MGU 59 | Earth Day

 

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to reflect on what is possibly one of the most controversial resources available to humanity: food? Food is indeed a precious resource as it is a necessity, but at the same time, how we generally consume food has to be scrutinized as the negative impacts of our habits are becoming more and more apparent. Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen discuss food: production, distribution, and most especially waste. This isn’t just some petty issue we can keep ignoring because as long as we have, the Earth’s condition has continually worsened. Jason and Whitney’s engaging discussion will surely have you reconsidering a few things about how you consume food, from shelf to trash bin.

Listen to the podcast here:

Food Waste Awareness On Earth Day

First of all, we want to wish everyone a happy Earth Day. It’s the anniversary of Earth Day. It started in 1970 and for anyone looking for amazing resources, recipes, ecofriendly living tips, the Earth Day Network has some great content that they’re going to be live streaming. You can check them out on Facebook and Instagram and all of the social media platforms. Earth Day Network has some awesome ways for you to celebrate Earth Day. We did an episode about how to celebrate Earth Month. We’re going to be sharing in this episode a lot about how we’re eating, about food waste, about some ideas for you to be more ecofriendly with your eating habits.

I saw an article from the New York Times about the massive food waste issue that is going on with farmers, restaurants, hotels, and schools. Here’s what’s going on. It’s fascinating to look at many of the nation’s largest farms are destroying millions of pounds of fresh goods that they can no longer sell because of the economic shutdown. With restaurants, hotels, resorts, and schools closed, it’s a fascinating article where it goes on and starts the article. It says in Wisconsin and in Ohio, farmers are dumping thousands of gallons of milk into lagoons and manure pits. An Idaho farmer has dug huge ditches to bury one million pounds of onions. In South Florida, a region that supplies much of the Eastern half of the US with produce, tractors are crisscrossing bean and cabbage fields plowing perfectly ripe vegetables back into the soil.

After many weeks of shortages and concerns about shortages in grocery stores and people scrambling to get the final boxes of pasta and spaghetti and rice and toilet paper, a lot of the big and medium-sized farms in the US are struggling with a ghastly effect of the pandemic. They’re being forced to destroy tens of millions of pounds of fresh food that they can’t sell because of the closing of restaurants, hotels, resorts, and schools. It’s left a lot of these farmers with no buyers for their crops. They’re growing all of this food. Unfortunately, they’re not having anyone to buy this. The amount of waste is staggering. We’re talking about one farmer who had to dump 3.7 million gallons of milk. This is heartbreaking. They talk about chicken processors smashing 750,000 unhatched eggs every single week.

When you step back after getting your meal on your plate, you see all of the disposable packaging involved. Click To Tweet

They say that these farmers have been donating part of their surplus to food banks and meals on wheels, but the donations are overwhelming and the demand is big that there’s only so much perishable food that these charities can handle with limited refrigerators and storage space and volunteers. The cost of harvesting, processing, and transporting all of this food is putting a further financial strain on the farms that have seen 50% of their paying customers disappear. It’s heartbreaking to read this because it’s something that Whitney and I have been passionate about for many years. I’ve been guilty of this certainly as I have at times bought too much food and wasted it or put it in the compost bin or whatever the case may be. This whole situation has gotten me to think more clearly about how I’m using food and storing food.

I’ve been making probably 95% to 99% of my meals at home, which feels great. It just shows how important it is to be mindful of how we’re using our food. It’s a complicated issue because we want to make sure that these farmers stay in business. If we don’t have farmers, we’re pretty much screwed. This food glut that they’re having and having 50% less business, it’s a complex issue. What can we do? We can, on a local level or a personal level, think about how we’re using fresh produce. One of the biggest things that I’ve loved and I’ve been using for months has been Imperfect Produce.

It’s a farm produce delivery box that takes produce and fruits and vegetables that would normally be composted or thrown away because of physical imperfections. They pack you this food and sell it for 30% to 50% less than you would pay at the grocery store. That’s been a huge way for me personally to curb my food waste. I’m happy to say that I have wasted very little food. Any of the scraps or pits or rinds, I’ve been composting. That’s been feeling awesome. I’m trying to do my part right now.

This definitely is a complicated issue and I’m curious if they went into deeper detail about why this is happening and what we can do collectively or a greater perspective. I had been seen as some content like this. It comes up on TikTok sometimes. There were videos of farmers having to dump. I saw one from a dairy farm that I found very disturbing because they were dumping milk in front of the dairy cows and I felt beside myself because it was such a slap in the face of these poor cows. They not only have to live out these lives in confinement and poor conditions and on and on, just the state of the dairy industry. They had to literally pour out all of this milk in front of these animals who are suffering as a result of it. I felt so frustrated.

