Dinner Win! Mexican Taco Stew from Whole Foods

Here was a big dinner WIN for us the other night! We used ground pork from the ranch (making this veg would be easy, too) and TJ’s organic diced tomatoes w/green chiles.

Since our broth wound up being too spicy for the kids (darn you, TJ’s medium salsa!) we scooped out the solids (that just sounds gross, but I know no other way to describe) and, in a flash of genius, threw it into boxed mac n cheese! The kids LOVED their “taco-roni and cheese” – sure to be a new favorite. They each ate their ENTIRE bowl, even after they’d eaten the bites required to get dessert.

My husband doesn’t like brothy soups either /eyeroll/, so we poured off most of the broth and plan to use it to make delicious Spanish rice to have with tacos tonight. More genius! Somebody get me a MacArthur grant!!

Anyway he & I ate our (innards? solids? meats & vegs?) topped with sharp cheddar and sour cream. One of the easiest and most delish dinners we’ve had in a good long time.

BTW we also made a full pound of meat, adding the onions, garlic & spices (we made up our own taco seasoning – packets are silly when you usually have everything on hand except the weird stuff), then reserved half of that combo for taco night tonight. To go with our Spanish rice. Wow. I can’t wait for dinner time!

Image

image from Whole Foods Market

If you want to find the ridiculous amount of joy I apparently have from this simple recipe, go here: Mexican Taco Stew from Whole Foods

Join us on Facebook!

I’ve recently added a Facebook page for FoodiEvangelist, and I invite you all to come “Like” it.

I’ve just created a photo album of some of our recent family dinners, with recipes! It’s been a fun project, recording our meals, so I plan to keep adding to it. I know we all need help coming up with ideas and it’s really good if somebody else does the initial recipe testing!

Come on over and check it out!

UPDATE: You need to click the link above or go to https://www.facebook.com/FoodiEvangelist and “Like” THAT page. Just “liking” this post will not affect Facebook, you’re just liking it on WordPress. So click the link, “Like” the FB page, and then you can see the photos and all the other fun FB stuff.

And I’ll likely be posting there a lot more often than here, so definitely get over there if you want to follow me.

Too excellent not to share

The Honest Toddler is cracking me up. Keeping with the theme of THIS blog, here are two favorites:

Recipes

Fruit

One minute you need a banana. Crave one. Feel like your life won’t be the same if you can’t enjoy the smooth sweetness of this tropical fruit. So often though, by the time an adult has gotten off of Facebook and peeled one for you, the feeling has already passed. This isn’t your toddler’s fault. Don’t make a big deal. Just freeze the banana for a smoothie you will never make or eat it yourself.

Ask toddler if it is OK if you peel banana. When given the green light, only peel the banana 1/3 way down so it doesn’t break it half and fall on the floor. Why should I even have to say that.

If there are rot patches on the banana, do not hand to toddler with rot patch facing away like a sneak. Find another banana. If there are no more bananas, OMG.

Lunchbox Ideas!

Organic Valley is giving away bento boxes!

It’s back to school time for many of us who provide meals for our families! Here’s a great list of creative ideas for jazzing up your kids’ lunches. I think the “theme a day” idea is very smart to keep some semblance of order but also keep things creative and fun. I love the “lunch money” idea.

For my kids, I do a lot of “bento style” (i.e. tiny containers with various finger foods) and that goes over well. They seem to always eat better if stuff is cut into shapes (my mom’s mantra is “It’s all about the presentation”), so I keep a supply of cute cookie cutters on hand for sandwiches, cheese, etc. (my preschoolers get a kick out of the ones shaped like their initials). One of my proudest moments as a mom was when my son’s teacher told me I make “the best” lunches!

Why not write your kid’s “love note” in meats & cheeses, with “I ❤ U” cookie cutters? Plus, you can choose better-for-them products without all that junk that’s in Lunchables (shudder!).

What are some of your winning ideas for your kids’ school lunch?

What you can do

Been writing on some heavy stuff this week, so I wanted to end the series on a positive note, with some ideas on how you can help make a difference in the lives of the people who pick your food.

