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Up Your Food Sustainability Smarts And Try These Tips To Fuel The Cause

Young Woman Harvesting Home Grown Lettuce

As we enter a new decade, many communities and consumers are rethinking the way we produce and use resources. We may see increasing focus on how factors like land degradation, overfishing and declining soil fertility are impacting the environment’s ability to meet our current needs. The United Nations reports that if the global population reaches 9.6 billion by 2050, we’ll require almost three planets’ worth of resources to live the way we do today.

No wonder the sustainability movement is building momentum. And as it does, education among consumers is crucial. What qualifies as sustainable food? What changes can we make as individuals to improve environmental stability and help protect our planet for generations to come?

The Three Pillars Of Environmental Sustainability

“Sustainable food is produced in a way that will allow you to keep producing it over time,” says Jaydee Hanson, policy director for the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. “That means it will not deplete the soil, pollute the air or destroy the waters around it.”

What exactly is the definition of sustainability? According to the advocacy group Sustain: The Alliance for Better Food and Farming, sustainable food typically describes food that is produced, processed, distributed and disposed of in ways that:

  • Contribute to the economy
  • Protect biodiversity of plants and animals
  • Ensure environmental health by maintaining healthy soil; managing water wisely; and minimizing air, water and climate pollution
  • Provide social benefits and educational opportunities
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Together, these environmental, economic and social pillars provide a robust foundation for producing and consuming food in eco-friendly ways that are safe for the land and its billions of inhabitants.

Why Should We Care?

As the UN describes it, the global impact of nonsustainable practices is alarming. Its website reports that less than 3% of the world’s water is drinkable; humans are polluting water in rivers and lakes faster than nature can purify; and the food sector accounts for about 30% of global energy consumption, and 22% of greenhouse gas emissions.

(Farming) Practice Makes Perfect

The good news is that sustainable farming practices can offset some of the damage being done to the planet. One example is crop rotation—or planting a variety of crops. According to Hanson, many “agricultural programs really encourage the growing of corn all the time, anywhere it can be grown.” That’s a mistake, he says, as crop rotation is critical to improving pest control, preventing the spread of disease and protecting soil fertility for future food production.

Another farm sustainability practice entails reducing or eliminating tillage. The Union of Concerned Scientists suggests that by reducing reliance on traditional plowing (tillage) techniques, which often lead to significant soil loss, and inserting seeds directly into the soil, farmers can minimize erosion and enhance soil fertility.

A growing body of research shows that animal welfare also plays a key role in more sustainable agricultural development. For example, many farmers are adopting innovative grazing management strategies, such as alternating periods of grazing, matching animal numbers to predicted forage supply and ensuring plant diversity, reports the Beef Cattle Research Council. These practices not only prevent overgrazing, but also ensure productive pastures and greater animal health and productivity.

You Have The Power To Make Change

Farmers aren’t the only ones responsible for supporting the sustainability movement. Those outside of the agriculture industry also have the power to embrace social responsibility and work toward creating a more sustainable future.

“One of the things people can do is support their local farmers market,” says Hanson. That’s getting easier to do. According to the Farmers Market Coalition, there are now more than 8,600 farmers markets—up from nearly 2,000 in 1994.

What food you buy is just as important as where you buy it—which means it’s time to support organic farming. Hanson recommends buying organic produce when possible. And when it comes to fish, consider opting out of farm-raised options: “If you have a choice between a farm salmon or a wild salmon, take the wild one. It costs more, but it’s worth it.” Other strategies include cutting back on processed foods and heavily packaged products.

And finally, buy only as much as you’ll consume. According to the UN, we produce 1.3 billion tons of food waste each year. However, by spreading awareness around environmental issues and educating consumers about food production, we can improve social responsibility and create an environmentally sustainable future.

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Source: Amway BrandVoice: Up Your Food Sustainability Smarts And Try These Tips To Fuel The Cause

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Tradition And Innovation Are On The Menus of San José, Costa Rica

The gastronomy of Costa Rica does not differ radically from other countries’ in Central America, with rice, beans, corn, pork and seafood always playing major parts. But the internationalism of its capital, San José, means you’ll find both typical and refined versions of favorite dishes, along with upscale restaurantes and places committed to the most ancient culinary traditions of the indigenous people, whose numbers continue to dwindle. Here is a range of places I ate at with pleasure on a recent trip. (And if you’re dying for Chinese food, there’s a four-block Chinatown in the city.)

