Ovtene: This is their story

1.    Summarize your business in one sentence. 

Ovtene is a packaging technology company that was inspired by the protection provided by an eggshell, which extends the shelf life of food products while maintaining their sensory characteristics and freshness.

saynotofoodwaste-ovtene-cheese-fresh-nofoodwaste-1

2. How long have you been in business? 

Ovtene products were launched in Italy in 2008, and extended their reach into most of Europe by 2015. These products became available in North America in 2016. 

3. Why did you decide to start the company?

In 2005, Alberto Tomasini was troubled by how swiftly certain foods became less palatable, dried out, deteriorated, and eventually became inedible. Inspired by the functions of the egg he began researching at the University of Udine Food Sciences in Italy, and eventually developed the material known as Ovtene. This material has the capacity to keep nearly any perishable food item fresh for much longer by retarding bacterial and mold growth.

saynotofoodwaste-ovtene-cheese-fresh-nofoodwaste-3

After being highly successful in Italy, the product moved into other European countries for grocery and food production packaging. In 2012, we began thinking of North America, the next largest producer of fine foods and its consumption. In 2016, after much positive exploratory research of the North American market, the FDA approved the product, at which point we launched six of our products into the grocery and food procure markets in the USA.

4. What has been your biggest achievement so far? 

Providing a sensible alternative to paper and plastic packaging, that extend the shelf life naturally with a much lower environmental footprint. Ovtene utilizes 60% less plastic than traditional packaging and neither water nor trees are consumed in its construction.

For a bit more information, take a look at their feature on Deli Market TVsaynotofoodwaste-ovtene-cheese-fresh-nofoodwaste-4

5. How do you measure success?

Initially we look for successful independent testing evaluations followed by positive customer feedback and retention. When our grocery accounts customers begin asking for Ovtene by name and when food producers tell us that their products get to market fresher than before, we know we are onto something.

The next level of success is measured by actual sales and penetration into the many other uses of Ovtene. As well as, when the end user realizes the nutritional value of color, smell and taste of their food that is preserved with our product, unlike any other packaging.

6. What have you learned in the process? 

We learned from food producers and customers that Ovtene can keep products fresh that we hadn’t even thought to test before, such as citrus, floral and herbs. We also learned that Ovtene could be used to overcome the Van der Waals forces of clumping in powders when packaged. Cheese producers we discovered use Ovtene in the aging process as well as the final packaging for market. We also learned that many opportunities exist from Ovtene as it can be placed into stiff containers. In addition, we learned that OTR or the oxygen transmission rate was perfect for packaging fish as recommended by the FDA.

saynotofoodwaste-ovtene-cheese-fresh-nofoodwaste-5

The pouches are more popular in the US than in Europe. And people like to see the product, so windows need to be an option in many packaging applications. Most of all, people like to do what is easiest and change is difficult, and is viewed as a personal risk for users to initiate. But, they implement the product if they see that significant savings can be attained.

saynotofoodwaste-ovtene-cheese-fresh-nofoodwaste-6

7. What advice would you give to someone trying to start a sustainable food company?

With great products comes the adrenaline of trying to do too much all at once. Stay focused and tackle the markets that you know work. The rest will fall into place. FDA and USDA approvals were important recognitions, but were an extensive process. 

8. What’s next? Anything else you want to add?

Thermoforming and injection molding, and the introduction of the next generation of Ovtene, which we call OvteneActive. EU patents are approved for this even more protective form of Ovtene.

We believe that Ovtene packaging will increase the shelf life throughout the production and distribution chain. Ovtene can help bring fresh food to under served communities and decrease food waste due to spoilage. Ovtene can decrease the risk of bacterial contamination in food and beyond.

saynotofoodwaste-ovtene-cheese-fresh-nofoodwaste-7

9. Fun question: what was the best meal you ate this week?

Appetizer: Fresh Ccup Carpaccio, cooked in lemon, pepper and olive oil.
Dinner: Barramundi, Australian Sea Bass, grilled plain served with a Sicilian Caponata.
Dessert: Almond Biscotti and Vin Santo (aged 10 or more years).

Salvatore Giglia, representative of Ovtene in North America

This is their story

1.    Summarize your project/business in one sentence. 

The Urban Worm harnesses the power of vermicomposting, utilizing the humble earthworm to provide solutions in sustainable waste management and sustainable agriculture.


2. How long have you been in business/running your project?
 

Since December 2013 after being selected for the Women in Social and Environmental Enterprise program (WISEE) which provided me with a small start up grant and business model support.

saynotofoodwaste-urbanworm-uk-usa-compost-garden-organic-earth-planet-sustainable-healthy-1

3. Why did you decide to start the company/project?

After completing my MA studies in Human Security and Environmental Change, specializing in Urban Food Security and Urban Agriculture I had to make the decision to either leave my native city (Nottingham) to find employment in my field or create an opportunity for myself and for my city, so The Urban Worm began.