Even I have found myself getting increasingly depressed as I think about my own small ability to change anything. Yeah, I’ve changed my shopping habits, and yeah, I write about it on here and maybe somebody somewhere reads it (though from the number of comments this series has garnered – exactly ZERO – I doubt it). Maybe we’re all just too tired and disheartened to think about changing the world any more.

Well, for what it’s worth, here are some things you can do. And I’m stealing some from other people because frankly I’m spent after reading and writing about this stuff for a week!

Here is the “Take Action” page from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, about whom Tomatoland is written.

From Barry Estabrook’s original article, The Price of Tomatoes:

In the warm months, the best solution is to follow that old mantra: buy seasonal, local, and small-scale. But what about in winter? So far, Whole Foods is the only grocery chain that has signed on to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) Campaign for Fair Food, which means that it has promised not to deal with growers who tolerate serious worker abuses and, when buying tomatoes, to a pay a price that supports a living wage. [UPDATE: Trader Joe’s has since signed on; CIW’s Take Action page linked above has sample letters you can send to your local grocery conglomerate]

When shopping elsewhere, you can take advantage of the fact that fruits and vegetables must be labeled with their country of origin. Most of the fresh tomatoes in supermarkets during winter months come from Florida, where labor conditions are dismal for field workers, or from Mexico, where they are worse, according to a CIW spokesman. One option during these months is to buy locally produced hydroponic greenhouse tomatoes, including cluster tomatoes still attached to the vine. Greenhouse tomatoes are also imported from Mexico, however, so check signage or consult the little stickers often seen on the fruits themselves to determine their source.

And I’m going to steal from myself, too – here’s the little guidelines I wrote earlier this week, in my post about Tracie McMillan’s The American Way of Eating:

  • To start, buy as much produce as you can locally. Cutting out the cost of distribution systems and nation- or even world-wide transportation goes a long way towards keeping prices low. If the farmer’s market seems to expensive, go at closing time – you’ll get great deals on whatever’s left.
  • If possible, join a CSA, which will ensure that your money goes straight into a farmer’s pocket (then get to know the farmer, and ensure he or she is paying a fair wage to fieldworkers).
  • Avoid large farming corporations (even organic ones), as their infrastructure prohibits paying close attention to conditions in the field (most subcontract their labor anyway), and their corporate obligation to profit requires them to cut corners (sadly, it is often easiest to hurt people, rather than product).
  • Avoid huge retailers like WalMart that make plenty of money off other goods but mark up the cost of fresh food (since it spoils and therefore cannot be bought in the huge quantities that are their advantage over smaller competitors). An orange may cost 50% more at WalMart than the local grocery store simply bc it doesn’t fit their pricing scheme (see McMillan, 136-7, for her comparison shopping between WalMart and the local Mexican grocery).

To keep it simple: buy fresh, buy local, buy in season, buy from small farms, and cut out as many middlemen as possible.

And to finish, some hope: things are getting better in some respects. The CIW’s “Campaign for Fair Food”, seeking to raise wages by “a penny a pound” and ensure basic rights for tomato pickers started in 2001 and has successfully enrolled Taco Bell (2005), McDonald’s (2007), and Burger King, Subway and Whole Foods (2008). The next years were spent fighting the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, which initially resisted (even though the wage increase was entirely paid for by the buyers and didn’t affect the Exchange or growers one way or another – except to ask them to treat their workers better). They finally relented in 2010 and now the extra pennies, previously sitting in escrow accounts, are finally reaching the workers for whom they were earmarked.

The CIW’s next target is grocery stores, and from their website I gathered that they have added to Whole Foods’ early participation the signature of Trader Joe’s and several food management companies (e.g. Bon Appetit, food supplier to many of the colleges with which I’ve been affiliated) to the growing roster of companies on board with the Campaign. Sadly, the rest of the major grocery chains – including WalMart, which takes in ONE of every FOUR food dollars in the United States (more than the next three grocery corporations combined) – have yet to sign on. Read more about the Campaign for Fair Food here: http://ciw-online.org/101.html#cff.

Summing up: big campaigns definitely help, but it’s also the choices you and I make every day that eventually will turn around the whole system. So don’t you be discouraged, and I will try not to be either!