it’s The Jungle out there

Image via Flickr user VirtualErn, used under Creative Commons.
Image via Flickr user VirtualErn, used under Creative Commons.

The New York Times has an investigative report out today about E. coli in our meat.  Michael Moss writes that tens of thousands of Americans are sickened by E. coli each year, most of it coming from ground beef.  Though we like to think we’ve come a long way since Upton Sinclair first exposed the dangers of the meat industry in The Jungle over 100 years ago, despite all our science and technology, we really haven’t.  In fact, Moss writes, “eating ground beef is still a gamble.”

Why ground beef?  Moss writes:

Ground beef is usually not simply a chunk of meat run through a grinder. Instead, records and interviews show, a single portion of hamburger meat is often an amalgam of various grades of meat from different parts of cows and even from different slaughterhouses. These cuts of meat are particularly vulnerable to E. coli contamination, food experts and officials say.

In particular, he highlights a tainted batch of Cargill patties. The patties in question were

made from a mix of slaughterhouse trimmings and a mash-like product derived from scraps that were ground together at a plant in Wisconsin. The ingredients came from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay, and from a South Dakota company that processes fatty trimmings and treats them with ammonia to kill bacteria.

You may be shocked right now, thinking, WE EAT FOOD THAT’S BEEN SOAKED IN AMMONIA? Yep. It’s one of the things I learned while watching Food, Inc. which features scenes inside a plant where ammonia-soaked hamburger additives are made.  And yes, these additives are found in patties marked “Pure Angus.”  Tell me, which part of the Angus contains ammonia?? Continue reading “it’s The Jungle out there”

CSA Charleston: the great mustard greens FAIL, food, and faith

All the goodies we got this week!
All the goodies we got this week!

As you can see, we got another cornucopia this week.  To break it down:

  • 1 watermelon
  • 1 cantaloupe
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 bunch greens (more on this in a minute)
  • 3 winter squash
  • 5 ears corn
  • 6 banana peppers
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 3 turnips with greens

Right off the bat, I have to confess that not only have I STILL not used last week’s beets, but this week’s turnips didn’t get used either.  The watermelon was enjoyed as a beach-day snack, and the cantaloupe is sliced and in a box in the fridge for snackies.  The tomatoes, banana peppers, and corn were grilled and eaten with steak with guests Saturday night. The squash was roasted and pureed and was made into soup along with the squash we received in our box yesterday (that box will be the subject of next week’s post).

Which leaves the greens.  I thought they were just greens, like kale or something, so I made some salmon and sauteed the greens with garlic and olive oil, for a little yummy wilted greens action.  Internet, I took ONE BITE.  My nose started to burn, my throat refused to swallow.  I had to spit them out.  It turns out they were MUSTARD greens, which, as a blogger friend helpfully informed me, turn into mustard gas, that great WWI weapon.  They were inedible.  I will have to do some research to figure out what to do with them, because we got more in the next week’s box.

Now that I’ve described the contents of the box and what we did with it all, I thought I’d share a little more about how I feel about this little experiment in eating. Continue reading “CSA Charleston: the great mustard greens FAIL, food, and faith”

CSA: Charleston, in a pickle

Recently, I tried to search WordPress for “CSA” and got nuthin’.  So, in an effort to create something other people can find when looking for information about Community Supported Agriculture, as well as a desire to document our experience, I figured I’d start doing a weekly post about what we got in our CSA box and what we did with all of it.  This is what we got this week: DSC05621To break that down that’s:

  • 3 turnips, with greens
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 4 beets
  • 8 cucumbers
  • 4 zucchini
  • 4 small green peppers
  • 4 small ears corn
  • 2 large winter squash
  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 3 “decorative pumpkins”
my refrigerator pickles
my refrigerator pickles

Each week when we get a box, I lay everything out on the kitchen table, determine what is preserveable and what will need to be eaten within the week, and what we can actually manage to eat in a week.  Looking at this spread, I decided the corn and zucchini could be frozen for later.  I usually shred the zucchini and freeze it in bags in quantities conducive to zucchini bread.  The corn just gets shucked and frozen whole in bags as well.  I also decided to make spicy refrigerator pickles with the cucumbers, which is super easy and something I just throw together on the day we receive our produce.  Our fridge is slowly filling up with yogurt tubs of pickles, but they are SO GOOD! Continue reading “CSA: Charleston, in a pickle”


a typical weekly delivery from our CSA
a typical weekly delivery from our CSA

We’re not quite as good looking or well lit as CSI:Miami, but CSA:Charleston is a very colorful, sometimes frightening, often entertaining experience.  Of course, by CSA:Charleston, I mean our recent adventures in Community Supported Agriculture.

