Friday, November 20, 2009

A practice in non-attachment

I am on my way out of Philadelphia, on my way to Portland. This will be the first year in a long time that I'm not cooking a Thanksgiving dinner and the first year ever that I won't be spending Christmas at home. I've found a ton of local food sources here and been able to share many of them with you all. Tomorrow I'll be moving all of my 'stuff' besides a few bare essentials in a pack. For a few weeks I'll be without it --very aparigraha; and homeless even as my sweetie and I camp out in my apartment, spend the holiday with family, and stay with a dear friend and his dog until we find ourselves in a non-homeless situation again. When I land in Portland, OR I will be going on both a yoga studio tour and foraging for local food sources. All of this is a great practice of unattachment to things, places, and routines. I'll miss all good things in Philly, but blogging will continue from the new home-base.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Is your McDonald's burger killing the rainforest?

Recently I read that the main reason people are cutting down the rain forest, at a rate of 72 acres a minute, is so they can use that land to grow export to the USA! Who's eating all this beef anyway? This claim was targeting McDonald's specifically, so I wanted to investigate. My feeling is that big beef has big money, and they might 'have a cow' if McDonald's was importing beef. According to McDonald's website, their sole beef supplier is Lopez foods (it is also of interest that they only actually have three food suppliers total). Upon examining Lopez's website, they actually only process meat, they don't raise cows. They did not have a list of their suppliers on their website, but are themselves based in Oklahoma. This proved to be a dead-end. I decided to investigate with the feds, they always provide a lot of data if you have the patience to find it. As it turns out the USDA regulates imports of beef and poultry to the US. They have a list of who we imported beef and poultry from in 2008. Since I'm a fan of basic statistics, and the 'cumulative' column on this list lacked explanation, it looks like the statement from earlier just isn't true. According to my calculations, only about 5% of the US imported beef and poultry is actually from Central and South America. The US consumes nearly 20 billion pounds of beef annually (an excessive amount, averaging out to everyone eating beef once a day). Imports comprise only 3 billion pounds of this (this assumes that all imported meat is beef, so technically we import less beef), so Central and South American beef is actually less than only .003% of all US consumed beef. I think that we eat much more McDonald's in this country than that. This cutting down the rain forest for McDonald's burgers just doesn't hold water for me. But the source is actually from 1996, perhaps our food policy is improving. Why I bring this up is that, what IF your burger was literally destroying the rain forest? Would you do all this research to find out if it were true? Likely not. The real value of this questionable claim is that it makes you think about the impact of traveling food, and question where your food comes from in the first place. Truth be told, the CO2 output from transporting beef from farms in the US to Oklahoma and then to every McDonald's in the country is quite high as it is, it's a giant impact! Put that on top of the environmental impact of beef farming alone and it's ridiculous. Even if your burger isn't cutting down trees, it could have a significant impact regardless. I would urge you to choose vegetarian/vegan options when you're eating out and have no way to determine the source of that food, and therefore it's impact on the greater world. When and if you choose to eat meat, do so mindfully. Take it to heart that the higher on the food chain you climb, the more resources were used to produce this food. And if you ARE going to choose to have an increased impact by eating an animal, at least let the transport of that food be minimal. Most of all, think before you eat.

Philadelphia Winter Harvest, a life-saver

It's certainly mid-fall. Temperatures are dipping and the days are getting shorter by the minute. Are you finding it hard to dredge up the motivation to go to the farmers' market or Reading Terminal...especially with the SEPTA strike in full swing? Me too. Thank God for Philadelphia Winter Harvest! If you haven't signed up, you should. Last night was the first delivery. Winter Harvest is a buying club, kind of like a CSA, but you choose what you get. They have a website (link is on the side-bar) that you choose exactly what you want for the next two weeks and pay for it via check or pay-pal. Every Thursday evening the wonderful delivery trucks make their rounds and drop off you and your neighborhood's goods to someone near you. When you get home from work you just stroll on over to a nice neighbor's house, load up your food and head home. The selection is amazing too! You can get vegetables, apples, cider, milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, meat, bread, granola, soap, chocolate....the list goes on and on. The best part is that all of this is locally sourced. If you ask me, Winter Harvest is a life-saver. Join now and order your Turkey for Thanksgiving. I have done this the past few years and recieve my fresh bird the night before the feast (the delivery is on Wednesday the week before Thanksgiving). You won't ever regret joining this wonderful buying club that runs from November to April. It will get you through the winter.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Simplicity OR lessons from New York City

This weekend I traveled to NYC to visit my sister. She is so blessed to live within walking distance to one of the greatest farmers' markets in the world, Union Square Market. We went and wandered among many, many, many stands selling practically everything in triplicate! My sister isn't the most frequent cook, but we picked up a bunch of veggies, that she's preparing for dinner as I write this. My advice to her was to cook simply. Let the flavors speak for themselves. I gave her a simple scratch-pad recipe to follow: chop the vegetables, mix them together with a little oil, salt, and pepper, roast them at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes. As Jill has always said, "great is simple and simple is great." This is how I typically cook, it's virtually mindless, but with great food you don't need a whole lot of pizazz. While I was in town, I took my sister to OM yoga. She has never practiced before, so we went to a basics class. To be quite honest, it was refreshing. Getting back to the basics I was able to delve deeply into the breath. Simple sequencing with no fancy peak poses or any frills can be quite eye-opening. If you've been practicing for some time, I suggest dropping in to a beginner-level class some time. It is wonderful to realize that it's not the bells and whistles that count, in all reality it's the simple asana, the simple flavors that are the most beautiful and substantial of all!