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Cook Out Inspiration: Summer GROW Recipes

Oxfam Action Corp's National Peer Advisor, 
Megan Nakra has some tips for summer cooking with GROW Method recipes! 

"Well, I am no nutrition expert, but as a runner, I can’t help but to learn more about the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables. With the Farmer’s Market season in full season in the Chicagoland area (and Midwest), the following are a handful of new GROW Method recipes with nutrition in mind!

Eat Seasonal
Eggplant, Zucchinis and Mint are all in season!
Eggplants are filled with fiber, and phytonutrients for better blood circulation and brain health. In addition, they contain amazing minerals like iron to increase oxygen binding in blood and calcium for bone strength.

1.     Preheat the grill to medium heat.
2.     Cut the eggplant into 3/4-inch slices. Cut the zucchini in half crosswise. Cut each half into 1/2-inch slices.
3.     Lay the eggplant and zucchini slices on a baking sheet. Brush on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
4.     Grill until the vegetables are tender, but not overcooked, 4 to 5 minutes per side for the eggplant and 3 to 4 minutes per side for the zucchini.
5.     Cut the eggplant and zucchini into bite-sized pieces. Place in a serving bowl.
6.     Add the chickpeas, feta cheese and fresh mint to the eggplant and zucchini. Squeeze the lemon over the salad, and stir gently to combine.
7.     Serve warm or at room temperature.

Eat Local
Our friends at Breslin Farms produce amazing grains, beans, and more. Based in Illinois, you will see Breslin Farms at Farmer’s Markets and specialty pop-up festivals through out the Chicagoland area. Check out a minestrone recipe with their famous Merlot beans. Recent research shows that beans can reduce the instance of coronary heart disease and reduce diabetes Type II. Surprisingly, beans contain high-fat protein, a great substitute for meat!

¼ c. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 c. butternut squash, peeled & diced to ½ inch
salt & pepper to taste
½ c. uncooked pasta 

6 c. veggie stock
1 c. diced tomato with liquid
1 c. cooked dry beans
1 c. chard or other greens, de-stemmed & chopped
1 t. fresh thyme leaves
½ c. parsley leaves, chopped

Use a heavy-bottomed pot if possible. Heat olive oil over medium flame and add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook (or “sweat”) the veggies for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add potatoes, squash, salt, and pepper, and cook for 5-10 minutes more. Now add stock and tomato, bring the whole thing to a boil and boil slowly for 15 minutes or so. Throw in the dry beans, greens, thyme if you have it, and cook 10-15 minutes longer. Test veggies to be sure they’re done; if not, cook till they are.
Pasta can be cooked separately and added at serving time to be sure that it doesn’t get mushy, or added dry to cook 5-7 minutes before serving. Stir in parsley before serving. Top each bowl with sprouts, more parsley, grated parmesan, or whatever you have around that makes it look nice.

Reduce Meat and Dairy
Craving a good ol’ meatloaf? Try it vegan with this recipe from One Green Planet. Instead of meat, the recipe calls for lentils! Lentils provide a great source of protein. With the fiber and complex carbohydrates, lentils provide slow-burning energy, more iron, and stabilize blood sugar! Grab some lentils and your favorite BBQ sauce!


·      2 cups water
·      1 cup green lentils
·      2 Tbs ground flaxseeds + 4 Tbs water
·      1 medium yellow onion, diced
·      1 teaspoon olive oil
·      1 cup instant or regular rolled oats
·      1 cup tomato sauce
·      1 teaspoon garlic powder
·      1 teaspoon dried basil
·      1 teaspoon dried parsley
·      1/2 teaspoon salt
·      1/4 teaspoon black pepper
·      1/4 cup BBQ sauce

  • Bring water to a boil. Add lentils and simmer 25 – 30 minutes, until lentils are soft and water is evaporated. Drain any excess water and partially mash lentils. Scrape into mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.
  • Mix the flaxseeds and water together and let sit for about 15 minutes. (This will allow it to become sticky and will be a better binder for the loaf.)
  • Saute the onion in the oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
  • Stir the onion and oats into the lentils until mixed. Add the flax mixture, tomato sauce, garlic, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  • Spoon into loaf pan that has been generously sprayed with non-stick spray. Smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Top with the BBQ sauce.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until the top of the loaf is dry, firm, and golden brown. Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edges of pan then turn out onto a serving platter. 

