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Last month, a Menu for the Future group in Reston, Virginia started blogging about their experiences and findings while participating in Menu’s six sessions of discussion and action. They kicked off their new blog, which offers “thoughts on how food impacts our earth, our communities and ourselves” with this post, entitled What’s Eating America (after the first session title of Menu for the Future):

“It’s confusing knowing what to eat these days…

In her article, Organic, Local and Everything Else: Finding Your Way Through the Modern Food Fray, Zoe Bradbury captures the guilt of purchasing a pineapple (it’s not local), and the consumer quandry about eggs:

Do you take home the certified organic, cage-free dozen

from California, or the non-organic but vegetarian-fed eggs from the family farm in nearby Willamette Valley? Do you spring for the Omega-3 eggs at a dollar more a dozen, or wait for your next trip to the Feed & Seed, where you can buy 9-year-old Nathan’s mismatched rainbow of

uncleaned eggs packed into re-used cartons? Not to mention large or extra large, Grade A or Grade AA. Is the notion that brown eggs are healthier real, or is the difference from their white counterparts only shell-deep?

(If only we had 9-year-old Nathan in Reston!) But for those trying to make informed decisions about food, it doesn’t stop with eggs.

Is organic milk from Walmart better than conventional milk from a mom & pop store?

What’s better, organic or local?  Whole Foods CEO John Mackey and Michael Pollan talk organic vs. local here.

In the end, Zoe concludes:

What I’ve started to wonder amidst all the ferment about local and organic is this: Why turn it into a boxing match? Why the reductionist, either/or mentality? Why not local and organic, and while we’re at it, grass fed, family scale, socially just, economically viable, carbon neutral, humane, culturally vibrant, community based, and ecologically renewing?

And that sounds great. But how can we make it happen? What changes need to take place?

And is it any wonder we’re baffled when it comes to buying food in America?”

Thanks to this group for taking their musings to the blogosphere and for sharing this information with others! You can read other posts on their blog here.


While searching for some ideas on how to have a more eco-friendly Thanksgiving this year, I came across this post just published this week on tips for a locally sourced holiday meal from Chef Bryant Terry, cookbook author and food justice activist. He’s written Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine and Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen, and is passionate about food, particularly the availability of food for all. Read on for a few tips:

Focus on locally-grown, seasonable produce

Eating locally and seasonally could mean your usual Thanksgiving recipes needs an update. Chef Bryant says, “Plan your Thanksgiving menu around local, seasonal and sustainable produce growing in your area, and create new family traditions — incorporating into your meal original recipes that celebrate your cultural foodways and use local produce and value-added food products.”

Visit the farmers market

Chef Bryant emphasizes that as consumers, we play a vital role in ensuring the survival of small farmers. “If you can’t harvest food from your home or community garden, buy fresh produce from a local farmers market or food co-op,” the sustainable chef suggests. “Check to find farmers markets, family farms and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area.”

Use the foods you have

Before you run to the grocery store for Thanksgiving ingredients, consider using what you have on-hand. “Even if it is hard to grow food where you live in November, it is typically easy to grow herbs in a kitchen windowsill,” recommends Chef Bryant. “Also, incorporate fruits and vegetables preserved from the summer and fall.”

Drink locally

“If you plan to serve alcoholic drinks, buy local (preferably organic) wine and beer,” encourages Chef Bryant. “In addition to supporting a healthier environment by minimizing fossil fuel use associated with shipping, supporting small businesses helps ensure communities thrive economically.” The chef also recommends serving homemade kombucha for teetotalers.

Go a’picking

Whether you do it before Thanksgiving or as part of the post-feast activities, Chef Bryant recommends planning an apple-picking trip with family and friends. If there are orchards nearby, then use your harvest to make locally-sourced holiday dishes. “Make homemade Apple-Cranberry Sauce using fresh cranberries and locally grown apples,” the chef adds. “You can even make hard apple cider or Cinnamon-Apple Jack Toddies from your bounty.”

Minimize food waste

Plan your Thanksgiving meal before rampantly buying ingredients to avoid throwing unused food away. In addition, Chef Bryant suggests getting the most out of the food you buy. “For example, if cooking pumpkins or other winter squash for your meal, roast the seeds — they can be eaten as a snack or used as a garnish for soups or stews,” he explains.

Ditch the disposable dinnerware

Though paper napkins and plastic dinnerware are convenient and require little clean-up, they also contribute to waste. “Instead, buy cloth napkins from a local flea market or even make your own,” says Chef Bryant. “Also, buy your plates, bowls and serving platters from local artisans. Besides adding unique dinnerware with unusual designs to your collection, you are putting money in the pockets of independent craftspeople.”

Share your Thanksgiving

Give thanks by giving others a reason for Thanksgiving. “In the spirit of Thanksgiving, share your bounty (both ingredients and finished dishes) with friends, family and community,” concludes Chef Bryant…

For the whole post, click here.

And, HAPPY THANKSGIVING from all of us at NWEI!


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