Saturday, July 19, 2014

Should Obesity be Prosecuted


Should Obesity be prosecuted?

The legalization of marijuana in many US states has been welcomed by many and has been rejected by many others. Many objectors find marihuana a drug people get addicted to and should therefore be banned, some four decades ago this particular topic was hot news in the Netherlands, same objections, same arguments.

 The Dutch Approach

Smoking marihuana does not make you more dependent than smoking cigarettes. Contrary, the use of hard drugs increases every year with dire social consequences. A statement understood by the government in the Netherlands, when they decided in the 1970s (40 years ago mind you) to condone and tolerate controlled sales and personal use of soft drugs at registered locations. 
The objective was to separate the sales of soft drugs from the sales of hard drugs. This allowed law enforcement to shift their focus.
Those days the medical benefits were not well known but today it is widely agreed that marihuana has beneficial medical applications. 
The drugs policy in the Netherlands comes under regular scrutiny by neighboring countries, but the sales and use of cannabis is stable and under control and the death rate from the use of hard drugs is now the lowest in Europe.

The introduction of this article may sound a bit odd for an episode of CHEFTALK but allow me to explain why I picked the marijuana topic as intro to talk about the difference between legal and illegal addiction.

What is Legalized Addiction? 

Chocolate Cake
Obesity is a legally approved addiction. Sufferers are in most cases absolutely addicted to food that cause obesity. You are absolutely free to get addicted to obesity, you are free to stay addicted to obesity and you do not get arrested with a box full of doughnuts. 

A little marihuana in your possession may lead to a conviction with dire consequences.

What is the difference? Let’s look at some figures.


More than 1/3 of US adults (34.9%) are obese.
The estimated medical cost of obesity in the US was USD 147 billion in 2008.
The medical costs for people who are obese were $ 1,429 higher than for people with normal weight.
Obesity related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. 
(Source: Center for disease control and prevention)


Healthy Grilled Vegetable Salad
A survey conducted among 70.000 people 12 years and above shows that in 2012, 7.3% or 7.6 million American adults use marihuana and heroin.  Up from 5.8% in 2007.
The use of marihuana alone, decreased for the 12 to 17 year age group from 7.9% in 2011 to 7.2% 2012.
Imprisonment of marijuana users cost an estimated USD 1 billion per year. This excludes loss of income and other social related cost.

Marihuana use has been linked to reduced brain development especially for people in the 12 to 18 year age group. A report that has been challenged in 2013 by the center for economic research in Oslo, stating that socioeconomic issues may have cost the drop in IQ as much as marihuana use. 
(Source: Alternet, University of Washington State, CBS news)

What should be Prosecuted?

Increase of marihuana arrests does not achieve the stated goals of marihuana prohibition. In fact the price of marihuana has dropped despite recent increases in arrests.
Controlled Marihuana use is fairly inexpensive and it helps relief people with certain illnesses yet using the substance is subject to prosecution.  

Obesity in contrast is exactly the opposite, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is America the fattest country in the world and is only getting fatter.

It is estimated that three out of four people in the US will be obese within the next ten years, before 1980 that was one out of every ten citizens.

A sedentary lifestyle combined with a frightening diet are the culprits and largely to blame for this scary prospect awaiting us.

Main excuse seems to be that when we hit the grocery store, white bread, ground chuck and potato chips are less expensive than products from the organic aisle. 
For a struggling family of four having the idea of feeding a family of four with 9 servings a day, the choice is no choice anymore. In addition fast food offers 99 cent meals and the whole thing of choosing the wrong (obesity causing)  products becomes something like unavoidable or a ‘what do you want me to do’ issue.

Healthy and Hearty
Now here is my point, I reject to believe that you have no choice or that your only choice is a 99 cents fast food meal because the organic aisle is too expensive. To me that is just a cheap excuse.  

You have many options to cook inexpensive meals that are healthy, hearty and keep you away from the ‘big size clothing stores and the doctor’s waiting room.

I cook everyday very ordinary simple home cooked food, simply because I believe in it and I am convinced that it is a better choice than 99 cent meals.

If you cannot produce a healthy meal for 99 cent, you certainly cannot buy one.

