Why Are Twinkies Cheaper than Carrots?

I came across this video online yesterday. It simply addresses the reasons (unreasonable as they may be)  that “health food is expensive” while cheap, processed garbage food is more affordable (… at the time).

1) I do not think whole foods are expensive*, or that eating healthy has to be. One of the missions of STK! is to show people how to use ingredients most people are familiar with or can find easily and affordable to make meals, when they may otherwise think of vegetables as a side dish only.

*Whole plant foods can be incredibly affordable especially if bought in season and/or from a local market.


2) I would never be so presumptuous to make a statement like “People should spend money on better food and less on XYZ”. I may believe that, but I also know that I have a different lifestyle from a single mom working three low-wage jobs; a wealthy businessman who can go to Whole Foods for all organic food; a teenager living and thus eating according to the rules of her parents. We are all at different places in our lives financially: I aim to put forth meals that can be made, and/or adapted, to fit most budgets.


3) A perceived “problem” with whole foods is that people don’t know what to do with them. So we can encourage someone to spend what money they have on greens, grains, dried beans, etc… but then they actually have to eat them or the money and nutrition is wasted.  Cooking education must go hand-in-hand when buying better food is the mission.

What we think of as "cheap food" can still cost a lot of money.

Cooking from whole foods can be MUCH more affordable, as long as one knows HOW to cook with them. (*STK doesn't advocate consumption of dairy or meat as shown in this photo)

But all that said, it’s still truth that we live in a world of 99cent “Value” menus that provide a lot of calories for a little money.

If you’ve ever seen Food Inc., you may recall a scene in which a low income family travels to the grocery store with a limited budget. They pick up a bag of apples, then agree they can buy one whole meal from a fast food chain for the same amount of money as the apples. They put the apples down. In the next scene they are eating their fast food meals in the car on the drive home.

And that scene illustrated an unfortunate truth: sometimes the worst food is much cheaper than the most basic foods.

It doesn’t make any sense.

It’s enraging, horrible, disgusting. It’s completely backwards.

In less than four minutes, this video explains why it happens:

“How is it that something with 39 different ingredients can be cheaper than something you just pull out of the ground?”

You can visit Calpirg.org or CLICK HERE to send an electronic message to the Senator to stop junk food subsidies.

FREAK FLAGS FLY: New reality show “Freaky Eaters”

This morning, the Rachel Ray show featured folks from a TLC reality TV show that I, at first, thought I misunderstood because I had never heard of anything like it. The show is called “Freaky Eaters”, and documents people who have alleged food addictions to only a certain type of food, or more specifically, only one food.

And I don’t mean your old, alpha-male uncle who insists “I only eat meat at every meal!” – no no. There is a man on this show who, for example, only eats cheeseburgers. That’s it. For every meal. Not hot dogs. Not chicken sandwiches. Not steak. Literally, all he eats for every meal are cheeseburgers.

Another woman has such a sugar addiction. Before she is even out of bed she reaches for her nightstand to consume candy, then gets up. She consumes 6,500 calories a day in sugar.

Other addictions on the show include: cheese, bread, pasta and potatoes.

Thankfully, the show doesn’t just highlight these unusual habits and leave them to be mocked or gawked at like a carnival sideshow. The folks featured receive intensive therapy, coming to terms with the the underlying causes of their addictions (as with drugs or alcohol), and then work with a therapist to overcome the problem.

The shows psychotherapist Mike Dow works to help the addicts understand not just the problems with addiction in general, but also the health, social and environmental ramifications. He shows how relationships have been strained – the hamburger guy’s wife is in culinary school, and she is heartbroken that he will never eat the food she cooks for her family. He piles a wall of  pizza boxes to show the trash and waste. He covers a fake grave with sugar.

In the Los Angeles Times, Dow said “When you consider that two-thirds of Americans are overweight, I think there are a lot of people out there who do have a problem. Hopefully, we will see things like people increasing meaningful relationships and decreasing the importance of food, and adding purpose and pleasure to their lives.”


HEARTBREAKING WORK: Dave Eggers, Artist??? Raising Questions

Author and publisher Dave Eggers, a long-time favorite of mine, has raised eyebrows and suspicions for what many believe is a blatant rip-off of Philly based artist Ketch Wehr. His new book titled Is It Right To Draw Their Fur is a collection of drawings and writing by Eggers.


Two years ago, Ketch Wehr put together a wonderful art show of images using handmade font, everyday phrases and animals. (I love love LOVE this kind of work!) It’s recently come up that Eggers’ new book of drawings comes too close for comfort in comparison to Ketch’s work.




