The Good Behind What You Eat
Farm to Fork
Friday, December 6, 2019
~4 Minutes Reading Time
This concept is very similar to the previous ethos I have been writing about and promote for my preserves line. The connection between people and our food is known as Farm to Table. Before our country became so urban, people lived close to, and knew, the people who grew their food. They bought it directly from the farm or from local markets. If a product was tasty and ripe, they knew
who was responsible. Being aware of where your food comes from can lead to a greater appreciation for your food. It takes a lot of hard work to make your meal possible. The Farm to Table movement focuses on producing food locally and then transferring that food to local restaurants and homes. When we use only locally produced foods, we know where our food comes from. We re-establish the link between farmers and other people.
Farm to table, also known as farm to fork, can be defined as a social movement where restaurants source their ingredients from local farms, usually through direct acquisition from a farmer. Most traditional restaurants get their produce from other parts of the country or around the world. These ingredients need to be shipped long distances, and as a result, they are usually picked before they are ripe to lengthen their lifespan, or they are frozen to prevent spoiling. All of this results in food that is bland and less nutritious.
On the other hand, farm to fork restaurants get their food from local farms, so the food is picked at peak freshness and is bursting with flavors and vitamins. Because the produce is usually very flavorful, many farm to table operations don't dress their food up with complex sauces and overpowering flavors, instead preferring to let the freshness and flavor of the food speak for itself.
Richard Traylor writes about the history of farm to table. "The roots of the farm to fork trend stretch back to the 1960's and 70's when Americans became increasingly dissatisfied with processed foods that they found bland. Chef Alice Waters, wanted to use produce from local organic farms because it was more flavorful and fresh than produce used by other restaurants."
Some of the things we've discussed before come up again as recurring themes. A few pros of farm to table:
- Farm to fork helps to boost the local economy and support local farmers. Because the movement deals directly with the farmer, you can be sure that the money spent is going directly to helping farmers grow their businesses and fuel the local economy. The local economy also benefits when consumers buy their food locally. Because a large volume of produce is shipped upward of 1,500 miles before reaching the consumer, the local areas where the food was grown and raised don’t always benefit from the sale of the food. On the other hand, buying food locally can improve the economic vitality of small, local farms.
- We get delicious and fresh produce, and the farmer gets recognition for their hard work as well as guaranteed business. Additionally, we have a close relationship with one particular farm, so we can usually request certain foods.
- Serving farm to table food is an excellent way to make local and organic food more available to your community.
- It can help the environment. The produce doesn't have to be shipped long distances, meaning less time on a truck and fewer greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere. Local food is better for the earth. Not only is local food better for your health, it’s also better for the environment. For instance, the average 18-wheeled semi truck travels about 5 miles per gallon of gas. That means about 500 gallons of diesel fuel is needed to haul produce an average distance of 1,500 miles.
- Farm-to-table eating offers diners a wide variety of choices when it comes to food. Farm-to-table offerings include any type of whole food imaginable, just as long as it’s in season. As the seasons change, different foods will be available in farms, and you'll have to adapt to what produce is available and fresh. If you feel like you’re stuck in a routine of eating the same foods, here’s a good way to introduce new foods and recipes. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables to help you expand your taste buds and your nutritional intake.
- The concept of farm-to-table is not only being adopted by restaurants, but the idea is also being instilled in younger generations. Farm-to-school or farm-to-cafeteria movements are growing nationwide. This helps support small- to- mid-size local farms by giving them regular business, and in return, students get healthy locally grown food. Many schools also offer nutrition education that aims to teach kids where food comes from and to be healthy eaters.
- Local food is often more nutritious. Because it’s not shipped long distances, locally grown food is often tasty and healthy. Food that’s shipped is often resilient to travel, according to the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
- A study of 16 popular fruits and vegetables showed the average was transferred nearly 1,500 miles before being sold. In addition, 39% of fruit and 12% of veggies were imported from outside the United States. To keep food from going bad during travel, some fruits and veggies are picked before they are able to completely ripen and absorb nutrients. While this allows produce to ripen en route so consumers have access to fresh foods year-round, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says this mean foods often lack nutrients that would be there if allowed to ripen before being picked and shipped. Non-local farms pick their produce when it’s still green or unripe. A common practice is to gas green tomatoes so they turn red. The result is a red tomato with the taste and texture of a green tomato.
- Farm to table food is healthier than processed and packaged foods. First of all, it’s all natural and many of the ingredients and products are locally grown or raised. Secondly, it probably contains fewer calories, fat, sugar, and carbohydrates than the pre-packaged food you find at the store
- Studies show that people who eat at home consume fewer calories. They also eat less fat and sugar at each meal. Preparing homemade food can help your entire family eat healthier.
- Family meals at home bring families closer together and can benefit children. Studies have shown that family meals can lower the rates of teen pregnancy, drugs, obesity, eating disorders, and depression. They also show that family dinners help boost self-esteem, grade-point averages, and vocabulary.
Sunday, November 24, 2019
9 Minutes Read Time
I wasn't one to eat organic, so again, a lot of research had to go into this area before I decided I wanted to make certain preserves organic.
What is organic farming?
Organic production is defined as using “cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” The word "organic" refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products, and meat. Organic is a vision for working and living in harmony with nature. The result is healthy soil, which grows healthy plants, which make for healthy people. By abstaining from synthetic inputs and encouraging natural systems, organic farmers help create a better future for people, animals, and the environment. Organic farming practices are designed to meet the following goals:
- Enhance soil and water quality
- Reduce pollution
- Provide safe, healthy livestock habitats
- Enable natural livestock behavior
- Promote a self-sustaining cycle of resources on a farm
Materials or practices not permitted in organic farming include:
- Synthetic fertilizers to add nutrients to the soil
- Sewage sludge as fertilizer
- Most synthetic pesticides for pest control
- Irradiation to preserve food or to eliminate disease or pests
- Genetic engineering, used to improve disease or pest resistance or to improve crop yields
- Antibiotics or growth hormones for livestock
Organic crop farming materials or practices may include:
- Plant waste left on fields (green manure), livestock manure, or compost to improve soil quality
- Plant rotation to preserve soil quality and to interrupt cycles of pests or disease
- Cover crops that prevent erosion when parcels of land are not in use and to plow into soil for improving soil quality
- Mulch to control weeds
- Predatory insects or insect traps to control pests
- Certain natural pesticides and a few synthetic pesticides approved for organic farming, used rarely and only as a last resort in coordination with a USDA organic certifying agent
Organic farming practices for livestock include:
- Healthy living conditions and access to the outdoors
- Pasture feeding for at least 30 percent of livestock's nutritional needs during grazing season
- Organic foods for animals
- Meet animal health and welfare standards
- Refuse to use antibiotics and growth hormones, and
- Ensure animals have access to the outdoors
Organic food: Is it safer or more nutritious?
