Part I – Betsy Rosenberg
A veteran of CBS Radio News with a specialty in environmental reporting, Betsy Rosenberg launched EcoTalk – formerly TrashTalk – on KCBS Radio in San Francisco in 1997. She produced and hosted more than 1200 one-minute segments covering green lifestyles with a consumer focus and a “news-you-can-use” approach.
From 2004 through 2007, Rosenberg hosted EcoTalk as an hour-long interview program on Air America Radio. It was the nation’s first syndicated environmental show on commercial radio and was the only green hour to air as a prime-time daily program.
She is currently launching a new project, Green-To-Go radio features (quick tips, lasting impact). Green-To-Go will be syndicated on mainstream channels nationwide. As the co-founder of Don’t Be Fueled! – Mothers For Clean and Safe Vehicles, she leads a six-year-old national campaign aimed at increasing supply and demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Rosenberg is a graduate of The Climate Project, Al Gore‘s training program created to better educate the public about global warming, and she has been a regular guest on local and national television programs, including CNN Headline News and Fox News. Rosenberg speaks about greening our lifestyles, climate change, fuel-efficient vehicles and her work on the Don’t Be Fueled! campaign, and green radio.
Part II – Ellen Kanner
Ellen Kanner is an award-winning food writer and author of Feeding the Hungry Ghost: Life, Faith and What to Eat for Dinner. She is also Huffington Post‘s Meatless Monday blogger and the syndicated columnist Edgy Veggie, is published in Bon Appetit, Eating Well, Vegetarian Times, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and Culinate as well as in other online and print publications. She’s an ardent advocate for sustainable, accessible food, serving on the Miami boards of Slow Food and Common Threads.
When she’s not teaching undeserved students to cook and speaking about what we’re hungry for, Ellen takes time to tend her tiny organic vegetable garden, hike in the Everglades, make friends with cows and make dinner with friends. She believes in close community, strong coffee, organic food and red lipstick. A fourth-generation Floridian, she lives la vida vegan in Miami with her husband. Learn more about Ellen at www.ellen-ink.com
TRANSCRIPTION PART I:
Caryn Hartglass: Hey, this is Caryn Hartglass, and you’re listening to It’s All About Food! Thanks for joining me today. It is April 23, 2013. It’s the day after Earth Day and the day after my birthday, and I have to admit I’m quite…what’s the word, fried, maybe, today. Earth Day was such a spectacular day yesterday. We premiered The Swingin’ Gourmets here in San Jose, California. I’m actually on a little road trip. And this was a, what I want to say is it’s a vegan cabaret musical. It was so much fun, it really went well, and for those of you who joined us, thank you so much. The whole month around Earth Day is pretty good. People think a little bit more about the environment. I would like people to think about the environment maybe every day. We only live here all of our lives, and we should really be nurturing and taking care of the planet, but okay. So around Earth Day is an opportunity for groups to have different events and I was at the Berkeley Vegan Earth Day event a few days ago and got to speak and met some of you, some of my listeners, that’s always very fun. Lots of wonderful things are happening. I want to bring on my first guest. This is one of these PRN cross-promotional things where we have other guests from PRN on our show, and I’ve been trying to get this person on my show for a very long time. Welcome to It’s All About Food, Betsy Rosenberg from On the Green Front. Betsy, how are you today?
Betsy Rosenberg: Well Caryn, I want to welcome you to the Bay area. Happy Earth Day and Happy Birthday.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you!
Betsy Rosenberg: And when you mentioned that we had glorious weather, I was going to say, “Oh, out here too.” We just had this amazing run of blue skies, sunny days, getting warmer progressively. Little bit too warm for my tastes today, it’s about eighty-two degrees. I’m in San Rafael, just north of San Francisco today.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh yeah, beautiful.
Betsy Rosenberg: It does seem a little early to be this hot, but what the heck, it’s global weirding.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, well it’s kind of cliché to talk about the weather, but I’m always talking about the weather. Everyone’s always talking about the weather because it’s changing.
Betsy Rosenberg: We complain about it. That’s the question, right?
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly. But it is beautiful here, and I sometimes laugh when people complain about the weather because you have nothing to complain about.
Betsy Rosenberg: You are so right. My cousins were in town from London this past week. They’re thinking about moving here, in part because they did not see the sun for six months, between October and March. They were lucky to hit a really great—we literally didn’t see a cloud for the whole week they were here, and they were like in shock and sunburned when they left.
Caryn Hartglass: What’s spectacular right now is it’s spring and I couldn’t help but notice, whenever I’m outside just breathing is a delight. It’s so fragrant. There’s the rose garden in San Jose where we like to run and you can literally smell the roses. So fabulous just everywhere. We were down in Santa Cruz, the air was just spectacular. And you know, why not?
Betsy Rosenberg: If it’s not on your birthday and Earth Day and if you don’t smell the roses, when are you going to, right?
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right. But it’s not about what the next best thing is you’re going to buy, the next best gadget that’s going to really make you happy. For me, just smelling some delicious air, it’s intoxicating.
Betsy Rosenberg: Mmm. Could not agree with you more, if you might imagine. And we need to, I think, that’s the thing, get back to the simple pleasures in life, because Lord knows life is getting more complex daily, rapidly, with technology. I just came off a two-hour training session with the social media consultant I hired so I can let the world know about my radio show and my work. She showed me Pinterest and Instagram and of course, Twitter and Facebook, they’re pretty obvious. There’s something called Quora, there’s something—a couple of others that start with a “K.” I mean, it’s just krazy. Krazy with a “K.”
