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Chris Newman

Chris Newman

23 days ago

Clean Food: Get Over Yourself If You Want to Save the World.

From Salt Bae, via Facebook

I’m a permaculture farmer. I want to create food-producing ecosystems. My hope is a world with easy access to a cuisine that nourishes consumers, supports producers, and leaves the Earth joyously habitable.

Permaculturists, natural farmers, plantsmen, and foodies share this ambition. I believe this group of green thumbs, stock-folk, and food champions is falling to tribalism, forgetting that rescuing the globe requires saving all of its inhabitants, even those who adore cheap burgers and Coke. We're digging foxholes and turning folks who disagree with us or don't understand into monsters.

Take Dr. Daphne Miller's comments at the end of her Slow Money Journal interview:

“Americans are going to fall into two camps when all is said and done: People who buy cheap goods, regardless of quality, versus people who are willing and able to pay for things that are made with integrity. We are seeing the limits of the “buying cheap crap” approach.”

This is one of the most judgmental things I've read outside the Bible. Consequences:

  • People who purchase inexpensive things (food) are ignorant buffoons who prefer to choose fair trade coffee over fuel as long as the price is correct.

  • It all depends on your WILL to buy quality or cheaply. Both those who are WILLING and those who ARE NOT exist. And able, too.

  • People who are unwilling and unable are purchasing garbage. You're giving your kids bad food. Both the Earth and you are being destroyed by your actions. Your camp is the wrong one. You’re garbage! Disgrace to you.

Dr. Miller didn't say it, but words are worthless until interpreted. This interpretation depends on the interpreter's economic, racial, political, religious, family, and personal history. Complementary language insults another. Imagine how that Brown/Harvard M.D.'s comment sounds to a low-income household with no savings.

This just went from “cheap burger” to “political statement of blue-collar solidarity.” Thanks, Clean Food, for digging your own grave.

Dr. Miller's comment reflects the echo chamber into which nearly all clean food advocates speak. It asks easy questions and accepts non-solutions like raising food prices and eating less meat. People like me have cultivated an insular world unencumbered by challenges beyond the margins. We may disagree about technical details in rotationally-grazing livestock, but we short circuit when asked how our system could supply half the global beef demand. Most people have never seriously considered this question. We're so loved and affirmed that challenging ourselves doesn't seem necessary. Were generals insisting we don't need to study the terrain because God is on our side?

“Yes, the $8/lb ground beef is produced the way it should be. Yes, it’s good for my body. Yes it’s good for the Earth. But it’s eight freaking dollars, and my kid needs braces and protein. Bye Felicia, we’re going to McDonald’s.”

-Bobby Q. Homemaker

Funny clean foodies. People don't pay enough for food; they should value it more. Turn the concept of buying food with integrity into a wedge and drive it into the heart of America, dividing the willing and unwilling.

We go apeshit if you call our products high-end.

I've heard all sorts of gaslighting to defend a $10/lb pork chop as accessible (things I’ve definitely said in the past):

  • At Whole Foods, it costs more.

  • The steak at the supermarket is overly affordable.

  • Pay me immediately or the doctor gets paid later.

I spoke with Timbercreek Market and Local Food Hub in front of 60 people. We were asked about local food availability.

They came to me last, after my co-panelists gave the same responses I would have given two years before.

I grumbled, "Our food is inaccessible." Nope. It's beyond the wallets of nearly everyone, and it's the biggest problem with sustainable food systems. We're criminally unserious about being leaders in sustainability until we propose solutions beyond economic relativism, wishful thinking, and insisting that vulnerable, distracted people do all the heavy lifting of finding a way to afford our food. And until we talk about solutions, all this preserve the world? False.

The room fell silent as if I'd revealed a terrible secret. Long, thunderous applause followed my other remarks. But I’m probably not getting invited back to any VNRLI events.

I make pricey cuisine. It’s high-end. I have customers who really have to stretch to get it, and they let me know it. They're forgoing other creature comforts to help me make a living and keep the Earth of my grandmothers alive, and they're doing it as an act of love. They believe in us and our work.

