Category Archives: Healthy Eating

Permalink to Paula Deen’s Missed Opportunity

Paula Deen’s Missed Opportunity

By now you may have heard the news that Paula Deen, reigning queen of Southern cuisine, has Type 2 Diabetes. Actually, she’s had the disease for the past three years, and chose to make the news public only recently after closing a deal with Novo Nordisk to be the spokeswoman for their drug, Victoza.

Articles have flooded the internet, and the backlash has been extreme. Paula claims she didn’t want to make this public until she had something to offer others in the same situation. But I have to wonder, is pushing a drug that only masks the problem the best use of her celebrity? Also, why hasn’t she been working to reverse the disease these past three years? It would have been far more powerful for her to announce that she privately beat the disease by changing her eating habits and lifestyle, and then emerged to show America how to do it by filming a healthy cooking show. Instead, she’s been hanging on by popping pills.  This is a huge missed opportunity.

One of her “healthy” recipes was floating around the internet this week, and I have to say, I’m actually pretty disappointed.  Paula Deen’s Healthy Chicken Recipe (via People)

Yes, when compared to her original recipe, I’m sure there is less sodium and fat, but it’s unfortunate that Paula still relies on processed foods like cream of mushroom soup and jarred mayonnaise. Albeit the “low sodium” soup and “light” mayonnaise, it’s still not as healthy as it could be. Processed foods are a large contributor to the health problems of this country, and the sooner people start removing them from their diets the better. I don’t always side with Anthony Bourdain’s snide remarks about people, but It turns out he was right when he called her “the most dangerous person in America” on Twitter last year.

Resources around the web:

Paula Deen: From Big Food to Big Pharma (Kristin Wartman)

Paula Deen: From Market to Pharmacy (Civil Eats)

Chef Has Diabetes and Some Say, ‘I Told You So‘ (New York Times)

Of Mouselike Bites and Marathons (Frank Bruni, New York Times)

Permalink to 2012 Food Resolutions

2012 Food Resolutions

What are you planning to do differently in 2012 that will help make an impact on our food system?

Since it’s the season of cleansing, organizing and setting some goals, it’s a good time to think about what some of your food resolutions might be for 2012. Hopefully you’ve taken a peek around the site, browsed through the blog, and learned more about the food system. To do some food good in the world, here are a few resolutions you might consider making:

  • Read at least two books about the food system. Knowledge is power, so kick off your shoes and snuggle up with a book that will help you learn more about our broken food system and the people who are trying to change it. Need a little inspiration? Check out our Reading Room! Need even more inspiration? Check back later this year to join The Giving Table Book Club (launch TBD)!
  • Participate in Meatless Monday. The factory farm industry isn’t treating the animals we eat with care. Supporting local farmers with grass fed beef is one way to help reduce demand for industrialized products. If everyone went meatless just one day per week, it would save 1.4 billion animals per year from life on a factory farm. Learn more in my recent blog post on the subject
  • Prepare more meals at home. Cooking at home with organic produce is a great way to limit your intake of processed foods, sodium and trans-fats. Your body will thank you. 
  • Shop at the Farmers’ Market at least once per month. Think of this as a leisure activity. With busy schedules, it might not be realistic to go every week, so pack up your family at least once per month and spend a couple of hours browsing stalls of fresh produce. Maybe pick up a vegetable you haven’t tried before! You can also join a CSA or farm fresh delivery service.
  • Stay informed. Sign up for a newsletter that will keep you informed about happenings in the food industry, such as Food Democracy Now or Civil Eats. 
  • Designate funding to organizations fighting hunger. It doesn’t have to be a lot (just $1 can help connect a child to up to 10 nutritious meals through Share Our Strength), and every little bit helps. If you have the capacity, consider a small monthly gift to an organization helping to alleviate hunger and poverty in the US or abroad. Visit our Giving page to find an organization that suits your needs.


Permalink to Preaching to the Choir

Preaching to the Choir

It started with UPS. Not long ago I was driving through Los Angeles and while stopped at a light, turned and looked out the window. Directly next to me, parked on the side of the street, was a UPS truck where a driver was presumably taking his lunch break. He was drinking a Coke and eating a small package of crackers with cheese inside. I cringed. It was everything lunch shouldn’t be: mindless, unhealthy and lacking any nutrients that would fuel the rest of his afternoon.

That moment (and in reality, it truly was just a moment), made me think about who we’re trying to reach with all this good food chatter. I don’t need the message, and you probably don’t either. If you’re here or following me on Twitter, you already care enough about food to learn more about the issues facing our food system. I don’t need to tell you to eat healthier or buy your produce from local farms or volunteer at soup kitchens. The people we need to reach are out there, going about their lives, eating crackers and drinking soda for lunch.

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Permalink to 2012 Food Trend: Vegetarianism

2012 Food Trend: Vegetarianism

Giada DeLaurentiis recently predicted that vegetarianism will be a 2012 food trend. Her Twitter followers wanted to see more vegetarian dishes featured on her show, Giada at Home, and she delivered with some inventive recipes. (I personally tried the lentil and goat cheese rolls and loved them.) This circumstance does reveal that society is starting to become more mindful about how much meat it eats, which is a step in the right direction.

My only qualm with the media labeling it a trend is that it implies vegetarianism is temporary, merely a passing fad. It’s the same reason the word diet is problematic because it promotes a quick fix instead of what healthy eating really is: a lifestyle.

Mindfully choosing what to eat and striving to support your health is not a short-term experiment. And you’ll find that as you eliminate processed food, excess sugar (such as soft drinks), and even a bit of meat, your body will feel better and you’ll even be helping the planet, too. Whether you’re a committed vegetarian already or simply striving for Meatless Monday, there are plenty of reasons to consider lowering your animal protein intake.

Meatless Monday lays out the benefits of eating a little less meat:

Health Benefits

  • LIMIT CANCER RISK: Hundreds of studies suggest that diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk. Both red and processed meat consumption are associated with colon cancer.
  • REDUCE HEART DISEASE: Recent data from a Harvard University study found that replacing saturated fat-rich foods (for example, meat and full fat dairy) with foods that are rich in polyunsaturated fat (for example, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds) reduces the risk of heart disease by 19%
  • FIGHT DIABETES: Research suggests that higher consumption of red and processed meat increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • CURB OBESITY: People on low-meat or vegetarian diets have significantly lower body weights and body mass indices. A recent study from Imperial College London also found that reducing overall meat consumption can prevent long-term weight gain.
  • LIVE LONGER: Red and processed meat consumption is associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality.
  • IMPROVE YOUR DIET. Consuming beans or peas results in higher intakes of fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium with lower intakes of saturated fat and total fat.

Environmental Benefits

  • REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . . far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.
  • MINIMIZE WATER USAGE. The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef. Soy tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound.
  • HELP REDUCE FOSSIL FUEL DEPENDENCE. On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand.

Now you might be asking yourself what to cook. Check out the resources below for tips on vegetarian eating and cooking:

How to be a healthy vegetarian | Whole Living

Vegetarian Recipes | 101 Cookbooks

Vegetarian Recipes | Food Network

Food for Thought

"To care about food but not food production is clearly absurd." // Wendell Berry

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