Caryn Hartglass: There’s just too much.
Betsy Rosenberg: Yeah. So when I learn the basics, by the time I do, they’re going to have three more new platforms that I’m going to have to learn and I just, it’s so…yeah. Stop and just take a deep breath of fresh air and get re-grounded because things are just really taking off a little bit too quickly for my tastes.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, I love the Internet, and I love technology, and I love a lot of the convenience that it’s brought us. But the question is, is it really making us happier? And I don’t know if I have that answer. And I have to apologize if you hear any strange noises in the background because I’m actually in a mall right now.
Betsy Rosenberg: Oh, that’s appropriate as we’re talking about not getting bogged down with stuff.
Caryn Hartglass: I mean, one of the advantages about malls, which I’m never in because I don’t do a lot of shopping, but this particular one has free Internet. I’ve been sitting here taking advantage of that.
Betsy Rosenberg: Well then, there is this that advantage for sure. Before we go any deeper, I just want to acknowledge what this progress toward technology means is something like what we just saw, which was the quick apprehension of the Boston Bombers.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
Betsy Rosenberg: That’s the best use of technology, certainly. But I do think we need to… You said we’re going to have to stop and really look at how much is too much because, I don’t know, I just worry that people are never going to get outside and play. And I’m talking about children of all ages. If we’re constantly in front of our screens: computers, televisions, telephones. It’s a good thing if we manage it. If it takes us over, not so good.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it’s all about balance. And it’s so easy to get unbalanced. And as I mentioned before, we just premiered this event last night in San Jose, it was a vegan cabaret musical.
Betsy Rosenberg: That sounds so California, I love that!
Caryn Hartglass: Well actually we plan on doing it in New York, but we wanted to test it out here in the California waters. And what I was just thinking while you were talking about technology is we’re not in community as much anymore with all the social networking. The community is online, but there’s nothing like being face-to-face with individuals. Last night was like a lovefest for me, seeing so many of my friends and peers and colleagues. There’s nothing like looking in someone’s eyes, and I’m not talking about being on Skype and looking at their eyes.
Betsy Rosenberg: Without a screen, I know. It’s like, I have 1,500 friends on Facebook, but who am I going to have lunch with?
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly, and it’s important. So important. Okay, so let’s get back to our home: the planet Earth. I think the planet Earth will ultimately do fine as a planet. At least for another few however-long-the-sun-holds-out-to-keep-things-spinning.
Betsy Rosenberg: You can see the sun, with increasing pollution, yes. It’ll be there, whether we’re here or not. I think that’s where you’re going with this, right?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I mean, but the question really is humanity. Are we going to be able to survive with everything that we’re doing?
Betsy Rosenberg: Well, someone once said that the planet will be fine. Mother Earth will just shake us off like so many ants. It’s not going to happen quite that dramatically or overnight or maybe not at all, especially if we wake up and smell the carbon and take a look at what’s happening in front of our very eyes. But I do think we’re going to see a slow diminishment in quality of life if we don’t start protecting our life support system. I talk about rather than saying “the environment,” “our environment.” This is our life support system and that’s why in 2013, almost midway through this year, after the year of epic, almost biblical weather events of 2012, it blows my mind that there are very few mainstream media outlets covering the kinds of things that we talk about on our show. Thank goodness for Progressive Radio Network and Internet radio and media, but there is something to be said for being on a platform where there’s already millions of listeners or viewers to really capture the mainstream and the ones that really most need to start connecting the green dots. So I think if we really don’t educate and inform and inspire more mainstream American public citizens, I worry that we’re really going to be harming not only the next generation and beyond, but just the quality of life for everybody going forward because if we have to fight harder for clean air, food, stable climate is less of a given, life is just going to get harder. And it’s pretty darn comfortable right now. It’s too bad that rather than working hard to preserve that, we’re kind of getting complacent, I would say. Especially in this country.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. The key word there is comfortable, and unfortunately I think that a lot won’t happen until people are really uncomfortable. It’s an odd thing, but I think we’re in denial—at least the mainstream is in denial, doesn’t want to acknowledge what’s going on. And I think in some ways that’s a…that was a survival trait with humans. That we needed to not allow some things in so that we could get on and do what it is we need to do, but we have to really acknowledge what’s going on because now it’s going to kill us if we don’t change things.
Betsy Rosenberg: Survival trait gone awry, if you will.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, exactly. Now you know what my passion is, my passion is food. And I believe we need to make a lot of changes. And technology has certainly advanced very quickly and at the expense of the environment because we never really included the costs of limited resources and cleanup in our return on investments when we’re considering whether we want to launch a product or not. And we don’t include those things in the price of a product. And all that needs to change. And in some ways it is changing. There’s a lot of great new innovations coming out, but the thing that I always say is all of these things are going to take a lot of time and a lot of money. And if we have the time and money, those things will take place and things will improve. And that’s where my passion about food comes in because here is where we can make an absolute significant dent in cleaning up the environment today. But people have to know that they are responsible. It’s every individual who has to make the changes. Every individual has to select food choices that are gentler on the planet.
Betsy Rosenberg: And then once again, that’s where the role of education comes in. And that’s where mass media could really help us do our job faster.
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly.
