The power of love is something to celebrate everyday, but a little extra acknowledgement of its place in life -- along with some good dark chocolate -- never hurt anybody. So, Happy Day Before Valentine’s Day, Warriors! We stumbled upon a bunch of great videos this time around, so you may want to take some time to sit and watch (and laugh) before you go about the rest of your day!
Words to Live By
“Where there is love there is life.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
Take the Power (Industry) Back
The connection between the power we generate to run our lives, climate change, and our health is all too real. As levels of CO2 and other greenhouses gases rise, so, too, do incidences of asthma, lung cancer, and a host of other chronic and deadly illnesses. Children are some of the people who are most at risk of suffering from these afflictions. Dominique Browning and Moms Clean Air Force
are fighting to do something about it. Read about their latest visit with the EPA in effort to urge the agency to set stringent carbon pollution standards. Head to our “GET INVOLVED” section (or follow the link in the MCAF article below) to take action and support this cause.
Uncovering the Scaffold of the Food Industry
“I’d eat a healthier diet, but it is too expensive,” the argument goes. It’s a sad fact that junk food costs less. Why? Much of the reason is the externalities of industrial food processing, grain growing, raising meat, dairy, and don’t forget sugar that simply aren’t added in to the supermarket price. The Lexicon of Sustainability
is a PBS-funded project promoting awareness of ways we can make ourselves and our planet healthier through agriculture. Their latest video explores using a true cost accounting method to calculate what junk food might cost if we stripped away all of the support that keeps the industry afloat.
Professor Pollan Pontificates Poetically
The Edible Schoolyard Project-supported Edible Education 101
course taught by Michael Pollan and Raj Patel is well on its way at UC Berkeley. For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to be participating in person, we finally have a video of the first class. Check out Prof. Pollan’s take on the advent of industrial agriculture and the invention of our modern food system.
Interested in learning more about industrial agriculture’s effects on the environment? Check out Tom Philpott’s latest article on the huge problem of erosion in Iowa (and other parts of the U.S.)
Join Moms Clean Air Force and Limit Carbon Pollution
This will fire you up about shutting down coal-fired plants and building a clean energy future. MCAF is a fast-growing advocacy group of women (and men) fighting for the health of our children and ourselves by combatting special-interest lobbyists and engaging in some clean lobbying themselves. Join through the link below and make your voice heard by writing the EPA to tell them that you support new limits on carbon pollution.
The Super Fight Against Superbugs
Our friends at the Center for Science in the Public Interest are taking up the cause and fighting once again to get drugs out of the meat industry. If you are as outraged as we are about the blatant overuse of antibiotics, the links between big pharma and big food, and the real dangers that they create for our health and the health of our planet, then use the link below to tell USDA Secretary Vilsack how you feel.
The Fast Food Frontline
More Fries, More Frustration
A recent study out of the University of Toronto used three separate experiments showing that eating fast food, living around a high concentration of fast food restaurants, and even looking at pictures of fast food makes people impatient. One of the researchers says that the study can only point to a loose correlation, but we can fill in the rest with anecdotal evidence, can’t we?
The Chicken McNugget Exposed. Again?
As McDonald’s continues to expand the global reach of its golden arches (its latest conquest is Vietnam
), in an attempt at transparency (and to brunt bad press like the pink-slime exposés) its Canadian arm has released a video showing the way that McNuggets are made. It takes us to a Cargill plant (yup, the same Cargill that, with two other corporations, controls 70% of US beef
) and shows us the process of turning chicken breasts into Nuggets. Take a look -- although, be warned, there are lots of dead chicken parts. You’ll question the authenticity of the nugget. Then consider this Atlantic article that ran in October analyzing the inside of chicken nuggets
(albeit, the article does not report which restaurant’s nuggets it used). Also take a moment to wonder about how nugget manufacturing may vary from country to country. It’s cool to see the industrial process, but it doesn’t really convince us that McDonald’s is safe, healthy, or to be trusted.
