Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Food Not Bombs

    Now y'all know I am hippie. I'm not rocking hemp loafers, but I braid my hairon occasion, recycle, protest for animal rights, and I take a general pro-environment : pro-world : pro-health stance on most things. It matters to me what our world is becoming how neglectful we are of the Earth and the gift it is to us, and I hate that animals don't have a voice against the people who abuse them and horrible treatment a lot recieve. I don't research the statistics of the ice caps melting, and I don't know what my Carbon footprint is, but I know that there are little things I can do to help give the world one more push toward sustainability and even if I don't always succeed, it is something I feel is worth attempting.
      Before I was pregnant I was a vegetarian, and I still don't consume chicken (bleck). This started because living in Lexington, SC and driving the the Shandon area of Columbia for work everyday I passed HUNDREDS of chicken trucks packed to capacity with chickens heading to their death at the Chicken plant. I cried every single time I passed the truck for the first month. The trucks haunted me, I would be on the opposite side of town and one would be at a stop light next to me. Those poor chickens, shoved into the metal crates, pecking each other to death before they can even get to the plant to be killed, because they are in such close quarters that they can't move. Some farms go ahead and just cut their beaks off so they can't peck each other. How thoughtful of them. Then there is the absolutely disgusting, Tyson, who pumps their chickens so full or hormones that the chickens can't even move or stand they're so swollen and bloated. I'm getting upset just thinking about it now. I haven't always been this way. I think there is something organic about hunting, the evolution of man and hunting and gathering, its in our blood. However, like most things in this day and time, meat processing and the killing of animals has gotten out of hand. It's not organic anymore, its disgusting. We're eating meat with steroids and chemicals and the animals are very inhumanely treated before they're slaughtered their not in a field or forrest somewhere living a normal life. If I could afford "happy" meat and eggs and cheese, I would go that route, but it's rediculously priced, so I just opted out of it all.
      I started eating beef and pork again after I found out I was pregnant, I know the statistics and info on those meats are just as bad as what I know about the chickens, but I'm living in ignorance for the time being. I tried to keep the vegetarian route for the first month I was pregnant, but the faux-chicken proteins and beans and grains, weren't satisfying me like a hamburger was. I actually think that now that I'm in my second trimester I could go back to veggies only again pretty easily, I guess my cravings got the best of me over the first 3 months, but I digress.
      The purpose of this post is not to tell you about my eating habits but about the two awesome projects I learned about last night while watching the TV show Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel. The first organization is Food Not Bombs. I guess since I'm not a child of the 60's it isn't weird that I didn't know about this group, but I love what they do. They started in the 60's giving out free food during anti-war demonstrations and rock'n'roll shows at the height of the free-love movement. Back then they endured horrible police brutality because giving out free food is illegal, and I guess with everything that was going on ( wars, ralley, etc) the police thought it would get out of hand. Now, however they do their thing without much trouble. The group, which is mostly found in large cities, goes - for lack of a better word- "dumpster diving" for food to make vegan and vegetarian meals to serve to the public about one night a week. This sounds gross, but it's not. Here's what they do: they search dumpsters outside of big restaurants and food markets that are required to throw away produce and goods that are more than a certain number of days old. This was disgusting, and I don't mean that it was food out of dumpters, I mean the amount of wastefulness by these places of business was ASTOUNDING. These girls pulled out 10lb bags of potatoes that didn't even have eyes on them yet, bunch after bunch after bunch of beautiful yellow, non-bruised banana's, cartons of strawberries that were still wrapped and red and juicy, cabbage and spring greens that were in pefect condition, not a wilted leaf in sight. It was mind-blowing. They took aways pounds and pounds of food that would have cost hundreds of dollars at any grocery store. They wash the food, peel it, etc and it's perfect. The group gets together with the food once a week and prepares a meal- enough to serve several hundred people, homemade vegan food. They gather in a public square, park, somewhere spacious and anyone who wants a meal partakes. They fed the homeless, students, tourists, and passerby's eventually a whole group of hodge podge people of different lifestyles were dining together in the streets of San Francisco. I was so impressed. I heard through the grapevine that there is a group in Columbia called Gardens Not Bombs that meets in Finlay Park once a week if anyone is interested, but I don't know the details. If you want more information on the Food Not Bombs group you can check them out here: Food Not Bombs

     The other people featured on the episode were not an organized group or club...hey couldn't be, because some of what they do is considered illegal. It's not as sketchy as it sounds, but it is very exciting. These people were professional chefs who on the side of their day (or night) jobs are foragers.They go all around the city in public parks, national forrests, on the side of the highway and collect wild resources that can be cooked to make gourmet meals. They only take a 1/3 of what's available and it's always of something that will growback or reproduce that way they protect the sustainability of what they collect. The gentleman on the show gathered: seaweed off of rocks by the water in Golden Gate Park, pulled snails from trees in one of the local parks, and wild fennel from a highway roadside. Then he cooked. An underground dinner is served to about 100 people who pay a hefty $80 per person toward the cause in order to be a part of the event! It's something like 6-8 courses and it's all made with local, foraged, sustainable ingredients. With the seaweed he made seaweed aioli, the snails were ground up to go on crostinis, and the fennel pollen was a garnish for some other dishes. Once again, totally awesome. My mind was blown.

I learned so much during that smal period of time last night watching that show, I just had to lay some knowledge on y'all! I just get so tickled to learn new things, especially enviro-friendly ones! Here is a link to the show's page featuring clips of the episode and future air dates! Bizarre Foods- SanFran episode I hope you found it as entertaining and lovely as I did! Layne

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