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local v. organic: the complex landscape of sustainable food production

3 Mar
organic kale sprouts

Organic greens sprout at Los Poblanos Organics in Mesilla, NM.

When examining food production, there are three identifiable areas of concern: health impacts, environmental impacts, and ethics. These are all, of course, interrelated. However, when faced with the daunting task of honestly examining food production, it’s easier to take one topic at a time. I talk a lot about the health impacts of our dietary choices in some of my other posts, and I discussed ethics in a recent post as well. So now let’s look at the environmental impacts of food production, specifically as they relate to sustainability.

Humans experience life through contrast. We tend to simplify the grey areas of complex topics into black and white whenever we can; our minds automatically distill muddied waters into crystal-clear solutions, even when none exist. When confronting the issue of sustainable food production, many a well-intentioned activist has been caught up in the following false dichotomization:

Which is better – buying local produce, or buying certified organic produce?

If there is one thing I have learned thus far in my wellness odyssey, it’s that food is NOT simple. There are no simple answers. Humankind has entrenched itself deeply in an unsustainable system of feeding its ever-growing population. How do we feed billions of people without destroying our health and our environment? Is it even possible? Continue reading

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ethical eating, labels, and walking the line

5 Feb

ethical eating for the planetThis journey into wellness and food has taken me to places I would not have anticipated.

I’ve discovered that I am passionate about food. Not in the self-indulgent decadent way (think wine and cheese and foie gras), but more in the vein of delicious, healthful, ethical meals prepared in my kitchen. And that’s really the crux of it: ethical eating.

I find it interesting that for years I have considered myself a conscientious consumer. I recycle, I use reusable shopping bags, I minimize my consumerism, I buy used items often, I pick up litter, I use a travel mug when I patronize coffee shops, and I even buy fair trade coffee. And yet, it took me years to honestly examine the simplest (and most impactful) form of consumption.

We have choices when it comes to our food. Ethical eating encompasses a wide array of options, including (but not limited to): Continue reading

a pill for everything?

20 Dec

pill supplementationI am proud to report that I have been effectively dairy-free for 5 months. Not just lactose-free, but dairy-free. That means no lactose-free milk, no bread with whey in it… NO dairy at all. (I have indulged two or three times in a cheesy snack, and I paid for it immediately.)

The reactions I get from others about this topic are frustrating. Most people ask, “Are you lactose intolerant?” And I reply that I suspect I am, since ceasing dairy consumption has alleviated my digestive problems. They invariably reply with, “Oh jeez, I’m sorry. You know, they make pills now that you can take before you eat dairy so you don’t have such a bad reaction.” Continue reading

Indian food Bonanza!

10 Nov
delicious indian cuisine

provided via creative commons by flickr user "artfulblogger"

I know, it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to post. Life interrupts, sometimes.

BUT, I have still been cooking and continuing my dairy-free lifestyle. I have entirely eliminated dairy products from my diet. No dairy-based seasonings, no nonfat dry milk in my breads. My digestion has stabilized and my allergies have diminished significantly. Moreover, when I occasionally indulge in a cheesy hors d’oeuvre, I pay the price immediately. Done. No dairy.

It’s harder than one might think to live without eating dairy products. I don’t eat out much, and have explored new cooking options at home. My current preoccupation: Indian food. Continue reading

clean food, slow food

18 Aug

eating well includes fresh produceI’m always a little sad when I talk to people who adhere to one of the myriad “fad diets” that come and go, promising fast weight loss with minimal effort (South Beach, Atkins, etc.). These diets make big promises about weight, but can they really deliver a healthy lifestyle? For example, I could eat nothing but lettuce for two weeks and lose a lot of weight, but I wouldn’t have attained a state of healthful living. So much emphasis is placed on weight, that it seems we have lost sight of the real goal: whole-body health. Really, it seems a bit absurd that weight management has become so difficult at all; that we have allowed ourselves to lose touch with the fundamentals of healthy living. Truth be told, maintaining a healthy weight – and a healthy lifestyle – is not rocket science. It just takes a little thought, a lot of dedication, and a good amount of self control.

In today’s world, everything comes at us fast. Instant communication, tighter deadlines, larger workloads, and all of our basic necessities on demand. We don’t have to create our food anymore; it comes to us in neatly-packaged portions, conveniently created for us to “eat on the run”. It’s time to slow down when it comes to our food. Continue reading

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