Browsing Tag

hidden costs

Features Recipes


April 18, 2016



We all consider our Earth in one way or another—some of us compost, bring reusable bags to the grocery store, recycle, refill our own water bottles, and drive gas-efficient or hybrid vehicles. But our environment is affected by things many people aren’t aware of—the hidden environmental costs of food. When looking at agriculture, true cost goes well beyond fertilizer, seeds, and land.

The true price we pay includes greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, deforestation, water and air contamination, land degradation, loss of biodiversity, and toxic waste and fertilizer runoff. And while we typically don’t pay for these hidden costs when we purchase our food, we do pay a hefty price in the form of taxes, and in the degradation of our environment.

Many of us are familiar with the greenhouse gas emissions from livestock farming—they make up over 14% of all human-caused emissions. Yet with better breeding and grazing practices, that number could be reduced by almost one third. But it’s not just animals that take a toll on the environment. Industrial agriculture often plants monoculture crops—single crops that take large quantities of pesticides and water, and contribute significantly to soil erosion. Simply diversifying crops is one way to prevent this, ultimately saving money for the farmer as well. Yet farmers aren’t generally incentivized to protect biodiversity.

Biodynamic farming methods take many factors into consideration, thereby decreasing their negative environmental footprint. Often it’s just a matter of taking care of the land. Planting cover crops promotes biodiversity and makes for healthy soil, helping to prevent excess water usage, thereby preventing fertilizer run-off. The result? Increased crop yields. Big-Ag says that organic farming has lower yields, but researchers have estimated that pesticide use is to blame for $520 million in crop loss due to a lack of natural pest predators that are eliminated from the chemicals.

Did you know that there are environmental effects of food waste as well? A 2013 study shows that the 1.3 billion tons of edible food wasted each year has a $750 billion impact. When food sits in landfills to rot, it releases 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually, playing a significant role in greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, all that wasted land—it takes 25% of all agricultural land to grow the food that we waste.

There are clearly lots of things that can be done on a commercial level, but what can you do? In honor of Earth Day on Friday, sign the Paris Accord—195 countries pledged to reduce emissions and keep global warming below 2°C, and you can too. Support organic farmers—share photos of your produce and farmer information on the Foodstand app. Grow your own produce or herbs if you can—again, we want to see! And practice #nofoodwaste policies! Can’t wait to see your posts.






12 ounces dry organic red lentil rotini
1 pound bunch fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
1 large or 2 small shallots, peeled
1 large red serrano or jalapeño pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt, divided
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons juice)
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (optional)



Prepare an outdoor or indoor grill.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions in salted water, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta, toss with ice cubes until cool, then drain again. Toss the cooled, drained pasta with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil and chill in the refrigerator in a large serving bowl.

Place the asparagus, shallot, and pepper into a 9- x 13-inch pan or dish. Drizzle with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil and toss to lightly coat. Grill over direct medium-high heat until charred as desired, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer asparagus, shallot, and pepper back to the pan, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and the minced garlic, and toss to coat.

Slice the asparagus into 1 1/2-inch pieces on the diagonal; thinly slice the shallot; and extra-thinly slice or mince the pepper.

Whisk together the lemon juice and zest and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a liquid measuring cup.

Add the grilled asparagus, shallots, pepper and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt to the pasta and toss to combine. When ready to serve, add the lemon vinaigrette and toss again. Sprinkle with the pine nuts (if using) and serve.

Serves 6


by JenniferEmilson



7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sliced yellow onion
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 large globe artichokes, top 2 inches sliced off
1 cup dry white wine
Kosher salt
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Hollandaise Sauce
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
8 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon hot water
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp dijon mustard
thyme or tarragon


Place a stockpot over low heat and melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in it. Once the butter starts to foam, add the onion, half of the thyme, and the parsley, and begin to sweat the onion. While you prepare the artichokes, the onions will happily hang out over low heat.

Tear off the first few outer leaves from the bottom of each artichoke, as well as any attached to the stem. Then take a knife to cut off the exposed stem, thus creating a base so that the artichokes can stand up.

Add the artichokes to the pot, standing up. Then add the white wine and enough water to cover the artichokes. Bring to a boil over high heat, add enough salt to make the liquid pleasantly salty, and then lower to a simmer. To keep them submerged, place a plate that’s just small enough to fit inside the pot over the artichokes. Cover the pot with a lid and cook the artichokes for about 20 minutes, or until you can slide a knife into the base with no resistance. This will depend on the size of artichokes you are using. Meanwhile, make the hollandaise (see below).

