Conscious Consumerism

Eat This Planet: Clean. Mean. Meat-Making-Machine.

eat, sustainableNick OgdenComment

This month has just scratched the surface of what it means to literally "eat this planet", there are a ton of more issues and topics that I would like to discusses but as per the rhythm of this blog we are closing this chapter for now. We have briefly discussed the really interesting new and innovative technologies coming out from around the world trying to make protein more sustainable through plant-based building blocks. We have touched on the carbon footprint of our grocery cart and how buying more locally can decrease how much emissions we produce by eating food. Last week I discussed the interesting world of soy, and some of the misconceptions as well as the fun booster-shots that meat farmers give their livestock. This week I would like to briefly talk about a really interesting protein topic: "clean meat".

Clean meats are actual animal meats that are grown in a lab from a very small numbers of cells. Scientists take these few cells, feed them, grow them, and then "bada-boom-bada-bing" you got clean meat! This is also called cultured meat. After being raised in the lab scientists take the meats out for dinner, a few symphony and opera shows, maybe a little hip-hop, and then try to sell it consumers. There are three main areas of clean meat that I would like to focus on: environmental impact, shifting meat culture, and food additives. 

Firstly, as I discussed in an earlier article our current rate of meat consumption produces a heck of a lot of emissions and is harming our environment at a really rapid speed. Having a stable, sustainable, and reliable source of high protein foods is serious business. Humans absolutely need a good level of protein in our diets to sustain life and for those of us that train physically the need is even more. Often, people use this as an excuse to not look at meat protein alternatives and stick to what they know and their regular eating routine. But there are better protein options that are going to be offered to consumers very soon! Compared to "traditional" agriculture meat, cultured or clean meat produces a fraction of the green house gas emissions, uses far less land, and consumes far less water. However, not everything is perfect. Cultured and clean meats do use up a lot of energy to be produced. With the innovations in energy creation technology really rolling full tilt. this will not be a worry for long! With any new product or service that will cause social mind shifts there is always going to be a bit of a slow take up. (Source: The Environmental Impacts of Cultured Meat)

In the North American and Western cultures we have a really skewed meat culture and it mostly focused on "more is better". Hardly ever is more better. A large barrier in the cultural shift to clean meat or meat alternatives is the actual branding and wording of the marketing on packages. Consumers had negative notions to packaging that had the phrase man-made-meat or had the world "fake" on the packaging. If the packaging had either "meat alternative" or "vegetarian meat" consumers showed a positive correlation to the packing and were more inclined to purchase the product. Marketing plays a huge roll in how consumers perceive the products they buy or do not buy. If clean meat companies really want to make an impact on societies consumption level of traditionally grown meat and shift it towards lab grown meat there is going to have to be some serious ground work laid first. I fully support the idea of lab grown meat but I think the hardest part for produces is going to be to try and change people's buying habits. That shit ain't easy! (Meet meat: An explorative study on meat and cultured meat as seen by Chinese, Ethiopians and Dutch)

One solid way that clean meat companies could influence their consumers perceptions around clean meats is through education around traditional meat additives. Due to the fact that clean mat is not "grown" in the regular sense and that all that is being produced is meat then their is not real need for any additives like hormones, antibiotics, and antimicrobials. This is a real big game changer because instead of eating a product that has essentially been vaccinated and super pumped full of additives consumers are eating, for the most, part strict meat. Research has shown that once consumers were made aware of the additives in their meat they grew less inclined to consume it and were more inclined to the alternative. If clean meat companies used this tactic as a major marketing tool there would be a mass migration of consumers. Usually informed consumers make not only better self choices but better societal choices. (Source: Importance of perceived naturalness for acceptance of food additives and cultured meat)

Creating a meat alternative that can be produced at a fraction of the environemntal impact of traditional meats sounds like a dream to me. I would most certainly try these clean meats and give them a run for their money. Once the meat market understands the potential and impact that clean meat will have on their industry there will be a huge shift. This will be caused not only by consumer demand but also from producer willingness to produce a more desirable product. I for one think this is a really cool innovation in food science and can not wait to see what happens next. 

Thank you for reading, and don't forget to subscribe!  

Eat This Planet: Soy What?

eat, sustainableNick OgdenComment

I am a simple kind of guy; I really enjoy the bad "dad" jokes and the puns that stick with you until dessert. Sorry not sorry for this articles tittle. 

