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I think we can all agree that the ocean is not only devastatingly beautiful, but also simply miraculous.  It covers 70% of the worlds surface.  It houses billions of diverse creatures, including both the largest and smallest species on the planet.  It does all that and still has time to play a complex and integral role in climate regulation.  Without the ocean, humans couldn’t exist on this so-called  “blue planet.”  But I’m sure you already knew that.

Well, here’s something you might not know:  humans are destroying the greatest gift we have ever been given.  Slowly but surely our collective behavior and lack of action are poisoning our very source of life.

Today 70% of the world relies on the ocean for their primary sources of protein.  Because of this, in the last 50 years commercial fishing has eliminated 90% of predatory ocean fish like tuna, marlin and swordfish.

Since the Industrial Revolution the level of mercury in ocean waters has steadily risen 3% every year, which has wreaked havoc on marine plant life and animal life.

Enormous collections of garbage and non-biodegradable objects, tenderly dubbed “plastic islands” exist in every single one of the Earth’s oceans.  The “plastic island” in the Pacific Ocean is almost twice the size of the continental United States.  I don’t think I need to explain the effect this has on the oceanic eco-system.

Depressing, huh?

But WAIT! There is hope yet!  In the wake of these new and horribly unsettling discoveries a movement has been born.  Companies are using public relations to push people to think before they act and inform all who are willing to listen about the latest disaster our planet is facing.

In 2009 Rick O’Barry and his proteges released “The Cove”, a no-nonsense documentary about the effects of commercial fishing on dolphins.  In January of 2010 it won an Oscar.

Just last month DisneyNature released “Oceans” a documentary about the beauty of our oceans and our responsibility to keep them clean.

I believe that we are seeing the tip of the iceberg.  The very beginning of a large and expanding effort, spearheaded by public relations, to save our oceans.  I hope with all that I am that it works.

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Michael Pollan: journalist extraordinaire, first rate foodie, novelist and a source of continual hope and inspiration.

Earlier this week I purchased the book “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan.  A simple guide, broken into three categories, teaching its readers basic steps to eat well.  The book displays one sensible rule per page and challenges the reader to not only to follow the rules but to view them as a lifelong positive change.

As child obesity rates in this country continue to rise, and fast food burgers continue to get bigger and cheesier, our nation is in desperate need of a healthy-eating leader and Michael Pollan is just the man for the job.

“Food Rules” has emerged in the wake of Pollan’s other wildly successful food books, “The Omnivore’s Dilema,” “In Defense of Food” and “Botany of Desire.” It is the perfect complement to any kitchen and an easy way to learn healthy habits.

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How many times were we told as a child to “eat all your meat so you can grow big and strong”?  And how many ad campaigns these days play off the idea that meat is the ultimate source of protein and in order to build muscle you have to stuff your face with beef, pork and chicken?  Well, in the face of the 2010 Winter Olympics, I am here to disband these rumors and argue that vegetarians can grow big and strong too and prove that it doesn’t take a meat-filled diet to make a person strong, agile and athletic.  Here is a list of some of the most accomplished and decorated athletes of all time:

1) Carl Lewis: American track star who won 10 olympic medals including 9 golds.  His athletic career spanned from 1979 to 1996.  Lewis has been a vegan since he was a teenager.

2)Leroy Burrell:  American sprinter who set the world record for the 100 meter dash…twice.  He won the gold medal at the 1992 games in Barcelona.  He is a vegetarian.

3) Murray Rose: This six time olympic medalist was a vegetarian since birth.

4)Paavo Nurmi:  Often considered the greatest distance runner of all time this Finnish athlete won a total of 12 medals during 3 olympics.  He became a vegetarian at age 12.

5) Al Oerter: American discus thrower, won 4 gold medals.  He is a vegetarian.

Notice any similarities between these athletes? Ahh yes. Correct they are all vegetarian/vegans. So perhaps the key to a successful athletic career isn’t stuffing your face with hamburgers after all.  Maybe it has more to do with getting the right amounts of healthy, low-fat protiens, carbs, fruits and veggies.  All of which are easily attainable to vegetarians and vegans.

Carl Lewis sporting 4 of his 9 gold medals.

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Ok, so here it is… the pasta salad recipe:

4 cups organic whole wheat pasta

1 medium sized organic red bell pepper

1 medium sized organic yellow bell pepper

1/2 organic yellow onion

1/2 cup chopped organic flat leaf parsely

1/4 cup reduced fat organic feta cheese

1.5 organic avocados

1/3 cup “Organic Ville Sundried Tomato & Garlic Vinaigrette”

Directions:

boil water and cook noodles (ten minutes)

in a large bowl chop and combine peppers, onion, parsley and 1 avocado. In a separate bowl whip remaining 1/2 avocado until creamy, add dressing to make sauce.

when pasta is cooked, drain and let cool, then combine with sauce and vegetables.

Add feta and salt and pepper to taste.

