Monday, November 21, 2011

Reducing Food Waste During the Holiday Season

10 simple steps we all can take to help make this season less wasteful and more plentiful

The holiday season is a time for gifts, decorations, and lots and lots of food. As a result, it's also a time of spectacular amounts of waste. In the United States, we generate an extra 5 million tons of household waste each year between Thanksgiving and New Year's, including three times as much food waste as at other times of the year. When our total food waste adds up to 34 million tons each year, that equals a lot of food. With the holidays now upon us, the Worldwatch Institute offers 10 simple steps we all can take to help make this season less wasteful and more plentiful.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, roughly one-third of all food produced for human consumption----approximately 1.3 billion tons----is lost or wasted each year. Consumers in developed countries such as the United States are responsible for 222 million tons of this waste, or nearly the same quantity of food as is produced in all of sub-Saharan Africa.

As Americans prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, here are 10 tips to help reduce the amount of food we waste:

Before the meal: Plan your menu and exactly how much food you'll need.

1. Be realistic: The fear of not providing enough to eat often causes hosts to cook too much. Instead, plan out how much food you and your guests will realistically need, and stock up accordingly. The Love Food Hate Waste organization, which focuses on sharing convenient tips for reducing food waste, provides a handy "Perfect portions" planner to calculate meal sizes for parties as well as everyday meals.

2. Plan ahead: Create a shopping list before heading to the Co-op. Sticking to this list will reduce the risk of impulse buys or buying unnecessary quantities. During the meal: Control the amount on your plate to reduce the amount in the garbage.

3. Go small: The season of indulgence often promotes plates piled high with more food than can be eaten. Simple tricks of using smaller serving utensils or plates can encourage smaller portions, reducing the amount left on plates. Guests can always take second (or third!) servings if still hungry, and it is much easier to use leftovers from serving platters for future meals.

4. Encourage self-serve: Allow guests to serve themselves, choosing what, and how much, they would like to eat. This helps to make meals feel more familiar and also reduces the amount of unwanted food left on guests' plates.

5. Store leftovers safely: Properly storing our leftovers will preserve them safely for future meals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that hot foods be left out for no more than two hours. Store leftovers in smaller, individually sized containers, making them more convenient to grab for a quick meal rather than being passed over and eventually wasted.

6. Compost food scraps: Instead of throwing out the vegetable peels, eggshells, and other food scraps from making your meal, consider composting them. Individual composting systems can be relatively easy and inexpensive, and provide quality inputs for garden soils. In 2010, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to pass legislation encouraging city-wide composting, and similar broader-scale food composting approaches have been spreading since.

7. Create new meals: If composting is not an option for you, look for creative recipes to see if your food scraps can be used for new meals. Vegetable scraps can be easily boiled down for stock and soups, and bread crusts and ends can be used to make tasty homemade croutons.

8. Donate excess: Food banks and shelters gladly welcome donations of canned and dried foods, especially during the holiday season and colder months. At People’s, there is a food drive box that you can donate to, and we have it set up ready for donations year ‘round.

9. Support food-recovery programs: In some cases, food-recovery systems will come to you to collect your excess. In New York City, City Harvest, the world's first food-rescue organization, collects approximately 28 million pounds of food each year that would otherwise go to waste, providing groceries and meals for over 300,000 people.

10. Give gifts with thought: When giving food as a gift, avoid highly perishable items and make an effort to select foods that you know the recipient will enjoy rather than waste. The Rainforest Alliance, an international nonprofit, works with farmers and producers in tropical areas to ensure they are practicing environmentally sustainable and socially just methods. The group's certified chocolates, coffee, and teas are great gifts that have with long shelf-lives, and buying them helps support businesses and individuals across the world.

As we sit down this week to give thanks for the people and things around us, we must also recognize those who may not be so fortunate. The food wasted in the United States each year is enough to satisfy the hunger of the approximately 1 billion malnourished people worldwide, according to Tristram Stuart, a food waste expert and contributing author to “State of the World 2011”. As we prepare for upcoming holiday celebrations, the simple changes we make, such as using food responsibly and donating excess to the hungry, can help make the holiday season more plentiful and hunger-free for all.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Poison in Our Parks

Did you know that there may be poison in your local park? The City of San Diego uses Diphacinone poison to control squirrels, gophers, and other wildlife in three Ocean Beach parks: Dusty Rhodes, Bill Cleator and Robb Field. The Animal Protection & Rescue League (APRL) has launched a campaign to end the use of poison in public parks for the following reasons:

Poison is unsafe. Diphacinone, like other rodenticides, is fatal if swallowed, inhaled, or even touched. These poisons are lethal to both dogs and cats if directly ingested. The Poison Control Center linked rodenticides to over 11,000 poisoning cases in 2009.

