Changing Food Landscape

It’s been a long time since I’ve put pen to page but there’s been some interesting things going on lately that I wanted to put to words.

Cow farts kill the planet?

The first thing, I heard recently from a colleague that meat production contributes to over half of greenhouse gasses.  Supposedly the official number is something like 18%, but the World Bank revised that upwards to 51%. I passed this by Lisa and she said she had heard similar numbers.  Apparently, the original estimate was based on industrial production and didn’t take into account the methane and CO2 production, plus the land and water usage of the living animals themselves.  If that is accurate, and honestly even if it’s not, it should spark a lot of thought about the way we eat and grow food.  Here is a link (albeit an old one) about the World Bank study. Based on this info, all the recycling and hybrid cars in the world aren’t going to even put a slight dent in climate change. Kinda scary.

Now, I love a steak as much as the next guy and I’m in no danger of turning into a militant vegan, but we eat a LOT of meat in this country and we also waste a lot.  Not just the gray expired stuff at the store that gets thrown out, but how much of the animals we don’t use.  Back in the old days every single part had a purpose.  Lisa and I don’t eat a lot of red meat, we mostly eat chicken and fish.  Occasional pork and on even rarer occasions beef.  Lately we’ve also experimented with some meat alternatives.  Lisa got a great deal on some black bean crumbles (kinda like ground beef) and some tofu “Chik’n” strips.  Now, one of the things I have a problem with the alternatives is when they try to pretend to be something else.  If you want to eat tofu, that’s great.  But what’s wrong with a block of tofu? Why do you have to cut it in the shape of a turkey and call it tofurky? But, I digress.  Turns out, the stuff isn’t half bad.  The strips made really good grilled “chicken” tacos, and we also made tacos with some of the crumble that was already Mexican seasoned.  The best was actually using some of the unseasoned crumbles to make sloppy joes.  That was good.

I’ll admit when I was younger I was pretty excited to order that 18 ounce steak.  I don’t need that now, really no one does, and anyway I can’t eat that much anymore anyway.

Oysters are awesome!

Ok, well we mostly knew that, but now they aren’t just awesome to eat! Recently there was an article about a picture posted online of two dirty fish tanks and how quickly some oysters cleaned one of them.  Here’s a post that sums up the original tweet and some of the amazing responses to it. One of the main takeaways I had from this article is not only that they can clean the water, but that the way they are raised, even the “farmed” variety, is incredibly sustainable! I would assume that this applies to other shellfish as well, such as clams, mussels etc.  Here’s another article, which is aimed at kids, but explains how cities can build structures, boardwalks, decks etc on the coast and grow oysters under them as a way to clean up the coast.  How cool is that?

GMO Labels.

The last big thing that happened recently was a vote in Colorado and Oregon to force food companies to label if their products contained GMO or genetically modified organisms.  Genetic engineering pulls small portions of DNA from bacteria (which are super easy to grow) and implants it into plants to change attributes of the host plant.  Some people equate this to hybridizing plants (like mixing two breeds of apples to make Honeycrisps) while some people equate this to “playing God” and messing with things we ought not be messing with.  As usual, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but it’s murky.  Not a lot is known about the health effects of eating these products.  On the one hand, there isn’t a lot of data that says they are harmful.  But on the other hand, there’s not a lot of data that says they are safe either. More research needs to be done.  Both Colorado and Oregon rejected these bills in the vote, however, while the Colorado vote was strongly opposed (65+ percent) the Oregon vote was much closer with only 51% against. I don’t know a lot about the Colorado proposal, but here’s some thoughts I had about the Oregon bill and why I think it may not have passed.

Alcohol is exempt – Since alcohol does not fit the FDA definition of “food” it is exempt from the labeling law.  I don’t know if this is really a big deal since I haven’t heard anyone yelling to boycott “Frankenstein beer” but GMO use is pretty predominant in grain growing and I’d imagine those major adjunct brewers are using some of that “high yield” corn.

Animal feed is exempt – Cat food, dog food, and livestock feed are exempt because, well, animals don’t count right? Again, I think this is a technicality in the definition of “food” in the bill as grown and prepared for human consumption, but this raises a serious loop hole in the wording of the bill.  Fresh meat, milk and eggs from animals feed with GMO grains would NOT be labeled as containing GMOs.  Now, whether any of the GE material remains in the animal is probably unknown, but because the grain would not be labeled you wouldn’t know whether the feed was GMO or not.

