Skipping for change

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 4.34.07 PMIn the wealthy city of Washington, DC, to join the top 1% you’ll need to earn 555K. With so many of us in the city making money, it seems we’d have more to give to others. Yet homelessness is increasing. Spend a few minutes in front of the World Bank and the IMF, and you’ll find a number of huddled individuals earnestly waiting for the 5 o’clock food donation. For them, a small warm meal on a chilly winter’s day can go a long way.

Looking at facts, it seems that income doesn’t determine how much you give, so what does? Scientists are saying it depends on our time. Daniel Goleman shared this idea in his TED talk on compassion. He said that: “What turned out to determine whether someone would stop and help a stranger in need was how much of a hurry they thought they were in…”

DC is a busy and stressful city. Here, competition and work is high, and free time is almost non-existent. In a matter of years the use of ‘busyness’ as an excuse for ignoring world problems, especially the poor, became a norm. Despite this, scientist say we were programmed for kindness, and deep inside we know that small acts translate to big changes.

Begging in ParisThe other day, I saw a homeless man begging for money. People around him scurried by, shaking their heads and moving to the other side of the street to avoid him. Their actions made him visibly upset, and he would say: “I’m a veteran. I fought for your freedom!” Hearing his words and seeing the way he was treated I was compelled to stop. Without having any money to give, I reached for a red apple in my bag and extended it to him. He thanked me and shyly pointing to his missing teeth said he can’t chew it. Nonetheless, he thanked me for stopping, for trying to help and most importantly, for recognizing his presence with a smile. This interaction didn’t last more than a few seconds but it filled the both of us with goodness.

Of course, being good isn’t easy. It takes motivation and good company. Knowing that a problem exists isn’t more likely to make us address it, we must pay attention to it. Nowadays, with smart phones and constant commitments, it’s easy not to notice. Sometimes we ignore the signs of a problem around us simply because we’re too busy to commit. We feel it will take too much time, and while we truly want to help, we just can’t at the moment.

Yummp_hk_lunchboxFor those feeling this way, here’s an idea. What if we carve into our schedule a moment for caring? I’m talking about a commitment once a week, or once a month, to skip a meal and instead donate the money or the food to someone in need. The benefits are threefold: A) your small action will help a person in need, B) you will place yourself in the shoes of someone who skips a meal due to personal finance, and C) your actions will inspire others to notice. For me, I’ve been bringing this movement to life by taking any food left on my plate to go. Carrying a doggie bag is a commitment, but when I hand its delicious contents to a person in need, I’m always greeted with a smile and appreciation. Making a difference doesn’t require much. A small step is all it takes.

Would you agree?

Mid week delicacy: Pasta with Brussels Sprouts picky eaters to consume their daily dose of veggies can be tricky, especially if the veggies are not common on a menu. Solving this challenge can be simple. The trick is to combine the ingredients least likely on their mind with something they like. In this case, we paired brussels sprouts with pasta, and for the meat eaters, we added bacon as an extra reward for changing things up. Try this delicious Pasta with Brussels Sprouts recipe by Ingrid this week! When you do, let us know how it goes. We’ll be happy to hear your feedback and post your food images on our social networks.

Happy eating!
Hokuma & Ingrid

This is what you’ll find inside the pdf: Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 2.33.13 PM

The Meat of the Issue: Karma and Disease

While many of the health complications associated with eating red meat stem from naturally-occurring causes, there are many other risks that all industrially-produced meat pose to us because of how we treat animals. As a result of farmers’ efforts to maximize efficiency of meat production, animals get pumped full of chemicals that are passed into the humans that eat them. In other words, we developed animal agriculture in such a way that seems to actually be threatening us. Well done, society. addition to energy-depleting grains, animals are fed growth hormones and antibiotics to induce rapid weight gain. The reasoning is this: the larger the animal, the more meat there is that can be sold for profit. While there is no conclusive evidence that consuming hormones via meat (or dairy) is harmful to humans, it has been linked to premature puberty in girls as well as increased risks of breast and prostate cancer. More evidence exists, however, showing a direct relationship between ingestion of antibiotics via animal products and bacterial resistance in humans. Antibiotics are given to animals to prevent diseases such as E. Coli, of course, but they are also used for sub-therapeutic purposes: to make the animals gain weight. In any case, while the animal may be kept safe from a disease, the human that eats it could very well become more susceptible.