There is a growing body of evidence that shows some potential health benefits of organic foods when compared with conventionally grown foods. While these studies have shown differences in the food, there is limited information to draw conclusions about how these differences translate into overall health benefits.
Potential benefits include the following:
- Nutrients. Studies have shown small to moderate increases in some nutrients in organic produce. The best evidence of a significant increase is in certain types of flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties. Recent studies have found that organic fruits, vegetables and grains have more antioxidants, fewer nitrates and cadmium, and fewer pesticide residues than non-organic crops, making them more nutritious.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. The feeding requirements for organic livestock farming, such as the primary use of grass and alfalfa for cattle, result in generally higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, a kind of fat that is more heart healthy than other fats. These higher omega-3 fatty acids are found in organic meats, dairy, and eggs.
- Toxic metal. Cadmium is a toxic chemical naturally found in soils and absorbed by plants. Studies have shown significantly lower cadmium levels in organic grains, but not fruits and vegetables, when compared with conventionally grown crops. The lower cadmium levels in organic grains may be related to the ban on synthetic fertilizers in organic farming.
- Pesticide residue. Compared with conventionally grown produce, organically grown produce has lower detectable levels of pesticide residue. Organic produce may have residue because of pesticides approved for organic farming or because of airborne pesticides from conventional farms. The difference in health outcomes is unclear because of safety regulations for maximum levels of residue allowed on conventional produce.
- Bacteria. Meats produced conventionally may have a higher occurrence of bacteria resistant to antibiotic treatment. The overall risk of bacterial contamination of organic foods is the same as conventional foods.
According to California Certified Organic Farmers, "Studies show that organically grown food has higher amounts of Vitamin C, magnesium, phosphorous, and iron – all nutrients vital for healthy functioning of our bodies. Organic fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients and antioxidants, which provide energy and keep you looking young. Data shows that organic milk contains far more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk."
Though organic food can be produced with certain synthetic ingredients, it must adhere to specific standards regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Crops are generally grown without synthetic pesticides, artificial fertilizers, irradiation (a form of radiation used to kill bacteria), or biotechnology. Animals on organic farms eat organically grown feed, aren't confined 100 percent of the time (as they sometimes are on conventional farms), and are raised without antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones.
Organic foods may have higher nutritional value than conventional food, according to some research. The reason: In the absence of pesticides and fertilizers, plants boost their production of the phytochemicals (vitamins and antioxidants) that strengthen their resistance to bugs and weeds. Some studies have linked pesticides in our food to everything from headaches to cancer to birth defects — but many experts maintain that the levels in conventional food are safe for most healthy adults. Even low-level pesticide exposure, however, can be significantly more toxic for fetuses and children (due to their less-developed immune systems) and for pregnant women (it puts added strain on their already taxed organs), according to a report by the National Academy of Sciences.
Pesticide contamination isn't as much of a concern in meats and dairy products (animals may consume some pesticides, depending on their diet), but many scientists are concerned about the antibiotics being given to most farm animals: Many are the same antibiotics humans rely on, and overuse of these drugs has already enabled bacteria to develop resistance to them, rendering them less effective in fighting infection, says Chuck Benbrook, Ph.D., chief scientist at the Organic Center, a nonprofit research organization.
Organic farming reduces pollutants in groundwater and creates richer soil that aids plant growth while reducing erosion, according to the Organic Trade Association. It also decreases pesticides that can end up in your drinking glass; in some cities, pesticides in tap water have been measured at unsafe levels for weeks at a time, according to an analysis performed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Plus, organic farming used 50 percent less energy than conventional farming methods in one 15-year study.
According to a 2014 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, the higher antioxidant levels in organic produce might actually enhance its organoleptic qualities — a.k.a. its aroma, taste, and even the sensation in your mouth as you're eating it.
Organic for the Planet Organic farmers face the same challenges as non-organic farmers: weeds, pests, diseases, drought, floods, and nutrient requirements. They have made the decision to grow food in a way that protects both people and the planet. Organic farmers are focused on preserving the soil for future generations by farming in a way that sustains nutrients and harbors beneficial organisms (like worms!). Organic farming neither causes nor leads to soil erosion, groundwater contamination, ocean dead zones, or loss of biodiversity.
Preserve the Environment Organic farmers are required to use Integrated Pest Management practices, protect wildlife, promote biodiversity, and work to improve and maintain native ecosystems. These efforts are documented in the farmer's Organic System Plan and evaluated by CCOF. Organic production is free of genetic engineering - increasing organic production will help mitigate the unwanted spread of GMO crops and contamination.
Mitigate the Effects of Climate Change Organic agriculture limits the effects of climate change. Organic farmers are extremely dedicated to the excellent quality of their soil. Research from the Rodale Institute demonstrates that soil under organic production can remove about 7,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year through sequestration. Imagine the impact that more acres of organic production could have on the health of the planet if consumers demanded more organic foods!
Healthy Soil and Water Organic standards require a program of soil building, which protects against soil erosion and water pollution. A healthy soil promotes vigorous soil life that, in turn, breaks down minerals and makes a complex meal of nutrients available to growing plants. Synthetic fertilizers deliver the three primary nutrients needed for plant growth, but leave out the diverse micro-nutrients that lead to plant vigor and health. Organic farmers are prohibited from using most synthetic fertilizers. They maintain the health of their soil by using manure, compost, and other organic material. Up to 40% of the synthetic fertilizers used on conventional farms end up in ground and surface waters, eventually polluting rivers, lakes, and oceans.
No Genetic Engineering Organic standards prohibit use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for seed or stock. The US government has allowed, even encouraged, the development and release of many GMOs into our environment and food system. Until compulsory GMO labeling is adopted in this country, buying certified organic is your best guarantee of no genetic engineering in your food. When the seeds are genetically modified in the labs using unnatural methods like gene-splicing to ensure resulting plants are displaying desired traits. GMO plants cannot form naturally. They are not available to the general public but they are starting to be used more often for large-scale commercial farming. An example of a GMO plant is the bt-corn. Hybrid and GMO plants may offer certain benefits such as being pest-resistant against flies and ants. Gardeners are unable to save GMO seeds after harvest and must buy new seeds every year from companies like Monsanto.
No Growth Hormones Organic standards prohibit the use of growth hormones like ractopamine. US government regulations permit hormone use in conventional livestock operations to increase the size or rate of gain of animals raised for meat, or to stimulate production of animal products like milk. Conventional farmers give cows growth hormones briefly to boost milk output. These hormones can impair fertility in cows and lead to visibly abnormal milk and hoof disorders. Milk from hormone-treated cows has been linked to increased risk of cancer in humans.