I remember it when I'm up to my shoulders in frigid water, when my vehicle stinks of four types of shit, when I come home covered in blood and mud, when I'm hauling water in 100-degree heat, when I'm herding pigs in a rainstorm and dodging lightning bolts to close the chickens. I'm reminded I'm not alone. Their enthusiasm is worth more than money; it helps me make a life and a living. I won't label that gift less than it is to make my meal seem more accessible.

Not everyone can sacrifice.

Let's not pretend we want to go back to peasant fare, despite our nostalgia. Industrial food has leveled what rich and poor eat. How food is cooked will be the largest difference between what you and a billionaire eat. Rich and poor have access to chicken, pork, and beef. You might be shocked how recently that wasn't the case. This abundance, particularly of animal protein, has helped vulnerable individuals.

Especially when the mutton’s nice and lean (image from The Spruce)

Industrial food causes environmental damage, chronic disease, and distribution inequities. Clean food promotes non-industrial, artisan farming. This creates a higher-quality, more expensive product than the competition; we respond with aggressive marketing and the "people need to value food more" shtick geared at consumers who can spend the extra money.

The guy who is NOT able is rendered invisible by clean food's elitist marketing, which is bizarre given a.) clean food insists it's trying to save the world, yet b.) MOST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD ARE THAT GUY. No one can help him except feel-good charities. That's crazy.

Also wrong: a foodie telling a kid he can't eat a 99-cent fast food hamburger because it lacks integrity. Telling him how easy it is to save his ducketts and maybe have a grass-fed house burger at the end of the month as a reward, but in the meantime get your protein from canned beans you can't bake because you don't have a stove and, even if you did, your mom works two jobs and moonlights as an Uber driver so she doesn't have time to heat that shitup anyway.

A wealthy person's attitude toward the poor is indecent. It's 18th-century Versailles.

“Let them eat cake. Oh, it’s not organic? Let them starve!”

Human rights include access to nutritious food without social or environmental costs. As a food-forest-loving permaculture farmer, I no longer balk at the concept of cultured beef and hydroponics. My food is out of reach for many people, but access to decent food shouldn't be. Cultures and hydroponics could scale to meet the clean food affordability gap without externalities. If technology can deliver great, affordable beef without environmental negative effects, I can't reject it because it's new, unusual, or might endanger my business.

Why is your farm needed if cultured beef and hydroponics can feed the world? Permaculture food forests with trees, perennial plants, and animals are crucial to economically successful environmental protection. No matter how advanced technology gets, we still need clean air, water, soil, greenspace, and food.

Clean Food cultivated in/on live soil, minimally processed, and eaten close to harvest is part of the answer, not THE solution. Clean food advocates must recognize the conflicts at the intersection of environmental, social, and economic sustainability, the disproportionate effects of those conflicts on the poor and lower-middle classes, and the immorality and impracticality of insisting vulnerable people address those conflicts on their own and judging them if they don't.

Our clients, relatives, friends, and communities need an honest assessment of our role in a sustainable future. If we're serious about preserving the world, we owe honesty to non-customers. We owe our goal and sanity to honesty. Future health and happiness of the world left to the average person's pocketbook and long-term moral considerations is a dismal proposition with few parallels.

Let's make soil and grow food. Let the lab folks do their thing. We're all interdependent.

Alexandra Walker-Jones

Alexandra Walker-Jones

23 days ago

These are the 15 foods you should eat daily and why.

Research on preventing disease, extending life, and caring for your body from the inside out

Photo by Isra E on Unsplash

Grapefruit and pomegranates aren't on the list, so ignore that. Mostly, I enjoyed the visual, but those fruits are healthful, too.

15 (or 17 if you consider the photo) different foods a day sounds like a lot. If you're not used to it  — it is.

These lists don't aim for perfection. Instead, use this article and the science below to eat more of these foods. If you can eat 5 foods one day and 5 the next, you're doing well. This list should be customized to your requirements and preferences.

“Every time you eat or drink, you are either feeding disease or fighting it” -Heather Morgan.

