Thursday, April 17, 2014

Podcast Discussion: Monica Reinagel on Food Waste

With Earth Day right around the corner (April 22nd), we figured we'd put on our activist caps and spread the love for our wonderful planet! A big part of The Sonder Market's mission is to be local and sustainable, minimizing economic and ecological waste by utilizing local food sources. So, when we stumbled upon Monica Reinagel's podcast about the topic, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to bring light to one of the most important issues in our food system - waste.

Monica Reinagel is a Baltimore-based licensed nutritionist who has quite bit to say on a variety of different topics. She is the author of a book on health and dieting titled, The Inflammation-Free Diet Plan, and produces weekly podcasts under the pseudonym, 'Nutrition Diva', on a host of topics from weight loss tips to recommendations on how to squash that fear of public speaking. The explosive success of her writings and podcast, has brought attention to many of the important areas of the American food system.

Photo courtesy of: Pescetarian Blog 
In Episode 258: 9 Tips for Reducing Food Waste, Reinagel discusses the importance of mindful living and how Americans can make small changes in a big way.

Food waste is costing us more than we realize. According to the USDA, 31 percent—or 133 billion pounds—of the 430 billion pounds of the available food supply at the retail and consumer levels went uneaten in 2010. The estimated value of this food loss was $161.6 billion. 


These numbers are shocking, alone, but as Reinagel points out, what is even more shocking is the environmental degradation that people are largely unaware of. The factory style production of many of the foods we eat today consumes about 90% of the world's fresh water supply and 18% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. And worse yet, the inhumane conditions that factory farmed animals are forced to suffer are for not - as we are throwing away about a third of what we produce. These numbers are jarring, and make the issue hard to swallow. Keep in mind, though, that each any every person who participates in the American food system has the ability to make changes that will have lasting effects. Reinagel stresses this in her podcast, and provides a few tips on how to do just that. 

Tip 1: Plan your meals in advance. Meal planning cuts down over-buying, over-spending, and ultimately the amount that goes unused.

Tip 2: Re-purpose and EAT leftovers. So often we wrap our extra prepared foods up and store them only to forget about them and throw them away when they spoil. Re-purposing these leftovers into new dishes make them more palatable. Storing leftovers in clear containers makes it easier to see what you're working with, and more difficult to forget that they are there. 

Tip 3: Redistribute & compost items that you are not able to re-purpose. While consuming foods is better than composting, composting  is a much more positive alternative than throwing food items in the garbage. 
- compost --> reduce use of nitrogen based fertilizers

There are several other tips and tricks mentioned in the podcast, and many that we implement and appreciate at Sonder. While the numbers can be scary and overwhelming at times, we find it helpful to remember that you can do your part by being aware and mindful of your own personal lifestyle and habits. Even taking the time to read, listen, and learn about the issue of food waste is taking a positive step towards creating change. For more information and tips check out some of the links below. 

"Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have."

Jen Myers

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sonder's newest adventure: the POP Market

Sonder's newest adventure: the POP Market

The Pop Market. Not to be confused with the pot market. It’s really a bummer – I had just prepared a beautifully written article on the supply and demand patterns of marijuana in North Carolina. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately, depending on your beliefs) that’s not the kind of local, sustainable vegetable market the Sonder Market is working towards.

POP is actually an acronym. It stands for Pennies on the Pound, an adage that means getting a really good bargain on something that’s normally much more expensive. Farmer Foodshare, POP Market’s parent organization, works to ensure that lower income individuals can get such bargains on produce that would otherwise be out of budget.
Absolutely d'vine (coutesy of our instagram)
Why focus so much time and energy on feeding people who can already afford food, some might ask. Farmer Foodshare believes that the diets of the financially challenged do more to perpetuate the cycle of poverty than most people realize. According to their website, Farmer Foodshare believes that people perform their best when they feel their best, and to get to that point a person has to be fueling his or her body with fresh, healthy food. FF aims to break this link in the poverty cycle by freeing low income families and individuals from the highly processed, nutrition-bereft foods they might otherwise be economically forced to buy.