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Mobile Technology

So today at 11:00 am I get a text from my boyfriend.  It went a little something like this:

“Do you want to go to a wedding with me today? Its an hour away and it starts at 1:00”

I respond with an enthusiastic “YES!” (I love weddings, always have, always, always will)

I figured an hour was more than enough time to shower, get ready, watch an episode of The Office on my computer and pick out an outfit.

It was only then that he texted me back with the following message: “Ok Great! p.s. its a potluck so we need to make something and bring it.”  Then the panic set in.  One hour is not enough time to pick a recipe, modify it to my liking,  go grocery shopping and  make a delicious yet savory meal for 30+ people… or so I thought.

I quickly jumped in the shower and threw on my go-to dress.  Moments later my boyfriend picked me up and we went to Sundance, the local grocery store specializing in healthy food.  Once we go there he asked what recipe I had found.  My heart sank, I realized that in my frenzy to get ready I had completely forgotten to find a recipe.

I stood motionless, looking like an idiot, for about 30 seconds until he calmly said, “did you forget to find one?” I shook my head yes.  “Oh, no worries” he said. “Just use your iPhone and look one up right now.” Ingenious.

Within minutes I had found delicious recipe for whole wheat pasta salad with avocado, bell pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, parsley and onions.  This got me thinking about the mobility of technology.  Five years ago, to use the internet you would have to plug your computer into a cable that would connect to a router that would take you to the world wide web.  Five years before that, you would have to wait for about 20 minutes while your modem dialed up and connected you to the internet. Now, I was able to stand in a grocery store and connect almost instantly to the web on a phone the size of my hand. Pretty. Stinkin’. Cool.

So thanks to this increased availability of the internet, we bought the ingredients, made the salad and got to the wedding on time.

The bride was beautiful and the pasta salad was a huge hit. Just in case you were wondering.

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We’ve seen it coming for weeks, stores are bringing in those bright red and pink signs and candy companies released their limited-time-only, heart-shaped treats.

Every other commercial is for a special treat for a special someone and flower shops all over this fine nation are ordering in double shipments of long stem red roses.  Yes, its that time of year again, when love and sweet treats fill the air, choco-holics fall off the wagon, and overindulgence (whether out of self-pity or celebration) is the norm.  Ahhh yes.  Valentine’s Day.

Personally, my goal to continue my commitment to a healthy lifestyle through out this most trying of times was shattered at around 9:00 this morning.  The struggle started when I stumbled across a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia in the freezer.  It was a good fight, but in the end my will power was no match for the sweet creaminess of B&J.

While I realize that as an adult I am responsible for my own decisions, I believe there is more to this relatively harmless mishap than meets the eye.  Known to cynics as the “Hallmark Holiday”, Valentine’s Day PR is no joke.  Companies spend millions of dollars each year researching and promoting their products for this one, simple day.  PR practitioners identify two separate target audiences: singles, and people in relationships; but the key overriding message is the same for both groups: its okay… go crazy… its just one day.  By urging singles to find solace in sweets and pressuring pairs to exchange sugary treats as gifts, no one is safe from the long arm of the PR practitioner.

It’s brilliant really.  Evil, and detrimental to my waistline. But brilliant nonetheless.

I realize that as the girl who eats ice cream for breakfast, I am in no position to offer advice, so I’ll keep it to a minimum.  Set a goal for yourself for Valentine’s Day and try your best to stick to it. If you fail, as I did, don’t be to hard on yourself, its just one day a year and there are larger forces at work here.

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As I write this I am sitting in my new favorite hole-in-the-wall: Hideaway Bakery.  A local favorite, this relatively removed restaurant is not only a healthy-eater’s haven, but the perfect eatery for the eco-conscious consumer (ie my mecca).  With an enormous selection of vegan and traditional goodies all made in an enormous wood-burning oven, a carboholic like myself has an impossible time ordering just one delicious delight.  For example, today I ordered a vegan carrot agave muffin, a potato doughnut hole, and a chouquette (an egg based, semi sweet pastry) and each one blew my mind in its own special way.  What, you might ask, makes this bakery so much different form any of the other vegan-friendly bakeries in the Eugene area?  Its simple really, the ingredients and the oven, that wonderful oven.  Hideaway has made a commitment to use organic, locally grown ingredients whenever possible to ensure the freshest ingredients with the fullest flavor.  Not only does this make their breads and pastries absolutely AMAZING, but buying local also limits the air pollution caused by shipping food long distances and supports local farmers.  A win-win-win situation if you ask me.  While the ingredients are fresh and harvested in an eco-friendly way, the oven is icing on this proverbial pastry.  Hideaway uses an old fashion looking wood-burning oven to make all their treats and uses wood from a local mill that would other wise be discarded.  The oven is turned on only once every twenty-four hours and all the baking is done in that time frame saving resources and limiting pollution.

For vegans and carnivores alike, Hideaway bakery has something that will satisfy your hunger and whet your appetite for more.  It is a delightful little diner with an affable atmosphere and an ever-evolving menu; the perfect place to spend a sunday.

Click here for some reviews from fellow foodies

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