Potatoes going Strong

The potatoes I planted from started potatoes about a month ago are doing really well.  I planted them in about 3 feet of good quality dirt and peat moss inside of this deep potato bed that I made myself.  I hope that the door will work to fetch the potatoes without having to dig up the plant!IMG_0798

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How to Cook Kohlrabi Greens

This year about half of the plants in my garden came from the nursery dumpster.  I regularly get up early in the morning or stop by just after they closed to see what was in store for me.  I ended up with some plants that I am less familiar with, including kohlrabi.  I had bought Kohlrabi at the farmers market before, but it never came with the greens on it.  The greens are totally edible and when prepared well they are delicious!

Here’s how to cook the greens:

1. pull the greens off of the bulb

2. remove the stems by cutting or ripping the green part away from the woody stems

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3.  Cook the greens for 2-3 mins in boiling water to soften them.

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3. Remove the greens from water, drain well, place in pan for sautéing, add oil of your choice–I used Toasted Sesame Oil here.

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4.  Add spice and seasonings of your choice.  I added some pine nuts.  Salt also goes a long way!

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5. Serve warm or add to a cold salad.

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SavRaw Organic CSA–so far so good. . .

This was our first weekly fruit and veggie box with SavRaw CSA.  We got the second one this week.  I am very happy so far, we are even thinking about increasing to the “Family Size” this is the “Full Size” which is the smallest option.  SavRaw says that all of their produce is Organic, which is excellent.  That means no chemicals, no GMOs, and the profits to to “local sustainable agriculture projects” in the Los Angeles area (not sure what that really means).  IN any case the produce has been wonderful thus far and its just under the amount we need for the week.  SavRaw also sends an email with recipes that use the items in the CSA that week.  Check out SavRaw (formerly CSA California): http://savraw.com/.

Trader Joe’s doesn’t make the grade for Organics. . .but its easy on the wallet

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With food and nutrition it’s never easy to decide what is the best way to eat, or the best place to buy your food, because it all depends on what is important to you and your different priorities as a consumer.  Last month, in reference to a question about vitamins and supplements my doctor told me “If they don’t have it at Trader Joe’s, you probably don’t need it.”  I guess that means that my doctor doesn’t think that I need to consume organics, because Trader Joe’s leaves much to be desired with respect to healthy Organic selection. All of the food in the picture above (plus four pre-made salads for my partner) was $89.  Which sounds like a lot when you look at it, but I usually spend a lot more at TJs.  The reason that I spent so little is the small selection of organics that TJs offers (I should add that I am not eating refined grains and sugars so organic chips and cookies and all that don’t make it into the cart).  With respect to meat–they only carry organic chicken and ground beef–no organic lunch meat, pork, or any other kinds of meat, so that makes the most expensive area pretty easy, but also pretty boring if I am going to last long on this Organic kick.  For fresh veggies they also leave a lot to be desired in my opinion–they don’t have a lot of the “super foods” that I have gotten used to–Kale, Brussels sprouts (which they do carry seasonally), chard, beets, brocclini, etc.  So I went with more conventional and less nutrient dense veggies that they do offer–lettuce, corn, cucumber, and pea sprouts.  (I will have to supplement this as the way that I usually eat this won’t last me a week–which is why its great that we signed up for a new CSA!–more to come on that later) Then there’s the Organic coffee–decaf and regular because I am cutting back on the caffeine. Organic dark chocolate because some indulgences are a must. Strawberries and grapefruit as “dessert” and pickles and beef jerky as an impulse buy.  Oh yeah and I picked up this small bottle of organic olive oil for 5.99.  It’s pretty pricey, but I do sauté a lot of veggies so I will need it–and it’s still cheaper than organic butter.

So I’ve gone on and on about what Trader Joe’s has for organic offerings, but it’s still not clear why I am doing this?  I have decided to “go organic” for as long as I can for many small reasons that seem to accumulate into a big feeling that this is the right way for me to go.  First, my diet soda habit was getting out of hand, and nothing I do seems to help me curb it.  Second, I had a conversation with my friend last week about food addictions, and how are bodies are beholden to the food industrial complex–like actually addicted to it.  She told me about how she goes on cleanses as a way of resisting this food system, and taking on a new embodied approach to food and whole living.  I guess you might call going organic a “cleanse” but I hope that it lasts longer than most of the cleanses that I have done (a week)!