Allow me to state as plainly as I can: I am not claiming Dave Eggers did directly rip-off Ketch. Eggers has long supported independent artists and businesses (often times making sure that only independent bookstores sell titles, or at least long before chains, in hopes to bring those stores more money). I have a hard time believing a clearly creative and talented guy would do something like this. I don’t want it to be true. It feels too… icky.

But one can’t deny the very close resemblance. And this raises an interesting point about being an artist in an internet age. When your work can be passed around the world instantly and usually, you have no way of knowing or tracking who has seen it or when, it can be a little scary and vulnerable.

Should artists stop sharing their work with us? NO, PLEASE, NEVER DO THAT! But learn a lesson: Copyright laws exist for a reason, so protect yourself and your creativity.

I hope that some sort of goodness can come from this situation that must feel like a kick in the stomach, and Ketch’s art gets more deserving attention. Please go to the facebook page below to show your support:


Jaime in the Sky With Diamonds?

Engagement rings seem to be the topic of conversation these days. (Calm down! Just talking in general!) As much as I like glamour and flashy things, I don’t quite thing I’m a diamond sort of girl. While discussing the alternatives to diamonds, I was informed that the diamond mining industry can be a pretty horrible thing!

Before I continue, let me add this DISCLAIMER: In NO WAY is my intent to demean the value and priceless worth of anyone with a diamond engagement ring. Just posting food for thought.

Here’s an excerpt about “conflict diamonds”:

Conflict diamonds are not just a public-relations problem. About one in every ten gem diamonds, it has been estimated, is smuggled from four African nations—Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola—that feed money to a large black market. Some of the profits go to criminal gangs, some to brutal ruling regimes, some to outright terrorists. And the stones are mined under oppressive conditions for the smallest of wages, using methods that damage the countryside.

In the past I had done searches on engagement rings (just lookin!) and found websites for “conflict-free diamond rings”, though I admit I didn’t understand what it meant. Brilliant Earth is at the forefront of conflict-free diamond jewelry, or they at least have the best marketing. They make a promise to socially and environmentally responsible mining – Diamonds have a guarantee to be carefully tracked to ensure no (or little) environmental devastation and that citizens and workers are treated fairly.

In the other side, you have economies boosted by the sales of diamonds. But at what price?

This is a new topic for me – I am sharing the tiny bit of information I’ve researched, and hope if you have any information about the diamond industry, for or against, you’ll supply it in the comments!

Nutritionists Know Something Doctors Don’t Know (Neener neener neeeeener!)

This morning I was flipping through the latest issue of VegNews magazine, and came to a segment in the Q&A section, Ask Laura, that resonated with me:

Dear Laura, My doctor is concerned that since I’ve given up meat, I might not get all the vitamins I need. What should I tell him?

Columnist Laura Hooper Beck replies:

First, I question a doctor who thinks meat is chock-full of vitamins. Have you checked this person’s diploma? You might want to make sure it’s not written in crayon on the back of a Chuck E. Cheese menu. That said, most doctors know as much about nutrition as Octomom knows about birth control. They understand the theory but not the application. My last doctor thought the reason I had a cold was because I wasn’t eating enough chicken wings. True story. Most doctors receive very little education about diet in general and know next to nothing about veganism. For advice that doesn’t involve a prescription for prime rib, seek out a trained professional, like a vegan-friendly registered dietician or nutritionist.

Why I mention this…

In this previous post, I talked about gaining a lot of weight in college due to following a vegan diet that lacked in actual nutrition because I had no money for groceries and a mediocre meal plan.

I went home one weekend to visit my family doctor to help understand why I was so unhealthy since “I don’t go to McDonalds all the time or anything!” I was naive enough to believe that eating a diet that contained no animal products automatically made it healthy.

I met with the doctor and explained to him that I don’t go out eating cheeseburgers and fried chicken all the time, and then said “I’m vegan*, so I feel like I eat better than most people.” To which my doctor replied, “What’s vegan?”

This was a man in his late 40’s or early 50’s, who had gone to med school and been a practicing family doctor for the past several decades. And I – 20 year old college junior – had been the first person in all of that time to spring the word VEGAN on him?!? WHAT!?

(*Before everyone gets all huffy and puffy, I was a strict vegan at this time, so I’M GOING TO USE THAT WORD, okie dokie? Please write if you need to check my references and credentials of my life between the years 2000-2005.)


I could not – and to this day, still can’t understand how someone in the medical profession didn’t know what “vegan” meant, or had never even heard the term. And, what do you think he told me when I said I didn’t eat animal products or byproducts? “Well, maybe you need to get more protein and dairy.”

