What a lovely weekend. The hot weather proved to be an added challenge to the 4 mile run on Sunday morning but I’m finding that the hotter days only make the hot days easier so I don’t mind as much (and it also makes crashing the pools of long time friends that much more fun). My “Meat and Dairy Free 2 Meals a Day” clock has finally struck midnight and Vegan Cinderella is in the building. Although I have cut out meat completely, I have been moving towards the elimination of dairy in small steps. I will reset the clock for a week from today for all food and drink (see below for some shocking news) to be dairy free as well- here goes nothin!
Friday night we went to a friend’s house that was preparing a big bunch of dairy free appetizers (I really am lucky to have friends that are being so supportive)- also see the my Black Bean Cilantro Lime Salsa recipe to get a little taste of what we munched on. I had brought a bottle of wine. Seemed harmless, until I discovered that not all wine, beer, vodka, etc is vegan! Animal products in alcohol- blasphemy! In my research I found that producers may include animal products directly, or in the filtration process (the most common animal ingredients are isinglass (a form of gelatin from sturgeon fish bladders) gelatin (extracted from boiled cow/pig hooves and sinews), egg whites and caseins (a protein from milk) sometimes even blood! Quickly looking up all my favorites to make sure they were in the clear, I came across a nifty guide with a search tool that made looking things up simple. For some FAQs on Vegan Wine, I found the EcoVine to be very helpful.
I’m finding the definition of organic to be an entirely different study in itself. It seems that the term has undergone an evolution of meanings. Dictionary definitions will say that it is “noting or pertaining to a class of chemincal compounds that formerly comprised only those existing in or derived from plants or animals, but that now includes all other compounds of carbon.” All of the definitions sound pretty technical. Okay… so that really just means that anything alive or that used to be alive, or that is carbon/carbon compound based is organic? The fact of the matter is… organic just sounds better. I hardly think the trying-like-hell-to-be-environmentally-and-socially-conscious single mother thinks that she’s making the wrong decision for her family when she chooses the organic label over the store brand… right? (I strongly recommend watching Robert Kenner’s Food, Inc. for this point in particular). The labels that you are looking at in the supermarket are all made up and what’s even more frightening is just a few factory farms/mega chains own everything that you see. The industry term’s positive connotation has led the consumer astray as they continue to think on terms like organic and free range as things that are ecologically and morally sound instead of entirely destructive. Genius marketing scheme… if they can manage to live with themselves (which they seem to be doing quite comfortably might I add).
I found the USDA’s site to be quite interesting regarding the National Organic Program and the overseeing of these products deemed organic. According to them, “Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods.” But as you may have guessed… the system is not without serious flaws. In a NY Times Article that I found regarding the violations that took place prior to 2010 revealed some shocking statistics and noted that at a time when the market for organic products was (and still is) blowing up in a huge way, the NOP neglected much of the regulation that was supposed to go along with these organic claims and make them legitimate. The article highlighted that, “Since the Obama administration came into office, we have taken numerous steps to improve the integrity of the program,” Rayne Pegg, Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator said. “The integrity of the organic label depends largely upon effective enforcement and oversight of the many accredited certifying agents responsible for reviewing organic operations.” Well… yes, but shouldn’t that have been a given?
So let’s call a mislabeled organic spade a pesticide ridden spade here and compare what the term organic means to us, and what it means to the people who are saying it in the first place- the disparity here is noteworthy.