RTF: Rewind, eat well and start a food revolution.

Om Boys Food Movement‘ is the result of two young men looking at their grocery store shelves and realizing that not all food is really what it appears to be. In fact when looking at the wide array of brand name food products offered in America’s grocery stores there is a disturbing amount of things that are packed with preservatives and unwanted ingredients. Many of these foods are also deeply ingrained in our American diet and culture. Two of these products are peanut butters and cereal.

Walking by the endless amount of peanut butter jars that claim to be extra chunky or fat free or reduced fat or smooth and creamy, etcetera and ranging in brands that are generic or the well know brand name jars, one realizes they all scream the same thing… a commodity appearing to be a food product and a business model that is strictly there to make money. The team of people behind the food revolution associated with Om Boys Food Movement are working to create food they would eat and they would feed to their friends, family and hopefully the entire world. The Om Boys Food Movement, founded by Adrian Reif and Matt D’amour created a ‘Yumbutter‘ nut-butter line as well as the ‘Food Your Body Likes’ cereals. These products are the first of Adrian and Matt’s food revolution, reversing the damage done by corporate companies selling nut butters and cereals.

  

Adrian and Matt wanted to take food products that are a big part of today’s society and make them good! The variety of peanut butters found in most grocery stores only aisles away from sugary and energy depleting cereals are what is found in most American households. According to the USA National Peanut Board “the average child will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before he/she graduates high school.” That is an outstanding amount of a highly processed food product. This is where Yumbutter is introduced as a wholesome, protein rich and pure product that will win any taste test compared with any other nut butters. There is also the ‘Food Your Body Likes’ cereal line, that is jam packed with phytonutrients and sprouted ingredients that “releases enzymes and antioxidants, improves the amino acid, vitamin, and mineral content, and breaks down anti-nutrients.” This is quiet frankly,’Food Your Body Likes’ and will help restore the entire working organism from the inside out.

The idea behind ‘Yumbutter’ nut butters and ‘Food Your Body Likes’cereal is to start small while taking the time to replace the well know jars of peanut butters and air-puffed sugar cereals, disguised as a healthy breakfast option, with real food. Co-founders Adrian and Matt are personally selecting high quality products that range from organic, fair trade bananas for their most recent Yumbutter Potion, Ethical Elvis, to researching the health benefits of sprouted and raw food products for their cereals.

Adrian and Matt are the not the first to use the term ‘food revolution’ while offering some tasty snacks but they are making headway. Their nut butters can be found at a variety of grocery stores in Madison, Milwaukee and even Chicago areas. They started small in order to offer the best quality product but don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Keep a look out for more articles regarding Adrian, Matt, their food revolution and any of the other projects that support their mission of being sustainable, ethical and community-based all while having a full stomach!

All hail a food revolution.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior

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RTF: Uphoff Farming

Uphoff Farming

This week for Real Time Farms I drafted a sound clip giving an insight on the Uphoff family that has created a long lifestyle that is dedicated to managing people and animals. Their meat is 100% Berkshire certified and while these hogs live a happy life on the farm in open houses they are also providing a high quality product to a variety of local food establishments in Madison, Wisconsin.

For further information check out their Real Time Farm profile or a previous blog post about their meats.

All hail a dedicated farmer.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior

Cargill Beef experiences issues with Salmonella Enteritidis as 30,000 pounds of their beef is recalled.

Grist

People: Cook your burgers.

Cargill Beef recalled 29,339 pounds of fresh ground yesterday after a salmonella outbreak in seven states made 33 people sick. From Food Safety News:

Cargill Beef late Sunday recalled almost 30,000 pounds of 85 percent lean, fresh, ground beef, produced by the company at Wyalusing, PA on May 25, 2012. The meat may be contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) associated with an ongoing multiple state outbreak of SE.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said it became aware of the the problem “during the course of an ongoing investigation of a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis involving 33 case-patients from 7 states (MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VA, and VT.)”

A problem: The meat is likely no longer in stores.

While the use-by date has passed and these products are no longer available for retail sale, FSIS and the company are concerned that some product…

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RTF: Pretzel’s are a girls best friend

New York City is a dynamic city known for finance, media, and entertainment – and people, lots of people. With so many people and so many ideas buzzing around they all seem to have successfully created a unique and vibrant food scene too. I strolled through the streets of East Village and Soho admiring the abundance of local food establishments. It’s rare to pass restaurant chains in this bustling city. Sigmund’s Pretzels is one of those neighborhood spots that’s doing a great job at helping keeping food local and distinctive in New York City.

