Return to the Daily Churn: Ex-Virtual Worker’s Guide to Office Reentry

I recently took a new job that requires me to go to work every day. If you’ll remember, I started working from home over a year and a half ago. I was nervous about eating ice cream every 15 minutes with such easy access to my freezer.

I manged to work through it, loving the freedom from schedules and getting the opportunity to make my own lunch – fresh – every day. While I miss my pajamas, I adore my new gig and also found some new ways to deal with the distance from my own kitchen.

Thermos Nissan Stainless Steel Backpack Hydration Bottle

This is seriously no fucking joke. This thermos keeps things so fucking cold that I’m nervous this device is illegal. Ice cubes stay frozen for over 24 hours. It is legit and will keep you from constant runs to the water cooler. (It’s better just to IM your coworkers anyway.)
(Photo: Meijer

Chobani 32oz Greek Yogurt

I’m not gonna eat breakfast before I leave for work. I’m just not. Instead, I keep a big tub of yogurt in the office fridge and pour a few spoonfuls into my from-home bowl; I also brought in a spoon. The giant portion makes it easy to eat however much I’m hungry for and cuts down on all of packaging that comes with individual serving containers.
(Photo: Chobani

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Where’s the Toothpick? Lessons in Sustainability at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

I saw cheese. I wanted to try. I couldn’t figure out how. Where were the toothpicks?!?!

While in San Francisco last month, my guide Justin took me to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Browsing the strange, west coast juxtaposition of (summer) tomatoes—which are grown without water and is apparently a thing out there—and (winter) squashes and (tropical) avocados, brought this Northeasterner much pleasure and jealousy. But I found my curiosity pointed to a particular paper product.

I saw a stack of thin paperboard (pictured above) where a cup of toothpicks should have been. We got to the market late. My stomach growled. I needed samples to carry on, but my cross-country journey left me with little brain capacity.

How. To. Eat. Cheese. Where. Toothpick. Caveman thoughts bounced around in my head.

What. Is. Paper. Thing.

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Top Chef Masters Exit Interview: Episode 1

As we say farewell to Top Chef All-Stars, we turn our attention to the newly revamped Masters. No longer will Kelly Choi grace our screens as she has been replaced by Aussie chef Curtis Stone. With him he brings the traditional format that we know and love in Top Chef — no more counting points, just plain and simple quickfire and elimination challenges — and we were in for a treat as the first episode was Restaurant Wars.

Keep reading to hear what the first eliminated chef had to say.


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Meat TV: How Steak Becomes Steak

The Perennial Plate Episode 14: Meat from Daniel Klein on Vimeo.

I almost feel blasphemous for this post after forkitude’s great article earlier last week about the inordinate amount of meat the average American eats. Don’t get me wrong, I firmly agree that our intake is out of whack and personally make a point to only consume red meat once or twice a month. However, I also believe a nice cut of beef with a simple pan sauce is one of the greatest things in the world and probably why we have canine teeth.

But I also know a lot of you believe in knowing more about where your meat comes from. The video above, from The Perennial Plate, offers a brief glimpse into a Minnesota meat processing plant that provides locally sourced, grass fed beef to their community. For a blunt look at the (after)life of a steer, press play above. The video is a fairly graphic, so it probably shouldn’t be watched by the squeamish or those at work, but isn’t that what the internet is for?


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Meatless Monday: Will You Go Meatless For A Day?

Here we go again: conflict in the Middle East and the discussion incessant bitching about gas prices. I can hardly wait until the summer travel season. With a barrel of oil topping $100 for the first time since 2008 (my muscles start to twitch as I remember this era of my finance career), it’s a great time to talk about why our industrial meat system burns my bacon. I still wonder out loud why the average person hasn’t made the broad connection between meat consumption, the environment and the world’s resources.

Mark Bittman got it right three years ago in his New York Times article Rethinking the Meat Guzzler:

Growing meat (it’s hard to use the word “raising” when applied to animals in factory farms) uses so many resources that it’s a challenge to enumerate them all. But consider: an estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which also estimates that livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation.

As 925 million people in the world suffer from malnutrition he points out the following:

…about two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, according to Rosamond Naylor, an associate professor of economics at Stanford University.

This brings me to my question: will you go meat free for a day?

There are a swath of Meatless Monday participants around the country including Baltimore Public Schools, Sodexho, and University of California Davis. The effort, started in 2003, is in large part directed at public health (heart disease and high cholesterol), but I would argue that we should take a moment to examine our eating patterns.

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What Is Your Government Doing to Protect Small Farmers from Big Food?


It’s no secret that we ES-ers are all for locally sourced, minimally processed food. You may remember forkitude’s post about how big food conglomerates have an outsize say in what America eats. Clearly, we’re wringing our collective hands about such things. But apparently, not everyone agrees. I had an interesting conversation on this matter last week and received the surprising response that I was anti-business and a “borderline hippie.” I find it interesting how divergent food views have become and how efforts at improving the quality of food are often ridiculed or even worse, politicized.

Surprisingly, it appears our government may actually be listening. The US Department of Justice and the USDA recently convened a series of public workshops exploring corporate concentration and competition in food and agriculture. The five meetings, led by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, included discussions about the dairy, poultry and livestock industries and how corporate food is affecting small farmers and consumers.

While we do not know yet if these meetings will yield any real change, it was impressive to see how many small farm and community groups made sure they were heard. The big industry voices were not present, but that may be because they can relay their opinions through other channels (like lobbyists). Here are a few of the topics touched upon:

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The Evolution of the Reusable Tote

whole foods six pack beer bag

It’s comparing presents time. 80P and I just got back from our long winter break, bringing back to the apartment new jackets (him), cardigans (me, although I really wish he would cave to that trend!) Converse sneakers (him), over-the-knee boots (me), and for both of us, a  Blu-Ray player (thanks 80P’s parents!)

As we took a couple hours to put everything away, I noticed a most adorable Whole Foods reusable tote bag. 80P’s mom filled it with gifts of sake. But it was no ordinary tote – there are interior dividers, morphing the bag into a reusable 6-pack container.

In fact, could there be more totes going on right now? DC charges per use of plastic bag (and gives the proceeds to the Anacostia River Protection Fund) so you will see plenty of shoppers lugging totes around to not only the farmers’ markets, but to grocery stores as well. But I’ve yet to see a clever upgrade of the tote. And as the girlfriend of a boy that is always bring a mixed-beer pack to friends’ houses, I’m excited by this development.

And while claims exist about reusable totes’ unsanitary qualities, this must be better for our lives than all that darn plastic.

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