Tag Archives: Organic

Health, Food and Human History: The All-American Banana?

7 Aug

As part of my move toward eating locally produced food, I have cut out certain fruits and vegetables from my diet. In an attempt to have some sort of balance, and in cases where they are available, I will purchase organic and fairly traded varieties of coffee, chocolate, tea and coconut products but have nearly cut out the consumption of all fruit that cannot be grown within California. This includes pineapple, papaya, mango, and of course: bananas.

I’ve recently become somewhat fascinated with the banana. I often wonder why it is so popular. Perhaps it is because the banana is so easy to carry and eat. But the banana is not a local fruit. Not unless you live in South America, Hawaii, or parts of Asia. How did it get here and when? And how have banana prices remained so low, even though the fruit travels thousands of miles to reach our markets and tables?

Not just Organic, but Fair Trade!

Most of us have seen organic produce varieties popping up in supermarkets across the United States. Though knowing how food is grown is extremely important, so too is knowing how the farmers and workers are paid and treated in the process. Finding Fair Trade coffee, tea and chocolate is becoming easier and easier and I find it interesting that there doesn’t seem to be as much of a movement to engage fresh fruit producers and distributors. I have no doubt there are many challenges with storage, shipping and USDA guidelines though I have not found any specific information as yet. Fair Trade fruit is available now, though can be difficult to find and I have not seen any form of labelling system to indicate that the fruit is in fact Fair Trade.

Below are some resources about the Banana and Fair Trade Fruit:

Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World

Yes, We Will Have No Bananas

The Banana

Banana.com

Fair Trade Banana Cooperative

Fair Trade: Fresh Fruit Program

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The State of Food in San Francisco

7 Aug

As many people know, San Francisco is one of the wonders of the foodie world. With it’s melting pot population, coastal location, climate that offers year-round produce and upwards of 10,000 restaurants, foodies are spoiled for choice.

San Francisco Magazine‘s recent issue focuses on food in the Bay Area. Though it’s not my favorite magazine it did definitely have some very good articles this month.

To eat local, kill local With just one slaughterhouse remaining within 80 miles of San Francisco, we stand to lose not only our local beef industry, but our grazing lands as well. Now a thick-skinned herd of ranchers and environmentalists are determined to keep the cows close to home.

The State of the Plate When it comes to dining out, is San Francisco becoming a Valhalla or a Vegas with hills? Josh Sens looks back on a confounding 12 months of meals and takes the measure of a region and its restaurants.

Moth Class What the light brown apple moth—and the pesticide shower it nearly unleashed—taught us about the future of our fruits and vegetables.

Weapons of Moth Destruction How the Bay Area maneuvered to beat back an impending pesticide assault.

3 interesting events in 3 days…

29 Mar

1) Earth Hour. No doubt many of you have already heard about the move to turn off all lights from 8-9pm today, March 29th 2008. We’ll be taking part tonight – lighting some candles and spending time with friends. More info at http://www.earthhourus.org/

2) meatpaper,  a new magazine with ideas about and art inspired by meat.  It does sound a bit strange – but they are celebrating their 3rd issue  in San Francisco tomorrow night on March 30th 2008. More details at http://www.meatpaper.com/news/index.html

3) Environmentally Conscious Food Choices – a discussion with panelists from Bon Apetit, UC Davis, the Ethicurian and more. March 31st 2008 in San Francisco. More info here: http://tinyurl.com/2s4vxu

Organic Gardening on NPR

14 Mar

The Bay Area’s local NPR station, KQED, recently did an hour on local organic gardening. It was a good show and provided lots of information and local resources. I suggest a listen!

http://www.kqed.org/epArchive/R803101000 

Mindful Clothing…

2 Mar

There are many things that impact society and the environment. Clothing is one of the culprits, and most don’t seem to be talking about it yet. Of course people are aware of the problem with sweatshops, but do we think enough about the environmental impact of all the clothes we buy? The financial impact? As with food, our society and culture generally demands low prices and in many cases, quantity over quality. I used to be the kind of person that would buy things that perhaps didn’t fit me properly, or pieces that I knew deep inside I would never wear. Over the last few years I’ve broken myself of this habit. If it doesn’t fit well and I don’t love it, I don’t buy it. The next step was to take better advantage of second hand shops. Finances played a large role in that, but I’ve also been thinking more about quality. I want clothes that are made well, that last, and that I can feel good about buying.

