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Archive for the 'organic' Category

Farm-to-table (The 2009 version)


Don’t want to jinx it, but I can hardly resist the first glimmer of hope in my organic vegetable garden.  This is our second year, and buoyed by our beginner’s luck last year (click here for the earlier post), we went all out  this time—with a raised bed and fence.

And the results, so far, are encouraging.

Check out the green tomatoes and the skinny eggplant!

Oh, and we already harvested some arugula last week! I’ll post pictures of the salad soon.

Posted by Swapna Venugopal on Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
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A few months ago, we embarked on our most ambitious summer project yet.

An organic vegetable garden in our backyard! We planted tomatoes, zucchini, green chilies, basil, cilantro, peppermint, cucumbers and bell peppers.

To our delight, most (R.I.P cucumbers) of the vegetables survived our less-than-perfect tending. And we had our first harvest last week!bell-pepper.JPG

The kids enjoyed getting their hands dirty and watching the veggies “being born.” But the best part, they say, was popping the cherry tomatoes into their mouths, soon after harvesting them.

The project allowed the kids to make the farm-to-table connection, and they’ve grown a special fondness for yellow bell peppers. Bonus!vegbasket1.JPG

Posted by Swapna Venugopal on Thursday, August 14th, 2008 at 12:32 pm |

Organic frozen kids’ meals — healthy AND good?


The Wall Street Journal just had a short story about organic frozen kids’ meals. Mixed reviews from their tween and teen testers. Check it out here.  (Personally, I want the whole Jetsons experience of pressing a button on my fridge and making a tasty, nutritious meal for the kids fly right onto the table.) 

Posted by Katie Ryan O'Connor on Saturday, August 9th, 2008 at 11:45 am |
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Feed the little ones PB&J and save the planet


Something like that, at least.

When I first heard about the PB&J Campaign, I nearly dismissed the idea out of hand, because the campaign’s goal appears to be to make vegetarians out of us all.pbj-2.jpg

We are avowed carnivores in our house, and I have happily eaten veal and lamb. (Look, it’s hard for me not to inject a Homer Simpson drooling noise here, so let’s just leave it at that.)

Even so, it’s hard for me to argue that perhaps, as a society, we should eat less meat.

There. I said it.

This is the crux of the campaign:

Everything we eat comes from plants, whether we eat the plants directly or through an animal intermediary. The basic problem is that animals are inefficient at converting plants into meat, milk, and eggs. Relatively little of what they eat ends up in what you eat because animals use most of their food to keep them alive – to fuel their muscles so they can stand up and walk around, to keep their hearts beating, to keep their brains working.

That cow, pig, or chicken has to eat a lot more protein, carbohydrates, and other nutrients than it yields in meat, eggs, or milk. The result is that it takes several pounds of corn and soy to produce one pound of beef, or one pound of eggs, one pound of milk, etc. This holds true even if we’re measuring calories or protein; it takes several times the calories or protein in livestock feed to produce the calories or protein we get from the meat, eggs, or milk.

That made me think.

For every pound of beef, eggs or milk, we’re using several pounds of food that could be eaten by others elsewhere around the world.

Read more of this entry »

Posted by Amy Vernon on Thursday, May 15th, 2008 at 11:00 am |

Naturally unnatural — or should that be unnaturally natural?


Like any mom, I want to feed my children the best I can.

Sometimes those efforts go awry, such as — not that this has EVER happened to me! — when your four-year-old sees one of those little bags of Fritos and begs for it and, well, you’re on a two-hour drive home and it’ll really make him happy.

But so long as those moments are not the norm, I figure it’s all good.

That’s not to say I only buy organic, despite the fact that in a perfect world, I would. But I have bought “all natural” chicken before when the price differential hasn’t been onerous, so this post on Drinking from the Carton caught my eye.

Marianne had been perusing the blog at Nutrition Data and came upon this little tidbit:

raw-chickens.jpgYou might be surprised, as I was, to learn that chickens labeled “all-natural” can legally be pumped full of things like salt, seaweed extracts, broth and other things … none of which are naturally occuring in chickens! Even more shocking, birds fed certain antibiotics can still be labeled “Raised without Antibiotics.”

Suffice it to say that both Marianne and I also were surprised.

Fortunately, Marianne did some research, heading over to the Truthful Labeling Coalition, which backs up those allegations.

I further snooped around on the USDA site — and I’ll tell you, it wasn’t easy to find the information! — and found that meat or poultry labeled as “natural” can be “minimally processed.” Read more of this entry »

Posted by Amy Vernon on Thursday, May 1st, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
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The pesticides your children are ingesting


I’ve always wondered about organic food and whether I should make sure that’s what my children (and the rest of my family!) are eating.


We only buy organic milk for the tots because I’ve always figured that the ever-earlier puberty dates and skyrocketing “average” heights for children just might have something to do with all those growth hormones given to cattle. Organic milk is more expensive, but worth it, we figure.

But what about the fruits and veggies? The cereals and snacks? It sure does get expensive and, besides, how bad can “regular” foods be? Everyone else is eating it, right?

So then I saw this (very) recent article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about a study that said, well, I’ll let you read it for yourself:

The peer-reviewed study found that the urine and saliva of children eating a variety of conventional foods from area groceries contained biological markers of organophosphates, the family of pesticides spawned by the creation of nerve gas agents in World War II.

I did some hunting around and found the original study — you can download a pdf of it here or just check out the abstract here. The Environmental Working Group, “a nonprofit environmental research organization” also did a study, here‘s the pdf.

The bottom line? When the children ate organic produce and juices, the pesticides basically disappear. Chensheng Lu, an Emory University professor and principal author of the peer-reviewed study, told the P-I the change is actually that fast, a matter of eight to 36 hours, depending on how much of the pesticides was measured:

Once you switch from conventional food to organic, the pesticides that we can measure in the urine disappears. The level returns immediately when you go back to the conventional diets.

I could go on and add more tidbits, such as the fact that the children live in an area with twice the national median income and that no direct links have been proven between the pesticides and “adverse health outcomes.” But just go read the whole article.

Read more of this entry »

Posted by Amy Vernon on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008 at 5:42 pm |
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Tagine of lamb for the little ones


If you ever needed more evidence the French approach to food (particularly when it comes to feeding kids) trumps ours, check out a great old post revived on Friday by one of my favorite blogs, The Expatriate’s Kitchen. It’s a lunch menu from a French pre-school.

Vive la difference!

Pizza, yes (three-cheese with sides of sauteed green beans and filet of cod), popcorn chicken, no.

I would have volunteered for parent story hour on Friday:

Carrot Soup
Roasted Pork au Jus
Buttered Noodles
Comte cheese and Fresh Fruit

Posted by Katie Ryan O'Connor on Saturday, March 8th, 2008 at 11:45 am |

Live, learn…have your groceries delivered?


Here’s something new to cross off the mental list I like to call, ‘Things I will never do once I have kids.”

Nuke frozen pancakes because adding water to pre-mixed dry batter seems like too much work

Let my kids watch hours of inane television so I can get stuff done

Let a 3-year-old drink five Danimals in a row because she really, really likes them

For today, drum roll please, we can add…

Have groceries delivered to avoid shopping with small children

It’s true. Peapod came to my neighborhood with a free delivery coupon in hand and now I’m a reluctant convert.

Sure, I had all those romantic notions of using trips to the grocery store to teach my children the joys of selecting and eating fresh food, all the while imparting useful school-readiness skills.

“Look at the beautiful dark green kale, the ripe red tomatoes! Now let’s find something in the shape of a triangle!”

And I must say my kids are usually pretty good at the store. I can definitely do a week’s worth of shopping with all three in tow. No throwing themselves down in the middle of the aisle because I won’t buy them Count Chocula. (Well, not every time.)
But compare that to sitting down to the computer with a hot cup of coffee, paging through virtual aisles while the house is quiet, checking my running total, printing off recipes while I shop. Heaven. And presto chango the groceries magically appeared right at my front door early last Friday morning.

I had a fresh whole chicken stuffed with lemon and thyme roasting in the oven by noon, I kid you not.
What do you think? Am I depriving my kids of some critical character building exercise? Not worth the delivery charge? Is there something lost by not eyeballing the eye round yourself?

Posted by Katie Ryan O'Connor on Sunday, November 4th, 2007 at 4:41 pm |

Seinfeld, Sneaky smackdown


OK, not really, but Slate enters the Jessica Seinfeld and Missy Chase Lapine cookbook debate with this diss

Posted by Katie Ryan O'Connor on Sunday, October 28th, 2007 at 10:23 pm |


Lunchbox makeover, slow food style


Imagine this: Your kids’ lunchboxes get a makeover from the guru of the slow-food movement, Alice Waters.

If anyone can make a kid love locally grown, healthy food, it’s Waters.

Journalist Patricia Leigh Brown gets to live this dream in a great story in Sunday’s New York Times magazine. Check it out. (With recipes!)

Posted by Katie Ryan O'Connor on Monday, October 22nd, 2007 at 1:17 pm |
| | 1 Comment »