Over the River and Through the Woods: 7 Sustainable Holiday Travel Tips

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We put together 7 tips for holiday travel from our food, water and energy teams… here are our food tips (by me!). Read the full post on our blog for #1, #2, #4, #5 and#6 – they are good ones. Happy Thanksgivukkah!

3. Stock Up On Snacks Before You Go – Dawn Brighid

Having fun snacks in the car is part of the complete road trip experience. If you are driving or flying to visit family and friends for the holidays, it’s best not to rely on the gas station or the airport for healthy and sustainable options. Plan to stop by a co-op, health food store or your favorite grocery store before you head out. You can always check Eat Well Guide to find a store near you! Fruit, hummus, popcorn, or fair trade chocolate are all much healthier, sustainable choices than that.50¢ hot dog that’s been sitting for days (weeks?) at the rest stop gas station.

7. Shop Sustainably On the Road and When You Get to Your Home-Away-From-Home – Dawn Brighid

If you are spontaneous and up for an adventure, or didn’t plan your road trip snacks in advance, find some along the way! Type in your starting and ending zip codes to find sustainable options along your route with our Eat Well Everywhere travel tool! Time your pit stop to hit a delicious sustainable restaurant half way to Grandma’s or find a store to pick up some organic milk (or a hostess gift) once you get to town.

Food Day 2013

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Happy Food Day!

We are excited to participate in the third annual Food Day event. In case you missed it last year, Food Day is a nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainably produced food and a grassroots campaign for better food policies. The campaign builds all year long, supported by US lawmakers, corporations, nonprofit organizations, chefs, farmers, doctors, activists, nutritionists, authors, actors and concerned eaters and culminates on October 24. This year’s focus is on food education as a way to improve our diets, address obesity and other health issues, starting on schools and campuses.

Why is Food Day Important?

We all know that there are major problems with our current food system. The standard American diet contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other health problems, all of which amount to a lot of suffering, and on top of that, cost Americans billions, even trillions of dollars every year. Pretty depressing! Luckily, the alternative – eating real food that is grown locally and produced sustainably – is not only good for us, but it can be a lot of fun, too.

What Can You Do?

Help bring awareness to Food Day 2013 by sharing our graphics about these issues through your social media. Find them on our Facebook page and our Pinterest boards!

Our Food Day graphics address three important topics: the problems with marketing unhealthy food to kids, the importance of getting kids into the kitchen and how to reduce food waste. Below, we’ve listed some of our favorite resources in these areas. Check them out:

Marketing to Kids

Food Mythbusters presents the real story about the food we eat. They believe that marketing targeted to children and teenagers is a major cause of our public health crisis. Watch their newest movie, “Is Junk Food What We Really Crave?” and see founder Anna Lappe’s excellent 2013 TEDx Manhattan talk.

DigitalAds.org, a project of the Berkeley Media Studies Group and DC-based Center for Digital Democracy, tracks the high-tech ad campaigns created by junk food and fast food companies to target kids using “advergames,” social networks, mobile marketing and more. Warning: will induce righteous indignation!

Kids Cooking

The Kids Cook Monday is a campaign to help motivate parents to cook with their children, offering family-friendly recipes and video demonstrations along with a free starter family dinner toolkit, making it easy for families to cook and eat together every Monday.

Food Network has a whole section devoted to helping you get your kids into the kitchen with kid-friendly tips and great recipes for cooking with kids.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution is dedicated to saving lives by inspiring everyone – moms, dads, kids, teens and cafeteria workers – to get back to basics and start cooking good food from scratch. His website is full of resources and recipes to teach cooking skills, change school food and improve the health of our country. (The whole world, really.)

Food Waste

Food Shift: Pledge to reduce your food waste! Food Shift works collaboratively with communities, businesses and governments to develop long-term sustainable solutions to reduce food waste and build more resilient communities.

Our Food Waste section will help you get started making a change.

NRDC’s report, Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill, examines the inefficiencies in the US food system from the farm to the fork to the landfill.

