Tag Archives: Alison Cole

Food Labeling, Politics, and Vegetarian Meats in Canada

Article and interview by Alison Cole, photo illustration by Gayle Hurmuses, image from Fieldroast.

When it comes to the labelling of grain and vegetable based meats in Canada, our government has some antiquated regulations that don’t reflect upon modern food production as David Lee, owner/founder of Field Roast Grain Meat Company of Seattle, WA, found out in mid-September.

Canadians have been enjoying and have been able to purchase Field Roast’s savoury array of plant-based sausages, loaves, roasts and deli slices in our country since 2009, but that is set to stop very soon as grocery store shelves are currently on the verge of selling out their final supplies.

Last month, David was told by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) that he would need to comply with Canadian food labeling standards for what they call “simulated meat products” in order to maintain distribution of all the products in Canada. According to the CFIA, any food item that takes on tFood Labeling Politics and Vegetarian Meats in Canadahe appearance and quality of a similar traditional animal flesh-based item must emulate the nutritional profile of the similar animal-based item. In other words, the nutritional profile of animal flesh is seen to be the standard in protein, fat and amino acid content as far as the Canadian government is concerned, and no other nutritional profiles that a plant-based meat would normally have are recognized as being valid or legal to sell on Canadian store shelves.

David takes issue with this regulation, and rather than comply with the CFIA as other vegan meat products have done to stay in Canada, he intends to try to work with the government to prove that the nutritional profile of his products is suitable and safe for Canadian consumers. In doing so, this may change the status quo of deeming animal protein to be the golden standard, and will pave the way for a modern update to Canada’s current food labeling laws for veggie meats, which can be seen here.

I had the chance to recently speak with David on the Animal Voices Vancouver radio show about this issue. In this interview, he speaks about his experiences with the CFIA’s recent declaration, his interpretation of the law, and his plans for proactive governmental changes in the future.

Eatins Canada – June

farmageddon-book-672x372Given recent events in the news, the most important article in the June Edition of Eatin’s Canada is Alison Cole‘sexcellent interview with Philip Lymberly, author (with Isabel Oakshott) of Farmageddon: The true cost of cheap meat, and the review, also by Alison, of this timely book on a heartbreaking topic.

IMG_6337We also have more excellent recipes from GaddAboutEating, a luscious Goat Cheese Cheesecake and Graham Crumb Crust and Gurpreet Chana, with some delicious Aloo Tikki (Potato Patty’s) and Chickpea Curry.

AndesFlavours11Finally, we have a review of Andean Flavours 2014, by our editor, Gayle Hurmuses, and as always, please sign up for our mailing list and receive a copy of Easy Date Oven, our collection of simple recipes for dating and dining.

Cooking isn’t work, it’s entertainment, it’s nurture, it’s fun!

 

Easy Date Oven Book Cover
Easy Date Oven Book Cover

Book Review and Interview: Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat, by Philip Lymbery with Isabel Oakshott

Review by Alison Cole, used with the generous permission of Animal Voices Vancouver.

It’s time to wake up and dramatically evolve our consciousness when it comes to making choices about our food.

So goes the underlying message of Philip Lymbery’s new book “Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat”, which takes us on his journey of traveling the world to observe and investigate global industrial farming systems. Through his analysis, he provides the reader with fascinating and alarming discoveries that reveal the facts involved when it comes to the production of our meat on a mass scale. The bottom line is the “bottom line”, where the priority for such food industry is money, with little to no attention given to animal welfare, environmental impacts, and the overall health and well-being of humankind.

As the CEO of the animal welfare organization Compassion in World Farming, with a vested interest in our food supply, Lymbery’s investigative efforts run strong in his search for the truth in various facets of the cyclopean picture. For example, he travels to Peru where he observes the effects of the decimated fish supply as a result of overfishing. One of Peru’s leading businesses is exporting ground-up fish to China and Europe to be fed to farmed animals, and he observes the now uninhabited ‘guano’ islands that were once abundant with birds. He learns that all birdlife has been demolished as a result taking all their fish to be made into fishmeal. He calls the fishmeal industry an “environmental catastrophe” and one of the filthiest secrets of the factory farming industry.

