Monthly Archives:

September 2010

Cage-Free in California

On November 4, 2008, Proposition 2 passed by an overwhelming majority, freeing chickens from their cruel, constraining cages and giving all California chickens a little more leg room.  By January 1, 2015, all chicken farms will be required to go cage-free.

The proposition extends to other animals as well, mandating that calves raised for veal and soon-to-be mommy pigs must have the ability to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs, and turn around freely.  While this doesn’t necessarily ensure completely humane animal farming practices, at least it’s a start.

To add to the the bill, this past July, Governor Schwarzenegger extended the law to require that all eggs imported into California meet the same standards.  California will officially become the first cage-free state.  With hope, others will soon follow.

Currently, California houses a market that contains about 10% of the nation’s eggs, expected to nearly double the current cage-free egg market of which equals approximately 6% of the national market.  It’s predicted that hundreds of millions of eggs will now come from cage-free eggs.

It’s a start, and a good one at that.

Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Review

In 2008, New York Times food columnist and author Mark Bittman added another book to his collection.  Bittman released Food Matters, a cleanly written book exposing the toll that the typical American diet— one heavy laden with meat, dairy, and processed foods—takes on the planet.

Along with ongoing health problems, it was when the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization released the striking statistic showing global livestock production to be responsible for about one-fifth of all greenhouse gases—more than transportation— that Bittman began realizing a change was needed in his diet, one that could ultimately help change the world.

His plan was simple, one that he later defines as “sane, conscious eating”:  Eat more plants, fewer refined carbs, less meat and dairy, and little to no junk food.  Bittman began taking a vegan-until-six approach, constructing his first two meals solely around plant-based sources, and then allowing himself to eat whatever he’d like when it came to dinner time.  He immediately shed more than a few pounds, his high cholesterol and blood sugar dropped back down into the normal range, and his sleep apnea vanished.  As his results kept positively creeping upwards, his consumption of meat, dairy, and even fish continued to drop, now totaling about one-third of the amount he used to consume a few years ago.

In Food Matters, Bittman outlines a guide for accessible for even those who know practically nothing about nutrition, vegetarianism, or even cooking, backing up his plan with gripping statistics that are bound to make you want to at least attempt a switch towards a healthier lifestyle.  He emphasizes that his diet plan requires no sacrifices, only adjustments and benefits, with no foods becoming off limit, excluding the suggestion to entirely rule out junk food.

Even steak and ice cream fit into the Food Matters style of eating, although with far less frequency than what the typical American is accustomed to.  The last half of the book offers basic cooking techniques and recipes, including classics like hummus, tomato sauce, and fried rice, to get you started on the Food Matters “diet.”

Bittman simply expresses in his book that we need to make food more important in order to save ourselves and the planet.  Released on September 21st, Bittman follows up on Food Matters with the Food Matters Cookbook, a more thorough and developed recipe guide to eating healthier.  I can’t wait to check it out and test out some of Bitman’s recipes in the kitchen!

Picking Apples

I’ve been picking apples since before I had enough teeth to fully chomp down on an apple.  I always say, nothing beats a piece of fruit picked straight from the tree (or homemade applesauce when you’re still waiting for those baby teeth to grow in).  Picking apples has become an annual event, one that I’ll certainly be carrying over when I have kids.  And until that time comes, I’ll continue playing the role of the happy-go-lucky kid running around picking (and eating) as many apples as I can fit in one basket.

Black Bean Soup

What better way to celebrate the first few days of fall than with a bowl of warm, hearty soup.  As the cold weather is expectantly looming not too far in the horizon, it’s time to start brewing up some yummy, tummy-warming soup.

And while fall means that for many of us it’s time to start layering on those jackets, it doesn’t mean we all want to start packing on the cold month pounds too.  The following recipe combines a ton of flavor using a handful of spices and fresh herbs to create a soup that has all the lightness of those departed summer days, while generating the perfect amount of heat to warm you up during the brisk, shivery days of the next few months.

Black Bean Soup

(Makes 3-4 large bowls)

-2 15-oz. cans black beans
-1 medium onion, diced
-1 green pepper, diced
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-8 oz. vegetable stock
-1/3 cup water
-1 tsp. chili powder
-1/2 tsp. cumin
-1 tsp. smoked paprika
-2-3 tsp. Tabasco
-1 Tbsp. olive oil
-1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
-Dab of sour cream or Greek yogurt, optional
-Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, onion, and pepper, and saute 5-7 minutes, until veggies are tender.  Add chili powder, cumin, and paprika and continuously stir for 45 seconds.  Stir in black beans and Tabasco.  Add broth and water.  Turn heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for ten minutes.

Add chopped cilantro and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook for another 2 minutes.  Serve immediately, garnishing with fresh cilantro and a dab of sour cream/yogurt.

First Day of Fall

Today marks the official start of fall.  While this may bring a sea of joy for many, I’m always slightly sad when this day rolls around.  I love the sun, warmth, fireflies, fruit, and everything else so wonderful about the sweet summer days that are slowly slipping from my fingers.  Although I can enjoy parts of every season, I’m a summer girl at heart.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t think fall is absolutely stunning.  I’m not quite ready for cold weather, but I wait in anticipation for the ocean of vivid color to roll through the trees.

Happy First Day of Fall.  Cheers.

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