Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Posted on July 8, 2010 - by

Silver Diner Gets a Little FRESHer

Local Beef Burger from Silver Diner

Guest post by: Liz Reitzig
Cross posted from Liberation Wellness

Ok, I admit it.  Eating at a diner kind of makes me feel like a kid again.  It brings out the Peter Pan in me—I won’t grow up!  But, with four children of my own now, it gets more difficult to justify doing things just for fun.  Sitting in one of those diner booths with the retro pictures and the cute jukebox at each table actually begs one to get a burger and shake.  But I can’t do that now that I’m grown up and “responsible,” can I?  I make huge efforts to feed my kids organic and local foods.  I buy grassfed beef and dairy.  I shop at farmers markets and I know most of the farms where our food comes from.

So imagine my delight to find out that I could have my shake and drink it too. I realize that being “responsible” is about being open and responsive to the circumstances and opportunities that life presents without always being rigid and following a set of rules.  There is one diner where I can have fun with my kids without compromising my food philosophy: Silver Diner.  They source their foods locally and even invite farmers to sell, market style, at their restaurants.  And to add icing to the cake, Silver Diner is now partnering with the producer of the movie FRESH—an inspiring window into the local foods move

Silver Diner has made a big splash recently with their new menus featuring “fresh and local” ingredients. It is a treat to find a restaurant or chef, who is truly committed to the entirety of the “local” message.  In addition to their commitment to “Fresh and local”, they are equally committed to helping children understand about food choices and where their food comes from.  Each diner has a TV screen in the lobbies.  These screens show clips from various music videos.  A few days ago I took 6 children (my four and a friend’s two) to one of the Diners and a music video on the screen captivated their attention while we waited for our table.  These screens are now also showing idyllic clips from the movie FRESH.  Young visitors to the diner, many of whom have never been on a farm, will see scenes from local farms.  These short scenes have the potential to convey the greater ramifications of food choices.

This inspiring film highlights what we can each do to increase access to fresh and local foods. FRESH graphically illustrates the contrast between the industrial food system and the “fresh” food system.  The film engages people about where their food comes from as it takes the viewer on a journey to several local farms that produce food for their communities.

Showing the movie trailer at Silver Diner has the potential to captivate a whole new audience as it motivates these customers to bring the movie to their communities. The film’s creators designed the film as a community educational tool.  Across the country individuals arrange screenings of the movie in their own communities (living rooms, churches, school, etc.) to significant response.  These screening events engage consumers where they are and inspire them to propel the fresh food system further forward.  With super heroes Will Allen—urban farmer extraordinaire—and Joel Salatin of Polyface farms, scenes from this movie are the perfect accompaniment to a fresh and local meal, and an amazing inspiration for all our budding super heroes.  It’s going to take all of us to encourage the rest of the restaurants to use fresh and local foods and educating those around us—especially our young ones—with tools such as this movie is a first step to transforming our food industry in such a way.

At Silver Diner, “FRESH” is not just a movie, it is a philosophy—a philosophy that is taken seriously because they realize their responsibility to their customers and to the producers of the food. Behind the scenes of FRESH, it is not just a movie, it is an inspiring invitation to a refreshing way of eating.  The partnership between Silver Diner and FRESH brings the message of “fresh and local” full circle so that children—and adults who wish they were still kids—can add depth to their diner experience.  Because they have chosen this direction for their diner, I can now responsibly enjoy my burger and shake with my children as we all sing along to “Puff the Magic Dragon.”  And unlike little Jackie Paper, who does grow up, today, I’m still a kid.

Action Items: What you can do to support Silver Diner in doing what they’ve started…

1. Dine at Silver Diner and let them know that you support their new practices
2. Let your waiter / cashier know how you feel about them showing FRESH
3. Bring FRESH to your community….

Have you seen FRESH? Please share your experience below.

About Liz Reitzig
Liz Reitzig is a
certified Liberation Wellness Nutritionist and a regular contributor to Liberation Wellness ( She serves as President of the Maryland Independent Consumers and Farmers Association and Secretary of the National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association.  As a champion for real foods and farm freedom, Liz is the co-founder and partner in a farm fresh buying club and raises her own family on real foods from local farms. She is also a Chapter Leader for the Weston A Price Foundation.


Posted on May 7, 2010 - by

FRESH Farm to Table Dinner: La Merenda

Guest Post by: Haute Apple Pie

Buying local is nothing new. 100 even 50 years ago, buying and eating local wasn’t a choice. Everybody had to do it.