Reduce Waste
Perhaps you have some leftover corn from a BBQ with friends and family. Love your leftovers. Adjust the portions based on how much corn you might have leftover. Corn is filled with antioxidants that help fight against cell damaging free radicals. In particular, corn contains carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin to protect eyes.
·       10 ears of fresh Sweet Corn
·       1 Red Pepper
·       1/2 medium Jicama
·       1/4-1 small Jalapeno, more if you like it spicy, less if you don’t
·       1 large bunch of Cilantro
·       2 Limes, juice only
·       4 Tbsp Olive Oil
·       2-4 oz Queso Fresco or Cajita- if you don’t have good Mexican hard cheeses available to you, feta is an OK substitution. In an absolute dire strait, you can use grated parmesan cheese.
·       1 tsp Chilli Powder- or 1 tsp Cumin and a pinch of Cayenne
·       Salt and Pepper to taste


1.     Pull the husks back into place and roast the corn in the oven (or on the grill) for about 20 minutes, turning frequently. Even though you soaked the husks, please be mindful of not lighting your corn / face on fire. Once cooked, allow the corn to cool .
2.     Seed and dice the red pepper. Peel and dice the jicama. Wash the cilantro and remove the leaves from the stems. We’re only using the leaves here, but the stems are delicious in sauces or for roasting fish— so don’t throw them away, they freeze great until you’re ready to use them.
3.     Roast, seed, and finely dice the jalapeno and then wash the hell out of your hands. Once the corn is cooled, remove and discard the husks, and slice the corn from the cob with a large serrated knife.
4.     Combine all of the veggies in big bowl with the chili pepper. Toss with lime juice, and olive oil. Queso fresco and cajita are both super salty, so add those and then check to see if you need extra salt and pepper.
5.     Chill in fridge for 20 minutes or serve right away.  Remember to toss well before serving.


Cook Smart
Need a way to cool off when it gets 80-90 degrees outside? Shake up your salad routine and don’t waste energy in front of the freezer.  Cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers can help cool you off this summer. While cucumber is loaded with water and fiber to help you rest and digest, tomatoes are packed with lycopene to reduce risk of cancer and reduce levels of cholesterol and lower blood pressure!

Fattoush Salad
2 medium cucumbers, with skin
3 cups chopped tomatoes (I used a combination of cherry, plum, and grape tomatoes)
2 red bell peppers
1 large red onion
3 green onions
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
¾ cup chopped mint 
raw flax crackers, flatbread, or toasted pita
1. Wash, prepare, and chop all veggies into bite-sized pieces. Wash, spin-dry herbs and chop. Place in a large bowl.
2. Pour dressing over salad, stir, and let stand for at least 30 minutes at room temperature to allow the flavours to meld. 
3. Right before serving, sprinkle generously with za’atar, crumble raw flax crackers and fold into salad. Enjoy.
Fattoush Salad Dressing
¼ cup extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon (organic, un-waxed if possible!)
1 tsp. raw liquid honey or maple syrup
2 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
a couple pinches of sea salt
a pinch of black pepper
1. Put all ingredients in a jar with a light-fitting lid and shake.
¼ cup sesame seeds (raw or toasted)
¼ cup sumac
2 Tbsp. dried thyme
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
(This is a good “starter amount”, but feel free to double, triple, quadruple the recipe if you want more za’atar!)
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. 
2. Funnel into a glass jar and store in a cool, dark place.


