March 17th, 2011
All the talk of sustainable agriculture and organic practices reminds me of a class I took for my Freshman seminar years ago. The class was called Sustainability & The Environment. A requirement for the class was to read Michael Pollen’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma (the inspiration for Food Inc.). This book essentially changed my entire outlook on food and began shaping my personal food choices. I cut out chicken, pork and beef from my diet as a stance against factory farming. Over time I began buying organic when I could and became well-versed in label reading. I stopped buying highly processed foods, anything with artificial sweeteners (and avoiding High Fructose Corn Syrup when possible), and looking for where my food was being made and distributed from so i could try to buy more locally. I discovered that I have a passion for nutrition, especially eco-friendly nutrition. I think its important for people to care about what they eat, where it comes from and how it affects their body. It is equally as important to care about the environment and recognize how our food choices affect the world.
Being a vegetarian or vegan is not always easy (or healthy) if you aren’t properly informed about your personal dietary needs. Swearing off meat does not mean you can just eat bread or pasta for every meal. It has taken me years of tuning my diet to find a good balance for my own body. To be honest, I was not very good at this in the beginning, dealing with campus meal-plan restrictions and lacking knowledge about vegetarian nutrition. Living off campus, with a full kitchen at my disposal, and no Sodexo meal plan has certainly helped me out for the past 2 years. I am still learning every day.
One thing I struggled with the most was knowing how to prepare meals, how to use raw ingredients, and what kinds of things can be thrown together quickly but be highly nutritious (and tasty!). I discovered an incredible resource in the online blogging world. Foodie bloggers are prevalent on the net and have formed their own little subculture of cooking creations. I follow several bloggers (most of which are college students like myself) who are focused on eating healthy vegetarian lifestyles (some are even Vegan).
(most of the healthy foodies like to start their day with a type of porridge – like Oatmeal, Oat Bran ect. A ritual that I have also adopted! Keeps you full for hours.)
They take photos of almost every meal, share their recipe ideas and circulate a huge wealth of knowledge on food. These blogs are an endless source of inspiration for my own food choices. I have learned a lot from reading these blogs, especially when it comes to supplementing my diet with protein and vitamins. The focus is always on eating fresh, eating healthy, and often sticking to a budget. I think this blog world is a fantastic resource for anyone who is thinking about becoming a vegetarian or just wants some inspiration for healthy (meat-free) cooking!
Some of my favorite foodie bloggers!
The Happy Herbivore (great recipes section)
March 10th, 2011
Over Spring break I visited family in Arizona. While I was there I went hiking in Sedona at the Red Rocks State Park. The park was breathtaking, with many trails leading to outlooks onto massive rock formations in the distance. The signature crimson color of the rocks comes from iron oxide staining. There are nine stone layers composed of sandstone, limestone and basalt, representing millions of years and different geological periods.
In about 1000 AD, a group of native peoples settled in the area of Sedona. This group is called the Sinagua Indians, meaning literally Without Water in Spanish. As you can guess, they managed to use agricultural methods that required little to no water to farm the dry environment. The Sinagua used irrigation ditches and check dams of the few rivers to grow their crops. They supplemented these farming practices with hunting and gathering. The Indians formed a stratified social system and also interacted with neighboring groups.
Volcanic activity at the Sunset Crater in the northern part of the region created a disturbance for the Sinagua. The crater erupted several times over a few years, blanketing the earth in ash. However, the Sinagua soon returned to the eruption area and established themselves again.
The interesting thing about the Sinagua is their strange disappearance. About a hundred years before Spanish explorers arrived in the area it seems the group vanished for no apparent reason. As we have learned about other ‘vanishing’ cultures, its likely something to do with environmental problems. Perhaps a major drought made normal life nearly impossible for the Sinagua? Life is very difficult with little to no water. Even though this group was very well adapted to having dry conditions, they were still vulnerable to mother nature. It should be a reminder for us to tread carefully with our water supplies and usage.
In Red Rocks state park there is a river that runs through the main park area called Oak Creek. This was likely one of the water sources for the Sinagua and later became a major source for European settlers. Early settlers used the riversides to plant apple and peach orchards. The river creates a stark contrast with the rest of the rocky arid landscape. The Red Rocks park personnel seemed especially proud of this ‘water feature’. The diversity of life explodes wherever there is water in Arizona. I am glad to see this portion of land protected as a state park. It is beautiful and unique.