Viewing entries tagged

1 Comment

What kind of eater are you?

A carrot isn’t just a carrot anymore. Today, the question of what to eat is loaded with implications about the life you live, your views on health, animal rights, farming, and the food future you envision for yourself and your family.  This means that the side dish you may have roasted for last night’s dinner came sprinkled with salt, pepper and politics.

What is the true origin of your carrots? Are they organic or pesticide-coated? Local or trucked from across country? Part of a seasonal CSA box or purchased on sale from your neighborhood grocery store?

It’s good to ask these questions and to know more about our food system, but as Michael Pollan points out in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, it can easily produce a fair amount of stress.  

“As a culture we seem to have arrived at a place where whatever native wisdom about eating has been replaced by confusion and anxiety. Somehow this most elemental of activities—figuring out what to eat—has come to require a remarkable amount of expert help.”

Of all the questions surrounding the food industry, one of the most basic we each must ask ourselves is What exactly should we be eating? The resources below are designed to give you the tools to learn more about the three most popular ways to eat, but the questions don't end here.

As a vegetarian, will you eat fish? If so, all fish, or only sustainable varieties? For omnivores, there are questions surrounding how often you will eat meat, which farms your meat will be sourced from, and if you’ll buy corn fed or grass fed beef. For vegans, will you ease in, gradually giving up dairy, or commit entirely by not only modifying your food habits but also the clothing and skin care products you use?

Coming to terms with our food values will take time, but simply by being here you’re on the right track. Your decision is a personal one, and will affect your giving later on, as well as the way you interact with the food community. Take a look at the resources below and begin considering where you fit on the food spectrum.


Noun: An animal or person that eats food of both plant and animal origin.

  • Eat Well Guide // A directory of sustainably-raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs.
  • Eat Wild // The clearinghouse for information about pasture-based farming.
  • Mark Bittman // New York Times columnist Mark Bittman reports on the depressing transition in our relationship to food: more fast-food chains, prepared meals and junk food, and an accompanying increase in chronic diseases and environmental degradation.
  • // Michael Pollan writes about the places where nature and culture intersect: on our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in the built environment.
  • Seafood Watch // A consumer's guide for sustainable seafood, The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program helps consumers and businesses make choices for healthy oceans.


Noun: A person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products, esp. for moral, religious, or health reasons.

  • Mercy for Animals // Mercy For Animals is a 501(c)(3) non-profit animal rights organization focused on promoting a vegetarian diet.
  • VegOnline // VegOnline strives to provide its readership with the best tips, advice and information on all things vegetarian from nutrition to recipes to lifestyle.
  • The Vegetarian Resource Group // Vegetarian recipes and nutrition information dedicated to educating the public on vegetarianism and the interrelated issues of health, nutrition, ecology, and ethics.
  • Vegetarian Society // The Vegetarian Society is an educational charity working to support, represent and increase the number of vegetarians in the UK and around the world.
  • Vegetarian Times // The world's largest collection of vegetarian recipes.
  • WildPlanet // Sustainably caught wild seafood


Noun: A person who does not eat or use animal products including meat, fish, eggs, dairy and honey. In addition to health, one of the most common reasons people choose a vegan diet is because of concerns over animal cruelty.

  • Farm Sanctuary // Farm Sanctuary works to protect farm animals from cruelty, inspire change in the way society views and treats farm animals, and promote compassionate vegan living.
  • Go Vegan USA // The mission of Go Vegan USA is to provide information and resources to our members and local chapters, to be a hub for activist networking, and to encourage others to oppose cruelty and create positive social change by adopting a plant-based diet.
  • // Kathy Freston is a New York Times best-selling author of Veganist concentrates on healthy living and conscious eating.
  • Mercy for Animals // Mercy For Animals is a 501(c)(3) non-profit animal rights organization focused on promoting a vegetarian diet.
  • // publishes useful information for both aspiring and long-term vegans. It's also the home of Erik Marcus' daily blog and his VegTalk podcast.