This week I wanted to take time and discuss the heart and soy of the matter, the oh soy good food, the soyl of the earth like stuff. Soy.

Soy is an easy fan favorite for all those people who choose not to eat meat or choose to eat less meat and substitute something with a good amount of protein. Also, soy is a cheap alternative right now compared to Clean Meat, and the other plant-based protein meats that I have brought up this month. I do know however, that soy has been given a bad rap by a lot of people, predominately those people who argue that soy contains high levels of estrogen that could affect male hormones (in particular). I would also like to discuss the elephant in the room and discuss the amount of hormones and other administered drugs that people ingest through their meat and dairy that they don't always realize!. So lets delve in,

The biggest argument I get against eating soy is that it has high levels of estrogen that will alter the hormonal makeup of a person, altering their balances between the main two: estrogen and testosterone. Studies have shown that this is not entirely true. The science behind the human bodies absorption of estrogen is broken down into a few parts. Estrogen is only absorbed by the body when isoflavones bind to the estrogen receptors in out bodies, when there are little or less receptors (as in the male body) there is less of an impact on that body. The two isoflavones in soybeans are genistein and daidzein, which our estrogen receptors do not receive. However, our bodies can be tricked into absorbing the alpha isoflavones, which have a better chance of being absorbed. If you are a healthy male, with a close to normal weight, the alpha's will most likely not be absorbed. This being said, the studies that I have found do say that if you are a man that is over-weight or have already lowered levels of testosterone, your body can absorb some levels of isoflavones. This is a complicated issue, research is somewhat split as to what isoflavones can and cannot be absorbed and by who. My best piece of advise is to not over-do-it on anything. If you eat to much steak your bad colesteral will go up and you are going to have some bad news come your way. If you eat to much kale, the vitamin K will slow your kidneys are probably going to have a bad day. So, mix up your diet and stay true to the old adage: diversity is the spice of life. (Sources: Effect of Soy in Men With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Subclinical Hypogonadism: A Randomized Controlled StudyClinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: results of a meta-analysis

Oh bud, there's WHAT in my WHAT?! 

Ya, so sorry to break it to you (if you don't already know and if you're meat ain't "happy") but you are eating hormones pal. Heck ya! The beef industry uses hormones to beef up their beef and make them as beefy as beefilly possible. They swinedle you into thinking you are getting all this great protein, you are but with a few secret ingredients. Often, cattle raised for meat production is injected with antibiotics that have been linked to health risk and have only been given approval if the animal is under some sort of health risk. With that being said, there has been major advances in livestock antimicrobial, antibiotic, and hormone research. In the past, pre 2010, there has been very serious concern about the specific antimicrobial, antibiotic, and hormones used in the raising of livestock. This is still a concern but this has been a lesser concern recently. Hormone, antimicrobials, and antibiotics are still being used in livestock farming and this is a concern. This is due to the fact that using antimicrobials and antibiotics increases antibiotic resistant bugs as well as antimicrobial resistant bugs. This is cause for concern because due to the fact that when a microbial or bacteria becomes resistant to the drugs that are produced to fight them off more powerful medicines are concocted to fight them. This is the same for human focused antibiotics, using to many antibiotics actually leads to stronger antibiotic resistant bacterias that will be fought with harder and harder antibiotics... and soy the cycle continues. Again, I am not here writing this article to make people switch their entire diet but more so open people's minds about the food they eat and be aware of others. (Sources: Risk Assessment of Growth Hormones and Antimicrobial Residues in Meat, Antibiotic Resistance Doesn’t Just Make Bacteria Harder To Kill – It Can Actually Make Them Stronger

This have gotten a bit muddy and a little scientific this week, I know, but when talking about human diet and understanding what is in our food the discussion often does. As I have stated, I am not here to try and make anyone feel insecure or inferior about their diet; I am simply trying to expand people's understanding about the offerings that are put in front of them and their choices. I have stated and even harped about how much power we have as consumers on the global market and the economy. We have the power to rise business and cripple it. If you take anything from this article and anything from this month's topic, understand that you have power. Your buying power, your buying influence, and your buying choices impact global economies and global ecosystems more then your political vote ever will. I hope that you finish this article with a bit more understanding about protein choices and protein components that might deter you from buying certain proteins. I hope that you take the time and be a little more critical about your protein choices. 

