Monday, February 18, 2013

Energy Bites

I really hope the name "energy bites" isn't copyrighted or something... Anywho, so I know that these are so last year and about 8,997 pins ago, but I finally made some of my own and they were absolutely delicious. And I am so sorry, I forgot to measure AGAIN! I promise to get better at that. Basically, I took 4 bags of trader joes oatmeal, a tablespoon (ish) of cinnamon, about the same amount of vanilla extract, and a couple dashes of all spice and mixed it all together.

 

Then I mixed in about 1 1/4 cups of melted crunchy peanut butter until a sticky blob of goo formed.





 Ball them up, cover, refrigerate, enjoy!!!


 







 I made the balls about an inch in circumference and eat 3 at a time. You can really do just about anything with these. Experiment. Truthfully, I should have added flax and chia seed to properly label them "energy bites," but I was out. You can do coconut, almond butter, honey, cranberries, raisins, the list is endless. Just make sure that all the ingredients you add don't have to be cooked or baked. You'll definitely want to refrigerate them before you eat.

Wealthy and Healthy

Nine types of apples. NINE. That's how many variations my local grocery store has in stock right now. Honeycrisp, Gold Delicious, Jazz, Cameo, Braeburn, Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith. First of all, I have never even heard of a "Jazz" apple and I don't even want to know how far it had to travel to get my supermarket. According to allseasonsproduce.com, the only apple listed above that is actually in season right now is the Braeburn. The Gala is close to being in season, though. Brookefield Orchards' website says the season for Honeycrisp is early September. Gold Delicious= late September. Red Delicious= late September. I am not meaning to criticize the farmers who worked very hard to harvest all the food I see in the supermarket everyday. I am just currently obsessed with learning where my food comes from, what it is really made of, and how it will affect my body. I am picking on apples because I used to resist them. I used to resist any healthy food, really. But what's funny is that I spent the whole weekend staring at my last apple refusing to eat it until I had to. I'm a little broke right now, so my fridge is pretty much empty. I know that apples are really healthy and they do a pretty good job of filling you up. This is why I was holding on to that apple. I was waiting until that last broke and starving moment that I could, to savor it. How is it that when I have enough money to buy whatever food I want to, I go for crap? Doesn't logic tell me that I should invest in the good stuff that will fill me up and do good things to me? On to the next subject: the cost of food. Here is a bag of fruit: $6.99. Here is a bag of chips: 3 for $5.00. No wonder America is so stinkin' fat! You can get THREE bags of chips for two whole dollars less than ONE bag of fruit. Healthy food costs more, it's as simple as that. There is a correlation between wealth and health. Wealthier people have more resources to the healthier food. They have transportation to get to the supermarkets, they can afford the more expensive and healthier food and so on. From CNN: "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently published a study that found $1 could buy 1,200 calories of potato chips but just 250 calories of vegetables and 170 calories of fresh fruit. And it is also true that Mississippi, the poorest state in the country, is also the fattest." Also: "The rise of Type 2 diabetes in children coincides with the rise of child obesity and childhood poverty." Let's be honest here, you've allllll thought about it at one point or another: how can that lady in front of me in line weigh 400 pounds AND be on welfare? How is it possible that her ENTIRE family can literally make NO money but yet look like she eats enough to satisfy a fat King? It's because crappy food is cheap food. Not loving it. Here's my new way of looking at this issue: I say eat like you have all the money in the world. We spend so much money on stuff that does not matter. Stuff that tears up, gets lost, gets stolen, gets thrown away... but we don't spend money on our body. The ONE thing in the world that is truly worth investing in. Our body is all there is. Without health you have nothing. Take the time to invest in yourself. Spend a little more money at the grocery store on food that will treat you right. Instead of only saving that apple for a broke, hungry day- eat it every day and be wealthy in your health.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Breakfast Love



I have learned to really love and appreciate a good hearty breakfast. I can't believe I used to ACTUALLY hate this meal! Cutting back from 3 eggs to 2 and adding fruit makes a big difference. It's also good to use 2 egg whites with 1 full egg. These little changes can make a big difference.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ingredients