Say it with me now: AHHHHHHHHFBHBGHDBHBDH!!!!!!!!

My point is this: Doctors do wonderful things and help many people. But they are NOT nutritionists. And unfortunately, many (not all, but many) simply don’t know enough/anything about plant-based diets. Many doctors and nurses only spend THREE CREDIT HOURS on nutrition while in school. THAT’S IT. Some institutions spend even less time on the subject.

For those of you considering a transition to a veg-diet, or even if you are looking to take better control of you health and you’d like to know more about eating larger amounts of whole, plant foods, I encourage you to talk to someone directly in the field of nutrition. There is a LOT to be said about vitamins, omega 3’s, toxic colons, dioxins and antioxidants, etc etc… and you’d do best to spend your time and money with someone that specializes in knowing all about these things.

That said, I am starting to acquire folks interested in being Case Studies for my nutrition program, so if any of you are interested in working with me, it’s a win-win for the both of us. Please contact me!

Cages are for batting, not animals.

I really struggle with the fact that zoos and aquariums can be (usually are) negative places for animals.

Many zoos claim that they are positive for animals, as without them some species would be hunted or killed in the wild, thus leading to extinction. They also attempt to breed among the captive animals and say this will help aid in growing population of the species.

While I do NOT, in any capacity, think that the zoologists and animal caretakers intend to do anything but keeping the animals safe, fed, and cared for, zoos pose a number of issues for anyone concerned about animals and the claims made above.

The most obvious problem is the the cage. Animals that roam free in their native habitat with infinite miles to roam or fly are now given a limited, comparatively tiny space to live. A  lion in the wild runs through grasses, hunts for food, travels with it’s family and on average walks about five miles a day. A lion in a zoo has a small, simulated habitat with a few other lions and some rocks to climb on.

It’s like putting a butterfly in a jar with a twig, some leaves and a few holes poked in the top and expecting it to not only live, but thrive.

And in terms of breeding, just as with people, if you breed animals from a small selection of the species, it nearly becomes inbreeding. Just as a small group of related people COULD breed and thus, make more people, we can all agree that they SHOULDN’T. And when animals are bred, the babies usually stay in the zoo to be used as money making attraction.

Just like circuses, zoos use animals as entertainment. They also indirectly promotes the disconnect between the food people eat, and the cute, cuddly animals in a zoo. Meat is animal flesh. That statement is a fact, and stands alone without any animal-rights intent. It’s strange to see parents taking photos of their kids petting and feeding an animal, wearing clothes with animals on them, carrying animal stuffed animals, and then go to the cafeteria to eat hot dogs and hamburgers.

Here is my personal dilemma:

I love animals! I love petting them, learning about them and watching them. When I have gone to zoos and aquariums in the past, I have loved every second of it. My heart fills with joy and I usually walk around with my mouth agape when I’m not saying “Wow!”.

These places always reinstate why I don’t want to EAT animals – they are too beautiful in so many ways. Seeing them reinforces my choice for a compassionate lifestyle. After seeing them, I always feel inspired to donate to a sanctuary, read more about the animals or fish, or just cook a really great meal.

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to catch a few Episodes of LIFE, a new Discovery Channel series narrated by Oprah. I was stunned, amazed and in disbelief and not only the incredible shots of animals I’ve never seen or heard of, but to learn about their various behaviors. It is no exaggeration to say it is INCREDIBLE, and I urge you to check your local listings to tune in.

This got me thinking about all the great animal-friendly alternatives to zoos. Here are just a few:

Watch a movie/documentary: The aforementioned LIFE series is easily one of the best, if not THE best example. Movies show animals in their natural state, and can teach a lot more about how an animal actually lives than just waving to him from the other side of a barred cage. Not only do you get incredible visuals, but the commentary is full of information.

Visit an animal sanctuary: These are much different than zoos, as the intent behind them is actually about preserving life for animals, not making money on entertainment disguised as concern. Sanctuaries are often non-profits, meaning the money you spend to visit one is going right back to the animals you get to visit.

Live compassionately: When you don’t eat animals and refrain from buying animal products and contributing to things like circuses, you save almost 100 animals a year. And by “saving them”, you are are keeping demand for them low, and ideally they won’t even be bred in the first place.

This video is a kid-friendly animation of zoo animals explaining why they’d rather live elsewhere:

If you are interested in learning more about the harmful impacts of zoos, THIS WEBSITE is full of information.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the LIFE: Discovery Channel series, and watch selected videos free online!