In addition to such ecological disasters, Lymbery gives us a glimpse into the world of the corrupt slaughterhouse system, in which the veterinarians employed by these establishments are forced either to play by the organization’s dirty rules or not at all. He tells us of a personal account relayed to him in which a slaughterhouse vet was threatened at knifepoint for stopping the slaughter line because he saw an issue that threatened the safety of the meat. Such a drastic action as ceasing the production line means less productivity which means less money for all involved, and is a deed that is rarely executed despite any frequency of need for it.

Where is the enforcement, then, for keeping the meat safe and for the welfare of the animals in such an aggressive environment where kill quotas by the hour must be met, lest the workers be docked pay and otherwise punished? These kinds of conditions in the abattoirs are, unfortunately, all too common, with little hope for improvement as the current system runs.

With “cheap” meat also comes the grandiose use of antibiotics in our food system, which is just one more prong of many that make up the faults in this global industry. It’s a fact that half the world’s antibiotics are used to feed farmed animals, whereas closer to 80 percent of North America’s antibiotics are. And these drugs are routinely fed to even the “healthy” animals in the factory farming systems, as a preventative measure to illnesses in the animals that are often inevitable with the systems of mass confinement (aka factory farming).

As more antibiotics are fed to the animals that we humans then eat, we are approaching a crisis in which this medication will be coming less and less effective to use for human illnesses when we need them! The audacious cycle affects us all on this planet – a fact that must be understood and addressed by us, the consumers and inhabitants of this planet.

So how does this all end? Given the many angles of this story as told in this 426 page tome alone, the effects of the meat industry on this earth are multi-fold and complex when you peel back the various layers wrapped around the core of the money, the factory farming system, and the peoples’ avid hunger for animal flesh. But that really is the core, and when contemplated at its foundation, I believe that we can empower ourselves to change the system, and at least become consciously aware of this system that manifests so much destruction in our world.

“Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat” will open your eyes to the hidden processes of industrialized food production. It will have you question how “cheap” that meat really is the next time you think of buying a hamburger, an action that once seemed so simple and insipid. Consider what lies beyond the shiny packaging in the supermarket when you purchase your meat products. And take one step further in truly educating yourself about the looming “Farmageddon” and taking personal actions to help reverse the disaster.

You can start now! The first 48 pages of the book are available to read here online for free.

And here’s an audio interview that I did with Philip Lymbery on the Animal Voices Vancouver radio show on various topics covered in the book:

Book review: “Practically Raw Desserts” by Chef Amber Shea Crawley

Practically RawReview by Alison Cole, recipe © 2012 by Amber Shea Crawley with permission from Vegan Heritage Press, LLC.

For those who love experimenting with wholesome, healthy ingredients to create plant-based versions of a large variety of traditional desserts, this is the book for you. On the heels of her first cookbook “Practically Raw” (2012), Chef Amber Shea Crawley has published its successor, “Practically Raw Desserts”, which came out last year. Amber is both a popular blogger and highly trained raw chef who presents her expert knowledge about food and raw food preparation techniques in this beautiful volume. Its colourful photographs and palatable layout serve as enough alone to entice and satisfy the reader into at least visually devouring the recipes within.

What does the term “practically raw” mean, you might ask? This is where the theme of flexibility leads as a role in the book, offering its readers a variety of substitutions and variations for every recipe. Not only are you given multiple options for ingredient substitutions, but many of the recipes also offer the choice of making the dessert “raw” or “cooked”. For those who don’t own a dehydrator or care too much about the nutritional advantages that raw food offers over a cooked dessert, this book becomes much more accessible for the average reader who wants to dabble in raw cuisine but may not be ready to take the full plunge in. Variations for lower fat, nut-free and lower-sugar versions of the recipes are also presented, truly making this a compilation that everyone can use and enjoy!

Many of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted are raw, and the ones in this book easily reinforce that claim. In utilizing key ingredients such as nuts, nut flours, maple syrup and coconut oil, to name some, no richness is absent from the cookies, cakes, puddings, ice creams, pies and more that grace the pages of Chef Amber’s tantalizing collection.

Care for a Dark Chocolate Truffle Tart with Macaroon Crust? Some of the most chewy and delicious Chocolate Chunk Cookies you’ve ever tried? A cashew-based New York Cheesecake that is more delectable than any of its dairy-based counterparts you have ever tasted? It’s all here in the book, including the creamiest ice creams I have ever made, plus the Famous Five-Minute Blondies II that stunned me with their toothsome taste, put together with just handful of simple ingredients. You’ll find it difficult to stop popping these little treasures into your mouth one after another.

