Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch 

I can’t believe I didn’t know about this show earlier!

I have seen clips from this series in Jamie Oliver’s TED Talk, but I didn’t realize that a few years ago, he had a television show documenting his attempt to start a Food Revolution in the unhealthiest town in the world – Huntington West Virginia.

Since discovering it a couple of days ago, I’ve watched 3 episodes on YouTube, and I am hooked!

What I love about Jamie is his drive, dedication to his cause, and his strength to continue despite obstacle after obstacle.

Sometimes I take for granted the things I know about food, and I forget that there’s a huge (literally) percentage of the population that are, in my opinion, abusing themselves with food… and while some just don’t care, many don’t even know it!

What’s worse is they are passing on this lack of knowledge and their extremely poor eating habits to their children.

People are needlessly dying from obesity, lack of nutrients, and toxins in their bodies due to the food they eat, and Jamie is on a mission to start a revolution – a Food Revolution.

Watching his strategy unfold and his thought process, as well as how he handles difficult people and other obstacles, has been really intriguing for me. His dedication and passion is truly inspiring!

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Hearty Fall Minestrone Stew

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By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

The other night, while Mike and Lindsey were out of town, I wanted to make something that would warm up Frankie and me on such a cold fall day.

In searching for warm and satisfying, I thought I would modify a typical Minestrone Soup recipe by adding some extra fall vegetables. In the past I would have added some form of pasta, but I thought I would try adding rice instead. It was delicious and just what Frankie and I needed to warm us up.  One of the added benefits was that we had lots left over for snacks the next couple of days!

Ingredients

4 Tbsp olive oil

2 small onions, peeled and diced

5 cloves garlic, chopped

2 carrots sliced thin (if they’re not organic, peel them)

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped

6 or 7 small red potatoes chopped (if they’re not organic, peel them)

1/2 fennel bulb thinly sliced

1 stalk celery chopped

1 cup green beans, trimmed and chopped

2 – 28 oz. cans of tomatoes (plum tomatoes are best – unless you’re lucky enough to have canned some tomatoes over the summer!)

4 cups organic vegetable broth

1 cup water

1 15 oz. can of either organic navy beans or butter beans, drained

4 cups cooked rice

Sea salt and pepper to taste (Maldon’s Sea Salt is best!)

Instructions

Pour the olive oil in a large heated sauce pan on medium. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, sweet potato, potatoes, fennel, celery, and green beans.

Saute for about 5 -10 minutes until the onions have started to brown. Add the 2 cans of tomatoes, vegetable broth, water, and salt and pepper to taste.  Once everything begins to boil, turn the heat down to low to simmer.

Cover the pan and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are done to your liking – stirring every now and then.

Meanwhile in a separate sauce pan, begin making the rice – you can choose whichever rice is your favorite – basmati, jasmine, risotto, brown, long grain). Follow the package instructions for you rice so you have 4 cups cooked.

When the stew is done to your liking, spoon it into a bowl and put 1/4 to 1/2 cup rice in and mix together (doing it separately allows those who don’t want rice to eat their stew without it).

You’ll probably have leftover rice, which is good.  That way you can use it the next morning for an egg tortilla or to saute along with some potatoes, garlic, kale, and broccoli (which is what we did for lunch the next day)!

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Growing Food Year-Round

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Yesterday we had our first snowfall of the season here in West Michigan!  It seemed a little early, but we’re getting to that “iffy” part of the fall where anything could happen – from a blizzard, to sunny skies and 70 degrees.

When I walked outside yesterday morning to feed the horses, I walked past my garden and saw that everything was covered in a thin blanket of snow. Although I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the tastes of fall – squash, apples, potatoes – this sight reminded me that it will be a while before I have any fresh produce from my garden again.

In the back of my mind, for quite some time now, I’ve been wanting to develop some sort of a system or structure where I could either extend the growing season, or better yet, grow year-round.

Well, I just came across the book “The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener,” by Niki Jabbour, so I bought it and am just starting to dive into it.

She gives ideas on extending the growing season, growing into the winter, designing gardens, and what vegetables and herbs can be grown year-round.  It’s full of great pictures and diagrams, and I’m confident this is going to be a well-worn book in no time.

Although it may be too late this year to start – or not – I will definitely be prepared for next year! Check it out if you’re interested in having fresh food year round as well!

Washington State to Vote on Nov. 5 to Label GMO Foods

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

The-Whole-Seed-Catalog

We’re coming up on another milestone in campaign against genetically modified foods.  On November 5, 2013, voters in Washington state will have a chance to vote on Initiative I-522.

A “yes” vote on this initiative will require the labeling of foods that are genetically engineered or contain genetically engineered ingredients.

Although California’s Proposition 37 was defeated on November 2nd of last year, it was by a narrow margin. 48.59% of the vote was in favor of Prop. 37 and 51.41% against.

Since then, the American consumer’s level of awareness of GMO’s has, in my opinion, increased. It has become a hot topic of debate in our country. Consumers are starting to ask a lot of questions and demanding answers!

We are way behind other countries in terms of labeling, as you can see by the map, but I’m confident it won’t be for too much longer!

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Blue: Ban on all GE foods and ingredients
Dark green: Mandatory labeling of almost all GE foods
Medium green: Mandatory labeling on many GE foods
Light green: Mandatory labeling of some GE foods with no defined threshold
Pale green: No labeling of GE foods required
Source: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/ge-map/

If Initiative I-522 passes in Washington, it will obviously be a move in the right direction in terms of creating more awareness about GMO’s, and for companies in the food industry to change their ingredients to non-GMO. Food companies are merely producing what consumers want and will pay for. If consumers start demanding foods made with non-GMO ingredients, the food companies will respond. If the food companies respond, they will need the non-GMO ingredients to make that food, and will start demanding it from the farmers. So if the farmers see a need for non-GMO crops, they will start providing them as well.

It’s a food chain, and it all starts with the consumer’s demands.

I received an e-mail today from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company stating that they would donate 50% of sales (until Thursday Oct. 24 at midnight) to the campaign for I-522.

So, if any of you are in the market for some seeds for next year or for some good books (might I recommend The Heirloom Life Gardener)  or  gardening supplies, place an order before Thursday at midnight at Baker Creek, and you will be contributing to a good cause and getting something tangible in return!