Cooking for Non-Vegetarians

Hey Everyone!  Sorry for the lack of updates as of recent.  The lovely fella arrived on Monday night so we’ve been hanging out!

Yesterday we went to La Brea Tar Pits because we’re big nerds he had never been.

Getting out of tar would be hard...

Today we he attempted to fix the treadmill in my parent’s house so I can work on my fitness this month (I much prefer treadmills to running outside).  Then started shopping for supplies for Christmas dinner.  This brings me to the title of this post “Cooking for Non-Vegetarians.”  My brother and I are the only vegetarians in the family.  The rest are meat-eating latinos.  Latinos eat A LOT of meat.

My mom hates cooking so my sister and I usually make large holiday meals.  This year I didn’t really want to make meat but I knew I had to because I don’t want to force my lifestyle on anyone else and I don’t want to ruin anyone’s holiday.

So today as we were shopping for a turkey (one of my sister’s friends who is coming doesn’t eat pork so we need a turkey as well), I decided to get a free range turkey.  Yes, it’s a little pricey at about $1.99/lb.  I called my sister asking her what size turkey to get and mentioned that I was getting a free range turkey and she asked “it doesn’t matter, you’re not going to eat it.”

It does matter, doesn’t it?

I feel better cooking a free range turkey, even if I don’t eat it.  This got me thinking about the term free-range.  What does it actually mean? Was it worth the extra few cents per pound?

My reasons for being vegetarian are environmental and human food security based, not necessarily for animal rights reasons.  However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t care about the fair treatment of animals. I think overall I’m glad I bought a free range turkey.  I think one of the best ways we can cause a change is by changing demand.

If you’re a vegetarian, do you cook meat for others?  If you’re not vegetarian, what are your thoughts on free-range/cage-free raising?  Should I have bought the cheaper Butterball or Foster Farms Turkey?

Copenhagen Update

Hey Everyone! Thanks so much for all your great comment about the 12 Days of Christmas Meal!

I’ve been slacking a bit on the food security aspect of this blog.  After all, I’m interested in everything about food; this blog reflects those interests.  Closely tied to food is the environment and climate change.  If you recall, a little over a week ago, I did a post about the UN Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen.

Well yesterday was the last day of the conference.

World leaders negotiate in the Bella centre in Copenhagen, from guardian.co.uk

The so-called Copenhagen Accord can be found on the UNFCCC website.  I’ve read a few mixed reviews about it so here’s a little recap of the major outcomes (essentially a summary of the Accord) in case you haven’t heard too much about it.

The Accord consists of 12 main points:

1. The nations agree that climate change is a problem and will work to combat it.

2. The nations agree that cutting global emissions is essential but “social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of developing countries and that a low-emission development strategy is indispensable to sustainable development.”  This also includes a cap on global temperature rises.

3. Developed countries will provide “adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources, technology and capacity-building to support the implementation of adaptation action in developing countries.” Essentially funding for developing countries to reduce GHG emissions without hurting development.

4. Annex I countries (mostly developed nations but see full list here) agree to implement emission targets by 2020.

5.  Non-Annex I countries (mostly developing nations but see full list here) “will implement mitigation actions.”

6. With regard to deforestation, the nations agree to provide incentives such as REDD-plus mechanism to acquire funding in order to prevent deforestation and environmental degradation in developing countries.  I’m a little fuzzy on this one so I’ll direct you to this site I found about REDD-plus if you’re interested.

7. Nations agree to seek a variety of alternatives in reducing GHG emissions (i.e. market based approached).  Those nations with low emissions should be encouraged to maintain low emissions.

8. Nations agree to provide adequate funding to developing nations in accordance with the convention.  Funding will be prioritized to most vulnerable nations and Africa.  Developing countries agree to provide US$100 Billion per year by 2020 for developing countries to meet their climate change needs.  This money will go through the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund.

9. Establishment of a High Level Panel to oversee the financing toward reaching these goals

10. Establishing the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund to “an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the Convention to support projects, programme, policies and other activities in developing countries related to mitigation including REDD-plus, adaptation, capacity-building, technology development and transfer.”

11. Establishment of a Technology Mechanism to speed up technology development and transfer.

12. Calls for an assessment of the Accord in 2015.

Here’s the final closing press briefing.  It’s around 3 minutes:

The conference covered a lot of the topics I was curious about as mentioned in previous post, particularly the question of funding.  $100 billion per year is a ton of money!  I’m happy to see governments being firmer about this issue and taking into consideration development and developing nations.    However, there’s still a long way to go as this accord is NOT legally binding.

