Kerri has had a birthday. As a surprise, her family has come down to visit for the weekend. Last night we had tickets to be part of the studio audience at CBS Television City in Hollywood for “Real Time with Bill Maher.” Not only was it neat to be on set in the same studio where “The Price is Right” was filmed for most of its’ television history, it was fantastic to see Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and the micro-credit model. This is a man who has changed the world. He has worked tirelessly to bring people out of poverty, mainly through providing women with a way to be economically self-sufficient.
It was also great to see grammy nominated rapper M.I.A. speak out about what has been happening in Sri Lanka with the Tamil people (she escaped in 1984).
After the show we went around the block to eat at Real Food Daily, a wonderful restaurant in West Hollywood that serves organic vegan food that is both hearty and elegant. However, I fretted as the bill approached our table. This was the first meal that Kerri and I have eaten out since we finished our most recent experiment in the economics of eating. It was not cheap. For what we paid to eat, we could have bought groceries for two weeks. But it was her birthday, her family is visiting (which is rare), and the food was exquisite; a special occassion that let me justify the expense.
This morning while Kerri is making breakfast for all of us, McVegan Muffins, the herbivore’s equivalent of a fast-food legend, I found myself both exhiliarated and overwhelmed by the enormity of this conversation about food. When we started this journey, with the challenge of eating on a dollar a day, we had no idea that this dialogue would become our lives. We had no idea how changed we would be. The very rituals of our life have been re-shaped by our experiences.
Parts of this quest have been greatly enhanced by a few different factors. The first is the amount of reading that we have been doing. We read about food every day, and I finish a book on the subject once a week. As result, I would like to share with our readers a couple of blogs that I find helpful. The first is “Food Politics” by Marion Nestle (where I found today’s graphic), and the second is from Food First (an institute for food and development policy). Both are updated frequently with top notch information for those who find themselves strung-out on the ever changing menu of topics related to this subject.
In fact, as a result of the work done by Food First I would like to encourage you to click here to sign a petition that advocates for stripping the biotech research provisions component from bill SB 384. According to Food First, “This attachment to SB 384 is a stealth giveaway to agribusiness in the name of feeding the world’s poor. What it will really do is destroy the ability of poor farmers to feed themselves throughout the global south.”
Next week look forward to our take on a couple new films that will be screened at the Encinitas Environmental Film Festival. Both are about food. The first is called “Homegrown Revolution” and the second, by Sofia Joanes, is called “Fresh.” Thanks to one of our readers for the suggestion.
For now we’re off to the beach.
P.S. There was an interesting artcle in the New York Times today about college students who are headed off for organic summer jobs…
5 responses to “Real Time, Real Food, Real Change.”
Saw this same graph at another blog with an interesting commentary on it.
I love your site and your inspiration. I am very interested in learning how to eat healthier without going into debt. My biggest struggle is eating vegetables – I have a texture issue and that rules out most vegetables for me. Any suggestions??
You can save money and eat well if you don’t like vegetables IF you eat some high quality protein and fats from real pastured meat, eggs, and dairy -sourced from small producers who don’t use an “industrial” CAFO model (but do look for those who do use humane husbandry and feeding practices – the animals should eat according to their nature, not as the industrial animals are fed). You’ll have better luck finding food like this by buying directly from a producer, rather than from conventional stores (for meat, a good freezer helps so you can save money by buying or splitting a whole or half side and following a nose-to-tail philosophy rather than just sticking to pricey premium boneless cuts- there are nutrients in those bones and cartilage, too, esp if you make broth and consume it regularly – better than a calcium supplement). Online networks are invaluable for sourcing unconventional producers (www.localharvest.org is a good starting point, or http://www.eat.wild.com), and there are producers right in our own backyards or not too far away if you are curious enough to look for them (the SD Fair on auction day is a great way to connect with a 4-H kid who needs to sell their pig and the small custom meat processors who also attend that day).
For instance, I buy “backyard” truly free-range eggs via a neighbor, who has a coworker who keeps chickens at her “horsey” suburban-semi rural property in SD cty). Pastured eggs like these are a great way to get humanely-raised high quality protein and nutrients at a low cost (the yolks are the best part!). I also buy half a bison from a ranch in Montana that delivers co-op purchases to the SD area twice a year – what I can’t fit in my freezer I split off to others who love it also). Butter and cream, as well as cultured raw milk (cow, sheep, or goat) are also efficient and delicious nutrient dense foods (yes, good butter is a rich source of Vit A & K2, so important for strong bones and teeth). There are numerous local families and 4-H kids who sell these foods via informal networks, though there are some commercial varieties that are very good, too.
These *whole* foods (not low fat industrially processed “edible foodlike products” are *very* nutrient dense and you won’t have to graze like a cow all day to meet your nutritional needs, as well as feel full and satisfied. Also, there is less need to supplement your diet with vegetables if you eat these filling and nutritiously dense foods regularly, esp if prepared in old fashioned ways, like slow cooking and bone-in cuts, cultured dairy (naturally rich in probiotics), and whole eggs instead of egg whites only.
