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Freebie Friday: Seasonal Fruits & Veggies Lists

Piggybacking on this week’s Food, Inc. review, I have found two comprehensive charts about seasonal fruits and vegetables that I thought I would share. Anyone who reads anything about eating healthy is told to buy seasonal produce, but if you’re anything like me, you don’t know exactly which food is in season at a given time. This list is great for keeping it all straight. Dark green indicates that a product can be found at the market, and is being harvested. Light green indicates that it can be found in the market but is not within its natural harvest season (possible through storage or hot house production). Did you know limes are not in season in the summer? Seems strange given that lots of summer cocktails include lime. These lists are in PDF from so that it’s easy for you to print and reference.

If you like what you see on The Spicy Meatball, make sure you subscribe by entering your email address in the top right corner. Feel free to forward/repost on Facebook any favorite Spicy blog entries, it’s always nice to amuse/offend new people!

Have a wonderful weekend!

P.S. The updated site will hopefully be live next week. Waiting on a designer friend to wow me…I’m told it’s worth the wait. :)


Would You Like Ammonia With That? How Food, Inc. Will Change Your Life

If you’re interested in seeing something disturbing, shocking, entertaining, enlightening, and sad, may I suggest a documentary from Michael Pollan called Food, Inc.

Netflix has recently come into my life, and the first thing on my list to watch was Food, Inc. I literally agreed to a subscription because there is a documentary section. Super Square, right here. Anywho, I watched the movie with my mouth agape and eyes bugged out as Pollan depicted the truth about our food system. I couldn’t believe what I was watching, and I feel like it would be irresponsible of me not to share. So without giving it all away, I’ll just hit the highlights.

In Food, Inc., Pollan uncovers the change in the way we think about food and the process by which we get our food over the last few decades. From the way a cow gets to your plate to why ketchup is made with corn, Pollan navigates the truths and myths about food by carefully explaining its evolution in digestible terms. The early focus in the movie is the supermarket because now isles consist mostly of corn and soybeans that are genetically modified and harmful to our body as well as the planet. Awesome! Instead of producing nutrient-rich foods, top food manufacturing companies now produce crops and animals that offer little more than a way to beef up (no pun intended) while disregarding best practices in food safety. It’s no wonder we’re all fat and sick.

The Center for Food Safety supports Pollan’s claim, “Currently, up to 40 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as is 80 percent of soybeans. It has been estimated that upwards of 60 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients.” So basically everything, also awesome. One of the most powerful tid bits in Food, Inc. shows that when you buy a hamburger from a fast food restaurant, what you’re really purchasing is a hunk of meat (probably a conglomerate of several animals) soaked in ammonia to kill off any E. Coli that may contaminate the meat. Mmmm tasty! Insane, right?!

More vivid depictions of slaughter houses, farmer’s plights, and the politics that control this unfair and unhealthy system tell the tale of what we eat, how we get it, and at what cost. Watching this movie is like watching an episode of the Twilight Zone. Is this really happening? Is this really what we’re eating? Are these animals really treated this way? In America?! This is one of those train wreck movies that sucks you in and scares the sh*t out of you. Sadly, once you see something, you can’t unsee it (so to speak) so you have to take some responsibility. Or not I suppose. Your choice. For me, it was certainly a wake-up call.

Before this movie assaulted my eyes and ears, I really did not see the point in buying organic. Ok, perhaps purchasing free range chicken all this time would have been a good idea, but produce too? An apple is an apple is an apple, right? WRONG. Did you know that the apples we consume now are genetically engineered to be larger but actually contain less nutritional value than apples did 40 years ago? HUH?! Never mind that they’re covered in pesticides and other chemicals to make them look shiny and yummy. Raise your hand if you thought that fresh produce in the grocery store would be harmful to your health. Anyone?

This movie creates an immediate desire to learn more about organics and the power we have to change our food system. At least it did for me. It’s shocking that kids die every year from E. Coli simply from unknowingly eating a contaminated hamburger. I was one of the unfortunate shlubs that got E. Coli from spinach during the outbreak of 2006. The pain was unbearable, so to be a kid with it and live (ideally) to tell the tale is unimaginable. One of the best parts of this movie is at the end, when we’re told that we vote three times a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) for what kind of food we demand. Strangely enough, I never thought about it that way. You?

Because we are a supply and demand kind of country, it stands to reason that we can make an impact on what kind of food we’re supplied. Perhaps Pollan is correct and voting for healthy, cleaner foods with our forks will save us from the Aztec two-step, cancer, or just plain feeling like crap. Conventional wisdom says you are what you eat, so organics seem like the natural route if you want to start small but make a big improvement to your health. It’s true that just about anything organic is more expensive than inorganic, but someone once said, “You either pay for it now, or you pay for it later.” While that’s true, all you other cheapskates out there are in luck. There are coupons for healthy foods!

Overall, I highly recommend this movie to anyone who wants to learn more about the food they put in their body and the affect is has on our culture. Here’s a nice website I found to help navigate the organic lifestyle, should you be interested.

If you’d like to pass on the movie but want the Cliff’s Notes, here are a few things you can do to make a positive impact on yourself and the planet. (Content found here.)

1. Stop drinking sodas and other sweetened beverages.

2. Eat at home instead of eating out.

3. Bring food labeling into the 21st century.

4. Tell schools to stop selling soda, junk food, and sports drinks.

5. Meatless Mondays — Go without meat one day a week.

6. But organic or sustainable food with little or no pesticides.

7. Protect family farms; visit your local farmer’s market.

8. Make a point to know where your food comes from — READ LABELS.

9. Tell Congress that food safety is important to you.

10. Demand job protections for farm workers and food processors, ensuring fair wages and other protections.

Did you see the movie? What do you think about all this?

