Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Michael Pollan Talks Sense; Kroger Pitches Cheap Food

Author Michael Pollan, whose 2006 book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” helped give rise to the current real food movement, spoke in downtown Indianapolis earlier this month.

Pollan’s appearance
was covered in IndyStar.com, the on-line version of The Indianapolis Star. According to the article, “Much of his talk to the event's 575 attendees centered on where food comes from, how it is raised and what can be done to increase awareness.”

The great irony
was that when I read the story on-line, advertisements for Kroger supermarkets accompanied the article, pitching the chain’s great prices on the very industrial foodstuffs that Pollan questions in his books and appearances.

It was amazing; I kept clicking refresh and I kept getting new ads. I could only wonder what Pollan would have thought had he seen the never-ending parade of sodas, boxed mashed potatoes, butters, “brown n’ serve” rolls, butter basted turkeys, spiral sliced hams and fruit pies next to his photo.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pollan and Schlosser on the Food Safety Modernization Bill

As I discussed last Tuesday, the Food Safety Modernization Bill, a very important piece of legislation, is scheduled to be voted on tonight by the Senate.

Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, two authors at the forefront of the real food movement, wrote an op-ed piece in today’s New York Times summarizing the main aspects of the bill (more power for the Food and Drug Administration) and the opposition to it.

According to the authors, the opposition is based on inaccurate claims and corporate greed.

(Pollan and Schlosser don’t use the word “greed,” but I do. Why? Because I am sick and tired of how corporations—usually fronted by their lobbying arms—control most everything in this country. And don’t even get me started on the Supreme Court’s Citizens United case, one of the worst decisions in the court's history.)

Hopefully this bill will pass, making our food supply a bit safer.

Click here to read the entire article; here’s a snippet:
"In the last week, agricultural trade groups, from the Produce Marketing Association to the United Egg Producers, have come out against the bill, ostensibly on the grounds that the small farms now partially exempted would pose a food safety threat. (Note that these small farms will continue to be regulated under state and local laws.) It is hard to escape the conclusion that these industry groups never much liked the new rules in the first place. They just didn’t dare come out against them publicly, not when 80 percent of Americans support strengthening the F.D.A.’s authority to regulate food."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Some Ideas for Thanksgiving Leftovers

Extra food from yesterday's feast? Here are some ideas for what to do with your leftovers. (Sorry, there are 15 seconds of nothingness at the beginning of the video.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dark Meat Beats White Meat for Several Reasons

Happy Thanksgiving!

As usual, there will be a scrum at our buffet table.

I eat the dark meat of turkey (and chicken) almost exclusively, since I find it more flavorful and tender than white meat. Unfortunately, many at my Thanksgiving meal feel the same way.

But why is some meat dark and some white? Here’s the scoop, courtesy of the Really? column in The New York Times:
"In general, what makes one cut of turkey — or any other type of poultry — darker than another is the type of muscle it contains. Meat is darker if it contains higher levels of myoglobin, a compound that enables muscles to transport oxygen, which is needed to fuel activity. Since turkeys and chickens are flightless and walk a lot, their leg meat is dark while their wing and breast meat are white."
Contrary to popular belief, the article adds, dark meat has only marginal more fat and calories than white meat:
"[A]ccording to the Department of Agriculture, an ounce of boneless, skinless turkey breast contains about 46 calories and 1 gram of fat, compared with roughly 50 calories and 2 grams of fat for an ounce of boneless, skinless thigh."
And, as usually is the case (magnified for foods from quality sources), the fattier version is much more nutrient-dense:
"Compared with white meat, [dark meat] contains more iron, zinc, riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamins B6 and B12."
Click here to read the entire article.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Heritage Turkeys: A Different Animal

Not all turkeys are created equal.

Just like eggs, apples, string beans and chocolate cakes, the type, taste and toxicity of turkey can differ greatly.

At one end of the spectrum is the mass-produced turkey, the mind-bogglingly inexpensive staple of Thanksgiving meals. Unfortunately, we get what we pay for: minimal flavor and nutrition, but plenty of antibiotics and pesticides.