Grains (including corn and soy, as well as concentrated sugars), on the other hand, are entirely unnecessary (and only a very recent addition to human diets), and can really mess up health (blood glucose regulation and gluten sensitivity, especially, but there are other issues, too). Grains and concentrated (processed) sugars actually increase the need for certain vitamins (like C and B vitamins) because the body uses these nutrients at a higher rate just trying to internally process grain proteins, sugars, and starches (plus glucose is molecularly similar to Vit C and competes at the receptor level, increasing Vit C requirements). A high consumption of corn that isn’t nixtamalized (soaked in an alkaline solution) depletes B3 and other nutrients and can cause severe nutrient deficiencies. Industrial products get around this somewhat by adding back some vitamins and minerals, but this is very artificial and not wholesome nutrition.
Add the modern phenomenon of industrial practice of careless treatment of grains that retains the high phytate/phytic acid content that binds minerals, and grains (esp grains that include the bran, so-called “whole grain”) and you can set up for a severe mineral deficiency quite quickly, with dental caries and weak bones being a common result in high grain eaters who do not get enough of the fat soluble vitamins (most easily and efficiently obtained directly from animal fats). Traditionally, grains were freshly ground (not rancid like the grain and flour products one finds in stores now) and soaked/sprouted/fermented, which activates enzymes which neutralizes and reduces phytic acid. Ma in Little House on the Prairie couldn’t make her bread with fast-acting yeasts like modern bakeries, she milled her own grain, used a live sourdough starter “with wild yeasts from the air”, just one example of how bread has changed for the worse. Bread baking business is now about baking quickly and consistently. Truly authentic artisan baking in the traditional way is anything but fast and consistent.
And plant fiber is highly overrated, anyway. Most of the research on fiber based on flawed epidemiological studies that ignore confounding variables; intervention studies with good design and double-blind control groups have consistently failed to support the fiber hypothesis. Fecal matter is largely made up of shed cells (esp red blodo cells) and dead intestinal bacteria, NOT undigested food/fiber, except if fiber intake is very high. There are some that theorize the rapid transit of high fiber content is the body’s way of trying to get rid of the toxins in the bran. Even liquid nutrition feeding tube comatose patients have BMs, for example. Fiber just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be … sorry if that’s TMI.
By the way, I’m not knocking vegetables, I probably eat as much or more non-starchy veggies than many vegetarians (certainly more than “muffin vegetarians” who subsist primarily on sugar and grains instead of veggies). Our family gets a weekly box of organic produce from a local CSA subscription program, freshly picked 12-24 hours before, less than 60 miles away. I like vegetables very much and they add variety, flavor, and interest to our meals. I don’t buy processed grains, corn, or soy, or any “fake” foods anymore, which is a *huge* cost savings (processed grains & soy=a few cents of grain converted with processing into a very expensive unhealthy product), so I can spend my savings on higher quality ingredients that truly support our health.
But if you don’t like vegetables, you can get enough protein, natural (unprocessed) fats, vitamins, and minerals for good health from well chosen animal foods, with as much non-starchy plant food as you choose to consume, esp if you adopt a more “nose-to-tail” philosophy. Consider the recent record-breaking 700 mile trek to the South Pole. The team consumed primarily bacon and butter, because it was nutrient-dense, energy dense, and was more efficiently packaged. Consider how much space and weight one might need to pack to equal the same calories in cereals, vegetables, and fruit. The Inuit eat a mostly animal protein and fat diet and only get the the diseases of modern civilization if they abandon their native diet and adopt an industrial diet. If you don’t want to eat meat/poultry/or fish, or take an animal’s life, good egg and dairy foods can suffice (again, avoiding the industrial model, even if it is “organic”). There’s always insects and grubs, too, and excellent source of nutrients and healthy fats and high quality protein, but that’s harder to adopt in this culture (but not impossible, though it might make the veggies seem more palatable).
Eating well for less money (by that I don’t mean eating artificially cheap or low quality/low nutrition food or simply trying to spend as little as possible to not feel hungry) is possible, but requires some effort in sourcing and preparing, no matter what you choose to eat. It requires eating well to be a priority in your life, not an after-thought (ok, I know some are in dire circumstances about having *any* food let alone good food, but that is not the case when someone spends more on entertainment, clothing, hair care, and cell phone service than food, which is all too common as I talk to people). One has to have priorities straight and it’s clear, despite all the various dietary patterns in the US, that good food is low on the priority list in the US compared to countries with healthier stats.
I’m sure you and Kerri have heard of it, but I just read an article on the new cookbook “Vegan Soul Kitchen” that sounded really interesting. Maybe give you an opportunity to recreate an “elegant” evening at home…Like maybe as a surprise for your recently birthday-ed partner. Hope all is well.
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