Remember the Super Bowl commercial this year, "God Made a Farmer?" Wasn't it great? It reached out to so many people and there was more buzz about it than any other commercial during the game. I think commercials like this are proving that America wants to be healthy. America wants to get back to our roots and live better. When I first moved to Nashville I was so excited about the emphasis on "farm to table" restaurants, the abundance of local farmers' markets, and the large amount of bikeways and greenways we have. This city really wants to be healthy. The trend of local restaurants wanting to buy from local farmers is great! Maybe it's just a mental thing, but eating a salad that was in the soil less than 24 hours before, just gives me such a great feeling! As most of you know, I work in news. For years now, we have been doing stories about "food deserts" and "community gardens." They all just seemed so mundane to me that I never thought twice about these community efforts. But lately I have realized that the human race really is in a crisis. We are feeding ourselves plates full of shit and we are making ourselves sick. The food we eat is triggering diseases and we are killing ourselves. We laugh at our diseases and act like being fat is ok. In a meeting at work today our web producer told us that the owner of Heart Attack Grill died (from a heart attack of course). This is disgusting. We make jokes about serious conditions that we have given ourselves and it is not funny. If you are over 350 pounds, you can eat for free at the "Heart Attack Grill." Good Lord. Our forefathers must be rolling over in their graves.
I am still on my food documentary kick, the latest being "Ingredients." Below are my notes from this one. I love food. I've said it a million times before and I'll say it a few more times at least :) Ever since I started this journey to good health, I have become obsessed with learning about what we put into our bodies and where it comes from.
Taste buds are here for a reason: to guide us to better nutrition. It is not greed or gluttony to enjoy the taste of food; it is the natural drive to nourish ourselves. The state of food in America is not a happy story. The industrial food model is not interested in flavor or quality. Through grassroots pressure on a weekly basis is the only reason there is anything truly edible in this country. The push for local food stems from the failings of the industrial food model. How did we get to the point where we are eating food more differently than we ever have before? Here it is... broken down, plain and simple: In the U.S. beginning, we had more land than labor. Modern mechanization and agriculture production flourished. The global commodity trade came of age. America's abundance began supplying hungry cities overseas. Scientific advances increased yields. Less labor was needed and people left the farm. After WWII, factories began producing fertilizer and farming became a chemical process. The agriculture business was born! With an increase in the abundance of food, the cost to grow food products was more more than it was worth. Government subsidies began and that is when Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz famously said to farmers: "Adapt or Die." What a douchelord. This era became the end of family farming for many.
A lady in this documentary pointed this out and I had a Eureka moment. Over the years we have had tons and tons of food recalls, from spinach to scallions to peanut butter, etc... But remember the dog food recall? People FREAKED out about the dog food recall! If food runoff has made it to our dog food factories, our country is in serious trouble. We shrugged our shoulders when people were dying from infected spinach, but when dog food was infiltrated, we pay attention. I love my puppy as much as the next person, but it's just ridiculous.
Back in the day European settlers liked us because of the micro climate and our rich soil. I have always admired the French and their way of life. If I had the money I would be in France attending cooking school right now. That is my lifelong dream (thank you Audrey Hepburn). In many European cities if you want bread, you wait in line either at the beginning of the day, or at the end. You go to the market everyday for your ingredients. There are no Wal-Marts or Super Targets. You eat what is in season and is available in your area. We are told that food should be cheap. but who's telling us this? The fast food industry! Dollar Menus and the 99 cent aisle in the grocer. We spend less on food in America that any other country in the world. Cheap food is our inalienable right, right? We are creatures of convenience. There are roughly 17,000 new foods introduced each year. As if we need any more versions of cheese poofs in our pantry!!
With the growth of local farmers' markets, an alternative food system is being established. People are returning to the pleasures of seasonal eating- the way our grandparents ate. These markets are providing work for young farmers, proving that you can still make a living from our land. I went to the farmers' market this weekend and I had so much fun. There was a sweet little old farmer man who handpicked my vegetables for me and explained to me what was in season and what was actually grown locally. These people at the market are passionate about food. They want to help us buy the best local produce available. Go to your local market, ask what's in season, and learn from your neighborhood farmers.
Our race to cheaper food has pushed farmers and ranchers to lower costs in many ways. They are forced to increase operations, use cheap labor and corn feed and operate on a mass production scale. The U.S. beef industry has been able to cut prices in half since the 1960s. This is incredible and I am not discounting the brilliance and the hard work behind our food industry. A good friend of mine has worked in the beef industry his whole life and I respect his hard work, but there are hidden costs to conventional farming methods. Mass scale operations bring on quality control issues. This results are food safety problems and food borne illnesses, such as: E. Coli and salmonella. There are around 5,200 deaths a year that are traced to food borne illnesses. I wrote this in my previous blog, but I'm going to mention it again because it still astounds me: one pound of ground beef is made from hundreds, if not thousands of different cows. If ONE of those cows had some strand disease, it's all mixed in that batch and makes it hard to trace the source of that illness. The beef is distributed in every direction possible, which is a problem of mass scale production. Someone in the documentary "Ingredients" is quoted as saying: "The greatest single factor in all livestock disease is density." This pretty much says it all.
In the year 2000 there was less farmland in the world for the first time EVER. There was a huge world net loss and acreage has been dropping ever since. There are more people in the world to feed but less land to feed them on. Eventually these two lines will cross and it ain't gonna be pretty! Suburbia absorbs farmland and there are new developments everywhere you look. How will we feed ourselves in the future if there is no farmland? I imagine we will eat straight chemicals and junk that comes from machines. Farmers make up less than 1% of the world's population, but yet they are supposed to feed the world. When is the last time you had to choose your profession in one of those little drop box thingys? Guess what occupation is not listed: "farmer." They have to choose "other." It just amazes me that we really have no idea where our food comes from and what is in it. This is our body we are talking about here. Literally the only thing keeping us alive. We put more energy into picking out our clothes and shaving than taking care of what's inside us. When was the last time you ate something that had seriously impressionable flavor? Think really hard about what that food was and try to figure out why your body reacted the way it did. Take the time to listen to your body and follow your taste buds. Our bodies are smart. Increase your quality of life. Get food from your local farmer and take care of yourself. Your body will thank you.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The food Industry