MERCADO CENTRAL

Between Calle 8 y Avenida 1 Entrada Noroeste

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The best way to get a crash course in Costa Rican food culture is to visit the vast Central Market, where you’ll find every kind of fruit, vegetable, seafood, meat and condiment for very little money. There are tiny stalls where women are making fresh tortillas, but the principal eateries —called sodas, dating back to when soda was the principal item sold—are just inside the entrance where scores of people jockey for a table, ordering their favorite dishes and watching the cooks do their magic from compact kitchens.  The menus at these sodas are all pretty much the same and very traditional. At Soda Cristal I stuffed myself at lunch with a rich soup of mixed meats and vegetables with a huge platter of rice; tender boiled chicken with French fries; and lengua (tongue) tortillas. I then walked over to the bustling La Sorbetera de Lolo Mora, the city’s oldest ice cream shop (1901), for some wonderful vanilla-cinnamon ice cream—the only flavor they sell.

 

A meal will cost about $10-$15, plus drinks.

only flavor they sell.

 

LA POSADA DE LA BRUJAS

400 Este de la Municipal de Escazu

2228-1645

This open air “place of the witch” is packed every day of the year, largely with locals who might happily wait an hour outside, sipping Pilsen beer and getting hungrier by the minute. The night I ate there a table of 20 Chinese tourists were trying to make sense of a menu in Spanish with 79 small bites and soups and 29 main courses.  My local friend ordered patacones (fried green plantains) stuffed with black beans, shredded beef, cheese and mayo (Costa Ricans use a lot of mayo); a platter of huge barbecued ribs with cassava; very tender oxtail with tomato sauce; and a delicious tripe soup.  Nobody rushes you, but tables turn fast.

A meal will costs about $20-$25, plus drinks.

SIKWA

Avenida 1 Calle 33, 100 Norte del Antiguo Bagelmens

506-8499-0585

 

Located in the East Side’s Barrio Escalante, one of the city’s nightlife neighborhoods with bocastapas bars and restaurantes on every corner, Sikwa would be unique anywhere in Central America for its fervid commitment by owners Diego Hernandez and Pablo Bonilla to serve the food of the indigenous people of Costa Roca (the menu changes every three months), based on the sacred traditions of four strains of corn. It is a small, rustic place with a counter up front, wooden tables and a brighter room to the rear.

 

My meal was truly like an expedition through an ancient food culture, beginning with an infusion of orange, lemon, wild cinnamon and guava intended to “balance mind, body and spirit.” Then came a wide swathe of fascinating dishes: a chica infusion of corn, ginger and sugar cane fermented for three days; a corn husk with garlic, cilantro and cheese;  a posole with smoked pork, radish and tomato sauce (I noted that hogs were brought by the Spanish to the Americas); sweet corn tamale with pork and onions in vinegar, and an ice cream of smoked plantain with cacao truffles.

Sikwa deserves the attention it has received from the media and is a terrific way to get a sense of the very old done in a very novel way.

A big meal will cost about $15-$29.

 

TONY’S HOUSE 

Calle 4 y Avenida 2

Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica

506 8836 7074

I can’t imagine there are many places like Tony’s House in San José. The Tony in question is Antonio Aguillar Solis, who, along with his sister Melissa, operates this tiny eatery in the backyard of their house, where Tony also fashions extraordinary folk mannequins for parades and social events.

 

The Solises are very sweet hosts, and Melissa makes everything from scratch right in front of you, measuring the ingredients by experienced eye, building textures and flavors and serving them straight from the stove. There was a picadillo of beef broth to which she added bananas, then onions, cilantro and bell peppers, and annatto paste. Then she cooked a perfect omelet using eggs from their own hens, with cilantro and onions, together with steaming rice and beans, homemade tortillas with queso blanco and a rich sour cream-like mayonnaise.  Tony’s is BYOB, but they offer a delicious sour guava drink that goes perfectly with this food.

You may telephone at the number above, or better, have hotel concierge arrange a reservation, for two to 20 people.

A meal will cost about $20.

RESTAURANTE GRANO DE ORO

Calle 30 Avenid

855-875-49030

Though 33 years old, a re-opening in 2013 of the Hotel Grano de Oro has made it one of the top places to stay in San José, very contemporary in its amenities but also with public and private rooms—some very grand indeed; mine had a little patio—done with a carefully refined traditional look. The pretty, leafy outdoor patio, where guests have breakfast under umbrellas, is as peaceful an oasis as any in this fast-paced city. The handsome, hacienda-like restaurante that surrounds the patio is elegantly set with white tablecloths, signature china and soft lighting, and the menu incorporates Costa Rican dishes with modern culinary techniques and presentations. The international wine list is the most extensive in the city.

 

We began with the house cocktail, a tico sour of white rum and lime, and a first course of sweet palm fruit soup ($6.50) and an extensive plate of housemade  charcuterie with rabbit rillettes, sausages, head cheese and smoked ham ($15.50). There are four pasta dishes, including delicious tender ravioli filled with mozzarella and ricotta, accompanied by ratatouille and verdant herb oil ($13). Costa Rican roasted pork tenderloin ($18.25) came with a yucca croquette, mango chutney and a sweet-sour tamarind sauce. Sample an array of seafood on a plate that includes sautéed sea bass, jumbo prawn, wilted spinach and an aromatic cardomon essence ($22).  Desserts include a luscious signature pie of coffee cream and chocolate cookie crust ($6.69).

