Category Archives: In the News

Five Absurdly Large Fast-Food Serving Sizes


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From Takepart.com, here’s a photo gallery of some enormous “servings” of food. I don’t know about you but I can hardly stomach the photos. I can’t imagine eating like this.

March Against Monsanto: 1,000+ Demonstrators in Grand Rapids, Michigan


March Against Monsanto, Grand Rapids, Michigan

We had an impressive turnout of demonstrators today in Grand Rapids, Michigan–people who were motivated to March Against Monsanto to call attention to the dangers posed by genetically modified food (GMOs) and the food giants that produce it. I was thrilled to be a participant in a worldwide event to bring awareness to consumers about who’s controlling our food system. Good to see local news stations WOOD-TV and Fox 17 West Michigan covered the event.

Here’s my video of marchers on Pearl Street.

And check out the slideshow I created of demonstrators and their creative signs. (Oh, plus a wedding in progress as we passed the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.)

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March Against Monsanto: May 25


March Against MonsantoIf you haven’t heard, a global initiative is underway. People all over the world who care about what they eat and the future of the earth will March Against Monsanto on Saturday, May 25, to demonstrate their concern about the global food supply.

Marches are planned on six continents, in 49  countries, totaling events in over 370 cities. In the U.S., events will occur simultaneously at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time in 47 states.

I’m marching in Michigan to take a stand against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), which can threaten people’s health and longevity, as well as biodiversity.

To learn more about initiative, read the mission statement and press release.

Interested in marching? Find a city near you.

What Can You Do to Fight Hunger?


Consider this: 1 in 4 U.S. kids don’t know where their next meal will come from. In our country, we subsidize the wrong products. Millions of Americans live in food deserts without access to healthy ingredients. The foods we should be eating—fruits and vegetables—are more expensive than the chips, sodas, and processed foods that are available. We currently spend a mere $1 per week per child in school meal programs. Food stamp participants are only allocated $4 a day to survive.

Last year, in response to a local hunger challenge, I did a series of blog posts on How to Eat Healthy on $5 a Day. My goal was to demonstrate that $5 a day (close to the allotment provided by the SNAP food stamp program) can go a long way towards healthy food (as opposed to cheap processed food). And that even takes into account Bill’s food allergies and our preference for happy food (local, organic, sustainable, humane). The experiment lasted five days.

I’m one of more than a hundred bloggers donating today’s post to raise awareness about hunger. It’s all in support of an initiative called Food Bloggers Against Hunger, which was created in response to the new documentary A Place at the TableIt’s also in partnership with Share Our Strength‘s efforts in Washington to protect SNAP funding and make anti-hunger legislation a priority.

When the government subsidizes products like soy beans, wheat, and corn instead of fresh produce, the most affordable food is often the unhealthiest. One thing I learned by Day 5 of my experiment last year was that legumes are cheap. And, of course they’re healthy!

So today I’m sharing some of my favorite cheap and easy recipes that could easily take the place of processed and fast food to help keep Americans fed and healthy.

Split-Pea Soup in a Crockpot

Yellow Split Pea Soup

Cuban Black Beans and Brown Rice

Refried Cuban Black Beans with Brown Rice and Quesadillas

Nutty Rice Porridge

Use leftover brown rice to make this next recipe for breakfast. Buy apples from the farmers’ market when in season.

Nutty Rice Porridge

Kale Chips

Kale is fairly ubiquitous and seems to be available much of the year. Kale chips are a great alternative to potato chips. Much healthier, and easy to make!

Curly kale

Red Lentil Soup

Shourba Ads, or Red Lentil Soup

I recently watched A Place at the Table. And one thing I learned is that hunger in America cannot be eliminated by creating bigger food banks. The only way to stop hunger is by changing policies, so it’s important we make our voices heard. If you’re inspired by the trailer for A Place at the Table, go see it. (You can also watch it on demand through iTunes and Amazon.)

If you’re moved to action, please consider sending a letter to Congress to support anti-hunger legislation.

Let’s obliterate hunger in America!

Everyone Deserves a Place at the Table


It’s hard to believe the number of people who go hungry in this country every day. It’s around 50 million. And about 17 million of those people are children. But I think our image of hungry people is distorted. I know mine has been. Hunger to me has always meant malnourished. Skin and bones. Living skeletons. These are examples of extreme hunger that has gone too far. But hunger in America often means the opposite: people who are overweight because the food they’re eating is crap. They don’t get the nutrients they need. And it’s often the root cause for a number of diseases, such as heart failure and diabetes. The cost of hunger and food insecurity to the U.S. economy is $167 billion per year.

It’s not just about the day-to-day hunger due to lack of food, but also the continual stress and wasted energy spent on figuring out how to make ends meet. How frustrating it must be for people who are driven to work but then make too much to qualify for food stamps. Food is the most basic of all human needs. It should be a right.

I recently watched the new documentary, “A Place at the Table” where I learned many of these facts. Like I’ve seen in movies such as “Food, Inc.” and “King Corn,” or read in Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, part of the problem stems from the monoculture we’ve created. Our government actually encourages farmers to grow certain crops such as wheat, soy, and corn, which are then funneled into the food industry in the form of processed food. This so-called food is cheap and accessible to people who live in food deserts—places where it’s difficult to get fresh, healthy food.

