Do you know about your local Edible magazine? I have always valued the Edible publications for uncovering local food stories without the typical magazine advertising noise. Highly respected writers report on food issues for less money than they’re used to because they support the mission. The restaurants and organizations that care most about local, organic, and sustainable food congregate on Edible’s pages, creating supply chains when the typical ones just won’t do, and holding events to bring the community around the campfire. It is in turn our job as concerned consumers—tired of cheap, frozen, unhealthy commodity food found in most eateries—to support and promote them, be it dining in their establishments or passing on what we’ve learned to friends at a backyard barbecue. This past weekend I attended the Edible Institute annual conference, and was inspired by all the work people are doing to create positive change. Here, some highlights.
Organic food is what we are meant to be eating. It contains no additives, preservatives, fertilizers, or pesticides—widely associated with various types of cancer. It is not genetically modified—widely believed to cause organ damage and other serious health problems. It has not been sterilized with radiation or ammonia, like most fast food meat. Organic farms are required to constantly test both their products for nutrients as well as their irrigation water (non-organic farms use “sewer water” that can contain biosolids like heavy metals, lawn pesticides, gas, detergents). Convinced yet?
A few weeks ago, Slow Food USA challenged Americans to make a meal that costs five dollars or less per person—about the cost of eating fast food—to prove that eating pure (not processed) food doesn’t have to be expensive. It also had the corollary effect of proving that cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as rice and beans. According to Slow Food USA President Josh Viertel, more than 30,000 people took the challenge, and 5,500 events were held that day. Me? I attended Slow Food Urban San Diego’s event in Little Italy and then devoured Chef Chad White’s $5 stew at Sea Rocket Bistro (recipe below). I also asked some fellow San Diego food bloggers to chime in with the $5 recipes they love, and I hope they will inspire you to cook for family or friends tonight. Nothing brings everyone together like a home-cooked meal, and there’s nothing better than being in control of the good ingredients going into it!
On September 17th, Slow Food USA challenged the nation to cook a meal for $5 or less per person to prove that real food is an equally affordable alternative to fast food. From Slow Food Urban San Diego‘s (SFUSD) event at the Little Italy’s farmers’ market to the Let There Be Bite goodie bag giveaway at Sea Rocket Bistro (tasting their $5 stew and much more), it was decidedly an eating extravaganza. Above: SFUSD offered various recipes with ingredients that could all be found just steps away at the market.
My first encounter with Lisa Lillien, or Hungry Girl as her fans know her, was via a 100-calorie snack pack my friend was eating. She said she was eating it because Hungry Girl had recommended it in one of her daily newsletters extolling diet advice. I looked at the ingredients. I looked at her. I asked her if it bothered her that most of them were preservatives or synthetically made in a laboratory. She shrugged and said “no.” Judging from Hungry Girl’s success (several books, a Food Network show, a brand spokesperson), apparently many people are willing to make this trade-off: size 4 jeans today, potential health complications tomorrow.
On September 17th, Slow Food USA is challenging people across the country to prepare a meal that costs less than $5 per person to prove it’s possible to eat well and not break the bank. Cook a meal with friends, have a potluck, or host a public event. Read more about the event here. [This is purely informational; you do not need to register on Slow Food's site unless you're hosting a public event.]
Okay, the purple butterfly might be a little much, but I like the message, don’t you? As I continue to watch floods, tornadoes, and fires stampede across the country (sorry, but no one can convince me it’s not because of climate change and greenhouse gases), I know we can do better. We can conserve more, recycle more, live greener and with better intentions for the future of this ailing planet—at least I know I can. Want to join me?
Perhaps you’ve been following the dialogue I’ve been having with Therese Pompa, the social media manager for the Corn Refiners Association. We started speaking after I posted a Saturday Night Live video satirizing a high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) commercial, and then we subsequently exchanged a pair of letters. As you’ll see below in our second exchange of letters, I felt Therese was dodging my concerns about HFCS, and she in turn felt that I am “not trying to have a genuine conversation.”
So let’s have that conversation. Readers, please leave any comments, questions, or concerns below that you have about high fructose corn syrup. As always, please remain respectful and thoughtful in doing so. Therese, feel free to comment yourself, or ask people from your camp to contribute their ideas.