After seeing Food, Inc., I mentioned that my husband and I could no longer ignore what we’d known for a while: we needed to radically change the way we eat.  Within a week, Jon had signed us up for a CSA share from Pinkney’s Produce, we had vowed to eat MUCH less meat, and we started to think about what our new, more sustainable food life might look like.

Not too long after that, our first box of produce was ready to be picked up at the Glass Onion.  Here’s where I should mention that my husband? He signed us up for a family-sized share, because it was a better deal (about $30 per week).  So that first box of produce? It was ginormous.  You can see pictured above a typical spread from our CSA, meant to feed us for one week, but really enough to feed us for like 3 weeks.  And we’ve now been receiving these huge boxes for 3 weeks. Continue reading “CSA:Charleston”

a quick bite

As an update to my recent post on making changes to the way I eat now that I can no longer plead ignorance, I thought I’d share that today my husband signed us up for a CSA through Pinckney’s Produce.  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  From Pinkney’s website, here’s the rundown:

How a CSA works: based on a seasonal commitment, community members pre-pay for shares of the seasons’ harvest. Members then receive weekly, a box of fresh vegetables. This method assures a variety of products picked at the peak of ripeness and flavor and delivered to a convenient location in your neighborhood.

Conveniently for us, our pickup point will be at one of our favorite restaurants right around the corner from our house, where we like to buy our local eggs.

Our first box of goodies will arrive next week, and I’m pretty excited.  This will mean that I can’t just eat whatever I want, but will have to plan my meals based on what is seasonal.  In many ways, this will be familiar to me, as I grew up eating fresh, home-grown produce from my family’s garden, helping my mom can the extras, and enjoying what each season had to offer.  I expect that I’ll be sharing further about our new little eating experiment as we go along, and I encourage you to check out CSAs wherever you are.

you(r values) are what you eat

I consider myself pretty well informed about food issues.  My upbringing was decidedly unconventional concerning food, though I didn’t really know it until I went to college.  My parents were rather prolific gardeners, growing most of our produce organically, though at the time I never really knew what “organic” meant.  We had our own chickens from whom we gathered our eggs.  We even briefly raised our own pig.  The first taste I ever got of a frozen vegetable was in a cafeteria, and no lie, I called my mom to ask her why the green beans there didn’t taste right.  She laughed at me, perhaps realizing she’d ruined me for life. As an adult, I try to frequent the farmer’s market, or at least buy organic produce at my grocery store.  I thought I was informed, making wise choices, doing what was right for my body and the planet.

I even read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  So I really thought I knew.

Food IncBut there is something different about SEEING it.  We saw “Food, Inc.” this weekend and afterward, as I headed off on my bike, a backpack full of reusable bags, to the grocery store, my husband asked, “What are you going to buy?”  “Oh, just some veggies and some yogurt.”  “Good, because I’m not sure I can eat any meat today.”  We’ve decided it’s time to get serious about our food choices after watching this film.  It really affected us.  And I hope you will see it too.

There are just too many reasons now for me not to do the right thing in my food choices.  Because I care about the way farmers are treated by big companies like Tyson and Purdue and Monsanto.  Because I care about the way workers are treated by big companies like Smithfield and Pilgrim’s Pride.  Because I care about the way animals are treated, all along the food chain.   Because I care about the way the land and the water are treated all along the food chain.  Because I care about the impact on world hunger.  Because I care about the way consumers are treated by large companies and the regulators who fail to protect them.  Because I care about the health of my body and my community.

Now, I have friends who are already saying things to me about how they don’t want to watch this film because they don’t want to have to change the way they eat.  This shows that they already know there is something wrong with our food system.  They just don’t want to put in a little more effort, maybe cut back on spending in other areas in order to be able to afford more ethical food, maybe spend less time on the couch and more time in the kitchen.  But we can’t sit here with our fingers in our ears singing “La La La La La, I can’t hear you” for too much longer.  Because we KNOW something has to change. Continue reading “you(r values) are what you eat”

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