Trending Towards Healthy – The Year in Food

Posted by on Jan 28, 2016 in families, fast food, featured articles, Food for thought, food politics, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, local food, news and happenings, nutrition, raising children, school food, sustainability | 0 comments

Looking back at the year in food, we feel more strongly than ever that we are part of a larger movement towards healthier eating. As this article from NPR points out, evidence of these trends can be seen in the biggest producers. Reacting to consumer demands, even McDonald’s has taken steps to use healthier, more sustainably produced ingredients. This shows that clearly we are part of a larger movement changing how everyone eats, not just those already shopping at Whole Foods.

We at Butter Beans are often told that we are just providing good food to a small niche. This article proves that change we are part of is now reaching all parts of the food system and our “niche” is only growing. Sales of foods marketed towards health and sustainability conscious consumers surged in 2015, indicating that a much larger trend is only beginning. As the health benefits of nutritious eating become more and more apparent (especially for young kids in schools), all kinds of consumers are acting to create a change.

If you believe in critical tipping points that propel major changes, this past year hinted that one such shift may lie near on the horizon. Often the best way to measure the success of a movement is to follow the actions of the largest and most influential actors in the industry. The fact that big, highly profit-driven companies such as Kraft are seeking to include more natural ingredients in their products makes us hopeful for the future. Healthy foods are no longer just for yoga-moms and crunchy-foodies; now all kinds of Americans are showing concern for the kinds of foods carried by even large chain supermarkets and fast-food joints. This is how a paradigm shift occurs. At Butter Beans, we see everyday how we can shape the next generation of healthy, food-educated consumers to demand that America becomes a nation that embraces nutritious food.

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Employee Spotlight – Tania Lopez

Posted by on Jan 22, 2016 in cooking classes, cooking with kids, families, featured articles, Food for thought, food politics, giving, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, local food, news and happenings, nutrition, raising children, wellness | 0 comments


This week we highlight the incredible work of Tania Lopez, our school lunch supervisor at Nord Anglia International School. Outside of her work at Butter Beans, Tania founded an organization called Coqui the Chef which works to promote healthy eating in her home community of the South Bronx.

Check out this video, “Kids Cooking for a Brighter Future,” to catch a glimpse of Tania’s interactive and educational classes and hear her talk about why she finds this work so important in food deserts like the South Bronx.

In her series of fun, interactive, and informative cooking videos for children, Tania hopes to directly combat the current trends of childhood obesity. For Tania, this national epidemic can be felt strongest closest to home where a walk around any block will reveal a plethora of fast food joints, but very little in the way of fresh produce. Tania believes that this makes nutritional education all the more essential in these communities. Tania is using powerful community-based and culturally relevant education to build a healthier South Bronx from within, resisting the profit making forces of corporate fast food and the industrial global food system.

Tania says that working at Butter Beans has given her valuable perspective on how kids eat. While engaging at lunchtime with kids of different communities and backgrounds from her own, Tania has been able learn a lot learn how to best educate all kinds of children about healthy eating. For Tania, there is little more inspiring than seeing all sorts of communities come together over good food.

We’re so proud of Tania for taking the passion we all have for healthy eating education back to her own community. She is currently working hard to secure funding and hopes to expand her web episodes to a full television series. In this format, Tania hopes to reach a wider audience and connect communities across the city that also exist in food deserts.

Watch a trailer and full episode of her show below!

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reading list

Posted by on Mar 1, 2013 in agriculture, calories, cooking with kids, families, fast food, food politics, food waste, gardens, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, local food, nutrition, Recipes, school food, wellness | 2 comments

5854949486_c609ecd2eeThe food revolution of our time has been well underway, and with the proliferation of food information many insightful books have bloomed.

We are here to share with you some of our staff favorites, hoping that our list may inspire a food revolution in you, or in your community.

What food related books have inspired you?
Photo courtesy of whitneyinchicago
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from slurpees to protein packs

Posted by on Jan 4, 2013 in calories, families, fast food, food politics, healthy food, news and happenings | 0 comments

5999371394_7faa983107Good news is on the horizon for 7-Eleven shoppers.

Shifting some of their focus away from sugar loaded sodas and slurpees, 7-Eleven announced that by 2015 they aim to have “20 percent of sales come from fresh foods, up from about 10 percent currently.”

Why are fresh food choices popping up all of a sudden? Joseph M. DePinto, the chief executive of 7-Eleven says, “We’re aspiring to be more of a food and beverage company, and that aligns with what the consumer now wants, which is more tasty, healthy, fresh food choices.” Another reason why fresh foods are desirable to 7-Eleven is due to the drop in cigarettes sales. To make up for those losses they are hoping that fresh food options will help sustain their profits.

An example of a fresh food product they are rolling out is their “bistro snack protein pack”, similar to the ones you find at Starbucks that include “cheddar cheese cubes, grapes, celery, baby carrots and hummus.” A much better choice when compared to their slurpees, packed with high fructose corn syrup, natural flavors, sodium benzoate, and lots of artificial food dyes.

