News Roundup: Tuesday 1.21.2014

The nation celebrated the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. yesterday and today’s “Words to Live By” remind us of how universally applicable his vision is to any movement for justice. Today we bring you new and hopeful information about our national calorie consumption, a report that ranks countries by the ease at which citizens can get healthy food. We also found a fascinating story about the juice industry that may get you thinking differently about buying a carton of OJ. And we have news about bees, baby probiotics, eating locally and more...

Words to Live By


“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Newest News


A Global Search for Healthy Food
Most of us have fallen victim to comparing our eating habits with our neighbors and friends (a practice that can sometimes inspire us and other times frustrate us), but what would happen if we did this on the global scale? Oxfam recently released a report ranking countries on criteria for healthy eating. On the top was the Netherlands, and on the bottom was Chad. The U.S. came in 21st (tied with Japan). Oxfam based its criteria on the affordability of and access to fresh produce, lean proteins and clean water. In related news, check out this Overseas Development Institute report (and infographics) on the rise of global obesity.  When combined, these two pieces of research really point out the disparities in our global food system. All the more motivation to keep working towards a more fair and just food system; locally and globally!

 

Congress and Business Pressure the President on GMO Labeling
A few weeks ago Politico uncovered the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s draft letter to congress lobbying for weak GMO labeling laws, but this week we bring you some good news. A group of over 200 natural and organic food companies, environmental groups and lawmakers drafted their own letter to president Obama urging him to enact the FDA’s authority to label GMO’s and not cave to the GMA lobbyists. This is shaping up to be a very siloed debate with heavily vested interests on both sides. We’re watching closely!
 
See below in our “GET INVOLVED” section, or click this link to help encourage congress and our president to enact legislation requiring labels on GMOs. And don’t miss Michele Simon's Op-ed highlighting the role of the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s Big Food follies on GMO labeling.
Organic food and farm groups ask Obama to require GMO food labels via Reuters
Lawmakers ask Obama to Keep ‘07 GMO Labeling Promise via Food Democracy Now!

 

Studying Bee-havior: Bees with GPS
We’ve been paying attention to the way the neonicotinoids affect bee populations and the ways declining bee populations will affect our food system. Scientists in Australia have developed a method of researching bee flight patterns using tiny lightweight trackers. This particular study is just getting underway, but the hopes are that it will give more insight into the mysteries of colony collapse. If you are interested in doing more for our flying, furry, pollinators, see our “GET INVOLVED” section below to see how you can help save our bees.
The internet of bees could save our food supply via Quartz

 

Get Involved!


Over the last few months we’ve provided a number of different outlets for ways that we can make our voices heard and stand up for our health and wellness. Here’s a list of some current causes that you can support.
   
Make A Comment or Sign a Petition on 2,4-D, The “Agent Orange” derivative
Dow Chemical has developed GMO corn and soy that is resistant to a powerful herbicide. Read up on it here and make a public comment or sign the petition below.
View the EPA’s Environmental Impact Assessment on 2,4-D and comment via this link to regulations.gov
Sign a petition opposing congressional approval of the GMOs via Center for Food Safety

 

Speak Out Against the Trans Pacific Partnership
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a gigantic multinational trade deal involving over 600 corporate entities, could cause some huge  problems for our food system as well as a host of other negative effects.  Use the Food and Water Watch website to write a letter to congress if you are as concerned as we are.
Tell Congress to Stop the TPP via Food and Water Watch

 

Speak Out For the Bees (and the Future of Our Food)
Neonicotinoid pesticides have been shown to significantly damage bee populations. Bees pollinate most of the crops in the worlds food supply. Our survival is dependent on theirs. Sign the petitions to EPA officials below to let them know that we want neonicotinoids out!
Petition to Kevin Costello, EPA Pesticide Re-Evaluation Division via Change.org
Petition Gina McCarthy, U.S. EPA Administrator via Save-bees.org
Petition Congress via Take Part

 

Speak Out For GMO Labeling
The GMO labeling (and GMO creation in general) debate goes on. There are a number of ways that you can voice your concerns and views on this issue.
Tell Congress and Obama to Label GE Food! via Center for Food Safety
Stop Monsanto's Secret Plan to Kill GMO Labeling via Food Democracy Now!
Tell General Mills and Cheerios: Label GMOs! Better Yet, Go Organic! via Organic Consumers Association
Tell the FDA: No Watered-Down, Voluntary Federal GMO Labeling Rules! via Organic Consumers Association
Tell the FDA: GMOs Aren't Natural via Organic Consumer Association

 

The Fast Food Frontline


Juiced Juice: The Story of Confiscated Cartons and Consumer Confusion
Juice: so healthy. Right? Wisdom out of Cambridge University begs to differ. Last week, researchers recommended that cartoned juice no longer counts as “fruit” for governmental nutrition recommendations. Their admonishment is not just about the high sugar content and lack of fiber in juice. This article delves into the fascinating history and technological developments of the juice industry, and the ways in which juice producers have changed many juices into an over-sweetened mixture of “flavor packs” and concentrate. It’s important to point out that this article is referring to juice that you buy in a carton, and not juice that is fresh squeezed.
 
