Barack Obama will certainly be remembered as the first African American president of the United States, a laudable achievement. It will be the first sentence school children can recite about him in history lessons, but yesterday he signed into law the policy that will become his presidential legacy: the Monsanto Protection Act.
For the past few days, facebook and news media have been rapt with rainbow signs and images of red equality symbols in support of a tide that has already changed as the Supreme Court is poised to grant gay people full civil rights. Wonderful! But under all that hoopla, President Obama, quietly signed into law a bill that undercuts the health and well-being of every citizen in America. He completely undermined the first ladys’s entire platform and secured his policy legacy for all of history:
He sold our food supply to a chemical company.
One company owns the rights to genetic codes of the plants that are the foundation of our food supply. It’s not a church or any organization even remotely related to God or creation. It is Monsanto, the company responsible of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. Monsanto’s legacy only goes down from there. It is such an insidiously evil company, it is hard to know where to start.
The most important thing to understand about them is that they quietly secured the rights of genetic codes to create patented seeds which cannot be saved from year to year as is agricultural tradition. These seeds must be purchased every single year, securing a continual profit supply. Ever single farmer who doesn’t want to purchase seeds from Monsanto is sued and loses his or her farm because wind blows some Monsanto seeds onto their land which makes them unwitting thieves.
Despite Monsanto’s deep coffers of profit, reels of bank-rolled verdicts, our government decided to offer them even more protection. Congress passed it. Obama signed it.
People like me are screaming at the top of lungs to the deaf ears of the rest of our nation.
This bill seems detached, minor and irrelevant to the lives we are living. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Why It Matters to You
Monsanto’s endless financial resources and nonexistent ethics thwart all the efforts of ordinary citizens to demand labeling of GMOs. How can 93% of Americans support the labeling of GMOs with no result? Something is amiss. Monsanto steamrolls small farmers, concerned parents, and smart public servants. Our country sleeps through it all.
The results are already devastating and will only continue to worsen, especially with yesterday’s legislation. The corruption of our food supply is why you have an autoimmune disease, your kid has ADHD and all your neighbors are obese. It’s why your parents have dementia. It’s why your children will die of cancer. It’s why your blood line will end in a generation due to infertility.
I know how crazy those statements sound. I know my voice sounds like a wacko and will be dismissed as such.
But I also know that I am speaking the truth. The modern rise of disease absolutely is linked to our denatured food and the chemicals that coat it. We cannot wait to address this. Every bite we eat, every seed that is planted has a direct causational relationship to our life.
I am confident that history will prove me right. Generations will look back at this time and scratch their bewildered heads at our inaction. Why didn’t we care? Why didn’t we fight this? Why weren’t we at all concerned for basic human safety and health?
We wrote our chapter in history yesterday, and the book doesn’t end well.
Let’s change the ending before it’s too late.
We had a blast today at the South Beach Food and Wine Festival’s family event held at Jungle Island.
With tickets just $20 (living social had an $11 deal), it’s the best bargain in the whole festival. Most events have triple digit price tags. Big names stars like Giada de Laurentiis, Rocco Dispirito and Anne Burrell headline this event. (It takes place tomorrow, too.)
Here are some highlights:
Our big event was a cooking demo by Giada de Laurentiis. She made pizza muffins and strawberry muffin pies.
Her presentation was casual with kid helpers and an audience Q and A.
The kids got cute chef hats and aprons, which is perfect timing because they finally outgrew the ones I made them for Christmas two years ago.
Older kids got to participate in a Food Lab sponsored by Whole Foods, but mine were too young.
There were a lot of giveaways and food samples. In this picture Max was gobbing up a fresh salad he made with pineapple, corn, cucumbers and black beans. Other giveaways included veggie pasta, pizza, frozen yogurt, green smoothies, bananas, coconut water, cheese and all sorts of pencils, coloring books, stickers and soccer balls. I was loaded like a mule by the end of the day.
There were fun obstacle courses, hula hoop contests and dance-offs to take care of the “fit” part of the event.
Of course, this took place at Jungle Island, so some animals got into the fun.
There was a ridiculous amount of product placement at this event, but I’m including this shot of Badia’s Coconut Water because it was really good. I didn’t even know they made coconut water, but this is by far my favorite brand if it’s not coming directly from the tree to me. There were just two ingredients: coconut water and pulp from young tender coconuts. If you’re in the market, give this one a taste.
