Live Well
January 2019

Resolutions for a Greener Kitchen

As we move into 2019, I’ve been considering what I can do to help our world from my own kitchen. Of course, there are the usual things like cutting the consumption of meat and dairy, and drinking from a reusable water bottle, which we’ve been doing for some time. But I wanted to consider something that I was doing that wasn’t necessarily obvious to me. So I reflected on what I could do and set myself a few goals for the year ahead:

  • Use less or no plastic to wrap foods because there’s enough plastic in the oceans as it is. According to an article in National Geographic, “World plastic production has increased exponentially from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 162 million in 1993 to 448 million by 2015.”
    (www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/plastic-facts/). So, in addition to skipping the plastic bags at the grocery store, I am making a concerted effort to use less Ziploc bags and, if I need to use something to wrap food, using food wrap made of beeswax (which also promotes the health of bee populations).
  • Waste less food, not just because it’s a shame to waste food, but also because food waste that ends up in landfills doesn’t decompose with oxygen and therefore produces methane, one of the most dangerous greenhouse gases (check out some interesting statistics about food waste here). In addition to cooking less, I am making a concerted effort to compost as much waste as possible.
  • Experiment with ancient grains like teff and sorghum rather than rice, which uses a lot of water and is also a large emitter of methane gas. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, “When organic material decays in water-logged rice paddies, soil microbes generate methane, a greenhouse gas with 84 times more warming potential than carbon dioxide. In India, rice methane emissions account for about 10 percent of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions.” (www.edf.org/blog/2013/07/31/howcan-we-grow-more-rice-less-land-water-and-pollution)
  • As much as possible, avoid buying products that come with a lot of unnecessary packaging, such as prepared foods, paper napkins and straws. I think this speaks for itself. The more stuff we throw away, the more ends up in landfills and results in emissions of methane and carbon dioxide.

I like to think that even if I do a few small things, that will have an impact on the world. And maybe if I can get a few more people to do a few small things and they tell a few more people, then we can have an even greater impact. So, I urge you to consider what you can do and tell your friends!

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SLIDESHOW

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Ladakh in Northern India. Here are pictures of my trip.

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Worthwhile

Unsavory Truth

How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat
by Marion Nestle

I am a great fan of Marion Nestle and her work. I recently read her latest book Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat and, as with all her other books, found it fascinating. In this book, Nestle addresses the power food companies wield over food and nutrition research. As Nestle notes, “Until recently, government granting agencies —mainly NIH and the USDA —funded about half of all food, nutrition, and agriculture research. But by 2013, industry and foundations accounted for 70 percent of food-related research. This shift occurred as a result of two simultaneous trends: a decline in federal funding and a sharp increase in private funding that began early in the twenty-first century.” (Unsavory Truth, p. 158) Because they fund much of the research done on food and nutrition, they can bias results in their favor.

Because large food companies are able to spend significant sums of money on research, they can influence the scope of the studies and the questions being asked. The results, therefore, often reinforce the need for, or mitigate the adverse effects of their products in order to increase that product’s sales.In her book, Nestle explores how this is done and the consequences it has, namely that food and nutrition research we are provided may be subjective and driven by commercial interests.

The main takeaway from Marion Nestle’s book is that we, as consumers, need to be proactive in identifying nutrition studies that seek to promote companies’ products, and ask that our legislators promote the best interests of citizens. As Nestle notes at the end of her book, “Just as “voting with your fork” is useful, so is voting with your vote… As citizens, we need and deserve healthier, more sustainable, and more ethical food systems. If we do not demand them, who will?” (Unsavory Truth, p.231).

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Articles

Articles of Interest:

  • Here are two great summaries and analyses of the 2018 Farm Bill, which was recently approved by Congress: READ HERE and READ HERE
  • It’s a shame that the government doesn’t value the health of young children who need proper nutrition for brain development. READ ARTICLE
    Here’s a case for why this is poor policy: READ ARTICLE
  • Will chicken bones be the legacy we leave our children’s children? READ ARTICLE
  • A little late…but better than never. The government is finally recognizing the dangers of pesticides, and taking the necessary steps to mitigate some of damage. READ ARTICLE
  • Diets should be about eating whole, real foods that nourish us on multiple levels. Everyone needs different foods at different times so it’s not surprising that current research shows there is no “one size fits all” way to eat (no pun intended). READ ARTICLE