Betsy Rosenberg: Because we don’t have a lot of time. If you just look at the rapidity of the onset of climate change and climate chaos, and what the scientists have been saying for a year or two, is we have two or five years to turn things around. What does that mean? That means we’re not going to be able to stop climate chaos because what’s already up in the atmosphere will be there fifty to a hundred years in terms of greenhouse gases, but if we don’t slow, we can’t stop. Slow what we’re spewing into the atmosphere, we’re going to lock in more destructive weather events and patterns. And so, it all is connected to food because we need it to live and of course, as I’m sure you talk a lot about on your show, a plant-based diet versus a meat- or animal-based diet, it’s a lot worse for the environment. We’re learning meat is also not good for humans, which I’m sure you and your listeners know, but I’ve been seeing, recently, advertisements for steakhouses on the television and radio where I never did before. I bet it has something to do with just a couple of weeks ago, that new research that came out that says steak is dangerous.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, yes. On carnitine.
Betsy Rosenberg: Because of carnitine, yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: I was so excited when that came out.
Betsy Rosenberg: I thought of you. I thought of you and my other vegan proponents and said, “You know what? This is gonna help a lot.” It should.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, well that’s a whole another conversation. I am really fascinated by bacteria and I think that’s where all the great science is going to come from. All the studies on bacteria. This is a whole new field, and that’s where the carnitine story came in, because we have different kinds of bacteria in our gut if we eat a lot of meat or if we don’t. And that works with the carnitine in a negative way to increase arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. But bacteria. It’s just fascinating.
Betsy Rosenberg: Mm.
Caryn Hartglass: And you know, the bacteria will survive whether humans do or not.
Betsy Rosenberg: Yeah, I guess it’s just us. That’s U period, S period, U.S. The United States, we’re the ones that really need to take a look in the mirror and say, if we want to survive and thrive again, let alone our children and grandchildren and seven generations beyond, what do we need to do to change the direction we’re going?
Caryn Hartglass: Right. Now I want to get personal. So I believe that the responsibility is up to every one of us. Every one of us makes a difference, and if you think that “you” making a change, and that’s the global “you,” you’re wrong. Every one of us. It’s that drop in the bucket concept where enough drops will fill the bucket. But Betsy! Let’s talk about you! Now, I know that you recently did a Juice Fest?
Betsy Rosenberg: Yes. I am a believer in plant-based diets and cleansing. Not with maple syrup and cayenne pepper, I tried that once. That didn’t last more than a day. But I’ve been on—I don’t know if you’re familiar with Diana Stobo, but she has a book of recipes, raw food mostly. And it’s called Get Naked Fast! It’s all about getting rid of the foods that weigh us down. And I just happened to know her because we lived in the same town—she moved to southern California recently. But I did her ten-day cleanse twice. Your day starts with lemon water and then green juice and then I have green tea. And often times by noon, I haven’t even had a bite of solid food. And what a difference it made. Of course, I lost five pounds each time. But I just felt so much better, because as anyone who eats the way you do and probably most of your listeners do, there’s—I call it less stomach drama. There’s just less going on. And it feels good.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay.
Betsy Rosenberg: And you wake up with a flat tummy. Less activity. All those things that are kind of…
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, so what happened after the fact, that’s what I want to know about.
Betsy Rosenberg: Yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: Did you change anything in your regular eating habits?
Betsy Rosenberg: That’s a very good question. I’d say incorporating less of the bad, more of the good. There are days that I don’t do that. You can ask my family. I still kinda have my cravings, which tend to be around cheese and cookies, not good. But I’ve been lucky, ‘cause I’ve always had a high metabolism, and even though I’m fifty-something, I’m pretty much my normal weight. So I don’t have to worry much about that. But of course, as you get older you have to worry about health and optimum health.
Caryn Hartglass: Right.
Betsy Rosenberg: So I’m a believer. I’m a convert, I would say. Truly, I’ve always been about green everything, but now it’s all about green diets and green juice, that’s really where it starts. And because we have the obesity epidemic that we do and diabetes and health problems that go along with it—heart disease, cancer—and our climate and environmental crises, in one fell swoop we could forget all the diets, just change the way we eat. And the meat industry and the dairy industry probably wouldn’t be as happy, nor would the fossil fuel industry and chemical industries be as happy if we really changed the way we live to be much more sustainable for person and planet. But we need to go that way because incremental, slow changes won’t really do it.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right.
Betsy Rosenberg: We really need to make it more radical and more rapid, right?
Caryn Hartglass: We could solve so many problems and people could feel so much better. It’s just so frustrating for me because the answers are here. They’re not expensive. It just takes individual courage. Environmentalists. Why are most environmentalists not getting the message about food?
Betsy Rosenberg: Mm. Starting with our fearless leader Al Gore, although he’s starting to pay attention a little bit more.
Caryn Hartglass: He’s moving in a better direction, yeah, but why is it… I know it’s hard for people to change their diets. But there’s really a serious veil. People don’t want to lift the veil, they don’t want to acknowledge it, and I know they know. I know they know. They have to know. If you’re studying the environment, you have to know about animal agriculture and how devastating it is, and yet they don’t want to acknowledge it. So tell me: what’s the reason?
