Tag Archives: Local Food

The McRib Wars or the Fuss About Fast, Cruelly Created Frankenfood

Do people really eat these things?

There is so much wrong on so many levels here:

  1. Animal Cruelty allegations
  2. Frankenfood
  3. McDonalds
  4. Food additives
  5. It just sounds plain nasty….

This should really blow a hole in the “new” upscale, Starbucks type image McDonalds is promoting to fool people into eating this crap….

Of course, this being America, most won’t listen and will probably eat it anyway.  On the way to the polls to vote Republican.  While wondering why they are gaining weight and not feeling well….

From the Huffington Post, emphasis mine:

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced this week that it had filed an SEC complaint against Smithfield Farms, the large pig producer that supplies pork for McDonald’s divisive, limited-edition McRib sandwich. The complaint, which is posted in its entirety online, alleges that the pigs’ living conditions are cruel and unusual, citing reports of pigs covered in blood andsows being confined to tiny gestational grates, which are illegal in some states.

This isn’t the first time animal rights’ groups — or even the HSUS — has targeted Smithfield for its record on animal welfare. In December 2010, the HSUS got ahold of gruesome footage of a Smithfield Farms facility, leading respected figures like Mark Bittman to call for a boycott of meat from the company.

Indeed, this most recent complaint seems more like the latest salvo in an ongoing dispute than like a breaking development specifically occasioned by the McRib. An unsympathetic analysis of the HSUS action would probably lead to the conclusion that the group is tying its complaint to the McRib in order to drum up public attention for the cause. The sandwich, after all, has long been a lightning rod for press coverage.

That’s not to say that the McRib is some kind of pristine product of nature, of course. Before the HSUS complaint surfaced, several media outlets had conducted investigations into the myriad of bizarre ingredients that go into the boneless “rib” patty at the center of the sandwich.

The pork bits that make up the meat include “tripe, heart and scalded stomach,” which is bad enough. But the chemical additives that go into the sandwich are even worse. Allegedly, when the additives aren’t binding lung and liver bits together, they’re used for keeping yoga mats springy and shoe soles white.

via McRib Lawsuit Pits Humane Society Against Smithfield Farms, McDonald’s Over Animal Welfare.

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Organic Food: When Does It Matter?

I always try to buy locally grown, in-season organic food.  Organically grown food is much better tasting and so much better for us.  If you buy it at the Farmer’s Market, you are also supporting local farmers instead of the giant corporate agri-businesses that supply the chain grocery stores with their tasteless, plastic produce.

It’s always better to know your food source and support local food.  But it can be expensive and sometimes time dictates a run to the dreaded Harris-Teeter.  Then you have to make choices- do I buy conventional or organic?  Conventional is so much cheaper, is it really important to buy the organic version of this food?  What to do?  How do I find balance in my food choices and budget?

If you can’t buy all local, in season, organically grown food, here is some great information from EWG, The Environmental Working Group, to help you make your choices.  Keep it on your iPhone or Droid next time you go food shopping:


Eat your fruits and vegetables! The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Use EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated produce.

Commodity crop corn used for animal feed and biofuels is almost all produced with genetically modified (GMO) seeds, as is some sweet corn sold for human consumption. Since GMO sweet corn is not labeled as such in US stores, EWG advises those who have concerns about GMOs to buy organic sweet corn.

EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

Dirty Dozen:  Buy these Organically Grown:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines – imported
  7. Grapes – imported
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries– domestic
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/collard greens

Clean 15– Lowest in Pesticide Contamination:

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe-domestic
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms


via EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides | Environmental Working Group | EWG.org.

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Fascinating article about grocery store tomatoes from Barry Estabrook’s blog and new book “Tomatoland.”  I just ordered a copy of the book.

I very rarely buy out of season tomatoes.  Now, I don’t think I’ll ever do it again…

Besides, the grocery store tomatoes have no taste.  They are just a waste of time and money.

I always look forward to June when the first fresh tomatoes come in at the Farmer’s Market and I can buy them there.  They are so much better…

Supermarket produce sections bulging with a year-round supply of perfectly round, bright red-orange tomatoes have become all but a national birthright. But in Tomatoland, which is based on his James Beard Award–winning article, “The Price of Tomatoes,” investigative food journalist Barry Estabrook reveals the huge human and environmental cost of the $5 billion fresh tomato industry. Fields are sprayed with  more than 100 different herbicides and pesticides. Tomatoes are picked hard and green and artificially gassed until their skins acquire a marketable hue. Modern plant breeding has tripled yields, but produces fruits with a fraction of the calcium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C, and fourteen tiimes as much sodium as the tomatoes our parents enjoyed. The relentless drive for low costs has fostered a thriving modern-day slave trade in the United States. How have we come to this point?

