Locavores. The 100-Mile Diet. The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Local is the new organic, and with good reason. Most food travels thousands of miles, at a tremendous cost to our precious resources, just to land on your plate. Eating locally is better for the environment. But it may also be better for your health (what? better than organic?).
Cookthinker blog tried out the 100-mile diet recently. This is their photo.
From the 100-Mile Diet authors’ page:
“When the average North American sits down to eat, each ingredient has typically travelled at least 1,500 miles—call it ‘the SUV diet.’ On the first day of spring, 2005, Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon (bios) chose to confront this unsettling statistic with a simple experiment. For one year, they would buy or gather their food and drink from within 100 miles of their apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia.” – The 100-Mile Diet
Eating locally – which necessarily means seasonally – is certainly what our ancestors did. These days, Americans wolf down upwards of 4,000 calories a day from refined grain, factory-raised meat and heavily-treated dairy – with little regard for how the food was grown, how it will affect your health, and what it’s doing to the planet. We have Food Processing magazine. Ridiculous processed and refined food “products”. And let’s not forget about Cheese Food. What we don’t have is sustainable agriculture, a humane food production system, or a healthy population. You know, the little things.
The locavore movement is spreading beyond its Berkeley bubble. (Even Google has gotten with the program and serves its employees free lunches comprised of local delicacies and garden vegetables.)
Some questions for the Apples:
- Is “organic” more marketing than meaningful?
- What’s better: organic produce or organic animal products?
- Do you eat locally, organically, both, or neither?
And here you thought chicken fries were bizarre. Nugget, you’ve been outdone. Inquiring minds want to know: what’s next? Chicken spirals, perhaps? Chicken braids? Or how about a lovely tray of chicken cubes?
A PICTORIAL, IN WHICH YOUR BEES CONSIDER THE VARIOUS OFFERINGS OF THE MIDDLE AISLES
Was it a mischievous mood, or simply the carbs? Over the weekend your Bees decided to explore (cue drums) the middle aisles of the grocery store. Here’s what we found:
We know that candy bars aren’t healthy (duh). How about a nice protein energy bar instead? Surely that’s gonna be nutritious! The Promax Cookies ‘n Cream bar even says so on the upper left corner: “Really Delicious. Really Nutritious.” It’s in red, so you just know it must be true. Plus, it is all natural.
But wait! Looking at the ingredients, we are confused. Granted, we are only bees. The list starts with some decent things, like whey protein and antioxidants (the new glamour children of processed foods). But it quickly turns to the usual suspects found in your average candy bar: high fructose corn syrup, canola oil, dyes and artificial flavorings, starches, and gums. Hmm. Maybe we’ll just get some juice. Juice is healthy, right? Especially if we choose the juice aimed at children, right?
Now this looks great. Nothing artificial, and more antioxidants! Hooray! Let’s take a look at the ingredients. 10% juice. Hmm, maybe we are just bad at math, but we’re pretty sure that means 90% high fructose corn syrup. Oh, look at this! It does contain 90% sweetener! Maybe you have to be a surfer, but this does not seem cool to us.
Time to move on to actual nourishment. Let’s find a convenient meal that is great for adults and kids alike. How about corn dogs? Hey, it says “trans fat free” so that must be healthy! Wait a minute, everything in the frozen section is now trans fat free. But we’ll stick with the corn dogs since they have that special double-dipped honey sweet coating. It’s not real honey or anything, but we’re not really Pooh Bear, so who cares? As long as it sorta-kinda tastes like honey and helps our bellies look decidedly Pooh-esque, it’s all good.
Oh, wait! One of us (ahem) has a problem with corn dogs. Apparently she is too good for mechanically-separated spinal meat. Fine (coughsnobcough). How about some vegetarian sausage? That surely must be healthy! See, low fat! Processed foods can be nutritious!
Oh, but wait. There are over two dozen ingredients in this “sausage”, including all the same things used in the “healthy” energy bar. This is really getting to be depressing. What other aisles are there? Surely there must be some healthy prepared foods somewhere in this dizzying labyrinth of Natural! Trans fat free! Low fat! A good source of some stupid vitamin! No sugar added because it’s already jammed full of it naturally!
Aha! The “snack” aisle. Because the other five aisles of processed, sugar-filled, sodium-bloated crap weren’t “snacks” but rather a healthy part of a balanced obesity epidemic. (Ever notice how all these processed foods say “a healthy part of a balanced meal”? And the picture is always the processed food with an apple or a salad or a glass of milk? What, pray tell, is the processed food bringing to the table?)