Kellogg and General Mills Should Come Clean About Their Climate Lobbying

This article written by Ben Cohen Grossman-Cohen was featured on June 5, 2014 in Huffington Post

This week the Obama administration announced its most ambitious effort yet to crack down on dangerous carbon pollution from U.S. power plants. As the Washington Postreported on Monday, "the regulation has prompted heavy lobbying from industry and environmental groups, and the ensuing battle promises to become, as the Natural Resources Defense Council Climate Director Peter Altman put it, 'the Super Bowl of climate politics.'"
Industry groups are already lining up on both sides of the debate. As the proposed rule was released, more than 170 leading companies and investors- including Unilever and Mars - immediately joined together to vocally back the new standard.
"Our support is firmly grounded in economic reality," the companies wrote in a letter to President Obama. "We know that tackling climate change is one of America's greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century and we applaud the EPA for taking steps to help the country seize that opportunity."
Meanwhile regressive lobbying groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have thrown facts and caution to the wind, forcefully seeking to undermine public support for the standard and kicking-off a misinformation campaign before the rule was even released.
Last month Oxfam's Standing on the Sidelines report revealed that the food and beverage industry, and specifically Kellogg and General Mills have a great deal to lose if ambitious action is not taken to address climate change. We pointed out that neither company was exhibiting leadership in the face of this crisis and called on them to be vocal advocates for climate action. In response, both Kellogg and General Mills cried foul, claiming they were already leading the charge.
But if the companies truly want to claim the mantle of leadership it begs a basic question: where do they stand on the EPA's new rule? Even as the "Super Bowl of climate politics," is well into the first quarter, both General Mills and Kellogg remain silent on this critical issue, firmly planted on the sidelines.
Companies like Intel have already distanced themselves from the Chamber of Commerce's misleading report. General Mills, which counts itself a member of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, has yet to take-on the national chamber's obstinacy.
The Business Roundtable, an association of CEO's of large U.S. companies that works to influence public policy, which counts General Mills CEO Ken Powell as a member, was aggressively non-committal in its statement on the rule saying, "As CEOs who lead major American companies that operate in communities all across the United States and in every economic sector, we care deeply about both the health of the environment and the health of the economy. We look forward to working with the Administration on how best to achieve cost-effective greenhouse gas emissions reductions while continuing to support growth and job creation." In other words "we have nothing relevant to say on this matter."
Kellogg for its part has also carefully avoided taking a position on the subject. Even though it spends millions of dollars per year lobbying on numerous controversial topics from GMO labeling and the Renewable Fuel Standard to regulations on school lunch programs and marketing to children, the company has not taken public a stand in support of the proposed rule, or any stand for that matter, even though climate change could directly impact the cost of its core products.
If General Mills and Kellogg are serious about their commitment to addressing climate change they will come clean about their position on the President's Climate Action plan and exactly what they are doing about it. They can start by publicly supporting the EPA's new rule, disassociating themselves from the backwards lobbying by the US Chamber and signing on to Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy's (BICEP) Climate Declaration.
The companies must go beyond rhetoric in obscure sustainability documents. As Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has said, this requires real political muscle working to pursue climate action, "you've got to take the next step, and say, 'our lobbyist in Washington is going to add this issue to the agenda." Kellogg and General Mills know how to use their influence; they spend millions doing just that every year. But it's time to stop being coy and put real some skin in the climate game.


Who are the "Big Men"?

“Of course you would want to be a big man. I want to be a big man. My son would want to be a big man and you would want to be a big man, too.”

It’s a statement that reflects the basic needs and desires of humans. Yet, only so few are able to become ‘big men’. As someone who was not born into privilege, the struggle to gain access to become a big man is a heart wrenching story of limited choices, often dangerous and uninformed, When an American company finds oil sources in a the country of Ghana, a war wages with several battles swirling the influence of Ghanaians, economics, world powers, and conniving players thirsty for power, money, and stability.

The documentary BigMen premiered in Chicago on August 18th at Facets Multi-Media. Director Rachel Boynton attended Q&A sessions after each showing of the film on both Friday and Saturday. Her stature is deceiving, she is a powerful woman who braved forces beyond her control to film and cover a story that most would not find attractive. Covering the fight over natural resources becomes increasingly important with a growing population that needs sustenance.

Oxfam is proud to support the work of Rachel Boynton with her second documentary Big Men. The film will continue for the following show times! Buy tickets here.
the theater of online
Facets Multi-Media
1517 W. Fullerton Ave.
Sunday, April 20- 1, 3, 5, & 7pm
Monday, April 21- 7 & 9pm
Wednesday, April 23- 7 & 9pm
Thursday, April 24- 7 & 9pm 

To read more about Oxfam's work with resources and international communities, please visit the Natural Resources and Rights page. 