No Sludge Many conventional farmers spread sewage sludge as fertilizer on their fields. Sewage sludge includes anything that is flushed, poured or dumped into the waste water system. Organic farmers are prohibited from using sewage sludge on their fields. Conventional crops can be treated with “biosolids,” which is the treated waste that’s flushed down the toilet, and waste from hospitals and industry. Organic standards prohibit the use of sewage sludge as a fertilizer, instead relying on use of composted manure, crop residues, green manures, cover crops, and rock powders to provide needed nutrients to plants. US government regulations permit sludge to be used on conventional farms despite concerns about contamination by high levels of heavy minerals, dioxins, and other chemicals from industrial and commercial sources.
Open Space Organic standards prohibit confinement or feedlot style livestock operations. Organically raised animals generally must be allowed access to range or pasture. This promotes animal health and contributes as well to maintaining large areas of open land in otherwise developing communities.
No Antibiotics The overuse of antibiotics to foster growth in conventional livestock production has contributed to development of antibiotic-resistant strains of some dangerous microbes. Organic farmers can only treat livestock with antibiotics as a last resort for sick animals and the animals that receive antibiotic treatment lose their organic certification. This helps preserve the effectiveness of vital antibiotics for humans. Organic standards prohibit routine use of antibiotics in livestock operations. US government regulations permit conventional animals to be routinely fed subtherapeutic levels of antibiotics to promote growth and prevent disease from their overcrowded conditions. Antibiotics may only be administered to an organic animal when the animal is sick and needs treatment. Such animals may then no longer be marketed as organic. The overuse of growth-promoting antibiotics is creating superbugs that could threaten the human population. Antibiotics have been used for years, not just to fight infection, but to fatten up farm animals. This use is polluting our environment, water and food supply. Studies show that antibiotics have the same consequences for us, and can fatten us up too. This is because antibiotics kill off healthy bacteria in the gut – beneficial bugs called probiotics that influence how we absorb nutrients, burn off calories, and stay lean.
No Irradiation Organic standards prohibit the use of ionizing radiation to preserve food. US government regulations allow irradiation of both produce and meat. Irradiation proponents argue that it extends shelf life and kills microbes, which may spoil food and cause human illness. Opponents argue that it also kills the enzymes, vitamins, and healthfulness of food. They suggest cleaning up the feedlots and industrial food processing operations as an alternative way of protecting the public from disease.
Only Natural Pesticides Organic food must be grown without the use of persistent pesticides. Organic standards prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides, exposure to which has been linked with a number of serious human diseases. US government regulations allow such pesticides, although setting limits for application rates in the field and residue levels on food. While natural pesticides are allowed on organic crops, it’s been shown that organic produce has very low levels of pesticide residue compared with conventional crops, and by eating organic you can significantly decrease your exposure to pesticide residues. The most widely-used herbicide on the planet – Glyphosate (Roundup) – is prohibited on organic crops. Non-GMO crops such as wheat can be pre-harvested with glyphosate. This herbicide is a toxin that can accumulate in your body the more you are exposed to it. It has been linked to kidney disease, breast cancer, and some birth defects. According to Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at MIT, "glyphosate is largely responsible for the escalating incidence of autoimmune and other neurological disorders that we are experiencing."
n-Hexane processed ingredients are banned from products with the USDA Organic seal.
Humane Conditions Organic farmers and ranchers must accommodate the natural behavior of their livestock and meet health and wellness requirements, including year-round access to the outdoors, space for exercise, clean and dry bedding, clean water, shelter, and direct sunlight. Organic standards require that animals be treated humanely. This is spelled out in specific detail in the form of housing requirements for space, ventilation, and manure accumulation, as well as access to appropriate pasture or range, health care, food and water, treatment of the young, etc. The organic approach is based on the belief that agriculture must produce thriving plant and animal products to ensure a healthy cycle of life.
No Animal Cannibalism Organic standards require that animals be fed appropriately and prohibit practices such as feeding animal products from rendering plants. US government regulations allow rendered animal products to be fed to cattle, sheep and other herbivores as a protein supplement. This practice has been associated with outbreaks of "Mad Cow Disease".
2019 "Dirty Dozen"
The Environmental Working Group bases its list, which is not peer-reviewed, on annual reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Pesticide Data Program. More than than 99% of produce samples tested for that report had pesticide residues acceptable to the EPA, but EWG believes the federal standards are insufficient.
- Hot peppers
2019 "Clean 15"
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
The Alliance for Food and Farming's Teresa Thorne, says "We’re strong advocates for consumer choice, whether you choose conventional or organic produce, is great with us – just choose to eat more."
Thursday, November 14, 2019
~4 Minutes Reading Time
I don't have any food allergies nor intolerances, so I had to do a lot of research. All fruit and vegetables are naturally gluten-free and the main ingredients in most jellies are gluten-free (fruit, sugar, and pectin). Pectin is a starch that occurs naturally in fruit and is used as the setting agent that gives jellies and jams their texture. It, like the other ingredients in jams and jellies, is totally gluten-free.
Cross-contamination issues can happen with any product
Reasons Why Jelly is Gluten-Free
- Made from fruit, which is always naturally gluten-free.
- Pectin, which gives jelly its texture, also comes from fruit and is gluten-free.
- The other main ingredients, sugar and juice, are also naturally gluten-free.
What's the Difference Between Jelly, Jam, Marmalade, and Lemon Curd?
- Jelly is made using only the juice of the fruit and sugar.
- Jam is made using the pulp of the fruit (seeds and skins), sugar, and pectin.
- Marmalade is like jam, but includes the peel of citrus fruits as well.
- Lemon Curd is made with lemons, eggs, and butter.
What is Celiac's Disease?
Gluten is the protein part of wheat, rye, barley, and other related grains. Some people cannot tolerate gluten when it comes in contact with the small intestine. This condition is known as celiac disease (sometimes called non-tropical sprue or gluten enteropathy).
Celiac disease is a condition that causes inflammation in the lining of part of the gut (called the small intestine). The lining of the gut contains millions of tiny tube-shaped structures called villi. These help food and nutrients to be digested more effectively into the body. But in people with celiac disease, the villi become flattened as a result of the inflammation. This means that food and nutrients are not so readily digested by the body.
In patients with celiac disease, gluten injures the lining of the small intestine. This injury can result in weight loss, bloating, diarrhea, gas, abdominal cramps, and/or vitamin and mineral deficiencies. When patients totally eliminate gluten from the diet, the lining of the intestine has a chance to heal.
Celiac disease is now clearly known to be genetically determined. In other words, if you or your close relatives have a certain gene, then it is more likely that you will get celiac disease some time in your life. Of great concern and interest is the fact that 9 out of 10 people with celiac disease do not know they have it. A simple blood test can give the physician the first clue to this disease.
What has Gluten?
- Contaminated oats
- Malt and malted barley
The primary area of injury in celiac disease is the small bowel, but there may be a relationship between what happens in the small bowel and the colon or large bowel. There are very large numbers of bacteria in the colon. Most of these are beneficial and actually confer health benefits. When these good bacteria thrive, they suppress the bad bacteria, which are present in the colon. What has been found is that celiac patients, in fact, anyone on a gluten-free diet, have an altered make-up of bacteria in the colon which favors the unwanted bacteria.