What a fabulous time we had at our first taste of one of the biggest food events on earth, the South Beach Food and Wine Festival.
Can’t wait to do it again next year!
Coconut oil is a temperate thing.
In chilly weather, it’s a solid, but in warm weather, it’s liquid.
When I lived in Washington State, I always kept it in a wide-mouth jar. Now that I live in Miami, I like to keep it in an easy-pour bottle near my stove. For most of the year, this is fine, but when a rare cold front moves in, we watch it transform from liquid to solid, forming perfect little bubbles in the process.
Cold fronts pass by quickly here in the subtropics. Oh well, it was swell while it lasted….
Name-brand chocolate is the gold star candy to give to trick-or-treaters and it’s tempting to buy it this time of year.
But you can’t.
Chocolate that is not certified fair-trade is literally harvested by child slaves in The Ivory Coast and Ghana.
Think that sounds like an exaggeration?
It’s not. If you don’t want to take my word for it, take Hershey’s. A few months ago they finally agreed to source their chocolate 100% fair trade to address the problem that 70% of the world’s chocolate is the result of child slave labor. Hershey’s has agreed to make that switch in 2020.
Excellent progress! I mean, what’s eight years in the life of a child?
I met a representative from Hershey’s a few months ago at a community day gardening event and he incensed me by repeatedly referring to this child slavery as a child labor issue. The children who are harvesting the cocoa beans for our chocolate are kidnapped, forced to labor 12-14 hours a day fo free, they are beaten daily and locked in a small room with 50 other people, no window, and a jar to pee in every night. That’s out and out slavery.
When I hear the phrase child labor, I don’t like it, but it doesn’t ring the same as child slavery. Child labor isn’t good, but it is a reality in some countries. For some families, it is the way they survive. Cocoa beans are not harvested by child laborers who choose to work and get paid. They are harvested by unpaid, kidnapped victims who are locked up whenever they aren’t working. The only accurate way to describe these children is slaves.
The sad thing is, this isn’t new news. These atrocities were discovered over ten years ago. They were reported and major chocolate companies agreed to end the practice within ten years. A decade flew by and nothing changed.
Recently, consumer pressure has amped up the cause. As usual, European chocolate companies are ahead of us. Cadbury, for instance is fair trade in the EU, but because Hershey’s supplies them in the US, they aren’t fair trade here.
The recent announcement by Hershey’s is a step in the right direction, but they haven’t revealed how they plan to enact these changes. They were given a decade to change in the past, but they did absolutely nothing in hopes that we would forget.
We almost did.
There is no way to be sure if Hershey’s is giving the world a trick or a treat with their recent announcement. But they are certainly still using child slaves to harvest cocoa beans right now, and they have plans to continue for the next nine years. Their small capitulation was due to boycotts and consumer campaigns protesting their unconscionable actions. Keep the fire to their feet until the change is actually made. For now, stick to fair trade chocolate or stay away from chocolate altogether.
How can we give treats to our children knowing that they came as a direct result of the slavery others?
The question will come knocking at your door. What will you give:
A trick or a treat?
I’ve been to many, many farmer’s markets, but today was my first time as a vendor at one. For years people have beseeched me to sell my food, and when my town opened up a new farmer’s market, I finally acquiesced.
Today I sold Pumpkin Bread, Lemon Tea Bread, Artisan Bread and Rosemary-Kalamata Olive Bread. Andres rounded out our offerings with chair massage.
Our goal today was just to recoup the cost of the tent we purchased, but we ended up selling out early and making a profit. A few friends came out to support us and we ran into other friends by surprise. Everyone had really great energy and were so friendly. One of the primary goals of a famer’s market is to connect a community to its food source. That’s not the only connection made. I saw our community come together in friendship, creating and strengthening the bonds that hold us together.
Isn’t that always the purpose of food?
To bring people together around a table for nourishment.
Nourishment, in every sense of the word.
We will be back next week. I hope to see you there.
Miami Springs Farmer’s Market
at All Angels, 1801 Ludlam Drive, Miami Springs, FL 33166
Saturdays 8 am- 1 pm.
For best selection, come early!
People who don’t live in Miami just don’t know how hard it is to get Mexican food here at the gateway to Latin America.
