Tag Archives: Shop Sustainable

Celebrate Food Day with Dinner and Some Ed!

The Glynwood Institute’s Dinner and Some Ed
Are you looking for something to do for Food Day on October 24th?  How about joining The Glynwood Institute for Sustainable Food and Farming at a potluck on the Glynwood Farm in Cold Spring, New York, from 6:00 – 9:00pm or hosting your own Dinner and Some Ed?

What is Dinner and Some Ed?
Dinner and Some Ed is an effort to raise awareness, and enjoyment, of local, sustainable food.  All you need to do is host a meal made from local, sustainable ingredients and show a few videos related to food and farming.  We recommend TED and TEDx videos, especially TEDxManhattan videos.

The dinner can be potluck style, where friends and family participate in making the meal by bringing one dish or beverage; the host can prepare the meal, or you could do a combination of the two.

You are not confined to dinner – your event could be a lunch, brunch, picnic, or breakfast.  The key is to have a computer or mobile device where you can watch the talks and delicious sustainable food to share with friends.

Why Host Dinner and Some Ed?
Like most dinner parties, there will be good friends, good food, and stimulating conversation.  What makes Dinner and Some Ed different is the video talk can serve as a catalyst for conversation, leading to the sharing of ideas and knowledge.

Radical changes in agricultural practices have contributed to climate change, air, water and soil pollution, abuse of antibiotics, animal cruelty, and widespread obesity.  Serving sustainable food is a way to examine these problems and possible solutions.

And the food simply tastes better!

What To Do
Use your imagination when creating your dinner.  Some suggestions include:

  • Choose four talks and watch one before sitting down to each course.  You can have a bit of fun matching the talk with the course by incorporating some aspect of the talk into your ingredient selection.  Over each course you and your guests can discuss the talks or your experience finding the ingredients and preparing the food.  Encourage your guests to make their dish with ingredients from their local farmers market.  Have them share which farms they bought their food from.
  • Encourage your guests to buy meat, cheese, milk, or eggs that are either certified organic, humanely raised, or antibiotic free.
  • Challenge your guests to make a meal from only local ingredients (sourced within 200 miles from where they live).  Ask them to bring the recipe to their dish along with where they sourced the food.  Give a prize to the dish with the most locally sourced ingredients or the ingredient sourced from the closest place.
  • Ask your guests to come with their favorite video and let them host that particular part of the meal and the video.  Have them explain why they chose that particular talk.
  • Take your guests to a farmers market and have them split up into four groups.  Give each group a certain amount of money, e.g., $20, and tell them to buy ingredients for a particular course.  The groups will then cook their part of the meal together and present to the rest of the guests.  Make it even more fun and ask them to name their dish also!

After your meal, post up a review of your event on the Dinner and Some Ed site.

Happy Food Day!

Change Food is a nonprofit whose mission is to connect and transform the food we eat, the people who produce it, and the world in which it is grown. To read and learn more, visit The Guide to Good Food blog. 

Shop Sustainable – buying food

veggies

Today we’re going to show you that it is possible to eat healthier on a budget, and we’re also going to talk a bit about the reality behind our food system.

I recently saw the movie Food, Inc. which opens today, June 12th, in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco (Click here for movie and ticket info). In the film is a scene where a family of four buys a fast food meal for $11.38 but say they can’t afford broccoli for $1.29 a pound. That’s understandable, but what could a family of four eat for around $11.38 that might be a little healthier? Let’s look at a chart we created with current prices from Stop and Shop’s Peapod website:

Grocery Item Non-organic(1) Organic (2)
Beans, canned 1.00/1 lb can 1.00/1 lb can
Beans, dry black 1.50/pound 1.79/pound (3)
Bell peppers .89/each 2.99/two-pack
Broccoli 2.89/head 3.19/head
Cabbage, green 2.19/head 2.49/head
Carrots 1.79/2 lbs 3.49 5 lbs
Celery 1.50/pound 2.99/pound
Eggplant 1.49/each 2.99/10 oz pack
Rice, brown 2.69/32 oz 3.19/32 oz
Rice, white 1.99/32 oz 3.19/32 oz
Romaine Lettuce 1.50/head 1.99/head
Summer Squash/
Zucchini
.69/each 2.99/two-pack