Think Healthy
I lace this articles with some pictures of my home cooked daily meals, not to show you how good a chef I am but to underline my believe in healthy, home cooked food.

The Netherlands has presently one of the healthiest eating populations in the world.   

In my next article I like to have a look at money saving cooking, so stay tuned! 

You will also learn how a vacuum sealer can help. In the meantime shop around here and

By: Marinus Hoogendoorn

Friday, July 11, 2014

How to Grow your Own Local Produce


How to grow your own local produce?

A recipe to grow your own vegetables

The day after I wrote my previous blog, the one about the food trends, I received a message from a Facebook friend, living in California. She sent me a couple of stunning pictures,  showcasing her, I must say, very impressive vegetable garden, the place was beautifully kept and what impressed me most was that everything they had planted was growing in pots.

The idea

Jalapeno Peppers
I thought that when all these incredible looking vegetables can grow in pots than all of us should be able to have our own home grown produce.  Maybe we do not all have or live in a Californian climate but there are definitely vegetables that can grow in different climates and when they can grow in pots you should be able to grow them anywhere, on your balcony or indoors, in case you do not have a garden.

Upon asking, she told me that the pots, they are all black, become very hot and they need to water them daily because the climate she lives in is pretty hot at times. She gets her husband to do the watering, I found that an idea on itself. 

I live in a hot climate as well, but have not been able to grow even one vegetable in a pot, the proof is on the left, so I decided to try and figure out how and what is the best way to grow your own vegetables.

I Googled it –up.  Unfortunately for me, I do not know a lot about gardening let alone vegetable gardening, I rely on what I read (and think that I can believe what I read), in that respect I always get a little up-set when I come across statements that are not helping me. The first statement I found was ‘You can grow vegetables in a pot, even when you do not have much sunny ground’. Next line ‘all you need is a big pot, soil and six hours of sun per day. Poof, I am out.  To be fair I decided to read a bit further and found that six hours of sunlight actually meant six hours of daylight, benefit of the doubt for that one.

How to start and what you need

Important part is the type of soil to use, sounds like getting the right ingredients to cook a dish, I understand that a lot better. Temperature of the soil seems to be important as well, also something I can comprehend. Gardening is like cooking and can therefore be fun.

Potting medium

You need to use a high quality mix containing peat moss and perlite, blend in a complete fertilizer, preferably an organic one containing alfalfa meal, bone meal or kelp meal. It is starting to sound like a recipe by now and I am getting more exited. Soil polymers help to regulate the dry wet cycle especially when you water by hand, these small crystals absorb their weight more than one hundred times in water and keep the roots of your precious baby plants moist when you forget to water them for a day or so.

Some soil temperatures at planting time:

Beans              at least 60 degrees
Carrots            at least 55 degrees
Cucumbers      at least 70 degrees
Eggplant          at least 70 degrees
Peppers           at least 60 degrees
Potatoes          at least 45 degrees

When you get your soil temperature within this range, you’re off to a pretty good start. 

Any vegetable that grows in the ground can be grown in a container, as long as you use drainable pots. Big sized crops like pumpkins may not be worth the effort but you don’t have to stick with so called patio varieties. Most standard size vegetables are suitable for container or pot culture. For beans and carrots, plan to sow the seeds directly in the soil filled container. Grow other types of vegetables from seed or purchase ready to go plants. Eggplants, peppers and tomatoes take about eight weeks to develop into seedlings ready to be replanted into a bigger pot.  

Loads of Tomatoes
I truly believe that growing your own vegetables is worth a try and can be very rewarding and cost saving. I wish to thank my Facebook friend for this great idea and allowing me to use the pictures from her vegetable garden.

When you become a successful gardener and have a respectable harvest. 
Pre-prepare the excessive crops, vacuum and freeze. 

That remains a splendid idea. 

By: The gardener under study. Marinus Hoogendoorn     

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Food Trends Of 2014


The food trends of 2014

Every year the new food trends for the coming year appear all over the food lovers media.

Food is next to water and in exceptional cases shelter, the main survival for man. Trends are for the imagination of people. Here is my selection for your imagination.

