The Story of Sushi

Love this short clip on The Story of Sushi.

The little miniatures are so cute (and 100% handcrafted)!

Enjoy!

And better yet… choose sustainable seafood!

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Attention Meat Eaters

Unless you have been living in a bubble recently, I am certain you are at least somewhat aware of the myriad of food concerns these days. So many come and go, perhaps highlights of a few days’ worth of breaking news stories. We may shun the purchase of spinach or peanut butter due to a recent E. Coli or Salmonella outbreak – but two or three weeks down the road they are right back in the grocery cart. With an immediate threat no longer in sight we somehow feel “safe” again and resort back to our old habits.

Not knowing where our food comes from needs to change. And it needs to change fast. Or else Superbugs such as “Pig MRSA” that has been found in nearly half of all meat sampled in U.S. commerce, may soon appear on your very own plate.

Read this article and consider where you are purchasing your next food item. Especially if it is a meat, dairy or egg product. Not to lessen concerns facing produce (there are plenty). But the livestock industry is really causing some concerns for both humans and the environment. Even if “staph found in meat can be eliminated by cooking food well”, who wants staph in their food in the first place!?! And I certainly would not want a whole extra dose of antibiotics & hormones lingering from forced maturity on livestock to grow larger & quicker.

We all deserve clean, healthy food.

Next time you are at the store – ASK. Ask the butcher where the meat is from. Ask the grocer where the cheese, milk, butter, eggs, and yogurt are from. READ labels! Do your research online before you head out to the market. Call local farmers. Visit farmers’ markets. Invest in a CSA. DEMAND free-range, hormone & antibiotic free meat, dairy & eggs. It is the least we can do as consumers who rely on producers we don’t even know.

Don’t just stop your inquiry at the store. Ask next time you are out to eat. The waiter(ess) may think you are a pain in the @ss, and/or your company, but your body will thank you when you pass on meat that came from who knows where. Rule of thumb: if they don’t know the name of the farm – don’t eat it.

The more WE care about where our food is from and how it is produced, the more WE will begin to change the way our food system operates. Unless our voices are heard through our purchasing powers – superbugs & much worse will be a guaranteed threat to our futures.

Buh-Bye Veganism

I have finally come to terms with something nagging, really nagging the back of my mind for the past few months. In a sense I am straying against the belief behind this blog – to share raw recipes and follow a raw lifestyle. Vegan raw at that. I’ll still continue with my raw recipes BUT I’m changing things up a bit for now.

After much personal debate I decided it is in my best interest to begin eating yogurt & eggs again. Yep, as some friends said earlier “welcome back to the dark side”. Ha, yes… the dark side. However, I’m very much at peace with my decision and don’t see it as the dark side at all.

It isn’t so much the act of eating eggs & yogurt that I have thought would be difficult but the physical, mental, and spiritual acceptance of consuming animal product. Physically I feel there will be no problems. In fact this morning for breakfast I had a generous serving of full-fat organic yogurt & cottage cheese. I couldn’t wait to get to the breakfast spread at the PASA conference to eat some of the Seven Star Farms yogurt… I literally had spent my entire morning run thinking about how much I wanted yogurt & hard-boiled egg whites.

There are a two reasons I have decided to venture from my strict(ish) vegan diet. The first being how difficult it has been to stick to a raw diet, in Pittsburgh, in the winter. I decided I am done trying to force myself to adhere to raw, just because it worked for me at one point, when my body now has been craving other foods and protein sources. Recognizing this I finally decided I need to honor this during the winter months and feed my body what it wants. My hope with eating yogurt & eggs is to get in my protein without relying on nuts – my go-to source for raw protein. Nuts are delicious, too delicious if you ask me, and I have been eating an unhealthy amount to feel satiated. I haven’t been feeling one ounce of healthy eating this amount of nuts so I decided it’s time to hang it up. Yogurt provides an excellent source of protein without all the high amount of fats (regardless of them being healthy fats). There is a such thing as too much of a good thing.

My second reason is still in the works. But what I’m coming to realize is a sustainable diet looks different everywhere you go and I need to honor that while I live in a northern climate. Plus, with my vision to one day own my own farm (SOOONer rather than later) I’ll need to do something with the milk & eggs! So I guess I’m prepping my body for that :) I want to be an active part of my farm’s own closed-loop system. It just makes so much more sense to me.

I am sure I had my parents floored this morning when I sent my mom a message I was eating yogurt and cottage cheese for breakfast. My gosh. They were so incredibly delicious. And to add to the shock value I mentioned I may want to eat bison meat in the future! Yep, me! MEAT. Crazy! Eating meat may be a bit more of a hurdle to get over… if ever… but I am certainly becoming more open to the idea. Grass-fed bison meat doesn’t sound as appalling as it once did.