I was reading through the comments and I had an opportunity to be compassionate instead of angry. I thought this was important because I do see a lot of anger coming up. How dare the farmer waste all this food. You would see the farmers defending themselves and saying that it wasn’t their choice. It was because of the companies that they were no longer able to sell to and how much in advance these farmers have to plan their food. Whether they’re growing plants or they’re using animals for food, they feel pretty helpless and they’re not able to pay the production costs. Milk has to be pasteurized and these companies cannot afford to pasteurize the milk that they milked from the cows, so they had to dump it, otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to stay open as a company.

MGU 59 | Earth Day

Earth Day: The cost of harvesting, processing, and transporting large amounts of food is putting a financial strain on farms that have seen 50% of their paying customers disappear.

 

I’ve also been seeing how a lot of meat-based farms are having to close at least temporarily because of this and how people were panicked that they weren’t going to be able to get their meat at the store. The media was saying, “Don’t worry. There’s still plenty of meat in circulation.” It’s been interesting. My feelings, as a vegan aside, about the meat and dairy industry is it’s been interesting to see all these bits and pieces, but I haven’t read into it yet, Jason. I’d love for you to share and as you’re sharing that, I’m going to look up and see if I can find any other specific tips about this situation so we can stay informed.

Part of my point here is not to make assumptions. It’s easy to see footage of something and make an assumption about why it’s happening and who’s to blame for it. This issue is part of a very big conversation, not just because of quarantine but a larger discussion about our food usage. To Jason’s point, there is so much that we can do as individuals to contribute less to the waste that’s happening with food and at least grows our awareness about what’s happening. Part of the benefit of this time that we’re in with the pandemic is that it’s causing all sorts of big challenges globally.

Those challenges are coming to the surface and raising people’s awareness more than usual. I don’t think a lot of people understand how their food gets to their plate in the first place. We can talk about that too, about where our food is coming from. The other cool thing is that a lot of people are taking the initiative to start growing their own food more so than ever. That’s another thing I see a lot on TikTok, but I see it across social media on Facebook, on Instagram. There are a lot of people in their twenties being proud of their gardens. Suddenly gardening is cool. That’s amazing that a younger generation is feeling proud of growing food and wanting to show other people. On that note too, I will say, I want to plug TikTok. If you haven’t heard me talk about this before, as a reader. TikTok to me is an eye-opening platform.

If you don’t know much about it, it’s short videos that people are posting about a variety of subject matters. It’s had a reputation for being this entertainment platform for teenagers and twenty-year-olds, but it’s so much more than that. I have learned and grown my awareness a lot as a person because people all around the world are posting videos. Especially since many people are in quarantine around the world. I am getting so much perspective about what’s happening in people’s homes or in businesses or as I talked about on the farms. I even saw a video on TikTok of somebody showing what it was to pack products at Amazon. I was watching the conveyor belts and how things go and the products that people order on Amazon. It is heightening my awareness about how people live, how things are made, what we are buying, and where things come from.

That’s incredibly important when it comes to the environment, understanding how everything that you purchase is originating from somewhere and not being so blind to that, I suppose. We live in this time where we have so much access to things. We can go on a site like Amazon and immediately order anything from all around the world. We’ve never had that before. The things that we can order for so cheaply, but we need to step back and think about what is involved with that. Why is it so inexpensive? Why is it so accessible? How is it able to be that inexpensive? How is it able to be shipped to us from around the world in two days, in some cases? With Amazon Prime, sometimes we take all this convenience for granted without understanding what goes into making it convenient. This extends well beyond the food, but we can definitely hone back into the food. I had a lot to get off my chest, I suppose.

You’re addressing a macro issue, which is the effects of rampant consumerism without consciousness. As we become more conscious of the entire purchase, distribution and creation cycle, we as individuals can decide where we want to vote with our dollars. Ultimately, in a capitalistic society, I believe that the vote with our dollars and where we put our economic resources and our financial energy matters a whole lot more than our actual political vote. I’m agreeing with you because I’m bolstered by the fact that I have also seen many videos of people on Instagram, a few on TikTok, of a lot of people tilling their soil and planting things.

I myself here at the house have some mint and strawberries and in the front, there are some nasturtiums growing, which are edible flowers. I’ve got three things that if I needed to cobble together a little bit of stuff for a salad, I could do that. It’s nowhere near what I see other people doing. I’m bolstered and emboldened by the fact that it reminds me of what I remember my Grandma Rose and Grandpa Walter talking about back in Detroit during World War II where the federal government was encouraging everybody to plant Victory Gardens. It was this idea of radical self-reliance that if we go to war and the resources are scarce, we need to feed our soldiers and we need to feed the people on the front line. It is similar in a way to our first responders and the emergency workers and the people out in the field doing the work to battle COVID-19. It’s eerily similar to that Victory Garden Program I remember my grandparents telling me from World War II. I love the self-reliance.