To the other extreme are the heritage breeds grown by small-scale farmers that are delicious and nutrient-dense, but expensive. I recently tried a drumstick from one of these birds; it was by far the tastiest turkey I've ever eaten.

According to an article in The New York Times from last year:

"Heritage turkeys are old-fashioned breeds that resemble their wild ancestors more closely than do modern breeds. Devotees say they are more flavorful and have a higher proportion of dark meat than the modern birds."
Click here to read more about these heirloom turkeys.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dear American Chemistry Council, What Are You Thinking?

Flying under the news cycle's radar is the Food Safety Modernization Bill, which the Senate will resume debating on November 29. The bill has many important facets, but one major component is the granting of authority to the Food and Drug Administration to recall tainted food. (Recalls are now voluntary.)

Amazingly, one proposed amendment to the bill that won’t be included in its final version is Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) attempt to eliminate the use of bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby bottles and sippy cups.

BPA, a possible endocrine disruptor, has been linked to a variety of ailments and has been the subject of legislation in seven states. In addition, the major manufacturers and retailers have begun to phase out BPA from their products.

That being said, Feinstein’s amendment—a no-brainer, even in our fractured political state—was shot down last week by the American Chemistry Council, the lobbying arm for several chemical giants.

But word has started to spread and public anger against the ACC has snowballed. Needless to say, Feinstein wasn’t too happy; click here to read her harsh “Statement on Obstruction of Efforts to Reach Compromise Agreement on Use of BPA in Baby Products.”

Luckily, the Pesticide Action Network has made it easy for us to voice our rage. Click here to send the following letter to Cal Dooley, the President and CEO of the ACC.
Dear Mr. Dooley:

I am outraged that the American Chemistry Council killed a bipartisan effort to protect kids from the toxic chemical BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups. Shame on you for gambling with our children’s health in order to increase chemical company profits.

There’s little question about the dangers of this chemical. Over 200 scientific studies show that BPA exposure, particularly during infancy, is associated with a wide range of adverse health effects in later life, including breast and prostate cancer, birth defects, infertility in men, early puberty in girls, diabetes and obesity.

Three countries and seven states have already banned BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups. With so many safer alternatives to BPA available, and consumer concern at an all time high, why would you direct the ACC to block a common sense measure to phase it out of baby bottles and sippy cups?

I stand united with 40 million other Americans including moms, nurses, scientists and public health advocates, who are calling on the ACC to do the right thing and stop blocking federal policy aimed at protecting the health of all children from this unsafe, hormonally active chemical.

The bottom line profits of chemical manufactures should not be allowed to trump children's health. Period.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Organic Food Is More Expensive? Hogwash!

The myth that eating well is prohibitively expensive was given another debunking the other day while I was shopping with a client at a Whole Foods market.

Looking to replace Cheerios with a healthier alternative, I recommended Nature’s Path Organic Heritage O’s, a delicious multi-grain cereal with no refined sugars.

My client, who recoiled when seeing the $7 price tag (“Seven dollars!?!?”), was slightly assuaged when she told me that a box of Cheerios was only a couple dollars cheaper. Still, $7 for cereal can be tough to swallow.

Gratefully, instant cost comparison was possible, as boxes of Cheerios were only a few feet down the aisle. (For those who think everything at Whole Foods is organic, think again.)

Thanks to the store’s pricing stickers, which give cost per pound in addition to actual cost, we learned that the two pound bag of the organic cereal ($3.50 per pound) was decidedly cheaper than the mass-marketed Cheerios.

The 8.9-ounce box of Cheerios was $4.49, which translates to a whopping $8.07 per pound, more than twice the cost of the Nature’s Path product. The 14-ounce box of Cheerios was $5.39, a more manageable—but still exorbitant—$6.16 per pound.

The moral of the story? Be cognizant of package sizing and per pound costs.

The healthier, better-tasting and cheaper option is Nature’s Path Heritage O’s, made with flours from organic oat, wheat, spelt, barley and quinoa. A bonus is that Nature’s Path is one of the few remaining sizable independent organic food companies.

