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See the Documentary Film: Food, Inc.

tomatoes

“Fresh Farm whole chicken, $.79/lb.” ~ Supermarket Ad

“Lean ground beef, $1.99/lb.” ~ Supermarket Ad

Americans are addicted to cheap food. Just look at the proliferation and popularity of the big box stores that sell cheap food in huge quantities. We spend only about 9.7% of our income on food, which is a smaller share than any other nation. And, about 16% of our income is spent on healthcare – more than any other nation. Is that a surprise?

If it is, it won’t be when you see the newly released documentary, Food, Inc. As the film brilliantly points out, our entire food producing system is a kind of “shell game” where the true cost of our so-called “cheap” food sloshes over into so many other areas. Two major areas of hidden cost include the cost of our healthcare and the cost to our environment.

The message is so important that I think it’s critical that every American see this film. But be prepared to make some changes in how you eat, and how and where you purchase food. I don’t think anyone can see this film and not think hard about making at least some changes in their shopping and eating patterns.

For far too long we have been in the dark about how our food arrives at our tables. Although this movie is certainly provocative and even disturbing at times, I actually came away feeling optimistic that as we become more educated we will be able to use our power as purchasing citizens to bring about change. How our food shopping dollars are spent can support more humane farming practices, more sanitary conditions for food production, less E. Coli contamination in our food supply (which currently is accelerating at frightening rates), better opportunities for small farmers and more local and organic farming in general. We do have choices and we have the power. What better way to spend our food dollars than to contribute to our personal health and the health of the planet?

Here are three suggestions of better choices we can all make:

  1. Poultry and meat: Buy grass fed (not corn fed); free range (animals actually graze and have outdoor access); hormone-free poultry and meat. Support small farmers that are farming the old-fashioned way, with animals living on the land. Yes, this meat will cost more in the short-run, but less in the long-run.
  2. Buy organic and local: Support the farmer’s that are treating the land, our environment, the farm animals and our food respectfully and healthfully. The more we support these farmers, the lower the price of this higher quality food will be. Again, we are thinking long term here.
  3. Eat less animal protein and more vegetarian protein. Perhaps start with one vegetarian day of the week where all your protein comes from the many varieties of beans, or tofu and tempeh. Or, have a smoothie made with protein powder, and fresh organic fruit for one meal a day. This will immediately save you money.

Seven ways to save the health of the planet, our family’s health, and lower costs:

  1. Have smaller servings of meat and poultry. Most serving sizes are too large. Reduce to 3-4 oz servings.
  2. Eat more vegetarian protein.
  3. Buy real food. The more processed our food, the more chemicals, sugars, salts, and unrecognizable ingredients added. And the more processed, the more expensive the food.
  4. Shop farmers’ markets. One of the fastest growing trends in America is the proliferation of farmers’ markets. And these markets are not just for produce anymore! Also for grass-fed meat, wild fish, organic eggs from free range chickens, organic cheese and dairy from grazing cows. Again, the more we support these farmers, the more the prices will come down.
  5. Cook at home more. And not with processed, microwave-ready foods. I’ve included a simple, 30-minute recipe for a high quality, balanced, vegetarian meal at the end of this article. Build your repertoire of easy, healthy recipes. For the price of one meal out for a family of four, you can eat a healthier meal at home for at least four nights.
  6. Plant a garden (even a small one, or a few potted veggies).
  7. Eat less! Overall, Americans eat too much food. Cut your serving size down by one-third. Then wait 30 minutes to see if you are still hungry. Usually 30 minutes after eating, most Americans are just too full. Try it. You’ll be amazed.

We get to vote every time we sit at the table to eat. What are you voting for?

Stir-Fried Tofu with Ginger Broccoli

Ingredients:
1 pound extra firm tofu (organic, non-GMO)
2 tbsp. tamari (low sodium, wheat-free soy sauce)
3 tbsp. olive oil
3-6  scallions, chopped
2 tsp. peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 minced garlic cloves
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 red bell pepper cut into thin strips
1 tbsp. arrowroot (as thickening agent)
1 tbsp. dry sherry or white wine
1/2 tsp. cayenne or 1/4 tsp. hot-pepper flakes
1 tsp. sesame oil

Slice tofu into cubes. Toss with tamari soy sauce and set aside for 5-10 minutes. In a wok or large skillet, heat 1 tbsp. oil. When oil is hot add scallions, ginger, and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Drain tofu, reserving tamari, and add the tofu, stir-frying for 2 more minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Using a fork or small whisk, mix reserved tamari with arrowroot, sherry/wine and cayenne in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat another 1 tbsp. oil in wok. Add broccoli, mushrooms, and bell pepper, and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water and  bring to boil. Cover wok and reduce heat steaming vegetables about 5 minutes until slightly tender.

Return tofu to wok. Stir reserved tamari mixture into wok and cook over medium heat until thickened and thoroughly heated. Don’t overcook vegetables.

Add sesame oil, salt and pepper to taste and adjust seasonings if you desire a spicier dish.

Serve immediately or make ahead and refrigerate until ready to serve. Reheat carefully; flavors are enhanced when the dish sits overnight.

Have by itself or may serve over a small amount of brown rice.

(8g carbohydrates, 15 g protein, 17 g fat, 230 calories, without rice, serves 4)