How Bad is What We’re Eating, Anyway?

Relatives,

Food safety and security is finally on almost everyone’s radar.

I hope you’ll take time to check out Food Inc. and Hungry For Change. These marvelous young people have done a great job of providing the rest of us with the facts and opportunities to take action at home, in our communities, our countries and with our relatives across the earth.

The more we share our good works and inform each other, the sooner we’ll all have access to clean, healthy foods. … so please share this!

All My Relations
Gramma Willi

Email Gramma Willi Post Your Comments

Good Food For Everyone!

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Food Inc – The Movie
http://www.foodincmovie.com/

Food, Inc. exposes the highly mechanized north american food industry, that often puts profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of farmers, the safety of workers and our environment. The film reveals surprising—and often shocking truths—about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become and where we are going from here.

Hungry For Change – the Blog
http://www.takepart.com/news/tag/hungry-for-change/

Food, Inc. exposes America’s industrialized food system and its effect on our environment, health, economy and workers’ rights. Learn about these issues and take action through the Hungry For Change cafeteria and check out the 10 Simple Tips for making positive changes in your eating habits. Learn more about these issues and how you can take action on Takepart.com.

Here are some excerpts from the Food Inc. web site:

About the issues

Find organic, local foods
Sustainable foods can be found in your community by purchasing organic and/or locally grown produce and products. It’s easy to find farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture programs, restaurants and more with the user-friendly Eat Well Guide. Simply type in your zip code to find out what’s in season near you.

Diabetes and Obesity
High calorie, sugar laden processed foods coupled with our sedentary lifestyles is growing our waistlines and contributing to serious health issues like diabetes, heart ailments and cancers. One-third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Tell Congress that kids should be served healthy meals, not soda and junk food.

Factory farming
Approximately 10 billion animals (chickens, cattle, hogs, ducks, turkeys, lambs and sheep) are raised and killed in the US annually. Nearly all of them are raised on factory farms under inhumane conditions. These industrial farms are also dangerous for their workers, pollute surrounding communities, are unsafe to our food system and contribute significantly to global warming.

Pesticides
Cancers, autism and neurological disorders are associated with the use of pesticides especially amongst farm workers and their communities. Learn about what pesticides are in your food and their effects.

Environmental Impact
Did you know that the average food product travels about 1,500 miles to get to your grocery store? And that transporting food accounts for 30,800 tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year?

The Global Food Crisis
Approximately 1 billion people worldwide do not have secure access to food, including 36 million in the US. National and international food and agricultural policies have helped to create the global food crisis but can also help to fix the system.

Genetic Engineering
Some of our most important staple foods have been fundamentally altered, and genetically engineered meat and produce have already invaded our grocery stores and our kitchen pantries.

Farm Worker Protection
Farm workers are the backbone of our agricultural industry, bringing fresh food everyday to our tables. They deserve basic workplace protections like good wages, access to shade and water.

Cloning
In January 2008, the FDA approved the sale of meat and milk from cloned livestock, despite the fact that Congress voted twice in 2007 to delay FDA’s decision on cloned animals until additional safety and economic studies could be completed.

….

10 simple things you can do to change our food system:
Learn more about these issues and how you can take action on Takepart.com

1 Stop drinking sodas and other sweetened beverages.
You can lose 25 lbs in a year by replacing one 20 oz soda a day with a no calorie beverage (preferably water).

2 Eat at home instead of eating out.
Children consume almost twice (1.8 times) as many calories when eating food prepared outside the home.

3 Support the passage of laws requiring chain restaurants to post calorie information on menus and menu boards.
Half of the leading chain restaurants provide no nutritional information to their customers.

4 Tell schools to stop selling sodas, junk food, and sports drinks.
Over the last two decades, rates of obesity have tripled in children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years.

5 Meatless Mondays—Go without meat one day a week.

6 Buy organic or sustainable food with little or no pesticides.
According to the EPA, over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the U.S.

7 Protect family farms; visit your local farmer’s market.
Farmer’s markets allow farmers to keep 80 to 90 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer.