Friday, November 19, 2010

More on Helping Joe Lose Weight: The Plan

As I wrote yesterday, I am working with a new client (“Joe”) to revamp his diet. The goal is make him healthier; weight loss will be just one benefit.

Our plan is simple and doesn’t have the wow factor of the endless regimens marketed by the food, diet and drug industries.

We will increase Joe’s intake of nutrients.

To accomplish this, Joe will eat a varied diet of nutrient-dense foods. By increasing Joe’s nutrient intake, we will give Joe’s body the fuel it needs to perform better. Also, whenever possible, we will avoid foods that contain hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, synthetic additives, refined sugars, etc.

A “nutrient-dense food” doesn’t have to be a magic berry found on only two cliffs in a mountain range in Asia. Joe, like many of us trying to eat well, is eating mostly the correct foods, but the wrong, industrialized versions. This leaves his body wanting.

For example, to fully satiate Joe, we’ll replace his nutrient-poor egg white omelet with a nutrient-rich fried egg. (Gasp! Say it ain't so, Pfizer!)

Let me explain. Instead of eggs from chickens administered antibiotics and fed genetically modified corn and soy, Joe will now eat eggs from pastured chickens, which eat their natural diet of grass, insects, etc. By eating the yolks of these eggs, Joe will—counter to what has been indoctrinated by the drug companies—be doing his body a great service. (Click here for the nutritional profile of a pastured egg compared to a factory egg.)

Joe will start to eat picnic-type lunches that he can easily construct at work. His lunch the other day (instead of sushi consisting of nutrient-poor bleached white rice and farmed fish) was awash in nutrients: sardines, half an avocado, some organic hummus, a chunk of cheese (from raw milk from grass-fed cows), half a red pepper (hydroponically grown without sprays), slices of whole grain bread (from a bakery, not a plastic bag) and some organic string beans.

We are also moving Joe away from eating animal protein at every meal. Either lunch or dinner each day will be vegetarian (dairy and eggs are OK).

Joe’s initial response has been positive. He feels good and he loves the deep flavors of the various foods, an experience our modern food supply often denies us. He is fuller longer after meals, so he isn’t snacking as often. (We are working on ending his habitual snacking, a remnant of the days when his body was rarely satisfied nutritionally.)

I'll describe more about our plan (and update Joe's progress) next week, but here's an e-mail Joe sent me earlier this week:

“What a delicious and nutritious lunch. Did I eat too much? I’m certainly full. Full of nutrients, that is, but full too.”

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Testing My Philosophies: Can I Help Joe Lose Weight?

I started working with a new client earlier this week. We’re not cooking together; instead, I am helping him revamp his diet in an effort to make him healthier (and to lose weight in the process). “Joe” has given me permission to chronicle our efforts in The Delicious Truth and I’ll update his progress periodically.

Joe, a 42-year-old white male with an office job and a family, has battled weight issues his entire adult life. As of last Friday, he weighed 238 pounds (down from 250 six months ago); he wants to get below 215. Joe, a good athlete who exercises regularly, has lean muscle mass of 188 pounds, which means even 10 percent body fat (very good) puts him at 207.

But I don’t care about Joe’s weight and told him not to care either. (I actually directed him to throw out his scale.) Our goal is to get Joe healthier by eating better food and changing the way he thinks about food. His improved energy, stamina and general health will far overshadow the corresponding weight loss.

Joe doesn’t smoke and his alcohol consumption is limited. He rarely, if ever, eats obvious junk food.

Despite eating seemingly well, Joe has fruitlessly tried many diets. (I don’t find this surprising; if any “diet” worked, the multibillion dollar diet industry wouldn’t exist.)

In my opinion, Joe is a prime example of what our modern food system and its marketing adjunct have created: a healthy individual whose physical and mental well-being have been jeopardized by the tainted food supply and the corresponding psychology of fear associated with food, weight and nutrition.

I believe society’s dieting mentality and its inherent myths have caused Joe to become afraid of food, leading him to eat items like lower fat dairy products and egg white omelets, and to avoid bread.

