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Jessica Kraft's Posts

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Primal time: How green is the ‘caveman diet’?

“Live long, drop dead!” is the motto of the primal living crowd, a group of motley 20- to 60-somethings who gathered this spring in Oxnard, Calif., for PrimalCon, a weekend of nutrition education, “natural exercise,” cooking demos, and low-carb feasting.

Mark Sisson is the blonde, buff leader of this crowd, which had gathered based on its interest in the "paleo” or “caveman” diet. Sisson is a blogger and the founder of a nutrition company who has sold close to half a million copies of his self-published Primal Blueprint and has since released a series of additional guidebooks and cookbooks. In a nutshell — and nuts are key here — primal living is popular. But is it green? I tried out the diet and attended PrimalCon in an effort to find out.

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Can the University of California make campus food sustainable?

Berkeley students. (Photo by David Park.)

Fast food joints offer a quick and easy fix for hungry, busy students on college campuses. But at the University of California, they’ve also become a target for student activists intent on shifting their schools’ large dining budgets away from less healthy, industrially produced food and toward more sustainable options.

“Focusing on food is how a lot of students get passionate about issues of sustainability, some of which aren’t that sexy,” says Matt St. Clair, a former student activist who now manages all aspects of sustainability for the UC system (see their comprehensive policy on sustainable practices [PDF]), which spans across 10 campuses and five medical schools. In addition to working on the less sexy aspects of the shift, like energy efficiency and waste reduction, St. Clair has put food at the top of the list. Along with students, staff, and administrators, he is working to prioritize local, organic, and fairly produced food, while creating a policy that could have a huge impact on their burgers, tacos, and stir fry — if it’s executed right.

By 2020, 20 percent of the purchases made in UC dining facilities and fast food franchises on all campuses must meet one or more of 16 sustainable food criteria set by the Real Food Challenge, a national activist network focused on steering American colleges and universities toward sustainability. The Real Food Challenge list includes criteria such as: USDA certified organic, cage-free, grass-fed, fair trade, Marine Stewardship Council, and other third-party sustainable certifications. It also prioritizes “locally grown” -- a factor that doesn’t always mean that much on its own in California.

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