October 13, 2006

Weekend Reading: Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen

"What is GRUB?" ask Anna Lappe and Bryant Terry, authors of a new book which bears that name. They then proceed to answer the question dictionary definition style:

1. grub is healthy, local, sustainable food for all 2. grub is food that supports community, justice, and sustainability 3. grub should be universal

Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen is the first collaboration between Lappe, co-author (with her mother Francis Moore Lappe) of Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet and Terry, a chef and food justice activist. Designed to offer readers compelling reasons to eat food that is organic, local and "fair," it combines education around the differences between "fake" food filling supermarkets and locally produced organics with recipes and suggestions for healthier eating and living. The book includes 24 simple, seasonally-themed menus designed to inspire readers to think about their food and have fun with it.

Check out the book's website for recipes, ideas, and Lappe's own blog.

Buy Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

October 6, 2006

Weekend Reading: The Omnivore's Dilemma

OmnivoresDilemma.jpgIs it just me, or is everyone talking about The Omnivore's Dilemma?

Michael Pollan, author of the bestselling book The Botany of Desire, uses the book to look at four different answers to the question "What should we have for dinner?" He traces the origins of four meals - McDonalds; Whole Foods; a small, self-sustaining Virginia farm; and a "hunter-gatherer" expedition - from field to dinner plate. In the process, he looks at the causes of what he calls our "national eating disorder," and offers up some solutions.

Read the intro and first chapter of The Omnivore's Dilemma. Buy the book.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

October 5, 2006

Tazo Chai, Take Me Away!

tazo chai.jpgIt's October. The days are getting shorter, there's a chill in the air, and our wool sweaters are starting to see the light of day again. It's time for Tazo Chai. I'll take mine in the Decaf variety. Tazo describes it as

"a sensual blend of exotic spices and rich black teas relieved of their caffeine. Naturally decaffeinated under the watchful eye of a Tazo tea shaman, the leaves first surrender their native caffeine, then joyously mingle with African rooibos, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom to create a hearty potion which can dance on the tongue all night long. Sweeten and serve with milk (or yak butter, when available)."

Not sure about the yak butter bit. I like mine with honey and whole milk. It reminds me of the sweet and spicy chai I drank while building houses with Habitat for Humanity in Nepal.

Available at Tazo.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

October 2, 2006

FDA Lifts Ban on Fresh Spinach

spinach2.jpgThe FDA has lifted its ban on fresh spinach products, limiting the ban to already recalled products containing spinach from the central California company Natural Selection Foods. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

"All of the spinach implicated in the current outbreak has been traced back to Natural Selection Foods" of San Juan Bautista, said Dr. David Acheson, chief medical officer at the federal agency's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "Right now, the only spinach we're saying shouldn't be consumed is the spinach that was subject to the recall."

Read the official notice (and other press releases on the spinach E. coli outbreak on the FDA website.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

September 28, 2006

Parents Against Junk Food

We've read the news. 17% of children are overweight. Childhood obesity is growing at alarming rates. The Center for Disease Control predicts that one third of all children born in 2000 will contract diabetes. The question is, what can we do about it?

Received email from Christopher Kimball, the editor of Cook's Illustrated magazine, which included an answer: join Parents Against Junk Food. The nonprofit distributes a free monthly newsletter with recipe makeovers for such favorites as Mac and Cheese, quick (and healthier) weeknight meals like Skillet Lasagne, and recipes like "Wacky Cake" which you can cook with your kids.

Join Parents Against Junk Food.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

September 27, 2006

The Complete Organic Pregnancy

Got an email this morning from Deirdre Dolan, author of The Complete Organic Pregnancy, which came out yesterday. She and her co-author Lexi Zissu, both journalists, were inspired to write the book when they both got pregnant. They'll be talking about it tomorrow on The Today Show. Set your Tivos. Deirdre and Lexi are also doing a blog on Yahoo about the topic.

Deirdre said she'd put a copy of the book in the mail to us. We'll keep you posted and let you know what we think.

Available on Amazon.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

September 18, 2006

Which Spinach is Safe?