As always, thank you for reading and don't forget to SUBSCRIBE

Eat This Planet: Local by Local

eat, sustainable, localNick OgdenComment

This month I have been talking about the importance of understanding our consumption choices and patterns when buying groceries. Last week we discussed the importance of having positive celebrities in our lives that ultimately influence our consumptions habits. By having positive public figures with immense social power in our lives to look up to, we are giving ourselves a better chance to be exposed to a more positive way of thinking and consuming. This week I would like to delve into the importance of supporting local grocery suppliers and the why we should pay better attention to where our food is actually coming from. 

Shop local. This has been a favorite campaign of local businesses here in Halifax for a while now and especially at our grocery stores. We see advertisements in our grocery isles with big signs that say "grown locally" or "produced in Nova Scotia" or I have even seen a lovely little picture of the farmer with a little blurb about his family to try and get me to buy his onions. This is good in all but what does it mean and why is it important? 

First off, I know that buying local produce can get rather expensive especially when heading into shoulder seasons, when we just don't have the resources to produce as much food. In the long run I would say sure, go buy the onions at the grocery store that have been sourced out of province but try and buy as much as you possibly can that has been grown locally or at the very least in the maritimes or close to where ever you live! Despite the whole economical point of it and the ripple effect buying local has, it has an even bigger environmental effect. 

If we break it down simply to transportation it is easy to think about how we are saving a lot less energy when buying at least somewhat locally sourced food then not. The distance that our food has to travel, in some cases, is crazy! If we are buying lets say broccoli, here in Nova Scotia we can easily grow broccoli in the summer and we can even grown it hydroponically but we can also import it from California. To travel 1 tonne of produce from, lets say, 500 kilometres away would maybe take 6 hours in a truck producing 1 unit of emissions. If we are importing the same exact weight of food from California to Nova Scotia we are looking at roughly 5,700 kilometres producing roughly 11.4 times the amount of emissions. Obviously this is an example with hypothetical emissions but the point is there. If we are buying groceries that are sourced closer to where we actually live then we can cut our eating emissions down incredibly. When it comes down to fruits and vegetables it is really easy to find out where it is produced and figure out how far it had to travel to get to its consumption destination. If we look at a box of cereal, things get a little mirky. Sure, it does say where the combined ingredients are combined to make the final cereal but it rarely says where all the ingredients are coming from.

Once we starting buying products that are made up of several ingredients it gets hard, as consumers, to track where our food is being sourced from. A brand like General Mills, Cheerios cereal, has taken steps to try and produce products that are better for their consumers by taking out genetically modified ingredients  which is great but doesn't really help their transparency. If we are really trying hard and venture to the "health food section" (this term irks be to no end) of our grocery stores then we are greeted with even more selection that might adhere to this discussion. A brand that I have come to dabble in once in a while is Love Grown, they were started by a young coupling finishing up their degrees in university who wanted to start a locally sourced grocery store. Now they have a whole line of products that are organic and "healthy" alternatives. However, Love Grown does not offer insight to their suppliers on their website or box. Again this is not a local brand, their products still travel a great distance to get to Nova Scotia. We do, however, have some little companies of our own trying to make an impact. 

I have been fortunate enough to work with one such company, Genuine Nova Scotia Oatcakes. Ken, the founder, strives to be as transparent about his products as he possibly can be. His suppliers are mostly in Nova Scotia with the exception of a small few coming from New Brunswick and PEI. He makes it a point to tell you about where his ingredients are coming from and he takes the extra step to tell you a little personal anecdote about them as well! GNSO is trying to change the way producers produce their products and interact with their consumers. They are breaking down the barriers between finished product and supply route. This is fantastic because as consumers we can clearly see where are the ingredients are coming from, who we are supporting a long the way, and know that we are making a difference by buying these products. This only one example but is a great bedrock to try and start a conversation around understanding the importance of buying local.

Understanding the brands we support and the people behind these brands is incredibly important. As I discussed last week, a lot of brands have endorsed people to represent them to their fans and the general public. We must take the time to understand the values of these people and of the companies that we choose to support through our consumption. Buying locally sourced or as locally sourced as possible will cut down our emissions without us really having to do a whole lot. I know that sometimes buying local and supporting locally sourced food can get expensive and sometimes time consuming but it is important. I will not sit on my golden thrown and throw shade at anyone, I know I buy foods that are not sourced locally but I try to support locally sourced food as best I can. Buying locally sourced food at the grocery store is great but head down to your farmer's market and buy directly from suppliers. Often the people working at the stalls are really nice and interesting people! You never know who you might meet maybe your new best friend, who makes oatcakes, is waiting for you and you don't even know it!