Add the hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and synthetic additives so pervasive in our food and it's difficult for Joe to
properly satiate his body’s nutritional cravings. Sure, Joe eats, but his body is hungry, leaving him prone to snacking, especially in the late afternoon and after dinner.

My plan, which I’ll detail tomorrow, is to get Joe full on whole foods that will provide his body the nutrients it needs. Some of my suggestions may fly in the face of accepted wisdom, but look around and see where accepted wisdom has gotten us.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

EPA to Expand Chemicals Testing for Endocrine Disruption

The belief that synthetic chemicals in our food, air, water, personal health care products, household cleaning supplies, etc. are making us sick is gaining traction. While the number of synthetic chemicals registered for use in the United States is about 85,000, less than 10 percent have been tested for their effects on human health.

Fortunately, the EPA is (slowly) beginning to examine some of these chemicals.

Here are excerpts from a press release I received yesterday from the EPA, entitled “EPA to Expand Chemicals Testing for Endocrine Disruption”:

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified a list of 134 chemicals that will be screened for their potential to disrupt the endocrine system. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interact with and possibly disrupt the hormones produced or secreted by the human or animal endocrine system, which regulates growth, metabolism and reproduction. Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has made it a top priority to ensure the safety of chemicals, and this is another step in this process.

“Endocrine disruptors represent a serious health concern for the American people, especially children. Americans today are exposed to more chemicals in our products, our environment and our bodies than ever before, and it is essential that EPA takes every step to gather information and prevent risks,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “We are using the best available science to examine a larger list of chemicals and ensure that they are not contaminating the water we drink and exposing adults and children to potential harm.”

The list includes chemicals that have been identified as priorities under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and may be found in sources of drinking water where a substantial number of people may be exposed. The list also includes pesticide active ingredients that are being evaluated under EPA’s registration review program to ensure they meet current scientific and regulatory standards. The data generated from the screens will provide robust and systematic scientific information to help EPA identify whether additional testing is necessary, or whether other steps are necessary to address potential endocrine disrupting chemicals.

EPA is already screening an initial group of 67 pesticide chemicals.
Click here for more information from the EPA's website.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More on Maple Hill Creamery

It’s not often that when you call a yogurt company the person answering the phone is one of the operation’s principals and is overseeing actual yogurt production at that very moment.

But that’s exactly what happened when I called Maple Hill Creamery, the makers of a splendid organic, 100 percent grass-fed, whole milk yogurt that I wrote about yesterday, and spoke with Tim Meck.

Meck and his brother-in-law Tim Joseph are the two yogurt makers, while their wives, Julia (Tim’s sister) and Laura, respectively, handle marketing and a myriad of other duties.

Maple Hill started making yogurt in Ma
y 2009 after transitioning from a more conventional dairy farm.

“Tim had been a dairy farmer for eight or nine years,” Meck said. “He had been organic for four or five years, selling to Organic Valley, but milk prices were terrible so he decided to get into the creamery business to save the farm.”

The three others, all with other jobs at the time, decided to make the operation a group venture.

Maple Hill’s first break was getting into New Amsterdam Market, a public market in lower Manhattan. A food distributor liked the product and sold it to a few specialty stores in the Northeast. Maple Hill, now with a handful of distributors, can be found in major retailers such as Whole Foods and Fairway.

Maple Hill sits on 500 acres in Little Falls, NY, about halfway between Albany and Syracuse. All of the milk used in the yogurt production comes from the farm’s 120 heifers (young females yet to have calves), about half of which are being milked.

While that is obviously a positive for consumers who want to know where there food comes from, what happens when demand increases beyond current supply capabilities?

“We are trying to figure out the next step,” Meck said. “How do we scale up?”

One possibility, according to Meck, is to use milk from like-minded organic family farms. This won’t hinder accountability, though.

“The yogurt will still be 100 percent traceable to each individual farm,” Meck said.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Maple Hill Creamery Yogurt: A Great Yogurt

I am always on the lookout for new, quality food products.