Regardless of what I decide I will be choosing the healthiest and most sustainable options. My eggs must be local, come from chickens that are truly free-range, and I must know the farmer. My yogurt must be sourced from a local farm that doesn’t use hormones, pesticides or rGBH. Just like I want the freshest, pesticide-free fruits & veggies, I expect my eggs & yogurt to come from the happiest & healthiest local animals.

I have to say I am truly excited about my latest “revelation”. It feels great. I feel great…

Adding dairy and eggs back doesn’t change my beliefs about raw foods. I still want to start each day with my green juice. The bulk of my diet will still be mostly raw fruits & vegetables… because nothing compares to that!!

Plastic Buildings

Check out this short video on a new design putting plastic bottles to use.

I think it is mildly hilarious that while she says it can “sustain strong earthquakes and typhoons” there is a man jumping on it. As if that should convince us of its sturdiness.

Regardless of a man’s weight demonstrating its strength-I find it quite interesting.

>Sleeping Naked is Green!!

>Just finished Sleeping Naked is Green, and I can’t help but mention how this book has inspired me to “green” a bit more in my own life. With the tag line “how an eco-cynic unplugged her fridge, sold her car, and found love in 366 days” this book sums up a year in the life of a 20-something Canadian reporter & film critic who makes a change everyday for an entire year to live more sustainably and “greener”. Vanessa Farquaharson is brutally honest and nothing short of hilarious in her story of changes, ranging from easy to those a tad more drastic, such as selling her car. I was able to pull many ideas and inspirations from this great read. Some that I am starting or re-enforcing in my life include:

1) No more tissues-switch to organic cotton handkerchiefs: I grew up so grossed out by my Dad’s hankies. Even recently I cringed when my Mom was using one… blowing your nose in a cloth and then reusing it? Kind of gross. But if you aren’t sick and blowing your nose every 5 seconds, I think this is a simple change to make. I certainly don’t enjoy seeing the garbage can pile up with snot rags that head to the landfill. Instead they’ll be washed and reused. yippee!
2) Diva Cup. For life. ’nuff said.
3) No more Q-tips. You’re techniqually not suppose to shove those in your ears anyways.
4) No more to-go cups or take out containers. I am already pretty good about this. I limit my consumption of plastics and disposable crap as much as possible. Even if it is biodegradable and not plastic, I still am not having it. I can manage without, thank you very much.
5) No more gum. While I may offend someone if I ate too much garlic-sorry ahead of time- I need to give up this horrible habit that is full of artificial sweeteners, colors and derived from petroleum.
6) Register with Freecycle. Who doesn’t like free stuff?
7) No more nailpolish. I already gave up regular nailpolish a long time ago. All the chemicals made me feel like I was loosing thousands of brain cells in a mere few minutes it took to paint (and I probably was). I don’t care enough about my nail color to loose precious smart cells. I’d rather stay in the nude.
8) Drink only loose leaf tea in a reusable tea infuser. I’m half way there. And I vow to compost any tea bags when I’m in a pinch.
9) Air dry all clothes. I have been slacking the past few years due to pure laziness I suppose. & too I usually need to shrink my clothes so they fit right.
10) No more disposable straws.
11) Use a rain barrel to collect rain water. Once I’m settled into P’burgh, it’s on!
12) No more Post-Its.
13) Drink local. Local as in 250 miles.
14) & oh yes! sleep naked! However I can’t do that yet. Not appropriate as I am currently camping out in my brother’s living room.

There are definitely more changes that I will embark on as soon as I live on my own. & too I don’t need to go into THAT much detail about those that are a wee bit personal. Regardless, I’m eager to switch up some of my practices and discover what I learn. I highly recommend this book. Check your local library (it is in Chicago’s Public Library circulation), buy used on amazon or just buy and share with someone else!
Happy greening!

>Plastic Sucks

>Take a quick look at this map and fact sheet showcasing Plastic Bag Usage. Maui initiated its no bag policy in early January of 2011-right when I had arrived back on the island. I loved that every store had to participate in this ban on plastic-even WalMart (my nemesis)! I find it surprising (but not really given the way the world works) that the Big Island- so close you can see the darn thing- REJECTED the ban. Seriously?! Those who reject something like this such be ashamed of themselves; solely because they are down right idiots.

Reusable bags are where it’s at. Use them and love them. You’re doing the world a giant favor.