When we starting understanding that we create emissions by the things we choose to eat, it becomes abundantly clear the importance of buying local, especially at the grocery store. This ideology can transfer to more then our grocery habits but these are the ones that we preform the most often and can most likely be more easily changed.  

As always, thank you for reading, and don't forget to subscribe. 

Eat This Planet: Celebrity Integrity

Supply chain, environment, Eat, ecoNick OgdenComment

Welcome back November's series: Eat This Planet; all month I will be discussing how consumer's grocery habits impact the global community. This week I will be discussing the part that celebrities play in curbing social ideologies and buy patterns around meatless-proteins. Celebrities have a major role to play in the consumption patterns of their followers, if a celebrity comes out with a new beauty line or endorses a product often their fans will flock to outlets to purchase said products. This has negative and positive connotations when looking at consumption patterns through the lens of conscious consumerism and overall global health.

Celebrities hold a lot of power over their fans and can often create an ultimately destructive community built on personal self gain and not global gain. With this power many celebrities have built a loyal following not only through their careers but also through their values. Recently Beyond Meat, a meatless "meat" company that I talked about last week, announced that Leonardo DiCaprio invested in their company. This is great news for Beyond Meat not only has their consumer base grown to reach Leonardo DiCaprio's fan base, it has also given more of a platform for Leo to stand on. 

Leonardo DiCaprio is not shy of a "meat-less" world, he has help funded projects like Cowspiracy to Netflix and avid spokesperson about climate change. He has spoken to the UN about the need for legislation and critical action to combat the affects of climate change as well to commit to green solutions. 

These action are noble but are they the right actions? 

To this I am not sure. On one hand he is using his platform to try and influence not only world leaders to realize their position of power but also his fans of theirs. He is actively fighting for social change against climate change and the betterment of the world. On the other hand he using his position of power to influence his fans to following his way of thinking. This may not be a bad thing when marching to the beat of positive social change but this can lead down a rabbit hole of blind following. Celebrities often use their power of their fans to push personal ideologies and even their own products to their fans. When these ideologies aren't for any particular positive change but personal gain, I think we have a problem.

Looking at the market currently their are plenty of celebrities doing this, the one that comes to mind the most is Kylie Jenner, who's cosmetics are "cruelty free" are not vegan. Having a cosmetics brand that is cruelty free is great but doesn't mean a whole lot in todays market. When analyzing a cosmetics brand we have to think about what is the harshest critique we can give it, that would be the classification of "vegan". Generally, the classification of any product that is vegan has some basic principles: cruelty free, carbon neutral, PPP business model (or better), and zero waste. Kylie Jenner's cosmetics are not all these things. The point of the deviation is to show the harm that a celebrities social power has on society, because Kylie Jenner has her own cosmetics line those in her fan base that use makeup most likely went out and bought it. If these cosmetics where for the betterment of the planet then sure, go right a head, but they are for her personal gain. When we look at celebrities who are using their position for global positive gain and maybe some personal, Kat Von D comes to mind. Kat Von D has infused her values into her products, creating a cosmetics company that is (wait for it) "vegan". As she states on her cosmetics website, no federal legislation has be put into place to label a product as vegan but her company does a pretty damn good job trying to stay true to her values. Circaling back around to this weeks topic, Celebrity Integrity, I think it is important that no matter the size of the social power a celebrity has they should be using their power for the betterment of our global economy. 

Another celebrity that uses their social power to try and curb the world to a better place is Ellen Page. She is an active member of the Twitter community and is vocal about her values. By using her social media platforms she is sharing with her followers the values of respect, mindfulness, and equality (among other things). By creating a community that is informed and understanding of their power on the global ecosystem, Elle Page is doing at least something with her social power to curb society for the better.

