Tag Archives: Eat local

Green Books Campaign: The Love-Powered Diet

100bloggers

This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. Our goal is to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.

Not expecting to take on a diet book as part of this campaign, I was pleasantly intrigued by the message of nutritionist and life coach Victoria Moran’s, “The Love Powered Diet: Eating for Freedom, Health and Joy.” The book is addressed to food addicts, who she defines as,

“any person of any body size who’s engaged in a longstanding battle with a knife and fork,”

as well as anyone who is interested in a more healthful, sustainable,  and happy life. Moran emphasizes the necessity for all readers to first love themselves in order to begin to see any effect from her diet or others, stating “It’s OK to feel beautiful right now. If you wait until you’re thin to feel beautiful, you may never get there.” Moran’s approach is to address how her diet-prone readers view both them self and food (as well as how they consume it) in order to “finally win the battle by giving up the fight.”

With the lose definition of ‘thin’ as, “having a body that serves you well so you can live freely without wishing you weighed less,” Moran supposes that if you love yourself enough, you’ll treat yourself as someone who is lovable, attractive, and thin by choosing the right foods and listening to your body. She gives witty, informed, socially concerned, and specific means to accomplish this coveted view of eating. And better yet, in doing so, readers learn to eat correctly for his or her body’s ideal weight, and eventually to achieve this goal.

Although it is a diet book, hers is not solely focused on food. This book also has a humanitarian and progressive message to correlate with her theme of love and new attitude toward food. Printing her book as part of the Green Press Initiative, publisher Lantern Books explains its commitment to the environment by not using fiber from ancient forests or any chlorine at the expense of printing slightly more expensive books. But the eco-focus of her book does not end there.

Overall, Moran presents a very sustainable and important notion of food. First, she stipulates that food is valuable and required hard human work to get it to whatever conditions it is in now for you to eat it, so be thankful. Next, that since it is about to become part of your physical body, you should be choosy about which foods (and how much, and how often) you decide to eat. Pay attention to labels and decide whether the avoidance of highly processed, high sodium, fat, and sugary foods are worth a few extra dollars and preparation minutes at meal times.

Her description of foods in the love-powered diet, the ones that make it so eating becomes less of a battle, and the ones who transform food addicts to someone approaches a food with a “take it or leave it” mentality, includes all the ingredients above: a healthy mind, approach, and plate.

This food, “is generous, delicious, and aesthetically pleasing.  It promotes high-level health as well as normal weight, it is economical and provides plenty for everybody, it respects all life, and is environmentally sustainable.”

Talk about setting the standards high! Thankfully, Moran gives detailed direction to make this description come to life and realizes that no one can achieve this without occasional mistake and exception. But, as she says, “a love-powered meal can be an effortless donation to a most deserving planet,” and that is certainly something for which to strive.

Throughout this semester, I have struggled to combine my “fooducation,” with my actual practice, AND with my view of what and how I should be eating in order to maintain or lose weight. This book tied together all three of these concerns, and because of this balance, has much to give. It is empowering, inspiring, and addresses much more about dieting than the desire to be thin, and has fundamentally changed my answers to the questions of what, how, and why I eat.

Image Credit: Susan Newman.

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Madison’s “real food” System

This was a paper I turned in for my Food, Culture, and Society class. It’s longer than my usual posts, but it is an overview of what I’ve learned (and gained) from being a part of Madison’s amazing, developing, and transformative food culture.

Enjoy!

Jenny Lynes

Exercise 1

On September 27th, I found myself at the Madison Food for Thought Festival standing behind the sales table of the ‘Buy Fresh, Buy Local Café’ donned in a volunteer’s T-shirt handing out scones. Crowds of people walked past me toting canvas bags with bright red, yellow, and green produce poking out. They talked about petting the chickens, what Michael Pollan had said to them, and interesting new recipes they’d found that creatively included kale, zucchini, and lots (and lots) of tomatoes. As a stilt-walking farmer strolled past me, then stopped to take a picture with my literary role model, Michael Pollan, I had to take a moment.

How did I get here?

My history with local foods is a short one. In fact, just this spring I was a paying member in a weight loss program that encouraged my notion, as Michael Pollan describes, that eating at any one time does only one of two things: 1. Fixes my health, or, 2. Ruins my health. Paul Rozin calls this pleasure-voided idea of eating a personal and cultural “nightmare.” Wendell Berry calls these eaters “victims… passive, uncritical, and dependent.” M.F.K. Fisher describes this process as, “[eating with] a glum urge for food to fill us.” Saying, “we are ignorant of flavour. We are as a nation taste-blind.”

Putting these notions in my past, I spent time on a small family farm in Maine this summer where the farmer occasionally compared eating to sex. I knew that food could taste good, but this idea introduced me to the idea of pleasure in eating and began to prepare me for entering into the web of farmers, advocates, students, eaters, and community-makers by which I have been surrounded thus far this semester.