Miami is full of Cubans, Puerto Ricans and South Americans, but not Mexicans. Coming from Washington and California, I am used to being able to find excellent Mexican food without much effort. I was shocked when I first moved to Miami and realized it was a rarity. There isn’t a strong Mexican community here, but a short drive south towards Homestead, Flordia will take you to the land of taco stands and great Mexican food. Best of all, you can go to the Redland Market Village Bargain Town, commonly referred to as the Mexican Market. It’s a farmer’s market/ flea market with decidedly Mexican flavor.
The food is fresh; the prices are fair; the selection is, well, astounding. Here’s what caught my eye.
Need a piñata or produce?
Portobello mushroom the size of a salad plate.
- Jackfruit! Exciting for my littlest one. Of course, Max asked where the Maxfruit was.
Peppers, tomatillos and cactus
I’m a sucker for spices.
But maybe you don’t need food. OK, you can get a machete instead.
Or a wedding gown,
Or a puppy!
Maybe you just want to kick your feet up,
Or put them in some fancy boots,
for a $4 pony ride.
Maybe you want a cuddly bunny for a pet. Which do you want: brown?
Or the little white one in the corner with smokey eyes?
Oh, not a bunny. OK, how about a chick or duckling?
Or a Corona drinking parakeet? (Remember, this is a Mexican market. All the birds drink from these bottles here.)
Nah, you don’t need a new pet. Grilled corn and a taco will do just fine.
But that lonely pony does look awfully cute,
As you pass the weathered flags on your way out.
We left with three fresh cheeses, avocados, mamey and plans to return very soon.
What a find!
24420 South Dixie Hwy
You know what this picture means, right?
You can call it the rainy season; you can call it hurricane season. I believe Northerners even call it summer.
But here in Miami, it is MANGO SEASON!!!
Can’t wait to see what new recipes these tropical fruits inspire. Here’s a round-up of some favorites from years past:
Black Bean and Mango Quesadilla with Green Goddess Guacamole
Coconut Crusted Tilapia with Miami Mango Salsa
Mango, Shrimp and Avocado Pasta Salad
Here’s an easy way to end to even the most compelling chocolate craving:
Most of the chocolate we eat comes as a direct result of child slavery in the Ivory Coast.
I just about threw up my breakfast when I learned this on a CNN report a few days ago. In it they showed a ten year old boy forced to harvest cocoa beans as a slave. He has never even tasted chocolate. He dreams of attending school one day. Apparently the Ivory Coast has been tricking, kidnapping and forcing children into slave labor under brutal conditions for years. This came to light in 2000. By 2002 a coalition formed to improve their labor practices. Ten years later, lo and behold, not much has changed. Enough!
I don’t care about improvements. This practice must be abolished immediately!
As a fellow human being and as a mother, I am asking you to join me in ending this practice once and for all. It may seem too big and too far away, but if we join together in taking five simple steps, we will put an end to this.
1. Don’t look away and don’t forget.
It is so easy to put these horrifying thoughts out of our minds, but we do not have the right to do that. When any human being, particulary children, are suffering we must allow our own hearts to hurt a bit. We must allow ourselves to feel a drop of their pain. We must never give ourselves a pass because it’s just too much to handle. It is too much. That is the burden of all humanity until we end slavery.
Much more information can be found at slavefreechocolate.org. I am just beginning to join this movement, please learn from others who know more.
2. Boycott all chocolate that is not marked Fair Trade!
Cocoa farmers and chocolate companies have had time to fix this problem. Their solution was to sweep it under the rug. But what they swept was not dirt, but the very real lives of very real children. Statistics I’ve seen have placed the Ivory Coast’s cocoa production at 42% to 80% of the world’s chocolate, so do not consume a morsel of a non-fair trade brand. Remember how incredibly unfair this trade really is. That makes conventional chocolate downright inedible.
Here is a link to Fair Trade Brands.
I have started a facebook page called Boycott Chocolate for Valentine’s Day. Please like it and share it. I will make another page for each and every chocolate holiday until there is no longer a need to boycott. Our lives cannot be celebrated courtesy of the blood of children.
3. Spread the word.
Tell a coworker with a chocolate dish on her desk about this. Tell restaurants about this when you refuse to order their chocolate confections. Tell everyone you know about this. Bombard social media with this, and then do it again once people have forgotten. Raise our collective consciousness so we can live consciencely.
