I haven't posted in almost...gulp....three weeks! Miss me? I've been busy handling internet issues, turning over the garden from summer to fall, getting more involved in my local farmer's market and generally spreading myself too thin between all the passions of and in my life. Sound familiar?
I've been so excited to tell you two things:
1. Raw okra is SO good. If you like okra and you've never had it raw, try a tender, baby okra about thumb size. You won't believe how long you've eaten okra without trying some raw. If you don't like okra because of the slime created by cooking (affectionately called okra snot) you may just become an okra convert after trying raw okra - no snot and all the crunchy green taste!
2. I've been working on a concept all summer and it's finally been launched on The Positive Observer, a positive news site based in Colorado. I have cross posted the article here in full with permission by and under copyright protection of The Positive Observer. I hope you enjoy it.
Live Light, xo-C.
environmental action resulting in total health
~eating from the planet, for the planet~
e.a.r.t.h.food is a whole, real food way of eating which embraces the best of vegan, vegetarian and omnivorous approaches
e.a.r.t.h.food is food from nature, not a laboratory or factory
e.a.r.t.h.food comes in no, re-useable or recyclable packaging
e.a.r.t.h.food is seasonal local or garden food when available and preferably organically grown
e.a.r.t.h.food is a marriage between eating what is good for our individual body environment while being respectful to our external shared environment
Food isn't just stuff on a plate. It represents current politics, personal habit, cultural beliefs, modern technology, social traditions and religious teachings. Food is complicated and it's powerful. Our personal food choices are dwarfed by the food choices made for us by industry and government. As citizens have become more aware of the many issues surrounding food, we've begun to realize the power of the fork and how we can vote by choosing certain foods over others as a way to effect social issues and our collective health.
I have studied and followed many passionate food experts and wasn't finding much in the way of promoting real, whole vegan, vegetarian and omnivorous diets while taking into deep consideration how each of these approaches effect the health of our environment. I saw many vegans refusing animal products out of concern for the animals, but advocating shipping superfoods from across the country or internationally with little regard to carbon footprints. I saw vegetarians driving across town to get delicious take-out in styrofoam clamshell food boxes with no regard to toxic trash. I saw omnivores eating sub-standard meats wrapped in plastic from grocery stores who buy from processors polluting our public water and air.
e.a.r.t.h.food is my effort to bring together sensible advice and recipes for anyone looking to eat right by their body and planet. Here is a brief overview:
Any real, whole e.a.r.t.h.food approach will avoid the toxins of processed foods such as high fructose corn syrup, MSG, hydrogenated oil, artificial sweetener, refined sugar and wheat, food coloring, chemical preservative, sodium nitrite, table salt and artificial flavor. These synthetic ingredients have been directly linked to increased human degeneration and disease.
e.a.r.t.h.food is about food, not supplements. It is a goal to get all nutrients for optimal health from real, whole food. Eating well and smartly eliminates any need for supplementation except in situations of crisis or injury. Unfortunately, supplements are generally highly packaged and transported.
e.a.r.t.h.food is ideally food grown organically and compassionately for the improved nourishment and taste of the food as well as in respect for the soil, water, air and people effected by the growing process. e.a.r.t.h.food is also non-GMO food. Foods labeled "organic" or "non-GMO" are the most reliable.
A Vegan Foundation
No matter how you eat, you eat at least in part a vegan diet. Fruit, vegetables, nuts, oils, grains and seeds are often a part of anyone's daily fare. It is important for e.a.r.t.h.food vegans to purchase organic produce and raw nuts and seeds when available for optimal nutrition. Grains should be whole and organically grown. Oils should be organic first cold-pressed. Ideally you will purchase these without packaging or in reusable packaging. Soaking or sprouting nuts, seeds, and grains is a nutritionally beneficial practice.
The greatest challenge when eating a vegan diet is the bombardment of endless soy variations. I do not advocate the regular use of refined, unfermented soy products such as tofu and soy milk because of the potential over-accumulation of plant estrogens. Occasional use of these products can fit nicely into a vegan diet, but soy must always be purchased as organically grown in order to avoid common GMO (genetically modified) soybeans. Purchasing organic soybeans to make homemade tofu or purchasing organic, fermented soy products such as tempeh and miso are healthier alternatives.
A Vegetarian Center
Building upon the vegan fare, many vegetarians include animal milk (and butter, yogurt, cheese) and eggs in their diet. It is imperative that e.a.r.t.h.food vegetarians purchase organic brands and more preferably products from small, local farmers. Milk and milk-products are ideal when raw and eggs are best from chickens who live freely outside. The mega-operations of the egg and dairy factory farms have created the most hellish conditions for animals and are intensely polluting of the environment.
