March 14, 2007

Food Fight: Time Magazine on Organic vs. Local

timecover.jpgThe organic vs. local produce debate has gone mainstream. The cover of this week's Time Magazine proclaims, "Forget Organic. Eat Local."

John Cloud investigates the battle between the "local foods" movement and Big Organic.

ArrowContinue reading: "Food Fight: Time Magazine on Organic vs. Local"

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

March 6, 2007

Mmm...Chicken: Dog Treats from Newman's Own Organics

B000CR41KG.01._SCMZZZZZZZ_AA160_.jpgYou enjoy organic food. Why shouldn't Fido and Fifi?

With Newman's Own Organics Dog Treats, they can.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

February 6, 2007

Taza Chocolate and Tiny Trapeze Marshmallows

On a cold winter afternoon, nothing beats good, old fashioned hot chocolate with marshmallows. And I don't mean the kind that comes in a packet labeled Swiss Miss.

Lately, we've been warming our bellies (and our hearts) with some locally produced organic cocoa from Taza Chocolate in Somerville and marshmallows from Tiny Trapeze in Hyde Park.

Taza Chocolate owners Alex Whitmore, Lauren Adams and Larry Slotnick source beans directly from farming communities and co-operatives in Mexico and South America to ensure that a fair price is paid for high quality cocoa beans. From there, they bring the beans to our chocolate studio in Somerville, Massachusetts and grind them into delicious chocolate. Buy the beans and grind 'em yourself, or buy them pre-ground in a chocolate drink like Taza's Velo Rouge.

Tiny Trapeze Confections, located in an old mill building in the Hyde Park neighbor of Boston, makes tasty, old world sweets using all natural and organic ingredients. My latest guilty pleasure - and the perfect topping for a mug of cocoa - is one of their Simply Vanilla marshmallows. Pillowy and sweet right out of the package, the marshmallows melt in your mouth. Better still, if you can stand the wait, they melt right into your hot chocolate, creating a smooth sweet marshmallow foam that's pure heaven.

Taza Chocolate's Velo Rouge Chocolate Drink is available at Taza Chocolate. If you live in Massachusetts, visit Taza's open house next Sunday, February 11th from 1-4 at their Windsor Street studio, or stop by their Chocolate Lounge on Thursday nights at Mariposa Bakery in Cambridge.

Tiny Trapeze's Simply Vanilla marshmallows are available at Whole Foods. If you're vegan, don't despair. Tiny Trapeze also makes a vegan marshmallow that is out of this world. (Call your local Whole Foods to see if they carry it.)

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

January 29, 2007

Michael Pollan on Nutrition in NYTimes

28meals_600.jpgMichael Pollan writes about why nutrition studies might be making us food-obsessed, unhealthy and obese in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine. Pollan is the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, the hardest (and most interesting) look at our food and where it's coming from since Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation. (It's a tougher read, but definitely worth it.)

In the NYTimes article, Pollan muses:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy. I hate to give away the game right here at the beginning of a long essay, and I confess that I’m tempted to complicate matters in the interest of keeping things going for a few thousand more words. I’ll try to resist but will go ahead and add a couple more details to flesh out the advice. Like: A little meat won’t kill you, though it’s better approached as a side dish than as a main. And you’re much better off eating whole fresh foods than processed food products. That’s what I mean by the recommendation to eat “food.” Once, food was all you could eat, but today there are lots of other edible foodlike substances in the supermarket. These novel products of food science often come in packages festooned with health claims, which brings me to a related rule of thumb: if you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a good indication that it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.

Read the whole article at NYTimes.com.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

November 14, 2006

Where to Buy Organic, Free-Range Turkey

turkey.jpgThanksgiving is approaching. Have you ordered your organic, free-range turkey yet? Our local farm stand is taking orders; so is Whole Foods. The question is this: What should you look for in your organic bird?

As you probably know, organic means different things to different people. There are a lot of buzz words flying around out there - cage-free, organic, antibiotic free, free-range, to name a few - that may or may not get you what you need. As Michael Pollan points out in The Omnivore's Dilemma, "free-range" may conjure the image of birds romping freely across green pastures, but the reality is it may still mean birds are packed tightly into confined spaces with only a small entry to the outdoors. Don't believe the hype.

Wholesome Harvest has a great breakdown of the different terminology, and what it signifies. The site makes a good case for why organic may be the minimum standard you should look for, and why "beyond organic" can be a better way to go.

Not sure what you're getting from your local grocery store when you buy an organic bird? Ask questions.

Want to buy your bird online? Here are some sites that can help you do it:

Local Harvest can help you find a local farm near you
Sustainable Table talks about heritage breeds of turkeys, and Slow Food USA has a list of farms that raise them
Wholesome Harvest is a coalition of over 40 concerned small family farms committed to "beyond organic" agriculture
D'Artagnan is selling organic birds on Amazon

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

October 30, 2006

Save Us Obi Wan Cannoli -- Welcome Baby Ewan!

There's a new kid on the blog(pire). Blogpire Prez Jay Brewer, his wife Maya, and their daughter, Anya, welcomed a new baby into the world this weekend. In honor of brand new baby Ewan, we'd like to revisit a classic video that had us in hysterics when it first made the rounds: Grocery Store Wars, a short film by the Organic Trade Association.

Watch Cuke Skywalker, Princess Lettuce and Ham Solo do battle against the Darth Tater and the dark side of the farm. Giggle at Tofu D2 and C3 Peanuts. Roar like Chewbroccoli. And take some satisfaction in knowing that the folks who care about organic foods also have a sense of humor about it.

Use the Farm, Cuke. Obi (e)Wan, this one's for you.

View Store Wars.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

October 10, 2006

Forage Your Food!

God, the farmer's market is so passe. According to The Sunday Times, these days, all the cool kids are foraging their food.

You can hardly strike up a conversation these days without a "lovely little farmers' market" this and a "supporting an entire Guatemalan village" that. Once you're on the bandwagon, it's clear the bandwagon can run out of control pretty quickly.

Which might explain why I am standing in the sludgy shallows of the River Severn, eating bits of vegetation I find swirling around my wellies. I am foraging for my supper, which is either incredibly sophisticated and will trump any other food show-off for some time to come, or is incredibly unsophisticated and won't. I suspect it's both.

Read more.

Via Treehugger.

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 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 11, 2006

Organic Veggies By Mail

We've spent the summer digging in to local organic veggies through our CSA share with a local nonprofit farm. (CSA stands for community supported agriculture - you buy a "share" of the farmer's crop at the beginning of the growing season, and it pays "dividends" in the form of fresh veggies all summer.)

But what if you're stuck someplace where you don't have access to fresh, organic local produce? Well, the folks at Diamond Organics have a solution. Place an order for one of their organic sampler boxes, and founders Jasch & Kathleen Hamilton will ship you whatever's freshest right now, well, right now. The price on Amazon - $69 for 9lbs of fresh produce in their Original Organics or Organic Fruit samplers - includes free overnight shipping from their farm on Highway 1 in Moss Landing, CA to almost anywhere in the U.S.

Rebecca Johnson tried the service via Amazon, and had this to say:

The lettuce and greens reminded me of my days living on a farm where we made fresh salads from greens selected on that very day. There is nothing like it, well, not until I found this company. The lettuce seems to last longer and the baby spinach is delicious. A week later and the lettuce still looks fresh. That never happens when I buy produce at the store.

At Really Natural, we believe the best tasting and eco-friendliest produce comes from local organic farms. But if you want to eat organic and can't find a local source, then "Go Web, young man (or woman). Go Web."

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

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