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10/11/14

Six weeks of action against hunger!


At Oxfam Action Corps it is our goal to motivate, inspire and engage communities to Right the Wrong. This fall, we are inviting you to  join us in the tradition of fighting hunger through 6 weeks of engaging actions. We'll kick off our actions with a dinner conversation on World Food Day on October 16 and continue weekly until our Hunger Banquet, the Thursday before thanksgiving, Some of the actions will challenge your knowledge of family farming statistics, legislative action implementations, and help you start on the GROW Method.

Week One: A World Food Day Meal


Join us for a celebration of food and farmers at Civic Lab on October 16th, 2014.In partnership with Growing Home, Janet Cassidy and Lexicon of Sustainability, we’ve prepared an evening of delicious food, dynamic conversation and social justice all TOTALLY FREE! The events starts at 7:00pm.

For more information and registration, check out the Eventbrite page.


Week Two: Online QuizOnline accessible quiz with ten questions regarding family farming and sustainability with the quiz taker being rated.

Week Three: GROW MethodWe have a few GROW Method recipe posts on our blog! Or check out the GROW Method Pinterest page!


Week Four: Sign Food Aid Petition OnlineConsistent with our call for more aid and better aid, Oxfam will highlight our push for the Food for Peace Reform Act of 2014.


Week Five: Donate to South Sudan 
Scarcely in the news, a major food crisis is looming for the world's newest country.  We must raise the profile and raise help. To read about what Oxfam is doing, visit this blog.


A number of Chicago Oxfam Action Corps volunteers will be taking part in the Chicago Hot Chocolate Run on November 9th and we are dedicating all our fundraising efforts to the Food Crisis in South Sudan . There's so many ways you can be a part of this effort:
  1. Join our team, register for the 15 or 5k (we've been offered a sweet discount!)
  2. Volunteer  on behalf of Oxfam at RAM Racing's Hot Chocolate 5K/15K at the Expo on Nov. 8th or at the Race Nov. 9th.
  3. Donate and help us meet our fundraising goal here.
Week Six: Oxfam Hunger Banquet, Recap of Six Weeks of Action
We will ask YOU, Oxfam supporters around the US to post online a picture and blurb about how they helped to fight hunger this fall. Keep track of your progress during the Six Weeks of Action and submit a blurb or photo to us!

If you would like to get involved with planning a Hunger banquet, please email us at Chicago@oxfamactioncorps.org.

9/12/14

World Food Day Photo Contest

Hope you all had a wonderful summer! As we gear up for the fall, we are excited to announce our first ever World Food Day photo contest. Every year, people around the world come together to declare their commitment to creating a world free from hunger and malnutrition on October 16th. World Food Day celebrates the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on 16 October 1945 which was built upon "it's belief that the goal of freedom from want of food, suitable and adequate for the health and strength of all people can be achieved." 

Join us in our commemoration this year by submitting original photos depicting what global hunger and food security means to you. Please include a brief description of the photo submission including details of when and where it was taken. In addition to other festivities we are planning for October 16th (mark your calendars), we hope that this photo contest will bring to our attention the global struggle against hunger and malnutrition as well as highlight the achievements in food security and agricultural development. We also hope that this will ignite great discussions on how we can work together to create lasting solutions to these injustices.

RULES
1. Eligibility
The photo contest is open to anyone living in the Chicago area.
2. Number and Format of Submissions
If you meet the eligibility requirements you may submit up to three photographs. Each photo must be submitted in electronic format. Your photographs may be black-and-white or color. If you submit more than one photo, please make sure to number the photos accordingly.
3. Subject Matter
The only subject matter restriction is that your photo or photos capture an experience or record an observation depicting global hunger.
4. Application Process and Deadline
The photo submissions should be submitted online by Thursday October 11th 2014 to chicago.oxfamactioncorps@gmail.com. You can also submit your photos via Facebook or twitter by tagging us.
5. Prizes
3 top submissions will be chosen by a panel of judges after a round of online voting. Prizes will be announced very soon.
6. Important Advisory
All submissions may be used by the Chicago Oxfam Action Corps for display and circulation (with attribution to the photographer). If you submit a photograph it is understood that you have granted this right.
7. Further Information.
If you have any additional questions please contact us at chicago.oxfamactioncorps@gmail.com


6/30/14

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.
Directions

  • Preheat the grill to medium heat.
  • Cut the eggplant into 3/4-inch slices. Cut the zucchini in half crosswise. Cut each half into 1/2-inch slices.
  • Lay the eggplant and zucchini slices on a baking sheet. Brush on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • 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.
  • Cut the eggplant and zucchini into bite-sized pieces. Place in a serving bowl.
  • Add the chickpeas, feta cheese and fresh mint to the eggplant and zucchini. Squeeze the lemon over the salad, and stir gently to combine.
  • 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!
Ingredients
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
Directions

  • 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!
Ingredients:
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
Directions:
  • 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.
Ingredients
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
Directions:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Chill in fridge for 20 minutes or serve right away.  Remember to toss well before serving.
Source: http://www.dinnerwasdelicious.com/post/26636536344/anyone-that-has-spent-a-summer-in-chicago-is

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
Ingredients:
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
Directions:

  • Wash, prepare, and chop all veggies into bite-sized pieces. Wash, spin-dry herbs and chop. Place in a large bowl.
  • Pour dressing over salad, stir, and let stand for at least 30 minutes at room temperature to allow the flavors to meld. 
  • Right before serving, sprinkle generously with za’atar, crumble raw flax crackers and fold into salad. Enjoy.

Fattoush Salad Dressing
Ingredients:
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
Directions:

  •  Put all ingredients in a jar with a light-fitting lid and shake.

Za’atar
Ingredients:
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!)
Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  • Funnel into a glass jar and store in a cool, dark place.





6/6/14

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

2014-06-05-WakeUpKellogg.jpg
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.
2014-06-05-GreenGiant.jpg
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.

First Person: Voices, video, and photos from Oxfam's fight against poverty