"The ethical decision is always the fearsome decision. When something matters enough that we are afraid of the consequences–afraid that even the honorable choice could result in harm or loss or sorrow–that’s when ethics are involved."
Henry W. Bloch, The Importance of Ethics

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Lose the Can Opener: Black Beans

When I started this homemade black bean project I assumed that I could not flavor my beans enough to taste as good as the canned beans that I usually buy. I found that the fresh black beans do not actually need much flavoring because the beans have a fresh flavor that I didn't even know existed! The canned beans rely on large amounts of salt and other seasonings to make up for the lack of freshness.

To make your own homemade black beans:

    1 C dried black beans
    1 onion, roughly chopped
    2 cloves of garlic, chopped
    1 tsp cumin
    1 tsp ground sage (to help reduce gassiness caused by beans)
    1 bay leaf
    1 tsp apple cider vinegar
    salt and pepper to taste

  1. Soak one cup of dried beans overnight in a large container with plenty of water covering the beans.
  2. Drain the beans and wash them well.
  3. Put the beans in a pot with the onion and 2 cups of fresh water. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. (Add more boiling water as necessary).
  4. Add the garlic, cumin, sage, and bay leaf, and continue simmering for another half hour.
  5. Test the beans for tenderness, some should have cracked, but they should not be mushy.
  6. Add the vinegar at the end. Salt and pepper to taste.

Notes: my soaking and cooking times are based on the super-fresh beans I purchased at the farmer's market, beans purchased in bulk at the grocery store will need to cook for substantially longer (Total simmering time may be as long as 2.5 hours)! It is important to keep a close watch on your beans!

Black beans are a staple at our house. My go-to lunch often consists of canned Bush's Best Black Beans on a tortilla with cheddar cheese and, if I'm lucky, hot sauce from my favorite Mexican restaurant in Colorado Springs.

When we were at the farmers market a couple of weeks ago we stumbled on fresh dried black beans, and I knew that this had the potential to be my first shift toward a more sustainable product. As far as I can tell, the Bush's company is ethical in its treatment to laborers, selecting their beans from farms around the United States, so I will confess this may not be the major change I am hoping for in my consumer practices, but it's moving toward something like it.

At the very least making your own black beans has some environmental benefits: eating local produce saves energy resources used to transport the products, this applies to the black beans as well as the onions and herbs used to flavor them. Also-- fresh just seems healthier than canned.

After making the homemade black beans, we decided to go full out and make homemade tortillas and mexican style rice to go with them! The results were AMAZING.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Health Benefits of Eating Fair

I'm not sure how much I trust Buzz Feed, but the following article did get me thinking: 8 Foods We Eat that are Banned in Other Countries.  How is it that we as Americans know so little about the poisons in our food?
Where do you want your food grown?

We've been bombarded with the lie that processed foods are somehow more efficient than fresh foods. How is forcing our bodies to process non-food items in order to save a few minutes more efficient than filling our bodies with actual food that nourishes us and gives us energy? And it's not like the above information is ground breaking news-- we know that many processed foods are full of poison! What's shocking is that we accept this information and keep eating them!

Even as I write this I am daydreaming of pink frosted doughnuts. The delicious sweetness layered on soft fluffy cake and topped with sprinkles. A concoction built from wheat so processed as to lose all nutritional value, fried in genetically modified canola oil (Non-GMO Project), and topped with pink chemicals developed in labs. Yum? Yet, in the coming weeks I wouldn't be surprised if I experience
temporary amnesia and eat one of these non-food wonders.  Something is seriously wrong here.

Though, perhaps this inability to be as good as we want to be isn't ground breaking news either. In fact, it's Biblical-- "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do," Romans 7:15. It's human nature to go against the best interest of the world around us (and ultimately ourselves), but now we have money machines, companies that truly don't give a damn about our health or well-being, manipulating us into thinking that something as ridiculous as eating the petroleum-based chemicals found in artificial food dye is acceptable!

Thankfully, my desire to take care of my own body is in good company with my desire to buy fair-trade and organic products. It's been my personal observation that companies that care a little more about the world around us care about our health a little more too. Though fair trade is more expensive, I'd rather give my money to people who are looking out for my best interests than people who use my money to further confuse me with their mass-marketed non-foods.