My next question is who will control the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund?  I haven’t really seen anything about this.  Anyone else seen anything about this?

This seems like a new power angle that could be very interesting.

Did anything stand out for you at Copenhagen?

Is the Copenhagen Accord enough?

The next meeting with be in a year in Mexico City.  Do think we’ll get something legally binding in Mexico?

Copenhagen

In the news, you’ve probably seen a million articles talking about Copenhagen.  What does this mean exactly?

Yesterday, started the 15th meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP15).  It’s a meeting on climate change to follow up the Kyoto Protocol.  The Kyoto Protocol was an international agreement adopted at the end of 1997, as a way to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the world.  The goal was to reduce GHG emissions to the level that they were in 1990.  As of now, 187 national governments have ratified the Kyoto Protocol.  The US has not (this is not to say the US is not doing anything to prevent climate change).

If you click on the Kyoto Protocol link above, it takes you to the UNFCCC website that has a good summary of the Kyoto Protocol and the mechanism of implementation (for some reason I’m a fan of the “carbon market” idea).  Although the Kyoto Protocol doesn’t expire until 2012, preparations are being made for a new program to reduce GHGs.

Since the meeting at Copenhagen just started, I can’t say too much about it.  But I encourage everyone to read the news. Here is the first press briefing (only 2:39 long… pretty short):

Here are a few key points I find particularly interesting and I hope are discussed in Copenhagen:

  • Tension between environmental protection/prevention of climate change and development.  Can we have both?
  • How are we financing this?
  • What are the governance structures and power relationships involved?
  • Where are they looking to cut GHG emissions?  Transportation? Agriculture?

You may be wondering what this has to do with food security… I think it’s a crucial aspect as one of the causes of food insecurity is natural hazards.  Granted the changes in the global climate may be small, but this could effect food production in the future.

Also, food production produces a significant amount of GHGs.  While I don’t think may politicians would promote reducing food production to reduce GHG emissions, it could interesting to see if green agriculture is talked about.

What are your thoughts on Copenhagen?  Are you interested in this or not a whole lot?

Should we be worrying about this now?

I know as a planning student, I’m surrounded by people who feel very strongly about it and are working toward solutions, but I’m always interested in hearing other perspectives.

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?

Raw vs Roasted

Almond Butter

It’s pretty delicious.  Last week, I was talking to a friend about almond butter, our favorite brands, cost, deliciousness, etc. He said he prefers raw almond butter.  So when I stopped by Trader Joe’s on my way home from Thanksgiving, I got a jar of raw almond butter to see which one I liked better.

VS

I think I like the regular roasted Almond Butter better.  I mean they both obviously taste like almonds but the roasted one is smoother and has a more distinct taste. 

Are there any health benefits to eating it raw vs roasted?  Which do you prefer?

December Recipe Challenge Update:

Anna at Newly Wed, Newly Veg joined the December Recipe Challenge!  Check out her recipe for Barley with Mushrooms!

If you have a fun/exciting/healthy recipe, don’t forget to e-mail me so I can link you here!

P.S. This is my life for the next week…

Have a fantastic day!

Quick, Healthy and Delicious

I came home from the gym today and for some reason wasn’t hungry at all.  After almost two hours, I decided I should probably eat something even though I wasn’t too hungry.  Do you ever have those days where you’re just not really hungry?? I wish they would happen more often.

I looked around the kitchen for what to make and the lovely fella suggested I make a wrap.

So I spread some greek yogurt on a wrap, topped it with a layer of spinach, artichoke hearts, mustard and a Morningstar Tomato Basil Pizza Burger.

Then I wrapped it up and enjoyed!  It was DELICIOUS and literally took 3 minutes to make (and probably just as much time to eat).  I’m seriously obsessed with Morningstar Farms Veggie Patties.  I should be their spokes person.  I feel like I rep for them all the time!

In other news… one massive jar of artichokes down, one more to go.  I give in another 48 hours.

Here’s a little Food for Thought:

My friend sent me this article called “College’s too-fat-to-graduate Rule Under Fire

Students at Lincoln University with a body mass index of 30 or above, reflective of obesity, must take a fitness course that meets three hours per week. Those who are assigned to the class but do not complete it cannot graduate.

Is this fair?  Is this discrimination?  What are your thoughts?