Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Welcome to the Food Revolution

Slow Food Nation Gathering in San Francisco


We need to remember that the fresh, unadulterated, minimally processed, locally produced foods that Slow Food Nation is showcasing were our pantry staples, before the military-industrial complex annexed our food chain a half a century or so ago in the name of progress.

Our great-grandparents would be flabbergasted to learn that grass-fed milk in glass bottles bearing the local dairy farm's logo is now a rare luxury item available to only the affluent few who are willing to pay $4 for a half-gallon of milk.

Back in the day, our breads were fresh-baked and free of high fructose corn syrup, and our eggs and bacon came from chickens and hogs that rolled around in the dirt and saw the light of day. The word "farm" still evokes nostalgic pastoral images for most Americans, but there's nothing even remotely benign or bucolic about the fetid, brutal factory farms that supply us with most of our meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products today. And unmasking this unsavory reality is as much a part of Slow Food Nation's agrarian agenda as dishing out local delicacies.

This focus on economies of scale, and the illusory "efficiency" of a food system dependent on cheap fossil fuels and perpetual subsidies, gave us, the richest nation in the world, the cheapest food. And we are all the poorer for it.

Along the way, we lost hundreds of different kinds of plants and animals; currently, "at least 1,060 food varieties unique to North America are threatened, endangered or functionally extinct in the marketplaces of the United States, Canada, and northern Mexico," Gary Paul Nabhan writes in Renewing America's Food Traditions, a new book that celebrates the distinctive culinary regions of our country that Agribiz almost obliterated in recent decades.

But Renewing America's Food Traditions is not just a book; it's an alliance: Called RAFT for short, it's a collaborative effort from Slow Food USA and six other sustainably minded organizations. RAFT's mission is to inspire what the folks at Slow Foods USA call "eater-based conservation" by preserving and promoting the culinary heritage and extraordinary biodiversity that blessed this country for centuries before we shifted gears and became a fast food nation.

Don't know what a "foodshed" is? Don't worry, nobody else does, either -- the word is still so obscure it hasn't earned an entry on Wikipedia. It means, essentially, the area through which food travels to get from the farm to your plate. That would have been a pretty short trip a few generations ago, but in this era of globalization, our foodshed now encompasses the whole world, more or less.

This far-flung food chain has enslaved us with a false sense of abundance, turning the produce aisles of our supermarkets into a seasonless place where you can find berries and bell peppers all year round. But this apparent bounty diverts us from the fact that industrial agriculture has actually drastically reduced the diversity of the foods that our farmers grow.

As small and mid-size farms got swallowed up by the massive monoculture operations we now call "conventional," the varieties of fruits and vegetables grown on those farms got whittled down to just those few that shipped the best and had the longest shelf life. Breeders chose to focus on species of livestock and poultry that fatten up the fastest, such as big-breasted but bland Butterball turkeys so top-heavy they can't reproduce naturally and have to be artificially inseminated. For this we give thanks each November?


Environmental Working Group’s ‘dirty dozen’

The Environmental Working Group rates fruits and veggies based on pesticide residues, so you might consider buying organic when purchasing produce that it labels as the “dirty dozen.”

Bell peppers
Imported grapes

—Based on pesticide residues. Source: For more information, www.foodnews.org.

What to Eat, Professor Marion Nestle lecture at Google

Nutritionist and Author Marion Nestle discusses her latest book, "What to Eat" as well as her previous books "Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition" and "Health and Safe Food: Bacteria, Biotechnology, and Bioterrorism" as part of the Authors@Google series. A professor of nutrition at NYU, Nestle was featured in the film "Super Size Me" and has been called "one of the nation's smartest and most influential authorities on nutrition and food policy." This event took place May 8, 2007 at Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA

Natures Superfoods II

Nature's Superfoods
Om Chef Stars

Reduces blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation
Cultures where hot pepper is used liberally have a much lower rate of heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism.
Lowers risk of type 2 Diabetes, boosts immunity, helps stop the spread of prostate cancer and prevents stomach ulcers
triggers release of 'happy' endorphins and promotes libido health

Nuts and Seeds
omega- 3's, heart and brain health

ultra high in healthy monounsaturated fat, aka cholesterol lowering oleic acid, high in protein and potassium
contributes to healthy blood flow, healthy blood flow = a healthy brain
also lowers blood pressure. Dramatically enhances absorption of other vitamins and nutrients.

ultra high in heart healthy fiber,
Soybeans and Tofu:complete vegetarian source of protein