POP Market is but one division of this effort, but it’s the one that the Sonder Market has most recently formed a partnership with. The POP Market is a small sales hub that links farmers with nonprofits and makes sure that both ends get a fair deal. They communicate with about 45 local farms and 20 nonprofits. POP delivers seasonal produce from these farms several days a week, all year long.

POP focuses on sourcing from farmers who use sustainable growing practices. It therefore bolsters the market for environmentally friendly food and gives low-wealth communities a boost at the same time. By connecting people with their food and the farmers that grow it, POP is right in line with Sonder’s vision of a cohesive local food system.
The spoils of victory (courtesy of our instagram)
Sonder Market member EB Hobbs put in an order for Sonder Market team members about a week ago. Today the fruits (pun intended) of his labor came flowing in in a veritable cornucopia of beautiful food. The order consisted of jam, jelly, bread, kale, strawberries, juice, sweet potatoes, and carrots. I haven’t yet gotten back the verdict on the other foods, but my strawberries were so good I ate them in one sitting. I also got some sweet potatoes and kale, and both are absolutely lovely.

EB said the price was pretty competitive with local supermarkets. The only difference is that more of the money actually went to the farmers instead of pouring into a grocer’s profit margins. We got our food for pennies on the pound, and the folks who put in the hard work to grow that food were paid anything but. 

Corey Buhay

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recipe (Vegan)

On Monday, a bunch of us were thrilled to receive bags full of all sorts of tasty goodness, including leafy kale, hearty sweet potatoes, and best of all, ruby red strawberries... all local, of course. You see, we've decided to start testing out our produce acquisition by starting a mini co-op/CSA amongst the TSM members, and even though we've only done it once, so far it's been bonkers awesome.

Although I'll admit we got some strange looks as we stood outside in the rain squealing from excitement over our fruits and veggies.

With two whole cartons of strawberries wallowing in the fridge, I'm dreaming about this strawberry rhubarb pie. It's the perfect combination of tangy and sweet, and with dreamy pink rhubarb and strawberries simmered down in the filling, it's basically springtime in a pie plate. So give a big old thanks to colors and flavors and the farmers who gave you the ingredients to make a darn good pie.

* * *

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (Vegan)

For the filling:

around 3 cups strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced

around 3 cups rhubarb, washed and sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch chunks (NOTE: do not eat the leaves of the rhubarb; they are poisonous!)

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 Tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup cornstarch 

For the crust:

1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cane sugar

1/2 cup coconut oil, cool enough to be solid (it may help to place it in the fridge for a little bit before using just to make sure it’s extra solid)

1/3-1/2 cup ice water


Preheat oven to 400F and grease a 9'' pie plate. 

First, make the crust. In a food processor, place the flours, salt, and sugar and blend until combined. Add the coconut oil, cut into chunks, and pulse until the mixture is crumbly and will stick together when you press it between your fingers. Add the water, starting with 1/3 cup, and pulse again until the mixture starts to come together. Don’t let it mix completely into a ball; it should still be a bit crumbly so that the crust will be flaky.

Divide dough into two balls and turn onto a floured surface. Roll each out into a circle until it’s about 1/4-1/8-inch thick. Place one crust in the pie pan, pressing firmly along the sides. Set aside the second crust until adding the filling.

Now time to make the filling. In a large bowl, combine all of the filling ingredients, stirring until the fruit is fully coated. Pour the fruit mixture into the prepared pie crust, spread evenly throughout the pie pan. Cover with the second pie crust and seal the edges by folding the overhanging edges of the top crust and pressing into the bottom crust. Using a sharp knife, cut 4 to 6 decorative slits into the pie crust to ventilate the pie.

Bake at 400F for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F and bake for another 25-30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling through the cracks. Let cool a bit so that the inside can gel, then slice and enjoy!

Rossi Anastopoulo