Thursday, June 28, 2012

Waste Not, Want Not

I've been thinking about my Grandpa a lot lately.  He died May 24th, 2010 and was my very first cooking buddy.  It was the Extreme Couponing that brought on the nostalgia.  Born in 1925, my grandfather soldiered through the Great Depression.  He sold fruits and vegetables on the streets in Brooklyn as a little boy and, needless to say, was the first to tell me I couldn't leave the table until my plate was clean.  He didn't waste anything.  Everything was used until there was nothing left.  That went for clothing, technology, or even sauce on your plate.

Now, as an adult, I look at my life and can't help but think he would be ashamed of me.  I take everything I have for granted. I go grocery shopping and then decide I don't like anything I bought, so I buy more (and waste more).  Reducing what I use is good for me, but doesn't help all the guilt-inducing thoughts: the have-nots that are all too prevalent in our country now.  I'd really like to start a food donation box in my apartment building, but have no idea where to begin.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cookies and Rainbows

Sounds like everything awesome in the world, right?  That's because it is.  Yesterday Oreo posted this picture on their facebook wall:
Nabisco is one of an all too small group of companies showing support for marriage equality.  They're also one of the companies currently under fire for their political stance.  Here I thought that cookies could only inspire anger in dieters and diabetics, but the number of hateful posts that Oreo received yesterday is truly shameful.  I don't want to get preachy on my blog.  That's not my goal.  I was raised a staunch Catholic and every Sunday I remember hearing Jesus' word of love.  And in Catechism class I remember learning not only the ever popular, "Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself" but the seemingly forgotten "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."

Remember: " others as well as you love yourself."  Spreading hate speaks volumes of your own feelings of inadequacy.  And always "Judge not, lest ye be judged."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Extreme Couponing

I've been watching TLC's show "Extreme Couponing" and I can't help but feel that if the government would just employ these OCD people, we could feed the entire country.  My mind boggles when I see their totals go from $1000+ to under $10.  I have a hard enough time getting my lunch total under $12.  Clearly I need to work on my savings.


I will be fishing through my Sunday paper and trying to figure out a way to save money while simultaneously eating right.  Oy, I might have just bit off more than I can chew.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

File This Under: Health

Ogilvy Thailand created this PSA to make smokers think about their choices.
I love how the tables turn on the smokers as they try to educate the children.  As a little girl, I watched my grandfather die of lung cancer.  I vowed, at three years old, to never smoke -- and I haven't!  It's baffling that people privy to the inevitable painful demise of smokers should purchase their own death.  I've never understood it, so I asked a smoker friend why they started when they knew what it would do.  "Because my friends were doing it," he answered.

Pardon me while I explode.

To relate this to food, it is very important to take social aspects into consideration when pondering health issues.  You cook (if you do cook) what your family made.  You learn your eating habits from them.  Then you go out with friends and choose food that will please your conditioned palate.  Your friend orders a drink, so you order a drink.  Your friend lights up a cigarette, so you light one up or take a drag or simply stand outside and suck up the secondhand smoke.   But this isn't a tirade against smokers.  Diets, for example, work much better when you're not the only one on them.  (Misery loves company.)  The same holds for exercise routines. 

It is much easier to be motivated when you're not alone.  We are such social creatures.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mmm Mmm Monday: Milk Designs!

This is amazingly awesome.  Anke Domaske, a German Fashion Design/Scientist, has created a new natural fiber cloth from milk.  The process involves no pesticides, no chemicals, and takes only an hour to create.  Environmentally friendly AND it's super soft.  Plus it's cheaper to create than silk, though prices are still relatively high ($186-377).

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A litle bit of awesome for your day

I love love love this graphic!  Thank you to the artist (Aaron Kuehn) and School of Fail for hosting it.  I'm going to go study the skeleton.  No bones about it!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Food Where It's Needed

A few years ago I spent a bulk of my free time in Bed Stuy.  While it wasn't the most glamorous of neighborhoods, we made do with what was available.  I remember the first time I ever walked down Myrtle Avenue, I turned to my then-boyfriend and said, "I've never seen so many fried chicken restaurants."  Literally every block had one.  Every restaurant featured fried food.  I don't remember ever seeing a sandwich shop or anything remotely fresh available.  I do seem to remember an incident of the accidental purchase of rotten apples from the one grocery store in the neighborhood.