As the food movement continues to gain momentum, we as consumers should uphold our voices and beliefs. As we vote with our dollars and forks, we will undoubtedly continue to see change unfold before our very eyes.

Photo courtesy of time_anchor

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Rooftop gardens growing throughout NYC public schools

Posted by on Dec 3, 2012 in agriculture, Food for thought, food politics, gardens, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, local food, lunch time, news and happenings, school food, seasonal | 0 comments

4127236249_d2d5b01d43All over New York City, farms and gardens are sprouting up on public school roofs, backyard lots and even in their front yards!

Educators and lawmakers alike are beginning to put into practice what many supporters of an edible education have been advocating for years: giving kids an opportunity to plant, grow and harvest during the school day.

In a city where most blocks are lined with a few trees or the occasional flowerbed, schoolyard gardens provide urban students firsthand contact with nature, teaching them how food grows. By getting their hands dirty, they cultivate a more evolved knowledge of what constitutes healthy, natural eating, stressing the importance of fresh produce and the lifecycle of food. The importance of garden-based learning can also be viewed as a potential interactive solution to the ongoing obesity challenge that our country faces.

According to GreenThumb, the number of school-based gardens increased exponentially in the span of two years, from 40 to over 230! GreenThumb has been an excellent source for these initiatives, providing community gardens throughout the city with programming and technical support.

On Avenue B and 5th Street in the East Village, a brand new 2,400-square-foot garden opened at the beginning of the school year. Sitting atop a red-brick building that is home to three separate public schools, the Earth School, Public School 64 and Tompkins Square Middle School, this giant rooftop educational farm was designed by Michael Arad. Arad, also the architect behind the National September 11 Memorial further downtown, was inspired to create the Fifth Street Farm after learning that his own children (former students of the school) were in awe that their crisp and juicy apples once were plucked from trees.

The Horticultural Society of New York has been working with over two dozen schools since 1980, helping them with the design, construction, and education curriculum. The Hort’s mission “is to sustain the vital connection between people and plants” as they help out with the Earth School as well as more recently with four public schools in Queens.

At P.S. 41 in Greenwich Village, the school’s newly opened 15,000-square foot garden is more than a source of fresh produce for lunch, but has really become an outdoor classroom. By teaching kids about art, science, and math through the lens of gardening, their school-day routine becomes more of a hands-on experience.

This summer, for our third year, Butter Beans will be holding our Food & Garden Camp. With a similar mindset as these schools, our goal is to give your children a unique farm-to-table experience. From July to August, we will be covering the gamut of the food cycle from sprouting seeds and harvesting fresh food from rooftop gardens, to writing our very own cookbooks. Visit our website for more information.

For another great examples of greening schools, check out this edible schoolyard in East London, where lots of growing is taking place each day (check out their “lessons in loaf” pictures, they are wonderful!), and get to know Leave It Better, an organization that is accomplishing great feats in greening our local school communities as well.

Photos courtesy of kthread and growtolearn.org

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Kroger’s footprint

Posted by on Nov 14, 2012 in Food for thought, food politics, food waste, healthy lifestyle | 0 comments

The Kroger Co., one of the country’s largest retailers, has made great strides to reduce their environmental impact, becoming a benchmark for other large corporations to follow. Since 2000, they have managed to reduce their overall in-store energy consumption by 31 percent. They have saved more than 1.47 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions–that’s the same as taking more than 290,000 cars off the road for one year!

Kroger has set this precedent by taking advantage of the latest technology available, remodeling their stores to maintain maximum green efficiency. Their building model is not only beneficial for the environment, but it also helps to reduce their managing costs. Kroger achieves their eco-friendly status by using LED lighting, skylights, motion sensors, special computer control systems to monitor energy usage, and vast improvements in their transportation methods.

Their exemplar business model is also marked by their partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program since its 2004 launch. The SmartWay program encourages cleaner, more fuel-efficient transportation to cut back on the total sum of greenhouse gas emissions.

Since 1970, the United States has increased annual food waste by a shocking 50 percent. That means that today, Americans throw away nearly 40 percent of their food, totaling $165 billion annually. Learn more about the country’s food waste here.

Companies like the Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR) work to decrease this alarming amount of waste, helping businesses add to their profits by turning waste into assets. CoRR conducts pilots to be able to identify and ultimately assist in creating profitable waste diversion tactics, including a pilot that is currently happening here in New York City.

With NYC’s current waste system, almost 2.5 tons per day of paper, metal, plastic, glass, and food waste from both food and retail sectors are sent off to sit for years, undisturbed, in far away landfills. CoRR is working to locally recover the energy in waste food, using more green energy to power the city, and of course to reduce overall waste from NYC municipalities.

Other companies like Action Environmental Services and Waste Management are also working to eliminate waste throughout the country. By looking to waste-conscious brands like Dell and Hewlett-Packard as well as NYC restaurants like Northern Spy Food Co. and Franny’s, we can all work together to help reduce our annual waste and create a healthier environment for us all.

Photo courtesy of markramseymedia.com and thecorr.org

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