Curbing Calories as a Nation
It’s rare that we have something uplifting to post in our Fast Food section, but a recent study released by the USDA gives us a glimmer of hope for our obesity epidemic. Working adults consumed 118 fewer calories per day last year than they did in previous years and obesity rates did not rise in 2012 (they have been rising for quite some time). Childhood obesity rates even dropped in some states. There’s speculation about the causes for these changes; but the consensus is that although this is not seen as an amazing feat for the health of our nation, many experts agree that it is a step in the right direction.
Americans' Eating Habits Take a Healthier Turn, Study Finds via The Wall Street Journal

  

Prevention News


Babies: Better Restin’ with Better Intestines
Many a parent can attest to the debilitating effects of colic on baby and parent health, but researchers may be closer to making it an affliction of the past. The health benefits of the microbiota in our gut are emerging as a new frontier in modern medicine. This recent study out of Italy found that babies who were given a probiotic solution had bouts of inconsolable crying that were about ⅔ shorter than their untreated counterparts. It also helped with incidences of fewer spit-ups and less constipation. The days of rubbing whiskey on baby’s gums have long past, and the days of giving a dropper of microbes might be right around the corner.
Probiotic Given to Newborns Appears to Help Prevent Colic via Wall Street Journal

  

What We're Watching


A Year of Eating Locally
This new documentary is airing soon, and it is right up our alley--a couple decides to spend a year eating locally and revelations  ensue. Check out the trailer below, as well as your local listings to tune in.
 
Eating Alabama via PBS Actual Headline name link via source

 

Wonderful Listening


Take a few minutes from your day and sink your senses into nature’s alchemy
“In nature, everything is constantly changing: the earth, the sky, the stars, and all living things. Spring is followed by summer, fall and winter. Water turns into clouds, rain and ice. Over time, rivers are created, canyons carved, and mountains formed. All of these elements, mixed together, create the magic of nature's alchemy.”
Alchemy Music by Justin R. Durban, and film by Henry Jun Wah Lee.
 

Tasty


All the Burger, None of the Meat
If "Veganuary" seems like too much of a commitment, but you're interested in eating less meat, this recipe may be for you. These veggie burgers are not intended to taste like or replace meat, rather they provide a delicious and savory protein and fiber-rich (and low in saturated fat) patty that you can eat alone or use as a vehicle for your favorite condiments. They freeze well too, so this large recipe can keep your family fed for a while. 
  
Veggie Burgers
 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for the baking sheet
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 10 large mushrooms, stems removed, caps diced
  • 1/2 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon chili powder, or to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups cooked black beans, from 2 cups dried black beans, or three 15.5-ounce cans black beans, drained
  • 2 cups cooked short-grain brown rice (from 1 cup dry)
  • 2 cups bread crumbs, homemade or store-bought
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (see note below)
  • Optional: One 5-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained and roughly chopped

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook until soft and shiny, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, red pepper, and mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until soft and aromatic, about 10 minutes. Add the corn, cumin, oregano, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook for 3 minutes more. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.

2. Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of the beans, 1 cup of the rice, and half of the cooked vegetable mixture. Mash with a potato masher until the ingredients are well blended. Use your hands to combine this mixture with the breadcrumbs, eggs, mustard, vinegar, soy sauce, yeast, and remaining 2 cups beans, remaining 1 cup rice, and cooked vegetables. Add the water chestnuts, if using. Let the mixture cool entirely.

3. Oil a baking sheet with olive oil. Using your hands, form the mixture into well-packed patties, about 4 inches in diameter. Lay the patties on the oiled baking sheet, and flatten with a spatula. Bake for 15 minutes, flip the patties, flatten with the spatula once again, and bake for another 15 minutes. Serve immediately, or if storing for later, allow to cool, then freeze on a baking sheet for at least 3 hours before transferring to freezer bags.

Storage freezer: Freezer-safe container or bag, 4 months (microwave for 1 minute and then grill, or fry the frozen patties on low heat in a covered, oiled frying pan for 10 minutes on each side).
Storage fridge: (After defrosting) covered container, 4 days.
Nutritional yeast: Nutritional yeast is a flaky, yellow, inactive yeast found at any health food or gourmet store, often in the bulk department. It is packed with vitamin B12, high in protein, and has a wonderful cheesy flavor that makes it an addictive and satisfying addition to popcorn.

From The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making by Alana Chernila (Clarkson Potter, 2012). Copyright © 2012 by Alana Chernila. Photographs copyright © 2012 by Jennifer May. All rights reserved. Used with permission of Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.

Veggie Burgers via Splendid Table

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