There are a ton of benefits to eating organic–namely you cut out lot of the chemicals that we ingest everyday in America and there is some evidence that organic food has more nutrients.  Pesticides in conventional foods have been shown to reduce fertility, so going organic is good not only for reproductive potential but with all that we are learning from epigenetic research its good for your future kids even if you’re not making them right now.  There’s some evidence that pesticides and GMOs cause weight gain.  In any case what is most important is that there is a lot of evidence that the food produced by the global food industrial complex is not good for us, so it’s probably better not to eat it!

6 weeks @ 1200 cals: Week 4 totals

Week 4 Daily Calories:

Day 1: 1220

Day 2: 1200

Day 3: 1220

Day 4: 1245

Day 5: 1560

Day 6: 1140

Day 7: ungodly amt of calories–1940

Workouts:

Day 1: 1.5 hours

Day 2: 0

Day 3: 1 hour

Day 4: 0

Day 5: 1.5 hours

Day 6: 1 hour–3.5 mile run

Day 7: 3.5 hours–AIDS walk LA

Pounds Lost: 2.1 lbs

% Weight Lost: 1.25%

Change in Body Fat: +0.2% not sure why the body fat went up from last week. . .might be the scale or maybe I did lose muscle mass?

What do I think of the NuVal system?

So the NuVal system, which I have been hearing about for a while now, is a scoring system based on a nutritional algorithm developed by two doctors out of Yale Medical School.  The system ranks foods based on “30-plus nutrients and nutrition factors – the good (protein, calcium, vitamins) and the not-so-good (sugar, sodium, cholesterol).”  The motivation for creating such a system comes from the idea that the average American has a hard time understanding food labels and an even more difficult time figuring out what they should eat.  They’ve created a simple system to help people choose a low-fat, high-carb diet based on processed grains and soy, while limiting many proteins and fats.

At first glance this seems like a wonderful thing to help Americans lose weight and become healthier overall, but as I see it there are many problems with this system.  To me, the most glaring problem with the system include the fact that it is based on the FDA and USDA’s dietary guidelines.  As recent food scholarship from Michael Pollan, Morgan Spurlock, Marion Nestle, and many more have detailed our nation’s food regulatory agencies do not always put the health of American consumers before pleasing Ag-Food corporations and businesses.  Who is to say that they wouldn’t bump up something like soy-based foods because of strong lobbying?

Although the scores are based on FDA and USDA guidelines NuVal is a for-profit commercial enterprise, NOT a government agency/program which probably means that even if they start out with the consumers interests in mind eventually some sponsor will buy them and their recommendations.

My other reservation about this system is that it’s heavily slated toward processed foods and clearly does not favor fresh fruits and vegetables.  Clearly the ANDI scoring system recently adopted by Whole Foods is its biggest rival in this regard.  ANDI, Aggregate Nurtient Density Index, created by Dr. Joel Fuhrman of Eat Right America is said to be based upon the overall nutrient density and it analyzes Calcium, Carotenoids: Beta Carotene, Alpha Carotene, Lutein & Zeaxanthin, Lycopene, Fiber, Folate, Glucosinolates, Iron, Magnesium, Niacin, Selenium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, plus ORAC score X 2 (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity is a method of measuring the antioxidant or radical scavenging capacity of foods).  By comparison its interesting that NuVal doesn’t just come out and say what they are looking for—they just gloss it over as 30 “good nutrients” and “bad nutrients.”  I haven’t done enough research to critique ANDI as much as I am critiquing NuVal here, but trust me I’m sure I could find some flaws.

Lastly, I think that the problem with these scoring systems is that they are just little band aids on gaping wounds in the American way of life.  They are trying to simplify things so that we don’t have to think about what we are consuming, but that is what got us into this whole mess in the first place.  It might by idyllic and naïve, but shouldn’t we just better inform people about what is in foods, how foods are made, what foods will do to their bodies and then let them make the choices?  The NuVal system comes with a set of ideals for what an American diet should be and it doesn’t really let the consumer decide what matters to them.  What if its more important to me not foods free of animal-based products than it is to have foods without trans fats?  What if I would rather have more sodium if it meant that I was eating a sustainably produced product? So I guess that although these scoring systems might be helpful in some regards, I’m just not sure that I will trust them with my own food consumption decisions.

Check out these sources as well: http://www.fooducate.com/blog/?s=nuval, http://www.nuval.com, the TriCities Newspaper.