The 15 Foods That You Should Consume Daily and Why:

1. Dark/Red Berries

(blueberries, blackberries, acai, goji, cherries, strawberries, raspberries)

The 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study is the greatest definitive analysis of death and disease risk factors in history. They found the primary cause of both death, disability, and disease inside the United States was diet.

Not eating enough fruit, and specifically berries, was one of the best predictors of disease (1).

What's special about berries? It's their color! Berries have the most antioxidants of any fruit, second only to spices. The American Cancer Society found that those who ate the most berries were less likely to die of cardiovascular disease.

2. Beans

Soybeans, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, split peas, chickpeas.

Beans are one of the most important predictors of survival in older people, according to global research (2).

For every 20 grams (2 tablespoons) of beans consumed daily, the risk of death is reduced by 8%.

Soybeans and soy foods are high in phytoestrogen, which reduces breast and prostate cancer risks. Phytoestrogen blocks the receptors' access to true estrogen, mitigating the effects of weight gain, dairy (high in estrogen), and hormonal fluctuations (3).

3. Nuts

(almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts)

Eating a handful of nuts every day reduces the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Nuts also reduce oxidation, blood sugar, and LDL (bad) cholesterol, improving arterial function (4).

Despite their high-fat content, studies have linked daily nut consumption to a slimmer waistline and a lower risk of obesity (5).

4. Flaxseed

(milled flaxseed)

2013 research found that ground flaxseed had one of the strongest anti-hypertensive effects of any food. A few tablespoons (added to a smoothie or baked goods) lowered blood pressure and stroke risk 23 times more than daily aerobic exercise (6).

Flax shouldn't replace exercise, but its nutritional punch is worth adding to your diet.

5. Other seeds

(chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, fennel seeds)

Seeds are high in fiber and omega-3 fats and can be added to most dishes without being noticed.

When eaten with or after a meal, chia seeds moderate blood sugar and reduce inflammatory chemicals in the blood (7). Overall, a great daily addition.

6. Dates

Dates are one of the world's highest sugar foods, with 80% sugar by weight. Pure cake frosting is 60%, maple syrup is 66%, and cotton-candy jelly beans are 70%.

Despite their high sugar content, dates have a low glycemic index, meaning they don't affect blood sugar levels dramatically. They also improve triglyceride and antioxidant stress levels (8).

Dates are a great source of energy and contain high levels of dietary fiber and polyphenols, making 3-10 dates a great way to fight disease, support gut health with prebiotics, and satisfy a sweet tooth (9).

7. Cruciferous Veggies

(broccoli, Brussel sprouts, horseradish, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, boy choy, arugula, radishes, turnip greens)

Cruciferous vegetables contain an active ingredient that makes them disease-fighting powerhouses. Sulforaphane protects our brain, eyesight, against free radicals and environmental hazards, and treats and prevents cancer (10).

Unless you eat raw cruciferous vegetables daily, you won't get enough sulforaphane (and thus, its protective nutritional benefits). Cooking destroys the enzyme needed to create this super-compound.

If you chop broccoli, cauliflower, or turnip greens and let them sit for 45 minutes before cooking them, the enzyme will have had enough time to work its sulforaphane magic, allowing the vegetables to retain the same nutritional value as if eaten raw. Crazy, right? For more on this, see What Chopping Your Vegetables Has to Do with Fighting Cancer.

8. Whole grains

(barley, brown rice, quinoa, oats, millet, popcorn, whole-wheat pasta, wild rice)

Whole-grains are one of the healthiest ways to consume your daily carbs and help maintain healthy gut flora.

This happens when fibre is broken down in the colon and starts a chain reaction, releasing beneficial substances into the bloodstream and reducing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and inflammation (11).

9. Spices

(turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, saffron, cloves, cardamom, chili powder, nutmeg, coriander)

7% of a person's cells will have DNA damage. This damage is caused by tiny breaks in our DNA caused by factors like free-radical exposure.

Free radicals cause mutations that damage lipids, proteins, and DNA, increasing the risk of disease and cancer. Free radicals are unavoidable because they result from cellular metabolism, but they can be avoided by consuming anti-oxidant and detoxifying foods.

