Sunday, October 4, 2009

That's right. I'm giving my baby up. I need to focus on my school work anyways.
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Monday, May 11, 2009

Search the Blog

I've been looking into a way for readers to put a search box on the blog. The obvious choice is to put Google Custom Search on the main page, but unfortunately the caveat is that Google gets to advertise on my site. So instead, I am including step-by-step instructions on how to search the blog from
  1. Go to
  2. Type in followed by your search term
  3. For example, if I wanted to search for "potassium sorbate", I would go to Google and search for potassium sorbate.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Packaged Foods

Unfortunately, (almost) everyone at one time or another, relies on packaged food, whether the package is labeled Hostess or comes from a farmers' market. As a general rule, however, the more sustainable the packaging, the better the food.

At one end of the packaging spectrum is vegetables from your garden. This produce, you should not be surprised to learn, does not come in a package. Perfect!

At the other end are these "all-natural" chocolate chip cookies I once bought at the supermarket. The package you see is a cardboard box, but once you open it, you see non-recyclable transparent plastic wrap around the cookies in a plastic tray. And the kicker? Between each individual cookie lay a round piece of wax paper.

I've established a hierarchy of packaging based on energy and resource intesnsiveness, presence of chemicals, ability to biodegrade, and ability to be reused. The list starts from best to worst.

  1. No packaging. Seriously. Just avoid it if you can.
  2. Reusable bottles. Claravale Farms uses glass bottles for milk that the buyer brings back to where the milk was bought. The farm washes the bottle and reuses it. Also, glass does not leach.
  3. 100% post-consumer recycled paper packaging. Why is this so high on the list? Because it is both recycled and compostable. You can put in the garden!
  4. Recyclable aluminum and glass. These materials can be recycled over and over again, and don't leach.
  5. Recyclable plastic. I'm reluctant to even mention plastic. It is not sustainable, sometimes toxic, limitedly recyclable at best, and oftentimes not recycled at all. Avoid bringing plastic into your home, really.
  6. Non-recyclable plastics. These are about as pleasant as mercury in the arm or Chuck Norris in a thong. My only advice is to avoid it.
  7. Packaging involving multiple layers of non-recyclable plastics. I would relate this to watching multiple Chuck Norris's dressed in thongs kill plane crash survivors. Perhaps that was graphic, but it was necessary.
Remember: bring your own bags to the farmers' market, avoid plastics, reduce/reuse/recycle, and compost!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Day 43 - Eggs, DLT, Meatballs

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, with my favorite recipe, on organic whole wheat bread. Unfortunately, at my fantastic trip to the farmers' market, I did not find eggs, as I was expecting to. However, I also missed the dried beans and mushrooms, both of which I needed, so perhaps the eggs were hiding behind the beans. I also ate a conventional California mandarin. Yum!

As you may, or may not, have noticed, I was not satisfied with lunches at school. Also, I stumbled upon this, so I think it will be a while before I go back to eating cafeteria food. Maybe when they make the leaps that schools in Berkeley did years ago. Regardless of what percent of cafeteria food is organic (I'm fairly confident that statistic rests at 0% currently), or for that matter digestible (that's probably closer to about 80%), I am making my own lunches now. ConAgra and Tyson can suck it.

So, for lunch today, I had a DLT: Deli, lettuce, tomato. The lettuce was from a farmers' market bargain bag. And I think I know why it was a bargain bag. It lasted only two days. (Speaking of which, I will be posting a guide to the farmers' market soon.) The deli I used was pastrami. I actually think it was from Aaron's aka Agriprocessors, the evil kosher meat company. Well, they're not evil anymore. Supposedly. I'm just counting down the days until KOL Foods West gets going, so I can have my meat and eat it too.
Along with the sandwhiches, I had a farmers' market tangelo.

We had more meat for dinner. Both my parents are on high protein diets when it comes to dinner, so if we want to eat together (which we do), we end up eating meat a lot. Less than we used to, but it is difficult to consume a lot of protein without diversifying the diet away from eggs, cheese, and tofu. Right, so we had meatballs in heavily processed spaghetti sauce over allegedly, but not really, whole wheat spiraly pasta.

It's not that I'm sick of "Da !@#$ am I eating?", I just have something else to talk about: The Raw Milk controversy. I bought some for the first time at the farmers' market from the claravale farm booth, but without my father's express permission, which I will take the blame for, since I knew he would be unhappy about it. What's wrong with raw milk, you ask? It's not clear, really. There's no solid proof it's remotely dangerous.

For instance, the number of illnesses caused by raw milk from organic grass-fed cows in plenty of open space and away from waste is reportedly zero. And yet, the FDA has waged war on raw milk. Personally, I think they have better things to do, like regulating solid waste in feedlots, soil erosion in the US Corn Belt, poor hygiene in factories leading to outbreaks of salmonella and E. coli, use of antibiotics on healthy cows, hens in battery cages, depletion of water tables, and, well, need I continue?

Here's what happened with my milk: since I was sick several times this semester, I am not allowed to drink. I have a quote "weakened immune system", which I don't believe is true, but should it be, it was probably caused by my history with industrial milk, a product shown to lead to weakened immune systems. It's a catch-22 as far as I can tell. So, half in protest of industrial milk, half in protest of my parents' what-I-believe-to-be-fallible logic, I won't drink pasteurized milk until I am allowed to drink raw milk. I will be topping my Weetabix with organic, vanilla flavored soy milk instead (and sugar, most likely. Weetabix is pretty tasteless without sweetener)!

Other news: I will be joining my local Slow Food Convivium, and starting a club at my school for sustainable food advocacy and appreciation.

New Guides

Changes are coming to Asparagus Soup. I've started two guides, Asparagus Eats and Asparagus Endorses. Asparagus Eats is designed to help you make the right choices about eating out, produce, and other groceries. Asparagus Endorses brings you products that I find especially forward-thinking. For example, Organic Pastures is a raw milk dairy farm with perhaps the most pristine standards for dairy production anywhere in the world (and certainly in California), and Equal Exchange is a company that brings foreign goods from organic farms free of slaves (yes, still a big problem) and free of trade issues. 

You can find these guides at the sidebar to the right. They will be regularly updated. Expect a segment on raw milk coming up in Asparagus Eats.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Argument for Eggs, and Where to Find Them

If you've read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, or perhaps Grist lately, then you know you don't want conventional, liquidy, stark white shelled, and available-cheap-all-year-round eggs. Why not? You don't even want "Free-Range" Organic eggs if you can help, because, as a contrast to what their name suggests, they are actually rarely allowed outside their cages, and when they are, the closest they get to a pasture is a single square meter of dirt. Not soil, not grass, just dirt.

No, ideally what you want is this: eggs that are seasonal, colorful, and healthy. You can get them from farmers markets (but far from every one. You need to actually go to one and look.) and some CSA boxes (like this one). As we already have a box that we are very happy with, we are not about to switch, but if you haven't started your CSA yet, you should at least consider receiving one with pastured, farm fresh eggs. In most people's cases, we just need to find eggs at a farmers market. The next time you are at a farmers' market find eggs and ask how they're raised.

And stop buying this crap. If you' buy your eggs from Trader Joe's like I do, and don't have pastured, farm fresh eggs available for whatever reason, make sure to get Trader Joe's brand eggs.