Category Archives: Self-Help

My thoughts on the Food Industry

The development and marketing methods of the food industry have drastically changed over the last seventy-five years. The spokes that make up the wheel that is the food industry works together to keep it a billion dollar business and like any business there is pressure for growth and making the bottom line is its main goal. Unfortunately, what suffers is public health.

Source: Guardian UK

With advances in food science companies have the means to pinpoint the exact formulation at which the food product has reached maximum satiety of the general population. It would be a foolish food company that would not create foods to taste as pleasing as possible. By formulating foods this way they are intentionally created to make it easier to overeat (Moss 2013).

While on the GMO front the industry has been pouring millions of dollars to block labeling efforts, the momentum of public awareness is putting pressure on local and state governments to begin labeling initiatives. With increased consumer demand labeling will most likely be required in the next five to ten years. Maine is the most recent state to tackle GMO labeling legislation with it passing in their house. Although it is a small victory since the bill will also have to pass in their senate and a final vote in the house (Stone 2013).

The states that have instituted ag gag laws are doing so under pressure of the businesses that supply food, by prosecuting whistleblowers there will effectively be no regulation changes in animal agriculture processes. Since the animal agriculture industry is largely self-regulated they are not likely to report cases of animal abuse and improper handling that can lead to foodborne illnesses (“PBIS Non Compliance Reports for Plants requested in FOIA 2011B00258 for 03J01 and 04C04 1st Shift Procedures from 3/1/11 B 8/31/11”. Table). One of the largest recalls of beef in U.S. history was the result of an undercover investigation done by an animal welfare group (Martin 2008). The ag gag laws are specifically intended to prohibit these kinds of investigations.

Marketing to children has been an issue since the 1970s. With a government that will support the industry it has been difficult to make sufficient change. While the industry has made some improvements in marketing to children on television there is less incentive to restrict online and mobile marketing to children (Nestle 2007).

Works Cited
Martin, Andrew. “Largest Recall of Ground Beef Is Ordered.” The New York Times [New York] 18 Feb. 2008: n. pag. Web. 12 June 2013.

Moss, Michael. Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. New York, NY: Random House, 2013. Print.

Nestle, Marion. Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. 2007 ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007. Print.

“PBIS NonCompliance Reports for Plants requested in FOIA 2011B00258 for 03J01 and 04C04 1st Shift Procedures from 3/1/11 B 8/31/11”. Table. Foodandwaterwatch.org. Foodandwaterwatch.org, n.d. Web. 12 June 2013. <http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/PBISResponseRecords.pdf&gt;.

Stone, Matthew. “Maine House overwhelmingly supports GMO labeling requirement.” Bangor Daily News 11 June 2013: n. pag. Web. 12 June 2013. <http://bangordailynews.com/2013/06/11/politics/maine-house-overwhelmingly-supports-gmo-labeling-requirement/&gt;.

Lessons I learned from my dog

As a lot of you know we really love our dog I mean really, look at this face.

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I think to myself what a life he has and realized how much I have learned from him.

1. Stand your ground: Luke is a very persistent beagle, he knows what he wants (to bark at) and won’t stop until he is sure he has had the last word.

2. Shit happens, kick some dirt over it and keep going: Life is full of crap that may or may not go your way. Accept it, deal with it and then move on.

3. Unconditional love: This is a hard one because sometimes people are hard to love. Loving unconditionally can be looked at as compassion and having compassion is a lot easier than loving the jerk down the street.

4. Resting is important: Sometimes we forget how important a good night’s sleep is, this is the time that our bodies restore and replenish.

5. Loyalty: Being loyal and being there for friends and family when they really need you is what makes life just a little better.

6. Eat like it’s the last meal you will get: OK maybe we shouldn’t eat every meal like it’s the last meal we’ll ever get but we should definitely live each day to its fullest because we really don’t know what the future holds for us.

7. Share your bed: Well, maybe lend a helping hand would be more appropriate. Sometimes we may not like it but we know when it’s right to help someone in need.

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What lessons have you learned from your pets?

Ex-vegans and what does being vegan mean to you?

Today I am writing this from the WordPress app, forgive me if it’s not perfectly formatted.

Over the last few months there has been news about people becoming ex-vegans. When this happens there is a lot of backlash. People get judgmental and all kinds of theories arise as to why they weren’t successful. Yes it sucks when we lose a member of the team. Ultimately though we shouldn’t care about these people as much as we do. I saw a great comment posted to a Jack Norris article that basically said instead of focusing on the ex why don’t we focus on all of the people that went vegan since then. So true.

