Friday, April 25, 2008

Ouch, Starbucks, Ouch

I am once again ahead of the curve on current events, yet was too lazy to post about it last week... *cough* Bloomingdale's shoe sale *cough* Anyway, I think we all know that when it comes to coffee, Starbucks is rather mediocre but they make it so damn convenient by having one every 3.5 blocks, that you get sucked into the trend. Anyone from the southwest knows that it would be far more enjoyable to lick the inside of a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf filter sheet taken straight from the dumpster than drink a drop of Starbucks premium blend. Here in the east we're kind of confined to that or Dunkin Donuts, which is also overbrewed trash, but I digress. But this week I have to give Starbucks credit for a breakthrough.

So from a logistical standpoint, being in midtown is already enough to make you want to kick baby pigeons and straight arm tourists, so I needed a little caffeine to make it through the shoe department. There is a teensy hidden Starbucks on 57th Street which is usually dead and so I snuck in there thinking I would get a small plain coffee and life would go on. When I got to the counter there was an overweight suburban mom with a visor and knockoff sunglasses buying her obese son a large Frappuccino (Screw their Italian sizes!). I proudly held my tongue although an eye roll might have slipped out, oops. Anyway, I took the time to look at the pastry selection which always amazes me. I am not a sweets person, so when I see people loading up on that stuff like it's crack I wonder what's up with their wiring. But low and behold, I noticed a new tagging system, giving the calorie counts on each item under their names. Sweet Jesus, I said, now this is exciting....especially since many items, even the "lowfat" ones were well over 400 calories per item. There was even one with 520 calories on the tag.

As I get to the counter to order my basic baby coffee, I size up the counter guy. He could have doubled as one of Ludacris's back up dancers and had tons of flair, so I figured he might be approachable and that I could ask him some questions. I asked him if since their re-tagging of the items, have people been buying as many? His face got all animated as he told me that their sales were down by over 50%, that people come in and see the tags and flip out. But he said that just as many others don't read or cannot care. He capped that off with stating, "400 calories? That's like a whole meal. I'm not wasting that on one tiny cupcake." Good man. I left a tip.

The public repeatedly rides the fence, half the time demanding they know nutrition information and the other half denying a need to know. I just think it's nice to see the numbers. Cupcake conspiracy indeed. Don't even get me started on the lemon pound cake. Ouch.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day! Now Get Off Your Ass and Make a Change!

Happy Earth Day! No really.

OK, now that we're done cheering for the earth... There is a concept that bothers me just as much as water wasting, plastic bottles, and automobile reliance. Can we quit with the damn plastic bags already? That has been one of my peeves increasingly over the past few years and it is my Earth Day resolution. I will do everything in my power to not use these bags even if it disgruntles every last grocery store bagger on the planet. What does this have to do with nutrition, you ask? Well, every trip to the grocery you have the options of using your own reusable bags, the store's paper bags (if they have them), or plastic bags. You have the choice to turn down these bags and also, to inform the places you give business that they should rethink their use of plastic.

Some malnutritious facts
  • 1.2 trillion bags are used per year, averaging roughly 300 per adult on Earth.
  • 1 million bags are used per minute and the average span of use for a bag is twelve minutes.
  • High density polyethylene bags can take over one thousand years to degrade.
  • The U.S. alone goes through 100 billion plastic bags, requiring 12 million barrels of oil to produce.
The statistics on landfills and wildlife destruction at the will of the plastic bag litter are equally as staggering. And this is what you rely on to carry home your organic produce and precious snacks? Countries around the world are taxing and banning such bags to try to squelch their prevalence. My former home city of San Francisco even passed a law banning them, so hopefully New York City will follow. First the trans fats, now... Really how hard is it to hit up etsy or just plunk down the change to get a reusable bag at the check out?

And if you are still not concerned enough to start using other options to carry your precious Cheetos and 6-pack home from the corner store, watch this little informative video. Seems that plastic is making a place in our bodies....a fact which is more than a little creepy. Malnutrition indeed!


*I know "malnutritious" is not technically a word, but it should be!

Oatmeal, Good... Orange Rind, Good...

In an effort to eat less meat and to also use some of my not-as-limited-as-the-actual-consumer knowledge, I am trying to come up with ways to incorporate more whole grains into my diet. It is strange for the average American woman not to be a bread hound it seems, or in those terms at least not to be a pasta puppy? For some reason I never really developed a taste for starches. I probably could live without bread entirely, I downright don't like white potatoes, and I could go weeks without pasta. Frankly, all these things are only useful to me if they are covered with olive oil or tomato sauce of some sort anyway. Therefore, I am trying to actively fill some of the gaps in my diet left by meat with whole grains.

I have always liked couscous, barley, oats, etc., they just can occasionally be a pain in the ass for someone as lazy as myself to really bother with on a day to day basis. For example, there is this can of stone cut Irish oats that has been sitting on the counter for what I would guess as over six months at this point. So I should probably just cook the damn oats because frankly, I live in Manhattan and I need the counter space, and I do know they have tremendous health benefits, that's why I bought it in the first place. I love me some fibers and manganese! So how can one make this a habit? Oatmeal is one of those foods that if not prepared well, can come out with a taste and texture likened to wallpaper paste.

Then I turned and saw a few nice oranges we had just picked up. Being a kitchen dork with too much time on my hands, that means we all know I attempt to put zest into everything. Well, why not cook it into oatmeal? Orange rind has a compound known as d-limonene in it which holds many cancer fighting benefits. Therefore, lately I have been scrubbing all my oranges (if they were not organic) to get off any residues, pesticides, then zesting them and putting the zest of just about anything I can find. Screw skin cancer! However, dependent upon the variety of orange, the product may be more sweet or more bitter, although still chemopreventive. Therefore, I thought cooking it into oatmeal might tone it down a little....and the addition of a little light brown sugar didn't hurt either.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Congratulations! Now Have Some Street Meat!

What does one do directly after passing the R.D. exam? You don't pass go. You certainly don't collect a penny (Quite the opposite to be exact.)... That's right, you indulge in a little street meat. All your currently overloaded knowledge of foodborne illness and Coronary Artery Disease be damned!

Please to enjoy some random photos from the Union Square Street Festival, which is code for "We're going to shut these streets so people can roam and eat otherwise hideously bad for you food." Traffic be damned!

~ beth