Lately I have been on a big food documentary kick. Expect several future posts like this one in the future :) Food is fascinating to me. It is so powerful. The food industry controls so much more of our lives than we really know. I think about how much I have let food control me and I am astonished at how little I really know about it. This post revolves completely around the movie "Food, Inc." Everything below is paraphrased from the movie. I was just so intrigued by the movie, I wanted to share what I learned with you!
The way we eat food has changed more in the past 50 years than it has in the previous 10,000. The average supermarket has around 47,000 products. The average meal travels 1500 miles from the farm to the supermarket. There are no seasons in the American supermarket. Tomatoes are available year-round: picked green, ripened with ethylene gas. They look like a tomato, so they are more like the notion of a tomato than the actual food itself. There are no bones in our meat anymore. Where our food is grown is no longer a farm, it is a factory. Food comes from assembly lines.
Fast Food: A handful of companies control what we eat and how we make our food. In the 1930s the McDonald brothers brought the factory system into the kitchen. The strategy was to have the worker do the same task over and over again. McDonald’s is the largest purchaser of ground beef in the U.S. They want uniformity- they want a burger bought in Nashville, TN to taste the same way as one bought in Los Angeles. Through this, they have changed the way ground beef is produced. McDonald’s is the largest buyer of: potatoes, chicken, pork, tomatoes, lettuce, and apples. So… even if you don’t eat fast food, you’re eating meat produced to cater to their system. In the 1970s the top 5 meat packers controlled 25% of the market. Today’s top 4 control over 80% of the market. This goes the same for pork. The food industry changed the entire way that chickens are raised. In 1950 it took approximately 70 days to raise a chicken for slaughter. In 2008 it took around 48. Poultry is now raised for slaughter in half the time they were 50 years ago but are now 2 times as big! People like to eat white meat, so they re-designed the chicken to have larger breasts. They RE-DESIGNED the chicken. That just doesn't even sound right! The processing system is highly mechanized because they’re not processing chickens, they’re processing food. This means that all those chickens on the assembly line have to be the same size so that the machines will work properly.
The decline of the tobacco industry in the south spiked chicken farming. Chickens don’t see the sun in some farms, they're crammed together in grow houses, walking amongst the dead. It’s not farming, it’s mass producing-- like an assembly line. When you grow a chicken from a chick to full grown in 7 weeks, their bones and internal organs can’t keep up with their rapid growth. A lot of then can only take a few steps before they have to plop down because they can’t keep up with all the weight they’re carrying. Antibiotics are put in the feed, which passes through the chicken, the bacteria then builds up resistance so the antibiotics don’t work anymore. One farmer became allergic to all antibiotics and can’t take them.
Corn: The grocery store seems like such a vast array of companies, but this is an optical illusion because there are actually only a few involved. 100 years ago a farmer in America could grow 20 bushels of corn per acre. Today, 200 bushels is no problem. Now, this is an astonishing achievement, for which they DO deserve credit. Farmers are now subsidized by the bushel. Congress has passed farm bills that allow farmers to harvest corn at a low price. We have engineered foods that won't stale in the fridge, don’t develop rancidity, and reek of high fructose corn syrup. So many products are made of corn. Plus, you can feed it to animals. They are now teaching fish to eat corn! This drives the price of meat down because corn is so cheap. Farmers are selling corn below the price of production. The average American eats 200 pounds of meat per year. Cows are not designed to eat corn. They are designed to eat grass. We feed them corn because it is cheap and makes them fat quickly! We feed corn to the cow. Then E.Coli forms. They stand ankle deep in their own manure. Their Hyde becomes caked in manure. 400 cows are slaughtered per hour- how do you keep that manure from getting on the carcasses? We have learned, for example how to plant, fertilize and harvest corn using global positioning satellite technology and nobody sat back and asked: should we be feeding cows corn? Basically, we gave ourselves E. Coli to save bucks and make cows fat. Spinach and other foods have had to be recalled because of E. Coli runoff from factories.