1. Locally sourced produce:

Americans are increasingly craving for produce grown in their own region, rather than imported delicacies. The National Restaurant Association found in their ‘What’s Hot in 2014 chef survey, that the top trend for 2014 will be locally grown produce and locally sourced seafood and meats.

So we can expect more stuff from our backyard on the menu when we go to our favorite lunch stop. Aren't we funny people? We were dying for imported products from exotic holiday destinations, now we want the return of the carrot.

2. Vegetables triumph:

Meat loving America goes veggie. Another survey found that more than half of all Americans eat at least one protein free, or vegetarian meal per week, up 40% since 2007. One third of all restaurants have at least one vegetarian dish as entrée without shying customers away.

That is good news for all animals and animal lovers. The vegetarian food campaigners are beating the Paleo diet lovers. Top veggies are onions and tomatoes. Locally grown? Let’s hope so.

3. Healthy Kid meals:

The N.R.A. found that parents are fighting obesity among children. They want healthier kid’s meals on restaurant menus. One of the top 10 trends.

This show’s where the local produce and veggie trends come from. Parents are looking at their own obesity. Blame it on the kids menu and forget that they feed their kids. Anyway, more apples and yoghurt is a good idea for many of us.

4. Gluten free:

Who ever thought that gluten free was a passing-by trend will be proven wrong. Buck wheat pasta, rice noodles and more recent popular grains like quinoa and amaranth are still high on the trend list.

This is great news. All purpose flour is questionable by GMO dis-likers, so a bit of ‘healthy’ competition is more than welcome.

5. Instant ice cream:

In conjunction with the homegrown and get your local produce, this form of modern handicraft was just a matter of time. The use of liquid nitrogen is already popular in eateries, drawing many when dessert arrives. Soon it will appear all over the country making our ‘local ice cream’ in seconds.

Heston Blumenthal, the master of the smoking plate, has been running around the globe with a bottle of liquid nitrogen for a few years now, so this trend was just a matter of time. Your locally produced strawberry with local produced cane sugar ice cream, on a locally produced gluten free bun, seems to be the upcoming craze. Ice cream sandwich. Yum.

6. Nuts:

High protein, healthy nuts are high on the list of carb-cutting Americans. A survey conducted late last year found that 70% of American households have nuts on hand and incorporate them in all three meals they consume per day.

Jimmy Carter pleaser. Nuts are good for you though and flax seeds are very high in Omega 3 fatty acids. Many other nuts have good health properties. Dr. Oz says that 3 meals plus 2 snacks per day helps to promote metabolism. So go for it, nuts work great in snacks.

7. Quality Pizza:

The times of cheap, layered with low-quality ingredients, pizza are ending. Artisan, Gourmet pizza chains are on the rise and gaining popularity among pizza lovers. Big backers are behind this trend and therefore it is likely to take the country by storm. You can expect a Gourmet pizza outlet in your neighborhood any time.

I beg your pardon, does this mean that America has been swallowing 350.000 slices of cheap low quality pizza everyday without realizing. These slices of soggy dough that touch the floor faster then they reach your mouth when they are pulled out of the delivery box. Homemade pizza is still your best choice when you ask me.

8. Chicken Wings:

America can’t get enough of them. In 2012, 13.5 Billion chicken wings were marketed. During the Super bowl weekend more than 1 Billion chicken wings are cooked, grilled, roasted, BBQ’ed and eaten. Stunning figures. Still the USDA predicts a 3% increase in chicken wing production.

Pretty much a contradiction to the veggie trend but it strikes with the local produce trend.

9. Upscale comfort food:

It is said that America should watch out for more upscale comfort food. Mac and cheese with sautéed salami, peppers, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and onions. “Highbrow comfort foods are popping up all over the menus” says a well known Hospitality Consultant based in California.

Somewhat baffling, if sautéed salami, peppers, garlic and onions with tomatoes, sun-dried or not, is upscale or “highbrow” what are these producers stuffing the Mac & cheese now with then?

To conclude: I love this stuff, looking forward to next year trends but wish to add that overall it seems that healthier eating is on the rise and that is a promising trend. 

My trend, home cooked food, a balanced diet, by in bulk to save cost, buddy share, portion pack, vacuum and chill or freeze. KNOW WHAT YOU EAT!!