8 Make a point to know where your food comes from—READ LABELS.
The average meal travels 1500 miles from the farm to your dinner plate.

9 Tell Congress that food safety is important to you.
Each year, contaminated food causes millions of illnesses and thousands of deaths in the U.S.

10 Demand job protections for farm workers and food processors, ensuring fair wages and other protections.
Poverty among farm workers is more than twice that of all wage and salary employees.

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Good Food For Everyone!

Email Gramma Willi Post Your Comments

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2010 is here… Happy New Year!

Now that I survived the last decade (and come to think of it, nearly 6 decades), I know that one of the most important things that I’ve learned is to be grateful.

I am grateful that I am part of the communications revolution – 10 years ago it wasn’t so easy to set up a blog and reach millions!

I am grateful that the big economic collapse didn’t mean we’d all starve, and that it woke so many of us up to what’s really important in life… living a good life!

I am grateful that my last new Year’s resolution (to do and be the best that I can) taught me two important things. First, to take it easy on myself and lastly, to pay far less attention to unsolicited opinions and advice from others, however well meaning that they may be. In the end, knowing that I did the best that I could within my own strengths and limitations, is always enough.

Happy New Year – Enjoy the ride!
Good Clean Food for Everyone!

All My Relations,
Gramma Willi
December 31, 2010

Good Clean Food For Everyone! The Food Security Revolution and Environmental Health

by Gramma Willi

Relatives – like so many of us, I find myself more and more pleased that being an activist has become an easier road to walk. Victories for human rights and for the Earth increase in number and significance and we hear about them sooner than we used to. Everyone’s talking about green jobs. Our hopes are up, we may actually have an activist leading the free world – Yes We Can! It’s quite a time to be a part of it all, isn’t it?

One of my favorite stories about the changes in public attitude towards environment and health concerns feeding our children. So much has changed in my lifetime. As a young mother, it was almost impossible to find, let alone afford, organic baby food; it was tricky to find a place to breast-feed a baby in peace. These days, parents can find a wide variety of organic baby foods and formula in almost any supermarket; my grand-babies were all breast-fed (even the twins!) and fed organic baby foods. Now that the monopolies have more “natural” offerings available to consumers, are we happy with the production? Is there a next step that we need to take?

IICPH (International Institute of Concern for Public Health), whom I have worked with for many years, has a stellar reputation for providing independent, thoughtful analysis and corroborating community environmental health concerns. Most of our works for communities report on contamination of the air, land and water. It has always given me sadness when we report arsenic, tritium, mercury, lead or other highly damaging pollution where people have food gardens or farms. Food discussions at our youth and elder gatherings took on sad notes when realizing how very careful we must be where we grow our food, where it comes from and how it is prepared. We can make sensible choices when we consider our health.

The good news is, learning to choose, grow and cook good food provides not only sound environmental education, but when applied, benefits everyone’s health and saves people money! The truth is out there, people want clean food and groups like IICPH are uniquely positioned to help them to learn about it. Never has environmental health education been more timely and important… and good food is a delicious place to focus.

Perhaps the silver lining of the economic collapse is that the cards are on the table. Finally, the voices of old hippies and tireless activists are welcome and needed. The public continues to become informed and grows in wisdom as the next generation begins making its mark in history books and business reports. Let’s fill their bellies and minds with good things.

Remember that I love you

All My Relations,

Gramma Willi

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Gramma Willi has been working with IICPH since 1997. Expressions of her dedication to the clean food revolution can be found at http://roughtimes.ca and http://YouTube.com/roughtimescooking.

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Here are a few more resources to get you started if you want to do more about clean food:

http://www.foodsecurity.org/
The Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC)
is a non-profit 501(c)(3), North American organization dedicated to building strong, sustainable, local and regional food systems that ensure access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food for all people at all times.

http://www.toronto.ca/health/tfpc_index.htm
Toronto Food Policy Council
, 277 Victoria Street, Suite 203, Toronto, Ontario M5B 1W1l: Wayne ““Taking control of our food” Roberts, Project Co-ordinator: 416-338-7937. Friends of Toronto Food Policy Council is on Facebook.
Their aim “is a food system that fosters equitable food access, nutrition, community development and environmental health.

http://www.foodsecuritynews.com/Resources.htm
The Food Security Network of Newfoundland and Labrador
have a great page full of links to action going on all over!

