White House Farmer’s Market

Posted in Miscellaneous on September 17, 2009 by Powered By Produce

Two posts back-to-back?!  I just found this and thought it was a more than worthy reason to double-post today.

The White House Farmer’s Market opens today, demonstrating to all of the United States that the current administration is supportive of sustainable, healthy, humane, local food sources.

You can bet this is where I’ll be after work today!

Advertisements

In Good Company

Posted in Famous Vegetarians on September 17, 2009 by Powered By Produce

Coincidence that many of the most brilliant minds are vegetarian?  I think not!

Think a veggie diet is only for frail pansies?  These professional athletes beg to differ.

More moved by star power than brains & brawn?  The list of red carpet vegetarians is unbelievably extensive.

Check out this (incomplete, continuously growing) list of famous vegetarians.

Under Construction

Posted in Uncategorized on September 14, 2009 by Powered By Produce

I’m working on some new content for the re-vamped www.powered-by-produce.com so be patient, it’s coming soon!

Declare Your Independence

Posted in Industrialized Farming, Miscellaneous on September 5, 2009 by Powered By Produce

One of the most empowering actions for any paradigm challenger is the opt-out because it declares to one and all, “You do not control me.”  The time has come for those who are ready to challenge the paradigm of factory-produced food to make that declaration to both business and government (who established the existing system).  It is time to opt-out.

In America, you have the freedom to own guns, speak your mind, and assemble for a cause.  But you do not have the freedom to eat humanely rasied animals and pesticide-free produce.  The reason our forefathers did not include freedom of food choice in the Constitution is because they never could have envisioned the criminalized, bureaucratic, industrialized food system that we have today. 

People have short memories.  We all assume that whatever is, must be normal.  Industrial food is not normal.  Nothing about it is normal.  In the continuum of human history, what western civilization has done to food in the last century is but a blip, an experiment gone horribly wrong.  We have not been here before.  The three trillion members of our intestinal community have not been here before.  If we ate like humans ate for as long as we’ve existed, prior to about two generations ago, almost nothing in the supermaret today would be on our tables.

The lack of choice from which we now suffer is due to the governement farm subsidies that promote corn syrup and create a nation of diabetes sufferers; to the so-called inpectors that deem the most illogical practices, such as feeding dead cows to cows, as safe; to the corporate funded research that declared pumping animals full of antibiotics is sound science; and to the industrialized farm system that view animals as inanimate piles of molecular structure to be manipulated in any way the egocentric human mind can conceive.

(Today, industrialized pig farmers are trying to find the stress gene so it can be taken out of the pig’s DNA.  That way, the pigs can be abused, but they won’t be stressed about it.  In the name of all that is decent, what kind of ethics encourages such notions?!)

In the past few decades, Americans have been introduced to a plethora of new foodborne illnesses (lysteria, E. coli, salmonella, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, avian influenza). This is nature screaming at us, “Enough!” We have pushed nature to the limit, and its pleas go unheard upon the ears of human conquistadors who think they can forever tyrannize weaker species without eventual payback. 

But, if you plan to wait for government or “credentialed experts” to create ecologically, nutritionally, and emotionally friendly food, be prepared to wait a very long time.  Just imagine what a free-range, grass-fed herbivore paradigm would do to the financial and power structure of America…

Today, about 70% of all grains produced are fed to herbivores (who aren’t supposed to eat them).  If the practice of feeding grain to livestock ended, it would topple the grain cartel, reduce petroleum usage, reduce chemical usage, reduce machinery manufacture, and effectively eliminate bovine pharmaceuticals.  That’s a lot of economic inertia resisting change. 

So, if things are going to change, it’s up to you and me.  And we don’t even need to picket around the Capitol building, or dump cow manure on a McDonald’s parking lot.  The most effective force you and I can exert on the system is to opt-out.  Declare that we will not participate.

Instead, choose vegetarian, and choose local.  The only reason the local food system is still minuscule is because few people patronize it.  Chinese proverb: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”  The non-industrial food system exists below the radar in every locality.  If you seek, you will find. 

We must adopt a proactive stance.  The power of many individual rights will compound to create a different culture.

Organic: So much more than healthy

Posted in Organic on August 27, 2009 by Powered By Produce

Organic is not just about food. It’s a much more expansive way of thinking that embraces cyclical resource use, where waste from one source becomes food for another. It honors natural laws and detests mindless waste, dispersal of toxic chemicals, cheap substitutes, and depleted soil.