Costs increase? – The opposition to this bill loudly proclaimed that food costs would increase and would certainly effect the poorest populations (who supposedly buy a lot of cheap pre-prepared food?) the hardest.  I have a hard time believing this would actually do anything to the cost of food.  Labels would cost the same and it only takes a couple seconds to switch labels mid run.  Yes, it would be annoying to have to label some stuff for the states that require it and not label it for those that dont but hey, you could always just switch the regulated label for ALL products whether it’s required or not.. novel idea yes? Also, claims about having to make separate food plants and separate storage areas for GMO and non-GMO is a bit far fetched.  I can’t imagine someone who is using GMO products is going to suddenly create an entire new non-GMO line for one state.  It would be more economical to either decide to label it or stop selling in that state.  This would achieve what the proponents are looking for though.

“May contain” – I couldn’t find the exact wording in the bill, but supposedly some products would need to have a label that proclaimed they “May Contain GE materials”.  I’m not sure if this was a “items made in the same facility” type thing in the same way as allergens, but at least with allergens it makes sense.  This has the potential to cause confusion and also tarnish products that may be GMO free.  The proponents of the bill wield this like a weapon to scare consumers into thinking certain food products are harmful to them.  I hate this kind of fear mongering no matter what context in which it’s being used.  The “food prices will go up” rhetoric by the opponents of the bill is the exact same thing.  Both sides are guilty of it and it’s disgusting.

It’s redundant – If you want to avoid GMO foods there is already an extremely easy way to do it.  Products that are certified FDA Organic cannot contain GE materials.  A lot of companies also already voluntarily label products as “GMO-Free”.  What this labeling initiative would accomplish that these other programs wouldn’t is a little baffling.


So, my apologies for not writing for 6 months and then blasting you with a wall of words, but these are just some things that have caught my attention lately and stuff I wanted to write about, and fit my themes of both food and health for the blog so there ya go!

Weekly Recap 2-11-13 to 2-17-13

I was supposed to have run my 5th half marathon this weekend, but as I battled my inner demons (literally) I came to the conclusion that running the race would have been a very bad idea.  I was very concerned over the course itself, 14.5 miles of mountain trails including several stream crossings which had only worsened by recent rain, I learned post race one of the water crossings had been knee deep.  I was concerned over the race day weather which had suddenly turned bitter cold, dropping into the 20s and starting the morning off with rain and snow.  I was concerned about my lingering knee injury and whether it had fully healed and whether I could even finish a race of this magnitude (in hindsight, no I would not have finished it, even if my knee felt fantastic).  All of this wrapped up in a package that included non-running stress and I was a ticking time bomb.  I finally exploded on Friday night as I grappled with myself and my indecision.  I made the hard decision to skip the race and stay home.  It was the right decision. 

Where I go from here, I don’t know.  Racing has to take a back seat as I try to work through some other things in my life right now.  Money is tight and race fees are getting higher.  As always the fist thing to get cut is the “expensive hobbies”.  Traveling, Civil War re-enacting, road races. The calender is blank, the dance card empty.  That’s not to say I won’t race in the next couple of months.  I have some promises to keep.  The FFF 5K hosted by the Landis family is coming up soon.  The Komen 5K in May I promised I’d run with Jen.  The St Leo’s 10K a friend from work wants me to do with her. The Tar Heel Ten-Miler to hang out with my sister and maybe run with her BF (for three steps before he leaves me in the dust).  These are possibilities, but nothing is set in stone.  No planning things out 8 months in advance, it will have to be a race by race, case by case judgement call. 

Starting weight – 240* 
Monday – Elliptical – 60 minutes
Tuesday – Run – 3 miles
Wednesday – BodyFlow – 60 minutes, Spinning – 50 minutes
Thursday – Run – 3 miles
Friday – REST
Saturday – REST
Sunday – Yoga – 60 minutes
Total Mileage – 6 miles
Ending weight – 243.4 (3.4 pounds gain)

I’m not surprised to see a gain this week, some of it I’m sure if from switching back to the YMCA scale after weighing on the home scale last week.  Also, I ate pretty heavily Friday in anticipation of the race that didn’t happen and then went to town last night on some great food and drinks at the Twin City Track Club winter seminar. 

The next few weeks are going to be tough I’m sure as I struggle to find motivation with no races to train for and nothing on the horizon.  I think this week I won’t do any running, concentrate on cross training and making sure my knee is 100% healthy and then slowly get back into running and do some base building and find something I can hold on to for a while, 10-12 miles a week and just make sure I keep my running legs.

A lifetime ago…..

Eleven years seems like a lifetime.  At 32 years old, it’s in fact a full 1/3 of my lifetime.  But sometimes it can seem just like yesterday.  I’ve heard several people that were angry when September 11, 2001 was compared to the attacks on Pearl Harbor.  But, for my generation (and at least one generation younger and several older) that’s what it is.  September 11th is our “date which will live in infamy”.  It’s a date that will never be the same, and it’s a date we will never forget.  We all know where we were and what we were doing when we learned of the attacks in NY, Washington and Pennsylvania… and is something we will never ever forget.

