Considering Bison, the Other Red Meat

It’s tough to pinpoint exactly when I started reducing my red meat consumption, but I know it happened sometime between the 1970s and yesterday. A lifelong meat eater, I simply realized that I’d been choosing red meat almost as a default, but when I stopped to think about it, my enthusiasm for cooking, eating and serving vegetables, fruits, whole grains, leaner meats and fish outpaced my desire for red meat.

I still eat red meat, for sure, but far less of it, and I purchase it much more thoughtfully. This has led me to grass-fed bison, a red meat source touted for its nutritional, environmental and historical distinctiveness.

Research into bison invariably leads to some confusion over naming conventions: Some ranchers refer to their animals as bison and their meat as buffalo. Others do the reverse.  “The terminology on the Native American reservations next to us is ‘bison’ on the hoof, ‘buffalo’ on the plate,” says Jill Maguire of Wild Idea Buffalo Co. in South Dakota. Many retailers and consumers use the two terms interchangeably.

Exploitation and conservation

Up to 60 million bison once thrived in the Great Plains. By the late 19th century, however, Europeans and Americans had so exploited the species that their numbers dropped precipitously, and by the 1890s, there were only hundreds left. Conservationist and governmental efforts to save the animals then kicked in, and by the early 20th century, the numbers began to recover, albeit slowly.

Environmental advantage

With a species’ very survival in question, an argument to save the animals by raising them for food may seem counterintuitive. But Maguire offers a convincing explanation for how grass-fed cultivation can help: “Our lands are constantly under threat from the plow to plant corn and soybeans as food for cows, and for buffalo. But they’re not supposed to eat corn; they’re supposed to eat grass, and when you start eliminating their habitat, they become crowded out.”

If not for the grass-fed bison industry, the theory goes, more of the heartland would be turned over to subsidized crop production – crops that, in turn, would be used to support industrial feedlots.

If not for the grass-fed bison industry, the theory goes, more of the heartland would be turned over to subsidized crop production – crops that, in turn, would be used to support industrial feedlots. (The vast majority of the nation’s cattle and buffalo are raised in the feedlot model, Maguire says.) When ranchers instead use this land to graze wild buffalo, they produce a meat source that’s more sustainable and environmentally sound than the industrially produced alternatives. (Wild Idea also slaughters its buffalo in the field and has earned an American Humane Association certification. Because the animals suffer less trauma and release fewer stress hormones when field harvested, the theory goes, their meat tastes sweeter.)

Nutritional benefits

Nutritionally speaking, grass-fed bison has a bit of edge over beef. Grass-fed ground bison has roughly 25 percent fewer calories and half the saturated fat of grass-fed ground beef.

Grass-fed meats, whether beef or buffalo, are also good sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, thanks to the natural composition of the wild grasses on which they graze. Keep in mind that, like beef, bison can be either grass-fed, grass-fed and grain-finished, or grain-fed. Depending where you shop, you’re more likely to come across industrially raised, grain-fed buffalo. If you want the health and environmental benefits of grass-fed bison, be sure to verify how the meat was raised before you pull out your wallet.

In general, you’ll probably pay about the same, or slightly more, for bison than for beef, though it’s not always a straight comparison. Some markets, like Whole Foods in Northern California, sell grass-fed beef, while their buffalo is grass-fed but grain-finished. Prices are roughly comparable, though many more beef cuts are available.

Smart Cooking Tips

Chef Forrest Waldo of Colorado-based High Plains Bison offers the following tips on bison cookery:

  1. Due to its leanness and relative lack of intramuscular fat, bison steaks and roasts require “one-third less heat and one-third less cook-time” than beef. In braises and stews, cook time may be more comparable.
  2. For best results, serve bison medium or medium-rare, rather than well done.
  3. As with other large cuts of meat, always let bison rest before slicing.  This will ensure that the juices properly redistribute throughout the meat so it’s moist, tender and delicious.

Feel free to swap bison for beef in your favorite recipes, whether burgers, chili, burritos, stews or steaks. As demand increases, more cuts are likely to become available, but for now, you may be able to find ground bison, New York steaks, tri-tips, bottom rounds, top rounds, sirloins, stew meat and more, depending on your location and the size of your market.  If you don’t see what you want, ask for it.

Buffalo Carbonnade
Buffalo Blue Burgers with Celery Slaw

Cheryl Sternman Rule is a food and nutrition writer whose work has appeared in numerous national magazines, including EatingWell and Body+Soul. She is the voice behind the food blog 5 Second Rule.

A Hanukkah That Celebrates Friends as Family

It used to be about the presents. Hanukkah, that is.  When I was a kid, the promise of a really good Hanukkah present held a certain magic. Maybe it was a new game or a special book or a cuddly, plush Glow Worm, that long, squiggle of a thing whose head emitted a soft, comforting light when its body was gently squeezed. Yes, we lit the menorah, and said the traditional prayers, but back in my youth I honestly don’t recall raucous gatherings filled with crispy latkes, endless dreidel games or mesh bags pregnant with gold-foiled, chocolaty gelt.


And yet, that has all since changed. This weekend, my husband and I will host our havurah’s annual Hanukkah party, a rambunctious affair where latkes rule, dreidels twirl, menorahs twinkle and 22 kids from nine families run amok like crazed monkeys until they all peter out and return to their respective homes, ready to crash in a sweaty, potato-fueled coma.

The term havurah refers to a group of Jews affiliated with the same congregation who gather for religious or social purposes (or both) outside the formal confines of a synagogue. My havurah has been my Jewish holiday posse since my husband and I moved to California with our young sons in 2004. Together, we’ve rung in six Rosh Hashanahs, broken six Yom Kippur fasts, celebrated six Passover Seders and, yes, gorged on latkes at six Hanukkah parties with these friends and their gaggle of children.

Tonight, food will be served, dreidels will spin, candles will wink and my home will be filled with energy, with laughter and with an abundance of light.

We’ve also shared life’s ups and downs, and witnessed the circle of life in its most intimate forms. Two couples have given birth, two men have lost their fathers and one boy has led the pack in celebrating his Bar Mitzvah. (A queue of children is poised to follow, including my own sons in the next few years.) Members have weathered job loss and enjoyed new professional success, children have grown from infants to first graders, and friendships, once tender and nascent, have solidified into true, lifelong bonds, ready to withstand whatever curves life throws our way.

This Hanukkah, Julia and Alison will come to my house early, armed with potatoes and onions, skillets and spatulas, eager to help fry stacks of latkes for the hungry hordes, including their own spouses and children, who will soon arrive. The rest will then trickle in, bearing gifts, gelt and menorahs in all shapes and sizes. Food will be served, dreidels will spin, candles will wink and my home will be filled with energy, with laughter and with an abundance of light.

And when you get right down to it, the miracle of light–how a flame with only enough oil to burn for one night burned instead for eight–is the prevailing theme of this very holiday.

May your own home be filled with light this holiday season, and may you be surrounded by those who bring you nourishment, comfort and joy.

Nourishing Heroes: Food Advocates Curt Ellis & Ian Cheney

This is the latest installment in our Nourishing Heroes series, in which we feature the individuals and organizations who inspire us with food that nourishes body, soul and planet. Do you know a Nourishing Hero we should feature on NOURISH Evolution? Let us know who inspires you!

If you attended Yale University about 10 years ago, you may have crossed paths with Curt Ellis (above left) and Ian Cheney (right), members of the class of 2002 who combined a passionate commitment to consciousness-raising with a flair for the dramatic. To underscore students’ desire for Yale’s cafeterias to serve food that was minimally processed, pesticide-free and grown in a responsible manner, the two and their cohorts released live sheep onto the campus quad and brought in kiddie pools filled with manure.

“Part of it was to have fun,” Ellis now acknowledges, “but there were definitely politics involved.”

The Brooklyn-based pair has since gone on to interweave politics, advocacy and entertainment in their careers, most notably through the founding of their production company Wicked Delicate Films. Their 2004 release King Corn, produced and directed by Ellis’ cousin Aaron Woolf, followed the duo as they grew an acre of corn in Iowa and then traced its movement through America’s industrial food system. The film picked up a prestigious Peabody Award, and it came out when the cultural zeitgeist was beginning to focus on the multifaceted perils of what’s now referred to as Big Ag.

Ellis says books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Fast Food Nation and documentary SuperSize Me were all part of this same general movement toward greater transparency in food production, and within a few years, the growing public consciousness surrounding food issues suddenly picked up enormous traction. King Corn both reflected, and advanced, this burgeoning food consciousness.

Today, Ellis and Cheney work together on several advocacy programs and tour the country speaking at conferences and on college campuses. Each is also the point person for their newest slate of projects.

Ellis, for his part, is a founding member of FoodCorps, a national AmeriCorps public service initiative that will train a fresh generation of young people to work in school gardens, implement farm-to-cafeteria programs and lead nutrition education projects at sites across the country.