   

These pretzels are hand made and crafted fresh everyday offering a variety of flavors. In the back of the cozy pretzel-shop they create the wide range of pretzels and when they run out they simply run out!

All of those behind Sigmund’s Pretzels take pride in offering a wholesome snack such as the traditional salted pretzel, a savory bacon and scallion flavor, sandwiches on pretzel rolls and even “Uber Pretzels” for sharing. The pretzels are also suggested to be paired with a variety of dips ranging from adventurous ‘beet-horseradish’ to a smooth and sweet nutella.

The pretzel goodness is found at over 20 establishments ranging from the Dean & Deluca retail stores, local bier gartens and even the Delta airline at Laguardia. Beyond these they are also interested in expanding their wholesale program as they are eager to include other local eateries.

  

  

All hail a food artisan.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior

RTF: Making culture mainstream

Upon arrival in New York City there was an overwhelming amount of places to dine at, yet I wasn’t sure where in the world to start. My visit in the Big Apple was short lived but wildly successful. My first morning in the city riding one of the many yellow taxis I scrolled through the Twitter sphere. Within minutes I was reading New York Time’s most recent post in its Diner’s Journal, Two Fresh Approaches to Yogurt.

While many of us tend to know the healthy benefits that are naturally found in plain and greek yogurts it is slowly becoming a trend to enjoy the thick and sometimes quiet sour substance. Until now there are only few places that have capitalized on selling yogurt fresh and by order, nature’s true secret. As a foodie that digs the cool taste of my morning greek treat I had yet to see it sold anywhere besides rows of it in the dairy aisle of a grocery store – until now.

The Diner’s Journal was covering The Yogurt Culture Company along with a similar food establishment and their novel approach to selling fresh yogurt with an endless supply of pure, wholesome toppings.

The Yogurt Culture Company is doing exactly what their name says, creating a culture around yogurt. A fun pun is that this stuff is actually also packed with beneficial cultures and probiotics that keep your insides pleased and clean. Any of the employees will happily explain the natural benefits of the yogurt and how the cultures are one of the nine amino acids our bodies need to survive. The probiotics and natural cultures also help aid digestion, and in a delicious way. There are also a variety of pamphlets available throughout the store offering much more information, including their philosophies. Their approach is not only to sell the stuff but actually educate their customers and show them how yogurt can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or as a sweet snack depending on what’s on top.

    

Their plain yogurt is processed through Dannon in White Plains, New York and shipped to The Yogurt Culture Company store front. While their greek yogurt stems from the Battenkill Valley Creamery in Salem, New York allowing them to support other local New York food establishments. Where they source the yogurt goes along with one of their philosophies, to provide the highest quality of all-natural dairy. Battenkill Valley Creamery is over 100 years old as well as being family owned, making wholesome, sustainable milk their life long priority. Their cows are hormone free and allow The Yogurt Culture Company to offer a clean product.

Once in the store the customer has a variety of toppings to add on. The most impressive are the fruit purees that are made with 100% fruit that is hand-churned by a local New York fruit producer and naturally sweetened. Along with the fresh fruits, the Yogurt Culture Company is attempting to offer an experience to their customers that will help make yogurt shops a part of mainstream food establishments.

Beyond the high quality yogurt, the company actually upholds a second mission geared toward the business’s carbon footprint. All of the people behind The Yogurt Culture Company believe in having a company that is sustainable and environmentally conscious. All of the store materials as well as their cutlery is made from 100% corn-based plastics, 100% recycled fiber. The Forest Stewardship Council has certified much of their wooden utensils while their wooden counters come from reclaimed wood. All of the above gives a small glimpse at the kind of decisions being made at The Yogurt Culture Company.

Beyond the fresh yogurt and outstanding company philosophies, the menu extends to frozen yogurt and the opportunity to make parfaits or smoothies. The rustic inspired shop also offers daily baked pastries, salads and sandwiches all made with yogurt as a key ingredient.

All hail the healthy cultures.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior

RTF: Food justice going beyond food.

“Food justice may focus on food, but in connects with issues like economic development, race and class inequities, education, vacant properties, and of course, environmental sustainability.”
-Sherry Linkon
Center for Working-Class Studies

Working-Class Perspectives

Last fall, I had the opportunity to interview Chris Hedges for my radio show, just after he’d delivered a powerful but incredibly discouraging talk about how Americans are becoming less able to think critically (based on his book Empire of Illusion) and how the Democratic party can longer be counted on to support the interests of working people (Death of the Liberal Class).  I asked him what he thought we ought to do about this depressing state of affairs.