Prebiotic Plant Fiber
A prebiotic is not a probiotic, which are beneficial bacteria taken by mouth. These probiotics are present in yogurt, other dairy products, and pills. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are the necessary plant fibers that contain both oligofructose and inulin. These two fibers are the main nourishment for the good bacteria that reside in the gut. These fibers are rich in chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, leeks, asparagus, and others. Gluten-containing wheat and barley also contain these prebiotics.
Health Benefits from Prebiotic Fibers
There is now ample information in the medical literature to indicate that a prebiotic rich diet leads to demonstrable health benefits. These include:
- Increased calcium absorption
- Stronger bones and bone density
- Enhanced immunity
- Reduced allergies and asthma in infants and children
- A lower blood triglyceride level
- Appetite and weight control
- Lower cancer factors in the gut
- Other benefits, including an increased sense of well being
The Celiac Wheat-Prebiotic Dilemma
Nature has played a trick on celiac people. Wheat and wheat products provide over 80% of the prebiotics that North Americans ingest. Yet, celiac patients must carefully avoid wheat, barley, and rye. How do they then feed their good colon bacteria and get the health benefits, as outlined above? They must favor the other vegetables and fruits.
25 Celiac Facts
- May is Celiac Awareness Month
- Celiac Disease is NOT a food allergy, it is an autoimmune disease. Celiac Disease can never be "outgrown".
- Celiac Disease is one of the most common, yet most under-diagnosed autoimmune conditions in this country today.
- An estimated 2.5 to 3 million people have Celiac Disease.
- A staggering 83% of the 2.5 to 3 million people with Celiac Disease are undiagnosed.
- People who have Celiac Disease are permanently intolerant to gluten, a protein found in all forms of wheat, rye, and barley.
- Celiac Disease is a genetic, autoimmune disease damaging the small intestine & interfering with nutrient absorption.
- There are NO pharmaceutical cures for celiac disease.
- Celiac Disease symptoms can include diarrhea, fatty - mucus stool, brain fog, intestinal pain and bloating, migraines, joint pain, anemia, canker sores, constipation, and depression.
- "Silent" Celiac Disease shows no symptoms such as mentioned above.
- For many women, unexplained infertility is a sign of undiagnosed Celiac Disease.
- Celiac Disease is a hereditary condition, which means it is passed through families.
- If you have tested positive for Celiac Disease, your family members are at risk for Celiac Disease. It is critical that all first and second-degree relatives get tested for Celiac Disease, even if they are not experiencing any symptoms.
- 1st degree relatives of someone with Celiac Disease are: parents, brothers and sisters, or the children of people who have been diagnosed.
- 2nd degree relatives of someone with Celiac Disease are: grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces or half-siblings.
- About 20 to 25% with Celiac Disease break out in an intensely itchy and painful rash known as Dermatitis Herpetiformis.
- Dermatitis Herpetiformis is the visible result of the body’s abnormal immunological reaction to gluten.
- Common belief is gluten is found only in food. The protein is actually used in many products including medication, vitamins, and cosmetics.
- Gluten is essentially toxic to people with Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity, and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.
- Continuing to consume gluten post-diagnosis puts one at risk for long-term damage to the small intestines.
- Children are most likely to have the best gluten-free results when the entire family embraces the diet.
- Depending on a child’s age, peer pressure can lead to "cheating”, so it's important to work with a healthcare professional to ensure success.
- For some patients with Celiac Disease, starting a gluten-free diet can improve symptoms in as little as two weeks. For others it can take close to a year.
- For those who do not have Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity, and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, a gluten-free diet does not benefit and can be harmful.
- Buckwheat, contrary to its name, is not actually wheat and does not contain gluten.
November 5, 2019
~2 Minutes Reading Time
I'm not vegan, so I learned a ton of surprising facts while researching ingredients and coming up with recipes. For instance, did you know that regular refined sugar is not vegan-friendly? Typically, sugar is made from sugarcane, sugar beets, or coconuts. Beet and coconut sugar are never processed with bone char. To make refined sugar from sugarcane, the sugar cane stalks are crushed to separate the juice from the pulp. The juice is then processed, filtered, and bleached with bone char. That pure white color we associate with sugar comes from the bone char. Now it’s important to note that this type of sugar does not actually contain any bone char, but because it is part of the process, most vegans would not eat this kind of refined sugar.
Different types of sugar
When we are talking about whether sugar is vegan or not, we are specifically talking about refined sugar, aka, table sugar. That is the sugar we most commonly used in baking. White, brown, and powdered sugar all can classify as refined sugar. Refined sugar comes from two sources: sugarcane and beets.
While the two sugars are very similar in taste and texture, the refining process from these sources is very different. Beet sugar is always vegan. The process of making sugar from beets doesn't require the same processing.
However, cane sugar, traditionally the more common option, is where things get a little tricky. When asking if refined cane sugar is vegan, the answer would be, “sometimes.”
What is bone char?
Bone char—often referred to as natural carbon—is widely used by the sugar industry as a decolorizing filter, which allows the sugar cane to achieve a white color. Bone char is made from the bones of cattle who were slaughtered in foreign countries and sold to traders in other foreign countries, who then sell the bones back to the U.S. sugar industry. Brown sugar is created by adding molasses to refined sugar, so companies that use bone char in white sugar will also use it to make brown sugar. Confectioner’s sugar—refined sugar mixed with cornstarch—made by these companies also involves the use of bone char. Fructose may, but does not typically, involve a bone-char filter.
If sugar is labeled organic, does that mean it’s not filtered with bone char?
Yes. Certified U.S. Department of Agriculture organic sugar cannot be filtered through bone char. In the organic practice, the sugar cane juices are boiled, spun in a centrifuge, and dried into sugar crystals. These sugars are not as pure white. If the sugar you want to buy isn’t organic, check to see if it says “unrefined,” "natural," "raw," or if it’s made from beets.
Vegan Sugars: The following companies do not use bone-char filters:
- Big Tree Farms
- Bob’s Red Mill
- Florida Crystals
- Imperial Sugar
- In the Raw
- Michigan Sugar Company
- NOW Foods
- Simply Balanced (Target)
- Sprouts Sugar
- Sugar In The Raw
- The Raw Cane
- Trader Joe’s
- Western Sugar Cooperative
- Woodstock Farms
- Date Sugar
- Maple Syrup
- Coconut Sugar
- Monk Fruit
- Brown Rice Syrup
- Agave Nectar
Why Small Batch?
Sunday, October 27, 2019
~1 Minute Reading Time
It's all about encouraging experimenting, reducing waste, perfecting flavors, creating varieties, and getting it to you swiftly. Small batches permit us to deliver results faster, with higher quality, and less stress.
Patric Kuh says that "Much of the movement’s power lies in that sense of rediscovery. The history of American eating (and drinking) is full of vivid flavors, but by the 1960's many of those characteristics—and
the local customs behind them—had been reduced to blandness by an industrialized form of production that was always ready to sacrifice quality for large-scale production. That’s when food artisans started to appear. Instructed by a network that communicated with self-addressed stamped envelopes and armed with basic equipment for baking, brewing, and cheese making, they sought to find—in the traditions of the past—a way to eat better in the present."
Small batches allow for creative and innovative experimental flavor combinations. When we work with small batch sizes, each batch makes it through the full life cycle quicker than a larger batch does. We get better at doing things we do very often, so when we reduce batch size, we make each step in the process significantly more efficient. The small-batch approach is less waste because an error or defect is caught immediately, the problem can be fixed before it affects other parts, minimizing the expenditure of time, money, and effort. Smaller batch sizes also mean we’ll deliver to you quicker and a wider variety for your consumption and we receive faster feedback. We get to take a rebellious and adventurous approach. With small batches you can taste our passion and even though we're young, you can discern our hard work and the time we've spent developing and refining our recipes for all our handcrafted, small batch, and ultra-premium preserves.
Why Eat Seasonal?
Sunday, October 20, 2019
~ 3 Minutes Reading Time
Technology has made it easier to sell fruits & vegetables year-round, but it hasn’t made it easier to preserve the ripe taste. Eating in-season produce provides more nutrition & more flavor. Produce that’s not in season undergoes early picking, cooling, & heating that reduces the flavor. Fruits & vegetables in season spend less time from farm to table, so they maintain much of their nutrition & flavor.
It cuts transportation which lowers the carbon footprint.
Lastly, our bodies are made to eat seasonally. Late fall & winter provide produce rich in vitamin C, which helps with wellness during cold & flu season. Peaches, nectarines, & other stone fruits found in summer contain vitamins that help protect against sun damage. Eating fruits & vegetables in season provides your body with necessary nutrients appropriate for the time of year.
According to research studies, nutrient content changes in foods depending on which seasons they were produced in. For example, in a study conducted by the
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in London, England researchers found that nutrient content was different in milk harvested in the summer versus winter. Because of the change in the cow’s diet to less fresh plants in the summer, these cows produced nutritionally different milks. Japanese researchers also found tremendous differences in the nutritional content of spinach harvested in summer versus winter.
In order to preserve foods that are out of season, these produce items are often covered in waxes and preservatives in order to maintain their fresh appearance. Also, the longer produce sits on the shelves, the more nutrients and antioxidants they seem to lose. According to research from the University of California, Davis, spinach and green beans lose two-thirds of their vitamin C within a week of harvest. Pair long transport times and sitting on the grocery store shelves and who knows how nutrient dense your produce really is.
Benefits of eating seasonally:
- Supports our local farmers who choose to farm sustainably. Local food supports the local economy. The money you spend on products from local farmers and growers stays in the community and is reinvested with other local businesses. In addition, food grown locally, processed locally and distributed locally (for example, to local restaurants) generates jobs and subsequently helps stimulate local economies.
- Preserves the environment. Purchasing locally grown foods helps support local farms and maintains farmland and open space in your community. A recent USDA study also found that direct-to-consumer producers were less likely to apply pesticides and herbicides to control weeds and insects than conventional producers (with the exception of chemicals to control insects and weeds in fruit, nut and berry crops).
- You have a broader variety of foods in your diet.
- Saves your wallet, seasonal foods are cheaper to produce and often cheaper to buy when they are in season as well. Supply and demand simply explains how buying produce seasonally saves money. Produce in season is more abundant, so it is less per pound in the store. If you are buying produce that is out of season, there is travel, time and added expenses to grow it in a greenhouse. As we truck in produce from other areas, it requires gas to get the produce to the store. This fuel charge is something often added to price of the food upon delivery, not to mention what this does to the carbon footprint.
- Grown closer to you so it doesn’t spoil during transport
- Harvested at the peak of freshness to ensure dense nutrient content. When produce is picked before it’s ripe, the nutrients do not fully develop in the flesh of the fruit. Plants need the sun to grow, and picking them before they are ripe cuts off the nutrient availability. Genetic modification is also sometimes used, which can alter how the crop was naturally supposed to be consumed. Also, if you eat seasonally, you are guaranteed to consume a variety of produce, which will assist you in eating a balanced diet.
- Sold during its season, before it spoils or is forced to undergo unnatural preservative processes. Seasonal fruits and vegetables retain more nutrients than their counterparts making them the better choice for your health.
- Local growers can tell you how the food was grown. When you buy directly from farmers, you have the opportunity to ask what practices they use to raise and harvest the crops. When you know where your food comes from and who grew it, you know a lot more about your food
What is seasonal and when in Florida?
Below is a short list of what's seasonally harvested in Florida from the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension. Find a more comprehensive list here:
- Sweet corn
- Sweet potatoes
- Bell Peppers
- Summer Squash
- Bell Peppers
- Sweet Potatoes & Yams
- Winter Squash
Why Eat Locally-Grown Food?
Monday, October 14, 2019
~4 Minutes Reading Time
The benefits of locally grown food
Financial: Money stays within the local economy. More money goes directly to the farmer, instead of to things like marketing and distribution.
Transportation: Eating more local food reduces CO2 emissions. In the U.S., for example, the average distance a meal travels from the farm to the dinner plate is over 1,500 miles. Produce must be picked while still unripe and then gassed with ethylene to “ripen” it after transport. Or the food is highly processed in factories using preservatives, irradiation, and other means to keep it stable for transport.
Freshness: Local food is harvested when ripe and thus fresher and full of flavor.
Local food helps preserve green space. When local farmers are well compensated for their products, they are less likely to sell their land to developers. Likewise, with growing consumer demand, young farmers are increasingly likely to enter the marketplace by developing unused space, such as empty lots, into thriving urban gardens — many of which are grown organically.
Small, local farms offer more variety. Our industrial agricultural system uses a monocrop system. But smaller, organic farmers may grow a variety of organic and heirloom produce, which you might not find at the supermarket
Local food creates community and connection. In our increasingly online and isolated world, loneliness is a growing problem. Getting to know your local growers and shopping or volunteering at a local farmer’s market, co-op, or community supported agriculture (CSA) counteracts this trend. And doing so can help you build meaningful human connections.
Small local farmers often use organic methods but sometimes cannot afford to become certified organic.
Are you a locavore?
Locavores are people who try to choose locally grown or locally produced food that is in season. There are many definitions of "local food," but the concept is based primarily on distance. Many people like to purchase food locally by starting within their own community, then moving out to the state, region, country, and so on. This type of food consumption is the basis for the popular 100-mile diet, which promotes buying and eating food that's grown, manufactured, or produced within a 100-mile radius of the consumer’s home.
Why eat "local"?
