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In this weekly series we have been discussing the benefits of a vegetarian diet including: better health, animal rights, frugal living, public health, food safety, global food crisis and
the immense contribution of meat/livestock production to climate change/resource depletion

Facts About Factory Farming

1. Global Warming
The majority of global warming is caused by the gases carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. According to the 2006 United Nations report, Livestock's Long Shadow, animal agriculture generates 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, including 9 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, 37 percent of methane emissions and 65 percent of nitrous oxide emissions worldwide.
2.  Manure
Animals raised for food in the U.S. produce more manure than people. This manure is not treated and is stored in lagoons or sprayed onto crops. As it decomposes, urine and manure from farm animals releases hazardous gases into the atmosphere. Manure from factory farm operations contains pollutants such as antibiotics, pathogens, heavy metals, nitrogen and phosphorous, which, through manure lagoon leaks or spills enter into the environment and threaten water quality across the country.
3. Land use
Vast tracts of land are being destroyed to fuel the world's growing addition to meat, dairy and eggs. Scientists at the Smithsonian Institute say that the equivalent of seven football fields is bulldozed every minute for animal agriculture. Hundreds of millions of acres of forests and rainforests worldwide have already been cleared for livestock grazing or animal feed crops, resulting in a loss of biodiversity and additional CO2 being released into the atmosphere.
4. Inefficiency
Growing crops to feed animals is a very inefficient system that wastes valuable resources. It takes an average of 16 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of beef and takes 11 times as much fossil fuel to make 1 calorie from animal protein as 1 calorie from plant protein.
5. Water usage
It takes an estimated 4,000 gallons of water to produce one day of animal-based food for the average American. One day of plant-based food only requires about 300 gallons. According to the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, "87 percent of the use of freshwater in the U.S. is used in agriculture, primarily irrigation." Worldwide, agriculture accounts for 93 percent of water depletion, with the vast majority of freshwater used for farm animal feed production. Factory farming wastes so much water that you can save as much water by not eating a pound of beef as you can by not showering for almost six months.
6. Air Pollution
The EPA reports that roughly 80 percent of ammonia emissions in the United States come from animal waste. Atmospheric ammonia can disrupt aquatic ecosystems, ruin soil quality, damage crops and jeopardize human health.
7. Water pollution
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), agriculture is the single largest source of water pollution in rivers and lakes, and the waste from factory farms is a significant part of the problem. In fact, waste generated by factory farms has already polluted over 35,000 miles of river in 22 states and has contaminated groundwater in 17 states.

Macca's Meatless Monday/Meatless Advocates is a solution oriented activist group, with solutions for some of the most pressing issues of our time including: climate change, global food/water insecurity and public health.  Here we don't just talk about the severity of the crisis.  Armed with knowledge about how our actions can contribute we become part of the solution.

I was inspired to create this series by former Beatle and vegetarian advocate Paul McCartney(Macca) who partnered with the Meatless Monday campaign to promote less consumption of meat.  We not only discuss the advantages of a less meat diet we also do some cooking, share recipes and listen to great Beatle/McCartney music!

This time of year sandwiched between Florida's blue-green water and ultra blue summer sky is a sea of yellow and green coming from our bounteous annual crops of yellow and green squash, string beans and eggplant.  They are everywhere. They grow without much care here so home gardeners have more then they can use and it's common to see boxes of squash on the roadside with free signs or to open your front door and find a box of squash left by a neighbor or friend who just thought that you might need some more.  As a kid I remember that there seemed to be only a few southern style recipes mom's used to cook the vegetables to unrecognizable oblivion.  But not so now, cooks here have learned that our squash can substitute for many other vegetables in our favorite recipes giving them a versatility and a changing character that makes their season seem abruptly short.

Today I will share some recipes that weren't around when I was a kid and a few that bring back some nostalgia for those times.
        summer squash salad
SUMMER SQUASH SALAD
We never had raw squash when I was a kid but now it's one of my fave raw vegetables. Serves 3-4

2 small yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons basil, sliced into strips
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup chopped almonds or sunflower seeds

    In medium bowl, combine squash, zucchini, basil, olive oil, lemon juice and salt
    Toss ingredients together
    Allow to marinate for 20 minutes to 1 hour (time permitting, I have also served mine immediately and it was fine)
    Sprinkle with almonds
     Red pepper and yellow squash soup
YELLOW SQUASH and RED PEPPER SOUP
This soup can be served warm or cold.  I prefer it cold on the day after it was made so the flavors can mingle.