Why should a state like Mississippi suffer from food deserts when its climate is prime for farming most of the year? Mississippi is known for its rank as the most obese state, largely due to its poverty rate and lack of access to healthy food.

According to the documentary, one out of two children will require food assistance during their lifetime. And this affects their development–physically, emotionally, and socially. As Harry Truman once said, a country is only as strong as its youth. For the first time ever, this generation of children is poised to live sicker and die younger than its parents’ generation.

Jeff Bridges, founder of Share Our Strength, says, “Charity is a great thing but it’s not the way to end hunger. We don’t fund our Defense Department through charity.” Why not spend the money on fixing hunger, which can do so much more for people’s health in the long run?

The issue isn’t about lack of food. It’s about poverty: offering people a living wage so they can afford food. We need to address this issue in our government. What can be more important than feeding our fellow citizens?

Fighting Food Deserts in Birmingham


Photo via GOOD.com

Photo via GOOD.com

I love win-win stories. Check out this one from GOOD that tells how small farmers in Birmingham, Alabama, benefit from a base of consumers, and a neighborhood gets good food and local jobs. What a way to build community.

The Southwest Fresh Market in Birmingham, Alabama, is a volunteer led program initiated by REV Birmingham. A nonprofit organization working with local government, business, and community partners, its focus is to find solutions to a common challenge: connecting urban, often low-income residents with small farmers looking to boost sales.

More than 40 percent of Birmingham residents live in areas defined as food deserts, since grocery stores have shut their doors and big box retailers moved to the outskirts of the city. Food deserts are a problem because they limit residents’ opportunities for finding healthy food.

Read more about the initiative on GOOD.com.

It’s Winter, and It’s Farmers Market Season!


Graphic via Grist.org

Graphic via Grist.org

Great news for locavores and anyone else who is trying to buy more fresh, local produce where you live: The number of winter farmers markets–those operating at least once between November and March–has risen by 52% this year!

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the number has increased from 1,225 in 2011 to 1,864 in 2012.

Graphic via Grist.org

Graphic via Grist.org

The graphic shows California, New York, and Florida topping the list, but here are the 2012 top 10 states for winter farmers markets:

1. California with 284

2. New York with 196

3. Florida with 105

4. Maryland with 70

5. Texas with 63

6. North Carolina with 62

7. Massachusetts with 59

8. Pennsylvania with 58

9. Georgia with 55

10. Virginia with 53

It’s great to see a few states in the snowy North making the list!

The Hidden Dangers of Feedlot Beef


Photo via TakePart.com

Photo via TakePart.com

Feedlot beef is not a new topic for Life Is Fare, but I feel compelled to once again share an article about the beef that’s sold to most grocery stores and restaurants in the U.S.

The Kansas City Star investigated the processing methods–and their hazards for human health–among the largest beef packers in the U.S. This group includes the big four— Tyson Foods of Arkansas, Cargill Meat Solutions of Wichita, National Beef of Kansas City, and JBS USA Beef of Greeley, Colo. — as well as the network of feedlots, processing plants, animal drug companies and lobbyists who make up the behemoth known as Big Beef.

What The Star found is “an increasingly concentrated industry that mass-produces beef at high speeds in mega-factories that dot the Midwest, where Kansas City serves as the “buckle” of the beef belt. It’s a factory food process churning out cheaper and some say tougher cuts of meat that can cause health problems.”

Here’s a list of other key findings:

  • Large beef plants, based on volume alone, contribute disproportionately to the incidence of meat-borne pathogens.
  • Big Beef and other processors are co-mingling ground beef from many different cattle, some from outside the United States, adding to the difficulty for health officials to track contaminated products to their source. The industry also has resisted labeling some products, including mechanically tenderized meat, to warn consumers and restaurants to cook it thoroughly.
  • Big Beef is injecting millions of dollars of growth hormones and antibiotics into cattle, partly to fatten them quickly for market. But many experts believe that years of overuse and misuse of such drugs contributes to antibiotic-resistant pathogens in humans, meaning illnesses once treated with a regimen of antibiotics are much harder to control.
  • Big Beef is using its political pull, public relations campaigns and the supportive science it sponsors to influence federal dietary guidelines and recast steaks and burgers as health foods people can eat every day. It even persuaded the American Heart Association to certify beef as “heart healthy.”

Are you sure this is what you want to eat?

The Obesity Epidemic


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death. For many of these conditions, diet is a contributing factor. Check out the obesity prevalence by state for 2011:

  • Obesity prevalence ranged from 20.7% in Colorado to 34.9% in Mississippi.
  • No state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%.
  • 39 states had a prevalence of 25% or more; 12 of these states had a prevalence of 30% or more: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.
  • The South had the highest prevalence of obesity (29.5%), followed by the Midwest (29.0%), the Northeast (25.3%) and the West (24.3%).

Learn more in this  video called “The Obesity Epidemic,” which addresses the challenges of obesity in our country, especially food and eating behaviors. As a major contributor to some of the leading causes of death in the U.S., it’s time to evolve our communities into places that strongly support healthy eating and active living.

The GMO Debate: To Label or Not to Label?


Watch the debate on Real Time with Bill Maher (rated R for language, fyi). Don’t we have a right to know if we’re eating GMOs?