Archive for the ‘Food for Thought’ Category

In the interest of getting through lots of delicious veg, today was an unintentionally mostly raw day. I was cold when I woke up, so I started with some vanilla rooibos in my favorite mug.


This mug is from the Christmas Tree Shop, which is emblematic of everything that is wrong with our country, but I still like drinking out of it. Especially now that it makes me feel like Lady Gaga. 😉

For lunch I made myself a hummus plate. I started with this:


and ended up with this:


Loved it! The Asian cucumber was a little hard to get used to at first – it’s fairly fuzzy. But it tastes like a cross between a cucumber and summer squash, so once you get past the hairiness it’s pretty delicious.

I will be the first to admit that my dinner was not pretty. In fact, it was downright ugly. But it had intense inner beauty.


In the mix: a head of romaine, more Asian cucumber, raw sweet corn, a smooshed avocado, balsamic vinegar.

I’d say I’m off to a good start getting through my CSA abundance before it goes bad.

I’ll leave you with some encouraging news via Civil Eats:

“Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack are joining together to hold public discussions on “competition issues affecting the agriculture industry in the 21st century and the appropriate role for antitrust and regulatory enforcement in that industry.” This is the first time any such talks will have been held on an industry that is massively consolidated and under-regulated. For example, did you know that in 2006, 83.5% of beef-packing was controlled by 4 companies, same goes for 66% of pork packing, 58.5% of the chicken processing and 55% of turkey processing. Similar numbers exist for the seed companies, the grain processors bringing animal feed to feedlots and HFCS to most of the packaged foods in the supermarket, and the supermarket retailers themselves. Numbers this high indicate a lack of competition.”

Check out the original post to see how you can join the public discussions and help support smaller farms!


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I got an update from the Civil Eats blog in my Google Reader this morning that absolutely infuriated me. The whole post is here and I highly recommend reading it. I’ll sum it up, though.

In Iowa, as in many parts of the midwest, there is basically only one major crop. In Iowa it’s corn. When you practice monoculture, you deplete the soil and invite all sorts of contagious diseases and pests into your fields, and this is why conventional farmers rely so heavily on chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and anti-fungal treatments. We all know that these things are toxic to all living things, not just the living things that they’re meant to attack – that’s one reason why “organic” has become such a buzzword. But it’s not so easy to promote organic agriculture when these toxins are sprayed onto unwitting would-be organic farmers.

Civil Eats explains: “Grinnell Heritage Farm is 152 years old. Andrew Dunham is the fifth generation of his family to work this land about 50 miles east of Des Moines. . . . Andrew and his wife Melissa are a few months shy of receiving their formal certification as an organic farm. . . . Across the road, due north of their land, is a field of corn that is managed by the nearby Monsanto seed corn plant. In Iowa and anywhere commodity corn is grown, it is common practice around this time of year to use chemicals to control fungus. Often this is accomplished via the use of aerial application, commonly referred to as cropdusting. On July 6th, a rustic-looking old biplane swooped in to spray Monsanto’s field. To put it mildly, the pilot’s bombardiering skills were not what one would hope.

“Dunham’s crew was in the field picking broccoli and spinruts (“turnip” backwards—a Japanese form of the root vegetable). They witnessed the plane as it failed to shut off its spray mechanism in time, and the fungicide drifted into their tree planting and hay field. ‘The hay ground is in the third year of transition and would have become organically certified on September 1st,’ Andrew said. Now, probably not.

“You’d think that this would be a clear-cut cause of action, as the legal folks would put it. But the clever folks at Monsanto hire the crop dusters as contractors, and they in turn use a corporate shell with no assets, so when something like this happens and a victim sues, they simply file bankruptcy and then form a new corporation.”

I hope that you’re all suitably outraged. Not only is corporate farming absolutely unsustainable, but it is often morally reprehensible. This is one of many reasons why I think it’s important to stay well informed about U.S. food/agricultural policy. Civil Eats is a great source of information, as is U.S. Food Policy. I encourage you to add them to your “must read” list. Because who cares how healthy or “clean” your eats are when they’re coming from a chemical-filled wasteland?

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Did anyone else see this article in the New York Times about the food industry? The former head of the FDA has written a book about the ways that foodmakers make it easier (intentionally or not) to overeat. His claim is that they’re great at finding the perfect combo of fat, sugar, and salt that overrides our hunger signals and makes us want to continue eating even when we shouldn’t. My favorite quote:

“And Dr. Kessler reports that the Snickers bar, for instance, is “extraordinarily well engineered.” As we chew it, the sugar dissolves, the fat melts and the caramel traps the peanuts so the entire combination of flavors is blissfully experienced in the mouth at the same time.”

So true, my friend. So true. I don’t have time to read the book, but it sounds useful – apparently it’s not so much an expose of food companies as a guide for overeaters to help stop those behaviors. I wonder about his argument though – sometimes I find that those comfort processed foods just make me want to keep eating, but other times I find that they feel so decadent that I’m totally satisfied after eating a normal portion.

And would one of these



have the same nasty effects as a Snickers? I know they’re made from much less suspect ingredients, but there are still sugars in them.

What do you think? Is overeating a result of the way modern foods are processed, or is it just about willpower? Are some people more prone to overeating than others? What foods make you ignore your body’s signals to stop eating?

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