But the chip package says “Smart Choices Made Easy”. Finally, something healthy! And the best part about this entire adventure is the fact that the smartest choice in the grocery store is easy. Sniff. It brings tears to the eyes. Where’s the Kleenex aisle?
Dearest Apples, I have been shopping yet again. (I know you were getting worried. Like I’d forget to shop!)
Sara here, and I’m noticing a trend. First, one of our favorite blogs told us all about the Diet Plate, so you know I just had to check that out. Then, for the five seconds that I actually watched television last week, I saw these new chic portion-savvy dishes called Mesu, so you know I just had to check those out, too. It would appear that service wear designed with your waistline in mind is all over the place, from high end to low end. Of course no exploration of dishes would be complete without some delicious food, so naturally I have investigated for you. I know, selfless of me.
Here’s the Diet Plate:
And here’s Mesu:
The Diet Plate is actually clinically proven (independently) to help you lose weight. How about that? This goes back to Mark’s ongoing point that although carbs – especially refined carbs – are unhealthy, it’s still calories that count for weight loss. While you’ll get a lot more mileage out of things like fat, protein and veggies, that doesn’t mean you can eat more calories than you need – what goes in must get burned off!
Mesu gets points for pretty. Mesu is very new and uber sleek, but in my opinion, just not that special. I really like the back story of the young woman who invented it (she was dieting for her wedding and was a bit of a struggling artist, from what I can tell, unless that’s just the marketing spin). And the various bowls and dishes are very appealing. But I don’t know that I’d want to buy a whole set of dishware just to lose weight – I prefer the efficiency and ease of a concept like the Diet Plate. But then, if your whole family is on a diet, or you just feel the need for some smart dishes, Mesu might be right for you.
What I like about this trend is the emphasis on the need to control portions. That really is the key to weight loss. You all know I pretty much live on avocados, cream and goat cheese, but I do watch the portion sizes. I also occasionally cheat and have a bite of pizza or a light beer, but I don’t go crazy about it. Like our guest blogger Claire said last Friday, one little “cheat” is not a reason to throw in the towel and pig out for the rest of the day. We think it is, but that’s just not the case. One little bite of something you really crave, now and then, is not going to ruin your health or make putting on your skinny jeans a depressing exercise indeed. I know some of us can’t stop once we start, and I am certainly no saint in that department! What helps me is to remember that I can always have that pizza anytime – we do live in the most convenient nation, foodwise, on the globe. For some reason, having this “availability mindset” does the trick, and I can just enjoy a bite or two without turning into Carb Monster.
Mark taught me another cool tip a while back: replace all those giant plates and pasta bowls with salad plates and fruit bowls. You’ll eat less without even thinking about it. If you want to splurge on some special diet dishes, I say go for it, but you can accomplish the same thing by simply switching out your regular plates with inexpensive 7″ disks (which you probably already have!).
It’s just your kitchen they’re after.
Sara here. Calling all germophobes! Specifically, that sub-species of kitchen clean freaks with a special loathing for dealing with raw chicken.
As many of you know, I’m pretty much the world’s worst vegetarian. Better not ask me what I’m eating…this week…because I’m not even sure. But, I will say, carnivorous concerns aside, handling anything beyond fish severely interferes with my clean-counters-or-else philosophy.
Enter this cool kitchen gadget:
Now, a lot of kitchen gadgets I’ve purchased have been cause for regret. There was the special avocado slicer. The garlic press degunker thingy. I’ve managed to cull my culinary compulsions down to a top-drawer assortment of knives worth more than my graduate degree and an indefatigable hand-held mixer. But I love, love, love this automatic pump! How many times have you cracked an egg all over your hands, gone to wash your digits, and gotten raw chick goo all over the soap pump? (Hey, that’s what it is.) A simple attempt at preventing germ cross-contamination turns into yet another squeamish edition of Wash the Soap Dispenser.
Whether collecting yoga mats or pondering the grand benefits of plastic caps, I don’t normally like to recommend purchasing products. I think humans are better off when they simplify. I’m a bit of a tree-hugger. And blogs that promote new products, especially the health and fitness blogs for women, glaze my eyes faster than a rerun of Family Guy. Oh, wait, first run. (One not-annoying example of such bloggery is the delightful and engaging FitSugar, a bigosphere blog I pretty much devour on a daily basis. Still, Miss Fit tends to promote a whole lot o’ shopping. Nothing wrong with that, but I like to save my cash for what I see as the more important things in life, like artisan goat cheese.)
Simplehuman Sensor Soap Pump: highly recommended. What kitchen gadget would you be lost without?
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