Tiny Urban Tidbits is where I share with you some insights, "tidbits", or just random encounters from the week. I carry my camera with me everywhere I go, and I love capturing photos of interesting things that I discover. These may include new dishes from a restaurant that I've already reviewed, updates on what's going on locally, or encounters I've had in the kitchen. It could even include a beautiful sunset, a funny sign, or just stuff I find amusing. Think of it as snapshots (literally!) of my weekly experiences with food - intertwined with stories, of course.
This past Monday I was invited to join a round table discussion with Gary Hirshberg, CE-Yo of Stonyfield about food. More specifically, he shared his thoughts on how our choices regarding the food we eat affect both the health of the planet and ourselves.
Green, Sustainable, Organic Businesses
The talk was quite interesting. One of his main points was that it's possible to operate a business in green, sustainable ways and make profits at the same time. He even implied that, in the long run, it's more profitable to run a business this way. Of course, Stonyfield is the poster child for this vision, as he shared how Stonyfield has held high standards in these areas yet has been growing faster than almost all of its main competitors. He really believes that businesses (as opposed to governments) are the ones with the real power to truly change the way we farm, sell, and produce food. He also told us that the consumer is very powerful, and could definitely send messages by "voting" with our wallets.
Aside from the damage that conventional farming does to the environment, he also touched upon the health effects of pesticides on human bodies, citing both previous and recent studies correlating pesticides in food with various ailments such as cancer and ADHD in children.
There was a Q&A afterwards, where many people posed all sorts of questions. I asked him about the high cost of organic goods, and whether moving to a completely organic food system could still feed everyone, most notably the poor. He acknowledged that organic food is prohibitively expensive for many right now, but he still thinks there are ways to get closer to his goal. As a side note, he pointed out that all food was organic 100 years ago, and it really was not until post-WWII that pesticides and other chemicals started becoming a regular part of conventional "monocultural" farming (meaning that the same soil is repeatedly used over and over for the same types of crops, thus depleting the soil of nutrients, forcing the need to use heavy, chemical fertilizers).
He ended by saying that the way to bring down the price was to 1) increase volume (currently only 3% of produce sold in the US is organic) and 2) remove government subsidies so that organics can compete more fairly with conventional. He praised places like Walmart, which sells organic foods at competitive prices, for moving us towards the "volume" side of this solution.
What do you all think? Do you ever buy organic? If so, how much? How often do you think about sustainability?
I met some great food bloggers while I was there, including Tina from Carrots and Cake, Athena from Forays of a Finance Foodie, Erin from Erin Cooks, Elina from Healthy and Sane, Jennifer from Savor the Thyme, Ali from Food, Fitness, and Fun, Meghan from Travel Eat Love, and Jules from Daily Grommet.
Speaking of Local Foods . . .
I was recently contacted by Effie's for a chance to try their oatcakes and corncakes, dense, biscuit-like cookies made out of either oats or corn. Effie's was founded in 2008 by Joan MacIsaac and Irene Costello, two friends who decided to sell these cakes that Joan's mom, Effie, used to make back in Nova Scotia. I happen to LOVE both oats and corn, so of course agreed to try out the oatcakes and corncakes.
I loved these biscuits! They are dense, buttery, and slightly nobby, a bit reminiscent of Hob Nobs but not that nobby and much more buttery. I liked the corncakes too, although they are subtly flavored with anise, which I don't really like as much. They suggested pairing the corn cakes with a sharp cheddar, which I tried. Although it's pretty good, I think I most prefer them plain with a nice cup of tea or coffee.
A bag of 12 costs $6 and you can get them locally in a lot of places such as Formaggio Kitchen, Whole Foods, Russo's, Dave's Fresh Pasta, or online. They actually sell all over the US, and I was tickled to find out they actually are sold at Churchill Market in Toledo, Ohio, which is the supermarket that my family went to while I was growing up.
Million Miler Part II
Remember when I said that Bryan didn't get to meet the pilot or receive a black card when he hit a million miles on AA?
Have a great looong weekend everyone!
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