Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Food wars

Ravings: I’m not sure I’ve raved too much on here about my stance on food production and laws. I am a huge supporter of locally sourced, organic food. Production farming, not only makes me sick (literally and figuratively), it also makes me outraged. The toxic chemicals that are allowed into our food are reprehensible. And what we, and our government, feed to our children is criminal. Just recently Congress ruled that pizza with two tablespoons of tomato paste counts as a serving of vegetables in school lunches. So now a slice of pizza with a side of French fries counts as two servings of vegetables. I don’t know about you but when I was a kid, that would have not cut it in my house as eating your vegetables. Here’s the worst part, and I couldn’t find the exact ingredients as I’m sure that’s a closely guarded secret, but school pizza is full of unpronounceable ingredients and tons of sugar. There is sugar is regular ole store bought pizza sauce. I can’t even imagine what’s in it when it’s mass produced with the goal of being as cheap as possible for school lunches. Regular homemade pizza is so easy and inexpensive, and can be made pretty healthy. So why is the happening? My simple answer is lobbyists. I don’t believe for one second that congress considered the health and well being of school kids when it made this ruling.

So I’m already fired up about this ruling, and all the other things that are slowly killing us in our food. Toxic chemicals, BPA, unnecessary sugar, growth hormone, and antibiotics to name just a few. And then I hear about the proposed Farm Youth Labor Rule being proposed by the Department of Labor. In very basic terms it will prohibit “young hired farm workers” (under age 16) from operating or tending any power-driving equipment, from being a passenger on that equipment being driven on a public road, from working in areas occupied by intact (not castrated) male animals older than six months, herding animals in confined spaces such as feed lots and corrals, and from using electronic communication devices while operating or assisting to operate power-driven equipment. (According to a spokesperson from Penn State University) Exceptions would be made for working on the parents farm, but not for working on another relatives farm.

At first read this doesn’t seem so bad, right? Unless you’ve grown up in farm country and know that working on a farm is the best job you can get in high school. And unless you think about whom this will effect. Corporate Ag business won’t be affected by this. They don’t hire young kids. Family farms will, however, be crippled by this legislation. Which I’m sure is the aim of the lobbyists for the big Ag corporations. People are beginning to realize the danger in buying animals from production farms and are turning to local farms. What better way to run them out of business than to make it even more cost prohibitive to hire help, especially, nieces, nephews, and neighbor kids willing to work hard. This legislation is, of course, being presented under the guise of safety. But the irony is that our government is protecting the big corporations that are killing us slowly, while running the small family farm out of business in the interest of safety.

Don’t even get me started about chocolate milk at school!!!

Cravings: After all that talk about the toxicity of our food, I will assure you that our meals are as organic as I can make them, and we have noticed a huge difference. A couple years ago Jason and I made the decision to stop eating fast food, and gradually we began eating more and more organic. We both feel so much better. We have more energy, get sick less, and I used to get frequent, debilitating headaches, which don’t happen anymore. I am currently working up the courage to give up processed sugar. Convincing the boys of this one is going to be a lot more difficult that convincing myself!

Last night’s dinner was Mediterranean Chicken with sautéed greens.

Mediterranean Chicken

4 Chicken thighs
½ red onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
Handful of Kalamata olive, chopped
1 T tomato paste
1 T anchovy paste
½ T oregano
2 T fresh basil

Preheat oven to 350. Heat a large oven proof sauté pan with olive oil. Brown both sides of the chicken. Then add the rest of the ingredients, except the basil. If you don’t have anchovy paste, I would highly suggest getting it. It doesn’t make the sauce taste fishy at all. It adds this amazing salty nuttiness to dishes. You can get it in a tube and it keeps in the refrigerator forever. It’s totally worth it! Cover and put it oven for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the greens. Serve over the greens and sprinkle with fresh basil.

Sautéed greens

1 +2 T butter
1 T olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic
Several leaves of kale, spinach, whatever you have.

Heat the pan with 1 T of butter and 1 T of olive oil. Mince your garlic. I use the Pampered Chef garlic press because it’s awesome, but you can use whatever method you prefer. Chop your greens. Add the garlic to the pan and stir for a minute then add the greens and some salt. Once they start to wilt, add 2 more tablespoons of butter and possibly a bit more salt to your taste. Serve.

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