This book serves as a delight to read and an innovative adventure to undertake. Under the guidance of Amber’s encouraging and inspiring voice throughout, you’ll find yourself exploring the recipes one by one to be pleasurably impressed by these raw (or practically raw) wholesome treats.

Sunflower Seeds ‘Hummus’

Article by Alison Cole, recipe by RawRose, used with permission.

As innocuous as it may seem, the little gray kernel of a beautiful yellow flower actually leads as a super food when it comes to boasting high nutritive values as well as being a convenient and tasty snack. That’s right, the sunflower seed is all that and deserves some attention when considering the addition of health benefits to one’s diet, packing in vitamins, protein, and more.

This gift from the sunflower is one of the first plants to be ever cultivated in the United States, and today the world’s leading suppliers of the sunflower seed include the Russian Federation, Peru, Argentina, Spain, France and China. Sunflower oil is one of the most popular oils in the world, and the seeds themselves are easily available and very affordable.

When examining the nutritional worth of the sunflower seed, it has many benefits to offer. Sunflower seeds provide an excellent source of vitamin E, which is the body’s principle fat soluble antioxidant. The seeds also provide linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid), and some amino acids, especially including tryptophan. Tryptophan aids in creating the neurotransmitter serotonin, which transmits nerve impulses to regulate mood, appetite and sleep and to improve memory and learning.

Sunflower seeds are also rich in phytosterols, which lower LDL cholesterol in the body, and several B vitamins. And if that weren’t enough, these powerhouse particles additionally provide an excellent source of fiber, as well as protein, with 7 grams of protein in a small ¼ cup serving. There are many reasons to eat these tasty morsels, nutrition-wise alone!

As with nuts and other seeds, because sunflower seeds are high in fat, they are prone to rancidity, so it is best to store the dehulled seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They can also be stored in the freezer if you prefer. Whole seeds (with the shell) may be stored at room temperature in a container, without the risk of going rancid.

The most simple (and perhaps enjoyable) way to eat sunflower seeds is straight from the package, whether you are dehulling them in your mouth or have purchased the seeds already without shells. You can also garnish your salads and cereals with them, or use them in recipes to make delightful desserts, dips and pâtés.

Try out this yummy hummus recipe by RawRose, which features sunflower seeds as one of its main ingredients. You can also listen to it, if you find that helpful. Voiceover by Lew Williams.

Blood Chocolate

Our feature article this month by Alison Cole, is about ethical chocolate . It includes an interview with Executive Director of The Food Empowerment Project, lauren ornelas 

Chocolate: A Big Business With Dark Secrets

February ignites the month of love, and with that comes the month of the largest chocolate sales of the year, to show our cherished ones how much we care. Sales of chocolate and confectioneries made from cocoa beans, in fact, totaled $110 million in Canada in February 2012. We Canadians certainly love our chocolate, but do we consider the ethics involved in the process of producing this delight when it comes to buying our sweetheart a Valentine?

You may or may not know about the horrific human rights violations that occur in the cacao industry. 70-75% of the world’s cacao comes from West Africa, which happens to be the place where the most egregious forms of child labour occur, in this industry. The industry is, of course, profit driven, and the chocolate companies take advantage of the country’s poverty to exploit its people and the land.

As Canadians in a privileged country, where purchasing a bar of chocolate is as easy as strolling to the nearest convenience store and passing over some small change, we have the power to end this human suffering, and to make choices with our consumer knowledge to put an end to the exploitation. Knowledge is power, and so the first step is to be aware of the issue and to know where your chocolate is coming from. There are many ethical options that are available to us, as well, that are cruelty-free. The Food Empowerment Project’s recommended Chocolate List is a great place to start for all your ethical chocolate needs!

On the Animal Voices Vancouver radio show, we interviewed Executive Director of The Food Empowerment Project lauren ornelas on the issues surrounding the big business of chocolate and its dark secrets, and you can listen to that interview here to find out more. The Food Empowerment Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help people understand how their food choices can change the world – for the good.

The chocolate companies need to take responsibility for what is happening in the making of their products, and they will do that when consumers have the knowledge to act and react, and demand human justice. Have an ethical Valentine’s Day this year!