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After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and after some talks in our Food Theory class about the term “Organic”, we were curious to know what certification entailed.
We found the official certification guidelines for Canada and the US.  They were suprisingly similar.  Here are the requirements we were made aware of:

Canadian Organic Labeling

  • Only products with organic content that is greater than or equal to 95% may be labelled as: “Organic” or bear the organic logo.
  • Multi-ingredient products with 70-95% organic content may have the declaration: “contains x% organic ingredients.” These products may not use the organic logo and/or the claim “Organic”.
  • Multi-ingredient products with less than 70% organic content may only contain organic claims in the product’s ingredient list. These products may not use the organic logo.
  • Certified organic products must also bear the name of the certification body that has certified the product as organic

USDA labeling:

  • 100% Organic must consist of 100% organically- produced ingredients;
  • Organic products must consist of at least 95% organically produced ingredients; and
  • Made With Organic Ingredients are processed products that contain at least 70 % organic ingredients can use this label and list up to three of the organic ingredients or food groups on the front of the package.
  • Processed products containing less than 70 % organic ingredients cannot use the term “organic”.

These regulations seem as if they’re in our best interest, but it’s hard to trust, there is always money to be made. 

It was reported that in 10 years (1990-2000) retail sales of the organic industry rose from $1 billion $7.8 billion.  Which is probably a fraction of today’s industry worth.
A team of scientists appointed by the USDA concluded that there was no universally accepted definition of “organic farming.” Their report stated:

The organic movement represents a spectrum of practices, attitudes, and philosophies. On the one hand are those organic practitioners who would not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides under any circumstances. These producers hold rigidly to their purist philosophy. At the other end of the spectrum, organic farmers espouse a more flexible approach. While striving to avoid the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, these practitioners do not rule them out entirely. Instead, when absolutely necessary, some fertilizers and also herbicides are very selectively and sparingly used as a second line of defense. Nevertheless, these farmers, too, consider themselves to be organic farmers.
Another cause for concern is these massive US conglomerates buying out smaller, “organic” minded companies.  It leads one to wonder how a company with absolutely no organic standards otherwise, is going to have any concern keeping the integrity and morals of the company purchased.

For example: Did you know  owns:

AND    

All these masquerades really push me to buy locally as opposed to supporting BIG organic brands.  This word “organic” has far too many ties with big money.

What: Marben
Where: 488 Wellington Street West  Toronto, ON

I had the great opportunity to try out Marben’s brunch on a Sunday morning, and for never hearing of this place until my Aunt took me, it was wildly impressive.

Right away the decor was striking.  From these re purposed whisk lights to a massive wall painting that flips panels to reveal a new painting.

Though the restaurant is located just west of Spadina on Wellington, it feels almost nestled away like your own little secret;  Not on the path of herding Toronto brunch goers.

What I loved right away about Marben and their concept is their attention to detail.  The homemade bread and butter started us off with a great impression.

One of my favourite touches by far was their “Farmers we Love” list, where you could trace back ingredients from your meal literally to which local (under 200km away) farm they came from.  Brilliant.  And so incredibly important in these times.

We started off our brunch with an oyster, irregular, but very refreshing.  I ended up ordering Carl’s breakfast sandwich: 2 eggs, tomato, mayo, greens and peameal bacon.  A simple list of ingredients, but the execution was far above par.  With every ingredient accounted for locally, stuck in between some homemade bread, there is absolutely no going wrong.

 

 

Now I just need to go back for dinner.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan has given an impact to every reader. Often times such questions arise in peoples minds such as, “What should we eat for dinner? Should we shop at our local farmers market, or grow our own vegetables?” These, and other pressing issues, are explored in The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

 

In Section 2,“Pastoral Grass,” investigates the growing culture of organic farming, and questions whether or not it is truly good for the planet. Should we eat a fast-food hamburger? Something organic? Or perhaps something we hunt, gather, or grow ourselves? For some readers it may have affect their eating habits, where they buy groceries what type of food to eat etc. but this have not stop me from changing any of my daily lifestyle.

 

I had certainly never looked at organic food this way. I grew up eating organic food and standard food just because it didn’t matter for my parents what to get for groceries. When I went to visit the grocery store and asked what this word “organic” meant, the employee that worked in produce told me very simply that it meant the food was grown without pesticides. Over the past few weeks, whenever I looked at vegetables, meat, fruits with no organic label, the only thing that comes in to my mind about this is food with chemical fertilizer. This does not stop me from buying food that isn’t organic, I would not spend an entire day hunting down produce when I can drive five minutes and buy anything I want anytime of the year? And when I do find organic produce in a more convenient location it’s more expensive.

