Posts filed under ‘organic’

O look! Could it be? A post!

new yorkYou get the idea.

IT IS! That’s right, It’s Alive, folks. Sort of.

I really should put up an “warning: irregular posting” disclaimer. But that would just give me one more thing to procrastinate, so I better stay put.

If you must know, I had, of course, a perfectly good reason for my absence. I was visiting the distant shores of Uncle Sam. And to be perfectly honest, I’ve been back for 3 weeks now.The truth is, I actually started writing this 2 weeks ago, so at that time I had a perfectly valid excuse for being out of commission – I was jetlagged and had cold. In the meantime, I had to edit and re-edit this paragraph over and over because my old excuse is so outdated now.

First of all, let me tell you people, your toilets SUCK! Seriously. Gross toilet water close that close to my toosh makes me very uncomfortable. And what’s up with the toilet stall gap? You know, if I’m going to use the toilet in a public place, I would really appreciate some privacy! I mean, drop your lipstick and you know all my business. Not cool!

Anyway, where was I… oh right. So on this trip I got to see 2 more states, Michigan and New York. That brings up my total of visited states to a nice round number of …… 3 (Went to Florida Keys last year).

So while I only spent a few days in Michigan, I can say I “saw” it, mostly because  2 of them were spent driving up and down the state, which looking back was kinda stoopid. But yeah, I am not the best planner out there, and notoriously suck at being a tourist. Early starts are definitely not my thing.

After that I spent 2 weeks in New York, waking up late and being a bad tourist all around- I didn’t go ice skating, I didn’t see the statue of Liberty, I didn’t climb the Empire State, and I only made it to one museum (the Guggenheim). It was still pretty awesome, despite the bad-tourist guilt.

I even attempted some shopping. Mostly, failed. All I have to show for is a new red sweater and some thrift store pants. Despite the fact I keep telling myself I have to stop buying red sweaters. Every time I attempt shopping I end up buying a red sweater (and that’s it). It’s my fall back plan, if nothing else, there is always a red sweater I like. I’m really starting to get on my own nerves with this red sweater thing. Is there such a thing as red sweater rehab? If there is, I’ll sign up right now!

But anyway. I tried to be a good vegetarian (but not a perfect one). My slips included some mercury-laced sushi and a Starbucks bacon & egg sammich laced with better-not-think-about-it. I am not proud of it. It think that broke both of my survival rules (that I stick to because the American “food” industry freaks me out).

  1. All animal products must be organic.
  2. All corn and soy must be organic.

But yes, you got me. I was going to Starbucks. I have to admit they won me over with the organic milk. But then they went and burst my bubble by discontinuing it. Bastards. Then I discovered that you can ask for soy milk and soy milk is organic and actually drinkable. Even in cappuccinos.

Then I discovered that the American idea of cappuccino slightly differs from my pre-conceived Euro-notions: espresso, hot milk and milk foam. Starbucks thinks its ALL about the milk foam. Literally. No milk. Just foam. And you guys know I take my cappuccinos very seriously. So I developed a routine where after I deliver the stainless mug, I go over to the barista and ask to ease up on the foam.

That usually coincides with me being annoyed at the fact they are still wasting a disposable cup for my coffee IN SPITE my very specific cup instructions. Although on one occasion I did encounter a barista that was also annoyed at all the cup wasting behavior. Not that that changed anything. I hope she gets promoted and brings on a smackdown on cup-wasting.

On the up side, I was very happy to see I wasn’t the only freak with a mug. Although it seemed much more common and accepted in Michigan. You would think New York is where all the eco-hipsters are.

And you guys would be proud of how good I got refusing plastic bags. I’m an almost professional bag-refuser. The trick is to announce it early and clearly, before they scan your groceries or while they are folding your red sweater er… clothing item.

And well, that’s all for the travel report. Sorry I didn’t post a touristy picture of my self in front of a landmark. In a red sweater. I’m such a lame tourist I didn’t even take any pictures. Although I lugged my camera across an ocean and even got a new lens for Christmas. So Hiro Nakamura will just have to do. How do you guys even put up with me?

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February 5, 2008 at 11:03 pm 9 comments

How to: Get shit-free ground beef

butcher'sPhoto by David Chief.

Here is step by step guide to getting shit-free ground beef.