Through this essay, I would like to explain the Madison Food System and those involved with it through the lens of a ‘slow food baby’, or perhaps more accurately: a ‘real food baby’. I didn’t know it was possible, but this food I’ve been eating has taught me about myself. Despite a prior connection to and passion for the environment, Madison has taught me that Berry was right. “How we eat determines, to a considerable extent, the way the world is used.” On one of the first days of class, someone mentioned that Cargill would defend its practices by stating it’s just delivering what we want and what the market asks for. Although this town is not short many a “beer-and-pizzavore,” I wonder; if Cargill’s products were based off the Madison market demand, would America’s food system be the same? Would Cargill even exist?

Continue reading

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Slow Food in Madison

If Madison had a full name, I think it would be: Madison Slow-Food Wisconsin. (Well, maybe Madison Badger Football Slow-Food Wisconsin. Whatever.)

I became interested in food issues as a way to narrow my environmental focus last fall, but it wasn’t until this year that I realized just how impressive and involved the slow and local food movements are here. I now know how lucky I am to be surrounded by this and I will definitely gain plenty of ideas should I ever want to start similar programs in another city someday.

DSCN0763This morning I volunteered at the Food for Thought Festival where Michael Pollan also came to speak. I was only expecting a few people to stop by after the farmers’ market, so I was surprised when thousands of people stopped by to show support, learn, eat, and make community!

I got to meet many interesting people while I was working at the Buy Fresh, Buy Local cafe and then the info table. I EVEN got to break my no-meat fast with a brat from L’Etoile restaurant which told me all about the farm from which the meat came. It was so good. (SO. GOOD.)

Anyway, the morning made me excited about becoming more involved with food advocacy since it’s such a great way to play an important role in environmental issues and has an appeal to all types of people eating all types of foods. I’m hesitant to focus only on one “issue” group since I know I have a lot more to learn, but this has been really fun so far this year.

I’d love to go on, but I have to get to some homework, so I’ll let some pictures tell the story for themselves.

-Jenny

People learning about REAP and BFBL

People learning about REAP and BFBL

Had to love this after my soils test on Monday!

I had to love this after my soils test on Monday

The BFBL cafe tent where I was. SUCH good food!

The BFBL cafe tent where I was. SUCH good food!

Some local art (of food... surprise) with a view of the capitol

Some local art (of food... surprise) with a view of the capitol

The demonstration tent

The demonstration tent

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Thanks for the food, farmers!

Thanks for the food, farmers!

Pet the chickens!

Petting the chickens

Tons of produce at the Farmers' Market

Tons of produce at the Farmers' Market

My friend Adi buying apples

My friend Adi buying apples

Fall flowers

Fall flowers

Anyway, it was a great morning and congrats on a successful event to REAP Food Group!

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Maine: The way life should be

Well people, I’m back. fam

Over a month ago, I left Minneapolis to go work on Ol’ Ways Farm in Solon, ME. I haven’t written for a while because after I left the farm, I spent a week with friends in Scottsdale, AZ (talk about a culture shock!), and then another week with family in the Rockies.

I’ve had a while now to digest what I learned on the farm and I’ve realized that my time there was a good starting point for learning more about farming, the environment, politics and food issues, but it was also a big life lesson on the importance of being informed and taking chances. Anyway, I digress!

Basically, when I left home at the end of July, I didn’t want to go. I’m a standby flyer, so I never really know when or if I’m actually going to make it to the destination on my boarding pass. When they called my name for the flight to Boston, found myself walking onto the plane wondering how I got there, packed, schedule cleared, and somehow willingly still going? It was so unlike me! I thought about scrapping the whole thing, lying about missing the flight and chalking it up to fate, but I knew my checked bag had already gone to Boston on the first flight out so I sat down and went.

I took a greyhound from Boston and moodily texted my friends and boyfriend about being nervous or sad to miss out on the rest of summer at home. When the bus finally crossed into Maine, the welcome sign (also the title of this post) made me more at ease. I guessed people must like it out there.Friends

I was right. Even though I was uncharacteristically quiet and hesitant at first, the girls I met were pretty incredible. They were (sometimes overwhelmingly) hardworking, willing to sleep in a tent (what?!), and comfortable around the animals, but most of all, they were friendly. I wondered what I, a “mainstream” (as the farmer called me), lactose-intolerant, animal-fearing citygirl, was doing there amongst the chickens, cats, geese, cows, pigs, dogs, horse, manure, flies… you get it.

But, predictably, Ifarm came to love it there and love the people even more. The farm is set way back in the Maine countryside and, due to the unfortunate amounts of rain this summer, it was one of the most lush and green (in all senses of the word) places I’ve ever been! The red house and barn and the cats-galore gave it such a lovable charm. The farmer, Scott, has lived in Maine all his life, worked at the University, and was full of interesting political, agricultural, and societal knowledge, sarcastic jokes, as well as plenty of Forrest Gump impersonations (“Jennay”). Gemma, his wife, has a PhD in archaeology, a complimentary sense of humor, and a basic understanding of, well, pretty much everything. They make a very interesting team and once I figured out that they weren’t there to judge, but instead to share and have fun, I fell right in to the schedule full of dishes, weeding, feeding, cooking, joking and really enjoying life. I may have complained about the work more than some, but in the end I think it worked out ok. Right, Scott?