When you put it that way, “local” is far from a new concept but the buy & eat local craze is sweeping the nation and the ladies of HAP are excited about it. We recently attended a “Farm to Table” dinner hosted at La Merenda, an international tapas restaurant and a true Milwaukee gem. The dinner was hosted in promotion of the movie “FRESH,” a documentary exploring the world of sustainable farming and shedding light on what has become the industrial agriculture market.

A member of Braise RSA, La Merenda is a local restaurant with a focus on buying local. With an eclectic mix of flavors from around the world, you would never guess many of the ingredients come from our own backyard. Local businesses like Sweet Water Organics, an urban farm that uses hydroponics to grow crops, make it possible for restaurants like La Merenda to support the cause.

Executive Chef Peter Sandroni prepared a four-course meal, with every ingredient hailing from Wisconsin…not an easy task for April in Wisconsin. Wisconsinites are lucky at this time of the year to escape spring snowfalls. But Sandroni mastered his courses with the freshest of ingredients and bold flavors that kept us wanting more. When we asked about our favorite seasonal dish, the Butternut Squash Ravioli, we found that not only does he buy local for that dish as well, but Sandroni houses the squash in the basement of his house to ensure he has enough! We were also treated to sustainably produced wine at each course, expertly paired by local sommelier, Nate Norfolk.

Don’t think that you can make a restaurant style meal using all local ingredients? Check out the menu and you’ll be amazed at what you can find.

Course 1: Toasted Goat Cheese Salad
Honey Goat Cheese: Montchevre Belmont, WI
Mixed Greens: Sweet Water Organics, Milwaukee
Pancetta: La Quercia Norwark, IA
Wine: 2008 Tangent Sauvignon Blanc – Edna Valley, CA

La Merenda Toasted Goat Cheese Salad

Course 2: Spinach Ravioli in Rosemary Cream Sauce
Spinach: Pinehold Gardens Oak Creek, WI
Ricotta: Grande Cheese Brownsville, WI
Cream: Sassy Cow Creamery Columbus, WI
Rosemary: from Peter’s house!
Parmesan: Sarveccio Plymouth, WI
Wine: 2005 Vitanza Chianti Colli Senesi – Tuscany, Italy

Course 3: Braised Pork with Mushroom and Blue Cornmeal Polenta
Pork: Wilson Farm Meats Elkhorn, WI
Prosciutto: La Quercia Norwark, IA
Carrots: Tipi Produce Evansville, WI
Onions and Mushrooms: River Valley Farm Burlington, WI
Blue Corn Meal: Pristine View Farm Hillsboro, WI
Half and Half: Sassy Cow Creamery Columbus, WI
Asiago: Belgioso Denmark, WI
Wine: 2008 Ecologica Syrah/Malbec – La Rioja, Argentina

La Merenda Milwaukee Braised Pork with Polenta

Course 4: Chocolate Hickory Nut Crème Brulee
Chocolate: Omahene Milwaukee, WI
Cream: Sasssy Cow Creamery, Columbus WI
Eggs: Yuppie Hill Farm Burlington, WI
Hickory Nuts: Twin Hawks Hillsboro, WI
Wine: NV Lautenback’s Orchard Country Sweet Black Cherry – Fish Creek, WI

La Merenda Chocolate Creme Brulee

Similar to Food Inc and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, FRESH digs in and asks viewers to reconsider where their food comes from and why they buy what they buy.  Without being all doomsday-style, FRESH will definitely make you think twice about what you eat and how even small decisions with your dollar might cause corporations to listen up.

We were also thrilled to see a fellow Milwaukeean, Will Allen of the Growing Power urban farming initiative, play a prominent and truly inspirational role in the film.  If you thought “farm” and “city” can’t go hand-in-hand, think again.  Based in a rough Milwaukee neighborhood, Growing Power’s two acre headquarters is home to 6 greenhouses, aquaponics stations, beehives, hen houses, goats, a compost center and more. We can’t wait to check out their goods at the Fox Point Farmer’s Market and hope to pop by HQ sometime soon.

How do you get involved with this Fresh movement? What are your favorite “fresh” places to eat? Share your ideas here or get more involved by hosting your own farm to table event with ideas from the FRESH community.