Everybody of course has to eat and  building sustainable food systems will be at the heart of our ability to thrive in the face of adversity. Climate change, desertification and natural resource depletion are undermining global food security and the current corporate driven, energy intensive, unjust and chemical ridden model is neither sustainable or successfully meeting the nutritional needs of the world. We need to empower a different model that is local, organic and community driven and vermiculture provides the foundations for this movement by producing a superior organic fertilizer and compost. Worm castings are teeming with beneficial microbes essential for healthy plant growth and disease suppression with exceptional water holding capacity, perfect for urban gardens and extreme weather events which we are experiencing more of as a consequence of climate change.  The process of vermicomposting not only provides a high value by product, but the process is an efficient, low tech and cost effective system for a sustainable management of organic waste, as opposed to diverting the waste to landfill which further contribute to climate change as gases emitted from food waste are 31 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

By managing our waste at home we can make a positive contribution to building the foundations for sustainable societies and vermicomposting can be done on a very small scale, even if you live in a flat you can keep worms in your cupboard, the process is odorless and perfect for indoors.

saynotofoodwaste-urbanworm-uk-usa-compost-garden-organic-earth-planet-sustainable-healthy-4


4. What has been your biggest achievement so far?
 

Having the opportunity to travel to learn has by far been my greatest achievement. I was awarded the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT)  travel Fellowship to research vermiculture in the USA and Cuba, and this opportunity to learn has been inspiring and is wonderful to make international connections with like minded people, building a wider community of vermicomposting enthusiasts, sharing knowledge and passion. As I  I write this I am in New York preparing for the next Cuban leg of my research. Whilst traveling the west coast I saw vermicomposting in prisons, zoos, schools, colleges, universities as well as successful businesses,  it has been incredibly inspiring and presents a blueprint for developing institutional sustainable organic waste management in the UK. This will be the next achievement, so watch this space. From Cuba the learning will be vast as Cuba is considered to be the global leader in vermicomposting as after the breakdown of the soviet union they lost 80 % of their imports of synthetic fertilizers over night and so a sustainable alternative was called for, and the organic movement began, with worms.


5. How do you measure success?

Tricky one! I guess on a personal level success is to receive love, which I never feel in short supply of! On a professional level success is having influence to make positive change, locally and globally.

saynotofoodwaste-urbanworm-uk-usa-compost-garden-organic-earth-planet-sustainable-healthy-2

6. What have you learned in the process? 

That  worms  definitely don’t like too many apples- I had a massacre situation a few years ago after a community apple pressing day. Sad, sad day, too much acid, a lesson learned the hard way.


7. What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the worm farming industry or  simply starting a wormery at home.

Just do it, the earth needs you.  We need more worm farmers, rural and urban and the process is very easy and can be set up for a very small cost. If not for profit we need to produce as much ‘black gold’ aka worm castings as we possibly can, even if we live in an apartment we can all make a positive contribution.  What greater contribution to the world can we make but to make earth again? Even if you don’t have a garden, a gardener or community garden would be very grateful for your gift. There is an abundance of information on the internet on how to get started and I have written a worm care guide available for download for free from our website www.theurbanworm.co.uk

saynotofoodwaste-urbanworm-uk-usa-compost-garden-organic-earth-planet-sustainable-healthy-3


8. What’s next?
 

On return from my WCMT travels, besides catching up with friends and family, and checking up on my worm culture, I will be working on a project that introduces vermicomposting into prisons in the UK. Institutions need to play a key role in practicing sustainable waste management and the USA has some incredibly successful models, notably Monroe Correctional Facility  in Washington.


9. Anything else you want to add?
 

Feed the worms, feed the soil, and feed the soul.

saynotofoodwaste-urbanworm-uk-usa-compost-garden-organic-earth-planet-sustainable-healthy-6

10. Fun question: what was the best meal you ate this week?

Whilst visiting my family in New Jersey we went to a delicious Italian restaurant in Glen Rock called Rocca, all local and organic produce. I had a bruschetta to start and spinach gnocchi for my main, perfect!

Bite sized wisdom: ET, an alien concept of connectivity

Take a seed, drop it in soil, water it consistently and watch the plant grow. This simple breakdown of a very complex interaction between soil and plant does not take into account some vital factors, which year by year affect our global food supply.

While the above process sounds simple, nature is not simple or straightforward. There are many factors that determine whether or not a plant receives enough water to produce crops, some visible and not so visible to the eye. The combined effect of all factors is known as the ‘evapotranspiration process’- ET.

saynotofoodwaste.sustainability.evapotranspiration.food.planet.water.1The biggest factors to impact ET are: solar radiation, air temperature, air humidity and wind speed. Each of these factors impacts the balance by which water transfers from soil to plant and to the atmosphere.