Sugar Can Be Sweet! An Update for Behind the Brands

From the Behind the Brands website

"After nearly 6 months of campaigning, the world’s second largest food and drink company agreed to a zero tolerance policy on land grabs and for its bottlers to do the same.

“Consumer power just got a little bit stronger,” said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International. The second biggest food and beverage company in the world has committed to put its full weight behind preventing land grabs in its supply chain. Suppliers who want their ingredients to be used in everything from Pepsi Cola and Doritos to Gatorade and Mountain Dew must now ensure their land is acquired responsibly.
“This would never have happened without hundreds of thousands of people standing up to insist that companies respect the rights of people in their supply chains. No company is too big to listen to its customers. Together we can transform the food industry if consumers demand it.”

PepsiCo’s announcement comes on the heels of similar commitments made by the Coca-Cola Company in late 2013 after just one month of your campaigning.

And Associated British Foods (ABF), the other company you’ve been calling on to act, recently created new policies committing to the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), which helps ensure communities are consulted and must give consent before the land they are using is sold. Oxfam is currently in dialogue with ABF-owned Illovo, the largest sugar producer in Africa, to encourage them to take further steps to implement this policy.

So what exactly have they committed to?

Oxfam welcomes PepsiCo’s commitment to “zero tolerance” for land grabbing, including commitments to:
  1. Adhere to the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent and require that its suppliers, including bottlers, do the same.
  2. Disclose the top three countries and suppliers of its cane sugar.
  3. Conduct and publish social, environmental and human rights assessments, including into land conflicts.
  4. Engage with governments and international bodies to support responsible land rights practices.
  5. Engage with suppliers regarding the cases in Brazil and Cambodia highlighted by Oxfam’s Nothing Sweet About It report to pursue resolutions that respond to community concerns.
We’ll be closely tracking PepsiCo to make sure they follow through on their promises - see the roadmap here.

What does this mean for farmers and their communities?

As one of the biggest food and beverage companies in the world, PepsiCo has immense power to influence its suppliers and other companies in the industry. As a result of these commitments, better measures will be taken by PepsiCo to avoid land conflicts that drive farmers off their land and out of their homes.
“We applaud PepsiCo’s important step forward in declaring zero tolerance for land grabs,” said Byanyima. “We will monitor the actions the company takes to follow through on this commitment. In particular we will continue to advocate, along with local partners, for appropriate resolution for the communities in Brazil and Cambodia who continue to struggle to regain the rights to their land. Other companies must now follow PepsiCo and Coca-Cola’s lead and transform the industry’s approach to land rights”.

Thank you


Without your voices, this would not have happened. So we need you to be ready to speak out again in May when we launch our next action on the injustice of climate change."

What to Post on Social Media
We’d love your help to celebrate, spread the word and thank your supporters. Please post the following on social media.

  • WIN! You spoke, @PepsiCo listened! (link to blog) RT to share the news! #behindthebrands
  • GREAT NEWS: @PepsiCo have committed to zero tolerance of land grabs! (link to blog) RT to share the news! #behindthebrands


  • You spoke, PepsiCo listened!After nearly 275,000 of you took action PepsiCo have committed to put its full weight behind preventing land grabs in its supply chain. Suppliers who want their ingredients to be used PepsiCo’s products like Pepsi Cola, Lays and Doritos must make sure they commit to the zero tolerance approach to land grabs. Find out exactly what the biggest food and drink company in the world has committed to in our blog (LINK) – and SHARE this post to share the great news!
  • PepsiCo, the world's 2nd largest food and drink company, has listened to nearly 275,000 of you and committed to a zero tolerance policy on land grabs throughout their supply chain!  Following your pressure, PepsiCo will be making sure it's sugar, and other ingredients in its products like Pepsi Cola, Doritos and Tropicana, does not lead to farmers and communities being kicked off their land and out of their homes. You made this happen - so find out exactly what's been committed to and how we'll make sure they stick to their promises here - and SHARE this post to share the great news!