1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
1 large yellow,orange or red bell pepper, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 pound yellow summer squash, sliced thin crosswise (about 3 cups)
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup vegetable broth
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional but wonderful when soup is served cold)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or use vegan yogurt or none at all
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander(cilantro)

In a large skillet cook onion in oil over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Add bell pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until pepper is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in squash and garlic and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in broth and bring mixture to a simmer. In a blender, or using a hand masher purée soup until smooth and transfer to a saucepan. Cook soup over moderate heat until just heated through, stirring in enough water to thin to desired consistency. Add balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. If serving cold refrigerate and adjust seasoning before serving

Serve soup with a dollop of greek yogurt and sprinkled with plenty of fresh cilantro.
     Orzo with Summer Squash, Zucchini, and Almonds
ORZO with SUMMER SQUASH, ZUCCHINI and ALMONDS
Serves about 4-6

    1 1/2 cups orzo (10 ounces)(I used whole wheat but may be hard to find)
    3 tablespoons unsalted butter or vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1 cup finely chopped shallot (6 1/2 ounces)(or use onion plus one minced garlic clove)
    2 medium zucchini (1 1/2 pound total), cut into 1/3-inch dice
    2 medium yellow squash (1 pound total), cut into 1/3-inch dice
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    3/4 cup hazelnuts (4 ounces), toasted , loose skins rubbed off in a kitchen towel, and nuts coarsely chopped or use almonds as I did
    1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
    2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest

Cook orzo in a 4- to 5-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain orzo in a colander.

While orzo is cooking, heat butter and oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté shallot or onion, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini, yellow squash, salt, and pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in nuts, parsley, basil, and zest.

Add cooked orzo to skillet and stir gently. If mixture seems dry, moisten with some reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.
     Ratatouille
RATATOUILLE
A wonderful company dish, serves 4

1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1 cup tomato puree (such as Pomi)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small eggplant
1 smallish zucchini
1 smallish yellow squash
1 longish red bell pepper
Few sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Few tablespoons soft goat cheese, for serving or use feta

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Pour tomato puree into bottom of an oval baking dish, approximately 10 inches across the long way. Drop the sliced garlic cloves and chopped onion into the sauce, stir in one tablespoon of the olive oil and season the sauce generously with salt and pepper.

Trim the ends off the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. As carefully as you can, trim the ends off the red pepper and remove the core, leaving the edges intact, like a tube.

On a mandoline, adjustable-blade slicer or with a very sharp knife(I use knife), cut the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper into very thin slices, approximately 1/16-inch thick.

Atop the tomato sauce, arrange slices of prepared vegetables concentrically from the outer edge to the inside of the baking dish, overlapping so just a smidgen of each flat surface is visible, alternating vegetables. You may have a handful leftover that do not fit.

Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season them generously with salt and pepper. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs with your fingertips, running them down the stem. Sprinkle the fresh thyme over the dish.

Cover dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside. (Tricky, I know, but the hardest thing about this.)

Bake for approximately 45 to 55 minutes, until vegetables have released their liquid and are clearly cooked, but with some structure left so they are not totally limp. They should not be brown at the edges, and you should see that the tomato sauce is bubbling up around them.

Serve with a dab of soft goat cheese on top, alone, or with some crusty French bread, atop polenta, couscous, or your choice of grain. I like to serve with quinoa for a complete meal.
       Quinoa Salad with Toasted Almonds
QUINOA SALAD with GRILLED KALE, YELLOW AND GREEN SQUASH

5 tbs olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds or use 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp paprika
1 cup quinoa
3 zucchini, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
3 yellow squash, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
1 bunch kale, washed and stem removed
1 bunch green onions
1 tbs ground cumin
15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon tumeric and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Cook for 1 minutes until fragrant and then add quinoa and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer until done, 16-20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat outdoor bbq or indoor grill pan to medium high heat. On a sheet pan, toss zucchini, yellow squash, kale and green onions with 3 tablespoons olive oil, ground cumin,1/2 teaspoon tumeric, 1/2 teaspoon paprika and salt and pepper. Grill vegetables until tender and cooked through and kale becomes wilted and slightly blackened on edges. Let cool. Cut zucchini and squash into bite size chunks. Roughly chop grilled kale and green onions.

