Remember when the federal government claimed pizza a vegetable because it has tomato sauce?  Whether you do or do not, it doesn’t really matter as every parent knows school lunch is a joke. A really, really sad joke which is why our family packs a lunch everyday; though, in an ironic twist we do let the boys buy lunch when it is pizza day every other week.

To bring more awareness to how sad our Nation’s school lunches are – and they are sad because of big, money hungry companies looking for a place to dump their lowest quality food products, The American Heart Association is looking to re-authorize the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Offerman whose role as the meat eating Ron Swanson in Parks & Recreation and the author of his latest book Gumption brings a subdued outrage to what is happening in our schools.

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While I hope there is some change in school lunch programs, I’m doubtful lunches will ever be as healthy as the ones we pack at home.  That said, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 is an effort to improve the situation for many families especially those who receive free school lunch.  When I was a kid and my single mom was on public assistance, we would wait in line for free cheese and other food products and also received assistance through free school lunches.  It’s a great program for families in need. Sadly, the free lunches have become some unhealthy and contribute to the childhood obesity issues so prevalent today.

Please take a moment to visit Protect School Meals and let your political representatives know you want to see positive change.

Thank you.

Why We Don’t Buy From Tyson, Perdue and Others

On May 18, 2015, in Food, by Chris Baccus
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Last night’s HBO Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is a great example why our family moved to a sustainable food solution. If you didn’t see it, John took the chicken industry to task for treating its contract farmers like shit. Like chicken shit to be exact.

Here is the full clip that shows how big food, industrial meat production treats its chicken farmers. It’s not pretty and this doesn’t even get into how cruel factory farming is to the animals.

I came away watching the film Food Inc so many years ago with a similar disgust. Like then, what upset me watching Food Inc and last night’s John Oliver segment is how the meat industry covers up the reality of our food.

It’s dishonest and from an industry I have no desire to support.

In Food Inc, there were two parts that made me dramatically change how I eat and buy products to make at home. The first was with chicken farmers who were not allowed to show their chicken ranches to the filmmakers. The film did eventually find a chicken farmer who didn’t care about retaliation and showed the crew what was happening, not shockingly she lost her contract.

This was very similar to last night’s HBO episode. The whole covering everything up and hiding what is going on or pay the consequences of a big company ending your contract is very real. And you know what fuck them. This is why I don’t buy from Tyson, Perdue or other factory-farming producers. They refuse to be transparent so I take my food dollars to small farms and ranchers who are very open to letting us know what is happening with our food, before it’s food.

The second clip from Food Inc that changed my behavior was from a mother whose child contracted and soon died of E. coli due to a hamburger. The industry threatened her using Veggie Libel Laws that again prevented any truth or transparency to happen. NOTE: This clip is really hard to watch and I get so angry and my eyes water watching it.

The big food companies can keep doing things like removing antibiotics from their products and think they are having an impact on smart consumers who care about where their food comes from. Big flippin’ deal. I don’t care.

What I care about is they move away from hiding their shame and stop threatening farmers and customers from telling the world what is happening. Until that happens and I can see what they are doing to produce the food my family eats, they can count me out as a customer forever.

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So what’s the bad news? I got something.

On October 17, 2011, in Food, by Chris Baccus
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It’s World Food Day and Blog Action Day today and to celebrate the combined event Blog Action Day decided to focus on food issues. So I decided to write about my latest food “issue.”

There is an ad playing on a few of the children cable channels that tells the story of how chocolate milk from Tru Moo is a good parental decision, since it does not contain high-fructose corn syrup and comes with 8 Essential Nutrients.

 

Anyone knowledgeable about food choices is intelligent enough to know food without high-fructose corn syrup sounds good, but what did they replace it with, another sugar?  In the case of Tru Moo, yes. They just used natural sugar, 22 grams per 8 ounce serving to be exact. A 12 ounce can of Coke has 39 grams of sugar, 12 ounces of Tru Moo chocolate milk has 33 grams of sugar.

Of course you don’t get those precious 8 Essential Nutrients, but does your child really need them if they eat whole, real foods – not processed junk – and a daily multivitamin. Most likely your child can do without this nutritional “benefit.”

Both high-fructose corn syrup and sugar can cause the same things like obesity, liver damage, heart disease and other ailments to one’s health. Sugar is sugar.

