June 16th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Singer Paul McCartney yesterday launched a Meat-Free Monday campaign, which encourages consumers to help slow climate change by avoiding meat one day a week.
Celebrity supporters include Chris Martin, Alec Baldwin, Woody Harrelson, Sheryl Crow, Kevin Spacey, Kelly Osbourne, Gillian Anderson and Ricky Gervais.
Studies clearly show our food choices affect the environment. The UK’s Food Climate Research Network says food production is responsible for 20%–30% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Farm animals, which release gases like methane and nitrous oxide, account for 50% of food-related emissions.
In fact, livestock production is globally responsible for more climate-changing emissions (18%) than transportation (13%), according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. And Compassion in World Farming says UK families that slash meat consumption by 50% would release fewer emissions than if they drove their cars 50% less.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Rajendra Pachauri, PhD, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said last year:
“IPCC found that changes in lifestyle and behavior patterns can contribute to climate change mitigation across all sectors. One area where individuals can make a difference in this regard is by altering their diets through consuming less meat, say by giving up meat at least one day a week. Reducing meat consumption in this manner will make individuals healthier, as well as the planet.”
“I think many of us feel helpless in the face of environmental challenges, and it can be hard to know how to sort through the advice about what we can do to make a meaningful contribution to a cleaner, more sustainable, healthier world. Having one designated meat-free day a week is actually a meaningful change that everyone can make that goes to the heart of several important political, environmental and ethical issues all at once. For instance, it not only addresses pollution, but better health, the ethical treatment of animals, global hunger and community and political activism.”
Organic Meat-Free Monday Playlist
- Amoeba’s Secret
- Unplugged (Official Bootleg)
Read More:Paul McCartney Calls for Meat-Free Mondays
June 13th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Gwyneth Paltrow and Oprah Winfrey may have personal chefs, but mere mortals do their own chopping.
“People are busier than ever and looking for ways to eat well within their lifestyles,” says Dave Lieberman, a personal chef, Food Network host, and author of Young and Hungry: More Than 100 Recipes for Cooking Fresh and Affordable Food for Everyone.
“What many types of personal chefs do isn’t necessarily that hard,” he explains. “It’s primarily about cooking smarter, and all that it requires is a little planning.”
Here are some of Lieberman’s tips for incorporating personal chef know-how into your organic kitchen routines:
- Grab a good deal on sustainable proteins. From a jumbo pack of chicken breasts to a whole side of salmon, nice-priced main ingredients will save money and provide culinary inspiration. If you’re not going to cook your proteins immediately, create individual fillets for the fridge or freezer. It takes only a few minutes.
- Prep your most-used ingredients ahead of time, and store them in quick-grab containers. Chopped onion, grated cheese, pie crusts and bread dough are great items to have on hand in your fridge or freezer. Lieberman also suggests freezing stocks in ice cube trays—“great for leftover wine, too,” he says.
- Pre-prep flavorful starters to jump-start weekday meals, while leaving room for last-minute creativity. For example, boneless, skinless chicken breasts can be individually wrapped and frozen in a favorite marinade. By the time they thaw, they’re packed with flavor and ready for a variety of recipes, from salads to fajitas.
- High-impact ingredients can transform even the most basic foods. “Adding a handful of fresh herbs to a pre-made dish—even if it’s just yesterday’s leftovers—is a great way to bring it to life,” Lieberman says. He freezes small quantities of butter blended with herbs, spices and other seasonings, which he uses to top steaks, fish, grilled or steamed vegetables, and baked potatoes.
- When cooking basics like potatoes or rice, up the quantity so you have prepared ingredients for later in the week. “That way, you’ve always got the makings for a fast and easy side dish—simple sautéed potatoes, impromptu fried rice, you name it,” Lieberman says.
- When whipping up large batches of favorite recipes, package leftovers in smaller-size portions. Freeze individual servings for quick family meals.
With simple organic ingredients and a little planning, family and friends may think you have a personal chef in your pantry!
Tips courtesy of Dave Lieberman and Glad Press’N Seal
Read More:Tips from a Personal Chef
June 11th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
How do you top your natural, organic or vegetarian hot dog?
The answer may depend on where you live. Regional favorites include:
- New York—spicy mustard, sauerkraut
- Chicago—cucumber, tomato, pickle, onion, pickle relish, celery salt
- South—coleslaw, mustard, onions
- Seattle—cream cheese, onions
- Southwest—corn relish, bacon
- Greek-style—sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, kalamata olives
- Midwest—melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut
- California-style—guacamole, sprouts, sunflower seeds
For me, nothing beats the basics: organic mustard, relish and fresh onions. Other family members opt for organic ketchup and sauerkraut. Here’s what you’ll find on my summer shopping list:
- Heinz Organic Ketchup
- Annie’s Organic Yellow Mustard
- Cascadian Farm Organic Sweet Relish
- Eden Organic Sauerkraut
Whichever toppings you choose, dress the dog—not the bun. Apply condiments to the dog in the following order:
- Wet condiments (mustard, chili)
- Chunky condiments (relish, onions, sauerkraut)
- Shredded cheese
- Spices (celery salt, pepper)
Photo courtesy of Boar’s Head
Read More:The Organic Condiment Aisle
June 10th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Hot dogs get a bad reputation, and deservedly so. They’re high in saturated fat, sodium, nitrates, cancer-causing compounds and pig parts I have no desire to eat.
