Category Archives: Food

What I learned from six months of GMO research: None of it matters

Wow, this article streams about 20 of my gravest passions – grave in the sense of their depressing content – but mostly it’s an intriguing look at society’s relationship with technology. Thank you for this, Nathanael Johnson.


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Grist

About a third of the way through this series on GMOs, after a particularly angry conflagration broke out on Twitter, I asked my wife, Beth, if I could tell her what had happened. I was hoping to exorcise those digital voices from my head. Someone had probably accused me of crimes against humanity, shoddy journalism, and stealing teddy bears from children — I forget the details, thank goodness. But I remember Beth’s response.

“No offense,” she said, “but who cares?”

It’s a little awkward to admit this, after devoting so much time to this project, but I think Beth was right. The most astonishing thing about the vicious public brawl over GMOs is that the stakes are so low.

I know that to those embroiled in the controversy this will seem preposterous. Let me try to explain.

Let’s start off with a thought experiment: Imagine two alternate futures, one in…

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The kitchen’s a mess

My Messy Kitchen

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Ask Umbra: Can I rest easy eating organic beef?

“the very best choice, environmentally speaking, is to cut way back on your beef… raising cattle is still highly resource intensive”


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Grist

Send your question to Umbra!

Q.I always buy organically raised beef, when I do buy beef. I read that ground beef you get is a mixture of beef from different animals. How do I know the beef I am getting is, in fact, organically grown? Could it be mixed with other feedlot beef? Also, when it comes to processing the animal, how are the organically raised cows treated? Any better or different than if they were just regular cows?

Suzy P.
Denver, CO

A. Dearest Suzy,

When I got your letter, I imagined you reading it aloud in with a suave accent: “I don’t always eat beef. But when I do, I prefer organic.” And well that you do: There are important differences between the lives — if not the deaths — of organically raised cattle and their conventional, feedlot-bound siblings.

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Global FOODprint – Very Punny!

A few months ago I wrote a post about Canada’s appalling rate of wasting food, as part of my All right already, stop asking! series about quirky little habits I’ve picked up over the years that just might save the world. While the primary focus of the article is on the appalling amount of food entering Canada’s waste stream, food waste has other very significant social implications.

There is the obvious one that most of us were raised on: Eat your dinner! Don’t you know their are children starving in [Africa]! [Insert any country on any continent here – yes, even Canada]

But setting the “niggling” little issue of starving populations aside (PLEASE tell me those air quotes convey my sarcasm!), waste is not only an end-of-life issue, but also a life-cycle issue throughout the food production and distribution system, or as the UNEP explains it:

“The global food system has profound implications for the environment, and producing more food than is consumed only exacerbates the pressures”

Drawing on Ecological Footprinting, the enlightening and innovative technique to estimate our Earth’s resource limitations, the UNEP recently launched a new campaign to target our global FoodPrint. See what they did there? Very punny. Punny but also fitting since the concept is really just a particular case of ecological footprinting.

Wasted food contributes to land degradation, water and energy waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and depleted marine stocks without ever nourishing the owners of those hungry bellies in [Africa] who your mother told you about.

To participate in the campaign, check out the UNEP’s great planning strategies, food storage tips, and even dietary tricks that reduce not only your waste, but also your waist (To obvious? Overused?), and even save you money.

Food for thought: Has it ever occurred to you to ask restaurants for smaller portions?


Live within limits without limiting life

Follow me and check out my new blog! Meat Eating Vegans


Meat Eating Vegans

Notice anything different? I have a new blog! Check out the link at the top of this page, “Meat Eating Vegans.”

Meat Eating Vegans

Meat Eating Vegans

Those of you who follow me because you’re foodies, will surely find my new ramblings interesting. See you there!


My son just ate his first Junior Mint!

His face makes this cartoon character expression – eyebrows up, eyes wide, mouth open – every time he tries something he thought would be verboten. It’s the type of expression that Hollywood tries to replicate in movies like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Mary Poppins, but never have I seen it so genuine, so virgin, as I have seen on my son’s face when he finds out he can eat what’s on offer. Today Junior Mints earned his rapture.

Does this photo not make Junior Mints look good enough to eat?!?! Thanks Ellboy for this great shot!

That’s right, I’m blogging about what my family ate today. Before your eyes roll, before you groan about yet another mommy blog, before you spit back: “Been there, done that!” give me a chance to explain.

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12. CBC

Just assembling my morning (Fairtrade : ) coffee, when I stumbled upon this lovely piece by Canada’s public broadcaster, CBC:

7 ways to reduce household food waste

“Experts say that curbing household food waste starts at the grocery store, where people tend to make impulse purchases and often buy more than they need. (iStock)”

On the heels of the shocking recent revelation that it’s Canadians at home who are wasting over half of the “$27 billion of food wasted countrywide.”

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10. Litterless lunches, the sequel

Contentious as it is, there may be a case for Ziplock bags.

DON’T RUN AWAY ENVIRO-FRIENDS!!!!! I have an argument! I HAVE AN ARGUMENT!

Exhibit A:

Island of misfit containers

Island of Misfit Containers

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9. Litterless lunches

I can’t do this justice. I hate packing lunches as much as anyone else. So this is just a plea:

STOP USING PRE-PACKAGED SNACKS!!!!!

For brilliant ideas about simple, lovely, healthy, litterless lunches, I am pleased to present:

Late Night Plays

Late Night Plays

Late Night Plays: Bonkers for Bentos

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7. Labels

Boy eating blue cotton candy

His 2am puke was the same colour!

I fully support labeling kids. We need to know at the outset what kind of person each kid is, and it is our social responsibility to inform others about their personality types. Labels help kids take on their expected roles and they help others know how to treat each kid.

Now labels on food? I’m against them. We need professionals and experts to promise us it is good for us, not nutrition data. What does it all mean anyway? GMOs, petroleum based food-dyes, high fructose corn syrup, who even notices that stuff? It’s too confusing.

You’re not really buying this crap, are you?

I LOVE labels!!!!! And my kids are learning to read them – and use them against me, which is highly entertaining.

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