Poison is bad for the environment. Birds and other mammals are also at risk. Drastic reductions to small mammal populations disrupt the food chain, leaving those higher up the chain to starve. Birds of prey like eagles, owls, and falcons have been shown to hemorrhage and die after eating poisoned animals. Poison is also a potential contaminant to groundwater and native plant life.

Poison is inhumane. After consuming a lethal dose of poison, animals experience labored breathing, muscular weakness, fluid in the lungs, and an increased heartbeat. They suffer also from internal hemorrhaging and external bleeding. These symptoms can last for up to 5 days, until death.

There are many humane options. The most simple one? Don’t feed the squirrels. Squirrels and gophers reproduce rapidly when they have heightened cholesterol brought on by an overabundance of food. Preventative measures like sound deterrents, non-toxic spray deterrents, and underground fencing are all good options. As seasonal breeding species, gophers and squirrels are also good candidates for contraceptives, which may be dispensed in the place of poison.

Please ask the City of San Diego to stop poisoning wildlife. To voice your opinion, please write to Stacey Lomedico, City of San Diego Park and Recreation Director, either by email (, fax (619-525-8220) or snail mail at 202 C Street - MS37C, San Diego CA 92101. Your letter can be short and sweet – make sure to include your full name, address, and a short statement about why you are opposed to poison in public parks.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Apple Cider Doughnuts

Vegetarian Times has a terrific recipe for Apple Cider Doughnuts this month, just in time for the start of the Fall season. If you love doughnuts, but shun the grease, these gems are just the ticket! Made in the oven, the only special tool you'll need is a doughnut pan (which is sort of like a cupcake pan, but with a center piece that makes the doughnut hole). Once you get your special pan, you'll be making doughnuts all the time! Heck, your neighbors might even crown you Doughnut King or Doughnut Queen. Not a bad moniker to have, if you ask us.

New to baking? Never fear! By purchasing many of your ingredients from the Co-op’s Bulk Foods and Bulk Herbs Departments, you can buy just the amounts that you need for each recipe. Now that's friendly baking.

Click here for the recipe.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hey Teachers ~ Bring your Students to the Wild Willow Farm and Educational Center!

People’s Organic Food Co-op is offering sponsorships for elementary and middle school children to tour and experience hands-on learning at the Wild Willow Farm and Educational Center. Are you a teacher interested in an inspiring farm field trip? If so, this opportunity is not to be missed! The Wild Willow Farm, located near Imperial Beach, offers a variety of educational topics—from composting to farm insects to water conservation—and helps students take an active part in growing food.

Field trips typically last 2 to 3 hours, depending on your needs. Students are typically split into groups and rotate through 3 to 4 activities, which include planting, weeding, watering, bed-building, composting, mulching, etc. The farm directors choose tasks and activities that are age-appropriate. A few of the field trip activities include: Sustainability Scavenger Hunts, where students learn what sustainability means in the context of farming; Brown Bag Botany, where students learn the edible plant parts (roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruit, seeds) and how the foods that they are familiar with fit into those categories; Homes for Seeds, a hands-on lesson that introduces students to seed needs including nutrients, structure, moisture, warmth, and light; Recycling with Worms, where students observe worm bins and hold worms; and Farm Insects: Friend and Foe, where farmers discuss beneficial insects that pollinate, eat pests, and help the farm.
By applying for a sponsorship through People’s, a $5 per student charge will be waived. For more information on the Wild Willow Farm and Educational Center, please visit the farm’s website. For sponsorship applications, please contact Member Services at People’s Co-op, located on the Co-op’s second floor.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mexican Chickpea Salad

Mexican Chickpea Salad

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are an excellent source of plant protein and fiber, and may just be the most widely consumed legume in the world! An ancient bean, with a history spanning back at least 7,400 years, chickpeas have been grown in India, the Middle East and parts of Africa for many years.