(1) Based on Stop and Shop’s Peapod website (accessed 5/29/09)
(2) Based on Stop and Shop’s Peapod website (accessed 5/29/09)
(3) Based on OrganicDirect.com (NY and NJ area) (accessed 6/2/09)

The family of four could eat 2 pounds of conventional white rice and 2 pounds of black beans for $4.99, two foods that, when combined, meet our bodies’ need for high-quality protein. They could go organic and eat 2 pounds of organic brown (or white) rice and 2 pounds of organic black beans for $6.77. Add in a head of broccoli and the total is $7.88 for all conventional and $9.96 for all organic. Both well under the $11.38 the family spent at a fast food drive through, leaving extra money for herbs, spices, or another item.

If you would like to see a comparison of farmers’ market and grocery store prices, check out “Is it possible to shop locally on a budget?” from Farm Aid.

If you look at nutritional values –

1 cup black beans (boiled with salt) – 172g, 227 calories, 1g fat (0g saturated), 0g cholesterol, 408mg sodium, 60% fiber, 15g protein, 20% iron and a good source of thiamin, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese and folate.

1 cup brown rice (medium grain, cooked) – 195g, 218 calories, 2g fat (0g saturated), 0g cholesterol, 2mg sodium, 4g fiber, 5g protein, 6% iron.

1 stalk broccoli (boiled*, without salt) – 280g, 98 calories, 1g fat (0g saturated), 115mg sodium, 0g cholesterol, 9g fiber, 7g protein, 87% vitamin A, 303% vitamin C, 11% calcium, 10% iron. Also a good source of thiamin, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, fiber, vitamin E and K, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, potassium and manganese. (*Steaming vegetables is preferable to boiling – more nutrients will be retained. We could only find data for boiled broccoli.)

1 Burger King hamburger sandwich (as an example of a fast food burger) – 121g, 310 calories, 13g fat (5g saturated), 40mg cholesterol, 580mg sodium, 2g fiber, 17g protein, 2% vitamin A, 2% vitamin C, 8% calcium, 20% iron. (Note: Burger King supplied the information and most vitamin and mineral content was not provided.)

To compare the quantity of food (172g beans plus 195g rice and 280g broccoli), you’d need over 5 Burger King hamburger sandwiches (at 121g each) to equal the volume of the beans, rice and broccoli. That means 1550+ calories, 65g fat (25g saturated), 200mg cholesterol, and so on, compared with 502 calories, 4g fat (0g saturated), 0g cholesterol, etc. (Or, conversely, you could reduce the amount of beans, rice and broccoli, to an equivalent of one or two hamburgers, which would bring the price of the healthy meal down considerably.)

This shows that you can consume fewer and far more nutritious calories for less money by shopping and cooking, rather than resorting to fast food, so why do so many people continue to buy and eat fast food? One reason is convenience. We think food should be cheap and fast so pulling through a drive through and shoveling food quickly into our mouth is the way many of us eat. It’s a sign of our over-stressed, over-worked lives. And we’re used to it.

How convenient is it?
What if you cooked your own food, ate at home and took food with you from home to work? Clearly, you would save money and eat healthier food. But, I hear you saying, “I don’t have time” or “I’m always so tired when I get home that I don’t want to cook”. What can you do about that?

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Shop Sustainable – Money, pt 2

Co-op grocery store in Ypsilanti, Michigan

Co-op grocery store in Ypsilanti, Michigan

We’ve given you a few tips on how to stretch your food dollars (see Shop Sustainable – Money). This week, we’ll help you determine which local sustainable and/or organic foods you can incorporate into your food budget.

There’s no doubt about it – organic and sustainable food is often more expensive than , industrially raised and overly processed foods. And you are on a budget, so what can you do?