Posted on November 28, 2009 - by

FRESH Recipes: Holiday Seitan Loaf w/ Mushroom Gravy

Eating Liberally’s gobbly-good holiday seitan loaf with mushroom gravy

By: Kerry Trueman
Kerry Trueman is co-founder of, a netroots organization and website that promotes sustainable agriculture, and, a website for farmers, gardeners, and eaters who favor conservation over consumption. She blogs about climate change, low-impact living and sustainable agriculture for the Huffington Post, AlterNet, the Green Fork, EatingLiberally, among other websites, and authored a chapter on ecological eating for Rodale’s Whole Green Catalog (September 2009).
To make the loaf:HolidaySeitanLoaf
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup cooked pinto beans
1 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup yellow miso
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon rosemary
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic till translucent. In a blender or food processor, combine the beans, broth, miso, and tamari. Add the onions and garlic and process till smooth.

Combine the wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, and seasonings in a large bowl and mix well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well (it’s easiest to use your hands.)

Shape the dough into three loaves and wrap in tinfoil. Place in a steamer for 40 minutes. This method of cooking yields a moist loaf; to brown and crisp them on top, place them in a loaf pan and bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for half an hour or so. You can also slice up the loaves and crisp them in a frying pan.

To make the gravy:

½ ounce dried mushrooms (shitakes or porcinis, ideally)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
1 cup thinly sliced leeks
1 cup fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 12 ounce carton firm silken tofu
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons yellow miso
3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
¼ cup nutritional yeast
freshly ground pepper and salt to taste

Soak the dried mushrooms in a ½ cup of hot water while you prepare the garlic, leeks, and fresh mushrooms.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the leeks till translucent. Add the garlic and shitakes and sauté for another five minutes or so. Add the flour and stir, coating the leeks and mushrooms.

Place the dried mushrooms and their liquid in a food processor or blender. Add the tofu, the water, miso, tamari, nutritional yeast, and seasonings. Blend well, then add to the pan, stirring thoroughly. Whisk for several minutes, till the mixture thickens.

Place the gravy in the blender or food processor and process till smooth. Serve hot over slices of the seitan loaf.


Posted on November 17, 2009 - by

You Are What You Eat!


Bill Couzens HeadshotBy: Bill Couzens
Bill Couzens is the Founder of Less Cancer

In the work to raise awareness for unnecessary and preventable exposures that may contribute to health effects including cancer, food should be considered.  Consumers must move away from the practice of pulling foods off the shelf with little knowledge of what they and their families eating.

Scientists have documented many examples of environmental exposures that are known to increase cancer risk include: smoking, UV light, asbestos, some pesticides, hormones, metals, vinyl chloride, gasoline, and small particulates from automobile and coal-fired power plants, to name a few.

What about contaminants in food?

Dr Maryann Donovan from the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cancer Institute (CEO-UPCI) says that  “consumers do need to become more selective when shopping for all products but especially food.  Scientists at the CEO-UPCI have measured contaminants in canned food at levels that can cause biological effects in laboratory studies. There are a number of published studies showing that some ingredients in products that we use in our homes, schools and communities are toxic and some have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory studies. Examples of possible food contaminants can include pesticide residues or bisphenol A. (BPA), a component of the resin that lines some cans and can leach into food”.

BPA, for instance, can be found in many of the canned foods sold in the United States. The Environmental Working Group tested 97 canned foods and found detectable levels of BPA in more than half of them.  The highest concentrations were in canned meats, pasta and soups.  Although there is no evidence that the levels of BPA in canned food cause health effects in humans, BPA is one of many chemicals in the environment that acts like the hormone estrogen.  Because low levels of hormones can have profound effects, exposure to hormone-like chemicals, known as endocrine disruptors, is especially concerning.  Pregnant women and children may want to limit their consumption of canned foods to avoid this source of BPA exposure.

It is important to protect children.  By making better food choices we can reduce their exposure to a host of unhealthy ingredients and contaminants. It is important to remember that children are not small adults, rather, they are a developing version of an adult. Simply put, children are under construction. They are unfinished and their developing systems are quite fragile.   We know, for instance, that in children the brain continues to develop into their twenties, and this makes their brains potentially more vulnerable to toxicants. They also breathe much more rapidly, so they take in more toxins through their lungs.  For children, depending on the exposure, some of the first body systems to show negative health effects can be their neurological and respiratory systems.