At People’s, we’ve been using chickpeas in our Deli recipes for years, too, though not thousands. Here’s one of your favorites . . .

Mexican Chickpea Salad

3 cups cooked chickpeas (canned is fine)

1/3 cup olive oil

2 jalapenos, minced

2 Tbsp. garlic

4 cups tomatoes, seeded, diced and drained

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 4 cup lime juice

1 tsp. sea salt

Sauté jalapenos in oil for about 4 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute, stirring constantly until jalapenos are soft. Remove from heat and let cool. Combine chickpeas, jalapeno mixture and the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix. Allow to marinate for a bit before serving. Ole!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shale Fail

Shale gas is widely touted as a "clean" fossil fuel that can serve as a bridge to renewable energy. But according to a new study by Cornell University researchers, it actually has a larger carbon footprint than coal, oil and conventional natural gas, at least over a 20-year period. That's largely because shale-gas wells leak large amounts of methane - a component of natural gas, but also a potent greenhouse gas, even more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. When leaked methane is calculated with the greenhouse gases emitted by burning shale gas, the fuel loses much of its green luster, the study's authors argue.

"The large greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas undercuts the logic of its use as a bridging fuel over coming decades, if the goal is to reduce global warming, " lead author Robert Howarth tells the AFP. "The full footprint should be used in planning for alternative energy futures that adequately consider global climate change." Shale drilling already faces scrutiny for its use of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," in which pressurized water, sand and chemicals are pumped deep underground to loosen rock and release more gas. While the EPA investigates claims that fracking poisons groundwater, however, Howarth says he's found an even bigger flaw with shale drilling - one that belies the very argument used to justify the current U.S. shale-gas boom. Plus, he points out that his team's calculations for methane leakage are based on "best practices" estimates, but that actual leakage rates could be much higher. "No one knows for sure to what extent industry uses best practices; and unfortunately, at least in the U.S., industry does not want government or the public to know," he says. "The [EPA] has proposed rules that would require industry to report methane emissions, but several companies have sued the EPA to try to prevent such reporting."

According to the U.S. Energy Department, the country's total natural gas output will grow by 20 percent in the next 25 years, at which point nearly half of all U.S. gas production will come from shale - up from just 16 percent in 2009. Shale gas is increasingly popular because vast deposits exist underneath the U.S., and because new drilling techniques like fracking make it more economical to extract. It has looked especially good to many ever since Japan's nuclear crisis began last month, too. But as Howarth argues, it's unwise to look at shale gas through green-colored glasses. "We should not proceed to view shale gas as a 'transitional fuel' to be used over the next few decades to replace other fossil fuels," he says, "but rather work harder to move toward truly green renewable fuels as quickly as possible, such as wind and solar."

(Sources: Mother Nature News Network, The Hill, BBC News, Agence France-Presse, e! Science News)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Learning about Butterflies and Moths

Why should we care about butterflies and moths? Thanks to butterflies, bees, birds, and other animal pollinators, the world's flowering plants are able to reproduce and bear fruit. That very basic capability is at the root of many of the foods we eat. And, not least, pollination adds to the beauty we see around us.

Yet today, there is evidence of alarming pollinator population declines worldwide. Fortunately, science investigators of this crucial issue can use data collected and organized in the Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) database to monitor the health of our butterfly and moth population.

Backed by more than 287,000 verified sighting records and 3,239 images that describe 4,638 species, BAMONA is committed to collecting and providing access to quality-controlled data about butterflies and moths of North America. Dedicated volunteer coordinators, including national and internationally recognized Lepidoptera experts, verify each record. The goal is to fill the needs of scientists and nature observers by bringing verified occurrence and life history data into one accessible location.

To serve its broad range of users even better, BAMONA recently launched its re-tooled website. The site was developed at Montana State University (MSU) under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) Network.

BAMONA's latest innovations are aimed at improving technologies for both data collection and data dissemination. Users can now submit records – which typically include a photograph – via the site's new user submission form, replacing an outdated submission process that required multiple e-mails with spreadsheet attachments. As for data dissemination, verified records are now immediately available on the site's home page. New, interactive Google-based maps enable the display of any verified sighting, including Canadian locations. Visitors can now zoom in or out and click on dots pin-pointing sighting locations on interactive maps, and see the details of each sighting record. All these features were not available previously.

