Purely Delicious

Did you know: Ice cream sundaes were invented in Ithaca, NY!

In honor of that, and the fact that my friend Sara quit her waitressing job, a few of us took a study/paper-writing break and went to Purity Ice Cream!

This place is like the ultimate sweet shop!

They also had Legos to play with!  So we reverted to 3 year old status…

Sara and I shared a Brownie Sundae with Goose Traks and Bulldog Crunch!  Mmm delicious!

Obviously we hated it…

On to a long night of paper writing!  Wish me luck!

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Guatemalan Black Beans: Part I

Black beans are a staple in the Guatemalan diet.  Most people don’t know a whole lot about Guatemala, so I figured why not share one of my favorite foods (and pretty much the thing I miss most about living at home).

My grandma eats black beans every day and is convinced it keeps her healthy.  Whether or not that’s true, I grew up eating them quite a bit.  I think they’re pretty tasty and would be totally okay with eating them everyday, health benefits are an added bonus!

My Grandma and Me, walking through some ruins in Guatemala

Black beans can be enjoyed in many, many ways, but the two most common ways they are enjoyed in Guatemala is whole beans (parados) often in a soup form or refried (volteados).  This recipe is how my family makes them.  Obviously, each family has a  different recipe, but I think these are pretty tasty and simple.

Frijoles Parados:

1lb of black beans
1 garlic clove
1 large onion
salt to taste (we’re salty eaters so we kind of use a lot)

*I made less than this since it’s just me eating: I used about a cup of dry beans, 1 small onion and a 1/2 tsp minced garlic since I didn’t have a whole clove.

Step One: Sort through your beans to make sure there are no rocks or shriveled old beans up in there!  Soak your beans over night or at least 4 hours in a pot.

Step Two: Drain the soaking water

Step 3: Cut the ends off an onion and peel a garlic clove place them in the pot with your beans.  Add some salt (1/2 tsp? 1 tsp? depending on  how much you make).  Add enough fresh water to cover your beans and most onion.

Step 4: Bring water to a boil then simmer for about an hour and a half or until beans are tender.

Step 5:  Ladle some into a bowl and enjoy with a dollop of sour cream!

Coming Soon… Part II of the Guatemalan Black Bean Saga…

I must be really into series posts…

What Causes Food Insecurity: Part IV

In case you missed it, here are Part I, Part II, and Part III of What Causes Food Insecurity.  Here is the final part of this segment.  While more could be said about each of these topics, remember I’m simplifying a lot of this for the purpose of readability (and this is a blog not an academic paper!).

Here are two more reasons that are commonly cited for increases in the cost of food and subsequently food insecurity.

Fuel Costs: You may recall in early to mid-2008 the price of oil rose dramatically ($140/barrel… in the Bay Area gas was over $4.00/gallon) and all of a sudden there were riots in various developing countries (I remember Haiti, since I was working at a government agency dealing with food security issues).  The price of oil is largely controlled by OPEC (Organization of Oil Exporting Countries).  Increases in the cost of fuel means increases in the cost of food for a few reasons.

  1. Gasoline and other petroleum based chemicals are inputs for a lot of agricultural production (i.e. tractors, fertilizers, etc).  When the cost of production increases, generally that cost is incurred by the consumer because the producer doesn’t want to (and often simply can’t afford to) lose profits.
  2. Transportation.  Certain places have better climates for growing.  If you live in the the United States, chances are a lot of your produce comes from California or Mexico.  The cost of transporting food is reflected in the price of the food.  If it costs more to ship some grains around the world then food is going to cost more.

Increased Demand from Emerging Nations:  It is argued that certain developing nations namely China, Brazil and India have increase in wealth and improved quality of life in recent years.  This has created increased demand for food, particularly meat and dairy products, which require more land and agricultural products to produce.  Increased demand with a constant supply causes an increase in price.

Here’s my opinion on this last point:

I don’t think it’s fair to blame developing nations for increasing the cost of food.  I’ve never been to China, and was too young when I went to Brazil to observe this kind of thing, but India still has extreme levels of poverty and hunger.  I wonder how much their consumption has increased actually affecting food prices.

Developed countries have been consuming at unsustainable levels for decades.  Can we honestly tell countries like China, Brazil and India that they cannot enjoy the same luxuries that we do? I think curbing consumption is extremely important for attaining food security and environmental sustainability, but we cannot expect certain nations to limit themselves when we do not.  This is the major reason why I am a vegetarian.  I feel like if I reduce my consumption of meat, more people in the world might be able to eat and the Earth will be a bit healthier.  Some would say it’s a drop in the bucket, but I think it’s worth it.

What are your thoughts?  Do you see any solutions to these issues?

Is there anything you’d like to know more about?