Why Youth Voices Matter The Farm Bill – Part 2

Here are some big reasons why students may want to become involved in the farm bill process:

Food for hungry children

#1. They believe that no child, regardless of their socio-economic status should go hungry. 

The farm bill provides food to eligible low income individuals and families through a program known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). SNAP replaced the old food stamp program.

Here’s how it benefits kids:

  • The highest percentage of SNAP recipients are children.
  • SNAP significantly decreases the amount of kids that go hungry. Children with full bellies generally can concentrate better at school, get better grades and have a better sense of well-being.
  • These benefits generally increase consumption of healthier foods to help reduce the risk of present or future chronic diseases; such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Local farmers market

#2. They support local foods

Local foods allow youth to know exactly how their food is grown and where it comes from – in other words food transparency.

  • They can visit farms and speak directly to the farmer.
  • The farm bill helps local farmers reach more consumers.
  • Local foods tend to be grown more sustainably and without harmful pesticides.
  • Local foods sold at local farmers markets bring the community together in a meaningful way.

Nutrition Education

#3. They recognize that more people will select nutritious foods if they understand the benefits of choosing them.

  • Recipients are currently receiving nutrition education on the benefits of foods that they are getting through the SNAP program.
  • They receive support on how to cook these foods at home.
  • They may teach recipients how to shop.
  • Nutrition education on healthy foods encourages consumption, which in turn helps reduce the risk of disease.

Fruits and veggies

#4. They believe that fresh fruits and vegetables should be subsidized first over other foods

  • Fruits and vegetables in the farm bill are considered a “specialty” crop (whatever that means??) and are not subsidized. This is why they may not be affordable to low-income individuals and families.
  • However, SNAP’s double up food bucks program does allow recipients to double the value of their SNAP benefits when they purchase fresh fruits and veggies at a farmers market or grocery store.
  • Students can advocate for these “super-healthy” foods to be subsidized first over other not-so-nutritious foods or participate in the double up food bucks program.

The senate bill is proposing establishing a “food is medicine” pilot where facilitators prescribe fresh fruits and vegetables to individuals and families.

Young Farmer

#5. They believe that it should support beginning farmers

  • It’s becoming challenging for young people to become farmers.
  • The startup fees are enormous; equipment alone can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • Land is hard to come by and is often sold to large farming operations.
  • It’s challenging to make a living farming and so many opt out of this as a career.

So what if like me, these food politics make student’s heads spin! They can choose a more grassroots approach to changing our national food system. They may choose to “vote with their fork” and purchase more foods from local farmers, or volunteer at a local hunger organization. They may help raise funds for young farmers to get started, or become involved in local legislation to help them purchase land. They may teach cooking or nutrition classes centered on fresh fruits and vegetables. Really, the skies the limit!

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Why Youth Voices Matter The Farm Bill – Part 1

The farm bill is probably the most significant piece of legislation in our country related to farming and the foods that are served on our dinner tables.  It is reauthorized every 5 years and this is the year – 2018.

The farm bill originated in 1933 as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (FDR) new deal. It was the direct result of the great depression and also the dust bowl (severe drought on prairie lands in the U.S.) that was happening at the time.

Its original purpose was to balance fair food prices for consumers with a decent wage for farmers. It helped ensure that there was an adequate amount of high-quality, nutritious food for all to eat and to protect our natural resources (air, water and soil).

The farm bill also determines crops to be subsidized (pay part of the cost of producing in order to reduce prices for consumers), which ultimately determines the majority of crops farmers will grow.

Currently, the biggest chunk of it provides food access to low-income individuals and families who cannot afford it (80% of it).

The next farm bill is expected to be finalized in September of 2018 and boy there is a lot of disagreement between the house and senate on what should be included!

The farm bill is a great way for students to begin to recognize that they have a voice in the legislative process and can start to have an impact on the future of food.

So why should young people care about the farm bill?  Because it is everywhere! It impacts everything from food that is offered to low income families, food that is served in their cafeteria (farm to school), food waste, organic food and nutrition research, nutrition education, fruit and vegetable availability and costs, seeds, soil and other conversation efforts.

Tune in tomorrow for some big reasons why students may want to become involved with the farm bill.

Did you know? One of the biggest influencers of subsidies was Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz. Back in the 1970’s he decided that soybean and corn would be heavily subsidized, resulting in A LOT of farmers growing these crops in order to survive. Hence the reason we have corn as fuel, animal feed and high fructose corn syrup. It’s in everything!!!

 

The Whole Enchilada

Yes, I actually made the enchiladas in the picture! I’m not sure why I haven’t made homemade enchilada sauce in the past, but now that I have I am hooked. The sauce recipe I found and tweaked has a deep rich flavor that is tomatoey and spicy and definitely has an authentic feel to it.

It takes a little longer than most of the recipes I recommend, deseeding took me quite a while, but certainly worth the extra effort.  Try and make sure to deseed with the windows open and gloves on as the fierce pepper dust smell overtook my eyes and nostrils.