At the early stages of a plant’s growth much of the water is lost to evaporation from soil. At this stage the plant is small, has almost no leaves to provide shade for the soil, and has undeveloped roots, which don’t absorb a lot of water. During this development stage using drip irrigation (where water is distributed directly to the area where the seed is, or where the stem is starting to sprout), insures that water is not wasted and that the right amount is given directly to the plant.

As the crop matures it requires more water for development. Its roots multiply, it stem grows in height, and its foliage provides shade to the soil below, helping to minimize or lower the rate of water evaporation. In fact, “at the sowing stage of the plant, 100% of ET comes from evaporation, while at full crop cover more than 90% of ET comes from transpiration”

So what is transpiration then? It’s the transfer of water from plant to atmosphere.  A plant ‘breathes’ through its leaves. It takes in water with nutrients from the roots and transports it up throughout the system. At the end of this transfer gases and water vapor escape from the leaf through openings called ‘stomata’.

Due to climate change, temperature rise has put more stress on ET, increasing the rate at which water leaves the soil. Dry soil is unable to retain enough moisture and maintain a high nutrient level to feed the crop. Without enough water and proper soil conditions, crops don’t sprout evenly and yields are significantly cut down.

The ET concept might sound alien to most (pun intended), especially its technical aspects, but the idea in a nutshell is fairly simple. We live in a bubble where each system is connected and influenced by the other. The success of a crop doesn’t just stop at soil and water, it includes, wind, solar radiation, temperature, air humidity and much more.

In our own lives, the success of our development doesn’t stop at education and family status. Much of how we grow depends on our environment, the friends we’re exposed to, the role models we have, and the type of love we get from people that matter. Sometimes, when love is missing within a family we can find it in a teacher or friend who can guide us and steer us to enriching environments.

When faced with a problem, or dealing with individuals who are fighting their own battles, it is easy to jump to conclusions over basic aspects such as – economic, academic and other physical factors. The reality is usually more intricate and some factors are just not visible or comprehensible to us.

saynotofoodwaste.sustainability.evapotranspiration.food.planet.water.3Remembering ET can help us be more understanding of individuals and crops that don’t live up to their full potential. It reminds us that just because it’s the case now, it doesn’t mean that there is something intrinsically wrong with the object, but more often it’s the environment in which it grows.

A recent study showed that we learn best from direct examples, rather than arguments or reasoning (90% to 10%). And if we are not getting the most from what we’re trying to grow, crops or relationships, then it’s time for us to change the atmosphere in which we are developing them, not the plant or person itself. Here’s a quote to summarize the idea: “When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”

And look at that – I just took a complex reality and simplified it to a quote. I guess certain cycles are difficult to change, but as long as we understand them we can have a more wholesome picture of our life on Earth and how everything is truly connected.

Here’s to connecting with the world and each other.
Hokuma

Bite sized wisdom: the case of potatoes

This weekend I set out on a camping trip to South Mountain State Park in Maryland. I’ve never been, but it promised hikes on the Appalachian Trail, incredible views from the mountain, and a nice lake near the campsite. After doing research, reserving a site and prepping my materials, I focused on food.

saynotofoodwaste.camping.food.sustainable.potatoes.eating.hiking.discovery.newgrounds.explore.1My grandma, being a great cook, saw me chopping up potatoes and asked if I was planning to cook them right away. I explained that this was for the camping trip and that I was chopping them up so as to marinate with onion, olive oil, salt and pepper. She raised a concern and said the potatoes could turn brown when exposed to air, but she was curious to see if my ‘invention’ would overcome this obstacle and let me proceed.

Having never prepped potatoes for a hike I had no clue whether the potatoes would last the night. All I had to go on was a sense of adventure and belief in the best. In fact, many of us have such moments, and not necessarily limited to food. Then, I thought deeper and my ideas floated to the past, to our ancestors. Many of these individuals made up their ‘innovations’ and created the ways we cook, preserve and present food today from trial and error.

There are many projects that get scrapped and don’t pass the test, but a lucky few do get passed down to new generations. That day in the kitchen I was exploring new ways to prepare potatoes, and I’m happy to say that the potatoes didn’t brown. They ended up being cooked on an open fire on a chilly weekend in the woods, leaving everyone who indulged in them happy, warm and full. In addition, I was able to teach my grandma, who is overflowing with knowledge on cooking, a new skill.

saynotofoodwaste.camping.food.sustainable.potatoes.eating.hiking.discovery.newgrounds.explore.3This idea of being open to innovation, to making mistakes and embracing uncertainty applies to things beyond the kitchen. In the real life it is easy to stick to regular routines and things we’re familiar with. But, if we don’t explore and be ok with making mistakes then we won’t reach new grounds.