Join in other great Food Day celebrations

  • In celebration of Food Day, Wholesome Wave wants to know how you are helping to rebuild our food system. Whether you are an individual, a foundation, a corporation, a nonprofit or a government entity, your actions make a difference. Collectively, our actions are building a more equitable, sustainable food system. Download their template, write a message, snap a photo and share it on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #wwrebuilds (or email it to communications@wholesomewave.org).
  • Get your college campus to sign The Real Food Campus Commitment on Food Day! By signing the Real Food Campus Commitment, colleges and universities pledge to buy at least 20 percent real food annually by 2020 and thereby use their tremendous purchasing power to support a healthy food system that strengthens local economies, respects human rights, ensures ecological sustainability and facilitates community involvement and education.
  • Attend a free Healthy Food Action webinar on Monday, 10/28 at 12:00 PM EDT/11:00 AM CDT. This webinar highlights health professionals who have found ways to change our conception of how hospitals, clinics and private practice ought to look to reflect the need for access to healthier, more sustainable food and farming.
  • Follow along on social media! Check out the Food Day 2013 Facebook and Twitter pages. Or search #FoodDay2013 on Twitter to see what others have to say.
  • Check out events all across the country through the Food Day map of events on their website. And don’t forget that everyday should be a Food Day – celebrate all year long!

Your Sustainable Kitchen – Planning and Stocking

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Imagine this scene… There is food in the refrigerator that needs to be cooked, but you are too busy. The one night that you can make time, you look in the refrigerator and the pieces don’t quite add up to a meal so you order take-out. When the weekend comes around and you actually have time to cook a big dinner, your lettuce is wilted, the sweet potatoes have gone soft, the greens aren’t green, the garlic sprouted… You have been thinking about starting a compost bin, but you haven’t yet, so it all goes into the garbage and you start again.

Does this sound familiar (or is it just me)? But then some weeks are the opposite:

On Sunday you make a grocery list and shop. When you get home from shopping you take some time to prep your vegetables so that they are ready to be quickly thrown together for lunch or dinner. You make a big pot of something that can be used throughout the week (chili, stew, beans and rice or a whole chicken) and put that away, even freezing some for those rushed evenings when something unexpected comes up. You cook Sunday supper. You’ve planned your dinners for the week and pack lunches at night, and everyone gets fed and nothing grows green fur in your crisper drawer.

How is all this planning ahead and stocking up making your kitchen (and you) more sustainable?

  1. You plan ahead and don’t waste any food.
  2. You buy items in bulk, saving money and packaging.
  3. You go to the farmers market and buy local, in-season vegetables that are cheaper (because the farmer has them in abundance), have little or no pesticides (because of the farmer’s growing practices) and you support your local economy.

Planning out your week feels really good – for your health, your pocketbook, your planet, your farmer – and it tastes amazing!

How can you make it happen every week? Easy!

Planning

  • Pick a weekly day/time to sit with a few cookbooks or your favorite recipe blogs (like our Real Food Right Now series)
  • Write out meals for every night of the week and note when you can use the leftovers or make a double batch (use a meal planning app or print a meal planner like this one from KrisCarr.com)
  • Make a list for your shopping trip (always check out what you already have on hand, and keep a list on the fridge to add to during the week –  find a cute one and print it out. Like this grocery list from Palmettos & Pigtails. It makes planning more fun!)

Stocking

  • Be sure to have staples on hand – rice, pasta, nuts, beans, spices (check your stock and add items to your shopping list periodically)
  • Shop at your favorite markets – farmers’ markets, a grocery store with good deals, your local coop

Action

  • Prepare/clean ingredients ahead of time
  • Cook/freeze dinners nightly
  • Pack up left overs for lunches
  • Keep the most perishable foods visible – consider moving older items to the top shelf

Your Sustainable Kitchen Makeover

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Have you ever watched a food show where they go into someone’s kitchen and open up the refrigerator and cupboards for everyone to see? They always look so neat and tidy – there is no way that was a surprise visit! These shows make me think about my own refrigerator… what is in it right now? Leftovers? Vegetables that I need to eat? And working at Sustainable Table, of course I also wonder – how sustainable is my food? Where did it come from? What if someone wants to look inside, am I ready for my TV debut?!

Even if you shop at the farmers’ market or the healthiest grocery store in town, how sustainable do you think your kitchen is? There is a chance that chemicals, additives, pesticides, GMOs and many other unsavory toxins are lurking in your refrigerator, cupboards and under your sink.

Let’s take a look and see how to make some sustainable improvements. If you know what to look out for, you can start creating a healthier and more sustainable kitchen with each shopping trip.

Get started!

#1. Peek inside the fridge and cupboards… take a quick inventory. Get a sense of what you usually have on hand – veggies, dairy, meat, condiments, breads/grains, processed foods, etc.