Pesticides are another synthetic material that ends up in our bodies via consumed food. Most attention is paid to their presence on produce, since chemicals are more or less directly applied to growing crops, but these crops are also fed to animals we eat. The consequences of indirectly consuming pesticides are still debated, but it is recommended that pregnant women and babies avoid pesticide-grown food due to concerns about its effects on a developing brain and links to cancer. production is an example of manufacture that generates dioxins, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that are by-products of industrial processes such as bleaching as well as natural events like volcanic eruptions. These pollutants contaminate soils and grain feed and are then consumed by animals and stored in their fat. As roughly 11 billion pounds of animal fat are recycled into animal feed every year, dioxin bioaccumulates in more and more animals. When humans eat products containing animal fat, they are ingesting these compounds – which are carcinogenic and damaging to the immune, reproductive, and developing nervous systems.

Many of these potential problems require further research, but what does that mean for us? I don’t fear modernization per se, but seeing these connections between serious health concerns and the increasingly synthetic and industrial aspects of our meat supply worries me. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I still eat meat, and I acknowledge my personal hypocrisy. I just wish there wasn’t such a high global demand for meat, so that people wouldn’t feel compelled to produce it en masse by potentially hazardous means.

There’s plenty more where that came from, and you can expect to see it next week.


The changing agriculture“Unlocking the Climate Puzzle” is the title of National Geographic‘s May 1998 issue. More than a decade ago scientists, politicians and global citizens were disputing whether or not human behavior was negatively impacting our climate. Today, this issue is no longer a puzzle, but a well-documented fact. Humans are contributing to global climate change and environmental devastation on Earth.

Giving thought and arguing over whose to blame is the past. Today, scientists and concerned individuals are asking: “What can we do to stop this change?” Unfortunately, years of research proved that once change is in motion, it’s unstoppable. All we can do now is hope to minimize the negative ripple effects.

Scientists at University of College London (UCL) published their new research in the journal of Nature outlining what it would take to keep global temperature from exceeding a 2C limit. “[The] new research is first to identify which reserves must not be burned to keep global temperature rise under 2C, including over 90% of US and Australian coal and almost all Canadian tar sands.” (The Guardian)

Changing human behavior is challenging, but it is essential for our survival. To motivate change we require monitoring and guidance. Today, we’ll examine global trends on food consumption, land and energy use. This will help map where we are and where we’re going.

1. Food Consumption more and having more food available are two big trends in the USA. Comparing our diet from 1950’s to 2000’s, average meat consumption increased from 138.2 pounds annually to 195.2 pounds. There are also 19% more calories available for American consumption compared to 1983. Total fruit and vegetable consumption increased by one-fifth between 1970 and 2000. Interestingly, we’re eating more of everything, even the bad stuff. Our new love for high fat, low nutrient and fast food is wreaking havoc on our bodies; diabetes and obesity are on the rise.

2. Growing Food know that quality and nutritional value of consumed foods depends on the quality of soil. As we continue depleting nutrient rich soil with frequent high volume crop yields we run out of arable land. Figures from the World Bank demonstrate that percentage of land used for agriculture in USA declined from 2000 to 2014, dropping from 44.9 to 44.7. This figure is too broad to make any specific conclusion, but it looks like the average farm size in the USA is shrinking. Figures of agricultural imports and exports demonstrate some interesting findings. Exports in USA show that Feed grain export has declined the most, from 61,006 metric tons to 54,794 metric tons. Oilseeds more than doubled, going from 15,820 to 43,297 metric tons, experiencing the most growth of any sector.  Imports in the USA have increased in all areas but one, tobacco.