  1. Go to an organic butcher or a good butcher that sells organic meat
  2. Choose a large chunk of a cheap cut of organic beef and/or pork
  3. Ask the butcher to grind it for you
  4. Separate in batches
  5. Cook or freeze the same day.

And voilá! Shit-Free!

This is because:

  1. This story was in the NYT this week.ground meat
  2. Feedlot cattle goes into ‘processing’ covered in shit. That’s because they live covered in shit.
  3. Organic grass-fed cows, by their very nature, don’t spend their lives covered in shit, hence, there will be less or no shit in their meat.
  4. There have been countless USDA recalls of ground beef contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 (read: shit) Most of them after the meat has been eaten.
  5. E. coli O157:H7 exists because of factory farming methods. They have created the problem by feeding grain to cows and made it worse by giving them antibiotics.
  6. Ground meat has a natural shelf-life of 24h. The fact that you can buy it in the supermarket with a month of shelf-life is just wrong.
  7. Carbon monoxide keeps meat looking fresh and perky even after weeks of its sell by date. You could be buying spoiled meat and never know it by the looks of it.
  8. I am a traditionalist. I think cows should live in the field, that meat should be bought at the butcher’s and ground right in front of you.

PS: I don’t really know why I am posting this, since I am already 95% vegetarian by now. And I think you should be too.

December 10, 2007 at 2:51 pm 16 comments

Another reason to eat organic

There is a very good multipart article about GMOs on Celsias, which I strongly advise you to read. It explains very well what GMOs are and why you should be afraid of them. I’ve been freaking about it, since I’ll be visiting the US myself pretty soon.

For my part, there ain’t no way I’m eating that shit. Which, here in Europe is no problem because of mandatory labeling. Now, for those of you who live in the US, that’s not exactly so.Your government decided that you have no right to refuse to eat GMOs, even if you wish to do so.

Since 1/2 of all soy, and 1/3 of all corn in the US is genetically modified, and those two are in everything, you can bet your treehugging ass you’re eating it, whether you like it or not.

So, if I were you, I would stick to organic cereal, organic tofu, and if you must eat processed food, stick to the organic versions. Because the organic standard is the only guarantee you have today that you are not eating GMOs.

And keep in mind that corn is most frequently found as HFCS (which you should avoid on its own, because its nasty), and soy, besides obvious things like tofu, soy milk and soy sauce, and in less obvious things like chocolate, baked goods and all kinds of processed food.

And of course, soy and corn are pretty much the bulk of industrial animal feed these days, but I know ya’ll are either vegetarian or eat organic meat only, so thats not an issue. Right? RIGHT?

So go on and read John Robbins’ articles, Part I and Part II and decide for yourself.

December 9, 2007 at 1:23 am 4 comments

Living in Hippie Town

DroevendaalPhoto by Hedwig. And that’s not really our garden, its common space. And that’s not really my house either. And the stage was for a party.

So, remember a while back I told you guys I was moving out of my apartment? I even promised to tell you more about my new place… Yeah, I know I also hinted that my posting might become more regular, and we’ve seen how that turned out 😀 Well, here I am, keeping yet another overdue promise.

After more than a year cohabitating with ClosetBoyfriend, I’m back to living in student housing for a few months. And, believe it or not, its actually been a step forward in terms of greenness. All because I was lucky enough to end up in a house where everyone was already pretty green by my own standards, in a wonderful place called Droevendaal.

The house itself is a sort of a bungalow with a garden, in a little student complex of sorts. The toilets and washing machine use rainwater, and we use green electricity. But probably the main factor that makes us green is the strong communal component in our house. We eat together everyday and all the food is shared. Oh, and there is a strict vegetarian policy, which accounts for the fact that I only ate meat one time since I’ve lived here (at that conference).

But our eating habits also mean that we have an extremely high food turnover, which means food never goes bad and we get by with one very small fridge (the under the counter kind) for the 6 of us. And its enough! (And yeah, this surprised me too. So if you think you really need a ice-cube spitting monster for your family of four, really, let me assure you that you don’t.)

And this probably has something to do with the fact that our 6 person household only uses around 4200 KWh per year. Compared to 4600 KWh of the average European household and 11.200 KWh of the average American household (note that the average household typically consists of 3 or 4 people).