Remove the plate and then the artichokes from the liquid, and place the artichokes on a cutting board to cool. I usually use tongs, so that I can tip the artichoke upside down over the pot to drain out any water that got caught inside the leaves.

Serve on a platter with a bowl of the hollandaise sauce. Working from the outside, pull of one leaf at a time, dip it into some hollandaise and scrape the flesh with your teeth. The outer leaves will have the bare amount of ‘flesh’. But as you work in, the leaves get softer and more fleshy. You will eventually get to where the leaves pull off in bunches. Then you will see a fuzzy part, which is called the “choke.” Using a small spoon, remove the choke. You will be left with the heart, the most tender prize of the artichoke. I usually cut this into a few pieces and with a fork dip them into the sauce.

Hollandaise Sauce
Melt the butter in a small pot over the stove. Allow the butter to begin to bubble, but not reach a full boil.

As butter is melting, add egg yolks and lemon juice into your blender. Blend at a medium to medium high setting until the egg yolk lightens to a light yellow color. This will take about 20-30 seconds.

Slowly drizzle the hot butter into your egg yolks while your blender is at the medium setting. Use a clean kitchen cloth to prevent any spatters of the hot butter onto you as you are pouring.

Add hot water as a final step in blending your hollandaise sauce. If you prefer your hollandaise sauce a bit thinner, add hot water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition until the hollandaise reaches the consistency you prefer.

You may add more lemon juice if you prefer more lemon flavor in your hollandaise, as well.

Add a pinch of cayenne pepper to final hollandaise sauce.

If you would like the tang of dijon, add 1 tsp before completing the blending process.

Features Recipes


April 11, 2016


Last week we addressed the hidden cost of food in the form of its staggering toll on people—specifically with regard to both compensation and treatment of farmworkers. But hidden costs of food affect workers well beyond our farms, such as those working minimum wage jobs in restaurants who don’t make enough money to support themselves or feed their families. This is a pivotal time—our country is making progress surrounding a minimum wage increase in the #Fightfor15, and there is a nation-wide debate on tipping, a cost not reflected on the menu, yet one that is incredibly significant to workers.

A study by Purdue University showed that doubling the wages of workers in the fast food industry would increase fast food prices by 4.3 percent. But let’s think about that—the person handing you two cheeseburgers at McDonalds has twice the income, yet you’re only spending 8 cents more on your $2.00 cheeseburger deal. It’s hard to find fault. Luckily we are making progress on that front, particularly in California and New York where minimum wage increase laws have already been signed by their governors.

As for tipping, this is a hidden cost with a variety of repercussions. Currently there is a disparity between the wages of front-of-the-house tipped workers, like servers and bartenders, and back-of-the-house untipped workers such as line cooks. Kitchen wages aren’t attracting cooks to jobs, and diners effectively control the wages of the waitstaff. A price listed on the menu accounts for everything in the cost of say—an organic, grass-fed steak—that is, everything except for paying the person who is serving it to you. And thus paying the waitstaff a living wage is effectively optional because tipping isn’t a mandatory cost—it’s a hidden expense at the cost of the workers, that is put upon the diners. In addition, it excludes those people working hard behind the scenes, and has the potential to be discriminatory, as one can choose to pay the server whatever he or she so chooses.

Restauranteur Danny Meyer first proposed doing away with tipping and increasing upfront food costs over twenty years ago, but only now is his idea coming into play. Eliminating tipping and replacing it with a “hospitality included” model, as Meyer has implemented at a number of his New York restaurants, allows the restaurant to redistribute income and pay all of its employees fairly, something previously unattainable with the standard tipping model.

To quote Food Chains Director Sanjay Rawal in his Behind The Plate interview last week, “There’s so much interest and consciousness around food these days, but it’s really focused around environmental issues and issues of animal welfare. Even when informed, very few people care about the hands that pick or serve our food.” It’s time to change that, and we’re on our way.







Ingredients for the burgers:
500 grams of minced chicken
1 stalk of lemongrass, white part only, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
¼ cup of breadcrumbs
Zest of one lime
1 teaspoon of fish sauce
2 teaspoons of caster sugar
1/2 a bunch of coriander, chopped
1 small white onion, grated
½ teaspoon of salt
Pinch of pepper
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to cook the burgers
Ingredients for the mango salsa:
1 ripe mango, chopped into small pieces
4 tablespoons of chopped coriander
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 small chili, finely chopped
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper to taste


In a bowl, mix all the ingredients for the burgers with your hands. Then cover and let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes.

While the mixture is in the fridge, start making the salsa. Mix the chopped mango, coriander, onion, chili, lime, salt and pepper in a bowl. Cover and let it sit in the fridge till it’s serving time.

