn syrup + enzymes (change glucose to fructose)
= high fructose corn syrup

Google high fructose corn syrup and you’ll find a plethora of articles about it being bad for us. There are possible health concerns with diabetes and high cholesterol, and it may or may not be the cause of rising obesity in the U.S. But hey, eat foods filled with HFCS or sugar (can or beet) and you’re going to be putting your body at risk.

There’s another issue with HFCS though, and here are 2 of the reasons Wikipedia gives as to why it is so controversial:

  • The preference for high-fructose corn syrup over cane sugar among the vast majority of American food and beverage manufacturers is largely due to U.S. import quotas and tariffs on sugar. These tariffs significantly increase the domestic U.S. price for sugar, forcing Americans to pay more than twice the world price for sugar, thus making high-fructose corn syrup an attractive substitute in U.S. markets. For instance, soft drink makers like Coca-Cola use sugar in other nations, but use high-fructose corn syrup in their U.S. products.
  • Some critics of HFCS do not claim that it is any worse than similar quantities of sucrose would be, but rather focus on its prominent role in the overconsumption of sugar; for example, encouraging overconsumption through its low cost.

An article in the Washington Post says, “What makes corn a target is that federal subsidies — and tariffs on imported sugar — keep prices low, paving the way for widespread use of high-fructose corn syrup and, in the process, keeping the American palate accustomed to the sweetness it provides.” Add to that the problem of how much energy it takes to process the corn into HFCS, and the fact that corn is grown without rotating the crops, which is damaging to the soil, and requires even more pesticides.

I’m not yet very educated on the subject, but let’s just say the evidence suggests that HFCS is a real bad guy when it comes to our health and the planet. Maybe down the road, government corn subsidies will be properly addressed by a future farm bill, because for now, the subsidies are forcing us into eating more sweets than healthy alternatives, simply because they are cheaper.

One of these years, the eaters of America are going to demand a place at the table, and we will have the political debate over food policy we need and deserve. –Michael Pollan

More Resources:

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Book Review: This Organic Life

I just finished a book that may have changed the way I look at eating produce. The book, This Organic Life, 2001, (see link to right under “Good Reads”) is by Joan Dye Gussow, a woman who must be in her 80s now, and writes about her experiences growing all her own vegetables (and some fruit) in her suburban home in New York.I thoroughly enjoyed this book– Gussow’s writing style is easy to follow, honest, poignant & sometimes funny. Although I don’t plan to start growing all my own produce, I have always loved the idea of growing some (waiting on my 2 tomato plants & 1 jalapeno plant as we speak!). She gives great info on (organic) gardening techniques, and tasty recipes to use those ingredients you grow too.

But what I took most out of the book is the idea of eating locally (not a super new idea) and eating fruits & veggies in season (a very new idea to me). I honestly had never thought about this. Our American Consumerism stretches to even foods here as we (my generation) have grown up in the SUPERMarket era of being able to eat whatever, whenever, with very little restrictions due to something being “out of season.” This practice has negatively impacted our environment, local farmers, and even our own tastebuds! Unlike those dumb AM/PM minimart commercials, I think there can be “too much good stuff” (especially when it’s been bred to be not so good), because we become dulled to taste; we don’t savor things, knowing that we only have certain time of year to eat them.

Gussow’s greatest example of this is the tomato. Here’s an excerpt from her chapter called “Lessons from the Tomato:”
“The item accompanying iceberg lettuce in the standard winter salad is the sliced or sectioned orange golf ball deceptively called a tomato. Everyone over fifty knows that the tomato used to be a soft, juicy, sweet-sour fruit… Science has converted this succulent summer treat into a hard, orange, bland, starchy ball that can be sliced or sectioned and served “fresh” any time of year” (page 184).
Mmmm, sounds appetizing, doesn’t it? But seriously, we’ve all had tomatoes like that! And we’ve probably also had a delicious home-grown summertime tomato at least once! I for one, am looking forward to looking into trying to eat more locally and more seasonally!

Now go read this book! It’s awesome!

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Pick Your Organics

If like me, you can’t always justify buying organic fruits & veggies (yikes– $7 for a half pint of organic blueberries last time I was Safeway!!), here’s a great reference. Click the link and you can download a handy little wallet-sized guide to the 12 highest & 12 lowest f’s & v’s in pesticides. I like this a lot because this way I can justify buying organic peaches, for example, but stick to the cheaper, non-organic frozen sweet peas.
Thanks to EWG for the guide.

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Community Supported Agriculture

Today’s post is about an awesome program called CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I had never heard of it until my friend Sarah (yep, my #1 research assistant again) told me about it. She and her husband get a box of fresh vegetables delivered to them every other week from a local farm- it’s whatever is in season, and sometimes she doesn’t even know what something is, which I think is fun!

The way it works is you subscribe to a farm and this is good for both parties: the buyer gets yummy, in-season veggies, grown locally delivered to them or to a nearby central location for pick-up; and the farm knows in advance that it will have a steady “membership” of customers to buy its crops. I always like the idea of buying local and helping out small businesses. In addition you are helping out God’s green earth by buying locally (which lowers costs of transportation, i.e. GAS)!

Keep in mind that in some areas you have to subscribe for a whole year, different farms might start their subscriptions at different times (and they do fill up), and they also may have different deliver schedules. Some farms allow you to subscribe for different amounts too, like say if you have a family of 4 versus only 2.

Local Harvest is a great resource where you can look for CSA programs in your area. And if you want more info, just google Community Supported Agriculture for plenty of info! For those of you on the Central Coast, even Cal Poly has a CSA program- one more reason to live in SLO! This was taken from my alumni email newsletter today:
Summer is almost here, and so are plenty of fresh-picked vegetables from the Cal Poly Organic Farm produce subscription program. The Organic Farm is now taking summer subscriptions for its Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA). Subscribers receive a box of fresh-picked produce weekly.

Contents vary depending on what’s ripe and in season. Summer season crops include lettuce, leafy greens, tomatoes, squash, onions, spinach, beets, carrots, fennel, eggplant, corn, bell peppers, melons, and more.
<Details on the produce subscription program>>

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BPA- yikes!

I’ve been trying to research BPA- that dangerous chemical found in plastics, and canned food. Here’s an interesting timeline of it (I mostly skimmed until the last section on the most recent events)— click HERE. I also posted a link in the sidebar with general BPA info.

I’ve never been a big fan of Wal-Mart but I appreciate their being proactive on this , and I’m stoked about Nalgene’s new products (although bummed about needing to throw away the million nalgenes we have). Here’s some good news (taken from linked article above):
“April 18-21, 2008: Major manufacturers and retailers abandon BPA in plastics.
Within days of the NTP and Canadian judgements major BPA manufacturers including Playtex (which makes bottles and cups) and Nalgene announce a shift to BPA-free products. Major retailers including Wal-Mart and Toys R Us announce they will quickly phase-out BPA-containing baby bottles.” Links: [Wal-Mart to phase out BPA] [Toys-R-Us – BPA phase-out] [Nalgene goes BPA free]

I’m a little worried about canned food though. I’d like to eat more fresh food rather than canned anyways, but sometimes they make for an easy meal or ingredient in a dish. Do we (especially pregnant moms & babies) need to stop eating canned soups/beans/etc until the BPA is removed? Why isn’t the FDA halting the use of it in food products anyways when the research has proved it to be toxic? Any thoughts on this?

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