By the way, a portion of the restaurant’s profits goes to support Casa Luz, a home for poor or abused adolescent women and their children.

 

SILVESTRE

Ave. 11 Calle 3A – 955

506 2221 2465

 

Sylvestre, now two years old, purports to serve “cocina sotarecense contemporane,” and in its artful look and use of global ingredients along with traditional spices delivers on that idea, based on Chef Fernandez Benedetto’s experience cooking in Dubai, Australia and Spain.

Downstairs is a cantina that plays movies against the wall; upstairs is a lovely, formal room with red brocade wallpaper, and a more casual one with some folkloric furniture and low lighting.

To get a good sense of Benedetto’s range, go with the  ambitious tasting menus (three courses $36, six courses $50), available with individual wine pairings (though the pours are stingy). I began with an amuse of pejibaye palm chips with mayonnaise, then two starters: an empanada of goat’s cheese and spinach with an egg yolk relish, daikon, grilled asparagus and watercress salad; and house-smoked bacon with noodles. The fish course was a fillet of snook baked in hoja santo leaves, with a hearts of palm puree, roasted green peppers, mussel blanquettes and cassava crisp. The meat course was a fine, slow-roasted shoulder of lamb scented with fennel and served with a mint salad, new potatoes and light mustard sauce.

For dessert there was a superb osa tart made from “primitivo” chocolate beans from Talamanca, guava, caramelized corn and cashew nut butter.  With this I thought the only thing to do was  a 25-year-old Costa Rican Centenario rum.

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John Mariani is an author and journalist of 40 years standing, and an author of 15 books. He has been called by the Philadelphia Inquirer, “the most influential food-wine critic in the popular press” and is a three-time nominee for the James Beard Journalism Award. For 35 years he was Esquire Magazine’s food & travel correspondent and wine columnist for Bloomberg News for ten. His Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink was hailed as the “American Larousse Gastronomique” His next book, “America Eats Out” won the International Association of Cooking Professionals Award for Best Food Reference Book. His “How Italian Food Conquered the World” won the Gourmand World Cookbooks Award for the USA 2011, and the Italian Cuisine Worldwide Award 2012. He co-authored “Menu Design in America: 1850-1985” and wrote the food sections for the Encyclopedia of New York City. In 1994 the City of New Orleans conferred on him the title of Honorary Citizen and in 2003 he was given the Philadelphia Toque Award “for exceptional achievements in culinary writing and accomplishments.”

Source: Tradition And Innovation Are On The Menus of San José, Costa Rica

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A variety of street food dishes on friendly Central Street Food Market in San José in Costa Rica. Seafood, cheese tortillas, Gallo Pinto, Ceviche, fruit shakes – you name it.

These Are the 10 Best Food Cities in the World, According to TripAdvisor

Image result for These Are the 10 Best Food Cities in the World, According to TripAdvisor

As food experiences become more important in travel, people are spending significant amounts of time researching what they’ll be eating before booking vacations. To track this trend, TripAdvisor gathered information on the top food cities in the world—that is, the tourist destinations where local cuisine is the biggest draw.

Rome took the number one spot, with another Italian city, Florence, coming in second. Third was Parisquelle surprise—and Barcelona and New Orleans rounded out the top five. The list included each city’s most-booked “food experience.” In Rome, that was a food tour of the Prati district; in Florence, it was a cooking class and market tour at a Tuscan farmhouse. (According to their data, food tours are the fastest growing experiences category on TripAdvisor based on amount spent, which increased 61% last year versus 2016.)

“Travelers are increasingly interested in getting local insight on their destination, and food tours and cooking classes a great way to do that,” said TripAdvisor spokesperson Laurel Greatrix, in a statement announcing the list. “Guides can be a great resource for finding hidden gems or local favorite spots, and can create an unforgettable part of your trip. Coming home with a local recipe or a new favorite restaurant is the best souvenir.”

As for methodology, the best food experiences were ranked using an algorithm that considered “bookings, traveler reviews, and traveler ratings.”

See the full list below of top food city alongside the most-booked food experiences.

1. Rome (Rome Food Tour by Sunset around Prati District)

2. Florence (Cooking Class and Lunch at a Tuscan Farmhouse with Local Market Tour from Florence)

3. Paris (Paris Food Tour: Taste of Montmartre)

4. Barcelona (Interactive Spanish Cooking Experience in Barcelona)

5. New Orleans (New Orleans Food Walking Tour of the French Quarter)

6. New York City (Best of Brooklyn Half-Day Food and Culture Tour)

7. Venice (Venice Food Tour: Cicchetti and Wine)

8. Madrid (Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour)

9. Tokyo (Tokyo by Night: Japanese Food Tour)

10. Bangkok (Bangkok Food Tour)

By: Maria Yagoda

April 23, 2018

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