Including spices and herbs like rosemary or ginger in our diet may cut DNA damage by 25%. Yes, this damage can be improved through diet. Turmeric worked better at a lower dose (just a pinch, daily). For maximum free-radical fighting (and anti-inflammatory) effectiveness, use 1.5 tablespoons of similar spices (12).

10. Leafy greens

(spinach, collard greens, lettuce, other salad greens, swiss chard)

Studies show that people who eat more leafy greens perform better on cognitive tests and slow brain aging by a year or two (13).

As we age, blood flow to the brain drops due to a decrease in nitric oxide, which prevents blood vessels from dilatation. Daily consumption of nitrate-rich vegetables like spinach and swiss chard may prevent dementia and Alzheimer's.

11. Fermented foods

(sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha, plant-based kefir)

Miso, kimchi, and sauerkraut contain probiotics that support gut microbiome.

Probiotics balance the good and bad bacteria in our bodies and offer other benefits. Fermenting fruits and vegetables increases their antioxidant and vitamin content, preventing disease in multiple ways (14).

12. Sea vegetables

(seaweed, nori, dulse flakes)

A population study found that eating one sheet of nori seaweed per day may cut breast cancer risk by more than half (15).

Seaweed and sea vegetables may help moderate estrogen levels in the metabolism, reducing cancer and disease risk.

Sea vegetables make up 30% of the world's edible plants and contain unique phytonutrients. A teaspoon of these super sea-foods on your dinner will help fight disease from the inside out.

13. Water

I'm less concerned about whether you consider water food than whether you drink enough. If this list were ranked by what single item led to the best health outcomes, water would be first.

Research shows that people who drink 5 or more glasses of water per day have a 50% lower risk of dying from heart disease than those who drink 2 or less (16).

Drinking enough water boosts energy, improves skin, mental health, and digestion, and reduces the risk of various health issues, including obesity.

14. Tea

All tea consumption is linked to a lower risk of stroke, heart disease, and early death, with green tea leading for antioxidant content and immediate health benefits.

Green tea leaves may also be able to interfere with each stage of cancer formation, from the growth of the first mutated cell to the spread and progression of cancer in the body. Green tea is a quick and easy way to support your long-term and short-term health (17).

15. Supplemental B12 vitamin

B12, or cobalamin, is a vitamin responsible for cell metabolism. Not getting enough B12 can have serious consequences.

Historically, eating vegetables from untreated soil helped humans maintain their vitamin B12 levels. Due to modern sanitization, our farming soil lacks B12.

B12 is often cited as a problem only for vegetarians and vegans (as animals we eat are given B12 supplements before slaughter), but recent studies have found that plant-based eaters have lower B12 deficiency rates than any other diet (18).


Article Sources:

  1. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (GBD 2010)

2. I. Darmadi-Blackberry, M. Wahlqvist, A. Kouris-Blazos, et al. Legumes: the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people of different ethnicities. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2004;13(2):217–20.

3. Guha N, Kwan ML, Quesenberry CP Jr, Weltzien EK, Castillo AL, Caan BJ. Soy isoflavones and risk of cancer recurrence in a cohort of breast cancer survivors: the Life After Cancer Epidemiology study. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2009 Nov;118(2):395–405.

4. Y. Bao, J. Han, F. B. Hu, E. L. Giovannucci, M. J. Stampfer, W. C. Willett, C. S. Fuchs. Association of nut consumption with total and cause-specific mortality. N. Engl. J. Med. 2013 369(21):2001–2011.

5. V. Vadivel, C. N. Kunyanga, H. K. Biesalski. Health benefits of nut consumption with special reference to body weight control. Nutrition 2012 28(11–12):1089–1097.

6. D Rodriguez-Leyva, W Weighell, A L Edel,R LaVallee, E Dibrov,R Pinneker, T G Maddaford, B Ramjiawan, M Aliani, R Guzman R, G N Pierce. Potent antihypertensive action of dietary flaxseed in hypertensive patients. Hypertension. 2013 Dec;62(6):1081–9. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.113.02094.

7. Vuksan V, Jenkins AL, Dias AG, Lee AS, Jovanovski E, Rogovik AL, Hanna A. Reduction in postprandial glucose excursion and prolongation of satiety: possible explanation of the long-term effects of whole grain Salba (Salvia Hispanica L.). Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Apr;64(4):436–8. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2009.159. Epub 2010 Jan 20. PMID: 20087375.

8. W. Rock, M. Rosenblat, H. Borochov-Neori, N. Volkova, S. Judeinstein, M. Elias, and M. Aviram. Effects of date (Phoenix dactylifera L., Medjool or Hallawi Variety) consumption by healthy subjects on serum glucose and lipid levels and on serum oxidative status: a pilot study. J. Agric. Food. Chem., 57(17):8010{8017, 2009.

9. Eid N, Enani S, Walton G, et al. The impact of date palm fruits and their component polyphenols, on gut microbial ecology, bacterial metabolites and colon cancer cell proliferation. J Nutr Sci. 2014;3:e46.

10. Li Y, Zhang T, Korkaya H, Liu S, Lee HF, Newman B, Yu Y, Clouthier SG, Schwartz SJ, Wicha MS, Sun D. Sulforaphane, a Dietary Component of Broccoli/Broccoli Sprouts, Inhibits Breast Cancer Stem Cells. Clin Cancer Res. 2010 May 1;16(9):2580–90.

11. Lappi J, Kolehmainen M, Mykkänen H, Poutanen K. Do large intestinal events explain the protective effects of whole grain foods against type 2 diabetes? Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(6):631–40.

12. S. S. Percival, J. P. V. Heuvel, C. J. Nieves, C. Montero, A. J. Migliaccio, J. Meadors. Bioavailability of Herbs and Spices in Humans as Determined by ex vivo Inflammatory Suppression and DNA Strand Breaks. J Am Coll Nutr. 2012 31(4):288–294.

13. Nurk E, Refsum H, Drevon CA, et al. Cognitive performance among the elderly in relation to the intake of plant foods. The Hordaland Health Study. Br J Nutr. 2010;104(8):1190–201.

14. Melini, F.; Melini, V.; Luziatelli, F.; Ficca, A.G.; Ruzzi, M. Health-Promoting Components in Fermented Foods: An Up-to-Date Systematic Review. Nutrients2019, 11, 1189.

15. H. Funahashi, T. Imai, T. Mase, M. Sekiya, K. Yokoi, H. Hayashi, A. Shibata, T. Hayashi, M. Nishikawa, N. Suda, Y. Hibi, Y. Mizuno, K. Tsukamura, A. Hayakawa, S. Tanuma. Seaweed prevents breast cancer? Jpn. J. Cancer Res. 2001 92(5):483–487.

16. Chan J, Knutsen SF, Blix GG, Lee JW, Fraser GE. Water, other fluids, and fatal coronary heart disease: the Adventist Health Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2002 May 1;155(9):827–33. doi: 10.1093/aje/155.9.827. PMID: 11978586.

17. Fujiki H, Imai K, Nakachi K, Shimizu M, Moriwaki H, Suganuma M. Challenging the effectiveness of green tea in primary and tertiary cancer prevention. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2012 Aug;138(8):1259–70.

18. Damayanti, D., Jaceldo-Siegl, K., Beeson, W. L., Fraser, G., Oda, K., & Haddad, E. H. (2018). Foods and Supplements Associated with Vitamin B12Biomarkers among Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Participants of the Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2) Calibration Study. Nutrients, 10(6), 722. doi:10.3390/nu10060722

Karthik Rajan

Karthik Rajan

2 months ago

11 Cooking Hacks I Wish I Knew Earlier 

Quick, easy and tasty (and dollops of parenting around food).

My wife and mom are both great mothers. They're super-efficient planners. They soak and ferment food. My 104-year-old grandfather loved fermented foods.

When I'm hungry and need something fast, I waffle to the pantry. Like most people, I like to improvise. I wish I knew these 11 hacks sooner.

1. The world's best pasta sauce only has 3 ingredients.

You watch recipe videos with prepped ingredients. In reality, prepping and washing take time. The food's taste isn't guaranteed. The raw truth at a sublime level is not talked about often.

Sometimes a radical recipe comes along that's so easy and tasty, you're dumbfounded. The Classic Italian Cook Book has a pasta recipe.

One 28-ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes, one medium peeled onion, and 5 tablespoons of butter. And salt to taste.

Combine everything in a single pot and simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered. Stir occasionally. Toss the onion halves after 45 minutes and pour the sauce over pasta. Finish!

This simple recipe fights our deepest fears.

Salt to taste! Customized to perfection, no frills.

2. Reheating rice with ice. Magical.

Most of the world eats rice. I was raised in south India. My grandfather farmed rice in the Cauvery river delta.

The problem with rice With growing kids, you can't cook just enough. Leftovers are a norm. Microwaves help most people. Ice cubes are the frosting.

Before reheating rice in the microwave, add an ice cube. The ice will steam the rice, making it fluffy and delicious again.

3. Pineapple leaf 

if it comes off easy, it is ripe enough to cut. No rethinking.

My daughter loves pineapples like her dad. One daddy task is cutting them. Sharing immediate results is therapeutic.

Timing the cut has been the most annoying part over the years. The pineapple leaf tip reveals the fruitiness inside. Always loved it.

4. Magic knife words (rolling and curling)

Cutting hand: Roll the blade's back, not its tip, to cut.

Other hand: If you can’t see your finger tips, you can’t cut them. So curl your fingers.

I dislike that schools don't teach financial literacy or cutting skills.

My wife and I used scissors differently for 25 years. We both used the thumb. My index finger, her middle. We googled the difference when I noticed it and laughed. She's right.

This video teaches knifing skills:


5. Best advice about heat

If it's done in the pan, it's overdone on the plate.

This simple advice stands out when we worry about ingredients and proportions.

6. The truth about pasta water

Pasta water should be sea-salty.

Properly seasoning food separates good from great. Salt depends is a good line.

Want delicious pasta? Well, then kind of a lot, to be perfectly honest.

7. Clean as you go

Clean blender as you go by blending water and dish soap.

I find clean as you go easier than clean afterwords. This easy tip is gold.

8. Clean as you go (bis)

Microwave a bowl of water, vinegar, and a toothpick for 5 minutes.

2 cups water, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and a toothpick to prevent overflow.

5-minute microwave. Let the steam work for another 2 minutes. Sponge-off dirt and food. Simple.

9 and 10. Tools,tools, tools

Immersion blender and pressure cooker save time and money.

Narrative: I experienced fatherly pride. My middle-schooler loves science. We discussed boiling. I spoke. Water doesn't need 100°C to boil. She looked confused. 100 degrees assume something. The world around the water is a normal room. Changing water pressure affects its boiling point. This saves energy. Pressure cooker magic.

I captivated her. She's into science and sustainable living.

Whistling is a subliminal form of self-expression when done right. Pressure cookers remind me of simple pleasures.

Your handiness depends on your home tools. Immersion blenders are great for pre- and post-cooking. It eliminates chopping and washing. Second to the dishwasher, in my opinion.

11. One pepper is plenty

A story I share with my daughters.

Once, everyone thought about spice (not spicy). More valuable than silk. One of the three mighty oceans was named after a source country. Columbus sailed the wrong way and found America. The explorer called the natives after reaching his spice destination.

It was pre-internet days. His Google wasn't working.

My younger daughter listens in awe. Strong roots. Image cast. She can contextualize one of the ocean names.

I struggle with spices in daily life. Combinations are mind-boggling. I have more spices than Columbus. Flavor explosion has repercussions. You must closely follow the recipe without guarantees. Best aha. Double down on one spice and move on. If you like it, it's great.

I naturally gravitate towards cumin soups, fennel dishes, mint rice, oregano pasta, basil thai curry and cardamom pudding.

Variety enhances life. Each of my dishes is unique.

To each their own comfort food and nostalgic memories.

Happy living!