Posts Tagged ‘organic’

Thank Earth for the beautiful weather this weekend.

This weekend was fun. Friday night I went out with friends and celebrated my birthday. Got to see people who I haven’t been able to see all semester due to jam-packed schedules. It was a good time.

Then Sunday, quite the contrary to the forecasted weather, the sun came out! In fact, it never even drizzled until about 10pm when I was finally arriving home at the end of the night. Which was awesome. So the plans for Sunday went off without a hitch and I was able to make it to the Climate Rally on the mall, hosted by Earth Day Network, and the BBQ my professor threw at Gangplank Marina in southwest D.C.

I had one major complaint about the rally, other than the fact that they didn’t follow their schedule remotely. Which was that they had basically no vegetarian options at the event. Not that I planned to get food there, but it still irritated me. I tweeted about this, and had a lot of people agreeing it was pretty ridiculous. Be the change you want to see in the world, people. It was great to see bands like Passion Pit though. And Jimmy Cliff. Didn’t stay for The Roots but I bet they were great too.

Afterward, we went to the marina for the BBQ. It was really funny and indicative of the “type” of people in my class, but I would say more than half of us were vegetarians. There were plenty of veggie burgers and smart dogs to go around =)  Not to mention all the other delicious goodies that I didn’t really photograph because I’m still getting used to being  “that girl” that takes pictures of all the food (don’t mind doing this in front of friends and family but since I didn’t really know everyone that well…) I think Brad was particularly shocked by the vegetarianism because in Australia, “vego’s” aren’t nearly as common as they are here. They aren’t unheard of, but it’s still seen as a bit weird if you don’t eat meat. But BBQ’s, now those are as Aussie as it gets. So Brad manned the grill much of the time.

I also met Sarah, sister-in-law of Katie from Health for the Whole Self! I love the small world we live in.

The following pictures show the houseboat Eve lives on (the BBQ was on the marina’s “party boat”). She was recently interviewed by Politico about her “green lifestyle.” She’s kind of a big deal. But in all seriousness, she openly confesses that she does all of this stuff not just because she’s is an environmental goddess, as the article paints her as, but because they allow her to live frugally (houseboats are less expensive to live on than a waterfront house on land) and live “lazily” (why would she want to continuously have to refill the boat’s water tank when she could just take shorter showers?)

Worm composting! Yeah, we’re a bunch of eco-dorks. Whatevs.

Look how puffy/tired my eyes look. Totally exhausted from the eco-weekend. Oh also, Brad leaves to explore his next adventure in America/Canada tomorrow. Everyone wish him luck on his journey! I’m jealous. I want to travel…

Before I head off to work on my 8-pg paper on non-violence that I have yet to begin…I wanted to say something.

I guess the one thing that gets on my nerves slightly about Earth Day is the general rhetoric surrounding it. It’s not really about saving the Earth. The Earth isn’t going anywhere. However, certain species are dying and are being threatened, including the human species. The environmental movement should be encompass all people and be about changing our behaviors so that we pollute less, emit less CO2 and contribute less to global warming, sustain our soil nutrition, water, and bio-diversity, and all of the things that contribute to our survival, as humans. In a sense, it’s not really about saving the Earth, it’s about saving ourselves. Or rather, it’s about saving our children and grandchildren. I don’t know if that message would hit home harder for people or not though. And when it comes down it, maybe it’s just an argument over semantics. But I figured I would make that point here and now.

When it comes down to it, in my opinion (there are others who disagree), “saving the planet” is primarily a selfish endeavor. And isn’t that what nature is largely about after all? Survival of the fittest? What do you think? I’m not saying it’s bad to think of it in this sense, I am just saying it could maybe help us to frame the movement in a new way.

I have a few more entries coming up before the end of the semester, one of which is about the importance of our individual responsibilities/possibilities as a species evolving to live in a world where technology exists in harmony with nature, instead of pitted against it. I have written it already for another class, but it’s a bit long so I am going to parse it down so my message isn’t lost.

And, I’m off! Good luck with finals to those who are students and have a great week to everyone else, catch you on the flip side.


Review: Blue Ridge in Glover Park

Wow. So much blog-worthy stuff happening right now. Not sure where to start.

Let’s start with dinner, obviously. So as I mentioned, Joe and I tried out this Blue Ridge place in Glover Park. It was surprisingly empty, I thought, for a Sunday night. But hey, I guess we’re in a recession. I support people’s decision to eat at home. It in no way reflected poor food, because the food ended up being delicious(!). There was one minor hiccup. No wait, two. First was that we discovered that the menu had no seafood on it (except for oysters—which I have had an aversion to ever since that Mr. Bean episode where he…eh, just watch.) It was strange because the online menu had calamari, catfish, salmon pate, bluefish, lobster (all with the sustainable seal of approval *wink*). So me, being the difficult pescatarian that I am, felt like a huge pain in the you-know-what asking our server, basically, “What’s up with that?” She told me something about it being Sunday and they are trying to push the Prixe Fixe to which I basically responded, “No roast beef for me, lady, gimmee some seafood.” And then she said, “But we do have two artic char tonight, served over a bed of lentils…” to which I said, “Perfect!” Being picky will get you everywhere.

