Thursday, May 31, 2012

Favorite Blog Posts: Excerpt of "Hungry Planet: What the World Eats" by Peter Menzel

I stumbled upon this website blog which posted pictures from a book of photographs CHRONICLING lifestyles & dietary habits of people around the world. I found it fascinating to see the types of foods being eaten by families. The excerpts compare not only foods bought each week but also how much money these families spend. Each family is photographed in their homes; for one family of nine that means a one room hut & another family of six a tent in a refugee camp. 
This post will really put things into perspective- not only for your country, homes, & food but also the amazing opportunities & things available to us living in more affluent countries. This is a chance to make sure we do not take for granted what blessings we have & also to take the chance to help others less fortunate. Make sure to send this photo diary to others & SPREAD AWARENESS!
MON MAY 26, 2008 AT 07:24 AM PDT

Global Food Disparity: A Photo Diary

In an increasingly globalized world, it’s still sometimes shocking to see just how disparate our lives are compared with other human beings around the world. A book of photographs by Peter Menzel called "Hungry Planet: What the World Eats" ("©Peter Ten Speed Press, published in 2005) makes a relevant point with great irony: at a time when hundreds of millions of people don't have enough to eat, hundreds of millions more are eating too much and are overweight or obese. In observing what six billion eat for dinner the authors note,
"Today, more people are overweight than underweight."  
It is these cultural differences, emphasized and reinforced by the author, which exemplifies the lifestyles and dietary habits of people around the world. In the United States, processed foods are par for course. In the Philippines, fresh fruit and vegetables play a far more significant role. In the  harsh Chad sun, a family of six exists on a measly $1.23 per week.
You can buy the book here.

You may have seen some of these photographs from the book as it been widely circulating on the net, if not, I urge you to purchase it and as one of my friends said via email: "I don't know about you, but I'm counting my blessings." Traveling to 24 countries, from Greenland, Chad, and Japan to Germany, Guatemala, and the United States, Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio photographed 30 families accompanied by a careful display of a week's worth of food. Chronicling the enormous differences in eating habits between industrial and developing countries, each section includes a family portrait, along with their groceries, and a listing of how much was spent in each food group. In the tradition of MATERIAL WORLD, this timely, fascinating photography book illustrates not only the growth of fast food consumption worldwide, but also the transformation of diets across the planet. One notes that except where poverty is the most extreme, packaged cookies and candies have gripped the world as have soft drinks, primarily coca-colas. I found it both encouraging that there is so much local food culture left in the world, and deeply depressing that our processed food culture has spread so far and wide. If you look closely at the types of food being purchased you can see the difference between "eating to live" and "living to eat."
Meet the The Manzo family of Sicily. Their weekly expenditure is 214.36 Euros or $260.11. Note the copious amount of bread. 
Germany: The Melander family of Bargteheide 
Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Importance of Yin & Yang in Traditional Chinese Medicine

The article I originally intended to write when I sat down at my computer was going to be entitled "The important role of the seasons in Traditional Chinese Medicine". But I soon realized that I had yet to fully address the cornerstone of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) & before one could discuss the important role of the seasons in food energetics, one must first have an adequate understanding of yin & yang. So it looks like the 'seasons' will have to wait to be my next article.

Most concepts of TCM are new to Westerners, but many have at least heard the words 'yin & yang' and have seen the tai chi symbol that represents this foundational concept of Chinese medicine.The tai chi symbol (pronounced like the words "tie chee") represents the ancient Chinese understanding of how the universe operates. The outer circle represents 'everything', while the dark & white shapes within the circle represent the interaction of two energies, called 'yin' (dark) & 'yang' (white). These two energies cannot exist without the other & cause everything to happen in the universe.
The tai chi symbol represents yin & yang, but more importantly our universe. The white shape must be on top & the black shape must be on bottom for the symbol to be correct; a symbol with the colors inverted is an incorrect representation. 
The concept of yin & yang is still used today & in many forms. Modern day physics uses this concept in much of the same way the Chinese did thousands of years ago when the idea was first invented. Physicists describe energy that is stored or inactive as potential energy, while this passive energy would be considered yin in TCM; energy that is being released is described by scientists as kinetic energy or would be considered yang in TCM. As you can see, there are many similarities in the way Easterners & Westerners describe the interactions in our world.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Favorite Books: Vegetarian Meals for People on the Go

For those that want to learn more about incorporating vegetables & whole grains into your diet,  I have a wonderful book that serves as an excellent introduction to vegetarianism. I highly recommend this book, not just for those who are vegetarians, but for people who want to learn how to cook new dishes & become inspired to create their own new recipes. Vegetarian Meals for People-on-the-Go, 101 Quick & Easy Recipes by Vimala Rodgers is probably one of my most reached for cookbooks. In fact I use this book as a reference as well. Not only does Ms. Rodgers give step by step instructions, tips, & nutritional information, but she demonstrates how to change up the recipes according to your own tastes. Most of the book serves like guidelines, allowing the reader to interchange ingredients & really teaching the tools to personalize the recipes as well as learning how to create your own.