For the readers, if you don’t have the necessary access to a garden plot and you don’t have the ability to plant a bunch of fresh fruits and vegetables, if you do have a balcony or a small outdoor space, you could at the very least plant an herb garden or a few strawberries or something like that. That’s very easy to do or get a CSA box, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture. I mentioned that I’ve been using Imperfect Produce. In most metropolitan areas there is some form of a CSA box. To go back to your original question, Whitney, one of the solutions that are being suggested in this New York Times article about all the food being destroyed in the COVID crisis, is that a lot of these farmers are shifting slowly to local CSA programs.

They’re seeing that they can funnel some of the produce they’re growing rather than restaurants, hotels, and resorts. They are forming CSAs in their community. That’s one solution that some of these farmers are exploring. The other solution that they’re exploring is like Sanderson Farms is cooking meals and donating meals to organizations to cook those meals for emergency medical workers and first responders. It’s great that they are finding some solutions with starting CSA programs and also donating or cooking some of that food and some of that produce to feed first responders and emergency workers. There are some solutions being implemented for food waste.

I found another article that shares some solutions. To show what is being done, part of the issue here is because the restaurants haven’t been able to sell as much because they’re only able to do carryout or delivery. During this time, there’s been a lot of awareness around how you can get delivery through platforms like Uber Eats, Postmates, DoorDash, and Grubhub. We’re very lucky to have at least four different major companies giving us this access because we get to choose the one that we want to support. It’s important now but any time, to do some research on how each of these companies operates and make sure that they’re in alignment with your ethics.

I know there’s been a lot of awareness growing about how workers are being treated. Are they being taken care of? Are they being paid well? I encourage you to consistently stay up-to-date on the policies and are the employees happy and making sure that whatever third-party delivery companies you use if you do use them, is one that aligns with you. If you’re trying to save money, another option is that you can try all of them and get special deals. For example, I’ve never used Postmates myself. I don’t know if I’ve used DoorDash. Maybe I’ve used Grubhub. I don’t think I’ve ever used Uber Eats and that’s cool because I’ve been saving them. A lot of them, you can get a first-time client deal on them and I feel one day when I feel it’s important to me, I’ll use them.

During this time of COVID, I’ve been going and picking up carryout food directly from the restaurants. Some restaurants prefer that because if they use a third-party delivery company, they have to pay a fee. It might be convenient for you, but you also have to tip the driver. In the case of getting directly from the restaurant, you can tip them instead. You might be able to save some money. There’s a restaurant down the street from me that offers a discount if you order directly through them. As long as you are comfortable going to pick up at a restaurant, you might be able to get a better deal. There are some things to keep in mind and being mindful of where your food is coming from. Coming back to the waste point, this does help with waste because instead of the restaurants having all this surplus or not being able to order from the farmers or whoever else is providing them food, if you are continuing to get carryout or delivery from them, then you do contribute to that cycle of being less waste.

Another thing that restaurants are doing is temporarily transforming their spaces into a grocery market. This is very specific to the COVID-19 issue because of how much has changed, but we don’t know how long this is going to last. The governments are estimating, but nobody knows for sure when things will go back to “normal.” This might go on for a few more months or some places might permanently or indefinitely transform their businesses. It’s cool that restaurants are starting to sell things. There are a few restaurants in Los Angeles that are packaging up products in different ways. You can get certain foods in bulk like their sauces. You’ve never been able to do that in the past, at least not directly from their regular menu. Now you can go and buy a pint of your favorite sauce from a restaurant and take it home and make it or you might be able to get certain products directly from them. It’s neat how restaurants have become more creative and I hope that some of that does continue because that could certainly change our relationships to restaurants and supporting those businesses.

For me, it’s been a bit of a conundrum because there’s the desire that I have to support the restaurants, the cafes and the places that are offering prepackaged foods or sauces or soups. I have to admit that as I’ve been cooking 95% to 99% of my meals at home, I’ve cooked more in the past months than I can’t even recall. Maybe it’s been years or when I was developing the recipes for the How to Live to 100 TV show or the Eaternity cookbook. I’ve been cooking so much at home and I’ve noticed that I have felt so good. My digestion felt great. For the most part, I’ve had a lot of energy, but there’s this conundrum of wanting to go out and continue to support the restaurants that I love so that they don’t go under.

I can’t deny how good I feel and how creative I felt getting the farm box and cooking at home. It felt very resilient using mint from the garden, using a farm box from Imperfect Produce. I’m trying to find the balance because I’m saving a lot of money by not going out. I want to support the great restaurants we know and love here in the Los Angeles area. For the reader, you may feel that conundrum too. I’m curious, Whitney, what’s your ratio been of making food at home versus supporting local restaurants and local cafes? How has that relationship been for you?

