Ben Franklin’s quote reminds us that our nation was founded on the wisdom of prevention. His is a powerful reminder that there’s no time like the present to break bad habits, and that we’ll also reap our rewards in the future. To this end, check out these stories on lawyers, writers, politicians and non-profits that are working towards food justice; some concerning news for men’s health and environmental toxicants; more ridiculous news about fast food marketing; the incredible power of our bodies; and more. Have a great weekend, Warriors!
Words to Live By
“Tis easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.”
— Benjamin Franklin
Standing up for the Freedom to Know About Our Food
“Ag-gag” laws are now realities in seven states. These laws essentially protect agricultural facilities from journalists. The latest law was signed into effect earlier this month in Idaho. Advocates for animal rights and the freedom of speech are standing up, and have already filed suit to take Idaho to court over first amendment violations. Read a little more about the “ag-gag” law in the Take Part article and learn a little more about the latest champions who are joining the fight to stop this law in the Cornucopia Institute piece.
Fighting Hunger and the Industrial Food System
It’s startling and disturbing that about 1/8th of the world does not have enough food to eat, and about 1/3 of the food in the world gets wasted. A recent U.N. report out calls for drastic measures against integrated corporate food and agriculture conglomerates and calls for a movement towards agroecological principles to save our food system (and ourselves). Read a synopsis and commentary at the Truth Dig link. On a similar note, Danielle Neirenberg’s Food Tank recently released a report highlighting farmers who are finding innovative ways to grow food sustainably. When it comes to our food system, we’ve got problems, but we’ve also got solutions; it’s just a matter of us working for what we believe is right!
What?! Our Bodies Can do That?!
We focus a lot on advocacy and action in the world around us but, occasionally, news about what is happening within us is just too interesting to pass up. Two fascinating tidbits about the human body that we learned this week: the power of the nose and the power of the mind/spirit. Read on and give yourself a little pat on the back — your body can accomplish amazing things. And while we’re exploring the wonders of self-discovery, check out the Huffington Post article on scientific studies that back up things about ourselves (physically, mentally, spiritually) that we’ve known for millennia.
The Fast Food Frontline
The Movement Abroad
Not only did we learn about urban agriculture in Berlin (via Food Tank) and train station gardening in Tokyo (via Fast Coexist) this week, we also got some forward-thinking news from France. A senatorial report presented to the French Parliament last week assessed the effectiveness of taxing junk-food and using the same logic that’s behind taxing alcohol and tobacco (it’s unhealthy, not needed, takes government funding in health care dollars, etc. . ), the report proposes to move forward with said tax. The actual legislation will be presented in the summer of 2015, but we will keep our eye on this one. We’ve seen similar bills come up in states and townships around the U.S., but it is inspiring to see a whole country moving forward with figuring out ways to account for the true costs of food.
Finally! We Won’t Have to Look Away from Instagram to Order Fast Food
Taking the time to look at the menu at a fast food restaurant is just too much of a hassle, right? I mean, when we’ve got to keep up Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Words With Friends on our smart phones, we just can’t be bothered with food! Well, finally, there’s an answer. As a response to falling fast food sales (let’s keep up the good work, folks!) a few fast food establishments are launching mobile apps from which you can order meals, receive coupons and generally speed up the way in which they can tempt customers. Veiled under claims of appeasing “consumer demand” this is just another crazy marketing ploy by these moguls to make money. Let’s keep our eyes on them!
More often than not ecotoxicology studies center around children, infants, or infants in utero and their mothers; populations that are considered to be extremely vulnerable. Thus, we don’t always get news about how chemicals in the environment affect grown men. The New York Times article discusses a study published last month on phthalates (found in plastics) and the endocrine-disrupting effects that they have on male fertility. Similarly, our friends at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have scoured a number of studies on environmental influences on men’s health.
What We're Watching
From Big Tobacco to Farmers’ Markets
In the tradition of promoting a Kickstarter that’s already been funded, we’re highlighting the work of the North Carolina-based Rural Advancement Foundation International. For the past many decades, RAFI has been helping the state transition from big tobacco farming to more innovative and forward thinking agriculture. Now they’re creating a catalog of ALL of their inspiring enterprises … and we are excited to see it. Read a little more in the Civil Eats article below (and check out the photo documentary by the remarkable Alix Blair at the bottom of the piece).
Turning (Less) Water Into Wine
Our world is changing and with it the food that we eat and the crops that our farmers grow. Consider the drought-stricken West, particularly Nevada. This NPR piece explores a family’s farm that has diversified its operations in the face of climatic change. From alfalfa to grapes, and water-use-efficiency grains like sorghum and teff (both gluten free!), this piece highlights the importance of water and the resilience that an innovative spirit can have in the face of a shifting climate.
Mark Bittman’s cookbook VB6 (which encourages us to eat vegan everyday before 6pm) could very quickly become a staple in your vegan kitchen. Homemade falafel can be a challenge, but this delicious dish is naturally vegan and gluten free, and the baked rather than deep-fried technique in this recipe makes it a super-healthy meal.
Baked Falafel with Tahini Sauce
Prep time: 5 minutes
Yield: 8 servings
Time: 45 minutes, plus up to 24 hours to soak chickpeas
- 1¾ cups dried chickpeas
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- Scant teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
- 1½ teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup tahini
1. Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with water by 3 or 4 inches—the beans will triple in volume as they soak. Soak for 12 to 24 hours, checking once or twice to see if you need to add more water to keep the beans submerged. (If the soaking time is inconvenient for you, just leave them in the water until they’re ready; you should be able to break them apart between your fingers.)
2. Heat the oven to 375°F. Drain the chickpeas and transfer them to a food processor with the garlic, onion, cumin, cayenne, herb, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, baking soda, and lemon juice. Pulse until everything is minced but not pureed, stopping the machine and scraping down the sides if necessary; add water tablespoon by tablespoon if necessary to allow the machine to do its work, but keep the mixture as dry as possible. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or cayenne as needed.
3. Grease a large rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Roll the bean mixture into 20 balls, about 1½ inches each, then flatten them into thick patties. Put the falafel on the prepared pan and brush the tops with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Bake until golden all over, 10 to 15 minutes on each side.
4. Meanwhile, whisk the tahini and remaining salt with ½ cup water in a small bowl until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve the falafel drizzled with the sauce.