His response: work on promoting locally-grown, sustainable agriculture.  Even though I serve on the board of an organization engaged in that kind of work, his response surprised me.

But lately –in part because of a terrific panel at the Working-Class Studies Association conference in June – I’ve been thinking about the potential power of food justice as an alternative to traditional leftist organizing.  I still believe in unions…

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RTF: Farmers as social media advocates

When times change they change all sections of society, however only two of those sections tend to cross over and in a major way. Those two are food and the way people talk about food. As a food warrior intern we are working to find out about what is making what, how and when they are doing it as well as how it contributes to the bigger picture. All of these things are believed to not be new questions but perhaps are being expressed differently. Ever since roughly 2004 there has been a rise in how people talk about their passions. Individual passions are art forms and it appears that the most common and definitely most shared are music and food.

With the introduction of MySpace, many users utilized its services to share personal new tracks or their favorite biggest hits. the transformation to Facebook was a way for people in the elite academic circles to connect. Currently looking at the evolution of Facebook it is greatly used as a way for people to share their pictures.

Twitter joined the conversation in 2008 and soon because a place for people to hone in on their niche interests and ‘follow’ handlebars that speak directly to those interests. The live-feed of the Twitter sphere can be a public space for advocacy in food, women’s’ rights, politics in general or even children’s safety over seas.

Many of the pictures that stream through a foodies Facebook newsfeed come from the meals they eat, markets and grocery stores they shop at, restaurants they dine at, and even farms they visit. Today there is strong urge for restaurants, markets and all establishments striving to sell a product to join Facebook. This is even more apparent with the current shift in the food industry that is promoting locally and seasonal ingredients. The tweets that are being updated from these food establishments follow a similar track.

Years ago the majority of Americans were farmers and the food served to a community was different as you traveled across the world. Today you can chow down on something from each end of the universe, not really… but maybe someday? The technological advancements in agriculture, the government and then obviously our food production has removed people from food and even disconnected them from their own cultures. The shift in our food system today is fighting against this disconnect and striving to revert back to the ‘olden days’. The farmers, food artisans, and consumers are doing so because of their ingrained interest of enjoying food that is wholesome, good and clean.

Tying the growing social media spheres along with this shift in our food systems leads to a lot of different conversations. The constant stream of knowledge that each farmer, food artisan and establishment experiences can now be shared with others in the same field. The idea of competition between producers in a market is decreasing to build a community and overall shape society. Social media is a way for the producers to connect with consumers and offer them what is wanted as well as for consumers to learn more about what’s provided. Food systems have always been a two way street communication between producers and consumers, but until now there hasn’t been one sphere for this to happen. Thus introducing social network sites.

For more tangible examples a few of us who are Real Time Farms Food Warriors stumbled upon farmers that are sharing their stories through pictures and information online. Click the images to experience their farm from the virtual side.

  

  

To dive into Food Advocacy in the Twitterverse, check out one of my previous posts discussing just that.

All hail social connections and good food.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior

RTF: Meet Rebecca Rosenthal

From Manhattan to Northern Westchester to Montreal and currently Boston with big dreams of back to New York, Australia and England Rebecca Roesenthal is quite the food advocating jet setter. Born in Manhattan, yet raised in Katonah-Northern Westchester, Rebecca was introduced to a way of life that revolved around the preservation and culture of food. In 2008 she was swept away by Montreal, Canada where she spent time as an undergraduate student at the University at McGill studying Urban Systems in their Department of Geography.

Rebecca has taken her life experiences of different cities to her university setting, where she is understanding how cities are broken down through their architectural designs. Rebecca has crafted maps focused on all things from food and sanitation to transportation, truly putting her degree to good use. Through this work she became very interested in food systems where she was able to tie in an environmental psychology minor. Before it is time for her to graduate from her undergraduate career Rebecca is roaming Boston to meet with local farmers and food artisans to understand their unique food systems. As a Real Time Farms Food Warrior with an Urban Systems and Environmental Psychology degree her blog on the Food Warrior experiences offers an outstanding look at our current food system.

While Rebecca is not spending her time studying psychology and mapping out cities, she truly enjoys writing. The Real Time Farms Food Warrior internship fit her well due to the amount of writing she is very used to. While at school Rebecca spends much of her free time contributing to a Food Blog at her university.