“We love working on something that can make such a tangible difference,” he says. “FoodCorps basically provides a troop surge in the response to the obesity epidemic.” (FoodCorps’ first host sites will be selected on Nov. 17.)

Cheney, meanwhile, is focusing on Truck Farm, a new documentary, slated to premiere this winter, that features the 1986 Dodge pick-up his grandfather gave him when he graduated from college. (It’s the same truck Cheney and Ellis drove to Iowa to shoot King Corn.) Cheney has since turned the truck into a green-roofed mobile garden with 20 varieties of fruits and vegetables, including serrano and poblano peppers, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, okra, chard, kale, lettuce and a wide variety of herbs. Truck Farm (the vehicle) has traveled to 40 schools up and down the eastern seaboard, up the steps of the U.S. Botanic Garden and to the USDA in Washington, D.C. The pair uses the pickup to get people excited about how easy it is to grow food themselves.

The documentary, produced with the help of crowd-sourced funding from Kickstarter and a generous grant from the sustainable clothing company Nau, tells the story of how people around the country grow food in innovative places.

Ultimately, Ellis says, he and Cheney want to inspire America’s young people to pick up shovels and garden or farm–and to see that choice as a dignified one.  The most important message, though, he adds, is: “It’s OK for food advocacy to be fun.”

Meet our other Nourishing Heroes:

Cheryl Sternman Rule is a food and nutrition writer whose work has appeared in numerous national magazines, including EatingWell and Body+Soul. She is the voice behind the food blog 5 Second Rule.

Nourishing Hero: Kelly Masini’s School Garden Inspires a Community

This is the second installment in our Nourishing Heroes series, in which we feature the individuals and organizations who inspire us with food that nourishes body, soul and planet. Do you know a Nourishing Hero we should feature on NOURISH Evolution? Let us know who inspires you!

Students, parents and teachers are returning to school, where they’ll reunite with friends, catch up with colleagues and notice small tweaks like a fresh coat of paint or a new tetherball pole.

At Noddin Elementary School in San Jose, Calif., they’ll notice something else: raised garden beds heavy with ripe zucchini, tomatoes, Swiss chard and eggplant, which they helped plant three months ago.  Over the summer, the planters have yielded an astonishing 785 pounds (and counting) of produce for the local Second Harvest Food Bank.

Kelly Masini, a San Jose mother of two, spearheaded the wildly successful initiative and galvanized the entire school community to take part. I’ve worked with Kelly for several years on our district’s Wellness Committee. She’s engaged and clear-spoken, but not a bulldog. Given the glacial pace with which schools sometimes effect change–due to bureaucratic wrangling, politics or struggling finances–a project like this could have easily fallen off the rails. Kelly kept it on track.

“My mom always had some type of vegetable in the ground during the summers,” Kelly recalls. She planted her first vegetable garden in her mid-20s and after giving birth to her older son Alex, now 9, she joined the Master Gardener program through the University of California Extension.

Fast forward several years to last spring, when Kelly and fellow parent volunteers Tamiko House and Jennie Reynolds discussed adding new planting boxes to the five already present on school grounds. House and Reynolds obtained grant funding from the City of San Jose, and soon 10 boxes were in place, along with a simple irrigation system.

At this point, Kelly realized leaving 10 beds dormant during the year’s most productive season–summer–made little sense, and so she proposed an idea.

“As a Master Gardener,” she says, “I’d become familiar with Plant a Row for the Hungry.” The program encourages home gardeners to plant an extra row of seeds and donate the resulting harvest to the needy. Kelly expanded this concept by getting students, teachers and parents to plant all 10 beds on a single afternoon, planning to donate the entire summer harvest to the food bank.

After facing a few bureaucratic hurdles from the school district, she was finally green-lighted thanks, in part, to support from a green-thumbed school board advocate.  She verified that the food bank could accept the produce, and then headed out to procure plants.  Ace Hardware and SummerWinds Nursery, two local gardening centers, donated over 300 plants. (Most were past-prime “seconds,” which she nurtured back to health before planting.)

On a glorious May afternoon, kindergartners through fifth graders put those plants in the ground, and each Friday throughout the summer a small cadre of dedicated parent volunteers and children weeded, tended, harvested and drove the vegetables to the food bank. The list of donated vegetables is impressive: zucchini, crookneck squash, Japanese eggplant, cayenne peppers, bell peppers, jalapenos, three kinds of beans, several varieties of tomatoes, two types of radishes, Swiss chard and carrots.

“Kelly stepped in at just the right time with a viable community solution to end hunger,” says Poppy Pembroke, the food bank’s communications manager. “Not only is Kelly’s impact visible in the poundage that Noddin produces, but her role as a community leader is inspiring countless others to step up and share their harvests with our neighbors in need.”

Indeed, Kelly reports that one of her summer high-school volunteers at Noddin wants to launch a similar program at his school.

With the start of the school year, the newly planted winter crops–pumpkins, spaghetti and winter squash–will most likely be slated for classroom use, says Kelly. “I’m planning to do summer crops [for the food bank] next year, though.

“This could have been an epic fail,” she reflects, “but I just went for it. It just seemed like the right thing to do.”

The lucky recipients of Noddin’s summer bounty would likely agree.

Cheryl Sternman Rule is a food and nutrition writer whose work has appeared in numerous national magazines, including EatingWell and Body+Soul. She is the voice behind the food blog 5 Second Rule.

Cold Salmon Sandwich with Lemon-Caper Mayo

Buy a little extra salmon the next time you’re fillet-shopping and cook it all up at once. The next day, pair the cold leftover fish with a hit of lemon-spiked mayo and briny capers for a fancy-looking salmon sandwich that’s  perfect lunch for one.


Are We Reaching The End of the Line For Seafood?

By Cheryl Sternman Rule

Pay attention, seafood lovers: According to The End of the Line, a searing documentary about the industrial fishing industry, if we don’t change current global fishing practices, our oceans will be depleted of edible fish by 2048.

You heard me. And I’m not talking about faraway oceans halfway around the world, but our collective oceans. All of the oceans.

So in honor of World Oceans Day on June 8, I urge you to plop yourself in a chair and watch The End of the Line, which vividly portrays some of the most beautiful marine life ever caught on film while delivering a potent message: We are all responsible for effecting change on this issue.

endoflineRupert Murray directed the film, which was adapted from British journalist Charles Clover’s book of the same name.  It’s narrated with controlled urgency by actor Ted Danson, who sits on the board of the conservation nonprofit Oceana and has long advocated for responsible fishing practices. The film is carefully rendered, and avoids scare tactics while underscoring the stark scientific realities about the sorry state of our seas.

Why should you care? Although you may enjoy salmon fillet, halibut steak, or shrimp skewers only occasionally, more than 1.2 billion people the world over consume fish as a staple of their diets.  If current trends continue, the world’s poorest people, who rely on fish for their food and livelihoods, are the most likely to suffer, at least at first. Widespread ecosystem ramifications will follow, such as jellyfish infestations and an overabundance of algae.

How did this happen? The issue of overfishing comes down to politics and economics. Governments grant fishing rights to multinational corporations who, in some cases, have abused their privileges by allowing fishermen to use destructive fishing methods, like bottom trawlers that scrape the ocean floor. At the same time, consumers in wealthy industrialized regions–the U.S., European Union, and Japan, among others–continue to demand top-flight, predatory species like tuna for their dinner plates, so catching these fish in enormous quantities can be incredibly lucrative. The film uses the bluefin as a jarring example of what can happen when a species is so prized for its culinary excellence: fleets will break international marine laws to deliver the fish to desirous diners, even though the bluefin is widely believed to be endangered. As long as there is a strong demand, the supply will be fished until it’s completely exhausted.

Ultimately, the film’s sobering message is tempered by a sense of hope and offers concrete action we can take to reverse current trends and stabilize fish stocks. Here are three things you can do:

  • Choose sustainable seafood (like our Super Seven Sustainable Seafood Picks).  Download a SeafoodWatch pocket guide or mobile phone app, and seek out fish certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.  Support responsible fishing practices, like those in Alaska.
  • Eat smaller fish. Add abundant and fast-growing lower-on-the-food-chain species like mackerel, herring, anchovies, and sardines to your seafood repertoire.
  • Ask questions. Demand to know where your fish was caught and using which methods. If you don’t like the answers, speak out.

Your first course of action, though, is the easiest: rent The End of the Line.

Mother’s Day: Celebrating Grandmas

By Cheryl Sternman Rule

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I wanted to take a moment to honor grandmothers, those women a branch up from moms on the family tree. I’ve asked three cookbook authors, all representing different ethnic heritages, to reflect on how their grandmothers’ food traditions influenced their own.

cookbooks-post“I totally believe that grandmothers are the keepers of the culinary flame, especially for immigrant families,” says Patricia Tanumihardja, author of the recipe-packed, story-filled The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook (Sasquatch Books). “Language and food are the two most important ways that culture is passed down through the generations.” When her mother Julia was growing up, Pat’s Popo (Chinese for grandmother) would always prepare Julia and her siblings an afternoon snack of roti bakso, or sweet bread stuffed with pork. Julia, in turn, prepared the dish frequently for Pat, passing along Popo’s tradition. So even though Popo passed away when Pat was an infant, she remained a presence in the family’s household through that beloved snack.

For her cookbook, Pat interviewed grandmothers whose roots spanned the Asian cultural spectrum, from Chinese, Japanese, and Indonesian to Korean, Filipino, and Thai.  She believes strongly that immigrant grandmothers are the torchbearers of a family’s culinary heritage. “Grandmothers are the closest link to an immigrant’s homeland. They cook for their grandchildren, and they speak to them in their native tongue.” If her own grandmothers were still alive today, she says, she’d “celebrate them on Mother’s Day,” too.

Monica Bhide, a Washington, D.C.-based food writer and author of several books on Indian cooking (her most recent is Modern Spice), recalls spending many hours with her grandmothers, Savitri and Kaushalya, chopping vegetables, peeling oranges, and shelling peanuts. One of the biggest lessons they imparted, she reflects, was to always cook enough for company. Though she was raised largely in Bahrain, Monica’s roots are Indian, and many members of her extended family lived together in the same home in New Delhi.  Her grandmothers would work alongside their servants (not uncommon in many Indian households) for hours, preparing the evening meal for 20 or more family members each night.

Today, Monica has happy neighbors, largely because she has taken her grandmothers’ lessons to heart. “I make extra food, even now,” she says. “I have older neighbors, whom I love. I take them dinner every other day.”

Jennie Schacht’s Jewish paternal grandmother Henrietta lived to be 101. “She was a powerhouse of a woman,” Jennie remembers. “I absolutely adored her.” Henrietta did The New York Times crossword puzzle in 15 minutes every Sunday, and regularly turned out Ashkenazi Jewish specialties such as brisket, noodle kugel, and blintzes from the railroad-style kitchen in her tiny apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. “I loved her blintzes,” Jennie says. “I could practically tell you how to make them just from having observed her so many times.” Grandma Schacht (as Jennie called her) also taught her how to flute a pie crust. “I can still picture her thumb pressing in to form the impressions.”

Jennie’s newest book, Farmers’ Market Desserts (Chronicle Books), includes a plum soup recipe her father raved about throughout her childhood. Her headnote to the recipe even reads: “One childhood role I had was to re-create my grandmother’s best hits for my dad.” That soup was one of them.

“Grandma Schacht would be enormously thrilled that I’m writing cookbooks,” she says, “because she just cared about food so much.”

This Mother’s Day, toast your mom, but raise an extra glass to your grandmothers, too.  I’ll be toasting my Grandma Sarah and her soothing chicken soup, and my Grandma Eve, whose Sunday morning breakfasts always included bagels and butterfish. To grandmothers near and far, offer thanks for their lingering presence — in your lives, in your hearts, and at the table.


Cheryl Sternman Rule is a food and nutrition writer whose work has appeared in numerous national magazines, including EatingWell and Body+Soul. She is the voice behind the food blog 5 Second Rule.

Chicken Biryani

By Cheryl Sternman Rule

Here’s a streamlined version of Amma’s Rice, a beautiful, golden-hued biryani recipe from Pat Tanumihardja’s heartfelt The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook (Sasquatch Books). Any type of chutney is a good condiment with this rice dish; I enjoy it with tamarind.

biryani-recipe1/4 teaspoon saffron
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
6 whole black peppercorns
4 whole cloves
Seeds from 5 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium white onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (packed)
1 pound organic skinless, boneless, chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt, divided
Toasted almonds (optional)
Chutney (optional)

Place the saffron in a small ramekin and cover with the water. Set aside. Stir together salt, cumin, coriander, and garam masala in a small bowl. Gather peppercorns, cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon stick; set aside.

Place rice in a strainer and rinse well under cool running water. Repeat. Cook according to package directions, or in a rice cooker. Keep warm.

Heat oil and butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger; cook 8 minutes or until soft and very fragrant, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Add ground spice mixture and whole spices; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add chicken; cook 8 minutes. Turn heat down as low as possible and stir in 1/4 cup yogurt. Cover and cook 5 to 10 minutes, or until chicken is done.