After the burger mixture has been resting for 30 minutes, shape the burgers into 5 patties.

Pour the vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, put the patties in. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side, or until they are cooked through.

Serve with the mango salsa.


by Sarah_Phillips



Pizza dough:
1/2 recipe Artisanal Pizza Dough
Pizza toppings:
3 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes
2 medium size Meyer Lemons
One 3-inch sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Salt and pepper for seasoning
2 cloves garlic
Cornmeal, for dusting pizza peel


Make the pizza dough and set it aside to rise, following Steps I and II of the Artisanal Pizza Dough recipe (make 1/2 recipe).

While it’s rising, place two pizza stones in the oven, one on each shelf, and heat to 425 degrees F.  Make sure to place them so there is adequate room between the oven racks, so the heat can circulate around both pizzas. NOTE: If you only have one pizza stone, make and cook the first pizza, then make the second.

Prepare the pizza toppings:
Slice the lemons very thinly. NOTE: The lemons need to be very thin, 1/8-inch or less, or the bitterness from the peel will be off-putting for some people. A mandoline is the best tool for the job, but if you do not have one, slice them as thinly as you can, with a very sharp knife. I used the #2 setting on my mandoline. Push any seeds out of the lemons, then put the lemons to soak in a bowl of cool water. This will remove some of the bitterness from the peel.

Slice the potatoes thinly as well. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray the foil with nonstick spray. Put the potatoes in the pan and drizzle with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with a large pinch of salt and grind a bit of pepper over the slices. Toss the slices with your hands to distribute the oil and spread the slices out evenly on the pan. Place the pan in the oven, right on one of the pizza stones and bake the potato slices for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the potatoes have softened, and the slices on the edge of the pan have started to brown a little. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set the potato slices aside to cool.

Once you remove the potatoes from the oven, raise the oven temperature to 550 degrees, or as hot as your oven will go.

Put the garlic through a garlic press. Remove the rosemary leaves from the stem and chop the leaves very finely.

Gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto your floured work surface. This dough is fairly sticky, so make sure to flour the surface well, so it doesn’t stick.

Begin Step III of the Artisanal Pizza Dough recipe, but instead, cut the dough in half, with a knife, or a bench scraper. Form each piece into a smooth ball. Cover the two balls of dough with plastic wrap, until you are ready to work with them.

Take one ball of dough (recover the second ball with the plastic wrap) and press it into a round shape. Roll it out to a 12-inch circle, using a rolling pin. If you are feeling extra adventurous, try your hand at tossing the dough instead.

Take about a tablespoon of cornmeal and spread it out on your pizza peel. This will keep the dough from sticking. Transfer the dough to the peel, and redefine the shape, if it gets distorted in the process. Give the dough a little shake, to make sure that it is loose, and not sticking to the peel. If it is sticking in any spots, lift the dough up and toss a little cornmeal under that area. Repeat with the second pizza dough ball. Take a second pizza peel or place a baking sheet upside-down. Sprinkle it with cornmeal, and place the second shaped pizza crust on that peel.

Distribute half of the mozzarella cheese over the surface of the first shaped pizza crust dough, leaving a 1/2- to 1-inch border around the edge of the dough. Sprinkle on half of the parmesan cheese. Sprinkle on half of the chopped rosemary. NOTE: it is important to add the rosemary now, under the toppings so the high heat of the oven doesn’t burn it. Sprinkle on half of the garlic. Arrange half of the potato slices evenly over the surface.

Remove the lemon slices from the water and blot them dry with paper towels. Arrange half of them over the surface. Drizzle the top of the pizza with about 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil. Before you transfer the pizza from the peel to the pizza stone, you must make sure that the dough is not stuck to the peel. Give the pizza a good shake, to make sure that the dough is still free from the peel, if there are areas where it is sticking, lift up the dough and throw some cornmeal on that area. Check again, and if it is loose, here comes the really HOT part. Please be careful.

Open the oven, and pull out one of the racks with the preheated pizza stone in place. Position the pizza peel so it is ALMOST at the back of the stone, then shake the peel forward, and pull it out in one swift movement. Close the oven, and while the first pizza is baking, repeat the steps above to make the second pizza. When it is ready, deposit it on the other preheated stone.

The pizzas should take about 15-20 minutes to cook, depending on your oven. Remove the pizza from the oven, with the pizza peel. Just quickly put it under the front edge of the pizza, and push the peel under the pie. Once the pizza if firmly on the peel, pull it out of the oven.

Season the finished pizza with a pinch of coarse salt, and some crushed red pepper, if you like things spicy. Let the pizza sit for a few minutes, then cut it in wedges with a pizza cutter. Check the other pizza, and remove it when done.