These are just a few of the numerous potential benefits of eating local:
- It’s good for the environment. Local food doesn’t have to travel as far to arrive on your plate, so it helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to improving our carbon footprint.
- It benefits the local economy, including supporting local farmers and other producers.
- It encourages sustainable agriculture, and facilitates tracking the supply chain back to the point of origin to evaluate ecological practices.
- It may have a higher nutrient value, as food that is grown and harvested locally is usually given more time to ripen. This does not, however, automatically mean that local food is necessarily more nutritious, as other factors come into play.
- It helps you develop a connection with food.
- You become more aware of what you’re putting in your body.
- You vote every time you shop, and with knowledge comes the ability to support foods and growers you believe in.
Produce such as broccoli, green beans, kale, red peppers, tomatoes, apricots, and peaches are susceptible to nutrient loss when harvested and transported from longer distances, while those that are heartier such as apples, oranges, grapefruit, and carrots keep their nutrients even if they travel long distances.
Local food can be better for your health for a few reasons. To begin with, local foods often retain more nutrients. Local produce is allowed to ripen naturally, while food that travels long distances is often picked before it’s ripe. And food picked fresh and in season doesn’t have far to travel before being sold.
Choosing fruits and vegetables grown in season may also be healthier. When researchers at Montclair State University compared the vitamin C content of broccoli grown in season with broccoli imported out of season, they found the latter had only half the vitamin C.
Another study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the levels of health-promoting anthocyanin pigments more than quadrupled as blackberries became fully ripe.
In addition, locally grown produce may be safer. When they are imported and out of season, fruits like tomatoes, bananas, and pears are often picked unripe. And then, they are artificially “ripened” with ethylene gas.
Also, foods from local growers may contain less (or no) pesticides. Farmers have to pay an extra fee to become certified organic. Some small-scale farmers use organic methods, but aren’t certified because they simply aren’t big enough to be able to afford the certification fees. Even if they aren’t organic, small farmers tend to use fewer chemicals than large, industrialized farms.
- Supports local farms: Buying local food keeps local farms healthy and creates local jobs at farms and in local food processing and distribution systems.
- Boosts local economy: Food dollars spent at local farms and food producers stay in the local economy, creating more jobs at other local businesses.
- Less travel: Local food travels much less distance to market than typical fresh or processed grocery store foods, therefore using less fuel and generating fewer greenhouse gases.
- Less waste: Because of the shorter distribution chains for local foods, less food is wasted in distribution, warehousing and merchandising.
- More freshness: Local food is fresher, healthier and tastes better, because it spends less time in transit from farm to plate, and therefore, loses fewer nutrients and incurs less spoilage.
- New and better flavors: When you commit to buy more local food, you'll discover interesting new foods, tasty new ways to prepare food and a new appreciation of the pleasure of each season's foods.
- Good for the soil: Local food encourages diversification of local agriculture, which reduces the reliance on monoculture—single crops grown over a wide area to the detriment of soils.
- Attracts tourists: Local foods promote agritourism—farmers' markets and opportunities to visit farms and local food producers help draw tourists to a region.
- Preserves open space: Buying local food helps local farms survive and thrive, keeping land from being redeveloped into suburban sprawl.
- Builds more connected communities: Local foods create more vibrant communities by connecting people with the farmers and food producers who bring them healthy local foods. As customers of CSAs and farmers markets have discovered, they are great places to meet and connect with friends as well as farmers.
Why Fair Trade?
Tuesday, October 8, 2019
~ 1 Minute Read Time
The Fair Trade movement began as early as the 1950's when Europeans and Americans traveling to different countries observed that local artisans and farmers were struggling to cover the cost of their businesses. Most of these travelers would purchase some of those products and return to Europe or the US to sell them for a higher price, then bring the profits directly back to the artisans and farmers.
Purchasing products that are fair trade certified can reduce poverty, encourage environmentally friendly production methods and safeguard humane working conditions. Simply look for the fair trade label on products such as coffee, chocolate, or clothing.
The certification process is complex and rigorous, generally taking anywhere between 3-6 months for a producer to achieve Fair Trade Certified status. The fair trade label means an organization such as Fair Trade USA has certified that farmers and other producers adhere to fair trade standards. The organization audits the product's supply chain to ensure fair trade prices have been paid. The importer and the processor pay the costs of acquiring a license, which begins the process.
From the Fair Trade website: "Fairtrade is unique. We work with businesses, consumers, and campaigners. Farmers and workers have an equal say in everything we do. Empowerment is at the core of who we are. The fair trade movement began as a way to connect disadvantaged producers to vibrant, global markets. The goal was to create trading partnerships founded on transparency, fairness, and economic empowerment. Today we continue this tradition, delivering long-term benefits to farms, factories, and fisheries, and the people who represent them.
We have a vision: a world in which all producers can enjoy secure and sustainable livelihoods, fulfill their potential and decide on their future. Responsible sourcing creates shared value throughout entire supply chains—a system where everyone can benefit from transparency and ethical decisions.
Our mission is to connect disadvantaged farmers and workers with consumers, promote fairer trading conditions and empower farmers and workers to combat poverty, strengthen their position and take more control over their lives."
Cancer Charity Partners
Friday, October 4, 2019
~ 3 Minutes Reading Time
I donate 10% of profits to esophageal cancer research. The name JP's Delight is for my dad, John-Paul, who inspired me to follow my dreams. Unfortunately, he passed away 2 months before the initial start of JP's Delights after an 11 month battle with stage 4 esophageal cancer. This is my motivation for donating 10% towards esophageal cancer research.
If you're interested in finding out more about our personal journey, facts about esophageal cancer, prevention tips, questions to ask your doctor, sample menus, recipes that have helped my dad while he's been having a hard time eating, and my travel guides to get the most out of some of the cities you may be traveling to for treatment (city guides for Miami (UM Sylvester), Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Houston (MD Anderson), and New York (MSK)). I have a section with links to the latest research articles, websites for further research and knowledge on cancer, clinical trials, complementary, integrative, and alternative medicines, foods, smartphone apps, debunking myths, information on various metastases, what to do to combat side effects and symptoms, and potential resources to help with the associated costs. I have both general cancer information and resources as well as specific esophageal cancer information and resources. It's all the information I've been researching and compiling over the last year. Little things like if you use plastic silverware you'll get some of your tastes back and food won't have the metallic aftertaste that's a side effect of chemotherapy. I figured I should share what I've found to save people time and energy. If some good can come from this horrible experience then it's all the better. I'm not a doctor, yet, and I'm not an expert. My opinions are my own based on my research and the sources listed. If you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you! I am not advising on how to proceed, only providing as much information I can, so you can better make your own decisions.
While in general, the statistics can be grim, one must keep a few things in mind:
- Statistics are just numbers, whilst you are a living, breathing human being. An individual. Everyone reacts differently to a treatment.
- Published statistics are usually already outdated by the time they get published, and then they hang around in cyberspace and may be extremely outdated by the time you find them and read them.