It’s all relative. I would say I’ve eaten out a little bit more. Before COVID, I was finding myself going out to eat with friends a little bit more. I go through cycles. It depends on who’s in my life at the time. Socializing has led me down that path more. After COVID, it’s gone up and down in terms of me getting food from restaurants. I had dinner as taking out and it was more a desire to have something different plus being a lull in grocery shopping. I’m due for another trip to the grocery store. It went through this period where I was going to the grocery store a lot during COVID and then I started to feel nervous about my exposure, so I cut back in going to the grocery store. Now, I have to readjust.

What I did was go through the food that I had, and then instead of going to the grocery store, I use it as an opportunity to order out. I got Chinese food, for example. It was nice. I don’t know how much this specific restaurant needed business. One thing I think about is exactly where I’m ordering from, not just the category of food, but how long has this place been in business and do they seem they need support. Sometimes it’s hard to judge. In this specific place I went to, there were a number of other people there. Specifically, delivery drivers from Postmates or something like that were picking up food for customers.

The big thing though that I noticed is there’s the cost involved. It can be quite expensive. I went to a “higher-end” Chinese food restaurant because they have good quality food and their dishes can be pricey. If I think about a lot of that food and making it at home, it’s nuts. I could probably make it for almost 1/10 of the price if I was being mindful of my ingredients and if I had certain things on hand. If you’re used to ordering out food or even getting packaged food at the grocery store, if you start making things from scratch or close to scratch as possible, you will notice such a major difference in your food costs. Jason and I have talked before about how we did an experiment with this in 2013 about how to eat on a budget.

Extreme Vegan Cheapskates was the name of that video and we spent a week making food from scratch and trying to eat for under $5 a day, completely vegan and organic. We were blown away by how successful that was. Some days it would cost us $4 each for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That was because we would go to the grocery store and we would be mindful of what we are purchasing. We are purchasing fresh produce and dried legumes, nuts, and seeds if they were inexpensive enough, and calculating the costs. Going to different grocery stores allowed us to price match or price compare. We were mindful of what recipes we were making. Some of those dishes we were making will probably cost ten times the price at restaurants.

To your point, Jason, I completely understand the desire to save money. Going back to this Chinese restaurant that I went to, the other issue was all the packaging. One thing I tried to do when I order out from a restaurant is I try to support restaurants that are mindful of their packaging. Some of them still use Styrofoam or still use plastic. I never take utensils. There are very rare cases I need a utensil from a restaurant because I bring my own bamboo utensils with me when I travel. If I’m eating at home, I have those. Many restaurants will load up the takeout bags with plastic utensils and little packets of soy sauce if you’re getting it from an Asian restaurant, ketchup if you’re getting it from somewhere else. All those little packets of things that you probably already have at home, plus napkins, and then they wrap their food in plastic to prevent it from spilling.

When you step back after getting your meal onto your plate, you see all of this packaging involved. To me, that is a bigger challenge, too, if we’re speaking about the environmental impacts of our food choices. The amount of waste that goes into takeout food is pretty nuts, both financially and in terms of things that you end up throwing out. The value of the food too once you put it on your plate. It’s like, “Oh.” It’s a reality check. A lot of times when you’re eating at a restaurant, everything is so nicely prepared and it’s presented to you. It’s a whole experience. When you get takeout, it doesn’t look nearly as good. A lot of the food doesn’t even taste as good as takeout. That was something that I remembered. I’m thinking, “It’s nice to support these businesses, but the cost, the experience, and the waste are pretty nuts.”

The social media app TikTok has become a phenomenal resource for learning things. Click To Tweet

That’s apropos of a lot of the things we’re facing in society and thinking about where we’re putting our energy, our dollars, the businesses we’re supporting. When you pay for convenience, there are other considerations as you so brilliantly detailed with waste and plastic. I’m thinking about the graveyard of soy sauce packets I have in a jar in my fridge that God knows how old they are. I need to do something with all those old soy sauce packets. I wanted to jump back though perhaps if the readers are interested in growing their own food. I wanted to give three resources that our dear friend Adam Yasmin, who was a guest of ours and had a great episode about parenting, mindfulness, the power of tea and digital detox. It’s a great conversation with Adam Yasmin.

He and his partner Pamela are planting the garden in their backyard and they got their seeds from three sources they recommended. I want to pass those along to you, dear reader. One is Seed Savers Exchange Heirloom Seeds. These are rare organic seeds. They’re a nonprofit organization. You can order these online from SeedSavers.org. Another one is the Sustainable Seed Company, open-pollinated, very cool non-hybrid heirloom vegetable flower seeds, awesome seeds for vegetables, fruits, tobacco, and herbs. That’s SustainableSeedCo.com. The third one, another heirloom organic, multigenerational seed company is JohnnySeeds.com. If you are wanting to jump on the train of being sustainable and self-reliant and grow your own food.