#2. Tackle this makeover slowly… one item at a time. Don’t start throwing things out (see all about food waste in the new GRACE food waste section!) but as you run low on an item that you want to upgrade, start to think about alternatives.

#3. Pick which item you want to makeover (Carrots? Milk? Crackers?). On your next trip to the grocery store or farmers’ market, come armed with questions and be ready to read labels to make the best new sustainable choice.

#4. Enjoy the newest sustainable addition to your kitchen! Notice the flavor difference and think about the health implications for you, your family and the producers – relish in the fact that you are contributing to a sustainable world.

#5. Pick the next item. Repeat #3 – #4.

Continue reading

Dirt Candy: A Cookbook

dcFrom an unusual (but delicious) restaurant, Dirt Candy, comes an unusual (but innovative) cookbook. This graphic novel (aka cookbook) tells the story of a girl and her restaurant, and all the messy, tell-all details that have made it what it is today – one of the most celebrated vegetarian eateries in NYC. Restaurateur Amanda Cohen, artist Ryan Dunlavey and journalist Grady Hendrix bring it all to life in one of the most imaginative cookbooks I’ve ever seen – “Dirt Candy, flavor-forward food from the upstart New York City vegetarian restaurant.”

The Story

It starts with the obvious – Amanda Cohen runs a successful vegetarian restaurant in New York with many awards, complimentary press and a full house every night – life is good and easy, right? Wrong. That story line ends by page two and the truth comes pouring out. She details the insanity of finding a space and building out her own restaurant. She introduces you to the quirky personalities of her staff, which are impossible to overlook in a kitchen the size of a bread box. She dishes about running a kitchen efficiently, and it looks like she has figured it out. Michael Natkin of the vegetarian blog, Herbivoracious, interned at Dirt Candy and shared his experience of the magic that happens in the little kitchen on 9th Street in Manhattan:

I’m standing in an area that is maybe 2 feet by 1, between her station, the bathroom door, and the reservation computer. Except it is a spot that the servers constantly need, so I dance towards the station one way, then back to the wall. She’s giving me small portions of almost everything on the menu, which is amazing. Somehow, she’s managing to expedite the service, make all of the cold dishes, finish the hot plates, answer the constantly ringing phone, manage the servers, run food, chat with customers, handle walk-ins, show me how to make some of the plates, and talk shop, all simultaneously and calmly.

Amanda’s story goes on to rant about customer complaints (from Yelp “This chef girl is a stupid cow!”), her time on Iron Chef (they lost), why a salad costs $14, immigration issues and the many preconceived notions about vegetarian food (expensive, bland, healthy …. because healthy is a bad thing?).

The Recipes

This fabulously self-deprecating story winds its way around some of the most interesting vegetable recipes and  cooking techniques, from basics like blanching and shocking, to pickling, deep frying and smoking. This juicy graphic novel entertains while it educates. Amanda’s recipes are vegetarian and can be made vegan – the “dairy-free cow” will show you the way with tips for vegan variations – just like at her restaurant where the entire menu can be made vegan on request.

The recipes in the cookbook replicate the interesting and complicated-looking dishes that are served in her restaurant – Fennel Salad with candied grapefruit pops and grilled cheese croutons, Carrot Risotto with carrot dumplings and carrot ribbons, Zucchini Ginger Cake with zucchini cream and zucchini candy. Delicious, yes! But can I make that? Chef Amanda breaks down the multi-layered process so that we can give it a try.

For example, Smoked Cauliflower and Waffles with horseradish cream sauce has six recipes to complete the dish as she imagines it. If you are feeling adventurous and have the time,  you will create smoked cauliflower + waffles + horseradish cream sauce. And if you are feeling extra creative in the kitchen you can finish it off with the optional items – maple arugula salad, cauliflower bits and pickled cauliflower. Wow, that would impress your guests for sure!

If you are not feeling up to tackle one of these many layered meals, you could pick and choose singular recipes. Or dine at her restaurant. But the cookbook is worth the read if you enjoy cookbooks; I’m sure you haven’t seen many like this one.

Have you ever dreamed of opening a restaurant? Are you an adventurous cook? Do you devour graphic novels? Are you intrigued by talking monkeys, pandas and vegetables? It’s all in one place for your enjoyment in Dirt Candy, A Cookbook.