Costs of Cancer
Cancer is costly. Paying for cancer care shaped the way people make daily decisions, and it also takes an emotional toll. It can take a toll on your health, your emotions, your time, your relationships – and your wallet. There will be unexpected charges, and even the best health insurance won’t cover all your costs.
- According to the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) the price for one year of life increased to $54,100 in 1995, $139,100 in 2005, and $207,000 in 2013.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a treatment which shrunk tumors in 60 percent of patients in a clinical trial. The drug’s manufacturer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, will charge $141,000 for the first 12 weeks of treatment and $256,000 for a year of treatment, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- According to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey from the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality, cancer care cost an average of $85,201 per patient in 2010-2011 (When accounting for inflation that would be about $100,102 per patient in 2018).
- Annualized mean net costs of care for Male 65+ years old Esophageal Cancer Patients $79,822 in 2010 US Dollars. NIH estimates adjusted for patient deductibles and coinsurance expenses. About $90,997.08 in 2018.
- Newly approved cancer drugs cost an average of $10,000 per month, with some therapies topping $30,000 per month, according to ASCO, which discussed the costs of cancer care at a 2015 meeting.
- 11 of the 12 cancer drugs the FDA approved for fighting cancer in 2012 were priced at more than $100,000 per year. (Journal of National Cancer Institute)
- Patients typically pay 20 to 30% out of pocket for drugs, so an average year's worth of new drugs would cost $24,000 to $36,000 in addition to health insurance premiums.
- Average costs of radiation therapy: 1 Month $13,209, 2 Months $24,150, 3 Months $38,732 (Avalere Health study)
- Average costs of chemotherapy: 1 Month $13,828, 2 Months $61,661, 3 Months $102,395 (Avalere Health study)
- Drugs aren't the only expense. Patients must also pay for drugs that mitigate the side effects of chemotherapy, pay provider and facility fees, and often lose income when they miss work or lose their jobs.
- 67% of the total costs of cancer treatment are non-medical (American Cancer Society)
- According to UnitedHealthcare data, drugs themselves account for only 24% of direct cancer costs. Hospital and outpatient facilities account for 54 % of costs, and physician fees account for 22%.
- Costs of surgery averages ranging from $14,161 to $56,587 (MayoClinic)
- Cancer patients are 2.5 times more likely to file for bankruptcy than people who don't have cancer. A study presented at the 2014 Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium found 27% of cancer survivors reported suffering a financial problem like debt or bankruptcy. Another 37% reported modifying work plans or delaying retirement.
- A survey by the American Cancer Society revealed that 25% of cancer patients in the U.S. put off getting a test or treatment because of the cost.
- The same survey by the American Cancer Society found that 1 out of 5 respondents over the age of 65 said they had used all or much of their savings on cancer care.
3 R's – Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
3 Minutes Reading Time
Did you know that you'll get a 10% discount for helping us promote the 3 R's of recycling, reusing, and reducing?
I am committed to helping future generations inherit a healthier, greener planet and so I'm offering 10% off to patrons who bring back their glass jars or show me how they have cleverly reused and repurposed their glass jars. Just find me at an event and return your empty glass jars for an automatic 10% off.
The waste hierarchy:
As per Missouri Department of Natural Resources, “The three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle – all help to cut down on the amount of waste we throw away. They conserve natural resources, landfill space and energy. Plus, the three R’s save land and money communities must use to dispose of waste in landfills. Siting a new landfill has become difficult and more expensive due to environmental regulations and public opposition.”
Here are some of things you can do to REDUCE the waste:
- Print on both sides of the paper to reduce paper wastage.
- Remove your name from the mailing lists that you no longer want to receive.
- Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins.
- Use a dish cloth instead of paper towels
- Avoid using disposable plates, spoons, glass, cups, and napkins. They add to the problem and result in large amount of waste.
- Avoid buying items that are over-packaged with foil, paper, and plastic. This excess packaging goes to waste.
- Buy products in bulk. Larger, economy-size products or ones in concentrated form use less packaging and usually cost less per ounce.
- Buy durable goods that have long warranty. They generally run longer and save landfill space.
- Buy durable goods – ones that are well-built or that carry good warranties. They will last longer, save money in the long run and save landfill space.
- At work, make two-sided copies when ever possible.
REUSE: It makes economic and environmental sense to reuse products. Sometimes it takes creativity:
- Reuse products for the same purpose. Save paper and plastic bags, and repair broken appliances, furniture and toys.
- Reuse products in different ways. Use a coffee can to pack a lunch; use plastic microwave dinner trays as picnic dishes.
- Sell old clothes, appliances, toys, and furniture in garage sales or ads, or donate them to charities.
- Use reseal able containers rather than plastic wrap.
- Use a ceramic coffee mug instead of paper cups.
- Reuse grocery bags or bring your own cloth bags to the store. Do not take a bag from the store unless you need one.
- Old jars and pots can be used to store items in kitchen. They can also be used to store loose items together such as computer wires.
- Old tires can either be sent to recycling station or can be used to make tire-swing.
- Used wood can be used as firewood or can be used woodcrafts.
- Old newspapers can be used to pack items when you’re planning to move to another home or store old items.
- Old and waste envelopes can be used by children to make short notes.
- Waste paper can be used to make notes and sketches and can be send to recycling center when you don’t need them anymore.
- Your old books can be used by poor children or can be donated to public libraries.
- Your unwanted clothes can be used by street children or can be donated to charity institutions.
- Old electric equipment can be donated to schools or NGO’s so that they can use them.
- Rechargeable batteries can be used again and again and helps to reduce unnecessary wastage as opposed to regular batteries.
RECYCLING: is a series of steps that takes a used material and processes, remanufactures, and sells it as a new product. Begin recycling at home and at work:
- Buy products from market that are made up of recycled materials i.e. the product should be environment friendly. Buy products made from recycled material. Look for the recycling symbol or ask store managers or salesmen. The recycling symbol means one of two things – either the product is made of recycled material, or the item can be recycled. For instance, many plastic containers have a recycling symbol with a numbered code the identifies what type of plastic resin it is made from. However, just because the container has this code does not mean it can be easily recycled locally.
- Buy products that can be recycled such as glass jars.
- Invent new ways to recycle different items.
- Avoid buying hazardous materials that could pose difficulty for you to recycle. Buy non-toxic products, whenever possible.
- Use recycled paper for printing, letterhead, copier paper, and newsletters or making paper handicrafts.
- Check collection centers and curbside pickup services to see what they accept, and begin collecting those materials. These can include metal cans, newspapers, paper products, glass, plastics and oil.
- Consider purchasing recycled materials at work when purchasing material for office supply, office equipment, or manufacturing.
- Speak to store managers and ask for products and packaging that help cut down on waste, such as recycled products and products that are not over packaged.
- Buy products made from material that is collected for recycling in your community.