Pour remaining 1/4 cup yogurt on top, then layer on the cooked rice. Drizzle saffron and soaking liquid over the rice, cover, and cook over low heat 5 minutes. Give a good stir, turn out onto a large platter, and serve with toasted almonds and chutney, if desired.

Serves 6-8

Earth-Friendly Fare: 3 Ways to Eat Lower on the Food Chain

By Cheryl Sternman Rule

When I think of a food chain, I always picture a giant whale swimming through the ocean gobbling up smaller sea creatures in his path. But food chains are part of a broader ecosystem, and, as humans, our place at the top carries awesome responsibility.  Sure, we could go through our lives eating whatever suits our fancy, but doing so without a thought to future generations would be reckless. Here on NOURISH Evolution, there has been much written about sustainability, and at its core, that’s what eating lower on the food chain is intended to promote: sustainable food systems that take the long view rather than satisfying our immediate cravings.  With Earth Day upon us, the time is right to consider how eating lower on the food chain benefits not only us, but the planet at large.


Most people assume the most environmentally friendly diet is one that’s purely local, where food miles are capped to cut emissions created through transportation.  In fact, a 2008 study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology revealed that the vast majority of emissions are caused in the production of food, rather than in its transport.  This means we want to pay as much, if not more, attention to what we eat and how it’s produced as to how far it has traveled.

In their book Cool Cuisine: Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming (Gibbs Smith, 2008), authors Laura Stec and Eugene Cordero explain that “it takes significantly more energy to make food from animal products than it does to grow vegetables.”  Vegetables and grains have an “energy intensity” (a measure of how much energy it takes to produce a food) of 1.2 to 2.5, they note, compared to 16 to 68 for chicken, pork, or beef. And that’s just the production side; there’s the emissions side to consider, too.  Producing meat and other animal proteins generates greenhouse gas emissions in the form of methane and nitrous oxide, which leaves a sizable carbon footprint, and leads, ultimately, to global warming.

As consumers and diners, then, we have a powerful choice. By eating more plant products and fewer animals products–in other words, eating lower on the food chain–we can collectively lessen our environmental impact and tread more lightly on the earth.

Here are three ways to eat lower on the food chain:

  1. Go vegetarian a few days a week.  Grains, seeds, nuts, and produce make up the food chain’s bottommost rung. For more tips on how to incorporated meatless meals into your diet, visit Meatless Mondays, a nonprofit initiative created in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
  2. When you do eat meat, pay attention to its source and production methods. Grass-fed and heritage meats from smaller farms tend to exert a smaller environmental toll than meats produced in factory farms.
  3. Choose sustainable seafood, particularly smaller fish, such as sardines and anchovies.

There’s one bonus benefit to eating lower on the food chain, too: Doing so is not only better for the planet, but tends to be better for our personal health as well.


Cheryl Sternman Rule is a food and nutrition writer whose work has appeared in numerous national magazines, including EatingWell and Body+Soul. She is the voice behind the food blog 5 Second Rule.

Stir-Fried Greens with Cremini Mushrooms and Soba

By Cheryl Sternman Rule

I’ve made this dish successfully with all kinds of greens, but I like tender baby spinach and bok choy derivatives the best.  Keep in mind that you want a touch of water clinging to the greens, but not so much that they’ll swim when they’re wilting. Note: If choosing tough-stemmed greens like chard or beet greens, slice the stems into 1-inch lengths.

stir-fried-greens-recipe3 ounces soba noodles
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1-1/2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
3/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon minced peeled ginger
3 cloves garlic (1 clove minced, 2 cloves thinly sliced)
2 teaspoons peanut oil
1 pound greens (baby spinach, regular spinach, you choy, baby bok choy, etc.)
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced

Cook soba noodles according to package directions.  Drain, and rinse briefly under cool water to prevent clumping; drain. Set aside.

Whisk together sesame seeds, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, ginger, and minced garlic in a small bowl.

Heat a wok or large nonstick pan over medium-high heat.  Add peanut oil and sliced garlic.  Stir-fry until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the greens.  Depending on the size of your wok, you may need to work in batches.  Stir-fry 4 minutes or until greens are wilted, any water clinging to the leaves has evaporated, and any stalks are crisp-tender.  (If too much water collects, carefully spoon it out of the pan.)

Push the greens to one side, and add the mushrooms.  Stir-fry 2 minutes. Add soy sauce mixture and cooked noodles.  Toss to coat; cook about 1 minute to heat through. Serve immediately.

Serves 2 to 4