Betsy Rosenberg: I agree. I think many people think that they need animal protein when they’re craving protein and they haven’t quite made those substitutions, so they feel like it’ll be too much of a personal sacrifice. Maybe they’ve convinced themselves that it would not be healthy for them even though, again, the information and statistics are out there to show that this is a much—a plant-based diet is much healthier all-around. I think people have their vices, even environmentalists. I think it’s the last taboo. I mean, I gave up shopping for clothes because I moved several times in the last six years and realized I have enough clothes to open a store, and that was my one vice. Two vices, I had left, that and eating chicken and occasionally a taco with meat in it, I would never sit down and have a steak or a lamb chop for years. But, gradually going in that direction. So I think even those of us… And yeah, it’s somewhat hypocritical, but I say, well I don’t cook meat for my family, my daughter’s a vegetarian, my husband doesn’t eat meat or dairy, so if I have a little bit if I’m at a restaurant every now and then ‘cause I’m craving it, okay. So I think the more we know, the more cognitive dissonance we should have, in terms of “yeah, this is really not good for the planet.” So I didn’t feel too bad ‘cause I didn’t eat much meat. I did feel somewhat hypocritical, and I wish we could spread that gene, clone that gene of cognitive dissonance and have more people feeling a little less comfortable, if you will. So I think it’s just the way we’ve been raised. We baby boomers were raised to think meat is good and healthy and …
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Betsy Rosenberg: Not my family so much, but many were raised on steak and potatoes and that does take some changing. I think the next generation will do better just because…you would know the number of vegetarians and vegans growing. I don’t know what rate, but it has to be going up.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I think we’re at two percent vegan and four percent vegetarian in the United States, something like that.
Betsy Rosenberg: And that’s still so small. And you know what that reflects, Caryn? When people say, “Oh I see so many hybrid cars,” or “I’ve got a plug-in Prius,” “now I’m starting to see more electric cars or plug-ins.” I say, “but get this: hybrids, plug-ins, electrics still only account, I believe, for three to four percent of all cars sold in this country.” So it’s still way too small to really make a dent, really make a difference. How do we ramp that up? I do believe there is a role for media. This is my soapbox, but I cannot believe that there is not one commercial, mainstream outlet that dedicates at least one hour a week, if not daily, to discussing these issues, given how many problems we have and how many solutions are encompassed in changing our lifestyle and our consciousness. As I say, we need to have an educated citizenry to demand greener products—including food—programs, policies, politicians, and presidents. And until we have that mass movement, that’s got to begin with education and information. Not just what you should do ‘cause somebody said, ‘cause Caryn or Betsy said, but what will make you and your family feel better. And save money, because even if you buy organic produce, which is a little bit more than non-organic, granted, it’s a lot less than buying meat.
Caryn Hartglass: Mm-hm. Absolutely. I like to say it’s all about food, but we’re in this capitalistic environment which has gone out of balance. Or maybe that’s just what happens when you’re in capitalism for so long. Where we are today, with this extremely wide gap in the middle with the middle class disappearing. The rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and everyone getting poorer unless they’re rich. It would be great to have a media station like “The Green Channel” or something that broadcasts all day long about issues.
Betsy Rosenberg: Don’t you think?
Caryn Hartglass: I mean, why don’t we have that? We don’t have that because there’s no money behind it. And the people that want to have it can’t afford it. I would do it, but I can’t afford it. And the investors, the advertising people that are advertising on television—I don’t have cable because I don’t watch television very often, I just have a few handfuls of channels—the commercials are always cell phones and cars and pharmaceuticals. There’s nothing else that’s being advertised. Those are the people that have advertising budgets.
Betsy Rosenberg: That’s right. Oh, don’t forget about the oil and coal and natural gas companies.
Caryn Hartglass: Sure.
Betsy Rosenberg: They’re every other commercial on CNN, ‘cause I do watch CNN.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, okay, well I don’t have CNN, so that’s maybe a whole another demographic and advertising rate, seeing that the oil and gas people like to go there.
Betsy Rosenberg: Oh yeah, even with the middle of Hurricane Sandy, right, some mainstream media outlets, news outlets were actually saying, “Gee, could this be climate change?” And it was almost like they heated up, more than ever, the number of fossil fuel industry ads, as if they were getting nervous and saying, “Oh no, no problem with the coal-centric future. No problem with fracking.” Au contraire. Because the other side can never, will never have the kind of resources, if you will, to put the truth about GMOs or some of the health and environmental risks associated with fracking. That’s the problem. And so people, Americans, will be willingly lulled to sleep or happy to hear that they don’t really have to worry or change their ways. I’m generalizing here, but for the most part they want to stay in their comfort zone and the advertisers are keeping them there.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, here’s something completely different now. Most of the time on mainstream media, we hear all of the sensational stuff about horrible things going on. We’ve certainly had a number of horrible things go on in the last week and in the last few months. But that’s what we are shown. And that’s what’s selected for us to see. But there are many other things going on. There’s many wonderful things where people are doing things or inventing things or creating things that are affecting as many people or more people than were affected in some of the recent horrible things that happened. We don’t hear about them. Ever.
Betsy Rosenberg: And even the horrible things that are happening with our environment, we don’t hear about them. Isn’t that interesting, how there is—pardon the expression—almost a gang-bang mentality as far as mainstream media covering the atrocities, the incredible tragedy of Newtown. Which should be, people should be up in arms—pardon the expression—about the need for gun control and what just happened with the bombings, that absolutely should get coverage. But it’s day in, day out, and it goes on and on. If we don’t use these experiences to do something to change our reality, shame on the media for covering it so much but it doesn’t lead to anything, or shame on Americans. If we had the same coverage twenty-four-seven of what’s going on with the fact that we’re almost at 400 parts per million of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere when the best thinkers say we shouldn’t be above 350 parts per million of greenhouse gases, why is that not reason to wake up and smell the carbon, to go, “America, we’ve got a crisis here” and get that kind of same coverage. What will it take? More epic weather? More towns flattened? More lives lost, more livelihood gone? More livestock gone?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Do you know… Is it a censorship issue with advertisers? Are there journalists with the mainstream outlets that do want to present information like we’re talking about and they’re just not allowed, or are they just not interested in doing that?