Find ideas about how to reuse your glass jars here: https://tinyurl.com/reusejars
Why Eat Ugly Produce?
Saturday, September 28, 2019
~5 minutes reading time
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization states “roughly 1/3rd of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption, gets lost or wasted globally, which is about 1.3 billion ton per year.” With fruit, vegetables, and roots making up 40-50% of that, this brings up an odd food consumption topic: the rejection of ugly produce. Not old, no mold, still perfectly scrumptious, only ugly.
According to Hungry Harvest, "Every year, 40% of food goes to waste in this country. 20 billion pounds of that is produce that's lost before it ever leaves the farm. The injustice of wasting this much edible food when 20% in the US lack access to a nutritious diet is plenty of reason to rescue this produce & help mend a broken food system. But the impact of wasted food extends well beyond our bellies. Almost 25% of agricultural water is used to grow food that’s not eaten. We generate the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions of 1 in 7 cars by growing, shipping & processing uneaten food. Cutting food waste in half globally could reduce our ecological footprint by 16% & ensure a more sustainable future."
The beauty standards of produce can be so steep that grocers may just throw away the fruit and vegetables that are not beautiful. This results in food being narrowly categorized as either edible (attractive) or inedible (ugly), which drastically impacts farmers who rely on those retailers for their main source of income as well as leaving behind an unfair, unnecessary trail of wastage. Wastage that needlessly adds to the spending on water, land, energy, and labor, in addition to contributing to global warming and climate change.
Imperfect Produce writes, "When we waste food, we end up wasting all of the resources that went into growing it. Growing food that goes to waste currently uses 21% of our freshwater, 19% of our fertilizer, and 18% of our cropland. When food ends up in the landfill, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times as potent as CO2. Reducing food waste is one of the top 3 ways to reverse global warming, according to research by Project Drawdown. When a farmer has to leave produce unpicked in their field, it amounts to a financial loss. Globally, 800 to 900 million tons of food each year, the weight of 9,000 aircraft carriers, rots in storage or doesn't make it out of the fields because farmers can’t find a market for them. As a country, we spend $218 billion – 1.3% of our GDP – growing, processing, transporting, and disposing of food that is never eaten. 40 million Americans go hungry every year. Recovering just 30% of the food that our country wastes each year would be enough to feed this population of Americans"
We were taught not to buy food that isn’t up to a specific appearance standard. As buyers who are mostly exposed to just the pretty, this practice can distance our relationship to growers. However, behind every ugly fruit and vegetable is a local grower facing less than perfect weather, temperature, and soil conditions. What we can do is acknowledge the human and natural elements of where the produce has come from.
Thankfully, there is a worldwide movement to find a place for ugly produce. Without us always knowing, ugly produce can be the ingredients of beautiful, delicious dishes served in restaurants or crushed and blended into healthy juices and smoothies, or in our case cooked on a loving stove top to become jam. In 2014, Intermarche, Farce’s 3rd largest supermarket, started selling fruits and vegetables that are fine to consume, but may be misshapen or bruised. The program reached 13 million people after 1 month. And as of February 2016, French supermarkets are required by law to either donate or compost food that’s nearing its expiration date. This helps environmental-conscious and budgeting shoppers, local growers, and the environment.
My stance is similar to that of Misfits Market. "All-natural produce is apt to look funkier than the picture-perfect kind that is engineered in a lab. Unfortunately, misfit fruits and vegetables are often rejected by grocery stores and supermarkets due to natural imperfections or variations in size. A watermelon that has its weight distributed oddly may develop harmless scarring. Carrots grow into each other and look twisted. Peppers get blemishes from the ground. Apples fall and get bruised. All are perfectly normal, nutritious and tasty, and they shouldn’t be discarded. The produce we source may also be a misfit for reasons beyond an ugly appearance. Sometimes a farm’s customers may have over-ordered an item that they requested be prepped a certain way—e.g., just the root without the green—or they can no longer afford to pay for an order of normal produce. We’ll pick up the slack so that farmers still make money and nothing goes to waste."
And much like Imperfect Produce, "We are committed to reducing food waste. We are committed to quality. We are committed to supporting farmers. We are committed to transparency and honesty."
Theoretically, even if just 1/4th of the food wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world. We have purchasing power and can make a positive change by consuming more mindfully. We can choose local and seasonal produce, and gain a deeper connection to people and place by shopping at farmers’ markets. We can ask our retailers, big and small to stock imperfect fruit and vegetables.
Tackling a global environmental issue begins with one conscious individual bringing about small change. We connect with ourselves through nature. In choosing ugly fruit, we honor nature and become the holistic wellness warriors we strive to be.
Making a positive environmental impact is just one of the reasons why I work daily with this fresh & delicious produce whose only crime is being a little off-size, off-color, a little ugly, or a little overproduced.
More facts from the UN:
- Food losses and waste amounts to roughly US$ 680 billion in industrialized countries and US$ 310 billion in developing countries.
- Industrialized and developing countries dissipate roughly the same quantities of food — respectively 670 and 630 million tonnes.
- Fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers have the highest wastage rates of any food.
- Global quantitative food losses and waste per year are roughly 30% for cereals, 40-50% for root crops, fruits and vegetables, 20% for oil seeds, meat and dairy plus 35% for fish.
- Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes).
- The amount of food lost or wasted every year is equivalent to more than half of the world's annual cereals crop (2.3 billion tonnes in 2009/2010).
- Per capita waste by consumers is between 95-115 kg a year in Europe and North America, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-eastern Asia, each throw away only 6-11 kg a year.
- Total per capita food production for human consumption is about 900 kg a year in rich countries, almost twice the 460 kg a year produced in the poorest regions.
- In developing countries 40% of losses occur at post-harvest and processing levels while in industrialized countries more than 40% of losses happen at retail and consumer levels.
- At retail level, large quantities of food are wasted due to quality standards that over-emphasize appearance.
- Food loss and waste also amount to a major squandering of resources, including water, land, energy, labor and capital and needlessly produce greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming and climate change.
- In developing countries food waste and losses occur mainly at early stages of the food value chain and can be traced back to financial, managerial and technical constraints in harvesting techniques as well as storage and cooling facilities. Strengthening the supply chain through the direct support of farmers and investments in infrastructure, transportation, as well as in an expansion of the food and packaging industry could help to reduce the amount of food loss and waste.
- In medium- and high-income countries food is wasted and lost mainly at later stages in the supply chain. Differing from the situation in developing countries, the behavior of consumers plays a huge part in industrialized countries. The study identified a lack of coordination between actors in the supply chain as a contributing factor. Farmer-buyer agreements can be helpful to increase the level of coordination. Additionally, raising awareness among industries, retailers and consumers as well as finding beneficial use for food that is presently thrown away are useful measures to decrease the amount of losses and waste.
Thank you to Katie Hine, Eleanor Goldberg, Hungry Harvest, Misfits Market, Imperfect Product, and the UN for their research.