If you have ever compared the yolk of a small-farm egg with that of any store-bought egg you can see and taste the difference. Raw milk (from cows and goats) is becoming more available as citizens fight the current ban limiting access to this milk with greater nutritional benefit. Cardboard egg cartons are best and can often be returned to your farmer for reuse. Paper or glass milk containers are better than plastic. Paper is better than plastic. Anything is better than plastic!
An Omnivorous Crown
Omnivores eat everything a vegan or vegetarian would plus flesh, organs and fat from animals. Ideally, e.a.r.t.h.food omnivores purchase their meats from small-local farmers in bulk (1/4 cow, whole chickens, etc.). Animals who are raised for industrialized meat in CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) are malnourished and sick. Buying clean meat from small farmers will spare ingesting growth hormones, antibiotics and diseased tissue at mealtime while avoiding the carbon emissions of extensive transportation.
Unless you are able or willing to pay large amounts of money for premium meat, it is best for an e.a.r.t.h.food omnivore to save expenses by eating a wholesome vegetarian or vegan fare many meals of the week and enjoying clean, humane meat less often. Budgets and preferences will vary but it is possible to maintain optimal health by pulling from these three dietary variations. As an omnivore, eating wholesome vegan or vegetarian food is preferable over eating sub-standard meat. Save your dollars for the premium stuff!
Example: Chili - Three Ways
The following is a chili recipe from my favorite recipe site: 101CookBooks.com. It is a vegan recipe, but you will see how to make it vegetarian or omnivorous depending on your preference and availability of ingredients. The recipe is merely a jumping off point for a custom-made pot of delicious chili!
VN=vegan, VT=vegetarian, OM=omnivorous
Pierce Street Chili Recipe
2 tablespoons olive oil [VT=butter, OM=lard]
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
8 small/med garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and grated
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 chipotle pepper (from can or rehydrate), minced
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
10 cups vegetable broth [OM=beef or chicken broth]
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (canned is fine, but dried and soaked is preferable)
2 1/4 cups black, brown, or green lentils (or combo), rinsed and picked over
[OM=substitute all or part lentils and peas with cut or crumbled meat of choice]
2/3 cup pearled barley or pearled farro
2/3 cup bulgur wheat
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt (or to taste)
Toppings (optional): a bit of chopped serranos, a bit of feta or dollop of thinned out salted yogurt [VT], a drizzle of equal parts chopped fresh oregano and olive oil, chopped onion
In a large stockpot pot over medium heat add the olive oil, onion, and shallots. When the onions soften up and get a bit translucent, add the garlic, ginger, chili powder and cumin. Stir well and cook for a minute of so, until everything gets quite fragrant. Stir in the serrano pepper and chipotle pepper, tomatoes, and 8 cups of the broth.
Now add the chickpeas, lentils, barley/farro, and bulgur - stirring between each addition. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer. Take a taste of the broth a few minutes into the simmer - you can make adjustments for salt here - if you're using water in place of broth, you can add a teaspoon of salt for starters and add more later if needed.
Simmer away for about 35- 45 minutes or until the lentils and grains are cooked through. You will likely need to add the rest of the water, a cup at a time, if the chili thickens up too much. Before serving do your final adjustments - add more chipotle, salt, or whatever you think it needs and enjoy! I love this chili with a bit of feta or goat cheese [VT] on top and a big drizzle of olive oil, but I listed off a few other topping ideas up above.
A huge pot of chili - serves 12 or more.
Background on e.a.r.t.h.food:
In a nutshell, after reading The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan I became a vegetarian and after reading Dr. Will Tuttle's World Peace Diet I became a vegan. As I began to talk and write about my new-found knowledge and changes, it became apparent to me that food is a VERY sensitive subject and one that many people do not like to discuss.
e.a.r.t.h.food came about because I wanted to offer a set of guidelines for any eater looking to make better choices for personal and planetary health. What benefit is it to be optimally healthy when Earth crumbles around us or what good is it to protect the planet while we're too sick to enjoy its beauty and magnificence? Both concerns go into each e.a.r.t.h.food choice. I've taken the best of my Economic Crisis Diet, married it to my Food School and reassembled them with fresh ingredients onto one luscious e.a.r.t.h.food platter ready to devour by any tree loving real foodist.
This post has been shared in Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday September 18th Blog Carnival!