Oh Snap!

It has been a dream of mine for a long time now to spread the word about healthy, sustainable and ethical eating to everyone – including those that are under a lot of financial stress.  In one of my past posts, I touched on how a family of four on welfare can receive a maximum monthly allotment of $668 leading to an incredibly tight budget.  It is becoming more and more apparent that there are direct correlations between obesity rates, poverty and education levels (link).

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Garnish & Gather – Atlanta’s New Best Friend

So I’ve done posts before of the various avenues you can take to get your hands on some of Georgia’s ethical and sustainable food but Garnish & Gather takes it to a whole new level.   Garnish & Gather works with local farmers to get you the freshest, most humanely raised food straight to your door and then teaches you how to cook it!  Straight from their site, “With Garnish & Gather you are supporting local family farmers, giving back to Atlanta charities, helping local food artisans all while nourishing those you love with honest food. We are here to make a difference, not only in the way we eat but in the way we connect with our foods, our farmers and our community. There is a movement happening all around us. Join us in it.”

This movement is all about community and education.  As I’ve said many times before, it takes work to find out where your food comes from.  Thankfully, Garnish & Gather does the work for you.  Take a look at all the local farms that they work with on a regular basis: http://garnishandgather.com/your-farmers.html.  There’s hard working farmers raising their animals the way that was intended all around us.  We just have to open our eyes and look.

Garnish & Gather allows you to have your meals delivered to your home or place of work or you can pick them up at a variety of locations within Atlanta and the surrounding areas.  If you’re more skilled at cooking or just want some of the basics (bread, milk, cheese, raw meat, etc.) check out their provisions shop to load up on some local goodness. You can even find local sweets, tea, kimchi, vinegar and much more!

Support your local farmer.  Support your local chefs.  Support your local artisans. It’s getting easier and easier by the day, so why not join us?

Titans of the Poultry Industry

Americans love their chicken.  On Superbowl Sunday this year, an estimated 1.25 chicken wings were consumed by Americans.  A couple years ago, chicken surpassed beef as the number 1 meat of choice in the U.S.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service

So what are the real costs associated with this new-found obsession for cheap chicken?

Some of the following descriptions or images may be upsetting or disturbing (they should be).

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Exciting Opportunities for You to Get Involved!

Alright people, I have been wanting to announce these two amazing opportunities for a while now, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t do it too soon!

Georgia Organics 2014 Conference 

At the end of this month on February 21st and 22nd, I will be working at and attending Georgia Organic’s 2014 conference, Green Acres: Saving the Planet One Bite At A Time.  The conference this year is in Jekyll Island at the Jekyll Island Convention Center.  Friday and Saturday will be filled with amazing food, educational workshops, exhibitions by local companies and nonprofits and networking opportunities where you can talk to farmers, activists and others who are just interested in learning more about eating organically, sustainably and ethically!  You can even choose to participate in several farm tours to visit where your food comes from.

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New Year’s Resolutions That Can Really Make a Difference

Who hasn’t made New Year’s resolutions they know they’ll never keep?  Or keep for a month or two and then give up on?  Most of us are guilty of this and it’s nothing to be ashamed of because as this article from the New York Times effectively sums up, we usually make big sweeping promises instead of small changes that we can actually stick to.

I challenge you to make a change that will improve your health, in several ways your wallet, the environment and the welfare of animals.  As always, I challenge you to work towards adopting a more ethical and sustainable diet.  Where do you even start?

Cut back on your meat consumption and eat better quality meat 

In one of my previous posts, I examined the history and health risks of U.S. meat consumption (link).  It’s obvious that over the years Americans have been eating more and poorer quality meat, which just perpetuates the factory farming system.  Ever heard of “Meatless Monday”?  You may scoff at it saying, “I’m not a vegetarian – why go completely meatless??”  The point of this trend is not to turn you into a vegetarian or vegan but to decrease your meat consumption, encourage you to try out recipes you may never have tried before and to make a statement to the factory farming system that hey, we aren’t mindless slaves to your cheap, poor quality product. Check out www.meatlessmonday.com or google “Meatless Monday recipes” for endless recipes you can do at all skill levels.  And hey, cutting out meat for one day a week will save you quite a bit of money and I promise you won’t feel deprived.

 

Get informed on what you’re putting in your mouth 

Thankfully, there is more and more information becoming available to the average consumer about where their food is coming from.  I made a post about how Whole Foods can help you choose ethically with their 5 step animal welfare rating system.  They also list the farms that provide the ethical meat so you can go home and look up the website, see pictures of the farm and learn more about the farmer that raised the meat you are eating for dinner.  I also did a post on the new app from Animal Welfare Approved that helps you decipher definitions of commonly used words like “cage-free” and “naturally raised”.  Spend an extra 5 minutes at the grocery store to see what you’re actually paying more money for.  Is it legitimately humane and sustainable or is this particular company taking advantage of you and charging you more for an inferior product.

 

Cook more at home 

Everyone knows that cooking at home rather than going out to eat is more economical.  But, cooking at home has also been proven to increase happiness.  Feeling accomplished when a certain recipe turns out great or having fun with your significant other or your kids while trying out a new recipe is an amazing feeling.  Also, cooking more at home will allow you to save money from going out and use that to spend more on better quality meat.  Imagine having a grass-fed steak at home for a fraction of the price you would pay for a corn-fed, factory farmed steak at say Longhorn?  Check out my post about a few places to buy ethically raised meat in Georgia.