Please email to Gramma Willi if you know of any more independent and reliable resources to help our Rough Times mission:

Good Clean Food For Everyone!

Published in: on November 17, 2009 at 2:00 PM  Leave a Comment  
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SPIN-farming – Let’s Grow Our Own Food

The info in this article for city and town folk who want to buy local or farm their own Small Plot Intensive (SPIN) food is a beautiful gift – they’ve even considered how to minimize pollution! I hope that some of you take the opportunity to try it out… and share your stories with us.

Good Clean Food for Everyone!

SPIN Farming and Soup Service Are Yielding Profits

by Elaine Morin; Alternatives Magazine, 35:1 (2009); www.alternativesjournal.ca.

What happens when food production moves to the city and downsizes in the process? Wally Satzewich and Gail Vandersteen of Wally’s Urban Market Garden, a Saskatoon farming operation, are showing that some 30 backyard plots totaling less than half a hectare can be as profitable as, and more ecologically sustainable than, their old eight-hectare agribusiness in rural Saskatchewan. The program they’ve developed, Small Plot Intensive or SPIN farming, aims to maximize crop yields of smaller gardens. “The key,” Satzewich says, “is to produce high-quality niche crops.” The enterprising duo grows garlic, spinach, salad greens and other produce, which they sell at city markets and to local restaurants. Reduced transportation costs and less food spoilage help boost profits, as does their low overhead since they have no tractor or paid work crews. Another advantage of co-opting backyard gardens is that many urban homeowners don’t have time to till, and will often rent their backyards for little or no fee.

“One acre [less than half a hectare] is about the right size for one couple to farm,” says Satzewich, who has no plans to expand. “You can always intensify production, if necessary.”

With the majority of Canadians living in cities, urban agriculture makes sense. Shrinking the distance between food production and markets means fewer trucks on the road and thus fewer carbon emissions. At a time when most food travels vast distances to get to the table, local food production can drastically cut the need for processing, packaging, refrigeration and hauling. And local, just-produced food can be fresher too, an important benefit.

Market gardens scattered throughout the inner-city, on abandoned lots for instance, can improve air quality and help offset urban heat buildup. Captured rain and wastewater, if deemed safe, can be used in place of treated municipal water, and organic solid waste can be composted to fertilize crops. And then there’s the issue of food security. More local agriculture reduces dependence on uncertain global food and fuel supplies.

Small-scale farming has its challenges. Urban gardens compete with municipalities for freshwater supplies. Rain and wastewater can help, but must be free of toxins. Abandoned lots must also be cleared of contamination before food crops are grown. And uncertain tenure on abandoned lots and borrowed backyards makes long-term projects a challenge. Satzewich’s and Vandersteen’s success comes from competence, dedication and hard work, but what they produce is a drop in the bucket beside the capacity of massive agribusiness. Still, city gardens have a long precedent and small plots are plentiful. Toronto’s Annex Organics, for instance, uses a warehouse roof for its garden.

A commercial market garden within Calgary would be a boon to Carmie Nearing’s business. A professional chef and owner of Spoon Fed Soup Company, Nearing uses local organic ingredients as often as possible, but with growing demand for her soups, it’s not always easy to find suppliers. In the last five years her company has burgeoned from a tiny home operation to a viable, thriving business. “At each step of the way, I’ve thought long and hard about how to expand,” says Nearing. For instance, she’s kept her original mandate to minimize the size of the area she services. She delivers her soup three times a week, up from once weekly, and only to inner-city Calgary addresses. And on one delivery day, soup will one day be shuttled to downtown customers via cargo bicycle.