Even before tasting, I had a good feeling about Maple Hill Creamery’s plain yogurt, primarily because of the front label’s “Made with organic milk from 100% grass-fed cows.” Add the short ingredient list (whole organic milk, cultures) and I knew I had found something special.

And then I tried it. Wow! It was luxuriant, clean-tasting and tangy. Maple Hill Creamery, after only one spoonful, joined Seven Stars Farm in my pantheon of great yogurts.

After finishing, I visited the creamery’s website and found myself in myth-busting heaven, staring at a clickable tab asking “Hey…Why NO low-fat yogurt?”

Like many, I believe that we are doing ourselves a nutritional disservice by eating low-fat dairy products (especially from corn-fed animals). Avoiding fat deprives us of the many beneficial vitamins and nutrients found in the fat of grass-fed dairy products and prevents us from properly satiating our appetites. (Read Friday’s post for a related conversation.)

The six-ounce cup of plain yogurt completely satisfied me. Actually, less did the trick, but it was too good to not finish.

Maple Hill makes six flavors. Plain was my favorite, but four others—lemon, orange crème, maple and vanilla—didn’t trail far behind. The wild blueberry needed more blueberry flavor.

Keep in mind that this is traditional yogurt, not candy masqueraded as yogurt. The flavorings (mostly from extracts) are subtle and only undertones of sweetness (from organic sugar) are present.

I found Maple Hill Creamery yogurt at Fairway for $1.29; Whole Foods sells it for $1.49. Click here to find other stores (just in the Northeast for now) that carry Maple Hill Creamery yogurt.

Tomorrow: The story behind the company.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Figuring Out the True Cost of Food

I was talking about nutrition and our food supply yesterday with some new friends. One, in possession of a 1.3-ounce bag of low fat soy crisps, asked what I ate for a snack.

“Organic raw nuts,” I said. “They are pretty cheap.”

“What? They are so expensive!” another said.

I pointed to the weight written on the bag of crisps.

“How much did this bag cost?” I asked.

“I’m not sure,” the owner responded. “I think about $2.”

“So that’s about $24 per pound,” I said, figuring out loud that 12 1.3-ounce bags got us to about one pound. “Organic raw almonds are $8 per pound in bulk at Whole Foods.”

Silence from my new friends.

“One handful of nuts—a couple ounces—fills you up,” I said. “And what do you need to do after you eat that bag of soy crisps?”

“Eat something,” a third said.

Exactly. Add the fact that walnuts and almonds are infinitely healthier than any soy crisp—no matter what the package claims—and $8 a pound for organic raw nuts is truly a bargain.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Steal of the Week: Muir Glen Tomatoes at Whole Foods

I am always looking for the cheapest prices on quality food products for both my clients and myself.

For example, three stores in my neighborhood offer the same half pound package of Kerrygold butter at three different prices. It’s $2.69 at Trader Joe’s, $2.99 at Whole Foods and a whopping $4.19 at Fairway, which usually has the lowest prices.

Whole Foods, which is always running sales, is a great place to stock up on non-perishable items, especially when full advantage is taken of all money-saving opportunities.

Which brings us to the absolute steal for the first two weeks of November. Whole Foods, until November 16, is selling 14.5-ounce cans of Muir Glen organic tomatoes (all varieties) for $1.50 per can, down from the usual $1.99. (The same product can be found elsewhere for $1.79.)

But we’re not done. The October/November issue of The Whole Deal, the Whole Foods in-store circular, contains a coupon for $1.00 off any Muir Glen product.

After you do the math, check the prices of the same sized cans of conventional tomatoes. If you still want to pay more for the added fungicides, be my guest!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Real Family, Real Solutions, Real Food

The first time I met Jack—the son of the family I discussed yesterday—he was microwave-bound, a Kraft Easy Mac Cup in hand.

I was in the midst of cooking quinoa, cauliflower, wild shrimp and lasagna (using grass-fed ground beef) with his parents but saw the chance to take my first crack at changing Jack’s eating habits, one of the reasons I was there.

What followed was the highlight of my professional career.

