Monthly Archives: November 2010

america’s latest culture war: food…

thanks to slow food for the link to this must-read article in yesterday’s washington post, “The new front in the culture wars: food”  about the right’s attempt to show liberals and localvores as elitist and unamerican because we just don’t understand that folks don’t want us poking our snooty noses into their eating habits. according to glenn beck, attempts to ‘beef up’ food safety legislation is simply an attempt by the government to turn everyone into vegetarians by increasing the price of factory raised beef and poultry…um, okay.

so instead of talking about food, we are talking about class:

Both sides in this gustatory dust-up understand just how dangerous it is to tell people how to eat. The right’s cultural warriors see an opportunity to turn the complicated issue of food into a class-war weapon – and to make nice with the fast-food industry, which has donated generously to the GOP. They are banking on the fact that over the past 60 years, the American way of eating has moved from small farms and home-cooked meals to industrial production and drive-throughs. The Golden Arches long ago replaced Mom’s apple pie as a symbol of the all-American meal. Thus, “Don’t let them take away your Big Mac!” becomes a rallying cry.

This transformation has been sold to us as progress, though not without consequences: Obesity-related diseases cost $150 billion annually.

for many of us, the connection between preventable diseases (heart disease, diabetes, obesity) and quality of food is quite clear. but it is a powerful tactic of the right to make this a “good vs. bad american” issue. the authors believe that people might be more open to a local economy argument:  when you eat the majority of your meals at chains and from industrial conglomerates, very little (if any) of that money stays in the community and the only jobs that are provided are minimum wage.

“voting with your fork” does not mean stabbing your mc rib sandwich in its strange and spongy heart, and being anti-GMO does not make me better than you. this is a matter of worrying about the health of our nation, and i can’t imagine anything more american than that.

additional reading:  “junking junk food” in the new york times

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meatless (& chilly) monday recipe: hearty lentil soup…

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one holiday down, one to go…the irishman and i had a totally mellow and chill thanksgiving with no leftovers (until a saturday morning breakfast at his mom’s scratched his itch for turkey and stuffing…so he’s set for the next couple days). for me, i just want something warm and comforting and easy to make that will give me dinner and lunch and dinner (at least!). i know my friend marie (who lives in washington state) will totally mock me, but it is freezing here in l.a., so my thoughts turn to a hearty bowl of soup, slow cooked on the stove and with very little fuss or muss…

this recipe for lentil soup from whole foods will do the trick, just fine…what? you say, another lentil soup recipe? who cares! didn’t you just post one not so long ago? but this recipe intrigued me because it does not rely on vegetable stock…the secret ingredient? kombu! how cool is that? and like many of the recipes i post here, i’m trying to find techniques that will translate over many dishes…and if kombu ends up being an unexpected umami ingredient, i am very excited by the discovery!

we have a ton of ciabatta bread (baked fresh in our bakery…i am so sounding like a whole foods commercial!) that i will put in the oven, thinly sliced with a drizzle of olive oil and some grated gruyère…

…and a perfect post-holiday meal is served!

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meatless monday (and meatless thanksgiving) recipes from martha…

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just in time for the holiday, martha stewart has posted 15 delicious ideas for your vegetarian friends and guests. these hearty ideas will not only delight your meatless friends, but are also welcome additions to any thanksgiving celebration.

i chose to showcase the bread pudding because while not a substitute for my mom’s amazing stuffing, it is one of the dishes i miss most at thanksgiving. martha’s combination of leeks, parsnips and parmesan sounds pretty incredible!

and if none of these strike your fancy, meatless mondays has also posted a collection of thanksgiving themed dishes.

happy thanksgiving, everybody!

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l.a. bans the bag…

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fantastic news in this morning’s l.a. times!

on tuesday, the l.a. county board of supervisors passed a sweeping ban on single use plastic bags that hopefully, will become a statewide model. the largest in the nation, the ordinance will effect cities outside of l.a.’s incorporated areas (about 1.1 million residents). it is a complete ban on plastic shopping bags and imposes a 10 cent surcharge on the use of paper bags. phase one will begin in july 2011 and by january 2012, will be in full force. it’s an incredible first step.

according to the article:

In Los Angeles County alone, 6 billion plastic bags are used each year, an average of 1,600 bags per household a year. Government figures show that only about 5% are recycled.

the vote (of course) was partisan. the lone republican in dissent stated concern for poor people who would now have to buy poo bags because of the ban. maybe he should look at images like these:

images from

image from

all that plastic isn’t going anywhere. it is breaking down into tiny particles that are then eaten by wildlife (and eventually by us). as you may know a portion of our profits go to both the surfrider foundation and 5 gyres. if you have a moment, check out the 5 gyres photo album, i’m sure you will be as incensed as we are when you see what we are doing to our oceans and our planet.

on a more positive note, as soon as the irishman figures out the techy-tech stuff on the website, modernest will be having a

big sale

to celebrate! so please stay tuned!

