Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy weekend, friends! I’m writing the gorgeous city of Chicago, where I’m here to co-present a study abstract that I co-authored with the gastroenterologist I work for at Digestive Disease Week. It’s been 24 whirlwind hours of endoscopy demos and biliary disease and other such topics. While I prep for our poster talk, here are some of the recipes and articles that caught my eye this week.


Hannah Kaminsky does it again with this whimsical, playful, and absolutely beautiful endive, artichoke and strawberry salad.


Ricki’s collard wraps with curried carrot pate are just my kinda jam. I haven’t made collard wraps in a good long time, and now I’m inspired. Thanks, Ricki!

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Simple is beautiful. Richa’s easy spiced peas with tomato sauce are a wonderful way to celebrate fresh green peas this spring, and they’d make a killer appetizer, too.


Tomorrow is Cinqo de Mayo. Celebrate the day with Cara’s ridiculously awesome roasted heirloom tomato salsa. I would probably eat this stuff by the spoonful.


And of course we can’t forget dessert. Heathy has outdone herself with these raw chocolate raspberry brownies. How she manages to make her raw desserts look that good, I’ll never know, but I sure do like to marvel at her skillz.


1. I had been vegan for years before I was really made aware of the reasons why vegans avoid zoos. I’ve heard some defenses of zoos as agents of conservation and education, but I don’t find them persuasive overall. Meanwhile, with each year that goes by, documented cases of abuse and cruelty surface from these institutions. This article, via The Globe and Mail, presents some sobering examples.

2. Speaking of sobering, a look at a massive meat recall (9 million pounds) from a Northern California ranch earlier this year, and how it came to pass.

3. A white paper report from the Center for Food Safety (CFS), a non-profit, suggests that the USDA isn’t paying adequate attention to animal welfare in organic egg-laying operations. The report criticizes the USDA for not enacting recommendations for animal welfare improvements made in 2011 by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The report claims that the five largest certified organic egg-laying operations in the US are responsible for numerous affronts to animal welfare; cages aren’t allowed on organic farms, but in their absence chickens continue to live on top of each other, piled into airless quarters and awash in their own excrement. Debeaking continues to take place.

“When most people think of organic operations, this is not what comes to mind,” says Paige Tomaselli, who is a senior attorney for CSF. Rodale’s coverage of the report states,

The only real stipulations the organic program sets for egg-laying operations is that birds do, in fact, have access to pasture, but the amount and quality of “outdoor access” has never been defined. The “outdoors” could be nothing more than a concrete pad. Debeaking is also allowed. However, when animal welfare standards were first defined by the Organic Foods Production Act in 1990, the organic livestock industry was still in its infancy, says Tomaselli, and the goal then was that the standards would be improved upon continuously.

In its 2011 recommendations, the NOSB defined “outdoor conditions” very specifically, noting that they should include open air and direct sunshine, and that wood, metal, or concrete “porches” don’t meet the criteria for true outdoor access. In addition, NOSB set specific space requirements that egg layers must have both  indoors and out as well as criteria for the amount of vegetation birds would have access to once they get outside. Debeaking would also be prohibited after 10 days of age.

According to both CFS and the USDA, most small organic operations already meet the new proposed standards. But thanks to the USDA’s allegiances to big operators, these new standards won’t formally be part of organic rules for some time to come, says Tomaselli. “The single fact that an organic label is on a carton makes consumers think there’s a higher standard. What we want to do is alert people to the fact that that’s not the case.

Not the case, indeed.

4. Compound Chem is a blog written by a graduate chemist and teacher in the UK. The site features graphics looking at the chemistry and chemical reactions we come across on a day-to-day basis. It’s very charming. I particularly liked this infographic on how to spot bad science. Of course it’s the nature of research work that conflicts of interest arise, that results are sometimes speculative, sample sizes are small, and so on; the very abstract I’m presenting today at DDW happens to have a tiny sample size of twelve patients. But it’s very important for consumers to have a toolkit by which to distinguish which published studies are worthy of attention and further consideration, and which may be too biased or sensationalized. I’m trying to hone my own skills in this department every day–it’s a necessary skill in the nutrition space!

5. Finally, did you see that Beyond Meat passed a major taste test on GMA with flying colors? So, so cool.

Before I go, a few ICYMIs:

2014-0422_gena_tahini-2-ways-016 2014-0422_gena_tahini-2-ways-020

I’ll be back soon, friends.


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