Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘food crisis’

With less money to spend every month, many Americans are turning to coupons to stretch their food budget. Last weekend, I decided to join the ranks, and sat down at my kitchen table, armed with scissors and the two inserts from our Sunday paper. And started clipping away.

Coupons' Trap

I decided to separate the coupons into three piles:

Coupons that passed the test of my health conscious, green filter, and the only ones I may possibly use:

  • Minute Maid Juices, Lipton Teas, Stash Tea, EarthGrains Whole Wheat Bread, Tabasco – not a hundred percent sure about the EarthGrains Bread, I tried to check the ingredients online, without success -

The suspicious pile, coupons for products that won’t kill you, but all come with health/nutrition problems attached, to various degrees. Red flags such as too much salt, too much sugar, too much fat, GMO baggage, unnecessary packaging, radiation, pesticides, excessive processing, toxic eakage from plastic linings, added chemicals, grains stripped away from their wholeness, empty calories, fried potatoes, too much red meat:

  • Progresso Chicken Broth, Green Giant Frozen Vegetables, Star Olive Oil, Vinegar, and Olives, Mrs. Dash Seasoning Blend, Spice Islands Spices, Quaker Oatmeal, Fresh Express Pre-cut Salad, Del Monte Canned Fruit and Vegetables, Ragu Pasta Sauce, Skippy Peanut Butter, College Inn Broths and Stocks, Uncle Ben’s Long Grain and Wild Rice, Lawry’s Seasonings, Newman’s Dressings, Swiss Miss Cocoa, Bisquick Pancake Mix, Best Foods Mayonnaise, Pillsbury Dinner Rolls and Biscuits, Daisy Sour Cream, PoppyCock Nuts, Pam Spray, True North Nuts, Lipton Dinners, Kraft Salad Dressings, CountryCrock Cinnamon Apples, International House of Pancakes, Black Angus Steak House, Bakers Square Dinners, Betty Crocker Au Gratin Potatoes, Jell-O, Planters Nuts, C&H Sugar, Tyson Fully Cooked Bacon, Fiber One Toaster Pastries, Betty Crocker Cookie Mix, Quaker Chewy Granola Bars, Lee Kum Kee Sauces, Hillshire Farm Cocktail Links

The obviously junky bunch:

  • Betty Crocker Frosting, Cool-Whip, Big G Kid Cereals, Chuck E Cheese Pizza and Coca Cola Drinks, White Castle Microwavable Burgers, Reddi Whip, Entenmann’s Doughnuts, Hershey’s Chocolates, Kozy Schack Desserts, M&Ms

If I had any lingering doubts about the intentions of the food industry as a whole, this little exercise put them to rest. Coupons were not created with the interest of consumers in mind. Rather they are yet another marketing tactic from consumer packaged goods manufacturers to push their highly processed foods, regardless of their actual health benefit or lack thereof.

I say, let us not fall into the coupon trap, and seek instead, other, smarter ways to save, that won’t hurt our health.

Read Full Post »

I saw the few raisins left behind, in their original Whole Foods plastic bag. Flashed to Green Guru, and imagined him going through the pain of retrieving each one, so that none would go to waste. Nah! Why bother? A few raisins in the garbage, did not measure up with the inconvenience of separating the plastic folds, unsticking the raisins, one at a time, and sliding them from the bag, into the jar. Out of sight, out of mind. The little raisins went into garbage oblivion.

The next day, I watched without saying a word, as Green Guru pulled out the dirty bag, and collected every single one of the five raisins I had forsaken, and sprinkled them on top of his breakfast.


I have been thinking about the five little raisins. Green Guru and I have different value sets, when it comes to managing resources.

My values: resources are abundant, my time is precious

Green Guru’s values: resources are scarce, someone else is hungry who could be eating those raisins

His come from being raised in India, a poverty stricken country. I, on the other hand come from France where food supply was never an issue.

As more and more people in the world, start competing for limited resources, it is clear that we, the folks in developed countries need to align more with Green Guru‘s values. Next, comes the question of how to make that shift?

Read Full Post »

Faced with rising food prices, and shrinking wallets, citizens are becoming increasingly resourceful. Sunday’s Washington Post has an article on the unprecedented growth of home gardening in America. A $20 return in produce, for every dollar spent on seeds, is a hard number to ignore. Even I, whose nature did not bless with a green thumb, discovered the marvel of the homegrown vegetable patch.

Hubby Prad, also sometimes called Green Guru, tempers my enthusiasm with his usual cynicism. Prad thinks home gardening is not enough. And shares what he saw at the Honolulu Safeway yesterday. A family, obviously not rich, pushing a shopping cart filled with bottled water. That mother is just throwing away her already scarce resources on regular tap water, made to pass as a high price commodity. Shopping smart is an acquired skill, that many Americans lack. Knowing what to put and not put on one’s grocery list is as essential as looking for the best deals and clipping coupons.

We already knew Americans need to downsize, and not throw away their food. Now add to the list: home gardening, and ‘smart grocery listing‘.

Read Full Post »

I was quite surprised after I returned from vacation, and found my vegetable patch, all replenished with new heads of lettuce. Could it be, I asked Prad? Yes, it’s true, you can keep on tearing off leaves and they grow back. 

 

Salad Patch

Salad Patch

 

Nature is truly Mother to us. No need to waste our paychecks on industrially grown salads, at the grocery store. Instead, better splurge on a few seeds and help with a bit of water every day. I’ve got my own salad factory in the backyard. 

Read Full Post »

Chaos is scary. When faced with uncertainty and doom, our first reaction is to want to control. Imagine for a second, that we are still masters of the universe. And can, will whip our climate and other natural phenomena, into shape. Dammit!