All of humanity ate organic food until the twentieth century. Now, we’ve been on a chemical binge diet for about 80 years (a blink of an eye in planetary history) and what do we have to show for it? We’ve lost 1/3 of America’s topsoil, buried toxic waste everywhere, polluted & depleted water systems, worsened global warming, and exacerbated ailments ranging from cancer to diabetes to obesity.

This is not just hippie blather preaching the tofu way to happiness. I see organic as a philosophy of wholeness, a science of integration, and a crucial way to maintain nature’s ingenious, delicate, interdependent web of life. It is a pragmatic state of mind offering real solutions to some of society’s worst problems.

Organic backs a sensible farm policy that protects not only farmers, but also the health of all Americans. It can lower health-care costs by eliminating toxic lifestyles and the unnecessary, preventable diseases they cause. It could even help stabilize fuel prices & reduce our dependence of foreign oil by using less fossil fuels & chemicals, and trapping and building carbon in the soil instead of the atmosphere. Organic farming is an absolutely critical WME (weapon of mass enlightenment) in humanity’s now-or-never fight against global warming.

I often fear that I am preaching to the choir, an unheard voice in an uncaring world. It takes more than one to make a difference and I can only hope that consumers the world over will vote with their pocketbooks to save the Earth (and their health along with it).
____________________
Breakfast: Strawberries
Lunch: Pasta primavera
Dinner: Vegetarian Chili

Thoughts & Ramblings

Posted in Miscellaneous on August 26, 2009 by Powered By Produce

First things first: I received a personal comment from a loyal follower noting that he was very disappointed in my previous post because I simply copy/pasted out of the Time article and did not add my own opinion. My intention was to show that reputable news sources are reporting on this problem and that it’s not just something that I’m all wound up about because I have nothing better to do with my time. I apologize for any disappointment my previous post caused. You want my opinion, you get it!

Here are a few of the things I think about often:

1.) I went vegetarian thinking that I would still eat eggs and milk, but I quickly learned that egg laying hens are subject to the worst living conditions of all animals and that dairy cows live unhealthier lives than feedlot cows and are then slaughtered for ground beef. While I’d like to go vegan (no dairy, no eggs), it makes eating out difficult (even in a progressive city that accommodates vegetarians fairly easily). As author Michael Pollan said, “This is what can happen to you when you look. And what you see when you look is the cruelty – and the blindness to cruelty – required to produce eggs that can be sold for 79 cents per dozen.” I no longer eat eggs and no longer buy cheese for my house, but I still eat cheese when I eat out and I feel guilty about it afterwards. I picture the cows and the abuse they endure and it makes me extremely sad that I am so selfish that I haven’t been able to completely cut out cheese. I am trying, but I will try harder.

2.) More than one person has told me that they fear going vegetarian would upset their parents. I, personally, see no logic in this – a.) my parents support my choices, b.) I’m a grown-ass woman, and c.) why would anyone be so emotional about something as trivial as someone else’s eating habits, especially when the eating habit they are adopting is a more responsible one?

However, I do understand that fear of being different or being considered difficult to accommodate is unfortunately a real obstacle to going vegetarian. I struggled with this initially, and even endured some very unexpected badgering from some of my closest friends. (Why people feel the need to defend eating meat, and condemn those who don’t, baffles me. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism to try to justify their own choice?) But rest assured, most people eventually realize that your eating habits have absolutely no effect on them and it becomes a non-issue.

PS, at family gatherings, either my family will make me a vegetarian option (a meatless lasagna or bean tamales) because they support my choices, or I’ll simply eat the sides (Thanksgiving is just as delicious when your plate is loaded with mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, biscuits, and pumpkin pie).

3.) Vegetarianism is not an unreasonable response to the evils that exist in our current industrialized food operation. Yet, there are animals living on farms that contradict the nightmare ones. True, they are but needles in a haystack (literally, 1% humanely raised to 99% inhumanely raised), but their very existence suggests the possibility for change.

Yes, though these animals are raised humanely, they are killed, and as Matthew Scully (author of Dominion, a conservative Christian examination of the treatment of animals) said, “[predation is] the intrinsic evil in nature’s design… among the hardest of all things to fathom.” So, can I in good conscience eat a happy, sustainably raised chicken? (That’s a rhetorical question… for now.)

