Food Recalls: A Nation of Cheap, Unsafe Eggs

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I hope you checked your egg cartons to see that they weren’t one of the 380 million recalled due to a Salmonella contamination and I hope you don’t know any of the thousands sickened by the habitual offender. A single producer is responsible for distributing eggs to at least 17 states under 143 different brands, packed in boxes of six, 12 and 18 eggs. Salmonella is spread most often by the consumption of food contaminated by animal fecal matter, according to health experts. FYI, millions of chickens are locked up and raised in battery cages, with no room to roam or defecate. Therefore, they end up biting and pooping on each other, which significantly increases chances of food-borne illness (amongst other ethical issues.) These unsafe eggs are just the beginning of the problem with how our food is brought to our tables. A nation of unsafe eggs is a nation of unsafe food, controlled by a few large agricultural factory farms. Factory farms raise livestock in complete confinement by “packing” in as many animals as possible per square foot. The result is cheap meat, poultry, eggs, and milk. The results are also human health dangers, animal health dangers, pollution, and destruction of biodiversity. Cheap food comes with a high cost to peoples’ health and the environment.

Images and videos highlighting the bigger issue behind recalled food and food security:
Michael Pollan, author Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Rules, talks to Dr. Sanjay Gupta about the global issue here.
How Hens Are Confined- NYT visualization 
Factory Farm Production Exposedvideo, is this the kind of food you want to eat? Does this seem normal to you?
Egg Production Detailsshort read on how eggs are produced on a factory farm

How to find non-recalled or safe eggs:
-Farmer’s Marketsmost farmer’s will even let you come to their farm and pick your own eggs or give you a tour!
-Smaller grocery stores that carry local, sustainable farm eggs
-Buy organic, cage-free (really cage-free), pastured eggs
-Make sure your your eggs come from small, local farms that raise their chickens outside of cages and treat them humanely.
-Avoid insanely cheap eggs, which means they were factory farmed and all of the chickens were raised in tiny cages, biting and pooping on each other and then transported to another factory to be sorted and packaged to sell at grocery stores around the nation.

Eat Safe!

Interesting/funny tweets regarding this massive egg recall:
Conan O’Brien: “The FDA egg recall has hit a total of 380 million eggs. I can’t wait till they find the tired, evil hen that did this”

schmuckraker “PSA for a recall age: This is an egg This is you after eating an egg Any questions? http://bit.ly/bi1ym6″

Battery-caged chickens

Pastured raised hen producing healthy eggs

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This Is What We Ate One Year Ago

Our 1 year wedding anniversary is this weekend, so I wanted to share the food we carefully choose for our wedding celebrations. We tried to stay true to our beliefs by having as much food as we could that was local and sustainable, while still honoring the Indian culture. Please do not take any of these photos without permission. All photos were taken by our wonderful photographer Josef Kohn of IQ Photos. Continue reading

Meatless Monday: Health Benefits

Meatless Monday (MM) is a nation-wide campaign to encourage people to give up meat one day out of the week to increase health, ecology, and economy. It’s also very achievable. You are only going one day a week without any meat. In turn, you will increase your intake of fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.(MM does not mean substituting meat for refined carbohydrates,  large quantities of full-fat cheese and peanut butter; it will add a significant amount of fat and calories to your diet. MM also does not mean for you to increase your intake of meat for the rest of the week.)

Here are a few health benefits from a vegetarian diet:
-Vegetarian diets often contain more fiber, potassium, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and vitamins associated with reduced risks of chronic and preventable diseases (diabetes, obesity).
-Generally, vegetarians maintain a healthier body weight (that is if they make good choices).
-Diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk. Whereas, red and processed meat consumption are linked to colon cancer.
-Studies have shown that countries with a higher intake of fat, especially fat from animal products, such as meat and dairy products, have a higher incidence of breast cancer.
– Fiber is only found in fruit and vegetables. Fiber makes you full on fewer calories, hence less overeating and greater weight control.

These are just a few of the many health benefits of a diet focused on fresh vegetables and fruits. Adopt to MM and see the results for yourself.

Vegetable “Lasagna”

-Inspired by Giada De Laurentiis’ Vegetable Parmesan

I love this dish because it’s versatile and you can use any vegetables you have on hand. I like using “meaty” vegetables such as zucchini, squash, eggplant, and mushrooms. You can add a layer of no-boil-lasagna sheets for an extra bite and sustenance. I choose to substitute the lasagna sheets for slices of potatoes. Potatoes have fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese. What I love about this dish is that it tastes better the next day and the days after…I make extra, so I don’t have to worry about cooking so much the rest of the week.  This dish isn’t heavy, cheesy, or saucy. Rather, it’s light,  satiating, and fresh! Another great thing about this dish is that I really am not cooking- the oven does all the work! Just chop, mix, assemble on a baking dish, throw it in the oven and forget about it for the next 40 minutes!

Ingredients:

  • Butter, for greasing
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dried basil or Herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped chard, stem discarded
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into thick slices
  • 1 medium potato, cut into thick slices
  • 1 large, ripe tomato, cut into thick slices
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese or  ricotta (optional)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix salt, pepper and herbs. Coat the vegetables with this mixture.

Spoon 3/4 cup of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange the potato slices and then the eggplant slices on top of the marinara. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese  or spoon 1/2 cup of ricotta over the eggplant. Arrange the peppers first, tomatoes second, and then the zucchini in a single layer on top.  Spoon 3/4 cup of marinara sauce over the zucchini. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella/ricotta cheese. Arrange the chard and cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Scatter the bread crumbs over the cheese and drizzle liberally with oil. Bake until the top is golden and forms a crust, about 45 minutes.

Use a locally grown tomatoes for ultimate flavor

Ricotta or mozarella works well.

Rainbow Chard

Enjoy natures bounty!

Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Are All Sugars Equal?

If you haven’t heard it by now, you must have been living in a cave for the last few years. Sugar is bad for you. Actually, they say it’s the reason why you are obese, have diabetes, and are fueling the multi-billion dollar health industry. However, does that mean that the juicy, plump peach is the culprit? A large peach does have 15 grams of sugar per serving. Or is it the pint of ice-cream you just downed? After all, sugar is sugar, and your body breaks it down all the same- right?

Let’s logically think about this for a minute. There are different types of sugars and your body does process them differently. There are refined/artificial/processed sugars, and there are fruit sugars. And then, it’s all about how you consume the sugar.

Sugar from fruit is called fructose. It is a simple sugar that is metabolized quickly and easily by the body. Simple sugars, like fructose, are not a problem for people who are active and healthy.  Fruits are staples of a healthy lifestyle and delightful to the senses. Of all the natural foods available, fruits are the most attractive, delicious and enjoyable. Taking from “Food Rules” by Micheal Pollan, “Eat sweets as you find them in nature.” Meaning eat the fruits whole, not processed or juiced. Fruit juice is often made from concentrate with added refined sugar and does not contain any fiber, which leaves you consuming more calories and unsatiated. Whole fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, fiber, and water.

 

Snacks from Nature, loaded with good nutrition

People do not become overweight or unhealthy from eating fruit. It’s the other types of sugar, found in other places that is the contributing culprit.

Table sugar (refined sugar) comes from two primary sources: sugar cane (60%) and sugar beets (40%) in form of sucrose. Sugar refining is the process of extracting out the sugar (sucrose) from the plant materials and then removing other unwanted materials from the extracted raw sugar. In the repeated processes of washing, boiling, centrifuging, filtering and drying, nearly all of the plant’s nutritional elements are lost. What remains in this so called “raw sugar” product is 95% sucrose along with nutritionally insignificant minerals. If sanitized by steaming, this “raw sugar” can be marketed as turbinado. Turbinado sugar is just a couple of steps shy of the final bleaching process. Bleaching agents such as lime and carbon dioxide are added to make white crystals known as table sugar. The table sugar is then further “purified”  and whitened by being filtered in a water-added liquid state through charcoal made from animal bones. This process removes even more minerals. “Pure” sugar refers to chemical purity, devoid of all nutritional and other elements, and not to a wholesome quality. Brown sugar is this table sugar that is turned brown by the reintroduction of molasses.

The Way We Consume Sugar

Refined sugar is in almost EVERY manufactured food product in the U.S. This sugar is, hands down, America’s number one food additive. Sugar is hidden in many of the things people buy at the supermarket. For instance, a tablespoon of ketchup contains a full teaspoon of sugar. Breads, soups, cereals, cured meats, hot dogs, lunch meat, salad dressings, spaghetti sauce, crackers, mayonnaise, peanut butter, pickles, frozen pizza, canned fruits and vegetables, tomato juice, and a host of other products all contain added sugar. Food that doesn’t even need the added refined sugar. The obvious offenders are desserts, candies, soft drinks, and ice-cream. People are consuming sugar without even knowing it! Be wise by avoiding processed food.

 

Manufactured Snacks with no nutritional value

 

When you have sweet attack, reach for that piece of fruit instead of the more processed foods high in sugars and other carbohydrates. A well rounded diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and protein is the best bet for overall health.

Stay tuned for more on Sugar.

***I highly recommend you reading “Food Rules An Eater’s Manual” by Micheal Pollan. It will positively change your lifestyle. It’s super easy and fast to read.

Meatless Monday

Giving up meat for one day is not as hard as you have convinced yourself it to be. There are plenty of delicious vegetarian options available; you just have to be open-minded and willing to try new foods. Also, you will not become protein deficient by not consuming meat one day a week. Continue reading

Super Toxic Foods: Strawberries

Beautiful, plump, deep red strawberries attract even the finickiest eater to enjoy their juicy sweetness in their mouth. They are the most popular berry in the world. Strawberries, like other berries, are famous in for their rich source of polyphenols. … Continue reading

Super Toxic Foods

Strawberries and other berries are known as “Super Foods”, for their antioxidant properties. These nutritional powerhouse foods are loaded with crucial nutrients, which have been proven to help prevent well-known effects of aging, including cardiovascular disease, Type II Diabetes, hypertension … Continue reading

Fort Mason’s Farmers Market

Last Sunday, June 6th, the Fort Mason Center Farmers’ Market opened with the support of thousands of San Francisco residents including the Honorable Willie Brown, and Senator Mark Leno. It was a perfect San Francisco day for the grand opening- … Continue reading