Food choice presents an opportunity to make change and begin the process of providing healthy choices for your family, but especially for young children. One easy first step is to seek out your local farmers market so that you can buy fresh food that is minimally processed. For myself and my family I always buy local first and, when available, I buy certified organic. I do this because I want to reduce the unnecessary and preventable exposures to unhealthy ingredients like sugars, fats, preservatives; contaminants in canned food;  genetically modified (GM) foods; and foods containing antibiotic and pesticide residues. While farmers markets can be a safe alternative for tracking down healthier foods, shopping there can also be a fun family adventure!


Posted on November 17, 2009 - by

Restaurant Composts Food Waste (VIDEO)

By: Rebecca Gerendasy
Co-founder of Cooking Up a Story and video journalist
Originally posted on Cooking Up A Story
I started composting at home almost 2 years ago. My plan was to build a few vegetable garden beds, start growing some of my own food, and go from there. For my small gardening endeavors in the past I’ve used fish emulsion, coffee grinds, and egg shells as my typical sources of ‘food’ for my food. But it was time to step it up a notch. I wanted organic matter to build my soil, so what better way than to create my own.

It was easy to do. Next to my sink I have a handy container to hold the grinds, eggshells, carrot tops, uneaten bread crusts, and more. At the end of the day I add those organic ingredients to the compost bin, throw in some grass clippings or fallen leafs (depending on season), give it a mix, and let nature take over. What really surprised me, after doing this a few weeks, was how the amount of garbage going into my city collection bin was drastically reduced – by nearly half!

That got me thinking… What about restaurants? What do they do with all their leftover, uneaten food? What if they composted it? What’s involved – is it that big of a deal? Why isn’t every food establishment doing this?

I visited restaurateur Kathleen Hagberg, owner of the bijou, café in Portland, Oregon, to get her perspective of why she composts and why others do not. She says doing by example is always important, and ultimately, for the folks at the bijou, “It’s as easy as throwing out the garbage.”

What makes it possible is the cooperation between city officials and local businesses to provide the local infrastructure. In 2005, Portland’s Office of Sustainability partnered with Oregon Metro to tackle the issue of the large amounts of food waste going to landfills. The result was Portland Composts!, a program designed to help restaurants and other food institutions learn how to easily incorporate a composting system into their business. In addition they connect interested parties with commercial waste haulers who collect and take the organic matter to a commercial composting facility in Washington.

Turning organic waste into a useful product, and at the same time helping to reduce carbon emissions provides an excellent example for other municipalities to follow. San Francisco recently made recycling and composting mandatory within the city limits.

Who’ll follow, I wonder?


Posted on November 16, 2009 - by

12 Things Kids Should Learn on their Own about Food

By: Orren Fox
Guest Blogger: Orren Fox is 12 years old and lives in NoBo (North of Boston). He goes to school where there is a greenhouse and a bee hive! Orren has 24 chickens and four ducks (three Call Ducks and one beautiful Mandarin). He is really interested in farming and the ethical treatment of animals. Orren would love to change the way egg layers and meat birds are raised. He says he has a lot to learn. He blogs and tweets about these issues.

There are all sorts of really interesting things to learn about food, actually I imagine you might not have really THOUGHT about food. Maybe someone hasn’t taught you about food. Most kids would rather think about other stuff.

But just for a minute, right now, stop and ask yourself – What did I have for breakfast? Ok now, think – Where did all those ingredients come from? Who made that bagel? What time did they have to get up? Where did that egg come from? Where did the chicken live and how did it live? If you knew the animal was poorly treated would that make a difference? Or not? Where did the orange juice travel from? Florida? California? Have you ever traveled to those states? Is it a long way from California or Florida to your house? How much gas did it use to ship the OJ that far?

All really interesting questions I think.
1. Vegetables taste great with butter and cheese

Honestly, what doesn’t. Even asparagus, really even asparagus. I know there are some people who will say butter and cheese aren’t healthy, but hey I’m a kid and actually I think these are true foods or “real foods.” They aren’t chemically made in a laboratory. They come from recipes not chemical compounds or lab experiments. Maybe that is too harsh. But I understand eggs and cheese, I know where they come from. I don’t know what SODIUM TRIPOLYPHOSPHATE is, so I Googled it (here is what Wikipedia says – Polyphosphates are moderately irritating to skin and mucous membrane because of their alkalinity). Hmm. Not really interested in eating that.

