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Eating Ethics

January 23, 2011

Do you think of ethics when you eat? Do you complain about the food choices in your school or local area? Are you concerned with what your family eats on a daily basis? How do you use your “vote” when it comes to those situations?

I just finished Michael Pollan’s The Omnivire’s Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat and in it he challenges his readers to “vote with your fork”. As is true in our increasingly opportunist and capitalist America, producers and distributors will give consumers what they want good or bad. We don’t need government regulation in order to get what we want. We have allowed the family farm to be destroyed and empowered big business to do anything they want to our food just so long as they make it cheap. We would eat cardboard if they called it “steak” and put it in a shiny package and sold it for 10 cents a pound cheaper than the next guy. We have allowed products that come in infinite qualities and different flavors to be turned into a single commodity and have every value they ever held get bleached and sterilized to remove all taste and nutrition in the sake of “feeding” more people for less money. In return for this valueless, tasteless and nutrition less product we allow everyone who touches it to make a profit except for the family that grows it.

Do you have a social conscience? Does your social conscience extend to the environment or animals? Do you have a conscience at all? In his book, Pollan’s looks at big, industrial food or agribusiness, industrial organic, beyond organic and the do-it-yourself options of growing, huntin and gathering for yourself. He tries to look at eachnand everyone from many angles and assess the impact on everyone and everything in the chain. I believe that most people know that they are what they eat and yet most people have no idea what they are eating. If you subscribe to the philosophy that most people don’t know anything about their own true nature, then maybe it is only fitting that they not know what they are consuming.

Michael gives a lot of good advice and the book is even available in a “Young Readers Edition” to help explain to your kids why you are no longer buying their favorite cereal or “snack cakes” anymore. You may not make drastic changes right away, but at least you can consume and evaluate that consuming from an educated perspective. Taste your food? Is there any taste? Why are you eating? At what level are you enjoying what you eat? Are you enjoying it? Are you eating on the run? Are you stopping to enjoy time with family or friends while you eat? Do you know anything about the varieties of choice available in cheese, fruit, wine, beer, bread or other commonly enjoyed foods?

Read the book. Learn to cook. Get an easy recipe online. Care about the ingredients and learn about them. Talk to your friends. Read a blog. Talk to your grocer. Go to a farmers market. Ask more questions. Schedule a regular family dinner that happens without fail. Announce that Sunday dinner is mandatory. Expand it to as many meals you can. Involve others in the cooking. Inspire others to get more involved in the local food scene in your area. Visit a farm. Pick some produce. Start a garden of your own.

You are what you eat. Be healthy, natural and local. Be alive, fresh and good to others. Be part of the solution rather than accept or contribute to the dilemma.

Wild Ocean Father’s Day

June 20, 2010

Happy Father’s Day. I hope that you all had a great day. My day was terrific as I spent a lot of time with Ana, Shannon and Mickey. Shannon and Mickey made me a delicious breakfast of eggs, whole wheat toast and lots of fresh fruit and juices. I was really touched by the cards that I received and the interest that they all had in making my day special.

After spending the day at the beach yesterday, we did not have time to stop at all the places that we saw on our drive that we wanted to see. Today, we drove back out to the coast and stopped in a few. I have been meaning to get over to Wild Ocean Market for some time as I have seen them on the Slow Food Orlando site and heard great things. When we stopped in we were offered assistance right away. After browsing for some time we asked some questions and made our selections. We got a couple pounds of rock shrimp meat for a scampi and two yellowfin tuna steaks. They were very helpful and packaged our selections in a cooler on ice so that we could enjoy the rest of our day without rushing home. The attention to detail and their passion about what they do is evident in how they answer questions and take care of their customers. Wild Ocean Market is worth the drive for all your locally sourced seafood and grass-fed beef. I talked at length with Cinthia about their commitment to the Slow Food movement and shared some ideas about buying local initiatives and this blog.

We visited a couple surf shops in Cape Surf and Quiet Flight with plans to get back and rent some boards for the day soon. We ate a good lunch in Port Canaveral at Grills on the water and enjoyed some live music. We got home in time for a trip to the gym to get our week off to good start. At home, we had our weekly Sunday Family Dinner and the tuna steaks were devoured. Stay tuned to see how the scampi turns out.

Pick out the stores in your local area that you would hate to see disappear and patronize them often. National chain stores and online stores may save you some pennies, but the cost is much greater to the environment and your community. We all make a difference everyday. Is the difference that you are making taking you in the direction that you want to go? Be the change that you want to see. I just strengthened my community with some sushi grade tuna and I will do it again.

[ed. Pictures should be attached to this, but after syncing my camera I cannot find them. I will edit post asap with images.]

Central Florida Slow Food

June 13, 2010

Have you read more about Slow Food? Have you gotten involved in your area? Let me tell you what I have done. I have not read much more than last we spoke and I have not been to any of my local events. I have copied some upcoming local events to the end of this post and I will try to get out to a few of them. After watching “Food Inc” as discussed previously, I have absolutely changed my individual habits, but I have found it harder to change my family’s habits. For example, so many of their favorite products have High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) that when I change to an organic alternative without HFCS there are flavor differences. We have a long way to go, but we have “slowed” our food considerably. I find most organic foods to have stronger, richer flavors. When I buy local foods whether it is produce, meat or fresh bakery items, the taste is further amplified with the knowledge that I am supporting my community and hopefully contributing to making more local food production profitable. Vote with your wallet!

