3 Things You Can Do to Inspire the Green Revolution

Phillip Sharp, a board member of the Supporters for Agriculture Research Foundation and professor at MIT, writes in NYT today about the urgent need of a green revolution in the near future. The most interesting fact I took away from his article is that California continues to grow 66 different types of food corps–more than any other state in the U.S., even as it enters into it’s fourth year of drought. 

California cities already suffer from some of the worst air pollution levels (agriculture related, of course!). Coupled with its multi-year drought, it’s clear that we cannot continue on with business as usual. Agriculture practices of the past cannot sustainably feed our growing population and warming Earth. While we await technological advances in the way we grow our food, here are three things you can do to ensure food security in the future without over-burdening the Planet:

  1. Waste Less. In 2014, Americans threw away more food than plastic, paper, glass and metal. Food waste is clearly a huge problem and you can easily take steps against doing so. A little bit of meal planning and creative use of leftovers will go a long way in saving you from throwing away perfectly good food. You’ll save money, too.
  2. Eat Plant-Based. It may seem counter-intuitive to eat more plants to save the Earth but studies have shown that eating a plant-based diet is a powerful way to protect the Planet. Emissions from animal agriculture excessively strain the Earth.
  3. Cultivate a Green Thumb. No matter whether you live in an urban high rise or in sprawling suburbia, you can try your hand at growing you own food. Gather a few pots of herbs and place them along a sunny windowsill to get started. Growing what we can reduces the many thousands of miles our food needs to travel to reach our plate. As a bonus, live plants are powerful in creating a calm home environment.

 

 

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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?

Red Meat and Cancer

By now you’ve probably heard the piece of news stirring up controversy on every corner of the web. But just in case you haven’t, I’ll gladly share the memo with you: the World Health Organization just classified red meat as carcinogenic. You read that right. One of the most powerful international health agencies just placed eating red meat in the same cancer-causing level as asbestos and smoking tobacco.

If you’re a resident of a Western hemisphere, you know that this news is probably not going to be received well by most of our meat-loving friends and family. Lest they counter with the notion that animal consumption is a hallmark of the developed world, the U.S. government also affirmed the benefits of a plant-based diet earlier this year.

I’m thrilled that these influential organizations have used their platforms to promote plant-based eating. Food is indeed fuel for our bodies. But it’s also one of the very best ways to protect our health and safeguard the Planet each and every day. So thank you, WHO and other agencies, for disrupting and renegotiating the way we think about food.

The Not-So-Glam Vegan

The New York Times recently published a story about a vegan family set in their beautifully breezy home in California. Over a plate of artfully arranged beet ravioli complete with aged cashew cheese, the author asserts that a plant-based diet has become less stigmatized as a proclivity of the hippie dippie type, and become more “glam,” like an ephemeral fashion trend. Say what?

The truth is though, that neither of these representations could be further from the truth.

Veganism isn’t just a personal hobby–it is a lifestyle dedicated to safeguarding the Earth’s, animals, and our own health. The underlying basics of plant-based eating are decidedly not glamorous. Legumes, vegetables, and grains comprise the poor (wo)man’s diet.

If I eat these carrot sticks in a really cool way, will I be glam?

Maybe this really yellow lighting will make me and my carrot stick look glam?

Who is the real face of a vegan diet? It is you! The overtired student-athlete, the superhero stay at home dad of three children, the hardworking young professional, and the retiree, enjoying hard earned freedom. What are the dishes you enjoy each day? I bet they’re something like:

  • black beans and wild rice
  • toast and sliced avocado
  • quinoa and sweet potato
  • seared tofu and sautéed spinach
  • pasta and fresh marinara with basil

Sure it’s nice to enjoy a gourmet dish of nut cheese nachos, but the staples of our diets are wholesome and delicious in themselves. Veganism is accessible, tasty, simple and enjoyed by the most diverse arch of global citizens.

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.

Pura Vida: 3 Reasons Costa Rica is Leading the Global Environmental Movement

I was lucky enough to spend a semester abroad in Costa Rica my junior year of college. The friendliness of everyone I met—from my host family to street vendors immediately took me aback. The fresh fruits were unlike anything I found at home. And it was also in this most bio-diverse country, among the cloud forests and active volcanoes, where I experienced an environmental re-awakening.

Costa Rica has proven to be at the forefront of solving national environmental challenges, setting an example not just for developing countries, but for industrial nations as well. Here are three recent efforts that remind me of what I loved the most about Costa Rica—it’s commitment to celebrating and protecting our precious planet:

1. Clean Energy During the first 75 days of 2015, the country used 100% sustainable sources of energy. Even now, Costa Rica relies on wind turbines, solar panels and geothermal sources for more than two-thirds of its energy needs.

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Time.com

2. Ban on Hunting for Sport Costa Rica is the first country in Latin America to place a ban on hunting for sport. In light of the recent outrage over the killing of Cecil the Lion, organizations all over the world are taking steps to defend animals and their right to live.

3. Promoting Eco-Tourism Forget spending your precious vacation days shopping for more knickknacks. You probably don’t have room in your suitcase for them, either! Costa Rica is a phenomenal place to be an eco-tourist. You can relax in thermal waters heated by volcanoes, zip line through the rainforest, watch sea turtles nest on the bay, or hike along a national park while monkeys play in the canopy above.

Which countries do you think are doing a good job in protecting the planet?

How I Start My Days

My parents have been early proponents of daily meditation but I never caught on the bandwagon until I started feeling constantly stressed-out. I came to meditation as way to regain balance in my life and to feel like I was in control again. New research has shown that meditation can have serious benefits–more than just reducing stress, it can actually help increase memory and reduce brain loss! If you haven’t already tried it out, I encourage you to give it a go.

I prefer meditating in the morning. If it’s unusually cold out (like it’s been this DC winter!), I’ll sit in a chair in my room away from noise. If I’m at home and soaking in the sunshine like I am this week, I like to meditate on my morning run, with this beauty by my side:

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Where and when you meditate doesn’t really matter at all. You just need to find some uninterrupted time to yourself. At first, just a few minutes was all I could handle, so absolutely take baby steps. You can always add a few minutes each day once you get the hang of it. I like to repeat a few words in my head along the lines of: May I be full of lovingkindness, May my parents be full of lovingkindness, etc., until I’ve named everyone I think about. Simply sitting in silence also provides equal benefits–you just have to find what works for you!

Have you ever tried meditation? If so, have you noticed any benefits? Let me know if you give it a try!