Sweet Potato
potassium, calcium, helps stabilize blood sugar levels and lowers insulin resistance.

ultra high in antioxidant L-Ergothioneine, protects the body's DNA from damage
potential cancer preventive and high in beta glucan. Long known in Asia as a longevity tonic, heart medicine and cancer remedy

excellent for detox, liver health, digestive tract and kidney function.
ultra high in carotene, folic acid, silicon, potassium, magnesium and calcium pectate ( cholesterol-lowering properties)
Silicon strengthens connective tissues and aids calcium metabolism and is great for your skin
The beta-carotene in one medium carrot cuts lung cancer risk in half

prevents cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, high in vitamin C, carotenoids, calcium and fiber.

Natures Superfoods I

These amazing foods contain mega vitamins, minerals and enzymes
when these potent nutrients are taken in the form of organic whole foods, they contribute, often dramatically, to:

weight reduction, cholesterol reduction, immunity strength, heart health,
reduction in skin wrinkling, brain health, mood elevation, libido health,
physical energy, mental strength, emotional health, inflammation reduction, cancer reduction, longevity

Fresh, organic, locally grown and raised ingredients are more nutrient dense, cleaner, better for the environment and taste amazing

Wild Salmon
brain and heart healthy Omega 3's, helps reduce the risk of sudden-death heart attacks, and have powerful anti-inflammatory properties
Wild salmon offers a much healthier ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s, fewer PCBs, less saturated fat and is a superior source of DMAE

Broccoli activates the body's natural antioxidant defense systems and is one of the most nutrient-dense foods known,
a powerful cancer fighter, high in glucosinolates, ultra high in calcium
vitamin K , vitamin C , folate, manganese and potassium a combination of nutrients that promote strong and healthy bones.
Broccoli sprouts: ultra high in vitamin C, beta-carotene and 50 times more cancer fighting phytochemicals than regular broccoli.

Blueberries : ultra high in antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, also high in potassium and vitamin C,
reduces risk of heart disease and cancer, also anti-inflammatory
Goji Berries : ultra high in antioxidants, vitamin c, beta carotene and essential fatty acids

high vitamin C, copper, calcium, vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese,
dietary fiber, and potassium, betacarotene and more lutein than any vegetable tested.
High in liver detoxifying glucosinolates. One of the highest antioxidant values of any vegetable,
excellent for boosting immunity and protecting the eyes.

phytonutrients, keeps our skin young and helps prevent damage from sunlight
Folate is important in producing serotonin for your brain, and helps to maintain the production of new cells and a great mood
ultra high in beta-carotene and alpha-carotene
The presence of alpha-carotene in the body along with other key nutrients is reportedly inversely related to biological aging. .
the more alpha-carotene you eat, the slower your body shows signs of age. Protects against various cancers and cataracts.

memory, focus, and mood, high in potent antioxidants, especially catechines, which promotes healthy blood flow
Green Tea: ultra high in ECGC
White Tea: low in caffeine, detox qualities and excellent for skin, reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
Black Tea: May assist in lowering cholesterol/Good for the Heart. Medical research suggests black tea promotes healthy teeth, skin and bones.
Tea must be freshly brewed, powdered and bottled teas are made from extracts and have lost most
all of their potency....and usually contain sugar and high fructose corn syrup

potent anti-inflammatory phytochemicals, high levels of antioxidants protect the brain from free radical damage
high in potassium, vitamin C, polyphenols and vitamin B6.
Pomegranate juice may have two to three times the antioxidant power of equal amounts of green tea or red wine.

Dark Chocolate
powerful antioxidants and natural stimulants, including caffeine, which enhance focus and concentration
stimulates the production of 'happy' endorphins

In Defense of Food

Exceptional book, author and lecture on one of todays hottest topics, what should I eat? How should we eat if we are concerned about health, the environment and the food shortage facing the planet?
Have cooking and gardening become subversive acts in our society?

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

Michael Pollan's Twelve Commandments for Serious Eaters

1. Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food

2. Avoid foods containing ingredients you can't pronounce

3. Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot

4. Avoid food products that carry health claims

5. Shop the peripheries of the supermarket; stay out of the middle

6. Better yet, buy food somewhere else: the farmers' market or CSA

7. Pay more, eat less

8. Eat a wide variety of species

9. Eat food from animals that eat grass

10. Cook, and if you can, grow some of your own food

11. Eat meals and eat them only at tables

12. Eat deliberately, with other people whenever possible, and always with pleasure