This is why I was so excited when I came across the Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger (BSCAH).  "In 2011 [the] SuperPantry served over 1.2 million meals to the hungry families of New York City. [They] serviced all Boroughs and neighborhoods, and currently over 11,000 unduplicated clients shop at [their] pantry each month, with more people joining [the] pantry every day." 

 Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Besides offering food to the hungry, BSCAH also offers educational support, which really makes the difference.  They help members with resume writing, job referrals, computer and interview training, GED preparation, and college advisement. 

BSCAH performs health screenings for high blood pressure, blood sugar, and HIV as those with poor diets who cannot afford to see a doctor are at the highest risk for unchecked obesity, diabetes, and other associated complications.

On top of all this, they have a farm where they produce 2500 lbs.of fresh produce.  They really do it all.

They have entered "Twive and Receive" a fundraising fundraiser!  The top 3 fundraisers get a bonus share of $30,000 on top of the money they raised.  You might have noticed a new button on my sidebar.

I'd like to help BSCAH and I hope you will too!  Click the button on my page or here to donate through the website. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Debate Abounds over Bloomberg Ban

Last week's announcement by Mayor Bloomberg about new soda restrictions in New York City has the entire country aflame.  Having heard nothing but arguments against the proposed policy, I thought I'd take a stab at playing devil's advocate.

First, the government should not get to choose what I put into my body.
Here's where we need to clarify.  The bill put forth by Mayor Bloomberg does not ban soda.  The bill limits the vessel in which soda can be sold by fast food companies, movie theaters, and restaurants.  You can still go to the supermarket and buy 2 liters of Coca Cola.  You can still run to 7-11 and buy a Big Gulp.  You can still buy 2 or more drinks to get as much soda as you want.  Heck, the bill doesn't even cover free refills.  He's not taking away your right to drink as much sugary nonsense as you want.  He's telling the companies that they have to be more responsible about what they sell consumers: just like how food sellers have to provide a list of ingredients, nutrition facts, or even, simply, safe products.

And food sellers feel the threat.  Pepsico does not care about your health problems.  In fact, the more people in the country who have diabetes, the higher their profits (since sugary drinks are the #1 contributor of calories to the American Diet.)  Coca Cola went so far as to run this full pull page advertisement in the New York Times (pictured above) to smear the mayor's efforts.  They don't want you drinking less soda, so they'll frame this as an attack on your personal liberties rather than their business.

Let's pause now for a brief anatomy lesson.  The human adult stomach has a capacity of 32 ounces.  That means if you don't eat anything else, you can fit one large McDonald's soda in your stomach (which will then take 2 hours to leave said organ).  But people don't do that.  The soda accompanies their food and if you're drinking a large beverage, chances are you have a large order of fries sitting next to you.  Never mind the fat, never mind the sodium, the sheer amount of food and drink you are stuffing into your body is more than it can handle, causing the stomach to stretch beyond its capacity.  Stretch your stomach often enough and you will no longer feel that you are overeating.  Your stomach gets used to taking in massive amounts of food and you feel full later and later into a meal, making overeating par for the course and directly contributing to obesity.

Moreover, the decisions you make do not only affect yourself.  For instance, this newest crop of adults is the first generation to grow up "without mothers".  We are the first kids to grow up on Burger King diets because mom and dad both worked and there was no time or energy for anyone to cook.  I was taught how to cook when I was 7, so there was always someone around to make dinner, but I was the only one of my friends with that sort of lifestyle.  Every one else had parents who bought dinner every single night.  We are the first generation who, as a whole, did not grow up eating right, who did not learn how to cook.  Aside from a smattering of people here and there, my Facebook profile is inundated with friends who never cook.  They don't know how and they have no desire to learn.  My mom always said, after cooking a big dinner for the whole family, "Food tastes better when someone else has to make it."