Here are some interesting facts: during the Bush administration the USDA Chief of Staff was the former beef industry chief lobbyist. The head of the FDA was former Executive VP of the National Food Processors Association. Regulatory agencies are being controlled by the same companies they are supposed to be scrutinizing. In 1972 the FDA conducted about 50,000 food safety inspections. In 2006: 9,164. There has always been food poisoning. But an increase in technology should mean that are food system has gotten safer, right? But now it is more and more contaminated. In 2007 there was a huge beef recall. Enough beef was recalled to give every person in America a fast food hamburger. In the 1970s there were thousands of slaughter houses. Now there are around 10. Today’s hamburger has thousands of different cows ground up in it. This means that the odds increase tremendously that you could be eating beef from a cow carrying a dangerous pathogen. There was a little boy who died from a fast food hamburger- It took 16 days for the food industry to trace down the origin of the disease and enact a recall. In 1998… The USDA implemented microbial testing for salmonella and E. Coli. If a plant repeatedly failed tests, they would be shut down because that indicated they had an ongoing contamination problem. Companies immediately took USDA to court. Courts said USDA didn’t have authority to shut down the plants. So- you could have a pound of meat products that is a petri dish of salmonella and the USDA can’t do anything about it. Then a new law was created in direct response called “Kevin’s Law” after a 2 year old boy who died from eating contaminated meat. This gave back power to USDA to shut down plants that repeatedly produced contaminated meat. It still hasn’t passed. The answer to this is that it’s not because consumers would mind paying extra for a safety guarantee, but because of all the added costs this would tack on to meat companies. So… the industry is more protected that people getting sick and dying?
Ammonia kills bacteria, so it became a processing tool with meat. BPI is a company that makes hamburger meat filler that’s been cleansed with ammonia to kill E. Coli. So, we had to create an entire industry to kills contamination in our meat that is being mass produced. This product is in at least 70% of hamburgers in the U.S. At the time of this documentary, a company official said he expected it to be in 100% of American hamburgers soon.
Chips, sodas are cheaper than fruits and veggies. A double cheeseburger from McDonald’s costs less than a head of broccoli. We have skewed our food system to the bad calories. All these cheap, bad foods come from commodity crops- wheat, corn , soy beans. These calories are really cheap, which is why one of the biggest predictors of obesity is income level. At the beginning of the human race, we were fighting for enough calories to survive. Now there are too many. The industry wants to blame obesity on the personal responsibility, but they’re engineering foods to press our evolutionary buttons. Salt, sugar and fat. Sugar is lethal.A diet of high fructose corn syrup and refined carbs leads to spikes in insulin, gradually wearing down the system by which our body metabolizes sugar. Type II diabetes used to only affect adults. Now, it’s affecting children at epidemic proportions. One in three Americans born after 2000 will contract early onset diabetes. For minorities, this is 1 in 2. Modern Agriculture's motto is: faster, fatter, bigger, cheaper. In the early 1900s, average farmer could feed 6-8 people. Now they can feed 126 people. Most productive people ever. 70% of processed food in the store has genetically modified ingredients. Not too long ago the California legislature passed SB 63, which called for all clones foods to be labeled as cloned foods. The FDA was against this because labeling would create fear. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed it. We have a right to know what’s in our food! When you run an item across the supermarket scanner, you are voting. You are voting for organic, or non-organic. Local or non-local.