Searching online for recipes, I came across a lot made with “chili powder.” Some were light in color and didn’t have that dark red color or deep rich flavor. That just didn’t feel authentic to me, so I kept searching to find one made with actual chili’s. Chili’s by the way are spelled with an “e” in the Mexican culture, meaning it’s a pepper.

The word Enchiladas means – seasoned with peppers or chilies. The sauce usually consists of chilies, tomatoes and spices. The green chilies pack more heat than the red ones. Like a lot of Mexican cuisine, they are made by wrapping a tortilla around food. In the case of enchiladas it’s a corn tortilla wrapped around a myriad of ingredients including; beans, corn, spinach, squash, onions, broccoli, possibly meat and a sprinkle of cheese.

The difference between an enchilada and a burrito is that enchiladas require baking as part of their preparation and they are slimmer than burritos. In New Mexico because they often use blue corn tortillas and they are harder to roll, their enchiladas are stacked. They are layered with food in-between each layer which almost gives them a lasagna-like look and feel.

Enchiladas, especially those loaded with cheese are loaded with fat and calories, especially saturated fat.  One enchilada may contain as much as 55% of the daily recommended amount of saturated fat and a bucket-load of salt.

If you’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo this weekend (May 5th), think about serving some enchiladas too – it’s National Enchilada Day!

Authentic Enchilada Sauce – Spicier

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 ounces dried guajillo chilies, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 ounce dried hatch or Anaheim chilies, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 medium tomato, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

Directions: 

  1. Add water, chile peppers and cinnamon to a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until chile peppers are tender.
  2. Drain the chile peppers in a colander held over a bowl in order to preserve the cooking liquid.
  3. Sprinkle a medium sauté pan with olive oil and warm on medium heat. Reduce to low and add the onions. Cook until softened (about 5 minutes).
  4. Add the tomato, garlic and spices to the mixture and continue cooking over low heat for about 5 minutes longer.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a blender and add the peppers and most of the water. Puree until smooth. If desired, add the remaining water and/or additional water along the way to thin the mixture.
  6. Add more olive oil to the sauté pan and then the blended mixture. Cook on high heat until mixture comes to a simmer, then reduce to low and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add to favorite enchilada recipe.

Adopted from: Foodiecrush – https://www.foodiecrush.com/how-to-make-authentic-enchilada-sauce/

Veggie Bean Enchiladas

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups homemade enchilada sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of broccoli, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 bag frozen spinach, slightly thawed
  • 1 ½ cups cooked black beans or 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained
  • Sprinkle of Monterey Jack or vegan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 whole corn tortillas
  • Cilantro for garnish

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Lightly grease a shallow baking pan with olive oil.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt.
  3. Reduce to medium low and cook onions until they are soft (around 7-10 minutes).
  4. Add the broccoli and bell pepper and cook covered for 8-9 minutes until broccoli starts to soften.
  5. Mix in the cumin and cinnamon and cook for about 30 seconds.
  6. Add the spinach and cook until warm and no longer clumped together.
  7. Transfer the contents to a medium size bowl. Add the beans, a sprinkle of cheese and about 2 tablespoons of the enchilada sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Assemble the enchiladas: Add a thin layer of sauce to the bottom of the baking pan.
  9. Heat tortilla over low heat in a sauté pan or warm in a tortilla warmer.
  10. Place on a flat surface and add about ½ cup filling to the center of the tortilla.  Fold right side over tightly, and then repeat for left side. Fold both ends. Place seam side down in your baking pan.
  11. Repeat process with remaining tortillas.
  12. Drizzle the remaining enchilada sauce over the tortillas and then sprinkle a small amount of cheese on top.
  13. Bake for 20-30 minutes until tortilla looks golden.
  14. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes.
  15. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

More Soup for You!

It’s no wonder that one of the coldest months of the year; January is also National Soup Month. The heated broth warms your insides!! Soup actually started as a means to preserve food for a longer period of time and later evolved with the addition of meat and vegetables as a way to keep these ingredients warm.

Now we can enjoy soup homemade in a can (Umm, umm, good Campbell’s soup has been around since 1869), frozen or even dried. We can eat it in a soup bowl, in a cup, the inside of a pumpkin or squash and even in a make-shift bread bowl. Slurping is a given!

Soup is one of those meals that you don’t really need a recipe to make it great.  Start with a veggie broth (low or regular sodium, depending on your preference) and add to it some Colorado beans and as many different kinds of vegetables as you would like from your local grocer.

Potatoes are an excellent addition!

Winter is a great time to make hearty soups with potatoes, especially since they are in-season in Colorado all year long. I recently made a recipe with several of them including; mini yams, purple sweet potatoes and Yukon golds.

Soup is a bowl of nutrition!!

The mini yams are an excellent, excellent, excellent source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, potassium and fiber (20% of our daily recommended amount). The natural chemicals responsible for the bright purple color in purple sweet potatoes, contains the anti-oxidant anthocyanin, which has anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties.

