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Ethical Foodie Resources

I do a lot of preaching on this blog. I tend to rant and rave on a pretty sturdy soapbox, feeling angry about things. I don't always support my rants with actual practical advice or resources. Like yesterday, for example, I went off on "cage-free" eggs but didn't tell my dear Tree Huggers how to find better eggs. This kind of thing bothers people like my mother, who just want to know what the f*** to buy, for Chrissake, and don't need the lecture. "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph," she might say.

So what I'm doing today is offering a list of some of my favorite resources for ethical foodies. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

  • Local Harvest lets you search for farmers' markets, CSAs, and organic food in your community. You can search by state, city, or zip code, and find out what's in season near you. Plus, you can search for other ethical stores and products by category (pet food, soap, coffee).
  • FoodRoutes is a new and exciting discovery for me. Its passion is connecting you with local food. Like Local Harvest, it will locate farmers and farmers' markets for you. It's also very educational, with lots of resources, links, and ways to take action.
  • The Organic Consumers Association is full of information on buying organic everything. It also has information on genetic engineering, rGBH, and progressive politics in general.
  • The Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association is for my fellow Ohioans. Here you can find Ohio farms committed to ethical practices. Many of them sell directly to consumers, exhibit at farmers' markets, and list the stores and restaurants they sell to.
  • If a book is what you want, go out and read Jay Weinstein's The Ethical Gourmet right away. Then follow it up with The Omnivore's Dilemma. My mother just finished reading my copy, and loved it so much she asked if she could pass it along to two of her friends. Jesus Christ.

Cage-Free Eggs are the New Black

Today's New York Times has an interesting story on the surging demand for cage-free eggs. Apparently, Burger King and Ben & Jerrys are among the companies that have committed to using only cage-free eggs in their products.

Of course, "cage-free" doesn't always mean what you'd think. It conjures images of pastoral seed-pecking and contended clucking, but in reality it simply means the hens aren't kept in battery cages. It doesn't mean they aren't still overcrowded and overmedicated, and it doesn't mean they have access to the outdoors or are free to roam. For all of that, you need to look for labels that say "organic," "free range," and "certified humanely raised." "Local" is always good too.

The second page of the article explores the complexities of the labeling issue:

Eggs labeled organic and free-range come from chickens with access to the outdoors. But most cage-free chickens never peck in a barnyard during their lives, which last from 12 to 18 months. The term “cage free” is lightly regulated. Companies get approval to use it on their labels through the Food Safety Inspection Service of the Agriculture Department, which does not actually inspect laying operations.

Egg producers say that going cage-free does not always mean the chickens are living the good life.

Many farms that use cages are well run with healthy chickens, said Marie Wheatley, president of the American Humane Association, whose certification program is popular with larger producers like Eggland’s Best.

“It’s not black and white,” Ms. Wheatley said, “but the consumers think it is.”

Officials at Notre Dame turned down a request by a campus animal rights group to switch to cage-free eggs after investigating the issue for six months.

The university, which serves 16,000 meals a day in its dining halls, visited both cage and cage-free operations, examining animal welfare, food safety, environmental impact, taste and other issues. Both operations they toured appeared to take equally good care of their chickens, said Jocie Antonelli, nutrition and safety manager.

The university decided that its current source of eggs, which uses a cage system, had the edge in food safety.

“There are pros and cons to each system,” Ms. Antonelli said. “Either way, these are not free-roaming chickens living out in a pasture.”

But to people pushing for change, getting rid of battery cages is a start.

“While cage-free certainly does not mean cruelty-free, it’s a significant step in the right direction,” said Paul Shapiro of the Humane Society.

Too Many Mutha Uckas

Too Many to Count, Mutha Uckas.

Flight of the Conchords is the best show ever. Too bad SG and I just cancelled all our cable. Yes. ALL our cable, mutha uckas.

Cleavage and Fashion and Hair, Oh My

Look, people. I'll return to my series of Colorado Tales soon enough. But right now I just have to address the ridiculousness that is this article.

I mean, WTF?! I have at least three points to make about this:

1) An entire article about Senator Clinton's cleavage? In a prominent national newspaper? Give me a break.

2) I'll think this is fair when I see an entire article in the Times about Barack Obama's low-rise jeans revealing a hint of schl***. (Hey, wait, maybe that's not such a bad idea...)

