Monday, September 19, 2016

Why is LOCAL important?

Local food has followed organic products into the mainstream.
According to the USDA, local food sales in America have nearly doubled in recent years, jumping from $5 billion in 2008 to $11.7 billion in 2014. Indeed, local food is a national phenomenon that exhibits enormous market potential. Based on a survey conducted by Cowen and Company, about 40% of U.S. consumers ranked “where food comes from” as either very or extremely important. In order to meet the demand, grocery stores have added a variety of local food suppliers. Community Supported Agriculture, which allows city residents direct access to fresh produce grown by regional farmers, has rapidly expanded.
So why eat local?
Local food is more nutritious. Vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, kale, and tomatoes are susceptible to nutrient loss when harvested and transported from long distance. Food that is grown locally is also given more time to ripen and is full of flavors.
Local food benefits the environment. Local food doesn’t have to travel as far, so it helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to Food Policy, the miles that organic food travels often creates serious environmental damage that outweighs the benefit of buying organic.
Local food supports communities. On average, farmers only receive 20 cents of each food dollar spent due to high cost of transportation and packaging. However, famers receive the direct profits when we purchase local food. Also, building a relationship with farmers is so fun, as you get to learn all about your food!
Ithaca Dining Services provides many locally-sourced foods, within a 250-mile radius from New York State. Ithaca Dining Services has a relationship with Chobani, Ithaca Hummus, Byrne Dairy, Ithaca Bakery, Red Jacket Orchards, to name a few. Eat local, eat fresh!
- Tian

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Whole-food, Plant-based Diet

A whole-food, plant-based diet is a diet based on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Such diet emphasizes whole, unrefined plants, while minimizing meat, dairy products, and highly processed foods like sugar and oil.

A whole-food, plant-based diet is simply not a diet of leafy and raw vegetables. In fact, it is far tastier and more satisfying. While spinach and kale are important parts of the diet, they are poor energy sources. We would have to consume almost 16 pounds of cooked kale in order to gain 2,000 calories each day. It’s nearly impossible to live on leafy vegetables alone. Therefore, a whole-food, plant-based diet includes diverse ingredients that can be used to create common dishes such as pizza, lasagna, and burritos, but with less flour, sugar, and oil. Following are a few food examples of the diet.

Fruits: apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, strawberries, etc.
Vegetables: lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, zucchinis, etc.
Tubers: potatoes, corn, green peas, spaghetti squash, etc.
Whole grains: quinoa, brown rice, oats, whole wheat pasta, etc.
Legumes: kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc.

All categories are widely available at our dining halls! With the amount of healthy options, we should not build our dinner plates around meat any more. Perhaps, use unsweetened almond milk in your coffee or tea. Or add fruits to your cereal and oatmeal. Top wheat pasta with fresh grated pepper instead of parmesan cheese. Or add grilled chicken to the avocado kale Caesar wrap as gilled chicken is a great low-calorie protein source. #FoodHackICDining
- Tian

Monday, May 2, 2016

Meetless Monday: Beef and Deforestation

       There are many reasons not to eat meat, including health, ethics, and cost, but there is another equally important reason that many may not know about. Deforestation for cattle ranching is that reason. Cattle ranching for beef production is the second largest driver of deforestation in the world after agricultural expansion. In the Amazon alone, 75% of deforestation has been directly linked to cattle ranching. But why beef? Beef is now the second most consumed meet in the United States, after recently being overtaken by chicken in the last few years. The U.S. also consumes almost twice as much beef as any other country in world! Our American obsession with burgers and steak is now not only affecting our health, but is also compromising global biodiversity and the rain forests that are the "lungs of the world."

       Rain forests play a vital part in the global climate by being a carbon sink and serves as a climate stabilizer. Trees preform the important job of respiration, in which they adsorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen; cleaning the air in the process. Rain forests are also home to over half of the world's animal species and at least 2/3 of plant species. When deforestation occurs, these plant and animal species are often lost, which can lead to total collapses of ecosystems and complete extinctions of species. They areas are also a huge source for many modern pharmaceuticals and play an important role in the discovery and creating of new drugs that may save lives. Medical purposes are not the only reason that rain forests are important to people. There any numerous indigenous tribes that make their home in rain forests and have relied on the plant and animal species there for hundreds of years in order to survive.  

       Every year, approximately 2.71 million hectares of rain forest are cut down for beef production alone, not to mention the immense area that is also removed for cattle that are used for leather and other products. There are many programs that have been created to solve these problems, such as the UN REDD+ program, but with the vast area that global rain forests cover, they are very hard to enforce. Some suggest privatizing rain forests or using new satellite monitoring technology to help locate illegal deforestation and farming, but these can be exclusionary and expensive. One thing that can be done is for consumers like us to send signals to producers that these products are not desirable. If there is no market for these products then production will inevitably decrease. So what can you do? To start, you can cut out meat and especially beef from your diet, as well as reducing your consumption of  leather and other cattle products. However, soy is also one of the leading causes of deforestation, so if you are looking for other sources of non-animal protein, make sure it is locally sourced. Just remember that sustainability is the name of the game and consider the affects that your action might have on the environment.