Sunday, June 21, 2009

Of organic compost, and of meatlessness

The business about what gets called "organic" when it comes to compost horrified me so much that I asked for guidance from my new best friends at the appropriately-named farm & garden suppliers Integrity Sales. They were helpful and sympathetic. The key, they said, is to look for OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) certification (was relieved to discover my favourite soil amendment, Sea Soil, is OMRI certified.. and guaranteed free of sewage sludge).

So I guess "organic" is one of those loophole words, like "fair trade", that has been pounced upon for marketing purposes. Anyone can use the word, and a lot of opportunists will do so, counting on public ignorance of what it should properly mean, to make a quick buck. So you have to be alert and remember to look for certification.

Bernadette posted a link to the Meatless Monday website: a grand idea, I thought. It describes itself thus:
Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health. Our goal is to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.
Which, given what I'd read in Food Matters, by Mark Bittman, back in January (he quoted an FAO statistic, that "global livestock production is responsible for about one-fifth of all greenhouse gases - more than transportation") is a nice, easy-to-remember way of reducing consumption. (Hopefully people are not simply replacing meat with fish in this day and age.)

I'd think the meatless Mondays should be added to any meatless Fridays our Catholic friends might already be practising, of course. And speaking of religion, anyone wanting to go for the weight control and health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet should be aware that the people studied for this (Cretan men in the 1960s) were actually eating very little meat to start with, and reducing their meat consumption in large part because of the numerous fasting days prescribed by the Greek Orthodox Church.


Anonymous Joey Lee said...


Joey here, from Meatless Monday. I just wanted to thank you for writing such a thoughful post on meatlessness and mentioning our campaign specifically. You write of Mark Bittman and his book Foot Matters. Bittman (who is one of my personal favorites- foodie writer wise) has also been public in stating that he and his family observe Meatless Monday ever week.

Many foodie bloggers think it's fun to start a weekly Meatless Monday column. You feel free to use any of our recipes or your own. The only criteria is that it must be meatless. Most post a recipe every Monday as well as stories or pictures or videos for how their delectable Meatless creation came to be. Do you think you'd be interested in doing weekly Meatless Monday posts?

I'd love to be in more direct communication with you so we can better coordinate outreach efforts. If you're interested in doing a weekly Meatless Monday post please email me at

Happy Monday,

Joey Lee
Executive Assistant
Meatless Monday

P.S. If you'd like to follow our campaign through other social networking sites, you can join our cause on facebook ( or follow our tweets (

Also- here's a link so you can pledge to join the Meatless Monday movement:
(if you sign up for Eaters Digest News the recipes and newsstories will come to your inbox every Monday morning.)

3:02 p.m.  
Blogger the regina mom said...

I truly love the interweb!

7:38 p.m.  
Blogger Rhona McAdam said...

..and all who dwell there!

10:52 p.m.  
Blogger leah fritz said...

Dear Rhona,
We avoid meat and fish a couple of times each week, sometimes a whole week, but not necessarily on a Monday! What I want to know, though, is what the fast the Cretan men observe consists of. Do they eat no food for four days or so, or just fruit or veg., or what?
Carry on brilliantly!
Love, Leah

2:12 a.m.  
Blogger Rhona McAdam said...

Hi Leah,

Here are the Greek Orthodox fasting rules as reported by the researchers. The fasting described restricts some of the foods you can eat (esp. meat and dairy products); as you can see, if strictly observed, you'd be watching your diet very carefully for more than half the year:

The Orthodox Church specifies dietary restrictions and a fasting for a total of 180–200 d annually. The faithful are advised to avoid olive oil, meat, fish, milk, eggs and cheese every Wednesday and Friday, with the exception of the week after Christmas, Easter and the Pentecost.
There are three principal fasting periods annually. The first of these is a total of 40 d preceding Christmas when meat, dairy products and eggs are not allowed, while fish and olive oil are allowed except on Wednesdays and Fridays.
The second is a period of 48 d preceding Easter (Lent). During Lent fish is allowed only on 2 d (25 March and Palm Sunday) whereas meat, dairy products and eggs are not allowed. Olive oil consumption is allowed only during weekends.
Third, there is a total of 15 d in August (the Assumption) when the same dietary rules apply as for Lent with the exception of fish consumption, which is allowed only on 6 August (Metamorphosis). Seafood such as shrimps, squid, cuttlefish, octopus, lobsters, crabs as well as snails are allowed on all fasting days throughout the year.

9:10 a.m.  

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