I’ve started doing some pretty extensive research online looking for fair trade, organic and natural clothing. But this has been a challenge, for a number of reasons.

  1. Availability:  Let’s face it, most clothing retailers don’t offer eco-friendly items. There are a few shops out there, and the demand is certainly growing but we have a long way to go.
  2. Selection: Unfortunately, many fair trade and eco-friendly shops (at least online) are quite limited in what they sell. Searching for pants mostly brings up options for yoga, outdoor activities, or items that are highly ethnic (Thai fishing pants, for example.) Don’t get me wrong, I love clothes made in an inspired by countries around the world, but sometimes a girl needs something a little more professional. This is difficult to find.
  3. Size: I guess some have the opinion that only skinny people care about the environment…
  4. Price: If you are looking for eco-friendly clothing, expect to pay more for it.  Keep in mind that these pieces tend to be made more fairly and with much more care and at a higher standard that your average department store. We *should* be paying more for this.  Though that doesn’t mean that everyone can afford to spend $180 for a pair of organic, bamboo jeans. Also, a number of fashion designers are going into the eco-chic business. Designer clothes are more expensive and organic designer clothes even more so. But I am certainly happy about this trend. Like any business, prices will come down with demand and availability.

So with all those things in mind, I went searching for some nice-looking, everyday wear not-made-for-hippies. After a couple of hours, I came back to the same company that I had purchased a jacket from a few months ago: Fair Indigo. So far, they seem to have the best selection, best quality and prices I have found for women’s clothes. The don’t have everything, but they have a lot. Quite a few different styles to choose from, affordable, prompt with shipping and a great return policy. Each item has a description of the where and how it was manufactured and the website always has sale and clearance items (I bought my jacket on sale at $40 and now it’s down to $20!!) I recently purchased four items for a total of $200 including shipping. I haven’t received the items yet but have high hopes. The items also have comments from customers and relatively detailed and easy to use size charts are very helpful when choosing to buy an item. Fair Indigo is a unique company.

Links:

http//www.fairindigo.com

SF Stores:

http://www.ecologiquesf.com/

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local&id=5983661

Articles and Information:

http://dailybruin.com/news/2007/jan/26/icheap_clothes_can_have_high_costi/ 

http://www.ecobedroom.com/1/cotton_statistics.html 

Local Food Spotlight: Cowgirl Creamery

10 Oct

Cowgirl Creamery is located north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Point Reyes Station, CA. They make some of the best cheese I’ve ever eaten and have won a number of awards around the United States and in Canada. Their cheese is made with organic, GMO free, vegetarian rennet and organic Straus Family Creamery milk.

My recommendation: try the Mt. Tam cheese!

http://www.cowgirlcreamery.com/

Starting a garden…

1 Oct

I’m going to be moving soon. My current apartment, as well as the new one, doesn’t really have a space outdoors where I can grow vegetables. The new place has a small deck so there’s definately room for some pots and I’ve decided to grow some herbs. I’m going to concentrate on just a few plants, some things that I love, and some things that are somewhat difficult to find:

  • coriander / cilantro – I adore cilantro. that’s really all there is to it
  • basil – I’ve had mixed feelings about this herb for a while. sometimes I get annoyed with pesto (I’m quite picky about it) which is maybe why I’ve ignored basil for so long. But I love it when it’s fresh, and recently found some organic bunches from Two Dog Farm at my favorite farmers’ market and they still had the roots! I’ve got it sitting in some water right now and I hope it sprouts some new roots!
  • shiso – I always love when shiso leaves are used in sushi. its got an amazing, minty, peppery flavor and I’d love to experiment with this herb!
  • curry – this would just be awesome.
  • chives – it’s good for keeping insects away from the other herbs and also very tasty…

*EDIT: argh! Rosemary! Beebalm! Flax! Mustard! I want to grow these too. Also I thinking about getting some space in a community garden. I’d love to grow potatoes and delicata squash!

I’ll give updates as I have them. Wish me luck!