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meatless monday recipe: pumpkin polenta with tomatillo-avocado salsa…

image from gluten free goddess

whether you are in the mood for some pumpkin-y goodness or as a terrific entree for your gluten-free and vegetarian guests at the holidays, you can’t go wrong with this scrumptious pumpkin polenta recipe!

i’ll definitely add some cotija cheese, beans (for protein) and roasted pumpkin seeds or pepitas…delicioso!

what a perfect autumn dish! thanks, gluten free goddess!

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yay, she’s baaaaack! annie leonard’s “the story of electronics”…

the story of electronics came out yesterday.  it talks about all those gadgets and “iStuff” (believe me, we own a lot of it) that’s so fantastic and convenient and cool…but what about the relatively short lives they live in our pads, purses or pockets? all those electronics that are cheaper to toss than to repair…annie leonard calls this “design for the dump” and it refers to the 18 months that we usually keep our electronics – whether it’s because the latest and greatest just came out or because things are’t built as well as they used to be…and what about all those toxins to make them and the risk to the workers who make them? each year, we create 25 million tons of e-waste, very little of it actually recycled.

so she’s calling for us to sign a petition sponsored by the electronics takeback coalition, urging ceo’s of electronics companies to “make ’em safe. make ’em last. take ’em back.” i hope you’ll take the time to watch the piece (i love the john cusack-like cameo) and if you can, sign the petition!

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want to help the environment? stop wasting food…

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you believe you are doing all you can for the environment. you recycle. you use the right light bulbs. you use your reusable shopping bags. maybe you’ve even embraced meatless mondays or went vegan or vegetarian. but according to jonathan bloom, there is one more simple thing you can do to help the environment:  stop wasting food.

according to mr. bloom – author of “american wasteland: how america throws away nearly half of its food (and what we can do about it)” (<- that’s a mouthful of a title!), about 40% of the food produced in america isn’t consumed. each day, americans waste enough food to fill the rose bowl. 40%. every day. seriously?

this isn’t only about wasting food. it’s about wasting the fossil fuel that went into growing, processing, transporting and refrigerating it. a conservative estimate is that nearly 2% of all u.s. energy consumption goes to producing food that was never eaten.

from his op-ed in today’s l.a. times:

To give you a sense of perspective, every year, through uneaten food, we waste 70 times the amount of oil that gushed into the Gulf of Mexico during the three months of the Deepwater Horizon spill.

then on top of that, add the fuel used to transport that waste to the landfill; the methane that is produced once the food starts decomposing (far worse than carbon dioxide); not to mention the guilt that should come to los angelenos for throwing away 18 million pounds of food per day, while the homeless and the poor in our city are starving or malnourished.

here are some simple things he says we all can do:

• Buy smarter. Plan the week’s dinners and make a detailed shopping list. Stick to the list; don’t buy more food than you can possibly eat before it goes bad. When planning meals, consider your reality. If you often don’t have time to cook dinner after work, don’t shop as if you do. And scheduling a leftover night is always wise.

• Rethink portion size. We have a warped idea of what’s a sensible amount to eat, in part because of what counts as a “serving” at restaurants these days. As a result, we often take or receive too much, prompting us to either overeat or scrape the food we don’t eat into the trash.

• Love your leftovers. If you’ve invested the money, time and energy in cooking, why not save the remaining portion? And remember, saving food only to throw it out a week later defeats the purpose. If you’re not a leftover lover, try halving recipes to prevent excess or repurposing your accumulated extras into another dish.

• Compost! Those of us without dogs (or pigs or goats) will always have some food waste. But we don’t have to send it all to the landfill. Composting, whether by backyard, worm or Bokashi bin or the indoor NatureMill, creates a usable soil amendment rather than methane. That way, you return your food’s nutrients to the soil instead of just throwing them away.

for more information, check out his terrific blog, wasted food.

this is a simple, money-saving thing we all can do!

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