I’d love to share my day-to-day adventures, but this isn’t a book. However,  there were a few things I took away that I think are important:

  1. There is a lot to be concerned about in this world! I expected Scott’s bitching about politics to get old, but I came to admire his dedication to being informed about the politics that affected his job. It seems obvious, but anyone who knows me will tell you how opinionated I am about environmental issues. Despite this, I’m continually biting my tongue when they come up because I only know a little bit, but not enough to really defend myself or be convincing. I wrote down a lot of his ideas and hopefully I’ll get around to researching them and making some interesting and eye-opening discoveries (and blogs!) on my own, but I learned from him how important it is to be aware and be involved.Hey
  2. I learned that I need to be more willing to befriend people who are different from me. It’s too bad it took me so long to realize this, but it is a lesson I will never forget. I found myself happiest doing crazy things like piling hay from a field onto a truck, or weeding rows of corn, or even doing dishes because I was constantly surrounded by interesting, caring, funny, beautiful people. It was refreshing.
  3. When Scott and Gemma and I talked about food, here was a list of comments I wrote down:
    • Read the ingredient labels! Buy foods with “real food” ingredients. Ask yourself why the hell is there high fructose corn syrup in your bagels, tomato sauce, coke, etc?!  Avoid corn-based additives. They’re everywhere!
    • Don’t buy things that are fortified or enriched (like flour) because you don’t know what their enriched with. If you want more nutrients, eat vegetables. It’s simple!
    • Buy meat locally. The meat industry is a disgusting, inhumane, antibiotic and hormone abusing zoo that’s doing horrible things for our environment, health, economy and farming communities. After spending time on the farm I decided to call myself an “Eco-Conscious Omnivore,” meaning that I’ll eat meat if I know where it came from, how it lived and how it was killed. I realize that this has a snooty connotation to it, but I don’t mean for it to! One day Scott asked me to help him kill one of the chickens who was sick and had a broken leg. I am no animal rights activist and I’m not giving up meat all together, but killing that chicken made me realize that eating meat is a luxury and comes as a large sacrifice on the part of the animal which at one point was a living, breathing being! I’m not saying that animals are the same as humans, but that experience taught me how much of a gift it is that I am able to eat meat, and made it more obvious that I should choose to only eat meat that is healthfully matured, has lived a normal animal life and was humanely killed. I don’t think that should be too much to ask, but unfortunately 9 times out of 10 in the US, it is. As the documentary Food Inc. says, your purchase is your vote, and that experience made it clear that I do not want to vote for the status quo of our meat-eating habits.pancakes
    • Be willing to spend more on food. TIME magazine has a good article on this right now. But basically, the importance and joys of food have been removed in our dieting, fast-paced, processed lifestyles. While veggies, farm-raised meats and local, seasonal fruits may cost more and be more difficult to track down, I think the moral (and flavor) satisfaction is worth it. It was so fun to go out and pick our salad for lunch or boast a 95% maine-grown pancake breakfast: Maine maple syrup, and milk, buttermilk and butter all from the farm. Yum.
    • Eat seasonally. The miles food travels to make exotic fruits or summer-only veggies available all year round is unbelievable! They recommended researching what is seasonal when and to what region, buy it from local farms, and then freeze, can, preserve, or dry it to enjoy throughout the year. There is an iPhone ap (called Locavore) and many websites which I recommend for this!
    • Eat real foods! Butter, though it contains more fat, is loads healthier than margarine. Just because something has less calories doesn’t mean it’s better for you. Assess whether you want to simply eat something in moderation or question the chemicals and transfats you’re putting in your body. I was blown away when I realized I wasn’t getting sick from all the dairy products I was enjoying on the farm. Scott looked into it and learned that lactose-intolerant people can digest raw milk products because it still contains the bacteria that help us digest lactose. What a testament for enjoying real foods!
    • Aspertame is evil. I hate to be a pessimist, but this stuff is trouble. You can read more about it here, here, here, and here, (to start) but basically, it was approved deceptively and is a textbook example of a political decision that was made with a pocketbook in mind and right or wrong OUT of mind.
    • Shredded wheat cereal has no additives. Just a fun fact.
  4. Get to know a farmer. Think S&Gof what you owe to them, and then find one and find a way to support them. Becoming involved in a CSA is a great way to do this! I expected a overall-wearing, grass-chewing hick to answer the door when I showed up. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Scott and Gemma were the most welcoming, friendly people I’ve ever met and they left me with a great first impression of a farmer’s lifestyle. I hope I can emulate their hospitality and generosity in my own life.
  5. You have to choose your own battle. There are a lot of overwhelming and scary statistics and facts about our food, environment, economy… you name it! I have chosen food, specifically meat, to try to be as careful, informed and green as I can, but there is a way for everyone to be involved.
  6. Finally, I learned that there a lot of good people in the world. I am sometimes discouraged by the facts I learn about our food system (in your case it may be something else) and the people who make it that way, but if you look, there are always people working to do something about it and I have chosen to be one of them… no matter how insignificant my actions may seem!

Ok, I think that’s enough for now but I think the lesson here is clear: you can never lose by trying something new!

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