We ordered the sweet potato fritters for an appetizer. Holy grassfed cow, they tasted somethin’ magical. Joe ordered the steak which I totally knew he would, and then told me as he was eating how grainfed steak tastes better. I guess I’m not a meat-eater so I wouldn’t really know, but from what I read, eating meat from a cow that’s only ever eaten grass versus one whose gotten real fatty off of corn and grain feed, is like eating two different animals. In terms of taste. I would imagine that grassfed cows taste more like kangaroo or ostrich or something really lean like that. Point is, grassfed beef will give you lots of omega-3’s and less saturated fat and cholesterol which don’t seem to be high on Joe’s priority list. Oh well! Anyhow I will say that my arctic char was cooked perfectly (I’d never had arctic char before, very similar to salmon), the lentils were amazing and really flavorful, and the portions were generous.

So, I’m going to put these pictures up and pretend they aren’t giant blurs that break my photographer heart. Next time I’m not going to feel bad bringing my external flash.

Sweet potato fritters

Arctic char.

OK this is comical. and a steak, I swear.

  • Taste: I mean… A.
  • Atmosphere: Which brings me to the second hiccup of the night, which was when we were done and basically about to leave, when our friend, who I will refer to as Mr. Monsanto, started peepin’ around the corner a few tables away. (We were outside!) You see, Mr. Monsanto was a rat–and while I’m sure that has nothing to do with the food/hygiene of the place, I can’t not dock points for a rat in the eating area. Although I will say I see rats outside of restaurants in this city a lot. Last time it was outside Open City in AdMo. Blech. So, B-. I’m feeling generous.
  • Value: I consider any place that has a cheese/charcuterie menu to be in the fancy realm, and their prices seemed very fair despite this. So, A-.
  • Sustainability: Oooh yeah. Grassfed beef? Arctic char that wins for “Best Choice” from Seafood Watch? A+

All in all, an A-. Which is pretty darn good for me having to finagle our server in order to not eat meat for dinner and having Mr. Monsanto join us at the end. =]

Why you can’t eat anything without supporting the industrial food system…

…unless it’s from local farmers.

Click to see entire infographic. Thanks to Phil Howard for this one.

What’s the whole story behind Whole Foods?

Ahh…the Whole Foods saga rages on.

I’ll take a moment to recap a few things that have happened other the past year with Whole Foods and their CEO, John Mackey. Mackey wrote in this op-ed to the Wall Street Journal, basically arguing against universal health care and offering his solutions for reforming health care in the United States. There was a huge uproar against this, of course, because of the “progressive, left-leaning crowd” that frequents Whole Foods. An Anti-Whole Foods Facebook group was created, called ” Whole Foods is Anti-Health care Insurance Reform – Lets Make Them Pay!” (I would like to point out that this group is misinformed–Mackey is not anti-health care reform, he just has completely different ideas about what health care reform should entail.) There were also groups created and blog entries posted all over that supported his stance.

[My general feeling about health care reform is that there is no all-or-nothing that is going to solve our health care woes. But I haven’t done the type of research to really feel comfortable posting my political views on this topic; I haven’t really formulated my opinion yet.]

Then, most recently, there is this whole new controversy over Mackey’s institution of a new voluntary policy where Whole Foods employees are able to enroll in a program where they have a health assessment and then are graded, which will determine what kind of employee food discount they can get (between 20-30% discount). Read more about it here. Basically, it rates employees based on their BMI (height and weight worked out to a number with a calculation), their blood pressure, and their cholesterol. The idea is that this program incentivizes getting healthier by offering employees a better discount if they get healthier. One of the problems I see is that the factors it takes into account are not really the best, the be-all-end-all of health. For example, I have high cholesterol that runs in my family. I take some vitamins to control it and I don’t eat meat or very much dairy and I eat loads of oatmeal, but I’m probably never going to have perfect cholesterol because of my genes. So, if I were a Whole Foods employee, would I feel discriminated against because of this program? Perhaps. Also, shouldn’t the more unhealthy employees be offered ways to get healthy, instead of just not getting “healthy Whole Foods” for cheaper? Maybe Whole Foods could partner with local gyms to get discounts for their employees…things like that.

I think the even more important story behind Whole Foods is the fact that their practices aren’t as good for the environment as they claim to be. This article does a really excellent job of looking at both the positives and the negatives of Whole Foods. They point out, just like in Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, that big organic is NOT always local. In fact, most often, it is not. And big organic is kept in business by Whole Foods. This article from The Chicago Tribune underlines the problem with big organic companies, like Earthbound Farms and Cascadian Farms, and how they are more likely to sacrifice quality in order to turn out more food and more of a profit.

Now, my take is this: I shop at Whole Foods, but with the knowledge that they are a corporation, they are a greedy, capitalist corporation just like the Giant. It’s not like I feel self-righteous for shopping at Whole Foods. I prefer to shop at farmers markets over any grocery story, the taste and experience is simply better. When I shop there, I try to grab all the items marked “local,” because to me, that is my way of “voting” for the local farms (For example, the hummus I buy there is made in Virginia.) Other grocery stores don’t have these local options. And I like having the organic option,  because generally speaking, it is the healthier option and is also cheaper there than at Giant or Safeway. But Whole Foods isn’t perfect. It is a fabrication of the farmers market experience. It is deceiving. But like everything else, I try to learn as much as I can so I can walk in knowing exactly what it is I am paying for, and what I am getting for it.

So, what do you think about all this? Do you shop at Whole Foods? If you don’t, why not? Do you think their employee practices are fair, and should that affect whether or not we choose to shop there?