 

When you do eat out, support local and ethical eateries 

Everyone wants to go out and be waited on once in a while.  Or eat something you’d never cook for yourself at home (say fried chicken).  I’ve done posts on both Farm Burger and Bantam and Biddy, but there are tons of places in and around Atlanta to go.  Moxie Burger in Marietta offers White Oak Pastures lamb, Yeah! Burger has White Oak Pastures beef, Ormby’s has Eden Farm’s pork chops, 5 Seasons offers several ethical choices, and really I could go on forever.  Many restaurants in the area are utilizing local farms produce and meat and more are popping up every month.   Not only are you supporting a local Georgia business but also the ethical eating movement.

 

Visit a local farm 

Spend a weekend to go out and actually visit a farm from where your food comes from!  It’ll help you connect the entire process and you’ll get a chance to ask questions, learn more about your farmers and maybe even buy some farm fresh products!  White Oak Pastures even has a restaurant on property where you can eat amazing meals cooked with ingredients from 50 feet away.  Check out one of my earlier posts to see a list of just some of the amazing farms that Georgia has to offer.

 

Whether you choose to accept one or more of these New Year’s resolutions, it’s all about the journey.  Make 2014 a year of ethical eating!

10 Easy Ways to Vote with Your Fork

So I’ve been looking through some old literature I’ve kept about eating ethically and locally and ran across Georgia Organic’s “Local Food Guide” from 2011 – 2012. This guide is amazing. It gives information on farms, restaurants and co-ops around the state, gives definitions of all those confusing terms I always talk about and has lots of good suggestions on how to participate in the local food scene.  I dont know if there are any more copies in circulation but I would be happy to make copies for anyone interested – just let me know!

At the end of the guide they give 10 easy ways to vote with your fork and I will share those with you now:

1. Eat low on the food and marketing chain by buying direct from farmers.

2. Stick with organic or sustainably-grown produce when possible. Mounting scientific studies show that organic foods have more of the good stuff like antioxidants, vitamins, beneficial nutrients and less of the bad stuff like carcinogens and pesticides.

3. Shop at farmets markets.

4. Join CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). This is a type of subscription to a weekly box/bag of fruits, veggies and meats procured by a local farmer.

5. Eat at restaurants that procure from and support local farmers.

6. Ask for it at grocery stores. (Added side note: My local Publix now offers Applegate Farms lunchmeat and sliced cheeses and by continually buying it, I have seen them add products by Applegate over the past few months)

7. Look to community gardens for finding and growing local foods.

8. Grow your own. It doesnt take much space to grow herbs and vegetables.

9. Cook a meal for a neighbor or family member using only local ingredients and show them how delicious and easy it is to do it.

10. Shop smart. Read labels, and if you find an ingredient you are unsure of, look it up. And if you cant pronounce it, you probably shouldnt be eating it.

Food Labels Exposed App

It’s been a crazy couple of months in my personal life which has taken time away from blogging but I’m back with this short, sweet blogpost about this new and exciting app from Animal Welfare Approved (AWA).  If you’re unfamiliar with AWA, they are a great nonprofit that “audits, certifies, and supports farmers raising their animals according to the highest welfare standards, outdoors on pasture or range. Called a badge of honor for farmers, AWA is the most highly regarded food label in North America when it comes to animal welfare, pasture-based farming and sustainability.” Be sure to look for their label (shown below) at your local grocery store.

Now that you know who AWA is, back to their newest achievement – their Food Labels Exposed app which is available for free on iPhone and Android devices. This app is amazing! It provides definitions that anyone can understand for over 80 common food terms and claims. In previous posts, I’ve explained how confusing the factory food system can be to navigate and how it’s designed that way. What exactly does cage-free mean?  What does pasture-raised mean? Sometimes these words sound great but don’t mean squat when it comes to the welfare of the animal.  This app can help you determine whether the product you’re being is just trying to make you spend more thinking you’re doing something sustainable and ethical when you’re not.

Many terms such as “natural” and “humane” are not federally regulated and are thrown around all the time by big ag (big agriculture/factory farms) because it’s become trendy. This app will tell you if the term is regulated or not and cite the official source if it is.

The AWA Program Director Andrew Gunther puts it plainly, “Sadly, as consumer concern about the impact of intensive farming on our health and the environment has grown, so has the number of dishonest health, animal welfare or environmental claims being made about food products.”  (stated in AWA’s press release on September 12th, 2013)

If you own an iPhone or an Android Smartphone, download this FREE app today and use it in the grocery store, at restaurants and anytime you are confused about the information you’re being given about the products you’re buying.  Educating yourself is the first step and this app makes it so much easier and saves a ton of time.

The Vegan and the Livestock Farmers

I’ve spoken previously about Vital Awareness, a local nonprofit committed to educating the public about the consequences of factory farming.  They also support and promote farmers and growers who produce food humanely and sustainably.

This week’s blogpost is by one of Vital Awareness’ founders, Gillian – also known as The Activist.  I think it describes pretty perfectly how many vegans and ethical eaters are trying to accomplish the same goal of ending factory farming as it is and to stop the suffering of farm animals.  Together, we can make a difference.

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Chipotle’s Factory Farming Videos

Chipotle has come out with two videos showing the horror of factory farming and how there is hope for the future if people educate themselves and make a change.  These videos are done in a cartoon-y style which is incredibly imaginative.  Willie Nelson sings a cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” in the first video and it is incredibly moving and the lyrics really speak to the content in many ways.  Fiona Apple does a haunting cover of “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka.  It is crazy how the lyrics really could apply to the video’s content.

Please watch these videos, share them with your friends if you’d like.  Remember that change starts with you.

Video #1:

Video # 2:

Bull Runs and the Dangers & Ethics Associated

Spain is notorious for their bull fighting and bull runs. Some argue it is part of their culture. My question to you in this blogpost is, does your culture come before your ethics?

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