In the short time (“ready in 3½ minutes!”) it would have taken Jack to microwave the Easy Mac, I had him eating an afterschool snack consisting of food and helped his mom realize that minimal effort is needed to provide significantly better eating options for her children.

Rather than running off and consuming a substance from a brightly-colored plastic cup containing “enriched macaroni product” and “cheese sauce mix” (which is actually a concoction of 25 components including maltodextrin, corn syrup solids, modified food starch, yellow 5, yellow 6 and medium chain triglycerides), Jack civilly ate his plated snack while sitting at the kitchen table.

Here's how it happened:

“Jack,” I said firmly, “we’re going to pass on the mac and cheese today.”

Jack shot me a quizzical look.

“Jack, do you like bread?”

As he nodded affirmatively, I cut a piece of Grandaisy’s seven grain bread, one of New York City’s best loaves.

“Jack, do you like cheese?”

As he nodded affirmatively, I sliced a wedge of Lioni’s sublime fresh mozzarella and placed it on top of the bread.

With Jack’s continued approval I added parsley, olive oil, unrefined sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Despite the diametric characteristics of the homemade snack and the Easy Mac bought at a drug store, Jack ate everything on his plate. He did try again to microwave the Easy Mac, but I firmly stopped that attempt, instead making him seconds.

The moral of the story?

The mom immediately understood what transpired and knows it is now up to her to make different food purchasing decisions. She has the proof that her son—who just from sight can notice the difference between Aunt Jemimah “syrup” and real maple syrup—will devour the delicious and nutritious food that our society is edging dangerously close to believing our kids are incapable of eating .

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Son to Parents: "What the F#$@ Is This?"

I just started working with a husband and wife who want to change how their family (three kids) eats and thinks about food.

I give them a lot of credit, especially since their kids’ palates are so accustomed to the fake sensations of our modern food supply. I am confident we will be successful.

The eating habits of their 12-year-old son are especially problematic; he rarely eats anything but packaged and processed foodstuffs, despite his parents’ protestations. One recent incident they relayed to me highlights what the mom and dad (and many parents who are trying to do better) are up against.

The son usually eats frozen, heavily-processed waffles or pancakes for breakfast, topped with heavily-processed syrup. (And we wonder why our kids can’t focus in school?)

The father figured he’d start with a small change, so he replaced the Aunt Jemima syrup (corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, water, cellulose gum, caramel color, salt, sodium benzoate and sorbic acid [preservatives], artificial and natural flavors, sodium hexametaphosphate; mixed to create a sweet syrup) with real maple syrup (sap from a sugar maple tree; boiled to create a sweet syrup).

To hide the identity of the new syrup, the father craftily poured the maple syrup on the waffles before his son came into the kitchen.

When the son got to the table, he looked at his plate, realized something was amiss (the consistency of real syrup is a little runnier) and said, “What the fuck is this?”

Needless to say, an argument ensued. The father left the kitchen in anger, the mother caved and brought out the Aunt Jemima (she wanted her son to eat) and the son was a little more toxic than when he woke up.

(Tomorrow: My first encounter with the son.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Green Luobo Radishes, Courtesy of Nevia No

I came across a vegetable over the weekend that I had never seen before.

My friend Nevia No, one of the best farmers in the New York City farmers’ market system, was selling green luobo radishes, a Chinese heirloom variety. The green and white radishes are about the size of a ba
king potato and have a sweet and spicy flavor.

I have been eating them raw, but I just put one (chopped) into a chicken soup I made last night.

Possibly better than the flavor and novelty of the radishes is the reason why No is growing them.

“My mother grew up in North Korea, right along the Chinese border,” No said. “She would cross into China, pick these radishes, and go back home.”

“When was this?” I asked.

“Sixty years ago,”
No said. “She told me to grow them.”

Thankfully, there’s no way No could say “no” to her mother.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Why Free Samples Aren't So Free

Another reason—in addition to other people’s fingers—why I never go near samples in a food store:
"More than two dozen people have been infected by an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that is being preliminarily blamed on cheese that was sold and offered in free samples by Costco."
Click here to read the full story from Food Safety News.

