Thursday, April 26, 2007

Weekend Penny: Good Food

Farm Fresh

More and more consumers want to know what’s in our food and where it comes from. The melamine-tainted chow that’s killed pets came from China, and now the FDA is testing Chinese wheat, corn and rice additives that go into processed food for people. Some breads, pasta, cereals, pizza dough, protein shakes, energy bars and baby formulas are being examined for melamine.

And unfortunately for shoppers, the U.S. has no mandatory Country of Origin Labeling, except for seafood. See

All of which makes locavores, who try and eat only food that’s grown within a hundred miles of their homes, look more savvy than crunchy. Non-extremists do make exceptions for coffee and chocolate, thankfully! Click here to get the Green Man’s take on this hip trend.

Good Easy Green Food Tips

Go a little local:

Buy early spring produce and organic or grass-fed animal products at the farmers’ market (find one near you at

Eat more vegetables, as the government and nutritionists recommend.

Enjoy more vegetables! Liz in New York City writes, “I’ve been eating so many veggies lately—ever since I picked up Patricia Wells’s new cookbook. (
String beans, carrots, beets, radishes…fennel and endive are at the top of my list right now. Really tasty and I don’t have to fire up an oven—just chop and toss!”

Tender new spring spinach is everywhere now. For a quick vegetarian supper, sautee onions and garlic in whatever oil you prefer or that’s produced closest to you, add sliced mushrooms and a pat of butter for flavor, and, at the last minute, stir in a bunch of well-washed spinach. Serve over pasta or rice, or in a tortilla.

In grocery stores, look for signs and labels that identify vegetables, fruits, meats and dairy products by state, country and region.

For recipes and advice on eating local, see, founded by Jessica Prentice, author of the lovely cookbook Full Moon Feasts ( and

When you can, choose certified organic produce and meat, and certified humane or grass-fed animal products, which, incidentally, contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids that you can offset against those saturated fats. In up to six states, now, FDA is quarantining hogs that may have eaten melamine-tainted food. For more reasons to eschew conventionally produced meat, such as animal confinement in factory farms, and water pollution from overflowing waste lagoons, see

At the Union Square farmers’ market in Manhattan, I bought apple/cranberry juice from Red Jacket Orchards, whose fruit is farmed with integrated pest management (IPM), using beneficial insects and turning to synthetic pesticides only as a last resort. I asked Max when their first fruit crop of spring comes in. “Strawberries. In May,” he said with a smile.

That’s just around the corner!

Please send these tips to any interested friends, and ask them to check out

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