COP21

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“Between its celebrations of privilege, and the angst of its reckonings, human life gathers unto itself a chaos of contradictions… If we are ceaseless tamperers, we are also from time to time unobtrusive, Though we shout, so may we whisper.” (Michael Charles Tobias, quote from his work, After Eden: History, Ecology and Conscience) My guest this week is Michael C. Tobias, President of Dancing Star Foundation, who is a global ecologist, humanitarian, explorer, author, filmmaker, educator and animal rights activist. 195 nations are set to converge in Paris, a city recently struck by incomprehensible acts of terrorism, for the COP 21 (Conference of Parties), with the hopes of reaching an agreement to to set limits on carbon emissions to reduce the detrimental effects of global warming. Rich and poor nations must gather to form partnerships to be agents of change, rather than agents of destruction. Negative ideology has to be redirected, and ethics, compassion and morality, along with science and technology must lead the way to solutions. For more information go to www.dancingstarfoundation.org

5 Ways to Slash Your Organic Food Costs

Produce-Olivia
Photo courtesy of Olivia Ramirez

By Mikey Kohlberg

Today, I will be discussing how to cheaply feed yourself and your family without skimping on food and endangering everyone and the environment. If you have kids, you may have thought about feeding them wholesome and chemical-free food, but it is not always the cheapest or easiest lifestyle to live. However, there are cheap and easy alternatives to certain overpriced organic products. I will draw mostly from my personal experience eating budgeted organic food in order to break down some simple steps to cutting organic food costs.

1. Join a Buying Club

No, this is not only for restaurants and retail grocery stores. Individual people can pool together in order to buy wholesale organic food that is much cheaper than what you can purchase at the store. Check out UNFI’s buying club and sign up for one today. Plus, this is a great way to get to know your organic and local food eating community.

2a. DIY Organic Rice Milk

If you are lactose intolerant or just enjoy a non-dairy alternative to milk, this could help you slash your organic food expenses. For a reference point, a 32 oz. carton of Rice Dream would normally cost you around $3.22. You can easily find Lundberg’s Short Grain Brown Rice for about $2.30/lb in the bulk section of most health food stores, and this will yield much more than 32 oz. of rice milk. Believe it or not, that is pretty much all you need for quality rice milk. There are many recipes out there and I encourage you to check them out. Also, have no fear of being creative and adding new flavours or sweeteners to suit your needs. I like this recipe a lot because toasting the brown rice adds a nice touch to the end product. Enjoy!

2b. DIY Organic Tortillas

Organic-Store
Photo courtesy of Olivia Ramirez

Now, if you are someone who buys packs of tortillas at a time, you may be surprised to know that you could be getting an organic version of this product for a pretty low price. Although companies like Mi Rachito have nearly perfected the art of packaged organic tortillas for around $3.00/bag, each containing around 7-12 tortillas, nothing beats the price and flavour of homemade corn tortillas. You can buy Organic Masa Harina to make your own for anywhere between $3-7.00/lb depending on purchasing quantity. One pound of masa harina will yield anywhere between 15-20 tortillas. So, if you want to impress your friends (or yourself) and make delicious, low cost organic tortillas, make your own with a recipe like this one!

3. Buy “Secondary Cuts” from Local Butcher

Instead of buying pre-cut chicken breast or thighs, save money by buying the whole carcass. It is not hard to take the extra 30 seconds to cut off the wings or breast yourself. Plus, you can  explore making soups and stocks with leftover bones and undesirable parts of the animal. For Secondary red meat cuts, check out this link for more info.

Blueberries-Olivia
Photo courtesy of Olivia Ramirez

4. Use your Freezer/Pickle Things

If you have extra food that may go bad, freeze it. Also, if you have produce that might not be disgusting pickled, learn how to pickle it. It may be a fun activity for family or friends.

5. Buy in Bulk/Buy Local

This should be obvious to everyone, but I will explain it anyway. Usually, the more of something you buy, the cheaper per pound it will be, so you can save there.

Also, try to buy seasonal vegetables, nuts and fruit in bulk as well.  Often times, especially in the summer, certain crops like heirloom tomatoes will be significantly cheaper than they are in the winter since they thrive in the heat and don’t have to be grown indoors or shipped across the globe to get to you. Stock up on those items while they are in season if you like saving money and eating nutritious, earth-friendly food. You can always make something out of excess seasonal food and freeze it for later or for winter.

I hope this helps some of you slash your organic food bill. If you have comments or questions, please let us know! Until next time. Stay Green!

 

#1501: Eating Healthy Made Easy

Ashley-Spivack-clean-plates-2When your mom yelled “eat your veggies” she was definitely on to something. My guest this week is Ashley Spivak, Director of Restaurant Guides at Clean Plates. We discuss the importance of a well balanced, plant based eating regimen, that will lead to a healthier you. An 80/20 diet of 80% good stuff (vegetables, fruits, whole grains and protein), and 20% of the foods that make you smile (pie, cookies, mac and cheese) is a good formula to follow. Bio-individuality indicates that there is no right way to eat, not every person is the same, and diets and food choices affect different body types in different ways. The Clean Plates Food Guide lists restaurants that are more conscious about where they source their produce, meats, grains, as well as the taste of the food, the prep and the atmosphere. Making informed choices whether eating out or in is essential to being a healthier, smarter and cleaner eater. For more info about Clean Plates online publications, guides, phone apps and recipes, go to cleanplates.com

The Green Stream: Beware of US Food Politics

Green-Strem-Blog-The-Many-Shades-of-GreenBy Mikey Kohlberg

The need is greater than ever to be involved in the growing sustainability and food movement. The threats that our agriculture industry pose on climate change and human survival are blatantly obvious at this point, yet it seems that many US politicians have forsaken their duty as representatives of the common good of America while instead succumbing to the pressures of politics and corporate interest. For the sake of being concise, I won’t get into the details of the destruction that Monsanto Company and similar operations are causing to humanity and to nature. For a summary of these details, click here.