We've created these lives that are unsustainable.  It is just about inconceivable nowadays to have one partner out of work voluntarily.  The days of the stay-at-home mom are over and replaced with a society of people who have to work their fingers to the bone just to get by.  I don't blame them for coming home and wanting someone else to cook.  I feel the same way, but I always (grudgingly) get it done.  Businesses will never self-regulate and people don't make good decisions when they're so exhausted, so the only answer seems to be to force a healthier choice.

How, exactly, will this work?  57% of hamburger business (Burger King, McDonalds, etc.) is conducted at the drive thru.  A whopping 12.4 billion fast food transactions occurred at the drive-thru window in 2011 alone.  With this new policy, that means 12.4 billion meals with a downsized drink.  Assuming people are not interested in buying more cups than they have cup holders, that would be at least a 180 calorie decrease per transaction or 2.232 billion calories cut (that is a very rough estimate though since not all transactions will have had a drink and some will have had multiple drinks while still more will have had diet drinks with no sugar in them).

The scary part is that I'm friends with people, with babies, who don't cook.  What chance does that child have if it's eating garbage every day?

It's a slippery slope to a dictatorship.
In the realm of public health, there has to be restrictions.  In 2002, reforms were put in place that banned smoking in public areas such as restaurants.  Within 9 years, the number of smokers in New York City declined from 22% to 14%, a decrease of 450,000 adults.  People fought that policy.  They used the same argument then as they do with this issue.  And that was even more of an "attack" on personal liberties since it did affect where you could use a product.  Looking back, does anyone miss walking into smoke-filled restaurants, choking on the smell of tar and nicotine?  The US also has one of the highest drinking ages in the entire world.  But that's not the federal government being a nanny.  All 50 states agreed individually to this drinking age because too many young people were dying.  The drinking age was raised in 1984.  The government did not go on a tear, stripping citizens of their rights. That's not what America is about-- and that's not how you get re-elected.  We saw a problem and fixed it as best we could.  That is what this new policy is.

Without government intervention, companies would still be able to sell us mystery meats and contaminated products while us work in unsafe conditions.

I'm not suggesting it is the company's duty to fix the nation's waistline.  Business is business.  You don't want to lose customers or profits.  At the same time, people are not making healthy choices and it's costing the nation $147 billion annually to pay for obesity-related health care issues.  We're already in a multi-trillion dollar debt.  Let's "trim the fat" where we can.  This is a public health crisis and something needs to be done.

Stomach Wiki
The Gazette
Washington Post
Washington Square News

Photo Source:

Monday, June 4, 2012

5th Avneue Festival!

It's summer, which means street festivals in Brooklyn.  Yesterday, I stumbled into the 5th Avenue Festival in Bay Ridge.  Local vendors and store owners came out and displayed their wares.  They were selling everything: jewelry, handbags, clothes, plastic swords -- I even saw a guy taking a nap in a Thor helmet.   Since it's a street festival, it's free to wander around and the prices on everything were so reasonable.  The most expensive vendor I saw was the perfume stand (at $20+).  I picked up a mini poster for $4 and noticed the stand was selling prints I've seen at big chain stores, but for 75% less than the "big names".  I'm down with saving money.

Anyway, I specifically wandered through to check out the food situation.  There were a lot of sausage trucks, fried calamari, and corn on the cob (which was sadly one of the healthiest thing I saw at the festival).  Rocco's Pizzeria was hosting a pizza eating contest, the thought of which makes my lunch want to come back for an encore.

I was intrigued when I saw fruit sitting on this stand.  This is a crepe station and the fruit was for fresh smoothies.  I so wish I hadn't eaten before heading out to do chores.
There were also multiple bands playing on different sections and some stands talking about health.  I saw a chiropractic station, a group raising money for diabetes awareness, and this band that, apparently, had something to do with Pancreatic Cancer.  I didn't hear the introduction, but they did a mean rendition of "Downtown", which made me happy.

My local farmer's market is opening up so I'll be writing about that next week.  What else should I check out in Brooklyn?