P.S. Did you know that batteries are made from corn? Batteries! WTF?!

Adventures in Cabrewing

I’ve never really considered myself an outdoorsie type. As a kid I prefered watching Saved By the Bell reruns to going hiking with my parents, and I never even considered jumping in a canoe and cruising down a creek. How BORING!

As I have gotten older and perhaps wiser (although that’s debatable) I have found myself entertaining the idea of becoming one with nature more and more. I’m not sure if this new-found outdoorsiness is actually a deep-rooted interest or that I just can’t sit in front of the TV every weekend anymore. Come to think of it, it could be that I am scared to say no to my newly single friend who insists on browbeating her friends into going on “adventures.” I fear she may show up at my door and drag me to the middle of nowhere to hunt beavers or something. Whatever the reason, I’m trying new things and not sitting on my couch.

Recently the newly single friend organized a group of friends (some of which I am not sure she actually knew) to go canoeing at a local livery. I had never been before and always wanted to give it a whirl, so when the opportunity presented (forced) itself I jumped in and agreed (calling it Cabrewing helped significantly with my decision I might add). Turns out, it was more fun than I thought.

I went into the trip assuming I would be the first causality of the creek. Having no experience in a canoe and very little outdoor experience in general (I made a special stop to buy “canoe shoes,” that’s how lame I am), I figured I would probably be the first to tip the boat and the first to want to leave. Not so. My avid adventure friend was the first to flip her canoe and it was hilarious. Not only did she hit the creek bank head-on, but she lost a cooler, a sack of crap, and all bragging rights. Not to worry, another canoe gathered her belongings floating downstream and we all toasted the Mulligan with a beer. It just goes to show that it’s easier to turn lemons into a Lemon Drop when you have good friends to laugh at your mistakes and pull you back in the boat.

I thought 2-4 hours in a small boat on a small creek would be the definition of mind-numbing monotony. Yet, I found the trip more enjoyable than expected. The group lucked out with great weather, my canoe never flipped, and the bugs kept their distance. Except for the leech that made it into Boyfriend’s shoe…yikes! Normally I have about an hours worth of attention span for the outdoors, and I can think of a million other things I would rather do, but this time I was surprisingly relaxed. Maybe someone slipped something in to my canteen? We took in the scenery, swam in the water, harassed passersby citing a “two beer toll” to get by, and successfully navigated “the rapids.” All in all, a pretty successful day.

If you’ve never been canoeing, give it a go. Grab a group of friends (or random strangers might be fun) and find a place to rent a canoe. It’s cheap, entertaining, and takes most of the day. Floating down the creek on a nice summer day is my new favorite activity as it forced me away from all things electronic communication, engaged my senses, and made for a great story. It also served as great training for Boyfriend and I when we attempt The Amazing Race. Oh, and let’s be honest, the beer didn’t hurt.

**Don’t forget to subscribe to The Spicy Meatball. It makes me feel good. Enter your email address in the box to the right.**

Spicy Advice: Three Day Rule for Women?

The Reader writes:

Men typically follow a 3-day rule to avoid looking desperate/too available. My question is do women have a similar rule they follow?  I met a young cute filly at the bar the other night and we really hit it off. I gave her my number on a napkin at the end of the night, but she never gave me hers. She showed interest and tucked it away carefully in her purse. Three days later; no text, no call, no nothing! Really!? She’s running out of time!


Spicy Thoughts:

First of all, what’s a “filly?” I’ve never heard this term, but I am going to assume you mean hot chick/potential mate. In my experience, women are usually looking for men to take the lead. So while it’s nice that you gave her your number, chances are she’s not going to do anything with it. I think the key here is her reaction when you gave her your number. Did she say she will call you? Did she say it was nice to meet you? Did her friends like you? (They’re usually the first and last word on casual meetings with men.) Since I wasn’t there to see the interaction, you’ll have to fill in the deets for yourself. Having said that, if you’re interested in her, don’t mind swallowing your pride a little, and are prepared for the worst, you could try and get a hold of her through traditional online stalking techniques. I assume you’ve looked her up on Facebook, so you might consider sending her a message there. This is based on the assumption that you suspect she took a genuine interest in you and should not be used if there is any indication she thought you were creepy. If that doesn’t work, or god forbid she’s not on FB, cut the encounter loose and move on to the next. To get back to your original question, no, girl’s don’t have a 3-day rule but they also don’t expect to be the ones to initiate. Next time you’re macking on a filly, ask for her number give her a shout (FYI – the 3-day rule for men is played out, so don’t use that) and watch out for the Reject Hotline.

If you have a question for The Spicy Meatball, email me at! I can’t guarantee I have the right answer, but it’s never a bad idea to get a second opinion.

What do you think readers?

Freebie Friday: Train Your Brain

Freebie Friday: Train Your Brain

This might be the best Freebie Friday yet!

How many of us have stolen a kid’s DS to play the Brain Age game? I used to take my cousin’s, and inevitably it would tell me that I’m not as smart as I claim to be, and that makes me mad. But, this week I discovered my very own grown-up version of Brain Age and it doesn’t make me all that mad. This new find is a website called Lumosity.  It’s an online tool designed for cognitive enhancement. Translation: makes you quick and wicked smart. All you have to do is sign up for a free account, pick the area’s of your brain you need help with (I know, hard decisions), and get your individualized plan to train your brain. I thought it would be boring, but there is a game similar to Duck Hunt in level two that you will love. In addition to the fun (and stressful) brain training games, you can take a short test and see your brain grade. Mine is an A-, no big deal. Check it out and let me know what you think.

P.S. I lied. The new site will be up next week, so make sure you watch for it. Have a great weekend!


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