Having celebrities use their positions in society is in some respects key to call upon greater positive social change. We must, however, always think about what we are reading and what the celebrities we follow are saying to us. If the celebrities that you follow are not aligning their values with yours, maybe its time to find new celebrities to follow. People like Leonardo DiCaprio are using their social power to try and positively influence social change. He is actively investing and endorsing positive movements to try and curb positive social change. By backing companies like Beyond Meat he is showing us that these forms of meatless meat proteins are out there and are worth implementing into our grocery patterns. Having celebrities with the integrity to put their money where their mouths are are important, it creates a sense of authenticity and real social power and having celebrities do this in a way that positive is even better. Jason Mraz, for example, has invested in Cafe Gratitude, who's mission it is to create plant-based substitutes for any occasion. Creating positive communities will create positive social change towards a less harmful consumerism society. Take a hard look at the celebrities that you look up to and think about what sort of message and values are they instilling on their fans. 

Thank you for reading and down forget to subscribe! 


Eating This Planet: Meet Meatless

environment, Supply chain, EatNick OgdenComment

Meat. I have not enjoyed a meal of meat in a long time. I have not enjoyed dairy in long time either (I am also lactose ignorant so that helps). I do not like the word vegan. I do not like the negative connotation that is always placed on the word and the stigma omnivores and vegetarians have of vegans. However, if you can expand your mind a little and allow me to show you some really cool "food tech" that could ultimately change the grocery game. I am not going to sit on a throne and dictate what anyone eats but I will show everyone who will look and tell everyone who will listen about cool new innovative things. Every meat consuming person should come to the realization that yes, the meat industry produces huge amounts of waste and ultimately means that you, as a consumer, are creating a lot of indirect and direct waste through your consumption patterns. SO lets talk about cool new innovative ways that you, as a consumer, can produce less waste and try some new products from people trying to change their piece of the world.

As a consumer, as a 24 year old male, as a young person in general I am easily drawn to really good marketing. If a company has a catchy catch phrase or a cool logo or a neat image on a post I will 9 times out of 10 click on what ever is put in front of me. If that company is doing so AND producing a product that I can get behind then that is even better1 Beyond Meat is one of those companies. Beyond Meat has taken meatless protein options to the next level, they have broken down what makes meat meat and recreated these building blocks with plant proteins. I don't even know. Just science. Essentially they have found a way to sythesize the proteins, at a molecular

level, and build "meat" out of plant proteins. I mean even create "blood" and "fat" from plants! Blows my mind. Their mission: 

We believe there is a better way to feed the planet. Our mission is to create mass-market solutions that perfectly replace animal protein with plant protein. We are dedicated to improving human health, positively impacting climate change, conserving natural resources and respecting animal welfare. At Beyond Meat, we want to make the world a better place and we’re starting one delicious meal at a time.

Beyond Meat has set themselves up to change the face of grocery industry and carve out a huge section of consumers. Creating a product like this, I think, bridges a gap between hard-core meat eaters and eating a predominantly plant based diet. 

The next innovation in food tech that I want to talk about is Sunfed's chicken less chicken. An Australian company founded by Shama Lee. Lee wants to change the world through her chicken less chicken. She has found a way to replicate the flavour and texture of chicken meat by using yellow split peas. Using a plant based substance to recreate a rather traditional meat protein is a hard thing to do but Lee has done it and by doing so she is creating a future with far less waste. By innovating an industry that has long been stagnant in any real big, earth altering, innovation Lee is contributing to a ripple affect that will change the way people view food. 

Nigel Latta tries Sunfed Chicken Free Chicken on What Next? and talks with Sunfed Meats founder Shama Sukul Lee Royal Thai Chicken Free Chicken Green Curry prepared by Chef JJ at The Lunchroom

Sunfed is creating ripples in Australia that are being felt here in North America. Creating a product with the next generation in mind is a major undertaking, both Sunfed and Beyond Meat are doing so in strides. 

As a consumer, you are wanting to reduce the amount of waste that you produce through your consumption patterns, maybe look at alternative protein sources. This new wave of plant protein, meat-less-meat, is opening the door for all people to at least think about alternatives when grocery shopping. These products are a little more expensive then the average "meat" protein source for now but if more consumers demand these products, more producers will step up and create. Following the law of supply and demand, prices will go down as demand goes up. Lets change the grocery world. 

Throughout the this month I will be talking about how our eating habits affect the overall health of the planet. I will show cool innovations like the ones talked about today and I will discuss much more. Next week I will discuss meatless in the media and how celebrities are jumping on the bank wagon to try and push a less meat intensive diet onto their fans. 

Thank you for reading and don't forget to SUBSCRIBE!