Beyond her interest in putting a pen to paper, Rebecca is most eager to engage with farmers and food artisans in order to learn the Boston food scene. This summer is the first time that farmers are allowed to sell fish at markets which is one of the many things Rebecca has already started to learn about. Rebecca is also interested in learning more about the business aspects, including sourcing and distribution. This past semester at McGill she won a Sustainability Case Competition that lead her to develop a self-sustaining, student-run cafe that strived to source locally. She learned a lot from her own experience but hopes to see how local sourcing and fair distribution is replicated in the real world. These are only two examples of what Rebecca hopes to learn from her time with Real Time Farms. The list does not stop there as this headstrong foodie wishes to learn more about the technicalities behind fisheries and fishermen, the stories behind the people supporting Boston’s food system along with the struggles and socioeconomic aspects of farming and food quality. To learn more about her adventures through all of this, dive into her Real Time Farms blog, ‘Local Life, Global Goals‘.

Looking at Rebecca on a more personal level allows you to understand her strong interests in food. Everyday she eats with the philosophy, “know thyself.” For Rebecca food has strong and important qualities that can make a true impact when adjusted correctly to help support our bodies. Joy McCarthy is a nutritional role model for Rebecca as McCarthy strives to explain that there are ‘seven billion diets for seven billion people.’ While arugula is one of Rebecca’s favorite vegetables she struggles with a handful of food sensitivities that have pushed her to better understand foods. She has returned to basic, wholesome cooking but finds herself exploring new spices and dishes along with keeping her mind on the benefits of food while she strives to alkalize her body through food.

Cheers to Rebecca and her summer of adventures.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior

RTF: Sharing a way of life

The confusion associated with walking up to the olive oil aisle in a grocery store left Tyler and Carry Guell fed up with their cooking experiences as they often ended up at home, opening a new bottle of olive oil and feeling defeated with its lack of or even overpowering flavors. Their very own olive oil and fine vinegar boutique soon became the answer to these problems. Tyler and Carry Guell are the happy couple that founded Olivada, nestled on the river of Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Beyond housing the freshest olives oils accompanied by fine balsamic vinegars Tyler and Carry wanted to offer the customer an experience. Therefore, the shopper is able to sample anything in the store before purchase. This is a part of understanding your food deeper in order to enjoy it to its fullest advantage. The amount of oils and vinegars range far and wide while many customers know very little about the different flavors and accents. Tyler and Carry take the time to truly explain to their customers how to understand the flavors before even bottling it for them in house.

For example the one of the many honey balsamics is taken like a half shot out of a small plastic cup and then swirled around in your mouth until the flavors are in full effect. The acidity of balsamic holds many different flavors, especially when they are infused. Allowing the taste buds to gather the balsamic’s key notes gives the individual a full idea of how it can be enjoyed best. While using your senses to do this it is easy to fantasize about the endless dishes it would enhance, and soon find yourself wanting to sample the entire row.

On the other hand, sampling the oils is done a bit differently. The shopper is instructed to cover the small cup while rubbing the bottom on your palm. This warms the oil and prepares you for a full experience. After about 30 seconds of this you are to breath in the oil, smelling the different undertones. Finally, you slowly sip the oil and let it rest on your tongue while sliding down your throat. You are essentially using a majority of your senses to not only taste the oil but also understanding the olives and their strengths. This is a learning experience that helps to connect the customer with oil they are destined to cook with.

The wore down shipping warehouses lining Sheboygan’s river have become home to a variety of funky hipster cafes, fine English pubs, health food stores and more allowing Olivada to fit in as well as a missing puzzle piece. The establishment has only been in working service for about a year but their expertise with oils and vinegars really sets them apart and allows business to do very well. This unique approach to selling oils and vinegars stems from their own frustration and encourages them to offer a sampling of all products sold as well as bottling everything in store before purchase.

After being greeted with a gust of air conditioning you find yourself face to face with a wall of dark bottles. Below each is a small description of the vinegars location, flavorings and pairings. Recipes are sprinkled among the bottles and featured in the center of the store is the island of oils. These olive oils are 100% pure extra virgin coming from the northern and southern hemispheres allowing Olivada to offer the freshest oils. Any of the staff members will gleefully explain that there are only two time frames a year when olives are crushed. Due to Olivada gathering oils from both hemispheres they are receiving oils twice a year when those olives were crushed, leading to the freshest product available. These different olives coming from both the northern and southern hemispheres allows the oil to range in flavor from a more grassy and earthy undertone to the buttery and rich flavors.

The idea of Olivada is to avoid selling a vinegar or oil to someone who is not truly invested in its flavor. Food is to be enjoyed and experienced and the Italians believe that olive oil is an ingredient that unleashes flavors in foods that would not otherwise be tasted. The vinegars offer a way to enhance ingredients through adding wholesome acidity. Olivada is not only selling these product but rather sharing a way of life.

All hail oil and vinegar.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior