Mid week delicacy: Pho

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saynotofoodwaste.midweekdelicacy.pho.recipe.healthy.sustainable.yummy8Cold days just beg for warm dishes. There’s nothing like delighting your taste buds and raising your body temperature with a bowl of Pho. The popularity of this staple has soared in the USA in a span of a few years. Sometimes we are even forced to stand in a long line before we can enjoy a few gulps of this goodness. Of course, then there are days when there are no lines but we forget to bring our cash and have to opt for something next door that accepts a credit card. Rather than waiting in line or looking for cash, download this recipe, go to a supermarket to buy the ingredients and make this deliciousness in the comfort of your kitchen. You’ll be warm, proud and happy. Ready to try it? Here’s the Pho recipe.

Happy eating!
Hokuma & Ingrid

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What You Need to Know about Raw Milk

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While there are plenty of reasons to support the local and raw food movements, which are founded on the idea of turning away from heavily-processed foods and large-scale industrialized food systems for nutritional and ecological reasons, strict adherence to them isn’t as wholesome or safe as it may seem. Case in point: raw milk. The idea of drinking milk straight from the cow sounds delightfully quaint, but this all-natural approach is actually incredibly risky.

rawcowUnlike much industrial processing that can be considered superfluous, pasteurization was developed because it was necessary to keep people safe from foodborne pathogens. It was developed by Louis Pasteur in the mid-1800s and embraced in commercial dairy production around the turn of the century to combat prevalent milk-borne illnesses like scarlet and typhoid fevers. Much like cooking meat, the process entails sufficiently heating milk (or wine) to kill harmful microorganisms and prolong the product’s shelf life. The enzymes destroyed in pasteurization are considered negligible in terms of overall nutritional value, and the process has never been connected to adverse health effects. If anything, previous disease outbreaks associated with processed milk have mostly been due to post-pasteurization contamination via mishandling or improper storage.

By contrast, consuming raw milk products typically causes ‘standard’ foodborne illness – vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain – but can also have more severe consequences, including kidney failure, paralysis, chronic disorders, and death. The Center for Disease Control greatly discourages raw dairy consumption, emphasizing that “healthy people of any age can get very sick or even die if they drink raw milk contaminated with harmful germs.” Milk can become contaminated with disease-causing bacteria, parasites, and viruses (such as E Coli, Giardia, and norovirus) through contact with manure or other unclean environment or sickness of the milk-producing animal. The severity of a person’s reaction can depend on his/her immune system and the germ type and level of contamination in the milk. For this reason, one person may drink raw milk for years without getting sick, while another may become seriously ill from their first time trying it. Raw milk was identified as the source of 81 disease outbreaks 2007-2012, averaging 13 outbreaks per year as compared to the 3 per year of 1993-2006.

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So, given that raw milk has never been found to yield health benefits and has undeniable adverse effects, why do 3% of Americans drink at least one glass a week? For some, the reason is as simple as taste; but others prefer raw milk for its purity, meaning the absence of growth hormones. Others still believe it to be a good source of healthy bacteria – but, really, it is safer to look for probiotic dairy products, which have been pasteurized and then had beneficial bacteria added to them.

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Nonetheless, the growing popularity of raw foodism has seen raw milk sales rise throughout the US. Less than 1% of milk sold in the US is unpasteurized, and there is a federal prohibition of sale across state lines, but the legality of raw milk sale is a state issue. The most recent survey, from 2011, concluded that the sale of unpasteurized milk was legal in 30 states with varying levels of restriction. Colorado, for instance, requires consumers to buy a share of a cow in exchange for its raw milk. In light of the surge in popularity, however, some states in the Midwest are seeking to legalize raw milk sale so that they can better regulate it. On a legal, rather than black, market, states propose to mandate warning labels, sales records, routine testing, and increased sanitary standards for farms selling unpasteurized products. Though some oppose them as attacks on small businesses and personal freedom, the proposed regulations could do great good by decelerating the annual milk-borne disease outbreak rate.

If you’re on the raw food bandwagon, I caution you to reconsider fully committing to the diet. Many small farms offer organic, pasteurized milk, which is a (presumably) more-sustainable yet still safe alternative to mass-produced dairy products. I’d always been jealous of my dad’s stories of working on a farm and drinking fresh milk, but, now that I’ve read up on the risks, I think I’ll stick with pasteurization.

Drink up and stay healthy,

Eva

 

Additional sources:

Heat Treatments and Pasteurization

Wendle, Abby (NPR) – Why Some States Want to Legalize Raw Milk Sales

Mid week delicacy: Stewed Okra

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saynotofoodwaste.recipe.south.grits.healthy.delicacy.sustainable.healthy.6As the weather in the North gets cold we crave warmer weather. This week we take you to the south with warm and comforting food. Stewed okra with grits. Sounds good? Wait until you taste it. As always, this recipe will sure be a hit with all picky eaters, that includes the kids. Download the Stewed Okra recipe and give it a try, and let us know what you think.

Happy eating!
Hokuma & Ingrid

Here’s what you’ll find inside:   
saynotofoodwaste.recipe.south.grits.healthy.delicacy.sustainable.healthy.1saynotofoodwaste.recipe.south.grits.healthy.delicacy.sustainable.healthy.2saynotofoodwaste.recipe.south.grits.healthy.delicacy.sustainable.healthy.3saynotofoodwaste.recipe.south.grits.healthy.delicacy.sustainable.healthy.4

The Meat of the Issue: No End in Sight?

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Intensification, industrialization, and rising demand – I’ve tossed these concepts around in my last month of posts about the harms of modern meat production but haven’t fully explained their relevance. To conclude the Meat of the Issue series, I want to step back and identify what has led meat production and its consequences to be a significant global issue. The basics are these: the whole world is eating a whole lot more meat and taking a whole lot of risks (as discussed in the other posts) to do so.

Despite the prevalence of veganism in the foodie (first-)world, the last half-century or so has actually seen a global surge in popularity of meat. The WHO has predicted that, to satisfy the world’s appetite, annual meat production will reach 376 million tons by 2030, as compared to the 218 million tons of 1999. It’s the result of a constant, modernized supply-and-demand cycle: improvements in agricultural technology and methods have allowed humans to greatly increase the availability of meat, which has, in turn, spurred global demand for it, which, again, prompts further agricultural intensification efforts.

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Abundance means lower prices, thus the last few decades have seen a rapid decline in meat prices that has allowed developing countries to embrace more Westernized diets – that is, greatly increase their animal protein consumption. However, worldwide demand increases can’t be attributed to the third world alone. In the United States, 10 billion animals are consumed annually, with the average four-person household accounting for 120 chickens, 4 pigs, and one cow per year. Meat constitutes 67% of the average American’s protein intake, nearly double the global average of 34%, and the most marked growth in demand is occurring in poultry. Urbanization has also played a key role, as it makes perishables easier to trade.

As Walker et al. note in their paper Public Health Implications of Meat Production and Consumption, “although meat is not an essential component of the human diet, for the millions of people who are threatened with malnutrition, improving access to nutrient-rich animal source foods is an easy way to improve nutritional status.” In much of the developing world, meat is a convenient means of supplementing diets with protein, fats, and vitamins. This brings me back to a point that I’ve mentioned time and time again: I’m no vegetarian, and I have no problems with the principle of consuming animal products. Nonetheless, as previous posts have discussed, eating too much meat – especially red meat – can be unhealthy, and its intensified production has immense consequences.

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So, why am I saying all of this? It’s not like I’m about to run through the streets as the world’s biggest hypocrite by persuading people to become vegetarian. No, I just want to spread awareness so that people can make the decision for themselves. I’ll applaud vegetarians and vegans and suggest moderation for those unwilling to completely relinquish meat and dairy. Mostly, though, I advocate supporting reputable, smaller animal farmers (I hesitate to say ‘local’ only because it depends on where you live) who raise their animals well, use the environment responsibly, and pay attention to the safety and cleanliness of their products. Buy less from massive corporations so as to discourage large-scale intensification. It’s all about the little things that everyone can do to make a big impact: decreasing meat demand.

Eva

The Meat of the Issue: Animal Abuse (It Hurts Us, Too)

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saynotofoodwaste.sustainability.meat.diet.meatoftheissue.health.2Anyone following our ‘Meat of the Issue’ series has probably been waiting for this topic to pop up. Most people are at least mildly aware of animal cruelty in the meat industry, but that doesn’t make it any less worth discussing. After all, I seem to discover new forms of mistreatment every time I hear about this issue. For those unmoved by sympathy for animals, though, there exists an anthropocentric argument to be made over how improperly raising animals can yield tainted meat. However, I would hope that anyone who learns about these animals’ suffering wouldn’t need that second argument – the appalling abuse should speak for itself. Frankly, there is no way I could cover every single form of animal mistreatment in the meat industry, so I’ll just share some ‘highlights.’

The most obvious consequence of agricultural intensification is crowding, since fewer farms means more animals per farm. Even in 1997, 60% of America’s pork came from the country’s largest 3% of farms, while 2% of feedlots generated more than 40% of America’s beef. Hundreds if not thousands of cows, pigs, chickens, etc. get packed into windowless enclosures that allow little to no mobility, which tends to generate aggression. For instance, a chicken with as little as 0.6 square feet of space might start pecking at or even eating other birds in its pen, which is why they are often preemptively debeaked by farmers. Close quarters also make a fertile breeding ground for disease pathogens, such as the notorious swine and avian flus, which spread through the clustered animals with astonishing speed due to the great amount of bodily contact. Many of the pathogens, including salmonella (which is harmful to humans but not animals), spread from waste, since the animals are often surrounded by their defecations. As mentioned in the previous post, animals kept in close proximity to their waste also develop other health issues like pneumonia or respiratory infections.

saynotofoodwaste.sustainability.meat.diet.meatoftheissue.health.4Another form of animal cruelty that many people are oblivious to is forced cannibalism. Over the century, farmers have increasingly integrated their cattle feed with offal: the organs and entrails of, usually, sheep or cows. The offal is meant to serve as a protein additive to increase the animals’ meaty muscle. As revolting as the practice is, there were no real ‘problems’ with it until the 1980s, when it was positively linked to the emergence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) aka Mad Cow Disease. Humans who consume meat of an animal infected with the neurodegenerative disease are liable to develop variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), a fatal disease that causes dementia, memory loss, personality changes, and hallucinations. According to CNN, 229 cases of vCJD were reported in a dozen countries 1996-2014, predominantly in the UK (177 cases), and ‘random’ reports of cows being identified with BSE continue to surface from various countries.

There’s been a lot of discussion of human disease in these meat posts, so, in parting, I’d like to refocus on the animals and the brutal manifestations of our society’s demand for meat (and dairy):

  • Calves are raised in chains to restrict their movement for the purpose of keeping their muscles underdeveloped and tender. They are also deliberately deprived of iron so that their flesh pales to the market-desired shade of pink
  • Male pigs and cows are castrated to alter their meat’s taste, smell, and fat ratio. Castration is typically performed without anesthesia and can involve chemical scrotal injections or cutting off circulation via metal clamps. According to the ASPCA, 100% of piglets and 88% of calves are castrated in the US
  • Pigs develop deformities in their legs and feet due to being forced to live on concrete or slatted floors
  • As mentioned in an earlier post, animals are fed antibiotics and growth hormones to rapidly gain weight. The combination of a fattening diet and virtually no exercise (due to lack of space) leads to obesity and associated diseases like fatty liver syndrome
  • Ducks and geese have pipes shoved down their esophagi as a means of force-feeding excessive quantities of corn mash, so as to swell their livers for foie gras
  • Chickens typically have their wings clipped to prevent flight

Some animals eat other animals – that’s the food chain, and humans are part of it. But why are we the only animal that ‘needs’ to chain up and mutilate its prey in order to eat it?

Eva

Sources:

1. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) – Farm Animal Cruelty Glossary
2. Horrigan, Leo; Lawrence, Robert S.; and Walker, Polly – How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture
3. Nickelsburg, Monica (The Week) – 5 modern diseases grown by factory farming

Mid week delicacy: Cumin-roasted Cauliflower

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saynotofoodwaste.midweekdelicacy.recipe.healthy.vegetarian.withmeat.pasta.6Have you ever noticed that herbs and spices can add amazing flavors to any dish by uplifting its aroma and taste?  We did too and that’s why this week we mix the deliciousness of cumin with vegetables, ensuring that any picky eater will want to take a bite of this pasta! And those who are in love with meat, and eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, don’t worry, we got you covered! Carnivores and omnivores rejoice, here is this week’s Cumin-roasted cauliflower recipe.

Happy eating!
Hokuma & Ingrid

Here’s a look at the instructions:
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Not so virgin: the fraud of the olive

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saynotofoodwaste.oliveoil.health.fraud.consumer.power.knowledge.olives.1Drizzle it on top of a lush green salad, prepare a bowl to dip warm slices of bread into, or sip a teaspoon on an empty stomach- just some of the uses for olive oil. 

This century old ingredient promises beauty and overall health.

Recent scientific studies also confirm the health benefits of olive oil, a main staple of the Mediterranean diet. 

Lucky for us (who live in developed countries), we can find this golden liquid packaged inside glass bottles and aerosol cans (but please, whatever you do, don’t ever buy olive oil in a spray can, you will regret it!) on supermarket aisles.

With so many wanting to lead a healthy lifestyle, the demand for continued production of olive oil is high, especially for the oils exported from Italy. Being naive believers in packaging and marketing, consumers happily buy up olive oil that says ‘Natural’ and ‘Made in Italy’. If you fall prey to these deceitful schemes, then watch out!

Recent studies showed that “70% of cheaper extra virgin olive oil sold is a fraud.” And labels that say ‘Extra Virgin’ and ‘Made in Italy’ are legal even if the product wasn’t produced in Italy. This means that 69% of olive oil sold in the USA is doctored.

Big brands, such as Filippo Berio and Bertolli, make customers believe that their product is made in pristine olive fields of Italy. However, most of the time, their olives hail from diverse corners of the world like Tunisia, Turkey, Greece and Spain. 

So, how can this be possible? Unfortunately, the FDA in USA and the EU don’t test olive oil due to high costs. Big brands, hungry for profit, utilize these loopholes to make loads of money without ever getting caught. It’s like taking part in trafficking illegal drugs but never being held responsible for the crime.

Isaynotofoodwaste.oliveoil.health.fraud.consumer.power.knowledge.olives.3n 2010, UC Davis carried out a study of olive oil. Results showed that 69% of imported and 10% of California-based oils labeled ‘Extra Virgin’ failed International Olive Council (IOC) and USDA standards for extra virgin olive oil. Luckily a small percentage of products did pass the test and these brands should be applauded for selling quality goods. Corto Olive, California Olive Ranch, Kirkland Organic, Lucero and McEvoy Ranch Organic all sell real olive oil.

It’s unfortunate to see big companies finding loopholes to make money by advertising false products to their consumers. It’s also alarming to see government agencies failing to protect consumers from these frauds. This is why, more than ever, it’s important that we share our knowledge with each other. The power is in our hands. I hope this post has been helpful!

Happy eating!
Hokuma

Mid week delicacy: Moist Chocolate Cake

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recipe.food.chocolatecake.sweet.valentine'sday.holiday.happy.share.love.saynotofoodwaste.9It’s February! This marks a month of love and holds the promise of a coming spring. What better way to celebrate the two than with a chocolate layered, chocolate filled and chocolate frosted cake? Here is a super easy to make recipe of the Moist chocolate cake that will leave everyone, from friends to loved ones, drooling and jumping for joy. Below you’ll find what’s waiting inside this mid week’s delicacy.

Happy Eating!
Hokuma & Jenny

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The Meat of the Issue: Waste of another Kind

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saynotofoodwaste.diet.meat.health.agriculture.climatechange.naturalresources.2Obviously, a big concern on this website is food waste: food that goes uneaten and gets unsustainably disposed of due to negligence. However, as part of the ongoing series on the consequences of the meat industry (here are posts one and two), this post is going to focus on livestock waste. This type of waste includes all discards and excrement generated by animal agriculture, including: manure, urine, carcasses, feed remnants, bedding, and feathers. In addition to being merely unpleasant, the mishandling and sheer quantity of these outputs causes a lot of dangerous contamination.