On that note, have a nice weekend!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Monsanto Reaps What It Sows (Literally)

For those of us who think Monsanto is the Devil, news that the behemoth is paying farmers to use its competitors' pesticides is well-received.

That being said, the reason why is no joke.
Read the story from Rodale News and the importance of buying organic and pesticide-free food becomes crystalline.

Here's the issue in a nutshell, but I think it's worth the three or four minutes to read the
entire article.
"Roundup [a Monsanto pesticide] isn't working anymore. In just a few years, weeds have developed a resistance to the pesticide, causing an explosion of hard-to-kill superweeds that have put millions of acres of U.S. farmland out of commission. So to keep farmers dependent on its expensive chemical system, Monsanto is now paying up to $20 an acre to farmers planting Roundup Ready GMO crops, so long as they spray other harmful chemicals on the land to reduce weeds, since Roundup isn't doing the trick anymore. The corporation that trapped farmers into using all of its products, from seed to weed management, is asking farmers to use other companies' products—and paying them per acre to do so."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Can an Empty Apple Box Be Toxic?

OK, I may have officially lost my marbles.

Last week, I needed a cardboard box to transport some food for a job. At the market where I shop, I grabbed an empty apple box.

I started doing some shopping and was using the apple box as a basket. But then I stopped in my tracks, as I saw another apple box, this one the former home of organic apples.

Guess which box I left the store with?

I’ll have to ask my friends at the Pesticide Action Network if there is any weight to my thought process or if I’ve gone completely bonkers.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

La Cense Beef's Grass-Fed Burger Truck Hits New York City

It’s apparent that a new food order is upon us when a food truck appears in Midtown Manhattan selling grass-fed hamburgers. Take that, Ronald McDonald!

The truck is operated by La Cense Beef, an 88,000-acre ranch in the southwestern part of Montana that sells its beef directly to consumers via phone and on-line orders.

There are many companies that sell grass-fed beef, lamb, pork and chicken in this fashion, but La Cense has hit upon a novel marketing idea. I’m sure a commercial during the Super Bowl or “American Idol” would sell more beef, but we kn
ow the cost of those spots and which “hamburger” companies have the deep pockets to pay for them.

I sampled
the truck’s burgers last week. They come with sautéed onions and/or cheese and are served on an organic bun. There are other options—brisket and Philly cheese steak sandwiches, a hot dog—but the burgers are the main draw.

Even though my burger needed a little salt and pepper (I called La Cense to let them know), the fact that a grass-fed hamburger truck exists made
my week. For the betterment of us all, we are slowly moving away from our modern, industrialized and toxic food supply. In a twisted fashion, every recall of 500 million eggs helps the cause.

The La Cense burger truck is usually parked on 47th between Park & Lexington, but the day’s location is updated via Twitter.

Monday, November 1, 2010

VOTE!!! (for Better Food)

I bumped into my friend Peter Lattman on the street the other day and he asked how my business was faring.

I told him I’ve noticed a definite shift in how we are thinking about our food supply and its connection to our health. More and more clients are asking for help in making better shopping decisions and in navigating the minefield of misinformation and marketing.

That got Peter thinking.

“You know, I wish Chirping Chicken had organic chicken,” he said.

Chirping Chicken is a casual restaurant in our neighborhood that is very popular with families and individuals looking for a quick, affordable meal. Organic chicken would be more expensive, but I strongly believe it would be a huge hit.

“Ask them,” I said.

“My son did; they said they were thinking about it.”

“You should go back in, speak with the owner or manager, and say you are a regular customer who won’t be coming back until they start offering organic chicken.”

Peter gave me a blank look.

“If nobody says anything,” I said, “the owner won’t know there is a demand for it. We have to take responsibility for influencing change. Get your friends to say something as well. Hell, I’ll say something, too, even though I’ve never been in there!”

Peter’s stare started to soften.

“It’s happening all over with food,” I said. “There are so many better products free of hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, synthetic additives and artificial colors because we have demanded them. We can make the same thing happen at Chirping Chicken if we speak up."

We parted ways and Peter headed to the subway, hopefully fomenting rebellious ideas.