I also added a bunch of vegetables including purple kohlrabi. Kohlrabi is a German word; Kohl means “cabbage” and rabi means “turnip.” These are a type of cruciferous vegetables, which means they are cancer-fighters. They also pair well with Indian spices.

One of my favorite winter comfort soups is the potato, leek and corn chowder below. If you haven’t tried leeks before, they are a “blown up” version of a green scallion. Leeks are an excellent source of Vitamin K and a great source of B6, folate, iron and Vitamin C. Plus they contain allium, the same phytonutrient found in garlic that helps boost our immune system. Make sure you include the whole leek and not just the white part as the green part contains the most active nutrients.

Potato Leak Soup

 

Potato, Leek and Corn Chowder

Serve: 6 

Ingredients: 

  • 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
  • 1 large leek, chopped (cut off ends of greens)
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 4 medium Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour (to thicken soup)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (use low or no-sodium if desired)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (can use regular cream or lite coconut milk to lower fat content)
  • 1-2 limes, quartered
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Making the recipe:  

  1. Heat olive oil and a pinch of salt over medium heat in a large pot. Add onions and leeks and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add celery, bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Sauté for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes and carrots and mix well.
  4. Next, stir in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add vegetable broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
  6. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are softer.
  7. Add corn, return to a boil then reduce heat to simmer again and cook until all vegetables are tender.
  8. Remove from heat and remove bay leaf.
  9. Add the coconut milk and stir well.
  10. Blend ½ of the recipe in a blender on puree setting or use an immersion blender to combine. Add back to the remaining recipe in the pot.
  11. Serve in a bread bowl and if desired sprinkle in ¼ slice of lime.

Creamy and sweet, yum!  Plus it is an excellent source of fiber, potassium and iron!

Want more? Share your recipes below or on our Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

Lime in the coconut – really a bellyache? The AHA thinks so!

The American Heart Association (AHA) is fighting back on the claim that “butter is back” (started by Time magazine’s cover article “Eat Butter” in 2014) by stating that saturated fat really does contribute to heart disease. And they’re taking it on in a big way – slamming coconuts! Well not coconuts really….coconut oil.

So many people, including dietitians are fired up about this statement. “What do you mean, coconuts are not healthy? Not only do I drink their milk and water and use their oils, but also put coconut creams and makeup on my face. How could this be?”

As a dietitian who reads just about every single label and nutrition fact on food, I never understood what the hoopla was about the coconuts; milk, water or oil anyways.  There really isn’t any nutrition in them – except polyphenols, which I will get to in a minute.

The point that AHA is making is that coconut oil raises your LDL or “little devils”, the not so good cholesterol. This tropical fat contains saturated fats, which have been shown to raise LDL levels. We know that saturated fats raise your not so good cholesterol levels more than anything else and are strongly connected to heart disease.

Even Dr. Esselstyn, the renowned cardiologist who promotes eating vegan to prevent heart disease, recommends against coconut oil – or for that matter all oil.

So is the AHA correct in what they are saying? Well maybe…

One of the important items that the AHA didn’t address in their report is how the coconut oil is refined. When it comes to coconut oil, I think this is a critical component to consider.  Some of the commercial brands of coconut oil are made by bleaching and deodorizing them. They may be extracted from the skin using a chemical solvent (e.g. hexane) and sodium hydroxide may be added to extend shelf life. This type of processing often kills the beneficial antioxidants in the coconut oil that help prevent heart disease and may contribute to other diseases.

I did wonder about their hasty decision to recommend other highly refined oils instead like soy or canola oil, so decided to dig a bit.  One of their panel members receives significant grant money from Ag Canada and the Canola oil council and the AHA itself just received a huge grant ($3.9 million) from the Monsanto (GMO soybean seeds) Fund to reach 120 early care centers.  I’m not saying this played a part in their recommendations, but it certainly may have contributed.

What the AHA is missing is that unrefined coconut oil contains polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants found in coconut and other oils (think olive!) that have positive effects on LDL cholesterol – they lower it. They also reduce inflammation, contain antimicrobial components (protect against disease-causing bacteria) and may even protect our bones. A number of studies have shown that when people consume diets high in phenolic compounds it actually reduces their risk of coronary heart disease.

The AHA admits that clinical trials showing a direct relationship between coconut oil and heart disease have not been reported. They are only basing it on the fact that it raises LDL levels.

My point has always been that most food is a combination of nutrients and ingredients that add pluses and minuses to our health. Our bodies do a good job of balancing these out. So focusing on one ingredient in a food (even though it is sky high!), may not be a valid approach until we have evidence that there are no other components that are working to balance it out.

So what do I recommend? As usual, my recommendation is to eat coconut in its whole form. This means coconut meat (the edible white part of a coconut). I read somewhere someone referring to it as “the other white meat.” Coconut meat is extremely high in fiber (excellent source!), and contains polyphenols, both which have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. As a bonus, it’s high in iron, phosphorus, selenium and is a good source of zinc!