“The main problem with high-fructose corn syrup isn’t in the manufacturing process or its nutritional value, but in its price, ” explains an Opt-Ed piece from the Los Angeles Times last month.

So my kids watch the ads from Tru Moo and tell me this chocolate milk is good for them.  Sorry guys, not true.

It will be a good thing when we finally move to an understanding about sugar that is more in line with this popular video from Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology.

 

Until then celebrate World Food Day and Blog Action Day by taking some time to watch The Bitter Truth video above and find better choices for your kids than drinks full of sugar.

A Case for “Special Occasion Food”

On September 30, 2011, in Food, by Chris Baccus
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An occassional exception

 

I predominantly make sustainable food choices.  Eating three to four times a week vegetarian, buying my food from local, small farms, and shopping organic when local options are unavailable make up how our family eats.  A big part of being sustainable is avoiding processed and fast foods.

That said it is great making better food decisions, but having a rigid relationship with food takes the enjoyment out of eating and enjoying food should be part of one’s total food experience.  What an excessive fad diet culture and nutrient of the moment fanaticism has created is a food culture in America that forgets eating is supposed to be an enjoyable part of life.

So while our family has reduced eating out, make considered choices when buying food, and have moved to a diet that’s mostly vegetarian with some grass-fed, pasture raised, small farm meats we still do enjoy a break so that we are not so unpleasant that we abstain from moments for “special occasion food.”

What does “special occasion food” mean?

It is a phrase I’m borrowing from author Michael Pollan. “There is nothing wrong with special occasion foods, as long as every day is not a special occasion,” Mr. Pollan writes. “Special occasion foods offer some of the great pleasures of life, so we shouldn’t deprive ourselves of them, but the sense of occasion needs to be restored.” (source NYTimes.)

He is not talking about food at a wedding or party, though they are occasions with food. Pollan is talking about how our relationship with food has become unhealthy by eating fast food and snacks as a normal behavior and that transversely we who make more healthy decisions can become just as unhealthy in our thinking if we deny ourselves foods we enjoy. Just do it from time to time and have a healthy perspective even when making an occasional (there’s that word again) exception from eating sustainable food.

So I have no issue having an In-N-Out burger or a gas station taco from time-to-time knowing that 95% of the time our family is eating food that is responsible to the environment and the ethics of our society.

Now back to finishing up my Double-Double.

Hello Ragu, Welcome to 2011. Dads can Cook!

On September 28, 2011, in Food, by Chris Baccus
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What an obnoxious play on stereotypes. Ragu, yes that company that makes jarred sauces, is using moms to promote their latest recipe campaign with a YouTube video that insults dads titled Dad Cooks Dinner: What is Dinnertime Like When Dad Cooks?

So I obviously cook and can easily put a jarred spaghetti sauce like Ragu to shame in about 10 minutes with a few tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, carrots, and thyme. Out doing processed convenience food with fresh whole foods is easy, which is why most people should buy the ingredients and take the 10 minutes it takes to make a pasta sauce instead of reheating a jar of dehydrated onions, sugar and ‘cheese cultures’ into a saute pan (full ingredients here.) Plus the sauce has 7 grams of sugar? Why does it need sugar? Use shredded carrots and ripe tomatoes and there is no reason to add unnecessary ingredients.

Food quality aside the more troubling thing here is the brand’s reliance on outdated stereotypes. The video features several moms who share how poor their husbands are at cooking and while I’m sure they are not personally talking about all men, it definitely comes across that way.

Let’s flip the tables for a second.  If a tablesaw manufacturer did a campaign like this featuring a bunch of men saying how idiotic women are with power-tools would that be effective and responsible marketing? I highly doubt it.

Perhaps we'll all look back at how backwards 2011 was thanks to Ragu.

So please Ragu give modern families a break.  Your “idea” here might have been cute in Leave it to Beaver days but guess what a lot has changed and I know a lot of men who are the primary cooks at home.  Also, I’m not going to tell you that I’m never going to buy your product because truth be told I never did or ever would. I prefer making pasta sauce from scratch that no jar, not even the one’s twice the cost of yours can compare with.

 

Hat tip to C.C. Chapman who runs Digital Dads for sharing his thoughts about this video:  Ragu Hates Dads.

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