So let’s focus on what being vegan means to you and why you went vegan. I will start. I am an ex-vegetarian, yep, I am one of those that left the flock, it was around 2000. I was a vegetarian for five years for health reasons, I would pick the pepperoni off the pizza, I didn’t care if it touched (though I never liked pepperoni so maybe not the best example) my food or it was cooked together. That made it very easy to go back to meat and I did for 10 years. Three years ago I did a cleanse that eliminated all animal products and never ate them again. Essentially it started with health and thanks to the Internet and all of the information out there I was armed with a lot more tools this time around.

My health journey then evolved to one of compassion. I learned about our food supply and vegan or not everyone should be concerned about the food supply. The more I learned the more I knew I had made the right decision. I also think it’s important to stress that there was a big learning curve with going vegan. You really have to dig in and do a bit of research to make sure you are meeting your nutritional needs. It’s not difficult but like anything you need the right tools to succeed.

This all lead me to be more active helping animals, and yes I help people too. In the last year we began fostering dogs and that has really been fulfilling. We have been very lucky that we have had some great dogs. The last one we had was the sweetest little guy that we couldn’t believe we had him for two weeks, the others went in one!

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This is what being vegan means to me. What does it mean to you?

Ps: When you find something that is important to you no matter what it is, finding like-minded people will help reinforce, support, educate and hopefully dispel the myths because there can be a lot out there. Don’t be afraid to follow your passions and let others see what is inside of you.

What are you doing?

What are you doing? That’s what I keep asking myself, especially around finals time. I get a kick when people tell me that I don’t like change or take risks… I guess quitting a decent job, ergo a serious lifestyle change, to go back to school full-time to do something completely different doesn’t seem like a change or risky.

"Mountain Climber " by Sura Nualpradid

“Mountain Climber “
by Sura Nualpradid

I don’t have much to write about today. I am prepping for finals and end of term projects. I’ve learned so much since September. I learned that there is a hell of a lot of nutrition information that I don’t know. That there are a lot of people out there that are not ready to make changes – real changes that can be life or death. I see them every week at the hospital I am doing my supervised field experience at.

Change is never easy but when you are ready and see that it can be for the best it can be the most amazing feeling ever. I know that not all change feels like it is for the best, in those situations you have to make the most of it – you know, how you are in charge of your destiny. When I lost a job 2 years ago I decided to volunteer at a local animal shelter –  although that change wasn’t for the best, one of the outcomes was positive.  While I was very fortunate to get a new job within a couple of weeks I am now happy to be back at that shelter.

Now that I think about it losing that job started the trajectory that lead to where I am now, maybe it was the best thing that ever happened to me. So the lesson here is that while you are in the midst of change it may not seem like the right (or sane) place to be, it could be the best thing that ever happens to you.

Since I have been busy with school I don’t have an original recipe to post. I do want to share a wonderful stuffed pepper recipe garnished with shiitake bacon that I used for a demo in one of my culinary courses.  I love the fact that the chef that teaches the class that loves real bacon found this bacon to be “impressive”. Enjoy!

Spicy Vegan Stuffed Pepper with Shiitake Bacon

Source: VegNews Nov 10 2008 (my birthday!)
Recipe by Robin Robertson

Source: VegNews

6 red bell peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 16-ounce can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup tomato salsa
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons minced canned jalapeños
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup apple juice or water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice off the tops of the peppers, reserve and set aside. Remove the seeds and membranes and discard. Plunge peppers into a pot of boiling water and cook until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Remove from the water and drain, cut side down. Chop the pepper tops and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and reserved chopped pepper tops and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the onion mixture with the rice, beans, salsa, peanut butter, jalapeños, parsley, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Mix well.
Fill the pepper cavities evenly with the rice mixture, packing tightly. Place upright in a baking dish. Add the apple juice to the baking dish, cover tightly, and bake until the peppers are tender and the stuffing is hot, about 40 minutes.

Shiitake Bacon

Source: Alex Jamieson

2 cups thinly sliced shiitake caps
3 tablespoons  olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 360 F. In a bowl mix mushrooms with oil and salt, make sure they are all coated well. Spread the sliced shiitake caps on a sheet pan covered with a piece of parchment paper. Bake for 40-50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until crispy. Remove from oven and eat while warm. You can also make this in a dehydrator, I don’t know how long but I would check it after 2 hours.