If we’re talking about saving money, that to me is the ultimate way. Food security is a huge issue right now when we’re talking about all of this waste and where our food is coming from. If we can grow it in our own front or backyards or our balconies and do it from heirloom organic seeds, how much more sustainable and local can you get when it’s a few feet away from you? Also, the cost savings. Literally a package of these seeds, it’s unbelievable the yield that you get from the seed packets. If you look at something like broccoli seeds, they have around 7,000 seeds in an ounce and they’re $3.25 for a packet of seeds. If you want to get extreme, healthy, and local and save money, getting these heirloom organic seeds and growing them yourself, that’s the ultimate in my opinion.

One thing that a lot of people have pointed out about this pandemic is the awareness of how it’s affecting our environment. How the fact that many people are staying in their homes has led to less pollution in the air and in the water, fewer boats on the water, fewer planes probably flying, and fewer cars driving on the road. We think about our food and going to the grocery store less. People that are feeling tighter in their bank accounts, might be purchasing fewer things and less food. You start to realize we don’t necessarily need to do all of these things.

We don’t need to be spending as much money. We don’t need to be traveling as much. We can get by just staying in our homes and thinking about what’s necessary. That is one of the biggest blessings that we could have in this time as human beings. The word necessary has come up so much. It’s getting people to rethink what is truly necessary and reflect on what they need, what they want, and what they’re missing in their lives. That’s certainly come up a lot for me. Going into the mental and emotional well-being side of things, I’ve been reflecting a lot about socializing. Jason and I have talked about how I’m introverted and he’s extroverted.

MGU 59 | Earth Day

Earth Day: The amount of waste that goes into takeout food is pretty nuts, both financially and in terms of things that you eventually end up throwing out.

 

I’m sitting at home a lot, thinking, “There are times where I feel I miss my friends and going out to those meals that I mentioned,” but I’m enjoying a lot of this time to myself. It’s giving me opportunities to text my friends, call my friends, do FaceTime with them and realize the friends that I want in my life that I’m missing the most. Maybe some people that I’m thinking, maybe these people drain my energy more than I even realized. Maybe going out is draining my energy or my bank account. The other thing I’ve noticed is because I’ve been feeling a little financially tight, I’ve been spending less money and focused on generating more income. I have barely spent any money aside from bills. Whereas normally, I’d go out and maybe get a coffee or go to the grocery store and get a little treat for myself.

I’m now more focused on what I have. I can go into the cabinets and say, “I could make a meal from that,” or “I don’t need that food bar that I would normally go down the street to get at the grocery store. I don’t have it, so I’m not going to eat it.” Now, I’m more focused on what do I currently have in the cupboards, and what can I consume or what do I even not need to eat? That makes a bigger impact on my health as well. All of this rethinking about our lives and what we’re doing socially, what we’re consuming food-wise, what we’re buying, that whole awareness that we have when we’re forced or highly encouraged to stay inside. When things change for us financially and we have to rethink every single purchase. When our food systems are rapidly changing or temporarily changing, we have to rethink how we eat food and what food we eat and where does it come from. There’s going to be a positive shift as a result of this. I love that a lot of people are growing food that may not have considered it before simply because they’re recognizing the financial and health benefits of doing so.

I pulled up a piece of information from one of the websites I was looking at that says it has been estimated that 1.6 billion tons of food are wasted annually. According to world food waste, one ton of food waste prevented could save 4.2 tons of CO2 equivalent. When we think about all of this waste, whether it’s food, unnecessary spending, purchases online or grocery store purchases or restaurants, how are we wasting our time? How are we living our lives and what could the long-term benefits be if we simply shifted all of those behaviors into something that’s based on true necessity and true joy? It would greatly impact not just the environment, but our internal environment, physically, mentally and emotionally.

It’s made me think about this whole situation, Whitney, as you’re detailing it in that way about physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s made me realize that because I can’t distract myself from a painful thought or an uncomfortable moment by going and grabbing a matcha from Maru Coffee, my favorite. I can’t go there and grab a matcha and dull the pain. I can’t get out of a perceived boredom trap by, “Do you want to grab pizza and meet everybody at the pizza parlor?”

Do you actually do that, meet everybody at the pizza parlor?

It makes me sound like I’m a cast member on Beverly Hills 90210. I’m like, “Let’s meet at the Peach Pit, guys.” Who am I?

Can you please tell the readers about what we did? Speaking of matcha, have we brought this up yet? I’ll start the story and Jason can finish it. Jason had a few things to drop off for me and he came over to meet me at my place and we did our social distancing exchange where he put it out six feet away from me and I came and got it and then wiped it off with a disinfectant. What did I give you in return when you came over, Jason?

Whitney and I have this thing. We have a lot of things about food and specific things that we’ve loved for a long time. One of those things is boba. Boba is tapioca pearls that are typically put into an iced matcha latte or different sweet fun drinks. For years, we had fetishized a particular chain of boba that originated in New York City called Boba Guys. They came here to LA a few years ago in Culver City. They have one dangerously close to where I live near Downtown LA. Whitney FaceTimes I and she’s like, “You’re going to freak out. You can’t even believe what I did.” The FaceTime, she picks up and she’s in her kitchen with this grin on her face, like a proud French bulldog, looking like Bella. She shows me that she made boba from scratch. When I came over to do the physical distancing drop-off of goodies, she made me one of the greatest drinks I’ve ever had in my life. I told her to her face, “This is one of the greatest drinks I’ve ever had.” She used this tea that we got at this great restaurant, Shojin, here in LA and she made boba with it and iced it. It was legitimately one of the greatest drinks I’ve ever consumed in my life and that is not faint praise, Whitney.

I’m very honored that you said that, but for the reader, it was an empowering moment. It didn’t even occur to me to bring this up until Jason mentioned matcha because I had no idea that you could make boba pearls, tapioca pearls from scratch using two ingredients. I’m going to let you in on this now. I’m also planning to do a TikTok video on this because I post a lot on TikTok. Wellevatr has our own TikTok account. We don’t post on that very much. Anyway, so two ingredients. Water and tapioca starch sometimes referred to as tapioca flour. I happen to have that on hand because I cooked with it years ago. Our friend Jackie Sobon has a phenomenal recipe book. It’s called Vegan Bowl Attack!. Jackie is an incredible recipe developer and photographer and she combined those two in a book that came out years ago. She’s done another book or two since. She also did the photography for Jason’s book, Eaternity.

I remember buying tapioca starch for one recipe. It was at her fondue or something and I ordered it online and it’s been sitting in my cupboard for years. Hopefully, it hasn’t expired. I can’t remember if I checked the expiration date or not, but regardless, it still tastes and works perfectly and I figured out from a TikTok video. This is a shout-out to TikTok. It is a phenomenal resource for learning things. I learned how to make these boba pearls by combining that starch and water, rolling it together, shaping it, boiling it, and then you brew up your favorite tea. I had some loose-leaf tea from Shojin. Shout-out to a great restaurant, which is not super close to me, but they are a restaurant that I would love to support. Maybe I’ll go out of my way to order from them during COVID to make sure they’re doing well financially because God forbid that restaurant shuts down. They have this loose-leaf tea that they gave me for Christmas and it was a tropical herbal tea. I don’t know if you can buy it online. That is a must-visit restaurant in Los Angeles.

If there’s any way for you to support them from a distance, please do order from them if you can or tell your friends in Los Angeles or come and visit them if you’re visiting from out of town. They had this phenomenal tea. I brewed that up, added in the tapioca pearls that I made from scratch and then added in a sweetener and some ice. It’s super simple. Tea, tapioca starch, water to make the balls. You make those and you boil them. You make your tea separately and then add in a sweetener if you’d like, which is completely optional. It could be a three-ingredient boba tea experience. If you want to use a matcha, you can easily make your own matcha at home. Coming back to not only the reduction in waste but the ingredients are so much better. I don’t remember what’s in most tapioca pearls, which you can order online.

They’re probably $10, maybe less. I’ve bought them before at Asian grocery stores. They usually have dyes in them. They’re more than two ingredients for sure. Most of them aren’t organic. I used organic tapioca starch and water. Two ingredients, no need for dyes, no need for sugar. You can add in Stevia if you’re sugar-free like I am. Keep it incredibly healthy and super inexpensive. I forget how much I paid for tapioca starch, but it’s probably $5 to $10 max. You might even be able to get it in bulk if you live near a cool bulk grocery store and keep it on hand. You can add it to all sorts of other recipes. If you like boba or maybe you’ve never even had boba before, this could be a fun little experience. The big point is to save money, control your ingredients and learn something new. Plus, you get to bring joy to somebody like Jason by making them a cold drink.

I was honestly blown away. Also, there’s an ongoing joke that Whitney at some point wants to showcase her barista skills to the world, that there will be some platform or venue in which to do this. It will happen at some time because Whitney is good at making good drinks. I feel everyone defaults to me obviously because I’ve branded myself as a chef and went to culinary school. Your skills in terms of drinks and beverages and blended beverages, they’re good. In some cases, some of the stuff you make, I’m like, “This is world-class.” People don’t know about your barista skills.

I appreciate the compliment and I will say that sometimes we have a passion for something and it comes out in little hobbies. Sometimes those hobbies can also become careers. I do have a dream of opening up a cafe one day and sometimes I think, “Maybe I should make all my social media about making drinks,” but I don’t know if I have enough passion to document it that much, to be honest. If I had a team of people, I would probably enjoy making drinks all the time. Documenting it can be a little bit challenging. I will keep my promise and document the boba experience. I got a message or an email about making keto boba using agar-agar. I’m not kidding. For the reader, if you didn’t know this about me, I’ve done a lot of vegan keto and released a cookbook on The Vegan Ketogenic Diet. Tapioca boba is not low carb. It is on the higher carb side. I haven’t had much of it in the past couple of years since I’ve experimented with a low carb lifestyle. When I saw that you could make it from agar-agar, I got excited about it. I don’t know if the texture will be quite the same, but I’m going to experiment with that next, so stay tuned.

In our everyday life, we take for granted that we can breathe clean air. Click To Tweet

I’m excited to be on the receiving end of those results. Zooming out to a macro level, this time to slow down and contemplate life and be with ourselves and not defaulting to me running to the cafe or going to the pizza parlor or the arcade to hang out with friends, as if I ever go to the arcade or the pizza parlor. My point is these things that we all do as humans to distract ourselves, satiate ourselves, spend money in maybe unconscious ways. At the end of the month, we’re looking at our budget like, “How did I spend this much on food? How did I spend this much on going out to drinks at Starbucks or my café?” Whatever the deal is for each one of us. It’s a wonderful time to tap into these creative ideas and things that may have been dormant within us. There was a super interesting article from National Geographic that talked about during this time of rest and slow down, how many people are reporting vivid, visceral, crazy dreams. It’s a fascinating article. I’ve been having crazy dreams like weird, nonsensical, definitely interdimensional strange things with people I haven’t seen or talked to in years and strange creatures and different dimensions.

That sounds like a good episode.

Let’s put a pin in that and I want to reference more about the psychological effects they talked about in this article. Let’s put a pin in that for the future episode. The general gist of it was we are not leveraging our energy to be rushing off to work or staying in rush hour traffic or diluting our creative mental energy in the ways that we usually do. It’s freeing up our brain in different ways to have these fantastical creative ideas, which I’ve certainly been experiencing. We definitely should talk about those in the future episode because it’s been wacky and weird in dreamland.

That’s the ongoing theme for many episodes. We can’t stay away from it as much as we like to keep our episodes topical and not too specific, because who knows when you’re reading this. It is important for us to address what’s going on at the time that we’re doing this and make things super-specific. I’ve always had a perspective holistically on health and the environment. I believe that it’s not about the physical changes that we can make and the physical decisions such as our purchases and our food consumption and our other consumptions. All of those things that impact the environment on a level that you can see or touch. There’s another level to the earth that is about the vibrations, the feelings, the emotions and the mental stimulation side of it. A lot of people view that as woo-woo, which I doubt a reader would use that term if they’re reading this. We talk a lot about “woo-woo” things on the show. We tend to dip into a lot of spiritual side of things, but it’s an important thing to reflect on.

To your point, Jason, there’s so much that we can do to feel more connected to the planet. The more connected that we feel, the more in awe of the earth, the more grateful the gratitude that we have for it, the more that we’re going to treat things with respect. In an episode, we talked about cruelty to animals and violence to human beings. Something that came up briefly at least is how some people are so in their ego and so disconnected from one another. They’re out of touch with respect for animals and human beings that they feel it’s okay to be cruel. They feel it’s okay to be violent or they can get away with it or they’re not even fully realizing the impact of their decisions. The same thing is true with the environment.

I feel even more so because we take it for granted. We take for granted that we can breathe clean air. During COVID, we’ve had to wear masks. We’re more aware of the air quality and how we can get sick being within a certain distance from people. That might lead people to get an air purifier or a filter or thinking more about the air in general. We were thinking differently about our food choices because of this. We’re thinking more about how we’re spending our money. More people are grateful to be outside when it happens. They’re grateful to see the sky. They’re grateful for the rain perhaps. They’re grateful for the sunny days. We’re grateful for the change in weather. I feel more in tune with the weather than ever before because every time I go outside, I feel so excited about it that I noticed the change in temperature more than usual. I notice the way that the air smells and the way that the trees look and is it windy or not. We’re noticing so much. We’re noticing the clear water around the world. We’re noticing the clear air around the world. We’re noticing, that awareness of the earth can change so much within us physically, mentally, and emotionally. That is incredibly important. I hope, fingers crossed, that that has a massive ripple effect for the planet.

MGU 59 | Earth Day

Earth Day: The interwoven threads of a situation like COVID-19 and coronavirus are showing us the interconnectedness of the world, especially the domino effect.

 

This is such a beautiful summary of the interconnectedness of all things. We keep seeing the word interconnectedness and also not codependency, but cooperation. We’re seeing the interwoven thread of a situation like COVID-19 and Coronavirus showing us the domino effect and how similar our situations are. There are few exceptions depending on economic brackets and things like that. The overarching consensus is that facing uncertainty, unknown, doubts and fears, we realize the fragility of our situation as human beings on the planet and the fragility of the ecosystem and what we’ve done to it, but also our power. The skies clearing up and the water clearing up. I saw photos of Los Angeles and I was commenting to my mom, Susan, in over thirteen years that I’ve lived here in Los Angeles, I have never seen or smelled the air so clean here ever. I can’t even believe it.