But summer isn’t the same without a juicy, grilled frankfurter on a toasted bun. Fortunately, there are healthier, lower-fat natural, organic and vegetarian cures for your hot-dog cravings.
The Great Organic Uncured Hot Dog from Applegate Farms is made from organic grass-fed beef, as are Niman Ranch’s Fearless Franks and Organic Prairie’s Uncured Hot Dogs. Organic Prairie also offers chicken dogs and turkey dogs.
If you’re a vegetarian, check out the Lightlife line of Smart Dogs, Tofu Pups, Veggie Dogs and Pretzel Dogs. Another meatless option is the Yves line of Hot Dogs, Good Dogs, Tofu Dogs and Jumbo Hot Dogs.
Be sure to top your dog with organic condiments. I’ll show you some of my favorites tomorrow.
Read More:Hot Dog Stand
June 9th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
You may recognize Nicolette Hahn Niman’s last name.
Her husband, Bill, founded Niman Ranch years before they met, and it has become a leading supplier of natural, humanely raised beef, pork, lamb, and specialty products like bacon and hot dogs.
Mrs. Niman served for six years as an environmental attorney for Waterkeeper Alliance, the grassroots advocacy group chaired by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. He asked her to take the reins of the organization’s hog campaign, which investigated inhumane treatment of animals at factory farms and the environmental pollutants these operations dump into our land, water and air.
In her new book, Righteous Porkchop, Niman compares the humane and inhumane practices she has witnessed at farms. She clearly demonstrates that sustainable meat can be produced cost-effectively and ethically.
The book delves beyond Big Pork, examining the importance of choosing sustainable seafood, beef, poultry, dairy and eggs.
“Many people assume industrial farming is the only realistic option for producing food these days,” Niman writes. “They are resigned to it as a necessary evil…But the inevitability of industrial animal production is a myth. It’s not inherently more economically efficient than traditional farming, and nothing is unavoidable about it.”
Read More:Righteous Porkchop
November 13th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Muslims Neil and Nikki Payne moved to the English countryside to escape London’s frenetic pace. They sought a greener lifestyle and were extremely unhappy with the quality of meat sold by butchers and supermarkets.
The Paynes suspected much of the meat labeled “halal” (slaughtered in accordance with Islamic principles) may not be legit. Conversations with breeders, abattoir owners and locals revealed some uncomfortable truths about the industry: a lack of standards, ethics and principles. The couple decided to launch the United Kingdom’s first organic halal meat company, investing their life savings.
Abraham Natural Produce provides organic, ethically reared, halal meat. The Paynes believe the UK’s Muslim population benefits from local, high-quality organic food.
“We decided to set up the company as a service for people who think like us,” Neil says. “Our target market is people who really care about the quality of the animals, their treatment, what they are fed and how they are slaughtered. We are the only company that can tell a customer when and where their lamb was born, what breed it was, where it lived, what it ate, what air it breathed and who slaughtered it. Show me a halal butcher that can do that. In addition, we promote eco-friendly values, support local providers and donate a percentage of profits to charities that help feed the poor and underprivileged. Our business model is not profit-driven, but conscience-driven.”
The launch comes at a time when the public is showing increased interest in organic and naturally reared meat and produce. The Paynes would ultimately like consumers to put an end to the domination of supermarkets over local food producers.
“You are what you eat,” Neil says. “So, when you are eating flesh—something else’s DNA—you need to be 100% positive that the animal was pure, healthy and, above all, happy.”
Read More:How One Couple Changed the Organic Meat Business
January 16th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
USDA Photo: Ken Hammond
Mark your calendar so you can shop at your local Whole Foods Market on Tuesday, Jan. 24, when the company will donate 5% of its total global sales to the Animal Compassion Foundation.
“The quest for cheap food in our society has created an industrialized model of meat production in which animals are bred and raised in conditions focused on efficiency rather than on the basic needs of the animal,” says Whole Foods CEO and cofounder John Mackey. “As another important milestone on our path to being a responsible tenant of the planet, Whole Foods Market created the Animal Compassion Foundation to act as a forum in which meat producers can learn, share and be inspired to ensure animal welfare as a top priority.”
Whole Foods Market has set strict requirements for food safety and high standards for animal welfare in its Natural Meat Program. Last year’s launch of the Animal Compassion Foundation parallels the development of the company’s next generation of meat standards: the Animal Compassionate Standards, which will require farm environments to provide enhanced support of animals’ physical, emotional and behavioral needs. In the future, as specific standards for each species are completed and labeling logistics are finalized, producers who successfully meet the standards will be able to label their products with a distinct designation.
“The foundation was created to help producers make the transition to these higher levels of animal welfare that we are encouraging producers throughout the world to achieve,” Mackey says. “Over the long run, with access to the information available through the Animal Compassion Foundation, we hope more producers will see the intrinsic merits of raising animals in a compassionate manner and will be inspired to follow this lead.”
The foundation focuses on four primary areas:
- Searching the globe for ideas and innovations from ranchers and farmers who are raising their farm animals compassionately
- Creating a worldwide network of animal-compassionate producers to share knowledge and improve practices
- Collecting knowledge of compassionate husbandry methods in an online library to assist interested producers in successfully adopting these techniques
- Providing research money to producers for on-farm research and animal scientists to seek solutions to current husbandry issues
Read More:Shop at Whole Foods Market on Jan. 24