I may have already shared this story on the blog, so forgive me if it’s repetitive, but this is how I experienced September 11, 2001 and the weeks that followed.

It was my fourth year in school at NC State (also known as, Red-Shirt Junior Year).  School had just started back, classes were only a few weeks old and if that weekend had not been the first football game of the season than surely the next weekend would have been.  I was driving to school listening to a local morning show on the radio.  As I pulled into the parking lot they made a brief mention of “a plane has crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers”.. there was no other details to report at that time, the DJ’s speculated it was a small plane, a Cessna, a Beechcraft etc, which can, and do from time to time, run into tall buildings when they fly as low as they do.  Nothing else was said, they went back to playing music or cracking jokes.

I walked across campus to the student union to grab breakfast and the place is absolutely mobbed, although that was normal for that time of day.  I got my food and miraculously found and empty table.  At this point I noticed that the TVs in the student union, which were normally on “College TV” that showed music videos and sports highlights, were tuned to CNN.  They were covering the tower that had been struck as everyone was trying to figure out what had happened.  It was bigger than what it sounded like on the radio, but still some freak accident right?  Right about this time, the second plane veered in and struck the second tower.  There was a collective gasp in the room, followed by a deathly silence.  Then the place erupted into a deafening roar as everyone started asking questions as once.  “Did you see that?” “What was that?” “What the Hell just happened?”

A sense of dread began to build in my stomach.  One plane could be an accident… but two?  I also had a sickening feeling as it clicked into my head that hundreds of people had just died instantaneously.

The place was so crowded that someone I didn’t know had asked to share my table with me and I said sure, of course and he sat with his back turned to me watching the television, but we were chit chatting some about what in the world was going.  I remember seeing the huge antenna boom on the second tower begin to rock back and forth and I said to him “It’s going to fall” and a few seconds later it collapsed and crumbled and fell to the ground.  At this point is when mad panic hit the streets of everyone running trying to get away.  We still had no clue what was going on but this was serious.

In the time span between the first tower collapse and the second one (I forget how long it was, 30 minutes? 40 minutes?) they switched to replays of the second plane hitting and replays of the first tower falling.  At some point they went back live as the second tower collapsed in on itself and crumbled to the ground.

At this point I had to get to class so I stumbled out of the student union in a daze trying to figure out what in the world was going on.  People in the classroom were openly crying, everyone was talking, no one was paying attention.  People seemed angry at the professor for trying to teach… “Have you no idea what just happened?” (In his defense, he probably did not).  I left that class and went on to the next, where the professor or a TA told us classes had been cancelled for the rest of the day.  I went home to my apartment to find my roommates glued to the TV, also trying to figure out what was going on.  Now we were getting reports of the plane that hit the Pentagon and the plane that crashed in rural Pennsylvania, which we later found out was saved by the passengers who sacrificed themselves, and was likely bound for the White House.  NC State canceled classes for the rest of the week.  (I believe 9-11-01 was a Tuesday, just as it is today).  We sat transfixed in front of the TV trying to process something that even the smartest among us could not process.  None of it made any sense, nothing at all.  We would go out on the balcony (as several of us smoked back then) and notice the eerie quiet and the lack of contrails in the sky as all flights were grounded for a long time after that.   It was quite bizarre to walk to classes after that with a crystal clear blue sky, not a single cloud, not even a man-made one.  No planes. Weird.  You don’t notice them when they are there, but you notice them when they are gone.

In the weeks and months that followed the stories came out, both on campus and on TV.  People who had been in the towers on 9-10.  People who had forgotten something at home and turned around, a wallet, an ID badge, something you couldn’t go to work without, and were not in the towers when it happened.  The ones who made it out.  The ones who stayed behind.  The firemen who ran UP the stairs, while thousands were running down… the man in the wheelchair who evacuated his entire office and saved them all, but he stayed behind.

For the victims on the planes, who had nowhere to run and no way to escape.  For the people in the first tower who never saw it coming.  For the police, firemen, EMS, military and harbor patrol who perished and sacrificed their own lived to save others.  WE WILL NEVER FORGET.

I’m reblogging this to remind myself to participate and also to let any of my followers who are runner-bloggers to know about it!

The Blog

It wasn’t just a one-time event! The Automattic Worldwide WP 5k is back again in 2012! Set your timers for April 29th!