We have a compost bin in the garden, and though we don’t have anything growing right now, we still have a sizable stash of homemade jam in the pantry from this summer’s berries. But I have to say, my favorite thing is that, for the most part, my housemates are pretty committed to eating organic and that’s just such a relief I don’t have to persuade them, or, alternatively, always do the shopping myself.

Although, sometimes, I still like to grace the most dedicated vegetarians among them with horror stories of cow pus in their non-bio yogurt or baby cow stomachs in their non-bio cheese. Just to keep them motivated 😀

We also have 2 house cats that satisfy my cat-loving needs. One of them is really old and I swear, he’s the ugliest little feline creature I have ever seen. The other one is cute and slutty and likes to hang out in my room. Would be cuter if it wasn’t for the daily dead mouse in our kitchen. I lovingly refer to them as ‘the ugly one’ and ‘the slutty one’.

So there you have it, my new house. I quite like it here and that goes a long way towards enduring the absence of ClosetBoyfriend.

Ps: I think I’ll still add a some pictures to this post, so if you want to see just how ugly the ‘ugly one’ is, check back later this week.

December 3, 2007 at 2:58 am 4 comments

Warming up to tofu

tofu

Ok, so remember I said before I couldn’t stand tofu. Well, seems like things are looking up on the meat replacement front. I still can’t stand plain tofu. But it has been a learning curve. I have discovered that I can tolerate firm tofu if it’s nicely pressed and well seasoned. And by well seasoned, I mean with it’s natural flavor well disguised under a thick layer of sauce. It has to pressed though because it’s natural texture is pretty gross… IMHO anyway.

But then I tried smoked tofu. Which was actually good enough to swallow without any preparation and all… And I…. I… dare I say it… I LIKED IT! It was quite a revelation, actually. Normally I never buy anything that is pre-made, or pre-seasoned or pre-cooked or pre-anything. But this flavored tofu stuff might actually be a good thing!

And there are all these different flavors to try… Teryaki… Indian… Thai… Ah… a world of possibilities has just opened itself to me.

I admit that the crumbly kind still scares me a bit… But, we’ll get to that. Baby steps, it’s all about baby steps…

So if you excuse me, I gotta go eat my tofu now 😉

Tofu prepared by DeathByBokeh, on Flickr.

August 1, 2007 at 10:07 pm 6 comments

Where is Organic Leather?

hmm...leather

Disclaimerthis post may be inappropriate to sensitive vegans/vegetarians. Viewer discretion is advised.

I know many of you will look down on me for being a leather wearing, beef eating, milk drinking sorry-ass excuse of an environmentalist. In my defense, I like cows and I think humans and cows should live in harmony. I am all for humanely, respectfully treated cows in small-scale organic farms. Only, I just think that we shouldn’t have as many cows as we have now. That’s why I only eat and drink organic dairy, as local as possible.

But what I really want to talk about is leather… Even though I could, conceivably, give up my leather jacket and my leather handbag, I have BIG issues with shoes made of anything other than leather. I just can’t… I’m sorry, but I can’t! You see, here is my embarrassing little secret… my feet stink 😀 Well, more accurately, they have a tendency to develop a more pungent odor if they can’t ‘breathe’. So I really can’t wear anything other than cow hides on my little ogre feet, under penalty of being persecuted for possessing biologic WMDs. TMI? Sorry 😀

So here is my question to you. There is a growing number of organic cows out there. Where is organic leather? I mean, it should exist, right? If the cows are certified organic, then the cow skin is, at least in theory, certified as well. So shouldn’t there be a separate market for organic cow skin and leather? Shouldn’t there be stylish organic leather shoes out there? Well, the answer to this seems to be both yes and no.

While Organic Leather does indeed exist, the only thing I could find is this. I mean, COME ON! I don’t know about you but I am not about to walk around dressed like a wannabe Pocahontas. All I want is a decent pair of shoes, and I would STRONGLY prefer they were made of organic leather, tanned without causing an small-scale environmental disaster.

I know it is possible, because I found these guys, who make awesome looking eco-friendly hand-bags. When I grow up, I gotta get me one of these. But those hand-bags! And I asked for shoes! If there are folks out there selling classy organic hand-bags, why aren’t they selling SHOES?

Is this really too much to ask? Isn’t there ANYONE out there who can provide me with what I want? And I’m SURE there are plenty of other stinky-footed environmentalists who would pay good money for this as well! Come on, you eco-preneurs out there! Please?

Future handbag by this guy on Flickr.

July 28, 2007 at 8:38 am 34 comments

Price perception and the organic (and local).

I have this theory for a while now and I am now going to share it with you guys. and you can tell me if it makes sense or not. It all started with an observation of my patterns of ‘going out on the town’ in a relatively unfamiliar city.

Say, we go to Amsterdam for a weekend. We are quite broke as always, but despite the fact, we go out for dinner and look for a place for an after dinner drink, that hopefully will not rip us off. We pass a bar, and it looks nice, if only a little bit on the fancy side. And, inevitability, the conversation goes something like this:

“Hey, this place looks nice, wanna go inside?”

“Hmm, I don’t know, it looks kinda expensive, I don’t think we can afford it”

And then what happens? We go somewhere else, that looks more like the kinda place we can afford (i. e. hole in the wall). And we end up paying 3 euros for a beer in a crappy looking hole in the wall.

And after this happened one or two times, I developed a new philosophy. This one more satisfactory, and it goes something like this:

“We are in Amsterdam. Gonna get ripped off no matter what we do. So we might as well enjoy it and go to the nice looking place we wanted to go in the first place. I’m sure it won’t rip you off any worse that the others”.

So then I started noticing this little theory applied to other things as well. Like, here in Wageningen, we had this really crappy looking supermarket, the kinda place you don’t want to spend more than 5 minutes in, just get the milk and get out before this place steals your soul. And the strange thing is, this place got a reputation of being cheap. But the fact is, when you actually compared the prices of the same products, it was even more expensive than the nice looking supermarket!

We as consumers are subject to a hell of a lot of manipulation. Why do you think all the prices are always $9.95 and not $10? Never $10. I know, rationally, that $9.95 is really 10$. But for some reason, it just seems a whole lot better than $10, huh? Why you go to the supermarket and buy something for $4.95 and next week it is on SALE, for ONLY $5.45!!! And yet, we still buy (into) this crap!

So, I wonder, even though there is no doubt that most local and organic things are, in fact, more expensive than their conventional counterparts (like the 8E/kg bell pepper), how much of the price difference is real, and how much is just in out heads?

I have, just recently, seen the lettuce heads at the organic market stand for 1E a piece, picked that same morning in Wageningen. In the supermarket, they have them imported from Spain, who knows when and how, for E1,5o! And the 8E/kg bell pepper seems expensive, right? That’s about E1,5 a piece. What if I tell you that about the same time I saw single overpackaged bell peppers trucked in from the Kingdom of Far Far Away at the supermarket at guess how much? That’s right, E1.50. And let’s not forget that said peppers rank at #3 of most evil vegetables in pesticide residue.

I’m not saying this is always the case. It’s true, about 70% of the times (my guesstimate), local and organic is more expensive. But it is also fresher, tastier and pesticide free! Isn’t that worth paying for?

Just because you buy something at ‘Cheap’o’market’ doesn’t mean that it is actually cheaper! I am just making a case for the fact that supermarkets are not actually the cheapest places to buy food, despite what they want you to think.

I’m just saying. Go to the farmer’s market. I bet you will find plenty of local (and sometimes organic as well, with or without certification), cheaper than at Cheap’o’market. Don’t just assume that it’s more expensive and therefore you can’t afford it. Do some research first, and actually compare it. Even better, look into the possibility of buying directly from farms in your area.

On a personal note, I am now going to look into the possibility of buying cherries and strawberries and other fruit from farms just on the edge of town. Yesterday I noticed them from the bus. They had a little barrack by the side of the road with a painted sign saying ‘Cherries for sale’. I bet ya that’s the cheapest I’ll find here in town. And if they are not organic, who cares? They are local, which is cool too.

The point is, you are going to get ripped off no matter what you do. So might as well enjoy it, and get what you really want, and not go for the inferior alternative just because your perception is tricking you into thinking it’s cheaper 😀

Yummy photo by CAZASCO on Flickr.

June 16, 2007 at 2:58 pm 13 comments

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