Growing consumption and declining farm lands, topped with higher agricultural imports, implies that a lot of the food in the USA has been coming from the outside world. Globalization means that our diets are getting more interconnected. In Brazil, this problem is reflected by changes in land that was once used as pasture land for livestock, but is cleared down for soybean farming.

3. Energy for growth in technology has greatly helped with efficiency in agriculture. And although energy required for food production increased from 2001 to 2009, thanks to technology, efficiency has increased as well. Despite these improvements, this innovation has negative effects. All this good food doesn’t get evenly distributed to people who need it most. And since it can’t last forever, a lot of it goes to waste. Currently, 40-50% of all produced food is wasted, and in the USA that accounts for $165 billion in annual losses. Not something to be proud of when one in six people in America struggle with hunger, and 70 billion pounds of goods are sent to rot in landfills.

Next week, I’ll provide suggestions that you can implement in your daily life to address issues in the food industry which undermine our global sustainability.

Until next time!

Mid week delicacy: Winter Chili cold, rainy and snowy days of winter, nothing adds heat and color like a warm bowl of chili. This week, Ingrid shows us how to make spicy 3 bean Winter Chili. It’s perfect when craving something hearty and healthy, as well as, when throwing gatherings at home. (Hint: Super bowl is coming up soon!)

Enjoy the dish and send us your photos so we can upload them on our Instagram account, or tag them with #saynotofoodwaste.

Happy cooking!
Hokuma & Ingrid

The Meat of the Issue: Energy week, I described the health risks associated with eating red meat based solely on its nutrient content and only briefly alluded to its environmental impacts. Fact is, the modern meat industry – including poultry, not just red meat – wreaks havoc on our land, air, and water quality; depletes copious amounts of energy; and threatens human health through the additives we feed our animals. As the idea of sustainable eating becomes increasingly popular, it’s important to identify what exactly makes meat so unsustainable. Since there is a lot to cover, I’m just going to start with energy consumption and discuss other aspects in subsequent posts. Keep in mind, however, that most of these consequences stem from large-scale, industrialized agriculture; even if it’s inherently the least sustainable food type, meat could be produced by more Eco-friendly means. agriculture, like any form of food production, requires energy, most of which is attained through fossil fuel combustion. Grain to feed livestock is grown with petroleum-based agrochemicals and then harvested with gas-burning combines. According to the WorldWatch Institute, at least 70% of American grain is grown solely to serve as livestock feed, and “it takes the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline to produce a pound of grain-fed beef” – which requires more grain to produce than any other kind of meat – in the United States. Feed production accounts for more than half of the energy used in intensive meat production (Koneswaran et al.). feed is transported, typically via truck or train, to the livestock ranch, after which even more energy costs are incurred in transporting the animals to slaughter, their carcasses to processing plants, the processed meat to markets, and, finally, from the market to consumers’ homes. Since meat is very sensitive in terms of perishability, storing and transporting it also requires a lot of refrigeration, further drawing on fossil fuels and releasing CO2. Similarly, cooking the meat uses electricity and/or gas, and the plastic packaging that it typically comes in is the result of fossil fuel-intensive manufacture. As Emory University succinctly states, “meat is the least fuel-efficient food we have.”

If you’re a meat-eater, try to find grass-fed, rather than grain-fed meats, which have far lower energy costs associated with its feeding. Additionally, as with any food, try buying local, as this means that the meat doesn’t have to be transported as far or stored as long. And be on the lookout next Tuesday for another meaty article!


Living the life down under.

The continent of Australia is full of wonder. Its mainland and neighboring island of Tasmania are home to exotic animals. Some are cute and cuddly, such as kangaroos and koalas, which you can play with in a sanctuary. Some are dangerous, like snakes in rainforests and sharks in coastal waters, which are best kept at a distance.

Still, living under has its perks. The best one is the flipped seasons. As a fan of summer and warmth, leaving winter for the sunshine of Australia is a wonderful treat. However, not all changes are easy to adjust to, such as: driving on the other side of the road. It took me several attempts until I found the blinker signal. Throughout the ordeal, I was left with a shiny window, thanks to the hard work of a pair of windshield wipers that kept reminding me that I was a foreigner to this land.