Estabrook traces the supermarket tomato from its birthplace in the deserts of Peru to the impoverished town of Immokalee, Florida, a.k.a. the tomato capital of the United States. He visits the laboratories of seedsmen trying to develop varieties that can withstand the rigors of agribusiness and still taste like a garden tomato, and then moves on to commercial growers who operate on tens of thousands of acres, and eventually to a hillside field in Pennsylvania, where he meets an obsessed farmer who produces delectable tomatoes for the nation’s top restaurants.

Throughout Tomatoland, Estabrook presents a Who’s Who cast of characters in the tomato industry: The avuncular octogenarian whose conglomerate grows one out of every eight tomatoes eaten in the United States; the ex-marine who heads the group that dictates the size, color, and shape of every tomato shipped out of Florida; the United States attorney who has doggedly prosecuted human traffickers for the past decade; the Guatemalan peasant who came north to earn money for his parents’ medical bills and found himself enslaved for two years.

Tomatoland reads like a suspenseful whodunit and an exposé of today’s agribusiness systems and the price we pay as a society when we take taste and thought out of our food purchases.

via Tomatoland.

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Jon Bon Jovi’s New Restaurant Is Pay-What-You-Can

This is really cool…

From TakePart.com:

For anyone who’s living on a prayer—or looking to give love a good name—a new opportunity is springing up in Red Bank, New Jersey: it’s Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen, a restaurant where patrons pay what they can afford and volunteers help run the restaurant.

The Soul Kitchen, which will enjoy a grand opening this Spring, is founded on the principle that a healthy meal can feed the soul. Diners can pick any item on the menu and pay what they’re able. Patrons who don’t have money can volunteer an hour of their time in the kitchen to cover the cost of their meal, and anyone who can afford to give a little more than the recommended donation of $10 will be helping to feed someone with less means.

Most importantly, stresses the Kitchen’s website, the restaurant is a place for conversation and community. Volunteer staff serve diners with respect and friendliness, and patrons are encouraged to meet and greet new friends.

via Bon Jovi’s New Restaurant Is Pay-What-You-Can | TakePart – Inspiration to Action.

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How Western Diets Are Making The World Sick : NPR

This article from NPR is further evidence of the harmful effects of the modern diet.

I really think this is going to be a bigger story as the current generations age and life expectancy drops…

This crap that passes for food now just isn’t good for you!

But, again, the Corporations control the government that frequently subsidizes the practices behind this trend.

I can’t say it often enough:  Buy local food, buy seasonally produced food and buy organic food whenever possible….

And encourage your representatives to support these healthy and sustainable practices instead of subsidizing Monsanto….

In a conversation on Fresh Air, Patterson tells Terry Gross that the effects of urbanization are making people everywhere in the world both fatter and sicker.

“Type 2 diabetes historically didn’t exist, only 70 or 80 years ago,” says Patterson. “And what’s driven it, of course, is this rise in obesity, especially the accumulation of abdominal fat. That fat induces changes in our receptors that cells have for insulin. Basically, it makes them numb to the effect of insulin.”

For a long time, the human body can compensate — the pancreas secretes even larger amounts of insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. But over time, the pancreas begins to fail to secrete enough insulin, and that is when diabetes develops.

He explains that the increase in abdominal fat has driven the epidemic of diabetes over the last 40 years in the developed world — and that he’s now seeing similar patterns in undeveloped regions that have adapted Western eating patterns.

Patterson explains that in his Canadian practice, where he takes care of indigenous populations near the Arctic Circle, there is a marked increase in the number of diabetic patients he sees.

“The traditional Inuit culture of relentless motion and a traditional diet consisting mainly of caribou, Arctic char, whale and seal has been abandoned over this period of time for Kentucky Fried Chicken and processed food and living a life very similar to ours,” he says. “[They’re] spending a lot of time in front of a glowing screen.”

Part of the problem, says Patterson, is that it’s so much cheaper for processed food to be flown into the Arctic Circle than fresh food.

“There’s no roads or rail access to any of those communities,” he says. “So a 4 liter jug of milk can cost you $10 or $11. But there’s a very clear parallel between that and the inner city. In poorer neighborhoods in North American cities, fresh food is either not available or extremely expensive compared to — on a calorie-by-calorie basis — compared to fast food available on every street corner.”

MORE:   How Western Diets Are Making The World Sick : NPR.


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Alice Waters: Eat Local

This is really not that hard a decision to make…

Think about it…

Is there really any point in eating grocery store tomatoes in January?  They taste like styrofoam…

It’s worth the wait for the real thing in June….