In the beginning, Nearing developed recipes in her inner-city home kitchen, peddling them to friends and neighbours. She then borrowed a catering company’s kitchen, producing soups on weekends and delivering Mondays. Since then, she’s moved to a brand new kitchen. As the scale of her operation has increased, Nearing has worked hard to uphold the same principles of sustainability. For instance, she still uses one-litre canning jars, and the $1 deposit encourages a high rate of return. Though she’s careful about expansion, Nearing expects to make her soups available at two local food markets.

Can local, small-scale food producers replace massive agribusinesses and factory-food manufacturers? For a generation habituated to fast-food joints and big-box supermarkets, and with little knowledge of gardening, it’s hard to imagine. Yet the benefits of local food production are difficult to ignore. Interestingly, Satzewich and Vandersteen have been welcoming interns to their operation, some of them families with young children. Interns provide manual labour in exchange for learning the techniques of small-plot farming. Perhaps for the next generation, a major shift is on its way.

Elaine Morin is a Calgary-based freelance writer and recipient of the 2007 Brenda Strathern Writing Prize. She has been frequenting inner-city markets since she was four years old.

Start your own SPIN-farm! Check out http://www.spinfarming.com for do-it-yourself guidelines and examples of several SPIN cities and neighbourhoods. Visit http://www.cityfarmer.org and http://www.metrofarm.com to plug into urban agriculture communities from coast to coast. And if you live or work in Calgary, don’t forget to visit http://www.spoonfedsoup.com to order a healthy and sustainable soup-lunch.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. If you buy the cheese and pasta on sale, it actually costs less per serving than packaged noodles with cheese powder, cooks almost as quickly, tastes better and is a lot better for you.

2 – 3 C. pasta (macaroni, rotini, shells, etc.)
2 – 3 T. cooking oil
1 C. cold water
2 – 4 T. flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. ketchup
1/4 pound cheddar cheese, grated

Cook the pasta until almost tender, drain. Put a little cooking oil in the pot, add the pasta and toss to coat. Put the cold water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Mix the flour, salt and pepper with a little more cool water in a jar, mix in the ketchup, and add this mixture to the boiling water. Cook, stirring every few minutes, until thickened, add grated cheese (reserve some for the topping) and stir constantly until cheese has melted – don’t let the sauce burn! Stir most of the cheese sauce into the pasta to coat it evenly. Place pasta in a baking dish (glass is best) pour the rest of the cheese sauce over the top, sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese. Bake in a 350ºF oven for 20 – 30 minutes. Serve hot.
Hints: Use good olive oil or margarine to coat the pasta if you have it. Using fancy pasta like rotini, fusili or shells gives that “gourmet touch” for the same money (but most kids just love old fashioned macaroni).
Suggestions: Mix chopped tomatoes, green pepper, frozen vegetables into the pasta mix before placing in baking dish. Double the recipe and freeze individual or family portions for quick meals on busy nights.

Apple Crumble

Rough Times Cookbook Recipes

This dessert smells and tastes like apple pie, but is a lot quicker and easier to make. It’s one of my standard contributions to pot luck dinners and “emergency” fancy dinners when unexpected hungry guests drop in.


Filling:
5-6 large apples, washed, cored and diced or thinly sliced
cinnamon and brown sugar to taste

Crumb topping mixture:
2 C. whole wheat flour
1 C. rolled oats
1-2 tsp. cinnamon, to taste
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (optional)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4-1 1/2 C. brown sugar (depends on sweetness of the apples and your taste)
3/4-1 C margarine or butter

Lightly grease a regular sized cake pan or small casserole dish.
Mix the dry crumb topping ingredients really well with a fork in a large bowl. Cut in the margarine or butter with the fork and mix until crumbs are even sizes, not too large. Spread 1/3 of the crumb topping mixture on the bottom of the pan, press down with the fork; top with the chopped/sliced apples and sprinkle them lightly with a little cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar.
Add the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the apples, pressing lightly with the fork, especially in corners. Bake at 350ºF for 40 minutes to 1 hour (until it smells just right the apples are nice and soft and the topping is golden brown).
Serve as is or with whipped, thick or ice cream (Maritimers will probably enjoy a little canned milk on top.)