Betsy Rosenberg: I think it’s both, Caryn, ‘cause I worked in mainstream media.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. That’s why I’m asking you.
Betsy Rosenberg: I worked for CBS Radio for twenty-some-odd years. I had to start my own feature called “Trash Talk” to get a designated minute on three times a week, recycled, so nine times a week. I had to fight my news director who didn’t think that that was news: reduce, reuse, recycle tips. We had Martha Stewart on every day talking about something that I would argue may be popular, but is not exactly newsworthy, and that’s really where I prevailed and he predicted I’d have three weeks’ worth of material. So I had to create a show, if you will, it was just sixty-second spots, to get that kind of coverage on, and then had to convince Air America that an hour-long show on a weekly and daily basis was needed. It’s the gatekeepers that, I think, are timid and kind of small-minded, but it’s what comes first, right? They think that the public isn’t interested in this and the public doesn’t see these concerns, if they have them, reflected on their mainstream media outlets, so some turn to the Internet and that’s happening more and more, networks like Progressive Radio Network. But we’re not gonna capture enough of the masses unless it’s there in the daily mix, in the places where they still have millions and millions of viewers and listeners. And let’s not forget, ninety-five percent of all conventional talk radio, terrestrial broadcast-based radio, is conservative. They won’t let a green show on, ‘cause I’ve tried, I’ve gone to the top. So it’s a combination of they’re enjoying their party, Rush and friends and company, they don’t want to let anyone spoil it. And it’s also, I think, not enough people who run programming departments really understand that this is not a niche thing anymore, that this is really a mainstream concern, it being what’s going on with our environment, which of course is many issues under that umbrella—the food we eat. I don’t think that programmers, the gatekeepers, really see the relevance and the urgency and the potential for solutions and the positive energy that’s behind proponents of a different kind of lifestyle.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, they’re probably not listening to the Progressive Radio Network like they should be.
Betsy Rosenberg: You think?
Caryn Hartglass: It always boggles my mind. You go to many doctors and most of them really don’t know much about healing. Sure, they’ve been to med school and they’re smart, but they’ve somewhat closed the door on learning more or learning about other things than what was in their curriculum. And I guess it’s the same with all fields.
Betsy Rosenberg: Really that’s a very good comparison, Caryn, because they just don’t have it in their toolkit. They just really haven’t focused on it for whatever reason, and so therefore it’s not relevant, it’s not in their sphere of understanding. Unfortunately, and I’ve been to many of them, as far as just programmers and syndicators, nobody seems to get it. Even Al Gore, when he had his Current TV network, he didn’t think we needed a climate change show unless he did it himself, but he was too busy. I mean, I’m kind of speaking out of school here, but hey, that blew my mind. Okay.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Betsy Rosenberg: Where do we go from here, folks? It’s great that the Internet has democratized both media from a content provider and a consumer point-of-view. Again, it’s got to be not just niche audiences, just the progressive Greens, God love them, they’re the only ones that listen to my show and your show. How will we grow the choir fast enough? That’s the challenge. Not that it can’t be done, but how do we do that? How do we bridge that big divide.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. So we just have like, a couple minutes left. Anything good happening in the environment these days?
Betsy Rosenberg: Yes. Farmer’s markets are really thriving everywhere, and I think that’s a really positive sign. I think that companies, corporations, manufacturers are starting to see that they don’t need to over-package things, that they can save their bottom line, their financial bottom line by not just overdoing things so much. There’s a little bit of consciousness beginning to penetrate into the mainstream product purveyors. I mean, I’d like to, what else… There’s new technology with cars. I mean, I’m getting 95 miles per gallon with my plug-in Prius. Don’t I feel pious, ‘cause I only have to go to the gas station every two weeks instead of every week. But, as long as they’re more expensive… I just lease mine, I couldn’t afford to buy one probably either, but I’m an early adopter, I’m on my fifth Prius, so I kinda get a new one every two years for a little bit extra a month, but not much. So most people don’t see the benefit. Even saving gas money and time, it’s the long-term benefit. We need to factor the environment in. So even though we have new technology, if it’s not adopted and adapted quickly enough by the masses, it really won’t be good news.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, I know. I don’t own a car ‘cause I live in New York City, but we rented a Hyundai Sonata for this trip, which is not a plug-in but it recharges while you’re driving, I guess. Really great gas miles, it was just kind of fun to experience that and I know that we can do a lot better with our transportation.
Betsy Rosenberg: I think people expect the performance to be compromised in these hybrid cars and it’s really not anything that you are losing, you’re gaining time and saving money. But it does cost a little bit more up front. And of course, it’s chicken and egg. If more Americans bought these cars, they could mass produce them for less money and then they’d be cheaper. So that’s the chicken and egg conundrum that we’re stuck in right now. But I have to think that we are on the verge of some kind of breakthrough because we just can’t continue on this path without it becoming more painfully obvious that things need to change. Just look at what they’re forecasting with weather.