Shopping Choices
First, look at what you’re eating and consider cutting out some of the non-nutritious items you spend money on. No one is saying to cut out everything, but if you’re drinking soda, try tap water. Or try tap water in place of every other can of pop. You could also try cutting out meat one day a week, or be daring and go for two meatless days a week! Meat is usually the most expensive item you buy in the supermarket. Good food advocate Michael Pollan is now extolling the virtues of our sister program Meatless Monday, where you can find recipes for healthy, delicious and inexpensive meatless meals, along with information about the many benefits of reducing meat in your diet. Check out and download their Meatless Monday Recipe booklet.

Now that you’ve looked at your eating habits to see if you can cut back on some expensive items like meat, let’s look at shopping. You’ve decided you want to eat as much local, sustainable and/or organic food as you can, but you simply can’t afford it. We gave many suggestions in our previous post, but some other things you can do include:

Shop in season.

    I know I’ve mentioned this several times, but food is cheaper when it’s in season, so it’s a good thing to remember.

Stay unprocessed.

    The less food is processed, the more nutritious it is and it’s usually less expensive, unless you’re buying overly processed, really non-nutritious stuff. That kind of food might cost less, but it rarely has any significant nutritional value. In general, shop on the perimeter of the store, where you’ll find fruits, vegetables, and whole foods.

Make choices.

    This is a big one. Even I don’t eat 100 percent sustainable/organic all the time. I try to when cooking at home, but I still go out to restaurants that don’t serve sustainable or organic food. And when eating at home, I refuse to pay 6 dollars for 4.4 ounces of blueberries, so I usually go without until they come back into season. It can be hard if you really want the food, but it makes you enjoy it that much more when it’s finally available again in season and at a reasonable price!

Another choice you can make is with the fruits and vegetables you buy. I looked over three shoppers’ guides to pesticides on fruits and vegetables (Environmental Working Group – EWG, the Organic Center – OC and the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the Museum of Natural History – CfB) to find the best and worst choices you can make. The results:

Most Pesticides – buy these organic/sustainable if you can, because they tend to have the highest level of pesticide residues.

Fruit
Apple
Cantaloupe
Cherries
Cranberries
Grapes (Imported)
Nectarine
Peach
Pear
Strawberries

Vegetables
Bell pepper
Broccoli (imported)* (OC)
Carrot
Celery
Green beans
Kale (EWG)
Lettuce
Peas*
Potatoes
Spinach* (CfB)
Tomatoes* (OC)

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Shop Sustainable

Farmstand at Sassy Family Farm, Iowa City, Iowa

Farmstand at Sass Family Farm, Iowa City, Iowa

So, you’ve learned a little about the issues, are convinced shopping sustainably is the way to go, but what do you do now?

First, figure out how much effort you want to put into your sustainable food adventure. We suggest you start simply, with one or two things, but below I’ll list a bunch of choices you can make.

General supermarket chain
If you’re interested in shopping for better food but aren’t ready or don’t want to go anywhere but your regular grocery store, you have a couple of options. The first and easiest is to look for organic food. Now when I say look for organic food, I’m generally talking unprocessed foods. Yes, I do believe it’s better to buy packaged organic snacks like crackers and cookies over non-organic, but, overall, that’s not really the healthiest option for you (even though I will admit I do eat organic snacks myself).

You want to look for the least processed food possible, which generally means fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat that you cook yourself. (Sorry, frozen organic food doesn’t really count either.) So, your number one goal is to buy some whole foods like meat, beans, cheese and vegetables, along with grains like rice or quinoa, and cook a meal for yourself.

When you choose that option, you’ll obviously need to set aside a little time to do the cooking. Many people find preparing food relaxing and meditative, so if you’re not used to it, don’t rule it out! But we’ll get to that in a later post. Right now, you’re in the store and you’re looking for the best food you can find. Look for the organic label or find out if the store has an organic section. (Some stores do and some have started to integrate organic food into their regular food aisles.)

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