The Decline of Processed Foods

Clearly it’s been a busy fall around these parts but I sure haven’t forgotten about my favorite corner of the Internet. Last night my local grocery store had an incredible sale on plum tomatoes: 3 pounds for $1! That was the only sign I needed to know it was time for endless bowls of fresh soup. I dashed to the store after dinner, my mouth watering at the thought of several dozens of juicy tomatoes just waiting to simmer on my stove, and of course, share with you.

You can imagine my heartbreak, then, when I was met with empty crates at the produce section. The only hint of the juicy, ripe tomatoes were the bruised, and squishy remnants I encountered sitting sadly at the bottoms of the bins. I humbly gathered the last three pounds I found scattered across the store and headed home undefeated.

I’d say it’s no coincidence that Treehugger has an insightful post today about the decline of processed foods in our grocery stores. It’s true: packaged foods strain our overburdened landfills, contribute significantly to cruel animal agriculture practices, and harm our bodies with additives. Earlier this year, the Washington Post published a story on the falling profits of companies like Jell-O and Oscar Mayer.

Now that explains why I was left with the twice-picked over tomatoes. Not a problem for me, though, if it means we are eating healthier and protecting the Planet at the same time 🙂 And since I did manage to round up the last bits of tomatoes, stick around for my recipe later this week.

Have you had a hard time finding produce these days?


Why Beef is the New SUV

John Sutter is an award-winning journalist and my favorite environmentalist on CNN.

Yesterday, he wrote a compelling story on the inconvenient truth of beef consumption. You can read it here.

holy cow!

holy cow!

His quick and dirty findings: Eating a little more than a half pound of beef is equivalent to driving 70 miles!

Holy cow is right!

You don’t need to be a 100% committed veg-awarian to fight global climate change. By simply swapping meat from one meal a day, you can reduce emissions by the equivalent of 70 miles. That’s a pretty big deal.

Free for My Readers

As we enter into our last week of Fruits and Vegetables month, I’m offering my EGuide free to my treasured readers through the end of September. At just 13 pages long, it’s designed to help you answer the fundamental challenges of plant-based eating: simple and adaptable preparation methods, selecting between fresh and frozen, tips for snacking on produce and a few more topics.

Email me at: mitali (dot) shah (dot) 17 (at) gmail (dot) (com) and I’ll send you the PDF.  I’m excited for your feedback after you have a chance to check it out.

Email me at the address above for your PDF copy

Fruits and Vegetables around the Web

Continuing along in our month-long celebration of Fruits and Vegetables, here are three stories I found interesting from around the Internet:

David Festa, Vice President of the Environmental Defense Fund, blogs about how eating fruits and vegetables saves the Earth.

Nicholas Bakalar of the NYT’s Well blog reports that children throw the away fruits and vegetables they are given at lunch. How can we make them more appealing to kids?

Larry Schwartz writes on Salon about the 24 fruits and vegetables that will help you live longer.

Plant-Based Living around the Web

Here are a few of my favorite recipes and stories from the week.

A crafty second life of wine bottles: Treehugger shares a neat way to create something functional and pretty by recycling.

General Tso’s no chicken bowls: Oh My Veggies shares a yummy recipe for a main or side dish.

Climate change intensifies drought: New York Times shares a thoughtful article on how the relationship between climate change and the California drought.

What’s the most interesting green tip, recipe, or idea you’ve learned recently?

Green Washing at the Green Festival

As soon as I heard about DC’s Green Festival held this weekend, I set out to scour its webpage for more information. Touted as “America’s Largest and Longest Running Sustainability and Green Living Event,” I decided right away that this was an event I must attend.


Boy was I in for a rude awakening when I learned moments upon arriving that this wasn’t at all what I’d expect a “green festival” to be.

Immediately as I entered the registration area, some interesting-looking furniture caught my eye.

Unsure whether these chairs were a piece of modern art or held a more practical purpose, I took a closer look at the information post. These chairs were made from recycled materials like coaxial cable and zip ties. Fabulous use of creativity and repurposing, I thought. Then I read on. The cost per piece? $5,000! $5,000 for something that’s made out of discarded materials—I was shocked! Surely the average green-festival attendee couldn’t afford to outfit a room with furniture created from trash.

Frustrated but undeterred, my friend M(who graciously agreed to tag along with me) and I entered the festival. The very first “exhibit” we noticed was a BMW placed at the center of the hall. I wondered out loud: how exactly does a BMW contribute to a sustainable living festival?

Flipping through the event guide I found my answer. The Green Festival’s Platinum, Gold and Green sponsors (top donors) consist of Audi, Volkswagen, BMW and Ford. Coincidence? I think not! It dawned on me then—this “green festival” that was supposedly about “making ‘greener’ practical” was actually a thinly-veiled attempt at green-washing the worst offenders of global climate change: the automobile industry. It would have been one thing had these companies sponsored the event and discussed practical tips on reducing our reliance on cars. Instead, though, the hall was abound with raffles to win a car, opportunities to test drive one locally, and even lease one on the spot.


This festival was ultimately a platform for all sorts of firms to sell products that were at best tangential to green living, and at worst, antithetical to a sustainable lifestyle. Green living doesn’t mean purchasing earrings made from upcycled glass bottles for $35. Nor does it mean using a credit card made from bio-degradable materials.

Overall, I was disappointed majorly by DC’s Green Festival. Sure the cooking demonstration by vegan celebrity chef Leslie Durso and the vegetarian food court featuring local eateries were nice touches. But these additions seemed more like an after though than a mainstay of the 3-day event.

Poor Leslie stood a cumbersome several feet above her cooking table, which was poorly equipped with a barely-functional hot plate. The lack of a camera over her work area left her audience in the dark and unable to visually follow along. Luckily she had the foresight to begin heating the water at the beginning of her demo so that it might come to a boil an hour later, at the conclusion of her show. Leslie did the best she could but clearly the organizers of the event had little interest in promoting one of the most powerful and effective lifestyle changes one can make to truly live green—eating a plant-based diet.

I had imagined much more from a Green Festival but perhaps that was my fault. Afterall, they were indeed successful in creating “the ultimate marketplace” to entice visitors in opening their wallets to spend a lot of our hard-earned green.