Caryn Hartglass: We can’t continue, especially with China and India and other countries coming onboard learning from our mistakes and repeating our mistakes and magnifying our mistakes, so…
Betsy Rosenberg: Exactly, exactly.
Caryn Hartglass: These next few years are really going be fun, aren’t they?
Betsy Rosenberg: Well, there’s a lot to talk about, and I thank you, Caryn, for the great work you’re doing.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you, Betsy, thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food. It’s been great.
Betsy Rosenberg: Okay. Have a great one. Bye-bye.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, bye-bye. Okay, I’m Caryn Hartglass, you’re listening to It’s All About Food, we’re going to take a little break, and I’ll be back with Ellen Kanner, the author of Feeding the Hungry Ghost.
Transcribed by JC, 6/26/2013
TRANSCRIPTION PART II:
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody, we’re back and you’re listening to It’s All About Food, It’s April 23, 2013. A day after my birthday and the day after Earth Day! I’m feeling pretty good, pretty tired after a really big Earth Day and I’m happy to be here today talking about food, my favorite subject. I want to know who you are. I’ve been doing some events lately, traveling around and people come up to me and tell me they listen to the show and you have no idea how wonderful that is to actually see who you are. If you have a chance to drop me an email tell me about what you like, what you don’t like, and who you are, I really would really like to know you. That’ll help me when I’m talking in an empty studio. I’m actually in a mall and I have to apologize if the sound is not the best, but like I said, I’m traveling and this was really the only place I could broadcast today. Thank you for putting up with that. Now it’s time for some fun, I want to bring out my guest Ellen Kanner. She’s the author of Feeding the Hungry Ghost, she’s an award winning food writer and author of Feeding the Hungry Ghost, Life, Faith, and What to Eat for Dinner. She’s also the Huffington Post’s Meatless Monday blogger and is the syndicated columnist Edgy Veggie, is published in Bon Appetit, Eating Well, Vegetarian Times, Everyday with Rachel Rae, and, Culinate as well as in other online and in print publications. She’s an ardent advocate for sustainable, accessible food, serving on the Miami boards of Slow Food and Common Threads. Hi Ellen.
Ellen Kanner: Hi Caryn, happy birthday, happy Earth Day, keep the celebration going.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m totally there, I’m reading your book, I’m about halfway through and I’m saying yes! It’s all about the celebration! That’s the best thing about what we do, it’s fun and it’s a party and the food is fabulous.
Ellen Kanner: Absolutely, we have got to get this message out there.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you for playing team vegan by the way, that is fantastic.
Ellen Kanner: For playing what?
Caryn Hartglass: Team vegan.
Ellen Kanner: Oh yeah, where are our shirts? We need team vegan shirts.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right team vegan, it felt like you were on the same team as I was reading. The book is for anyone who loves good food and good food is good food. This just happens to be plant based.
Ellen Kanner: That’s right, you don’t have to know is it vegan? Well the vegan people want to know, epode with allergies certainly want to know what’s in their food, but other than that it’s just good food.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, I wanted to ask you, I had something on the tip of my tongue and I swallowed it apparently. It’s all about the celebration thing. I want to kind of riff on this a little bit because certainly around this time I talk about all the problems with animal agriculture. I was just talking about it on the half hour before because we’re talking about the environment and we know that there’s a tremendous impact with your food choices and the environment. The bottom line is, or I think this is really going to bring everybody over is how the bright side, the side effects of eating healthy food. It’s delicious, it’s fun, you look fabulous. I turned 55 yesterday.
Ellen Kanner: Oh my goodness, that’s fantastic.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m not afraid to say that.
Ellen Kanner: …because you’re probably 10 years younger.
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t know what I look but I know I look good and I feel good.
Ellen Kanner: It’s the biggest win, win, win across the board, it’s fantastic affordable, delicious food that’s great for your karma, it’s great for the planet, it’s delicious. I mean, why not? I always start with the point of pleasure and that’s what this is all about.
Caryn Hartglass: There are a lot of people who find that they have challenges with this diet. I know I talk to people all the time. I feel a lot of deer in headlights expressions from people wanting to do not knowing what to do. You have your own tricks and suggestions and attitudes about transitioning or eating different foods.
Ellen Kanner: Or eating a little more mindfully. I think that’s a great place to start. No one likes to be told what to do so I, including me, came up with a bunch of what I call gentle nudges. These are just ways to get you to connect a little more profoundly with what you eat and where it comes from. Without turning yourself inside out. Even if it means trying an ancient grain like quinoa or millet instead of the usual white rice. It’s got a lot more nutrition, it’s got a lot more flavor. It cooks quicker, it’s better for you. It’s not hard to find.
Caryn Hartglass: Certainly not like it used to be. It’s amazing the variety of food we have available in most markets in the U.S. There are probably some areas where it’s hard to find some things but more and more in big cities and in relatively highly populated suburban areas you can find any of these great foods.
Ellen Kanner: I just heard from someone who picked up my book in the Cayman Islands. It’s an island and she’s been able to find this stuff and she said “Holy Brocooli!” something that was not probably something I should be saying on air but she’s like “This is really good!”
Caryn Hartglass: They’re always surprised. I don’t know what’s so surprising about it. We’ve gone through 50 or 60 years of some crazy kind of brainwashing indoctrination, getting us away from where we need to be. How we come back is so surprising, how wonderful it is. It’s such a crazy world we live in. I have a few questions. Now you live with your husband who does not eat the way you do.