Relax, here’s some science
Work stressing you out? Home stressing you? Finding a date to the big Valentine’s Day dance stressing you out? The list could go on and on, and despite our best efforts, we all can get overrun to the point where we need some help getting our minds, bodies, and souls back together. This article relies heavily on reputable scientific research to outline five solid solutions to de-stressing and living each day in a calm and present manor.
Dr. Weil is a great go-to guy for some quick advice for the things that ail you, or the things that spark your curiosity. Here’s a quick article explaining his opinion about fried foods as a cancer-causing agent. Acrylamide, a compound known to cause cancer in lab animals, forms when certain foods are cooked at high temperatures for a long period of time (think overcooked French fries). See what the good doctor has to say. Also, if you are interested in learning more from Dr. Weil, check out his weekly bulletin.
What We're Watching
Funny Fighting for Food Fairness
A recent Civil Eats piece focused on a funny new tactic
that big players in the sustainable food movement are using: being funny. We can often get bogged down in many of the tragic, unjust, and ethically questionable problems that plague our food system, and it’s nice to take a step back and sprinkle a little sarcasm, cynicism, and hilarity into the situation. We found two videos hat fit the bill this week. The first is a Food and Water Watch attempt to get us thinking about the meat industry (read the FWW press release
). The second is an effort to get us thinking about food labeling and marketing by Only Organic
, a relatively new coalition of organic food companies (read more about their stance and see more of their videos
). Laugh and learn.
Stories Inspired by the Natural World
Richard Louv has brought the idea of “nature deficit disorder” to the world’s stage and his Children in Nature Network
performs the absolutely necessary function of connecting children to the natural world. And what about adults? Getting outside is fundamental to everyone’s health and wellness. If you’re looking for motivation to get outside this week, then we have found it. This TED Radio Hour focused entirely on the connections within the natural world (and don’t forget, folks, we are all just a bunch of mammals!). So, take some time to learn about ecological restoration, the experience of living in Biosphere 2, the “biophany” of the forest, and ways in which we can save the bees. Then, go outside, surround yourself with trees, and put these wonderful lessons into practice.
Italian Stew from a Fitness Guru
Tracy Anderson, fitness advisor to the stars, focuses on more than yoga mats, free weights, and intense fitness routines. A huge part of her Metamorphosis program
covers nutrition, and this Italian veggie stew recipe comes from one of her latest blog posts.
Ribollita (Tuscan vegetable soup)
- 3T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 large celery stalk (with leaves OK)
- 1 large onion
- 1.5 C (or 1 can crushed) Italian tomatoes (like San Marzano or your preference)
- 3 sprigs of Thyme
- 1.5 C (or 1 can rinsed) Cannellini beans (crush ½ of these as put them into the pot)
- Approx. 8 Cups of Shredded cabbage ( I like savoy and cavallo nero mixed, but any type will do)
- 4 C water
- 4 C stock (chicken or vegetable)
- Iodized sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
- 2 cups chopped fresh baby kale
- 3 potatoes (peeled and diced)
- Rind of organic parmesan cheese
1. Start by making a “soffritto”, which is the base of so many Italian soups and sauces. Include the extra virgin olive oil, carrots, celery stalk and onion.
2. Chop the above vegetables finely. Sauté in olive oil for about 5 minutes until softened.
3. Add the tomatoes, thyme, cannellini beans, shredded cabbage, water, stock, iodized sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
4. If you’d like, add the potatoes and rind of parmesan cheese.
5. Bring to boil, then cover pot, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours.
6. 5 minutes before serving, add the chopped fresh spinach and baby kale.
7. Serve as is, or with additional parmesan cheese, pepper and a drizzle of really great olive oil.
This is the kind of Italian dish that doesn’t rely on perfect measurements or even the same ingredients every time, as it was a peasant dish and meant to “reboil” leftovers. (It’s a great pot for using things you don’t want to waste -- like the rind from the organic parmesan cheese). I leave the pot cover slightly off for the last 45 min so it gets very thick. My favorite ribollitta is from Arezzo, Italy, where it is so thick you can eat it with a fork! Have fun with it -- somehow it always turns out delicious!