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Food for Thought

Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.  – Bertrand Russell20130831_213220

It’s important to listen and think critically about opinions of others. It is easy to become defensive or dismissive when presented with opposition or an opinion on a topic that is different from your own. But if you can listen to an alternate opinion and think critically about it you have the opportunity to see another perspective. In exposing yourself to different opinions and thinking critically about them before accepting them as truth or tossing them as trash you can have two outcomes: it can provide evidence to strengthen your point of view or open you to reconsidering your point of view in light of new evidence. Either way, opening yourself to differing views is positive. In fact it is probably the easiest and yet the hardest way to learn. Easy, because people are all too often eager to give an opinion. Hard, in that you have allow yourself to be open to a differing perspective and the potential that your perspective if flawed. This is ironic when you think about it because inevitably all our views are flawed by our inherent human bias. It is also encouraging, it means we will always have the opportunity to learn and grow. I dedicate this post Gurvir, Corina and France for sharing with me their ideas and perspectives, helping me to further develop my own.

Most people would agree that they want to be balanced as a person and respectful stewards of the land, yet our consumer culture is very unbalanced and destructive to the environment and ourselves. Most often this disconnection exists because we fail to make the connection between our individual actions and global issues. This is often the case when it comes to what we eat. When asked, many people agree that our culture of processed foods, hormone-injected meats and pesticide-packed produce do more harm than good to our bodies and the environment, but they continue to buy these products every day without giving it a second thought. Why? Because food and eating is an intimate experience and one of our most practiced habits. Habits as we all know are hard to change. Even the most practiced habits can be changed though and that change is easier if the information about why we should change our habits is made available to us.

The most common barriers people identify as keeping them from making the switch to organic are money, time and convenience. All pretty big barriers so you might ask, “how do I convince them that organic is the right choice?” To this I say the answer is simple. You don’t. In trying to “convince” someone you insert a bias that you are right and they are wrong which creates a negative dynamic. Since we are dealing with very personal and very ingrained habits they will more often than not feel threatened and become defensive no matter how great you think your argument is. This automatically sabotages your good intentions and places you at an even bigger disadvantage than you started with.

That being said, enabling others to see the benefits of choosing organic can be a very empowering experience. Transparency is a key principle to organic production which is something that is lacking in the mainstream food industry. Expose your friend to this by watching a documentary like Food Inc and sharing articles like Marion Nestle’s, “Food Politics.” This will allow them to reevaluate their opinion of the food industry and start making connections about the implication of their food choices on their own. With this new view our current food system you can open the discussion of how yours and your friends own consumer choices contribute to the problem and the solution. It is important to make them aware that in buying food from unsustainable sources, we perpetuate the cycle of animal abuse and slaughter, farmer exploitation, land and water depletion, and much more. It is even more important however, to contrast these with the positive solutions that can be achieved by switching to organic like supporting a sustainable cycle ensuring a healthier future for their families, their local farmers, the economy, and their own personal health.

In taking this approach you expose your friends to the hard hitting facts that are important to know but instead of creating a discouraging situation, you create an encouraging one. You have provided them with the information needed to justify adopting new habits and the support that is crucial to making sure these new habits persist

Now why not discuss the merits of our food system over a delicious local and organic pizza?

1 cup of warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp yeast
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
2 cups flour

Pour 1 cup of warm water into a bowl add sugar and yeast and let sit until foamy (approx.. 5 min)
Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined
Cover with a clean dish towel and let sit for 30 min (preferably in a warm dry place)

Tomato Sauce:
6 tomatoes diced
½ cup red wine
artichokes chopped
2 cloves of garlic diced
Fresh basil to taste

Saute garlic in a pan with oil over medium heat.
Add tomatoes, wine and artichokes
Let simmer for at least 30min.
Add basil and remove from heat.

Toppings – Choose your favorites! I used the following:
2 cups of grilled eggplant sliced
1 Jalapeno sliced

Shredded Cheese – Again use what you like, I chose this triage of cheeses because that was all I had. Mozzarella would have worked just as well!

Flatten out pizza dough on greased baking/pizza sheet or baking stone.
Add tomato sauce
Add eggplant and jalapeno
Sprinkle on cheese.

Bake in preheated oven at 425 F for 15-20 min

Remove from oven and let sit for 5 min to avoid the inevitable burnt mouth that will ensue from an over-zealous attempt to enjoy it too early!


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