Image

Before this semester started I had never heard of The Omnivores Dilemma because I am
not big on reading as a hobby. When I found out we had to read the book I was kind of iffy about
it and the thought of actually sitting down and reading it. It took me a while to actually start the
book because I was dreading it but once I started it I realize how interesting and educating the
book is. I was able to read the book fast since I was so into it and could not put it down. Out of
the few books I have read in my life it was the most interesting one by far.

 

Our group decided to do the section on Grass which I thought was a very good section of
the book. It had the best key points about the food that we, has human beings, eat on a daily
basis. The knowledge it had on what we think organic is and what it really is was amazing. I
knew about this before because I have seen the movie Food Inc. last year so
the book just topped off the information I already knew about this topic. Both the book and the
movie had information on what the rules are for a product to be considered organic which is
what my favourite part is.

 

The farmers that raise the animals that we eat and the people that create the rules for what
is “organic” have us all fooled. They put the picture of an ideal farm on various labels such as packaged meat, milk containers, egg cartons, and cheese wrappers to trick us so we think that’s where it
is from. When really it comes from factories that mass produce these items just like
non-organic ones; the only difference is they follow the thin line of rules that have been created.
I personally think the whole thing is ridiculous and is one giant scam they created to make more
money. We live in a world where money is everything so these farmers/workers will do anything
they can to get as much as they can for the items the sell.

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The one fine line of rules for an animal to be considered organic that bothered me the
most was the ones they had for chickens. I strongly believe that all chickens should be free range
because I am strongly against animal cruelty. For a chicken to be
considered organic it is supposed to have access to the outdoors but the farmers find ways to
limit it to as much as possible. They keep them in the chicken coup for a certain amount of time
in the light with fed and water available all the time so they just eat and eat. Once they are a
certain age they finally open a little door so they can go outside but by that point they have no
interest in going out those strange doors. This bothers me a lot because not many people are
informed about what goes on at “organic farms” and they have the right too. The worst part is
that people think they are eating better but really it does not make a huge difference at all. If only
it was easy to change how the world food industry operates so we could make it right.

Andre conducted a fun experiment for six friends.  He gave them each a blind taste test of a seared and roasted grass-fed and corn-fed steak.  Check out the results!

Prices:

Corn fed- $15.08 8oz tenderloin

Grass fed-$13.29 8oz tenderloin

 

Both steaks were panfryed to give color then baked in the oven at 350F for 25 minutes.

Seasoned with a dry rub of salt, pepper and garlic and then coated in olive oil.

 

Below is a list of people who tried each steak and told me which they found better

 

Names

Corn fed beef

Grass fed beef

Kristine

juicy Meatier taste
Ken juicy Meatier
Kaitlyn meaty juicy
Fern juicy Meatier
Charlie juicy Meatier

Kevin

juicy Meatier

 

As we can see from the chart, the corn fed beef had a more juicy quality to it, but the grass fed had the desirable meat flavor that people enjoy.

 

Before

On the left is the corn fed, on the right is the grass fed. As you can see, the grass fed beef is a more vibrant red whereas the corn fed was a dull red. Both had equal amounts of marbling.

After

The bottom on is the grass fed, and the top is the corn fed. As you can see, when cooked it is nearly impossible to tell them apart.

 

 

 

Jamie Kennedy himself got back to us on why he prefers grass-fed beef in this second edition of: Ask a Chef!

Who: Jamie Kennedy, owner

Where: Gilead Cafe & Bistro, 4 Gilead Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1) Why do you sell grass fed beef?

A cow’s digestive system is not designed to digest corn. A cow is a herbivore and its digestive system is designed to digest grass and pasture. At JK kitchens we support cattle growers who feed pasture and hay.

2) Could you tell me about your cooking method for grass fed beef? Are the cooking methods different between grass and corn fed beef?

There is no difference in cooking method between grass feed or corn feed. Some cooking methods are, grilling, roasting, braising and sautéing.


3) What about the taste between them?

A grass fed cow will taste more gamier, such as lamb tastes.

 

 

4) How do you choose your suppliers? Could you name some of them?

We choose suppliers by asking about there cattle. That is why we use Cumbrae Farms beef and Dingo Farm Beef. Also Farmers like Dingo Farms have searched us out about using their product because of our reputation and philosophy on food and product.


Sofie found this incredible interview on Democracy Now! with Micheal Pollan about the foods that are constantly advertised to us, take a look:

Part 1

 

Part 2

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