After this, I might hop on my motorcycle and probably take a walk to enjoy the air. It’s a framing of how our actions have a compounding effect when you have nearly eight billion humans on the planet and not only the power of our actions but the power of our inactions. When we slow down, when we get more local when we start making more food at home when we get more cars off the road. How quickly that nature starts to heal itself. This has only been a few weeks and the skies and the water systems and the ecosystems are already healing. It’s mind-blowing. It shows how interconnected to all things that we truly are.

As we wrap up, I wanted to check in on one of the biggest voices and sources of information on climate change of our time, which is Greta Thunberg. I haven’t read about her much. I used Google search. If you didn’t know this, there is a great feature on Google or probably other search engines. Speaking of environmental, I know there are some much more ecofriendly and privacy-focused websites than Google. If you’re very conscious about that, you can check and see if they have a similar feature. I know on Google, they have a button that says Tools and when you click that underneath a search, you can choose the time that the content has been posted so limiting it. I looked up Greta Thunberg and anything that was posted about her because I’m curious how she’s been reacting to all of this.

She said, “It’s important to take heart from small successes and we need to see the victories, but we can’t only focus on the victories because we close our eyes to the actual crisis.” That’s important. We have to find the balance between looking at all of the things that are positive, but we cannot act as if everything is solved and everything is good. She also said, “People will try to use this emergency as an excuse not to act on the climate crisis and that we have to be very careful about that. We cannot shelve our action on emissions. If one virus can wipe out the entire economy in a matter of weeks and shutdown societies, then that is proof that our societies are not very resilient. It also shows that once we are in an emergency, we can act and we can change our behavior quickly.”

That is such a great point and that the big theme of this episode has been around our awareness and how our behaviors have changed so much. We have to stay focused on the big things, the important things, and we have to keep in mind this awareness. We can’t let go of it when things go “back to normal.” We don’t know if they will ever be back to the old normal. They may be a new normal. If we can easily slip back into old behaviors after this, in a few months, it will be a distant memory. Maybe, maybe not, we don’t know. It’s very easy in a time of crisis to get into survival mode, and then as soon as we’re out of that crisis, we go back to our old ways and that’s human nature.

We do that all the time in big and small ways. If you go on a diet, you’re completely changed and then you go off the diet and you go back to what you were before that. That’s why a lot of things are not sustainable. It takes daily awareness. One of our big themes in this show is ongoing awareness about the impact of your choices on yourself and other people physically, mentally, and emotionally. I hope that this has inspired you. I hope that what we discussed previously about Earth Month has reminded you it’s not just about celebrating a day or even a month. It’s about keeping the environment in mind all the time and how each of your choices makes an impact and has a ripple effect on all sorts of people, plants, and animals.

I want to give a small shout-out again to the Earth Day Network because they’re going to be running all day on Earth Day, the anniversary celebration. They’re streaming content from eco-friendly, plant-based recipes to how to plant a garden, to how to get more active in your local community and do more eco-friendly activism. I also have a recipe segment that is going to be running on their Instagram and Facebook. I have what to do with quarantine cooking and what to do with some basic amazing plant-based ingredients you have in your kitchen. A little shout-out to me and the Earth Day Network. If you, the reader, want to pick up some more eco-friendly local cooking tips, I’ve got them for you. Tune into Earth Day Network on Instagram and Facebook to check those out.

We are here to provide inspiration and education to you. To learn more, to read other episodes, to find all the resources, the books, everything is on our website. You can go to Wellevatr.com. That is our main homepage. That has our free eBooks and our free training. There’s a lot of free content on there. We also have online courses Wellness Warrior Training that help you work on your personal wellness, your professional wellness, which also has a ripple effect on the wellness of the entire planet.

We would also love to be connected with you. There’s a comment section. You can leave comments, you can share your insights. If you have more resources you want to add, please put with them in there so we can continue the conversation. We also would love to converse with you on social media. You can find us @Wellevatr and we are there on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, all the different platforms, sharing these resources, connecting with you. You can private message us if you’d like. You can also email us at [email protected]. Join the community at Patreon. We know this is a lot of information but we want to give you a lot of different ways to be connected with us and Patreon is one of the most intimate, connected ways and you can get all sorts of perks.

We have things that we’re adding. We decided that we’re going to add on some well-being coaching for our patrons to give back to them as much as possible and thank them for their generosity. If you would like that or the upcoming merchandise that we’re working on or access to bonus episodes, unedited episodes, videos that we’re doing, that is all on Patreon for you. We look forward to being connected to you in whichever way you would like. We hope that you enjoyed this episode. Stay tuned for another one coming up. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any of them. We release three a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. We are so grateful to have you as a reader. Happy Earth Day and we’ll be here for another episode very soon.

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