1 Comment


The Food Matters Project: Savory Tomato Crisp

My heart belongs to tomatoes. I love them raw, drizzled with good olive oil, burst in a fresh sauce for pasta, or pureed in a roasted soup with grilled cheese for dunking. So you can imagine my excitement a few days ago when I stopped by the farmer's market to pick up local, organic tomatoes for this recipe.

Today's dish lends itself to improvisation, especially when it comes to the topping. And I suppose this is the right forum to admit that, even though I posted the original recipe below, I made a few modifications myself. I just couldn't resist! I had a handful of toasted pine nuts from earlier in the day, so I added them, as well as more olive oil instead of melted butter, which I conveniently forgot because it was an extra step and extra bowl.

The warm tomatoes make the perfect vegetarian main course for a light spring dinner. I served mine with a salad of roasted asparagus, torn prosciutto, and a bright rose.


From The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman (p. 423)

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing
3 pounds ripe tomatoes (8-10 medium), cored and cut into wedges
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Salt and black pepper
1 cup bread crumbs, preferably whole grain and homemade
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 chopped pecans or walnuts
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or crumbled feta or blue cheese
1 tablespoon melted butter

1. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square or round baking dish or a deep pie plate with oil; heat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Put the tomato wedges in a large bowl and sprinkle with the cornstarch and some salt and pepper. Toss gently and let the mixture sit. In another bowl, combine the bread crumbs, pecans, garlic, cheese, 3 tablespoons oil, and butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir until thoroughly mixed.

3. Toss the tomato mixture again and transfer it to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the bread crumb topping. Bake until the crisp is as dark as you like on top and bubbly underneath, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool to warm or room temperature before serving. To serve, scoop portions out with a large spoon.



The Food Matters Project: Roasted Asparagus and White Bean Soup

When the first asparagus bunches arrive at the markets every spring, I start getting excited. The bright green spears remind me of the changing seasons, and new cravings for warmer weather. When it comes to making soups, I've been obsessed with the incredible power of my Vitamix, for which I rely to ensure the creamiest consistency for soups. I made this soup very quickly, using only 4 cups of homemade white beans (made a couple of days before), 1 bunch of roasted asparagus spears, and vegetable stock.

For the original recipe, visit Adrienne's blog.



The Food Matters Project: Cassoulet with Lots of Vegetables

We're still a few months away from abundant summer produce, but the combination of flavors in this dish had me longing for warmer days. This cassoulet, a hearty vegetable stew, is simultaneously comforting for a rainy night, but filled with fresh ingredients that will have your kitchen smelling like a lazy July afternoon.

For the original recipe, visit Keely's blog.


Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman

I couldn't help but think of summer with the zucchini and tomatoes, so I added basil to enhance the freshness. I omitted any animal products to keep this version vegetarian and vegan.

1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves
2 large zucchini, diced
3-4 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
A few fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 cup homemade tomato sauce
2 cups vegetable stock, or as needed

In a large Dutch oven, heat a few turns of olive oil over medium low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes until fragrant and the onions begin to soften. Add the zucchini; season with salt and cook for 5-10 minutes, until softened. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, basil, and stir to combine. Add the tomato sauce and stock and bring to a low simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the liquid has thickened a bit. Serve with crusty bread.



The Food Matters Project: Spicy Tomato Soup with Egg Crumbs

I'll be honest. I'm not the world's biggest curry fan, though I'm certain there's a recipe out there that will sway me. For the time being, though, I'm not keen on adding any extra spices to my pantry if I'm not certain I'll be using them. I've effectively taken the curry out of Mark Bittman's Curried Tomato Soup, but I was really pleased with how it turned out.

First, I sauteed onions in olive oil, then added 1 28 oz. can of whole, peeled tomatoes, 2 small Yukon potatoes, and a couple of chopped carrots. I also added a generous teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, which gave the soup a nice heat. Instead of bothering with stock, just fill up the tomato can about halfway with water and add it to the pot, enough to just cover everything. Simmer for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender, then puree everything in batches in a blender until smooth. For the garnish, add 1 chopped hard boiled egg to a few tablespoons of homemade, toasted breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the soup before serving.

For the original recipe, visit Joanne's blog.