For me, my exploration turned to success, yet even from the success I already deduced things I can improve on. For instance, I realized that chopping the potatoes into thinner slices will help them cook faster and more evenly. I also learned that hotter spices with bolder tastes, such as curry or hot chili, are better ingredients to marinate with. Especially because hiking outdoors leaves you tired and craving comforts of home. Food is always a good reminder of home, so why not make it spicy and hot, especially if it’s cold outside. Also, I will use less potatoes as they are difficult to keep fresh, even in cold weather, and really need to be used quickly, ideally in the first night, or maximum the second, but no longer as they can go bad and start spreading bad odors in the cooler.

If any readers have tips on what to pack and prepare for hikes please let me know. Even though camping doesn’t always entail gourmet food, I believe that there is always room for delicious meals, whether at home or in the mountains. The trick with camping is to pack filling, easy to prepare, and easy to carry food. With a happy and healthy belly there is nothing we can’t accomplish.

Happy eating and exploring!
Hokuma

Bite sized wisdom: taste the unknown

If you want to explore our world you can travel, forge new friendships, experience new events, try extreme sports, or simply take a bite of a new cuisine.

What always fascinated me is that despite a small number of basic ingredients, people in various corners of the world have come up with different methods of mixing them to create such an array of dishes with uncommon flavors, textures, and colors.

Another thrilling aspect is that each group has its own unique traditions of eating their national cuisine. In Asia individuals rely on the engineering of chopsticks to transport food from the table to their mouth. Yet, still, most of world prefers the use of knives, forks and spoons, as they provide a more secure structure to move food from point A to point B.

saynotofoodwaste.food.cuisine.world.global.sustainable.happy.live.love.discover.together.eat4So, when my co-worker invited me to attend a traditional Filipino dinner that would be served on banana leaves and eaten by hand, I jumped at the chance to experience a completely new adventure. The best part was that I didn’t have to travel far to get a taste of a country that is on the other side of the world. Instead, my friends and I drove to a local mall where the restaurant was and got to enjoy a live funk jazz band as we dug into the exotic meal.

The assortment of food was spectacular! Cajun shrimp, fried milk fish, pork bellies, vegetable rolls, eggplant and rice (which served as the glue that kept the yummy ingredients together). For dessert we had purple yam and mango ice cream in a bowl with pumpkin, flan, and other delicious sweets that I couldn’t decipher, all cooled on shaved ice.

Having lived in the Amazon jungle, I was not a stranger to eating on banana leaves, but the food that was served and the ingredients that were presented to me at the restaurant made a huge difference. In the jungle, there is a lack of spices that bring out flavors of the meal and introduce magical notes to your taste buds. In the middle of the green forest, my lunch consisted of cooked yucca and plantain, dipped in salt (a luxury that my team brought from the city), and a piranha fish soup.

Eating the soup with my hands was not easy, especially as I am not good with pulling the bones from a fish bathing in hot water, so I mostly indulged in starch and carbs of the yucca and plantain.

saynotofoodwaste.food.cuisine.world.global.sustainable.happy.live.love.discover.together.eat2So much of what we do, what we eat and how we eat is determined by nature. In the jungles of the Amazon, as communities let go of their nomadic traditions and built communities, a rise in population makes it difficult for everyone to rely on nature. There is not enough time for the hunted animals to repopulate, and that leaves a shortage of food, leading to malnutrition in kids.

Living in DC I never had imagined that I would relive the experience of eating on banana leaves, but I did and the food that I tried was simply delicious. If we want to expand our knowledge of the world, learning about our food and trying different cuisine is a good option, especially if travel is not.

If you guys have any recommendations about other cuisines and restaurants that are worth giving a try on this gastronomic adventure, please let me know. Until then, I’ll keep looking out for these opportunities and share my experiences with you. If anyone reading this lives in Maryland, you should definitely try the traditional Filipino dinner at Lumpia, Pansit, Atbp.

Happy eating, friends!
Hokuma

Not so virgin: the fraud of the olive

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

The Meat of the Issue: Waste of another Kind

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

saynotofoodwaste.diet.health.dietculture
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

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’s clear that income doesn’t determine how much you give, then 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. Still, 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 and claim 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?
Hokuma

Mid week delicacy: Pasta with Brussels Sprouts

saynotofoodwaste.healthy.vegetables.recipe.diet.sustainable.delicious.yum.food.good.12Getting 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 saynotofoodwaste.healthy.vegetables.recipe.diet.sustainable.delicious.yum.food.good.3 saynotofoodwaste.healthy.vegetables.recipe.diet.sustainable.delicious.yum.food.good.4   saynotofoodwaste.healthy.vegetables.recipe.diet.sustainable.delicious.yum.food.good.18saynotofoodwaste.healthy.vegetables.recipe.diet.sustainable.delicious.yum.food.good.19