For more information, go to

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Cooperative Development Foundation is accepting contributions to aid in the recovery from the tsunami that struck Japan on March 10, 2011 and has potentially done major damage in Japan and throughout Southeast Asia. Japan is home to the Japanese Consumers Cooperative Union and to many other cooperatives, including student housing cooperatives. It was the Japanese Consumers Cooperative Union that donated the seed money for the Cooperative Development Foundation’s Kagawa Fund, which has made over $800,000 in loans to expand student housing co-ops across the

United States, enabling many students to afford college while teaching them leadership, financial, and management skills.

If you would like to make a contribution to assist in the cooperatives throughout the affected area recover from this devastating tsunami, you can do so through the Cooperative Development Foundation. Please visit and use the Google Checkout Cart on the right-hand column. You may also send your donation to the Cooperative Development Foundation at 2011 Crystal Drive, Suite 800, Arlington, VA 22202 (please make sure to note that it is for Tsunami Recovery in Japan). 100% of your donation will go toward recovery. Thanks to a generous grant given to the Cooperative Development Foundation by Google, Inc, all donations made through Google Checkout are Fee Free.

We thank you for your support and cooperation during these difficult times.

The Cooperative Development Foundation

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Holy Pistachio!

Pistachios are a naturally cholesterol-free snack that contains just 1.5 grams of saturated fat and 13 grams of fat, the majority of which comes from monounsaturated fat. A one-ounce serving of pistachios equals 49 nuts, which is more nuts per serving than any other snack nut. One serving of pistachios has as much potassium (300mg, 8%) as an orange (250mg, 7 %), making it a nutritious snack choice or ingredient to incorporate into daily diets.

Nutty Tip:

For a vitamin and mineral-rich snack, skip the greasy popcorn next time you go to the movies; instead, bring along a small bags of pistachios. Vary the flavor? Why not! Try toasting pistachios for a deeper flavor. Place your pistachios in a 350 degree oven or a dry skillet over medium heat and toast until they brown. They will continue to cook when removed from the stove.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Welfare Ranching

Assessing the Real Cost of a Hamburger

by George Wuerthner

Do you know what a Big Mac costs? If you say $2.50 or whatever the current price posted at the McDonald's restaurant may be, you are vastly under-estimating the real price. That's because $2.50 does not reflect the genuine cost of production. Every hamburger price tag should include a calculation of animal suffering, human health costs, economic and ecological subsidies. None of these bona fide costs is included in the price one pays for a hamburger (or other meats eaten by consumers for that matter).

Unfortunately, assessing the real price of a hamburger is difficult because much of the overhead is hidden from view or simply ignored. Most people do not see the pain of the animals as they are branded, castrated, and slaughtered. Nor are most people fully aware of the multiple hormones and chemicals dumped into feed or directly injected into the animals. Nor have they considered how these high rates of hormone and chemical use may pose risks for humans through the creation of resistance germs and bacteria. While there is a growing awareness of the health costs - including high rates of heart attack, colon cancer, and high blood pressure, resulting from a heavy meat diet - even the best assessments of the health risks are far from complete.

But these costs, while real and significant, pale by comparison to the ecological cost of livestock production. There is no other single human activity that has degraded and destroyed more of the American landscape and perhaps the global landscape as well as our love affair with the cow and the meat-dominated diet. Welfare Ranching - the Subsidized Destruction of the American West, a book I edited along with Mollie Matteson and published by Island Press, attempts to innumerate these costs.

To read more of this article, please click here

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Get a healthy tan this spring and summer

New research reveals that eating vegetables gives you a healthy tan. The study, led by Dr. Ian Stephen at The University of Nottingham, showed that eating a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables gives you a more healthy golden glow than the sun.

Dr. Stephen and his team in the Perception Lab found that people who eat more portions of fruit and vegetables per day have a more golden skin color, thanks to substances called carotenoids. Carotenoids are antioxidants that help soak up damaging compounds produced by the stresses and strains of everyday living. Responsible for the red coloring in fruit and vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes, carotenoids are important for our immune and reproductive systems.

Dr. Stephen said: "We found that, given the choice between skin color caused by suntan and skin color caused by carotenoids, people preferred the carotenoid skin color, so if you want a healthier and more attractive skin, you are better off eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables than lying in the sun."

(Source: FARM)