Sustainable Super Bowl Sunday

football-60247_640The Super Bowl… a day for football or a day for friends, family, commercials, halftime shows, puppies and snacks (depending on your interests, not necessarily in that order)! If your focus is food (and whose isn’t?), why not upgrade your spread with some locally-grown, sustainably produced fare this year? Blindside your guests with tasty and healthy snacks! Clothesline anyone who tries to bring in fast food! Make sure no off-season veggies show up to play!

OK, OK… that was a lame attempt to use some football terms that I don’t understand, but I do understand the importance of making healthy food delicious so that everyone enjoys it and comes back for more. Super Bowl, health and sustainability aren’t usually used in the same sentence, but it can be done. There are many ways to upgrade your party food and here is a roundup of some doable ideas:

Healthy Super Bowl Recipes and Menus from Eating Well

Top 10 Vegan Super Bowl Recipes from Ecorazzi

Healthy Super Bowl Recipes from the Healthy Living section at the Huffington Post

Real Food Right Now: Burgers and Hot Dogs from Ecocentric

Healthy Super Bowl Party? Start with a Big Pot of Really Good Chili from Fat Free Vegan

And there you have it folks, a touchdown!

The Happiness Diet: A Book Review

We are all looking for happiness. Is it possible that it’s as close as the end of our forks? Tyler Graham and Drew Ramsey, MD, whose new book, The Happiness Diet: A Nutritional Prescription for a Sharp Brain, Balanced Mood, and Lean, Energized Body, features with a juicy burger on the cover, say it is. And the good looking burger on the cover of their book – meat, cheese, bun, veggies and all – are part of the prescription.

Eating burgers for happiness, with side effects like weight loss, a healthy brain and reduced cravings, sounds like what America has been waiting for. In The Happiness Diet, Ramsey and Graham teach us why the current Modern American Diet (MAD) has increased depression along with waistlines. Our diet has changed drastically over the last 100 years, and along with it, our brains. The MAD diet, which is made up primarily of industrially produced foods, has been stripped of the mood boosting foods that our brains need – fats, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. To improve our mental and emotional health, stabilize moods and improve focus, all which are needed for a good attempt at happiness, we need to eat better. But it’s not just about eating more or less carbs, or fat or protein. The Happiness Diet is calling for better food, dare we say… sustainable food. You can imagine that we are pretty happy just thinking about it.

Not many diets focus on sustainable food, which makes this book quite refreshing. The Happiness Diet sees that where our food comes from is as important as which foods we decide to eat. The industrialization of food has stripped away many of the nutrients our bodies and minds need. So in addition to the “diet” that we follow, we need to look beyond the processed and fast foods that have become a staple of the American diet and reconnect with whole, seasonal foods. And as a side, in the “Epilogue,” right in line with the philosophies that we find important, the authors remind us that our healthy choices have a ripple effect. These sustainable choices we make impact the land we live on and the people who produce and harvest it too (which can only lead to… more happiness!).

So what exactly is the Happiness Diet?

The Happiness Diet is one made up of healthy and delicious foods that will help to create and maintain a good mood. It is broken down in the book so that it’s easy to understand. What nutritional elements are we missing and why do we need them? What foods can we find them in? They even break it out into Focus Foods, Energy Foods and Mood Foods – and let us know how they work.

The book is sprinkled with the “Top 100 Reasons to Avoid Processed Foods” – and there are some good ones.

Reason 21: Old El Paso Taco Dinner kits contain ethoxyquin, a chemical invented by Monsanto in the 1950s and originally registered as a pesticide. There is very limited human safety data, but in a test tube it damages the DNA of human immune cells.

Reason 59: The FDA allows 5% of any jar of maraschino cherries to contain maggots.

Reason 64: More than eighty thousand chemicals are approved for use in the United States. The vast majority of these have not been studied for their safety — many are found in processed food.

Vegetarians and vegans beware! This book is for meat eaters. But if you have an open mind there is solid information about what vitamins/minerals/fats/etc. are essential for a healthy mind. With some substitutes, you could follow what they have outlined.

Graham and Ramsey have not only introduced the principles behind The Happiness Diet, but they tell you how you can make it happen. They outline a meal plan and even talk you through shopping and stocking your kitchen. With delicious recipes such as Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Barley Tabbouleh, Slow Pork and Mexican Breakfast, I don’t know why you wouldn’t give happiness a chance.