Hints: You can use white sugar if you have no brown; add a little extra cinnamon to improve the flavor… this makes a great breakfast in a bowl topped with yogurt or heated with warm milk. A great way to use up apples that are past their prime; no one will notice wrinkled skins or little bruises once the apples are all baked and smelling soooo good – I promise! This recipe is easy to double or triple.
Variations: You can vary this recipe by adding dried raisins, currants, fresh or dried cranberries, even frozen fruit like strawberries to the filling. Add flaked coconut, sunflower seeds or other nuts to the crumble topping for a nice texture, flavor and extra protein.

Want to Survive the Rough Times? Think About Home Cooking

Gramma Willi’s Random Blogging

February 26, 2009

I’m getting excited about the changes all over the world, and I love this feeling. People are waking up all over, they are thinking about what they see and hear. They seem less afraid; maybe that’s because it’s so much easier to find out information on just about anything.

Wikipedia, activist blogs, alternative media, comment pages, all of these give us opinions that challenge – or increasingly, fit in with – what the governments and multinational media are saying. The climate is changing and so are we.

How will YOU survive this change? Gramma Willi says, let’s get back to the basics and let’s start with the food we eat.

I wrote the Rough Times Cookbook to open a door to stopping hunger and poverty, because it can be done. More than anything, it takes a change in thinking.

Think about processed food – just add water, microwave for 5 minutes, buy 2 hormone burgers for a dollar, try our special combo. “Supersize Me!” by Michael Moore tells the story in an hour and a half nutshell. That stuff will make you very sick very fast and can even kill you.

Think about home cooking – flour, baking powder, beans, that roast in the freezer, the taste of tomatoes in summer, the mouth-watering smell of a real slow-cooked stew, home made bread.

Think about the cost of cheap processed food compared to the stuff that takes a little time and care to cook.

Think about the garbage, chemical additives, pesticides, genetically engineered Frankenstein foods from factory farms.

There is is better way to eat and it should cost you less money, taste a lot better and leave the earth a whole lot better off.

If you’re already a convert, do me a favor. Have more dinner parties, lunch parties, feasts. We need to feed the people good food so that they know what it is and learn how to do it themselves.

Young people love eating and they love learning how to cook. It’s almost become a lost art. But we can change this, just like we worked together and changed the color of the President of the United States of America. Our youth are watching.

Good Food for everybody! Yes We Can!

All My Relations

Rough Times Cookbook

RoughTimesCookbook.jpgAbout The Book

ROUGH TIMES COOKBOOK: How to Cook, Eat and Shop on a Low Budget. By Willi Nolan

Written by a former welfare mother and legendary human rights activist, Nolan’s cookbook is a labor of love and a chance to help low income people to eat well for life. People on the smallest budgets will find ways to stretch their food dollars and make delicious, gourmet-quality, quick and easy, meals at home with this timely, simply written book. Sure-to-become a kitchen classic, The Rough Times Cookbook teaches common sense, tried and true ways to shop on a budget, stock a kitchen, store good food and eat healthier.

Although it was written to meet the needs of people who live on very low incomes, anyone who wants to eat well and still have money left to enjoy life will appreciate The Rough Times Cookbook’s no-nonsense approach to eating and living well. Drawing from grandmothers, students, and single parents, The Rough Times Cookbook gives plenty of great tasting, inexpensive and nutritious recipes, from main dishes and soups to quick breads and desserts using ingredients found in most kitchens.

Its great combination of home-style and unique recipes include low meat, no meat, East Coast, Asian, Jewish, wartime and Native Indian cookery. An entire “Meatless Meals” section is devoted to vegans and vegetarians. The thought-provoking section on “Healthy Foods” takes the mystery out of health food, while the mouth-watering recipes provide plenty of helpful hints and suggestions for saving time, substituting ingredients and putting your personal touch to any dish. Most main dishes will feed 4 people and can be prepared for $2.00 -$5.00

The Rough Times Cookbook makes a great gift for anyone who wants to get the most out of their food dollar, and is especially useful for the budget-challenged. $20.00.

Contact: Willi Nolan, The Backwoods Writing House