Speaking of voting with your wallet, I have just begun using a new iPhone app, but for those of you that have not yet converted, they also have an excellent website. GoodGuide reports on the health, social and resource responsibility of various products and the companies that make them and many might surprise you. From their website: “We can help you switch to better products. You want non-toxic, environmentally friendly products from companies with good social and safety records. GoodGuide rates over 65,000 products based on these factors.” On my iPhone application I can scan a barcode of a product and get instant feedback about how healthy it is and how responsible the manufacturer is to the world that we live in. I have found it most helpful in grocery shopping, but there are many more products than just food in the app. When choosing between two or more seemingly equal products, wouldn’t you rather give your money to the company that makes the healthier product while treating its employees and environment with respect.

If you are in Central Florida, try to get out for one of these events and maybe you will see the Slow Food Dude. If you live elsewhere, get your own info.

Audubon Park Community Market
Date: Every Monday
Time: 6:00 – 10:00 PM
Location: In front of Stardust Video and Coffee, Winter Park, FL
See http://www.audubonparkmarket.com for more information.

Sand Lake Farmers Market
Dates: Every Saturday
Time: 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Location: Whole Foods Market, Phillips Crossing
Sand Lake Farmers Market is every Saturday from 9am to 2pm in our parking lot. We host over 50 local vendors and also have live music, wine/beer garden and much more. Feel free to stop by with the whole family including your dog and relax with us. Visit http://www.sandlakefarmersmarket.com to learn more about our market and if interested in becoming a vendor.

Slow Down
Date: June 24, 2010
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: TBD
Price: Free
RSVP to: jgonzalez.slowfoodorlando@gmail.com

Potluck Dinner
Date: July 20, 2010
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: TBD
Celebrate the flavors of Central Florida with a meal created and inspired by you! Challenge yourself to create the most local dish with farm fresh food. This is a great way to know your neighbors and to learn more about Slow Food.
RSVP to: jgonzalez.slowfoodorlando@gmail.com

Really Slow to Get Slower

May 1, 2010

I have been slow to slow our food down due to the fast pace of our lives. We really never eat fast foot, so I guess we were reasonably slow to begin with. We have already included some organics among our staples like milk and eggs and produce when available. What I really want to do is to buy less food more often and from varying, local sources. It will be fresher and we will risk less food to spoiling.

I haven’t quite engaged myself in the local slow food activities, but we are very fond of Farmer’s Markets and we will be making our way around to a few tomorrow. We really enjoy finding new, fresh ways to eat healthy and support our community. I have found myself making these decisions on a global scale. If I have a choice between two equal quality premium grass fed organic ground beef selections, I switched to the one from Georgia even though the one from Colorado was just as good and the price was similar because it seems greener since it is closer. I changed my mind on a basic clothing item and bought one from Mexico while the same priced and quality of the other item was from India on the same pretense.

I hope to make it out to a Slow Food Orlando event soon so that I can expedite my learning curve on what is available locally. I also look forward to meeting some of you. If you have some good sites that you can refer us to or share some local knowledge, let’s hear from you.

What is Slow Food?

April 8, 2010

I often have the conversation with others about organics or higher quality standard foods and get told that they are too expensive. I will pay more when a local or organic product presents itself. I try to explain that if you had been eating high quality food all along would you accept the money savings to eat a lower quality item? You can save 30% if you are willing to feed GMOs or pesticides to your family. Now that it is put that way it somehow seems different, but there is no difference. Support your local farmers and treat your family to high quality, better tasting, better for you products.

The Slow Food USA Mission:

“Slow Food USA seeks to create dramatic and lasting change in the food system. We reconnect Americans with the people, traditions, plants, animals, fertile soils and waters that produce our food. We seek to inspire a transformation in food policy, production practices and market forces so that they ensure equity, sustainability and pleasure in the food we eat.”

In the United States, members of Slow Food USA’s 200 chapters celebrate the amazing bounty of food that is available and work to strengthen the connection between the food on our plates and the health of our planet. Our members are involved in activities such as:

-Raising public awareness, improving access and encouraging the enjoyment of foods that are local, seasonal and sustainably grown
-Caring for the land and protecting biodiversity for today’s communities and future generations
-Performing educational outreach within their communities and working with children in schools and through public programs
-Identifying, promoting and protecting fruits, vegetables, grains, animal breeds, wild foods and cooking traditions at risk of disappearance
-Advocating for farmers and artisans who grow, produce, market, prepare and serve wholesome food
-Promoting the celebration of food as a cornerstone of pleasure, culture and community

Good:
The word good can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For Slow Food, the idea of good means enjoying delicious food created with care from healthy plants and animals. The pleasures of good food can also help to build community and celebrate culture and regional diversity.

Clean:
When we talk about clean food, we are talking about nutritious food that is as good for the planet as it is for our bodies. It is grown and harvested with methods that have a positive impact on our local ecosystems and promotes biodiversity.

Fair:
We believe that food is a universal right. Food that is fair should be accessible to all, regardless of income, and produced by people who are treated with dignity and justly compensated for their labor.

Check out Slow Food USA and your local chapter at http://www.slowfoodusa.org/

Maitland Farmers Market

March 21, 2010

Mmmm! Local produce, plants, honey and more all on beautiful Lake Lily.

Signs

March 18, 2010
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Be on the lookout. Just this morning over breakfast I was able to take 30 seconds and show Mickey (my 11 year old) about a healthier alternative between two products in our pantry.