>Queen of the Sun

>Monday night I attended a limited time screening of Queen of The Sun at the Musicbox Theatre in Chicago. Producer Taggart Siegel (other productions include The Real Dirt on Farmer John), takes you on a journey into the lives of bees and the now globally recognized CCD- Colony Collapse Disorder. With interviews and insight from beekeepers, scientists, and physicists; this film brings to light how CCD impacts each and every one of us. Taggart beautifully balances the spiritual and scientific elements of bees and beekeepers. What I really appreciate about the film is its non-political approach to this environmental crisis. Brought up in the Q&A with Taggart after the showing, a member in the audience asked him if he addressed the EPA and their role in protecting (or lack there of) bees. His response was that he did not want to make a Michael Moore film. Thank you Taggart. Unlike many other films out there throwing ways to take action in your face (sign this! call congress now!), Siegel inspires you to take action by simply telling the story through the eyes of the beekeepers. It would be impossible to watch this film and not feel inspired to take action in even the smallest way; purchasing local honey from the farmers market is easy, awesome support and delicious!

This winter I had my first hands-on experience with bees while living at Greenleaf. I was fortunate to work down the road a few afternoons a week for another farmer who had five hives and was kind enough to include me on one of his honey checks. I eagerly suited up and smoked the bees to check for honey. While there wasn’t anything ready for us to harvest it was still great to have this opportunity. & Maui isn’t too shabby of a place to remember as my first bee “lesson”. I know this summer I will tap into some local Chicago hives to learn some more before I trek to Pittsburgh and work with the bees on the farm.

If you can’t see Queen of The Sun at a screening here in Chicago or elsewhere… make it a point to get your hands on it when released on home video (summer 2011). It is imperative we as a society understand the importance of bees and how without them humans will suffer. I hope you enjoy this film as much as I did!

>Do YOU know your water footprint? By now we are all aware of the looming fresh water crisis & dire need to conserve this precious resource. There are the typical everyday things we all should be doing including turning off the faucet while brushing our teeth, washing clothes ONLY when you have a full load (Dad!) and same for the dishwasher. However, most of us carry on in our daily grind neglecting to make the connection between how much water it takes to eat the foods we do, drive our cars, wear our clothes, etc. Everything we do and own has its own water “footprint” so to speak. National Geographic has this great website brimming with info for us to challenge our daily rituals and think twice about how we choose to spend our next dollar.

>Some of Chicago’s Finest

>I believe in supporting local, small business, and fair trade in every possible way. Here are some of my go-to places in and around Chicago.

CHICAGO DOWNTOWN FARMSTAND : gotta represent my turf! The farmstand only sells produce and food products made/grown within 250 miles of Chicago; most vendors though are within Chicago limits. sweet! Located at 66 E. Randolph, right across from the Cultural Center, in the theater district, and kiddie-corner to MIllenium Park- it’s in a bangin’ location.

INTELLIGENTSIA COFFEE: Conveniently located across the street from the farmstand lies this beautiful coffeeshop (others in Chicago are in Lakeview & on Jackson). As direct coffee buyers and supporting fair trade, enjoying a morning cup of coffee doesn’t have to have you feeling guilty. One of their supports to local lies in their milk. From a kick ass farm in Illinois that treats their cows right- Kilgus Farms, you can rest assured your latte is brewed without rGBH & other yucky hormones. At this location be sure to admire the photography displayed throughout the store. In house barista and the city’s best photographer-I’m biased-Joe Lieske, has some of his incredible photos to keep your eyes pleased while enjoying your brew.

DOLLOP COFFEE: THE gem of Uptown. Serves local coffee and tea from Metropolis. They serve up the best chai lattes on this side of the mississippi. It’s a place with much character. The back room provides the finest of environments to loose yourself in whatever your coffee shop forte may be. Curl up on a couch or comfy chair and just enjoy in the joy of dollop.

UNCOMMON GROUND: Uncommon has it all: delicious, locally sourced food (Devon location even uses food from its rooftop organic garden), local brews, organic wines and drinks, beautiful art throughout, and local musicians can be heard just about every night. As members of Slow Food Chicago and Green Restaurant Assocation, their business practice and vision(s) are an excellent model for eco-conscious biz.

MARION STREET CHEESE MARKET: Go here if you want to get lost in a world of chocolate, wine, beer, cheese, and essentially the best of the best. It’s divine and they have a cafe that I cannot wait to try. Be sure to indulge in some truly amazing chocolate and wash it down with the best coconut water I’ve ever had brought to you by Taste Nirvana. Woah!

HEARTLAND CAFE: Love this place! I love even more that my Grandma used to eat here back in the day when she was a Chicago resident and my Mom was a little one. Their eclectic menu will have everyone from vegans to carnivores fully satisfied. Their cornbread is fantastic… don’t miss out!

GREENHEART SHOP: Right in the heart of Division street in Wicker Park… this fairtrade shop is full of awesome, awesome treasures! As one of their volunteers, I’m certain their practices are truthful and worth investing in. You’ll be sure to find something unique and funky!