3) Is this even cleavage?! I think not. Judge for yourself:

Sure, the blouse is a bit low-cut for Capitol Hill, but I see no actual cleavage. A bit of a shadow, perhaps, but that's it. Nothing that Geena Davis wouldn't wear in the Oval Office.

Nor is this the first time Clinton's fashion choices have been considered news. She and Nancy Pelosi have both been objects of scrutiny by the nation's fashion pages, their every color choice and hemline analyzed to death. I understand that we live in an image-conscious media culture. But this seems to be a new--er--"low."

But at least she's taking it all with a grain of ironic humor and wit:

Image via Feministing, which also brings you this charming ditty about Ohio's newest--and most offensive--anti-choice measure.

Summertime and the Livin' is Easy

This cracks me up.

Via Cute Overload, of course.
I'm beginning this four-part series* with the whitewater rafting story because it's the most exciting of all my Colorado adventures. And because, well, frankly, it makes me look good. And that's what this blog is really all about.

We'd planned the whitewater rafting trip back in June, because you have to make reservations in advance. This was the one time we all decided to leave prego Fabi at the lodge by herself, because everyone--including little Ellie--wanted to come. SG made the reservations. He checked with the staff about Ellie and found out that the half-day Lower Poudre River trip allowed children age seven and up. He also chose that trip because it was the easiest, and he really didn't want to get wet.

So here's what we were expecting when we got to Rocky Mountain Adventures bright and early on Saturday morning: a gentle, nearly boring float down a placid river, exciting perhaps for Ellie but not for the rest of us.


We got to RMA at about eight in the morning (requiring us to get up at 5:30 am, mind you). The first item on the agenda was listening to a safety lecture for almost an hour. We were told what to do if you get knocked in the teeth by a paddle (apparently we're expected to row and steer, we said to each other), if the raft flips, or if you lose a man overboard. We sat in the back row during the lecture, yawning and scratching our bug bites. Yeah, yeah, we muttered, eyes rolling. I'm sure that won't happen to us. We're barely rafting a'tall.

So they handed us these insanely tight, puffy Personal Flotation Devices (not lifejackets--they're very particular about terminology) and packed us into a bus. The mood was jovial. HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE?! shouted the trip guide. A bunch of us raised our hands. WELL, IT'S PRETTY MUCH LIKE RIDING IN A CAR... Ha ha. We laughed. This would be fun.

Fast forward to the river. Looking at it from the bank, we thought it looked a bit rougher than placid. Oh well, what do we know? we thought. On a scale of 1 to 6, where 1 = still water and 6 = unraftable, we would be battling level 2 and 3 rapids. How bad could that be? We were assigned a tough-looking chick as our raft guide: pierced nose, rock-hard body, no-nonsense demeanor. She reminded me of Maria, my old karate instructor at Ohio State. YOU MUST LISTEN TO ME WHEN YOU'RE ON MY RAFT, she barked. THERE WON'T BE TIME FOR MISTAKES. Whoah, this lady needs to lighten up, we thought, smirking to each other behind her back. After a cursory lesson in paddling commands, we got into the raft.

And then the *#%@ hit the raft...Collapse )

* Stay Tuned for tales of mountain hiking, visiting Boulder, and bad-mouthing the in-laws.

Weekend Roundup

1) I spent most of yesterday sprawled out on the couch, thinking I was coming down with the flu. It felt like I had gotten run over by a truck. But today I feel fine. A bit of post-Colorado jet lag / hiking exhaustion, I suppose. Or maybe that's just how you feel after saving someone's life. Speaking of which:

That's us on the Lower Poudre River, during a calm spot. That's Merrill behind me, pre-near-death-experience.

2) SG's new obsession is training for the Columbus marathon in October. He ran eight miles today.

3) Feministing has a great post analyzing the intersection of anti-choice and anti-immigrant rhetoric here.

4) Iron Chef Mario Batali has won over celiacs by committing to offering gluten-free options--including pasta!--at all of his restaurants. (I haven't eaten at an Italian restaurant since being diagnosed in 2005.) I'll never root against him again.

5) If you've ever wondered what your cat does all day, you're in luck! Some technological genius has put a webcam (er--CatCam) on his kitty, Mr. Lee. Here's a sample.

6) Today our big excitement is heading to Target and cleaning. Good times.


grace and elegant treeness
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