In a large bowl, toss quinoa with grilled vegetables, garbanzo beans, lemon juice, chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Can be served warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!
       Fried Panko Crusted Zucchini
FRIED PANKO CRUSTED ZUCCHINI
This is pure southern nostalgia for me..updated slightly

    2 cups panko bread crumbs
    1 cup all purpose flour
    1 egg organic free roaming
    salt and pepper
    1 teaspoon granulated garlic (Split between the panko bread crumbs and the flour)
    2 zucchini, sliced
    1 cup canola oil for frying
    Quick homemade ranch dip (recipe follows)

    Heat oil in a 2qt sauce pan, over medium heat.
    In a small bowl combine the flour, salt and pepper and 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic.
    In another bowl, beat the egg.
    In a third bowl, combine the panko bread crumbs, salt and pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic.
    Dredge the zucchini in the flour, be sure to shake any excess off. Next dip it in the egg and then the panko bread crumbs. You may need to press the zucchini into the bread crumbs in order for them to stick. Repeat until all of the zucchini is coated. You can start frying while you are completing this process.
    When the oil is hot (I usually just drop a little bread crumbs or flour into the oil and if it starts frying I know the oil is hot), add the zucchini and fry until golden brown. About 3 minutes. Remove from heat (I like to use a skimmer) and lightly salt. Serve hot with ranch dip.

Quick Homemade Ranch Dip

    1 cup mayonaise (I use Veganaise..yum)
    1 cup sour cream
    1 teaspoon dried dill or use chives

    Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Chill for 20 minutes.

These go fast, Enjoy!
                Squash
SUMMER SQUASH RED CURRY with BASIL
No matter what time of year I have to have my curry fix and this recipe utilizing summer squash and lite coconut milk fits the bill. Very Yummy!
serves 4-6

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 zucchini, quartered and sliced
2 yellow squash, quartered and sliced
2 cups firm tofu, diced
1 15 oz. can coconut milk (Lite is ok)
2 cups vegetable stock or one can
1 -2 tbsp.(I use 2+) red curry paste (depending on how spicy you like your food. Add a taste as you go.)
2 tbsp. shoyu (or soy sauce)
juice of 1 lime
1 cup coarsely chopped basil leaves

Brown or Jasmine rice to accompany.

Heat a large pot over medium. Once it’s hot, heat the olive oil, then add the onions and peppers. Saute for 7 minutes, or until the onions are soft and begin to get translucent.

Add the squash, zucchini, tofu and coconut milk and bring to a simmer. While you’re waiting for the coconut milk to simmer, whisk the curry paste into the stock until completely dissolved, then add it to the pot. Let simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft, but not mushy.

Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice and shoyu. Taste and adjust the salt and curry paste to taste.

Ladle over rice and sprinkle with basil leaves.
       Double Chocolate Zucchini Brownies
DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BROWNIES
I would have loved these when I was a kid.  

    2 cups zucchini, grated
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1/2 cup honey or agave nectar (I like agave here)
    2 eggs organic free roaming
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
    1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips...Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa Chips work great

    - Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper leaving 1 inch of the paper hanging over the edge to create handles. Grease parchment paper. Set aside.
    - Grate zucchini. Press with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Fluff with a fork, set aside.
    - In a large bowl, beat together oil, eggs, agave or honey and vanilla. Add zucchini.
    - In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Stir to combine.
    - Add dry mixture to the wet/zucchini mixture. Stir to combine. Add chocolate chips.
    - Pour batter into prepared pan.
    - Bake 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.  Remove from pan using parchment paper handles.  Serve chilled for a fudgy brownie or warmed for a gooey, cakey brownie.

"Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"  The Beatles     "cellophane flowers of yellow and green towering over your head"

"Yellow Submarine"  The Beatles

What have you all been cooking?  Please share your recipes and fave Beatle/McCartney music here!

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