Ellen Kanner: Yes, but if you’re married to someone long enough and if you’re a decent cook, you can kind of seduce him a little bit. He eats a lot more plant based than he ever has and he likes it. So do all our friends. The last time we had people over I did this fantastic Moroccan dinner with chickpeas and lemons and kalamatas and wonderful greens and tomatoes and we had a great time and maybe a little wine. It wasn’t until two days later my friend Mary called me and she said: “That was vegan wasn’t?” I said yeah, it was also really good.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right, I love having dinner parties, I love having people over and putting delicious food in their mouth. Sometimes it’s simple and sometimes it’s outrageously complicated and involved, taking many days to prepare, but I love doing that.
Ellen Kanner: Me too and you’re right, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Beans, greens, they’ve been part of our diet since we walked on two legs. It’s so much better for us, the foods you can recognize, all the weird stuff that’s in the middle in the grocery store, the stuff they want to sell you. Kale has never had to say that it’s gluten-free, it just is.
Caryn Hartglass: You just put an idea into my head because I’m always telling people you have to read the labels, the fine print. Put your reading glasses on. When you are buying produce, there’s no labeling, you don’t need to read anything. The only thing that might be helpful is whether it’s organic or not but it just it what it is and how simple is that?
Ellen Kanner: I think we do tend as humans to complicate things but it doesn’t need to be that way. The best food for us has been available for centuries and centuries and it’s still there so go eat some.
Caryn Hartglass: Ok, I want to talk a little bit about some of the things I read in your book. You were talking about when you were about seven, I think, and you want shopping with your grandmother and you saw all of these amazing different foods in jars and things and you tasted halvah for the first time.
Ellen Kanner: Right, it was a Middle Eastern grocery store which, by the way, is still in existence, which I still go to, it’s the same one. So there’s some sort of nice personal history there.
Caryn Hartglass: I love ethnic stores because you get to discover all kinds of different products that aren’t in the national chain stores and sometimes there’s some healthier foods there, simpler foods, and it just adds to the variety. I visited Israel a few times, I haven’t been there since 1988 but I remember being in Jerusalem in the Old City and it’s modernized a little bit but not much. They’re living in all of these old stone structures that were built so long ago and there are vendors of different foods there and I’ll never forget the spice vendors. There might be some places like that here in the U.S. but everything was in these super large big baskets, just huge like garbage cans but made of natural materials filled with spices. One would be a bright red and one would be a bright yellow and all of the beautiful different earth tone colors. I don’t know why that thrilled me, but it did.
Ellen Kanner: There is something kind of thrilling about it. Whole foods are naturally beautiful, produce is beautiful. I know what you mean about the thrill of the spices. There are markets in Morocco that are like that. There are some very fancy spice shops in Paris that are like that, but I was thrilled to find one in Miami which is the only place I’ve been in the U.S. that encourages you to smell the spices, you can get a teensy little spoon and taste them. It has to be a full body experience. I mean that’s how we eat, it’s a very intimate thing.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m glad you brought that up, I’ve been really into an olfactory, smelling kind of experience these days and I find that the higher quality products that I buy, the fragrances are part of the experience.
Ellen Kanner: Absolutely.
Caryn Hartglass: This whole spice thing, you know you’ve got some great recipes in the book and spices are really important. People are afraid when they go to vegetarian foods that they won’t have a lot of flavor and I encourage backing away from the salt when people are preparing foods and where is that flavor going to come from? A lot of times it comes from herbs and spices. I’m thinking back to when I was young and we had jars of…
Ellen Kanner: Honey you are still young, I just want to say that.
Caryn Hartglass: When I was younger and I still lived with my parents, we had the classic combination of jars and spice racks and some of those spices were years old.
Ellen Kanner: Oh I know I do a lot of cooking demos so I always bring a lot of basil and some of the stuff in the jar that’s just sort of brown and you’ve never know it’s the same thing. Go for real, go for fresh, go for green.
Caryn Hartglass: You may have heard this but I use a lot of herbs and spices in my recipes too and some people say well I don’t have these herbs and spices. When they’re just venturing out trying a recipe they don’t want to have to invest in all of these different things.
Ellen Kanner: If you do invest, it’s going to cost less than a couple cups of coffee at your major chains and you’ll have them on hand so when you do come home after an exhausting day of work, you can dress up anything in just a few minutes. What’s worth investing in more than you? In your pleasure, in your health, in your happiness.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s a really good point. So many people go out every day and buy their coffee, buy their tea, and it’s not cheap in many places and they might cringe on buying a jar of some spice that will last for a really long time and dress up their meals. It’s kind of an interesting perspective we have on life.
Ellen Kanner: We want it now, now, now and we don’t want to invest in it. Why not? What’s more precious than we are?
Caryn Hartglass: I tend to buy my spices and herbs in bulk now. I invested in these tins that can hold a pretty large quantity. Not garbage can size but maybe some of them hold four ounces to a pound and I just bought like everything and I have this big collection and I use them in great quantities. I love it.
Ellen Kanner: Be lavish, be generous with yourself, it really does wake up you mouth. It can transform foods effortlessly without salt. I also love lemon juice for that. Just a squeeze really makes the flavor pop. No calories, no fat, no nothing, just the flavor.
Caryn Hartglass: The other thing I like to talk about is that people don’t know where their kitchen is and they need to find it. I imagine that you do food demos and you encourage people to cook.