Today, I am focusing more on the dilemma of Michael R. Taylor slithering his way from atop multiple powerful positions working for Monsanto Company to holding America’s health in the palm of his hand as head honcho of the FDA. And last but not least, I hope to begin to show you all how gravely this affects us all.

To start off I want to ask a question. When did it become acceptable in this country to let someone switch so freely between the position of corporate lobbyist/lawyer and policy maker in the same field? That is what FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food and Veterinary Medicine Michael R.Taylor did. Also, do me a quick favor and google the relationship he has had with King & Spalding, a law firm that has a history of representing Monsanto. This, my friends has been called by Marion Nestle, who wrote Food Politics, “a classic example of the revolving door.”

There are those who argue for Taylor’s innocence however. Bill Marler who wrote Mike Taylor and the Myth of the Monsanto Man, claims that after knowing of him (not directly knowing him) for nearly 20 years, he is convinced Taylor is non-partial to Monsanto. Taylor himself is quoted in the article saying, “The government has clear rules about what a person can and cannot work on under those circumstances (potential partiality to an industry),” Marler then establishes his line that Taylor “follows those rules very carefully.” Marler continues to explain that when Taylor held the Deputy Commissioner for Policy (FDA) in the mid-’90s, the FDA Ethics Counsel said that he could work on general policy matters, such as policies for food labeling, but that he was precluded from any involvement in specific product approvals of interest to Monsanto. HOLD ON!

Seeing as one of the biggest US food policy issues right now is the requirement of food companies to label GMO foods, this seems like an issue that former Monsanto lawyer and VP of public policy at the largest GMO company in the world should not be engaging in! American health is at stake!

Also, according to PF Louis in his article Biotech industry at war over GMOs; millions of dollars funneled to lawmakers, “Monsanto Mike (Taylor) was able to influence the approval of rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone), which forces cows to yield more milk while causing infections that require antibiotics. So many milk and other dairy products became contaminated with the synthetic hormone rBGH, antibiotics, and infected cow blood and puss.” If you are unaware of the futility that over antibiotic use in factory farms is causing modern medicine please check out some of these links. I encourage you to explore the topic in more detail.

Farmers-market-foodLong story short, America’s reckless agricultural techniques and lack of quality governmental oversight has created a situation in which Americans are falsely assured by their own government about the safety of their food. It is a situation that still has its solutions though. What we need is mass education which will contribute to a snowballing in consumer awareness about the importance of the local and sustainable food movement. It has started to take hold around the world but with EVERONE’S help, we will begin to change. Their have been sparks of change so far, but we need to keep the passion strong to get the fire roaring. As we eat locally and buy from small farms, food becomes much healthier, less mysterious, and more tasty. While food transportation costs and emissions are reduced, air becomes cleaner in cities and communities become stronger through community farms and other CSA projects. If you take away one thing from this blog, let it be to buy food that comes from within 100 miles of where you live!

I want to end this Green Stream blog with a note of optimism, because although there are many problems with our current food regulatory system and agricultural sector, there is much we all can do.

Buy local and Stay Green!

Find out more info about eating clean and stayed tuned for The Many Shades of Green’s interview with Ashley Spivak from Clean Plates!

#1417: High Road, NYC High Road Restaurant Week

ROC-highroad-logo-“The fight is never about grapes or lettuce…it is always about people.” That quote by Cesar Chavez describes what Colt Taylor, Executive Chef at One if By Land, Two if By Sea, and Tatiana Bejar, High Road Coordinator of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York, have teamed up to do, help the people, which in this case are the restaurant employees who are often times working in conditions that are not always optimal. High Road Restaurant Week, which runs from April 23rd through April 30th, aims to call attention to the the need to improve employment practices, via living wage, health benefits, sick days and overall treatment of those who work so hard to make our dining experiences more pleasurable. Sustainability doesn’t stop at the quality of food, it also connects to the human side, and restaurant workers deserve to be able to support their families and have benefits that all workers strive for. Please visit www.highroadny.org or www.rocny.org/high-road-organizing/ for more information.

#1417: High Road, NYC High Road Restaurant Week

#1401: Brooklyn Grange Farm

bradley-flemingLearn what you can grow Up On The Roof, as Bradley Fleming, Farm Manager at Brooklyn Grange Farm explains how urban agriculture is taking hold on a tall building near you. Find out what grows best on a city roof, and how it helps both the environment and adds to the sustainability of NYC. Go to www.brooklyngrangefarm.com for more info.

#1401: Bradley Fleming, Brooklyn Grange Farm

#1330: Rodney North, Equal Exchange

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 What are Fair Trade items and why should we buy them? Rodney North of Equal Exchange tells us how fair trade items are helping organic farmers both locally and globally by producing coffee, tea, bananas that are grown organically, and give workers living wages and good working conditions. Eat better and help a farmer, go to www.equalexchange.coop/community to find out more.

#1330: Rodney North, Equal Exchange