At Automattic we work from all over the world, and we use internal blogs for socializing and exchanging non-work ideas in addition to making and our other products more awesome. One of the things we’re really concerned about is staying healthy – we even have an entire internal blog dedicated to fitness.

We had a great idea: Get all Automatticians from 79 cities & 24 countries to run/walk a 5k on the same day! This way we can get some exercise together as a company even though we’re apart (though we won’t rule out a softball or Texas scramble at our next meetup).

A year later, and there are now 105 Automatticians we hope will take part in the 5k all around the world in 2012.

We want…

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Weekly Recap – April 2 – April 8, 2012

This was a very tough week, I won’t lie.  Adding the extra workouts to my schedule really took a toll on me.  The Monday spinning class was awesome, but it killed my quads.  My legs were sore all week.  I foolishly went out Tuesday and ran/limped 3 miles, so I’m sure I sabotaged my own recovery.  I skipped yoga on Wednesday even though the stretching would have been good for me, the stretches are worthless if I can’t do them.  I was off work Friday, so I moved my Thursday run to Friday morning and my legs were finally starting to feel better.  Here’s what this week looked like.

Starting weight – 267
Monday – Les Miles RPM (Spinning) – 60 minutes
Tuesday – Run – 3 (painful) miles
Wednesday – Rest/Injured
Thursday – Rest/Out of town
Friday – Run – 2 miles
Saturday – Yoga – 60 minutes
Sunday – Run – 4 miles
Total mileage – 9 miles
Ending weight – 267 (UNCH)

So, I didn’t lose any weight this week.  But I didn’t gain either, so small win.  But still a win.  This is the first time since I’ve been logging my weight has not changed at all, either up or down, so that’s interesting.  I would have expected even a tiny change, 0.2 pounds up or down.

Friend Making Monday

Song – Fun We are Young (didnt like it at first, it’s growing on me)

Drink – Coke Zero (and off brand equivalents)

Physical feature of the opposite sex – Breasts (hey, honesty right?)

TV Shows – No cable right now, but I like White Collar and Game of Thrones that I am missing.

Actress – Zooey Deschanel

Books – Song of Fire and Ice series by George R R Martin

Form of communication – text message or email

Exercise – Running

Food – Turkey Burgers

Quote – The story of barbecue is the story of America: Settlers arrive on great unspoiled continent, discover wondrous riches, set them on fire and eat them. ~ Vince Staten




Upcoming Race Schedule – Feb/March 2012

After searching high and low for races in December and January to augment my half marathon training course and finding nothing (save the New Years race), now all of a sudden the race schedule is blowing up and I find myself with 4 races in the next two months.  Ironically it’s also 4 races of different distances so that will surely keep me on my toes.  Here’s what’s coming up!

Feb 4th 2012 – Winter Flight 8K, Salisbury NC
This race is coming up this weekend, and while I was looking for a 10K to fit into my training there was not one to be had, so this 8K will have to do.  5 miles is a respectable distance, longer than a 5K but not gruelingly long.  Should be a good race.

Feb 18, 2012 – Fitness, Friendship and Fun 5K, Kannapolis NC
I received an invite to this race directly from the Race Director, who happens to be a friend of mine on DailyMile.  Advertised as a low key, small crowd race to benefit Multiple Sclerosis.  My friends daughter has dealt with MS for the last 10 years and is now a track runner.  With a personal invite how can I say no?

March 4, 2012 – Rock and Roll New Orleans Half Marathon, New Orleans, LA
The big grandaddy race.  The one I’ve been training for since September of last year.  My first half marathon, my first 13.1 sticker, my first medal and hopefully the first of many “Holy %$^# I did it!” moments.  My entire running life has been revolving around this race for 4 months and I’m sure when I finish I will think “what do I do now?”.  I’ve heard this reaction is quite common.  Maybe having another race 2 weeks after will be good to keep the needle in the groove.

March 17, 2012 – St Leos School 10K Road Race, Winston Salem, NC
This is the only race of the four I haven’t officially registered for, but I am still planning on running it.  This will be my first 10K so it will be exciting for that reason, even if it is *after* my Half Marathon.  (Several people have noticed I jumped straight from 5K to Half Marathon).   I will be running this one with my running buddy  Jen so that will be fun as well.

As always, stay tuned for post race recaps as soon as the race happens and check out my Races page for times and links to the recaps.

Happy running!

  • About Me

    I am a recent graduate in Food Science (NC State, 2009) and I work for a major food manufacturing company. I love food, but I can no longer eat anything that crosses my path. About 24 months ago I begin a serious struggle to get my obesity under control and reduce my chances of developing Type II diabetes. Since September of '09 I have lost 50 pounds and I still have a long ways to go. I've started eating better and exercising more, including taking up running.