Socially constructed beauty norms: fruits&veggies are victims too!

I remember. The times when I lured in front of the fruits & veggies section at the supermarket, carefully analyzing the produce to make sure I picked the shiniest apple and the most spherical orange. I was disgusted by the weird looking ones, the tomatoes with curves that reminded me of tumours or the carrots with two heads. They seemed to have a chemical deformation but really, it was the complete opposite. In 8th grade, I was about to take a bite of a beautiful apple when my friend made a comment: “Omg, you’re apple is just perfect!”. I suddenly stopped my motion, put down the apple on my desk, looked up and said: “that’s because of all the pesticides they sprayed on it!”.

Why haven’t I thought of this before? How was it possible that after being exposed to all of nature’s deeds, could this apple still be impeccable? No bumps, no holes, no scratches, no bruises… it just didn’t make sense. Nature is far from perfect, but our society decided that even food needed beauty norms. So we had to find ways, environmentally hurtful ways, of meeting them. With big franchises like Loblaws and Walmart stepping over small farms and increasing the distance between the buyers and the producers, people are feeling more disconnected than ever with their food. It used to be that most families had their own farm and garden. From planting the first seed to harvesting the final product, they were implicated at every level of the food production. That means that no matter the shape and size of the apple, each and every one was cherished because they were literally the fruits of the farmer’s labor. Now, in an age of “innovation”, we often only need to lift a finger to make food appear in our kitchen. Don’t have time to drive to the supermarket? You can order your grocery online and have it delivered right at your front door!

Because most of us don’t worry about how and where the produce is being grown, looks and taste are now the two main factors influencing the buyer’s decision. If it doesn’t look good, fruits and veggies are basically considered garbage. “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. It’s a cheesy saying but one of my personal favorites. Consumers all around the world are asking the wrong questions: does it has bruises? Is it big enough? Does it look normal? … How is this kind of information helping families put better food on their tables!? We need to look past beyond the cover, open the book and read the story! Who grew it? Where? At what environmental and social cost? What kind of chemicals could be inside its flesh?

Consumers throw out a lot of unappealing products but it’s the producers and grocery store that waste the most. “More than 20 percent of the produce grown for human consumption is rejected by grocery stores and goes uneaten because of its appearance”. The environmental impacts of food waste is huge: the decomposition of organic waste produces methane (prevents the heat from escaping into space = global warming!) and large amounts of water, fertilizers, pesticides and energy was used to grow this food. However, another aspect of food waste is even more ethically wrong: how can we partake in this kind of activity when we know that millions of people are starving every day?

Thankfully, people around the world are working hard to stop food waste:

Mason Jars Maniac

Lately, I bought a lot of different ingredients to be able to cook new vegan recipes and I had to find somewhere to store them all so I bought the cutest mason jars ever! I love mason jars because first of all, they’re made out of glass, so they’re a lot more durable and less toxic than plastic containers, and they’re just soooo cute! I use the bigger ones to make overnight oats, as a container for my meals that I bring at work, as a fashionable glass… the uses are limitless!

mason jars

Take a look here to find out more about creative ways to use mason jars:
http://www.countryliving.com/diy-crafts/how-to/g1821/mason-jars/?slide=6
https://fr.pinterest.com/JoycesFunPlace/mason-jar-and-bottles-creative-ideas-i-love/

Oh She Glows cookbook

This past week, I improvised my recipes by opening my fridge, glancing around, and matching together random ingredients that had the potential (according to my limited culinary experience and knowledge) to make a good couple. I always had a hard time following recipes, maybe because as a kid, my grandma used a cookbook like if the recipes were recommendations rather than instructions. I feel more creative when I build my own creations but I realised that I would learn a lot more if I followed recipes. I went to Chapters and found this amazing book called The Oh She Glows Cookbook – Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out that contains carefully constructed vegan recipes supported by fresh and colorful pictures. The author, Angela Liddon, is a blogger that decided to publish a book with all the recipes she posted online. Her story is quite inspirational and the fact that she’s a self-trained chef gave me hope about my culinary potential. The recipes range from simple to complex but all of them are outlined in a way that is easy to follow. Today, I filled my tummy with sunrise scramble with roasted home fries & avocado toast.

breakfast 1

There’s basically three parts to this recipe:

1. The sunrise scramble: healthy roasted vegetables with tofu (replaces the eggs). While it was tasteful and filling, I still have a hard time enjoying tofu because of it’s strange texture.

2. Roasted home fries: these were, I’m not kidding, the best potatoes I’ve ever tasted! I found it strange that the recipe asked for cornstarch but when I took out the fries from the oven, I quickly understood why: the potatoes were crisped but soft inside, the perfect texture!

3. Avocado toast: I’m not a fan of avocado. I find it too rich and untasteful, but added on a toast like butter with a pinch of sea salt and pepper, it was pretty great!

Overall, the meal was incredible and I strongly encourage you to buy The Oh She Glows Cookbook and follow Angela Liddon blog!

Eco challenge: Day 3

I was eager to explore the culinary possibilities of my new ingredients so for lunch (and diner), I cooked sauté onions, kale and tofu with quinoa. It was surprisingly really good! The texture of tofu still disturbs me but I have hope that I will soon forget about it. Overall, I felt light and satisfied after every meal I ate today even though there wasn’t any animal product in them. For breakfast, I ate overnight rolled oats with almonds,chia seeds, fruits and honey with a slice of bread topped with my new delicious organic dark chocolate peanut butter (my favorite vegan alternative so far!). I did notice that I was more hungry in between my meals but I tossed some almonds in my mouth and the feeling was soon gone.

Eco challenge: Day 2

-The biggest challenge for new vegetarians\vegans is, of course, getting the nutrients your body needs without eating animal products. Meat, fish and dairy products are the principal source of protein, calcium or iron for a lot of people, but they can all be found in other ingredients. Yesterday, I was looking for retail stores that sold organic\vegan food in Ottawa and I found an amazing local store called Herbs and Spices that is literally heaven for vegetarian\vegan\gluten-free\environmentally-caring people! It’s really cute and cozy and has a LOT of varieties of products and brands. You can also buy some of their products, like beans and rice, in bulk which is great because it means less packaging! Here is some of the stuff I bought:

proteinI admit it, I will miss my dairy products! I usually eat cereal every night before going to bed and yogurt in the morning, but I decided to go with Earth’s Own Almond Milk Fresh (Zinc, Calcium, Vitamin D, B12) instead and it actually tastes a lot better than I remembered! I bought organic bread that contains a high amount of protein and splurged on natural/GMO free Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter Co. (protein, iron)  and organic garlic hummus to go with it. I’m not exaggerating when I’m saying that this is the best peanut butter I ever tasted and the hummus is a strong candidate!

food2

Other:

Black beans (fiber, iron and protein)

Kidney beans (fiber, iron, protein, vitamin C)

Kale (vitamin A/ C, calcium, Iron, protein)

Rolled oats (fiber, protein, calcium, iron)

Chia seed (calcium, fiber, omega-3/6)

Almonds (protein, calcium, iron, fiber)

– Camino 80% Dark chocolate (iron, fiber, protein)

Eco challenge: Vegan for a month

”So… why are you vegan?”, that’s the question I keep asking people who made the choice of excluding animal products from their diet. I don’t ask this question on an accusatory tone, but rather in a curious, wanting-to-understand-where-you’re-coming from tone. Because I’ve considered being a vegetarian/vegan for a long time, but I wouldn’t take the first step before I felt authentic about it. Like writing an essay, I felt like I had to do a thorough research on the subject to come up with rational arguments for myself. So why would I switch to the other side? From all the reasons I researched and heard about, the environmental impacts of the meat and fish industry made the most sense to me. Cows produce methane just by living: they’re farts, burps and breath releases this dangerous gas in our atmosphere and traps the heat inside, thus causing global warming. ”A staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. According to the United Nations, a global shift toward a vegan diet is necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change”. They produce so much feces (10x more than humans do in North Carolina) that it’s collected and sprayed on the fields as a fertilizer. The problem is that the waste often leaks in water sources and contaminates it. For the fish industry, fisherman use huge nets that drags on the marine floor and destroys it: the choral dies and the fish ends up homeless.

So I had my first argument, but what else? I just finished my first year at University and I experienced at least 10 times a moment where someone approached me to give me a pamphlet explaining with detailed illustrations about how animals are treated horribly in slaughterhouses. I thought: wow, this is horrible, but it can’t be that bad…? I told myself they made it look worst to persuade people to stop eating meet. But then I did some more research and found out that they were by no means exaggerating.

So I had 2 arguments: environmental impacts and animal cruelty. But it still wasn’t enough because if animals eat other animals, then why shouldn’t we eat animals? The Lion King’s theme song was my main inspiration for that thought: it’s the circle of life! We need animal protein to be strong and fierce! Don’t we? I then decided that I would only eat chicken (less methane) but only from local organic farms (no antibiotics, hormones nor animal cruelty). So just this last Saturday, I mounted my bike and headed to the organic farmers market and bought a nice chicken breast.

I got it, I found the solution! Until I watch the documentary Vegucated (which you should all watch) and realised that even ”small” family farms have issues. Another disturbing realisation (pointed out by my sister) is that humans are the only specie that drink milk: (1) from other species and (2): after we grow out of our ”baby stage”. Harvard recently published a study about how milk ”Doesn’t Do A Body Good”.

In conclusion, I’ve decided to match up my ”zero-waste” challenge with a ”Vegan” challenge to experience first-hand the ups and down of being a vegan for a month. Again, I will post daily articles about my experience of going to the other side.

Zero Waste Lifestyle

It’s been a couple of weeks that I’ve been thinking about starting a zero-waste lifestyle. I already compost, recycle and I’ve started buying only second-hand clothes but there’s still a lot of things that I’m doing wrong. I’ve stumble across a great article about a girl that didn’t produce trash in 2 years!! This finally made me realise that it’s possible to do so and that I should match my actions with my ideologies. The main reason that I’m doing this is that trash is synonym of disposing which means to get rid of or to give to someone else, and that someone else is the earth. It takes 450-1000 years for plastic to decompose and surprisingly, the most dangerous of all waste is organic waste: when food is thrown down in landfills, it becomes compacted and covered, which prevents the oxygen to reach it and thus produces methane. EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) states that ”the comparative impact of CH(methane) on climate change is 25 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period”. Global warming is not the only consequence of our societies’ overconsumption rage: plastic is taking over our oceans, threatening marine life and we humans who consumes it, hazardous waste can affect the health of people living near landfills by polluting the air the groundwater and the soil. So starting now, I will try my best to:

  • Start buying my meat, eggs and vegetables at an organic farmers market in Ottawa
  • Buy in bulk
  • Stop purchasing anything with a package (that’s a lot of things!)
  • Bring my own plates/containers/utensils everywhere
  • Say NO to things like straws, napkins, paper cups

During this process, I will post pictures and articles about my experience and I hope it will inspire some to do the same!

Interesting blog: http://www.trashisfortossers.com/2013/08/zero-waste-alternatives-ultimate-list.html