In 1999, the General Accounting Office reported that livestock generated 130 times as much waste as humans in the US. The amount of waste produced on farms greatly exceeds that which can be used to fertilize the fields, so much of the excess is transported – with great difficulty, risking spillage – to open, man-made pits known as lagoons.

saynotofoodwaste.diet.meat.health.agriculture.climatechange.naturalresources.1Settling in these lagoons, the liquid manure can leak into surface water and groundwater directly or via run-off. While the fecal matter itself can be hazardous, manure also carries many heavy metals, such as arsenic and antibiotics, and pesticides present in animal feed. These adversely impact soil and water quality with excess nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorous. Manure also emits the three primary greenhouse gases, CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide, as well as the hazardous gas ammonia. With over 70 billion farm animals being raised each year, the cumulative impact of their excrement is quite problematic. Steinfeld et al. calculated that livestock farming (including more than just waste, admittedly) accounted for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2006, surpassing those of the transportation sector.

saynotofoodwaste.diet.meat.health.agriculture.climatechange.naturalresources.4Of course, the effects of contamination don’t stop with the soil, water, and air themselves. High nitrate concentrations can turn drinking water toxic to infants, while high heavy metal content has been known to cause cancer, circulatory complications, and organ and nervous system damage. Meanwhile, compounds like ammonia in manure gases can hurt animals’ lungs and increase their risk of developing pneumonia when stored in improperly ventilated areas. Farm workers are at similar risks through prolonged exposure to the hazardous gases and odors of animal waste, and up to 30% develop asthma or bronchitis. Finally, the waste often carries pathogens that can cause diseases like salmonella – but I think I’ll save those for next week.

Lower demand for meat, fewer animals raised as livestock, less waste, healthier planet – is this enough to convince people to eat less meat? Or should we focus on dealing with our waste better, rather than just letting it sit around? Given the evidence, I think we need a dual strategy.

Eva

Additional Sources:
Horrigan, Leo; Lawrence, Robert S.; and Walker, Polly – How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture

Walker, Polly et al.– Invited Paper: Public Health Implications of Meat Production and Consumption

Diet Culture 101

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Diet Culture falsely equivalates weight loss with health, no matter how drastic or unrealistic. In reality such weight loss is impossible without losing a limb or major surgery.

On my personal Twitter account, I collect pictures, articles, and stories that demonstrate the Euro-American “Diet Culture.” My purpose in doing this is to call out our attitudes towards food – specifically towards indulgence and dieting. Before I go into this a little further, I would like to take a moment to explain.

“Diet Culture” is a series of attitudes, behaviors, and ideals that encourage an unhealthy relationship with food by means of unsafe dietary practices (like over-restriction, extreme exercise, and bingeing). Diet culture is particularly poignant in Euro-American contexts and dietary spheres. Diet Culture is changing our relationship with food.

Our relationship with food is fundamentally flawed.

Food, (and eating it), is one of the few universal human constants. Every person needs food and experiences eating in his or her life. Because food is so ubiquitous to our survival, it has necessarily impacted all human cultures. Whether we like it or not, a large chunk of “culture” has to do with food and the practices surrounding eating, harvesting, or preparing food. This is why I say we have a relationship with food – human beings interact with each other over food and we spend a lot of time preoccupied with eating (and preparing) food. Think of the success of various cooking channels – we like food.

saynotofoodwaste.diet.health.dietculture.2Diet Culture makes a problem out of our need (and love) of food. On the one hand, during the latter half of the year, we are encouraged to indulge in delicious food. From Halloween to the holiday season, we are bombarded with adverts celebrating the consumption of too much candy, over-indulging at Thanksgiving, and eating copious amounts of cookies, tamales, and latkes in December. As soon as January 1 hits, however, advertisers give us a different picture. The same people who advertised gleeful amounts of cookies are now advertising diet pills or encouraging us to “get back on track” with our diet. It reinforces guilt around the foods we eat and encourages unhealthy practices like crash dieting and too much exercise. Promises like “lose 10 pounds in one week” give people with low self-esteem a false expectation of what happens to our bodies when we make healthy food choices.

While healthy food choices are always important to emphasize, the cultural approach to healthy lifestyles is one laden with misinformation. The biggest problem in this situation is that we begin to assume certain foods or habits are healthy when they are in fact detrimental. A healthy lifestyle is not necessarily one bound in extreme diets or health fads. In reality, when we look at healthy lifestyles, it should be understood as a variety of different attitudes and approaches to health that all have one thing in common: respect and care for the body. Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing some specific examples of how our perception of health has been warped by “Diet Culture.” I hope you will join me in this discussion – and when you see an example of diet culture, tweet or instagram using the hashtag “#StopDietCulture.” Hopefully we can begin to bring awareness to our relationship with food.

By Jordan