Low carbon footprint foods 

One of the most memorable articles, I read this year featured the pioneer of a trend that took years to gain traction. Ultimately, defining a new relationship trend and expectations of what we eat, long before we had the notion of global warming and vaguely understood the greenhouse effect. 

Frances Moore Lappé was named the Godmother of plant-based living. Now, she is a 77-year-old and watched mesmerized a world she helped transform from her comfortable home in Belmont, Massachusetts. Although, Eunice Newton Foote first introduced the concept greenhouse phenomenon one hundred years before by demonstrating how carbon dioxide in the air could influence global temperatures. 


Godmother of plant-based living

Frances Moore Lappé

Steven Kurutz of the NYT did a good job introducing a woman to millenniums that transformed the world when she published her book "Diet for a Small Planet" fifty years ago. Which the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History describes as "one of the most influential political tracts of the times." 

"The real cause of hunger is the powerlessness of the poor to gain access to the resources they need to feed themselves."  

She still sustains that Americans overeat meat, especially beef, and that our meat-centred meals are an enormous waste of resources. Our bodies and the planet would be healthier if we ate a plant-focused diet instead. In September, an anniversary edition published celebrated fifty since the first edition of her iconic book. 

Hope is not wishful thinking.

Going veggie is not easy and being a plant-based cook takes time. I know because I am an enthusiast cook and a baker who loves everything related to the cooking process, from buying groceries to preparing and cooking. I am delighted to see people enjoying my creations. Well, there are not my creations. They are recipes inspired by other people that are passionate about the kitchen.

I cook recipes I learn from others who also enjoy cooking. Mark Bittman's straightforward vegetarian Paella is a success every time I make it. 

Also, I have become a celebrity with family and friends with the No-Knead Bread recipe I picked up from Mark over fifteen years ago from his minimalist column in the NYT. Everyone enjoys the bread. I strongly suggest that everyone try his proven No-Knead Bread recipe during the holidays and become an instant celebrity. It is fun.

By the way, Mark Bittman popularized Jim Lahey No-Knead Bread recipe in his column in the NYT. If you wish to try, watch his how-to video. Jim returned to New York City in 1994 from Italy, and he opened Sullivan St Bakery in Sullivan St. in Manhattan. Mark and Jim created a Cult of bread-making that keeps growing.

The evolution of farming.

Most of the meat, fish, dairy, eggs, fruits, and vegetables available in supermarkets come from intensive industrial agriculture enterprises. Many consumers are dissatisfied with the processes used and lack of regulations.  

But these days, hydroponic produce such as strawberries, leafy greens, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers are grown in vertical farming and welcomed by consumers. 

Dubai Farm

UAE supermarket indoor vertical farm.

It surprised me how quickly consumers raised their expectations about freshness, low carbon footprint, and availability. Since the plants are growing inside, the supermarkets have total control over the supply.

Farmers have slowly settled for other crops on demand instead of competing against the leafy products produced at the supermarkets. I also see advantages as the hydroponic plants don't need pesticides. Therefore, they can be labelled organic.

High tech - Green goes vertical.

The Kroger Co. rolled out produce from vertical farm 80 Acres Farms to more than 300 stores early this year. 80 Acres Farm operates four massive robot-powered indoor farms in the greater Cincinnati, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Alabama. 

The arguments are many for this intensive modern style of farming. The company said automation and analytics enable 24/7, harvest the produce at its peak of freshness, and provide over 300 times more food than a conventional farm, 365 days a year. At the same time, eco-friendly farming methods use 100% renewable energy, consume 97% less water, and are pesticide-free. 

Meanwhile, in Canada, Sobeys, owned by Empire Company Limited from Nova Scotia, introduced vertical farming in their supermarkets using technology from German-based company InFarm - Indoor Urban Farming GmbH. Empire Company also owns Farm Boy, FreshCo, Longo and Voilà with its state-of-the-art automated Customer Fulfilment Centre in Vaughan, Ontario.


Sobeys Supermarket with InFarm technologies

In the UAE, Badia Farms started a farming revolution with the first indoor vertical farm near downtown Dubai. The company is proud that leafy produce is harvested and packed just hours before it reaches the kitchens of five-star hotels and restaurants. 

Another enterprise, short of a miracle, is Pure Harvest Smart Farms in Abu Dhabi successfully adopted vertical farming. Since a fact-finding trip to the Netherland in 2017, Co-founder Sky Kurtz decided to invest in this Controlled Environment Agriculture technology. 

Abu Dhabi

Sky Kurtz, Pure Harvest Smart Farms, CEO.

They demonstrated that the UAE could reduce fresh produce imports by growing locally and creating economic diversification and jobs. They also are careful about branding and the packaging aspects of their products.

The UAE demonstrated changing a desert in an oasis as Sheikh Zayed envisioned. He made his life a mission to return the desert to its greener origins. 

Maybe, Connecting Minds and Creating the Future theme of EXPO 2020 Dubai is a turning point for humanity, and we will see changes soon. I can't wait for the Golden Rice invented by Ingo Potrykus to become readily available to resolve the health problems of millions of kids in so many regions in the world. That will be a topic for another article. 

I wish Happy Holidays to everyone that reads my articles. 

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