Bagged spinach has become a staple of many Americans' diets - it's healthy, it's convenient, and heck, if it's good enough for Popeye, it's good enough for you, right? But with news of a recall on bagged spinach due to recent outbreaks of E. coli in more than 19 states, Really Natural reader Kelly from Cambridge, MA wrote in to ask whether any spinach is safe to eat.

"I buy organic spinach to feed (my 17-month-old daughter).... I've been debating about whether or not to throw it away."

The FDA has spoken: Throw it away, Kelly. Throw it away.

In a news release issued Sunday, the message couldn't have been any clearer:

"FDA advises consumers to not eat fresh spinach or fresh spinach-containing products until further notice. If individuals believe they may have experienced symptoms of illness after consuming fresh spinach or fresh spinach-containing products, FDA recommends that they seek medical advice."

The contaminated spinach has been traced to Natural Selection Foods, a grower of organic and non-organic spinach found in numerous supermarket brands, including Dole, Natural Selection Foods, Pride of San Juan, Earthbound Farm, Bellissima, Rave Spinach, Emeril, Sysco, O Organic, Fresh Point, River Ranch, Superior, Nature’s Basket, Pro-Mark, Compliments, Trader Joe’s, Ready Pac, Jansal Valley, Cheney Brothers, Coastline, D’Arrigo Brothers, Green Harvest, Mann, Mills Family Farm, Premium Fresh, Snoboy, The Farmer’s Market, Tanimura & Antle, President’s Choice, Cross Valley, Riverside Farms.

Reports indicate that the E. coli may be linked to the irrigation system used by the San Juan Bautista farm. Several reports have indicated that only bagged spinach is at risk, and there seems to be some question about whether spinach from other sources could be at risk. One local farmer's market has declared on their website that their spinach is grown in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and therefore not at risk.

That may be the case. You probably won't get sick eating fresh, unpackaged spinach if you know exactly where it came from and how it was grown. But until the FDA amends its recommendations, we'd say play it safe. Whole Foods Market issued a statement saying they've removed all fresh loose or packaged spinach from their stores "until we learn that there is no longer a health concern."

We'd recommend that Really Natural readers do the same.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

September 12, 2006

Boston Campaign to Encourage Healthy Eating

Is your city getting fatter? If you live in the US, chances are the answer is yes. And if you want people to change their eating habits, you need to get them where they're eating - namely, in restaurants. Says Boston's Mayor Thomas Menino,

We live in a time when many people are eating outside of their homes more often and healthy options are needed when dining out. If we’re serious about addressing the problem of obesity we need to include restaurants as partners in our efforts to create a healthier Boston.

To that end, the Mayor's office recently kicked off Boston BestBites, a campaign to encourage restaurants to add or highlight healthy, lighter menu options. Participating restaurants work with a nutritionist from Brigham and Woman’s Hospital to identify healthier menu items; if recipes don't meet nutritional guidelines, the nutritionist will alternative ingredients or preparation methods to create a healthier dish.

According to the Mayor's office, 12 restaurants, including Really Natural favorite Haley House Bakery Cafe have signed on to the effort; the City is sending information about the campaign to another 600 restaurants throughout the city.

According to the National Restaurant Association, Americans spend 48% of their food dollars outside the home. By providing restaurant diners with information on what they're eating, Boston BestBites hopes to encourage them to make healthier choices, and to encourage restaurants to offer more of those choices. So next time you're dining out, everything you know about eating healthy doesn't have to go out the window.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

September 8, 2006

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Send Help!

Can anyone recommend an effective natural deodorant? I'd like to switch from my current anti-perspirant, which contains aluminum, to something aluminum-free. But I don't want to smell like a monkey. Or sweaty gym socks.

According to Amazon, best-selling natural deodorants include Thai Crystal's Rock Salt deodorant stone, and selections from Tom's of Maine, Nature's Gate, and Avalon Organics. Does anyone have experience with any of these products? Are there other natural deodorants you'd recommend? Send 'em in, and I'll post comments and reviews.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

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