What I find most wrong with eating meat is the current practice, not the general principle. People who care about animals should be working to ensure that the ones they eat don’t suffer, that their deaths are swift and painless, and that they are eaten with the consciousness and respect they deserve.
____________________
Breakfast: Bagel with jelly
Lunch: Veggie sandwich from the deli downstairs: lettuce, tomato, avocado, sprouts, carrots
Diner: “Powerhouse” salad from Chop’t, loaded with superfoods: spinach, edamame, broccoli, carrots, dried cranberries, walnuts, sunflower seeds, & a lemon vinaigrette dressing

Time Magazine on "The High Price of Cheap Food"

Posted in Industrialized Farming, Organic on August 25, 2009 by Powered By Produce

Time Magazine has an excellent article this week about America’s food crisis. Here are a few excerpts, but be sure to read the full article here.

“Somewhere in Iowa, a pig is being raised in a confined pen, packed in so tightly with other swine that their curly tails have been chopped off so they won’t bite one another. To prevent him from getting sick in such close quarters, he is dosed with antibiotics. The waste produced by the pig and his thousands of pen mates on the factory farm where they live goes into manure lagoons that blanket neighboring communities with air pollution and a stomach-churning stench. He’s fed on American corn that was grown with the help of government subsidies and millions of tons of chemical fertilizer. When the pig is slaughtered, at about 5 months of age, he’ll become sausage or bacon that will sell cheap, feeding an American addiction to meat that has contributed to an obesity epidemic currently afflicting more than two-thirds of the population. And when the rains come, the excess fertilizer that coaxed so much corn from the ground will be washed into the Mississippi River and down into the Gulf of Mexico, where it will help kill fish for miles and miles around. That’s the state of your bacon — circa 2009.”

“The U.S. agricultural industry can now produce unlimited quantities of meat and grains at remarkably cheap prices. But it does so at a high cost to the environment, animals and humans. Those hidden prices are the creeping erosion of our fertile farmland, cages for egg-laying chickens so packed that the birds can’t even raise their wings and the scary rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria among farm animals. Add to the price tag the acceleration of global warming — our energy-intensive food system uses 19% of U.S. fossil fuels, more than any other sector of the economy.”

“And perhaps worst of all, our food is increasingly bad for us, even dangerous. A series of recalls involving contaminated foods this year — including an outbreak of salmonella from tainted peanuts that killed at least eight people and sickened 600 — has consumers rightly worried about the safety of their meals. A food system — from seed to 7‑Eleven — that generates cheap, filling food at the literal expense of healthier produce is also a principal cause of America’s obesity epidemic. At a time when the nation is close to a civil war over health-care reform, obesity adds $147 billion a year to our doctor bills.”

“With the exhaustion of the soil, the impact of global warming and the inevitably rising price of oil — which will affect everything from fertilizer to supermarket electricity bills — our industrial style of food production will end sooner or later. As the developing world grows richer, hundreds of millions of people will want to shift to the same calorie-heavy, protein-rich diet that has made Americans so unhealthy — demand for meat and poultry worldwide is set to rise 25% by 2015 — but the earth can no longer deliver. Unless Americans radically rethink the way they grow and consume food, they face a future of eroded farmland, hollowed-out countryside, scarier germs, higher health costs — and bland taste. Sustainable food has an élitist reputation, but each of us depends on the soil, animals and plants — and as every farmer knows, if you don’t take care of your land, it can’t take care of you.”

The full article contains more on the impact of corn subsidies, fertilizers & pesticides, the overuse of antibiotics in CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations), and the impact to our American farmers. The article also profiles a few farms & businesses (such as Chipotle) that are successfully working to make a difference.

“Organic food continues to cost on average several times more than its conventional counterparts… But not all costs can be measured by a price tag. Once you factor in crop subsidies, ecological damage and what we pay in health-care bills after our fatty, sugary diet makes us sick, conventionally produced food looks a lot pricier.”

“What we really need to do is something Americans have never done well, and that’s to quit thinking big. We already eat four times as much meat and dairy as the rest of the world, and there’s not a nutritionist on the planet who would argue that 24‑oz. steaks and mounds of buttery mashed potatoes are what any person needs to stay alive.”

“[W]e have the chance to choose better food three times a day (or more often, if we’re particularly hungry). It’s true that most of us would prefer not to think too much about where our food comes from or what it’s doing to the planet […] But if there’s one difference between industrial agriculture and the emerging alternative, it’s that very thing: consciousness.”
____________________
Breakfast: cereal & soy milk
Lunch: Chipotle burrito bol, no meat = free guac!
Dinner: General Tso’s TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein), very yummy