Being a lover of food, the adventures of discovering a new land didn’t stop at tourist attractions, beaches and mountain parks, they extended to local cafes and dishes.

Below are five things that surprised me most about the Aussie food culture.

1. Hotels that are actually…pubs

Sir_William_Wallace_Hotel_Balmain_1Walking around town, especially in the evening hours, I spotted various hotels. These hotels were pretty loud, had a menu, a bar and served food in the main lobby, well into the evening hours. After visiting one or two, I realized that these were not actually hotels but rather pubs. But, why would anyone call a pub a hotel? A quick google search explains it, and the answer actually makes sense.

The Australian pubs originated from British and Irish public houses. When the British colonized the mainland, one of the first establishments to go up were pubs. These businesses had “multiple functions, simultaneously serving as hostelry, post office, restaurant, meeting place and sometimes even a general store.” As the years changed, activities inside the pubs adjusted to the times, yet the outside name stuck on.

2. Macca’s

maccasWhile studying and traveling abroad, I ran into many Australians who referred to McDonald’s as Macca’s. What was surprising, however, was to see some of the local golden arches actually carrying the name. Whether it’s the love of keeping it short and sweet, or whether the Aussies ‘can’t be bothered‘ with the full pronunciation, their slang won the hearts of the decision makers at McDonald’s, and for the first time in history the restaurant chain decided to alter its image for the local market. Considering that ‘Macca’s‘ is the second most popular slang term in the land down under, right after “footy”, which stands for Australian rules football, this was a smart move by the execs.

3. Breaky

Weetbix_StevageRiding the wave of short and sweet names, it’s important to mention that Aussies are very serious about their breakfast, or ‘breaky‘ as they call it. Many of you heard of Vegemite, a super salty and unique tasting, but also healthy spread loaded with Vitamin B. Yet, there is another morning food that is a favorite in the early hours, a cereal called Weet-Bix. It is made with whole grain wheat and has a malty flavor. Locals love to have it with milk, honey and fruits. In addition to its health benefits, it also has a long history, dating to 1920’s. The brand kept up with current diet trends and comes as gluten-free.

4. Kangaroo Meat

Kangaroo_steakIn the northern hemisphere we love deer, but they are also pests. Without any major predators, deer can reproduce in quick numbers, and wreak havoc on agriculture. A similar thing happens in Australia, but their deer can jump high, hide pups in its pockets and give you a mean kick if you bother it too much. Kangaroos are cute, but their numbers need to be kept in check. Hunters in Australia are encouraged to keep the population at bay by preying on them during certain seasons of the year. The result, the kangaroo skin and meat is put to good use. In diet, kangaroo meat is healthier, more sustainable and a local source of protein. Since kangaroos are active, their meat is a bit tougher than beef or veal, but they don’t travel a long way to get on the plate, and aren’t fed antibiotics and corn, making them the perfect burger or meatball option.

5. Juice Craze

SugarcanejuiceAustralians are juice addicts. Every place I went to, or almost every place, offered a fresh juice. The best part, most of the time you paid a basic price for the size of the juice, small or large (which is more like a medium by USA standards), and then picked whichever ingredients you wanted. It was delicious, refreshing and invigorating, especially on super hot days. This makes sense since Aussies are more health conscious than individuals in America, Britain and New Zealand. This is especially true in areas of: buying food free of additives and maintaining a low fat diet. Yet, despite this awareness, Aussies are just as obese as their overseas counterparts. Despite the conflicting results, it was encouraging to see healthy living videos throughout many of the local metro stations. To discover these  for yourself, visit HealthyMeTv by clicking here.

Australia is wild, amazing, crazy and serene all at the same time. It was an unforgettable experience, both through the food consumed by my eyes and by my stomach. After all, it’s good to have two hemispheres that work backwards, there’s always an excuse to visit the other side, especially when winter pays a visit.

Happy travels and yummy eats!

Rediscovery of Food


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