Ellen Kanner: I do, and you don’t have to have a designer kitchen to do it.
Caryn Hartglass: The sad thing is that the people who have the designer kitchens never use them.
Ellen Kanner: This is true,
Caryn Hartglass: I’ve been in a few. They all pull out the All Clad pots that have never been used.
Ellen Kanner: As you say, it’s frequently the least used room in the house and it’s worth discovering. You can get a lot of stuff out of a kitchen.
Caryn Hartglass: Now you grew up with an interest in food and an interest in cooking. It was vineyard DNA I guess.
Ellen Kanner: Yes it was. The vegan thing I had to sort of forge my own path but my family always cooked and we gathered on weekends. It’s just sort of what we always did. It was a great way to bring people together. It still is.
Caryn Hartglass: It still is. Can we underline that because we’ve gotten so far away from that in our culture today.
Ellen Kanner: It is. I don’t quite get it. I know that for most people, most of my friends, cooking and eating is a lonely kind of drudging act. I’m thinking you know where’s the fun in that? I also have a friend who texts all the time and after like the fourth of fifth one in an afternoon, I’ll say: “You know, you live pretty close. Why don’t you come by on your way home and we’ll have dinner.” It’s much easier.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m all about that. Encouraging people to get together and break the proverbial bread.
Ellen Kanner: It’s sacred and it’s a great way to communicate to commune. Put the joy back in your dinner.
Caryn Hartglass: Now, who is the hungry ghost?
Ellen Kanner: Oh we all are. Originally it was the Buddha’s concept about people who were so hungry and clutch and needy and crazy that they’re that way even after they die and then they come back and haunt you. So if you want to appease the hungry ghost, you do it with care, with prayer, and with food offering. Well we need that now, we all do. We’re hungry for so much, for meaning, for connection, for love, for a greener planet, that we don’t necessarily know how to get for more fun. If we just show a little more care towards ourselves and the foods we choose, we can get all that back. We can feed our hungry ghost.
Caryn Hartglass: Do you find that people if they’re invited to an event, or people who might want to have dinner with you, are they at all intimidated because you cook a certain way and you cook well.
Ellen Kanner: I really try to bring it down. I want everyone to be welcome at my table. I’m a vegan who invites everyone to the table and if someone is nervous about having me over, I’ll say look, let’s make it a potluck, I’ll bring something. Let’s not stress. Let’s put the pleasure back in this.
Caryn Hartglass: I agree with you. I’d like to think that I try and be that way but I know that I scare some people and if I’ve ever scared anyone, I’m sorry. It’s not my intention at all. I want everyone to be happy.
Ellen Kanner: Being vegan, the point is compassion, even for our fellow human animals which is sometimes a struggle for me.
Caryn Hartglass: Some people just don’t know how to make something vegan and they don’t even realize that so many of the foods that they eat are already vegan.
Ellen Kanner: Exactly, but if you think I’m kind of nervous about this whole plant based business, go to your farmer’s market or go to your store or go to someone you know who eats that way and say show me. Let’s make dinner together.
Caryn Hartglass: Now what about cravings? I know you mentions cravings in there somewhere.
Ellen Kanner: Oh we all have them.
Caryn Hartglass: I’ve been hearing a lot of different things about cravings these days and a number of people have different spins on cravings. Do you have cravings?
Ellen Kanner: A craving for greens and oatmeal. I think so much of what most people eat these days is processed and that just creates more cravings. It turns us into junkies, it doesn’t make us too terrible smart but it makes us want to eat more processed foods. If I could suggest one thing if you made one little tweak: more produce less processed food. Once you get used tot hat, you’ll find a lot of the cravings for salt, for sugar, for crazy things that you’re not even sure what they are will go away.
Caryn Hartglass: It pisses me off that a lot of food is designed for us to crave. It’s chemically designed and they have studied the psychology and our physiology and have put into certain processed food this desire factor so that we are never sated and we want more of it. That’s pisses me off. I wish everyone was pissed off, I don’t want to touch those foods that have been designed to program me.
Ellen Kanner: Exactly. They only want you to buy more of them. They’re not doing it for our benefit.
Caryn Hartglass: It pisses me off. We should get angry, we should cook better, we should eat better. So I’m a crazy vegan, I’ve been vegan for 25 years and vegetarian for a whole lot more and I lilac to eat healthy foods and I find, especially when I’m traveling, when I’m not entirely in control of what I’m eating, I’ll eat more in a restaurant and I’ll get more salt and more oil in my food. That’s what I call eating badly. The cravings that I get are for salads and grains.
Ellen Kanner: I’m always desperate to get more greens into people,
Caryn Hartglass: There’s nothing that kale can’t do.
Caryn Hartglass: So what do you hope happens with this book, Feeding the Hungry Ghost?
Ellen Kanner: I hope Feeding the Hungry Ghost leaves you feeling nourished in every single way.
Caryn Hartglass: Ok, well I wish you a lot of luck with this book. It’s great, it’s a lot of fun to read, Feeding the Hungry Ghost, Life, Faith, and What to Eat for Dinner. I’m going to be in South Florida next week Ellen and I hope I have the chance to meet you
Ellen Kanner: That would be so much fun, thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Ok, thanks for joining me on It’s All About Food. I’m Caryn Hartglass and have a very, very delicious week and send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . I want to know who you are.
Transcribed May 24, 2013 by Meichin