Monday, November 21, 2011


I knew I should have stayed up for Saturday Night Live over the weekend. Kermit the Frog and Seth Meyers addressed the absurdity of the "pizza counts as a vegetable" ruling.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Does Healthy Eating = Healthy Environment?

Whenever I order the vegetarian option on a menu or say "no thanks" to a steak from the grill, I end up in a discussion about the evolution of farming methods, meat-eating, and the health of the average American diet.

The truth is, I occasionally eat meat. We are, after all, omnivores and have the capacity and desire to eat meat. What I cannot, in good conscious, eat is factory farmed meat. It is the opposite of what nature intended and - consumed the way it is today - is undeniably bad for the planet and bad for human health. 
A few years ago, the United Food and Agriculture Organization published findings that current production levels of meat contribute between 14 and 22 percent of the 36 billion tons of "CO2-equivalent" greenhouse gases the world produces every year. On top of that, consider how much farmland is dedicated to growing that feed instead of bio-diverse crops. 

On the same token, I will not purchase an organic apple from New Zealand over a conventionally grown American apple just because one is organic and the other may not be. Pesticides and herbicides are under a lot more scrutiny and regulation than many of the items deemed 'natural' by a label and I like to believe, however idealistic and blindly optimistic, that buying American is almost always a good choice. 

So how about canned veggies? And a lot of the things that we pick up at the grocer because Dr. Oz tells us they are healthy choices? Does the saying 'good for you, good for the environment' really hold true? 
Brian Palmer, for Slate's Green Lantern, answers this question in this week's Q&A

Too often, environmentalists slip half-knowingly between human health and environmental health. Ask a stranger in the grocery store why he buys organic, and he’ll almost certainly conflate the two issues. We’re all one, after all… Unfortunately, there’s no natural law saying that planet health and human health are unitary. Consider the potato. According to a 20-year study involving more than 120,000 people, potatoes correlate more closely with obesity than any other food (including soda). And yet, potatoes aren’t exactly giving Mother Earth diabetes, so to speak."

Read Palmer's articulate response to the question: is eating healthy better for the environment too? 
HERE. He examines transportation, farming methods, storage methods and compares fresh vs frozen foods. It turns out that there are many circumstances in which limp, salty canned food - which may not be better for your taste-buds or fit the idea of 'fresh' - is better for the environment. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Turkey Shortage in Maryland

Rex Lisman, Flickr

Uh oh, loca-omnivores. The Washington Post is reporting a turkey shortage in Maryland. In a way, this is good news because it verifies residents interest in supporting local farmers. But on the other hand, for those of you who have not yet started gathering the goods for your feast, it could lead to a side dish of feedlot remorse.

Act fast and you may still be able to procure a Maryland turkey via Maryland's Best. And keep in mind, you could always off-set the footprint of your chosen meat by serving up produce from a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), most of which still have winter shares available.

For more suggestions on the meat of your feast, read last year's eco-Thanksgiving tips in Turkey, Tofu or Pheasant?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Green-wash - verb: the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.

Earlier this year, I submitted a second rule for Michael Pollan's new edition of Food Rules that went something like this: "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is." As in: fat-free donuts made with cage-free eggs and solar power for 89 cents. Sure. I wish. Just like I wish I could trust that everything with leafy green logos were eco-friendly. Unfortunately, the large-scale, packaged food industry is one of many capitalizing on our inclination to do right by the environment and by our bodies. Fortunately, my girl Jenica Rhee put together this handy infographic to help us identify greenwashing and navigate to the right decisions. Read more about the "Sins of Greenwashing" on TerraChoice Environmental Marketing's fantastic website.

Green Marketing Exposed

Sunday, November 6, 2011

This Should Be Illegal

Somehow, a hospital-themed restaurant advertising free meals for patrons who weigh more than 350 lbs, milkshakes with the "highest butter content in the world," and selling 8,000 calorie cheeseburgers with four patties (listed as a "Quadruple Bypass" on the menu) has opened up in Las Vegas, Nevada, despite the fact that the flagship Arizona location closed in May following the death of the grill's spokesperson, 29-year-old Blair River, pictured in the video above. The owner, Jon Basso, who is also featured in the video above - as "Dr. Jon" - spoke to the Las Vegas Sun last month:

“You’re intelligent if you don’t eat our food,” he said Thursday. “If people pondered what I’m doing, they’d realize I’m creating a mockery of this. When you hop on that scale and you’re 350 pounds and we give you a free burger and people cheer, what’s really going on? We’re singling you out as a freak. On the one hand, I could try to defend myself ethically and call myself a crusader that’s trying to wake up America and conduct an intervention on obesity. That’s half true. The other half is I’m an entrepreneur trying to make a buck, plain and simple.”

Basso stopped, thought for a minute, then added: “The only thing I can say in my defense is: If you compare me to Burger King and McDonald’s, I’m honest and they aren’t. It says right on my door: ‘Caution, bad for your health.’”

Read more
here and here. This can't possibly be what our country's founding fathers had in mind. Ugh.