Actually most veggies that you grow yourself or that come from your neighborhood farm taste completely different than those from the buckets in the supermarket. I actually think the veggies in the supermarket don’t really taste like much. A carrot that was harvested yesterday tastes very different from one that was harvested a few weeks ago, then spent the next few days on a truck, then the next few days sitting in the supermarket. I think the flavor must just drain out of everything as time passes. Also in the supermarket there are very few types of veggies or fruits. Very rarely would you see a Green Zebra or a Brandywine, and those are just tomato variations! Each of these variations tastes completely different, we are only really offered one or two types of tomatoes at the supermarket. These two types of tomatoes are the kinds that travel well and that are easiest to ripen or harvest. I actually don’t like the kind in the supermarket, I like Brandywines. They are sweeter.

I think kids might like veggies if they could choose the varieties they like, but they can’t because the choice is so small. I wouldn’t eat tomatoes if I could only eat the kind in the supermarket.

2. Food taste better when you grow it yourself

Food tastes better because your work is in it. I am an impatient gardener, so for me the food tastes great because I have had to wait for it to go from seeds to seedlings to flowers to fruit to ripe fruit. Somehow that makes it taste like you did it. So i guess there is a little bit of pride in those vegetables.


Posted on November 11, 2009 - by

Avoiding Factory Farm Foods: An Eater’s Guide

By: Nicollete Hahn Niman
Author of Righteous Porkchop

Most people share at least the following traits: they want to be healthy; they like animals; and they value clean air and water. Yet relatively few Americans connect those concerns with their food. As more people start making the link (especially if they’ve seen graphic video footage of industrial animal operations), many decide it’s time to stop eating foods from factory farms. This is a guide for doing just that.

I’ve been a vegetarian for more than twenty years. Unlike the fits and starts described in Jonathan Safran Foer’s autobiographical book Eating Animals, the day I decided to quit eating meat was the last time I ever did. I remember that dinner well. It was my mother’s tuna fish casserole, and actually quite tasty. But while I chose to stop eating meat, I never adopted the view that it was morally wrong, and, consequently, didn’t become one of those vegetarians who spends her spare time plumbing the depths of meat industry literature looking for bits of information to shock my friends and family into giving up meat.

Nine years ago, I had just started working as an environmental lawyer for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. when he approached me about leading a national campaign to reform the livestock and poultry sector. He said that industrialized animal production had become one of the nation’s worst polluters of water and air, and he wanted to aggressively attack the problem.

Initially, realizing that Bobby was asking me to work full-time on poop, I hesitated. It was not the glamorous job I’d envisioned when moving to New York to work for him. But then I visited towns in Missouri and North Carolina that had been overrun by factory-style production of hogs, chickens and turkeys. I witnessed biblical-scale plagues of pollution and stench; I spoke with people whose lives had been ruined when an industrial hog or poultry operation was erected next door; and I heard the details of how the animals were raised. My reticence vanished and I jumped at the chance to work on cleansing the earth of the animal factory menace.

I loved the job and threw myself into it, body and soul. But there was one problem: I could no longer deny the shady past of my own food. Every day, I was putting stuff into my mouth that undeniably came from factory farms. I was a vegetarian, yes, but consumed plenty of eggs, milk, yogurt, butter and cheese. And much of the factory farm data and stories I was gathering from all over the country was about egg and dairy operations. My unease grew with each passing day.

To avoid the products of factory farms, I became something of a food detective. My groceries were the subjects of my investigations. Where were they coming from and how they were produced? I roamed grocery store aisles carefully reading product labels, but there was little to no information about the conditions in which the animals were raised. I wrote letters to food companies with questions about what they fed their animals, but the letters went unanswered. The food system’s lack of transparency was frustrating. Eventually, I mostly gave up on supermarkets and began exploring new ways to get at the good food I was seeking. Although the task was daunting, my goal was simple: I wanted all my food to come from places I would enjoy visiting.

Three years later, I was still fighting factory farms but had moved across the country from New York to California. Surprising myself (and others), I had married a cattle rancher and meat company head, Bill Niman. Bill is no ordinary meat guy. He’s spent his entire adult life slowly and painfully building a viable alternative to factory farms, the natural meat company Niman Ranch. Over the past six years, I’ve worked here on our ranch in Northern California and continued researching factory farming. And I’m still hunting down the foods of non-industrial, traditional farms.

My book Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms, released earlier this year, tells the tale of my journey through the meat system and from East Coast vegetarian lawyer to West Coast rancher. In a chapter called “Finding the Right Foods,” I also share what I’ve learned about how to avoid food from factory farms and how to get the good stuff.

General advice: