Healthy Eats for a Sustainable World

Welcome to my blog about healthy eating and food choices that are more sustainable for our world. I think I have always been concerned with eating healthy for my body, but it was not until I was pregnant that I really started to take a look at what I was eating as it was directly helping this tiny person grow inside of me.

I hope that this blog can help to share our story of how we changed the way we look at and buy food, our continual learning process about food, and the eye opening experience of learning how to eat more sustainability for our planet. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Slow Food

Today my husband and I attended our first Slow Food event...the 5th Annual Golden Glass event in San Francisco at Fort Mason. It was a wine and food tasting extravaganza. We got to taste food from many of the local restaurants that we love or are dying to try. I think my favorite tasting had to be the chocolate ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery that was drizzled with olive oil and sea was delicious!!! And my second favorite was probably the semi-sweet chocolate I tasted that was right next to a tasting of fresh strawberries...and how I love strawberries and chocolate.

The wines were mostly from Italy and many of the representatives there were from Italy. It was fun to listen to them talk in Italian... it is such a beautiful language.

Anyway I know I haven't written a blog entry in a while - but I am busy here running after my 22 month old daughter and trying to prepare local and organic food for her. Tonight for dinner she had a hamburger and peas - and she devoured it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Edible Cosmetic...Maybe

I just completed my first batch of homemade face cream and an attempted lotion. Maybe they are not quite edible, but they are made of natural ingredients. Along with my obsession with knowing what foods are going into my body, I am starting to become more aware of what is entering my body through my skin. Cosmetic products have a ton of chemical ingredients and just like ingesting pesticides, our bodies are exposed to toxins through the cosmetics that we put on our body. Now I am still using shampoos, conditioners and some lotions... but I am trying to look at the ingredients and avoid the ones that seem to be the worst for you. The two big ones right now are parabens and phthalates. Both of these chemicals might have some risk of causing reproductive harm... not something I want to put on my body not to mention my daughter's body. I also try to avoid sodium laurel sulfates as I have heard that this often causes severe irritation. I have also started looking up my cosmetics on the Cosmetic Database that is created by the Environmental Working Group. You can find a particular lotion, shampoo or any other cosmetic and if it is in their database it will rate the toxicity of the product. When I first did this with the cosmetics in my household I was astonished to learn that many of them were highly toxic on their scale. Even products that were from more natural companies. My favorite companies right now are:
  • California Baby
  • Jason Organics
  • Dr Bronner's Soaps (for shampoo or body wash)
  • Tom's of Maine for toothpaste - but if you look on the database you will see that some toothpastes are better than others
Anyway, it is overwhelming to think about all the things that might cause harm in our highly chemical world right now. So I often have to remind myself to just do what I can as I move towards using more natural products. Anyway I came across a book called Organic Body Care Recipes and it tells you how to make vairous lotions, body butters, creams and even shampoos and conditioners. I made the "To Sleep Perchance to Dream" Balm and it seems to have worked out well. This one just involved melting different oils and butters together and mixing with essential oil. I also attempted the "Aloe and Calendula" Cream. It didn't work out that well...but I think it was because I had to blend it in the blender and I made only a half batch instead of a whole batch and there wasn't enough for the blender to blend.

Anyway... we will see how I sleep and dream tonight with my homemade balm.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Saturday Morning Ritual

My cousin told me he calls this "my church". Every Saturday morning we go to the Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. It takes something quite extraordinary for us not to make it. For example: our daughter was born on a Friday morning... we didn't make it to the market the next day, but we did make it a week later when Ella was only 8 days old.

At first we started to go to the market on Saturday mornings as a social event. My mom almost always goes with us and sometimes my dad meets us. We also go with our family friends The Drakes. When my husband and I still lived in Boston and we came to SF to visit we would make sure we were in SF for at least on Saturday so we could go to the market. Once we moved to SF almost four years ago we started the tradition of going virtually every Saturday.

When we started going we would get some fruits and veggies. Now it is so much more. We now get almost 90% of our fruits and vegetables from the market. The other 10% comes from our corner market or occasionally the supermarket and that is only because we are just starting to get really good at planning our weekly meals. But it didn't start that way. When you make the decision to try to eat organic and local it takes time to get used to that type of lifestyle. One of the biggest aspects is the cost. When we started buying more of our fruits and veggies at the farmer's market as opposed to our little corner store we saw a dramatic increase in our cost of food. That takes a little getting used to. Sometimes my husband and I would say, "I am not going to pay that much for ____ when I can get it for half as much at the corner store." But little by little we started trying different types of fruits and veggies and made it a priority to try to buy almost all our produce at the farmer's market.

The farmer's market also gives us chance to get to know the farmers. I KNOW where my food is coming from now. It is hard to describe why this is important and how it makes me feel... but it really is an incredible feeling. My relationship to my food is different - and I like it! I can talk to the farmer's about their crops and how many more weeks they are going to have a particular fruit or vegetable. This is an invaluable resource when trying to cook seasonally. I also love that you can taste everything. During the summer months my mom and I go on the search for the perfect peach. Unfortunately, this summer I am going to be gone for three weeks during peach season...oh no. We are going to Europe so don't feel too bad for me. But I am a little disappointed I will not have a whole summer to find the perfect peach.

Another way to get local produce is through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). A CSA is a way that you can get weekly produce from a local farm. Some farms deliver your box directly to your door and others have a pick-up site in your area. We joined a CSA after our daughter was born since we wanted to continue to eat local and organic fruits and veggies, but didn't know if we were going to be able to make it to the market every week... as babies can be unpredictable. We joined Eatwell Farm. It was great to join the CSA as we were invited to the Eatwell Farm strawberry picking days - what a wonderful event. We got to spend an afternoon at the farm and pick strawberries and learn about where our fruits and veggies were grown. See some photos below of Ella enjoying the strawberry picking day. (Keep in mind this was about a year ago... so Ella is a lot smaller.) We have since canceled as we love to go to the market every week and just couldn't eat all the produce we were buying and getting in our box.

Saturday mornings at the market help our family have a closer connection to our food and to those that are growing it... and that feels really sweet!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

How to buy a cow...

While reading Michal Pollan's book Omnivore's Dilemma, I came home and told my husband that we couldn't buy our meat from Costco anymore. I further explained that I didn't really want to eat beef anymore unless it was 100% grass-fed. Now my husband loves beef and the thought of not having it in our house anymore really scared him. He started searching on the internet for sources of grass fed beef and he came across some great websites. Here is a great website for finding farms in your area... just click on your state on the map to find the farms: EatWild

My husband found a couple of farms in our area and started calling around to see what a grass-fed beef costs and where they were sold.

Lesson 1: a cow is referred to as a "beef" in the industry.

Lesson 2:
grass-fed beef has a season - imagine that! It makes sense if you think about it.

Grass has a season and if the cow only feed on grass then it would make sense that the cows are harvested after the green grass season, as the prime growing season for the cows is when the grass is green. In Northern California, 100% grass-fed cows are harvested from about the end of May until the end of October. Feedlots do not worry about a season as they finish all their cows on corn, a food that cows actually cannot digest. Which is why feedlots have to give cows antibiotics as they get sick from eating the corn... [end rant, for more on this please read Omnivore's Dilemma... in fact if you are going to read this blog regularly, you should really just read this book].

Anyway we settled on buying our first cow from Open Space Meats from Farmer Seth. When Farmer Seth came to drop off the cow... yes he drove to San Francisco and dropped it off in 8 large coolers... he said "She was a good cow." Now I really had a whole new relationship to the beef I was eating... she was a "good cow"... and we decided to name her Bessie. Sorry if naming the cow that we eat offends anyone, but if you know my husband and our friend Jessie you know that is is totally their humor. Our second cow we named Ethyl!

We split the cow with three other families and we were amazed at how good the meat tasted. It was different and it took a little while to get used to cooking it - grass fed beef is much leaner than traditional feedlot meat so it cooks differently. It is so nice to know where our meat is coming from and to know that there are no growth hormones or unnecessary antibiotics in our meat. The next thing on our list to do is go visit Seth's farm so we can see where our beef is raised.

Lesson 3: grass-fed beef is tasty!!!

Lesson 4: grass-fed beef is healthy

That is right...grass-fed (pasture raised) beef is healthy. It is much lower in fat, has many more omega-3's, and is higher in Vitamin E than corn fed beef. (See an article on nutritional benefit here.) In fact, grass-fed beef has been said to lower bad cholesterol. Wow! Tasty, nutritious and healthy for our environment. And there is so much more that I haven't even touched on here.

In the end, if you can't get a whole beef or part of a beef because of cost or storage issues, you can always buy grass-fed beef from your local farmer's market or local butcher. We love Drews Bros Meats on Church Street if we need to buy smaller quantities of local meat. You can also find restaurants in your area that serve grass-fed and local beef...check out the full EatWild website as it has a ton of information and resources.

So, my final word on the topic... Moo.


Welcome to my new blog about healthy eating and food choices that are more sustainable for our world. I think I have always been concerned with eating healthy for my body, but it was not until I was pregnant that I really started to take a look at what I was eating as it was directly helping this tiny person grow inside of me.

I also happened to read Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan when I was pregnant and it drastically changed how my husband and I ate. While I was in the middle of reading the book, I told my husband that we could not buy our meat from Costo anymore and I didn't think I wanted to eat beef anymore unless we could find 100% grass fed. I was realizing that I was being really careful about what was going into my body as everything that went into my body would be going to help the little being inside of me grow. I also realized that I was also eating everything that the animals I was eating ate...if that makes any sense. So I wanted to know that the animals I was eating were not being treated with growth hormones or antibiotics and that their feed was not laced with pesticides.

I quickly learned that changing the way you eat is a process... it can't happen overnight. Before my proclamation about changing the way we ate, my husband and I were already going to the farmer's market every Saturday morning. Originally we stared going to the market as a social thing to do - we would go with my parents and really good family friends. It felt good to talk with the farmers about their crops and the farmer's market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco has an amazing atmosphere. Although we had been going to the market for a while, I didn't really get the full impact of what it meant to shop at the farmer's market until I started looking closely at how we ate and how it affects the environment.

My mission intensified when my daughter was born - as I look at her and want to do everything in my power to make sure what is going in her body will not cause problems for her decades later... and I want to make sure that the way the food is grown it does not deplete or destroy the natural resources that are left on the planet.

I hope that this blog can help to share our story of how we changed the way we look at and buy food, our continual learning process about food, and the eye opening experience of learning how to eat more sustainability for our planet. Enjoy!