Or canning and freezing local produce in the summer.  I do…


There are certainly challenges to eating locally, such as the decrease in the variety of food that is available in the winter months. At Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA, we are lucky because we can find local produce all year long. However, we are always thinking about food in a sustainable way. In the winter, we focus on the winter squashes, root vegetables, and we use canned tomatoes and huckleberry syrup that we’ve made in the summer. I think eating locally is so much about being creative with your choices.

I am hopeful, as I believe we’re waking up to the fact that for the past 30 years we haven’t been eating food that’s really good for us, and we’re not taking care of the land or the farmers in our country. I’m seeing that this is changing as evidenced by the drastic increase in the number of farmers markets in the country in recent years, the fact that there are now vegetables growing on the White House lawn, and the incredible number of school gardens popping up across the country.


via Alice Waters: Eat local | MNN – Mother Nature Network.

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Why Don’t Farm Animals Get the Respect Pets Do? – NYTimes.com

This opinion piece from Mark Bittman in the New York Times makes a very good point…

Animals on Corporate farms and mass produced poultry, beef and pork come from animals raised in conditions that are almost unimaginable.

I gave up veal years ago…

I try to buy local and free-range as much as possible because I know the animals are treated humanely.

I can’t go vegan, but I do try to find meat that at least seems to come from farms that treat their animals humanely.

If all we pet lovers put pressure on the system to improve the lot of farm animals, think how much we could accomplish…

It would be better not only for the animals, but for us….

But thanks to Common Farming Exemptions, as long as I “raise” animals for food and it’s done by my fellow “farmers” (in this case, manufacturers might be a better word), I can put around 200 million male chicks a year through grinders (graphic video here), castrate — mostly without anesthetic — 65 million calves and piglets a year, breed sick animals (don’t forget: more than half a billion eggs were recalled last summer, from just two Iowa farms) who in turn breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria, allow those sick animals to die without individual veterinary care, imprison animals in cages so small they cannot turn around, skin live animals, or kill animals en masse to stem disease outbreaks.

All of this is legal, because we will eat them.

via Why Don’t Farm Animals Get the Respect Pets Do? – NYTimes.com.

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The U.S. Wastes 40 Percent of All Food Produced Per Year

This is shocking to me…

I knew there was a lot of waste, but not this much…

I also suspect this is due to the distribution system and corporate run farms…

Here are some great, common sense tips from Jonathan Bloom on how to reduce food waste in your household:

But, as Bloom points out, there are incredibly simple things we all can do to break the cycle of throwing out an average of 15 to 25 percent of our food annually per household (and the $1300 to $2200 we spend on it).

1. Shop smarter. Make a list to reduce your purchase of unnecessary items, plan meals, bring less food into your house. Since 25 percent is wasted, commit to buying 25 percent less food.

2. Focus on sensible portions. Portion sizes have increased as have the diameter of dinner plates. Pay attention to what’s on your plate and think about equating value less with quantity than quality.

3. Ignore expiration dates. OK, so don’t ignore them but approach with a fair amount of skepticism. If something is spoiled, you’ll know it by the way it looks or smells not by the date on its packaging.

4. Love your leftovers. Don’t just save them, eat them.

5. Befriend your freezer. It’s a waste delayer.

via The U.S. Wastes 40 Percent of All Food Produced Per Year. How About We Stop Doing That? – Food – GOOD.

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Groundbreaking New UN Report on How to Feed the World’s Hungry: Ditch Corporate-Controlled Agriculture | | AlterNet

More evidence in support of Local Food and Organic crops….

There are a billion hungry people in the world and that number could rise as food insecurity increases along with population growth, economic fallout and environmental crises. But a roadmap to defeating hunger exists, if we can follow the course — and that course involves ditching corporate-controlled, chemical-intensive farming.

“To feed 9 billion people in 2050, we urgently need to adopt the most efficient farming techniques available. And today’s scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production in regions where the hungry live,” says Olivier de Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Agroecology is more or less what many Americans would simply call “organic agriculture,” although important nuances separate the two terms.

Used successfully by peasant farmers worldwide, agroecology applies ecology to agriculture in order to optimize long-term food production, requiring few purchased inputs and increasing soil quality, carbon sequestration and biodiversity over time. Agroecology also values traditional and indigenous farming methods, studying the scientific principals underpinning them instead of merely seeking to replace them with new technologies. As such, agroecology is grounded in local (material, cultural and intellectual) resources.

A new report, presented today before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, makes several important points along with its recommendation of agroecology. For example, it says, “We won’t solve hunger and stop climate change with industrial farming on large plantations.” Instead, it says the solution lies with smallholder farmers.

via Groundbreaking New UN Report on How to Feed the World’s Hungry: Ditch Corporate-Controlled Agriculture | | AlterNet.

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