4. Tell your favorite chocolate companies that you won’t eat their slave chocolate.
Russell Stover and Whitman’s
Contact them so they know about the boycott. Tell them an improvement isn’t OK. They need to pull out of the Ivory Coast or work with small farms they can and do control that operate with fair trade practices.
5. Sign petitions to Congress to let them know they need to enact trade sanctions against these blatant human right violations.
In a world where snark reigns supreme, it is easy to avert our eyes or silence our sincere sadness. It is easy to make jokes about being a chocoholic or about the unrealistic nature of ideals. It is easy to do nothing.
This is our one life we are living in the here and now. We must never forget we are not fighting society, because we are society. We are fortunate enough to be a collection of human beings who have the privilege and responsibility to shape our culture. Corporations follow money. Let us lead them with our ethics.
It is a small world we live in and there is no space left for child slaves.
None at all.
Hippity, hoppity, Easter’s on its way, and that makes me think of lemons. I know, I know, Easter is supposed to be all about the egg, but to me, the taste of spring is light and bright. Nothing is lighter and brighter than the glorious lemon, so it is featured in every single recipe on my brunch menu.
Here is a wonderful menu for Easter brunch. Take it part and parcel or pick and choose your favorites. Many dishes are simple and can be done in advance to make your life easier. There are a few Ta Da dishes to impress your guests as well. The recipes will be posted this week, so if you can’t find a link, please check back. Happy Easter!
Easter Brunch Menu
Berries with Lemon-Scented Whipped Cream (Add lemon zest to whipped cream.)
Baked Salmon with Lemon-Dill Butter
Pistachio Salad with Carrot Curls
Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Lemon-Cream Cheese Frosting
Lemon Meringue Pie with Amaretti Cookie Crust
Lemonade and Prosecco with Limoncello
We were running low on some staples, so we visited Spice N Curry Indian Market for our second installation of ethnic grocery stores. I swear I am not following Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love
itenerary as I grocery shop globally, even though our first profile was of an Italian Market
. Although this coincidence makes me consider seeking out an Indonesian market in Miami to just complete the cycle.
Back to groceries. This was our second trip to Spice N Curry: Indian Grocery, Cafeteria & Chat House. It’s located at 123 SW 107th Avenue in Miami. I was delighted to see they had expanded, doubling their size. This made it much easier to maneuver and dramatically increased their selection. Ever since I studied yoga in India, I have loved their cuisine, especially South Indian cuisine. I was given a few favorite recipes from my teacher’s wife before I left, but I am quite a novice when it comes to cooking Indian food. It’s something I’d like to learn more about. Looking at all the options on the shelves sparked my curiosity and filled me with inspiration. There were certainly a lot of jars and boxes if I wanted to take the less ambitious route and rely on semi-processed foods, but the spices and unique vegetables are what caught my eye. I purchased a few spices and loaded up on my staples of basmati rice and chickpea flour. We also bought some fun puffed basmati and colorful cracker snacks for the kiddos.
This is the expanded half of the store. Part of me wants to buy one of everything and experiment.
Better quality and cheaper prices on basmati rice make this a great place to stock up. Jay was helpful in determining which rice was the best for us.
Yum, yum lentils! They have an excellent selection of dried lentils and beans.
I bought this vegetable after asking an Indian woman how to cook it. I've found most people love sharing and educating others about their culture, so I often ask strangers for advice.
So much of Indian cuisine is layering spices and vegetables until the food bursts with flavor and health.
Indulge my eggplant obsession. The varieties found in other countries amaze and delight me.
Yes, obsession means more than one.
An apprehensive cook could test the waters with any number of these boxes.
So cute. The chilled items are stored in refridgerators in the back.
Butter from a country that reveres cows, rather than abuses them. You can taste the difference.
Is a mango lassi not the perfect drink?
It felt like I was skimming food out of someone's fridge, rather than shopping.
After all, it is an Indian Market.
Goddess on aisle 3! No wait, that's me.
Tempting, but I have Lakshmi's chutney recipe.
Tickle your senses.
Samosas and more for takeout.
One stop shopping! I'll eat this, wear that, smell this and decorate with that.
My Mecca: the wall of spices! Reason alone to shop here. Reasonable prices, excellent selection.
Half of the veggie takeout meal served as my lunch. Dal was spicy and perfect with the naan.
This, plus 2 takeout lunches is what we got for $50. Not bad as the rice, spices and flour will last for months.