Maybe now is the time, to stop deluding ourselves. Like the addicts that we are, shouldn’t we admit, finally, to our powerlessness. And embrace the reality that is being thrown at us. Oil, more and more elusive and out of our range. Food, no longer so abundant. Water, soon to become like gold. Bees refusing to pollinate.  Angry mobs rising all over, because life is not fair.

I imagine a future when we will be in charge of our destiny, again. Until then, let us surrender, and let go of our addiction.

Read Full Post »

No trip to Paris without a stop at Berthillon, the sherbet place in Ile Saint-Louis. While waiting in line, I cannot believe the serving sizes. Were they this small last year? One scoop for two Euros, it better be good. In the US, for the same price, I would get a huge cup, oozing with overly sweet ‘scream’.  I am pleased, my modest wild strawberry sherbet is bursting with the intensity of 100% pure fruit flavor. I make sure I take the time to enjoy every tiny spoonful. Ahead of us, is a slow moving herd of American tourists, almost all suffering from various degrees of chronic overeating. Obesity in America is not news. Still, whenever I come back to France, I can’t help but noticing the contrast between Americans and the rest of the world:

I would not care, if obesity was a strictly personal matter. More and more, however, it has become a global threat, with Americans leading the offensive. Bestsellers such as Mireille Guiliano‘s “Why French women don’t get fat?“, or Michael Pollan‘s “In Defense of Food” are small blips in America’s awareness of its food problem. What to do? Should weight loss become a national initiative as in Japan?

Read Full Post »

Earlier this week, Erik Hershman, co-founder of Ushahidi, presented his project to our Stanford Peace 2.0 group.

Talk about exciting stuff! Ushahidi is a brilliant example of smart web and mobile technology put to the service of a very worthwhile social cause, in this case violence in Kenya. What enthralled me, was Erik’s announcement of the soon to be released, Ushahidi 2.0, ‘a free, open source version, rebuilt from the ground up that anyone will be able to use around the world’. Ushahidi just won the 2008 NetSquared Challenge

I can very well see having several Ushahidi sites, to cover various aspects of the climate  crisis, from food, to water, to natural disasters, to the witnessing of environmental deterioration. This way, citizens from all over the world can become live witnesses of the negative changes taking place in their environment, and get connected with the solutions to remedy these changes. 

Erik is also the guy behind Afrigadget, another project well worth checking out. 

Read Full Post »

No wonder I felt pangs of guilt while watching “The Ball”. The movie acted as a mirror for my outrageously wasteful lifestyle. It is no consolation to learn that I am joined by the rest of my fellow Americans. One quarter of food wasted, is a hard number to reckon. This is to add to the amount of food wasted in our bodies when we overeat.

Of course our surrounding culture of waste and excess is to blame. At some point, however, one needs to start taking responsibility, and say, enough! I am starting to experience Prad’s comments about my grocery shopping habits, very differently. No longer as an intrusion and an attempt to control my actions, but rather as an expression of his deep concern for his fellow beings. Of course, it does help that he was born in India, a country where access to food is a privilege, not a birthright.

Guilt is good.

Read Full Post »

We are failing to invest in critical energy and agriculture research. We are letting our infrastructure fall apart. We are spending as if there is no tomorrow. We continue to drive as if there was no global warming. We are gorging ourselves despite warnings from our doctors. We focus on quarterly earnings at the expense of the long term health of our businesses . . . The pattern is clear. Like La Fontaine’s grasshopper, we are so focused on immediate rewards, that we are failing to prepare for our future. 

The price to pay for such carelessness is too high for us to ignore. Hence, it becomes important to examine the root causes of such behavior, and ways to fix it. The image of my maternal grandmother comes up. Meme Marie was more like the ant in La Fontaine’s fable. She lived frugally, and made sure she had enough money saved up for her old days. She also drew much comfort from knowing that her nest egg and her farm would go to her children after she died. Her brother, on the other hand was a completely different story. Always broke, and borrowing from my grandmother, until the day when she got fed up, and told him no more. Americans are like my granduncle and La Fontaine’s grasshopper. Overindulged children with no sense of limits, and a dangerous sense of entitlement. This precarious lifestyle breeds anxiety about the very real possibility of sad endings.

The first step is to recognize the problem. Next, is to regain control of our lives and our future. We all secretly want it. We just need permission from the media, and from our leaders. Building, not wasting.

Read Full Post »

Women all over the world have struggled for centuries with the fundamental need to control when they bear child. Even in developed countries as here in America, access to contraception is only relatively recent, and a right that is constantly being threatened under pretexts of religion and morality. As a woman, nothing pushes my buttons more than hearing patriarchal injunctions against proven contraception methods. The fact that family planning is hardly mentioned in all the sustainability discourse, including some of the most progressive blogs, is no coincidence.

When Gary Peters alerted me to the coming out of Robert Engelman‘s new book, More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want, I thought, good, here is a man who’s finally got it. The great thing about Engelman‘s work is that it is based on extensive research with women from all over the world, over a long period of more than 25 years:

It makes sense that those who bear children and do most of the work in raising them should have the final say in when, and when not, to do so. By making their own decisions based on what’s best for themselves and their children, women ultimately bring about a global good that governments could never deliver through regulation or control: a population in balance with nature’s resources. . . what women want, is not more children, but more for their children, and we can be thankful for that.” 

Seems simple enough. Next comes the question of, how come universal access  to contraception and family planning education are not at the forefront of top level discussions on climate change and sustainability? 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.