The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: dairy

July 14, 2017

Hormone Disruptors in Boxed Mac & Cheese and Other Processed Cheeses

Since going plastic-free, I generally avoid processed, packaged foods.  So I haven’t enjoyed the Day-Glo orange of Kraft Mac & Cheese in years.  (Yeah, I used to live on that stuff in the 80’s and 90’s, with extra cheese added because, despite the advertising claims, it really isn’t the “cheesiest.”)

But the other day, Michael brought home a box of organic quinoa mac & cheese that someone had left on the curb as a freebie, and I thought maybe I’d go ahead and have it, its being free and all.

And then yesterday, I read that a new study commissioned by the Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging has found phthalates — a type of hormone-disrupting chemical found in plastics — in 29 of 30 cheese products they tested.  Cheese powders from boxed mac & cheese had four times higher levels of phthalates than natural, unprocessed cheeses.  And other processed cheeses… Read the rest

September 25, 2013

Another Trader Joe’s Rant. This Time It’s Ice Cream.

Okay, before you read my ice cream rant, please sign the petition asking Trader Joe’s to reduce its plastic produce packaging. After my own produce packaging rant last year, I didn’t have time to start a campaign, but luckily others at the Plastic Pollution Coalition did!

Okay… the ice cream…

Usually, my home ice cream consumption looks something like this…… Read the rest

March 15, 2011

How to Buy and Keep Cheese Fresh Without Plastic

Buying cheese without plastic has always been problematic because even if I take my own container to the cheese counter, the larger wheels or blocks from which the cheese is sliced generally come shrink-wrapped in plastic. So I’m always on the lookout for aged cheeses without plastic packaging, and last month I found a local Bay Area cheese without any wrapping or coating at all: Bellwether Farms Carmody.  It’s made from Jersey cow’s milk and vegetable rennet.  And it’s better than the 12 pound wheel of beeswax-coated hard cheese I splurged on in 2009 because it’s local, and full wheels are sold utterly naked.

This is what Bellwether Farms Carmody looks like sliced:

No wax coating and no plastic. (Note: the wax coating on most cheeses is paraffin, a petroleum product.)  What you see on the outside is the bare rind.  But of course, that’s only if you buy a whole wheel.  Cut portions of cheese come wrapped in plastic… Read the rest

October 20, 2010

What Do You Think About Stonyfield Farm’s New PLA Yogurt Cups?

In the same week that Pepsico pulled its SunChips compostable PLA package off grocery store shelves, Stonyfield Farm announced its new PLA yogurt cups. And while I pretty much dissed the SunChips bag in my post last week, I am feeling a little warmer towards Stonyfield’s effort. Not hot. Not warm and fuzzy. But while I think there are better options, I have to concede that the new yogurt cup is a step in the right direction, and I’ll tell you why. (Of course I’ll tell you why. That’s the purpose of this blog.)

Prepare yourself for a long post.  There’s a lot of information here, but I think it’s all important.  So get yourself a snack and settle in.

PLA vs. Polystyrene

Stonyfield’s new yogurt cups replace the multipack cups that were previously made from polystyrene. That’s right. While their larger sized and single-serving containers are made from #5 polypropylene plastic and can be returned for… Read the rest

February 8, 2010

Eating Ice Cream for Breakfast — Plastic-Free & Zero Waste

Did you know that Saturday was International Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day? Well, it was. Unfortunately, since I’m trying to avoid ice cream packaging waste (All ice cream containers are lined with plastic), I didn’t have any in the house.  And I could tell my freezer was feeling a little sad.

So, remembering Steve L.’s comment here last week, I called Ici, one of the awesome ice cream shops in my neighborhood, to find out if they would handpack a pint in my own container. “No,” they said. “We can only use our own containers. But our containers are compostable.”  Not good enough.  I was looking for a zero waste experience.

So I tried Tara’s Organic, the amazing ice cream shop I wrote about on this very blog a year and a half ago. I called and asked. The answer: An enthusiastic, “YES. Of course you can!” So I did.

Read the rest

October 7, 2009

Learning Where My Food Comes From: A Field Trip to Straus Dairy Farm

After reading Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma and seeing the film, Food Inc., I added the task “Visit farms and ranches where my food comes from” to my ongoing, never-ending “To Do” list.  And it sat there.  And sat there.  Until a couple of incidents spurred me to get serious.  First, reading about the very sad fate of male chicks to which I have been inadvertently contributing even though I buy Certified Humane eggs and second, seeing how much fun Colin Beavan had visiting a local farm in the film No Impact Man.

How many of us really understand how our food is produced?  Labels on meat and dairy products are full of pictures of happy animals in beautiful rustic settings with plenty of space to roam and be free.  But is that the truth?  And how can we make decisions about what food products are healthy, sustainable, and in line with our values if we don’t have complete information and may not even… Read the rest

September 1, 2009

Cheese Crazy (Plastic-free!)

I can has a 12-pound block of cheese?

Um… yeah. I was dying for cheese and went just a little nutty. I discovered that Perenzin San Pietro is coated with natural beeswax instead of paraffin (a petroleum product) and that The Pasta Shop near my house carries it. Of course, The Pasta Shop cuts it up into smaller pieces and seals them in plastic wrap. And if I were to ask to have some cut separately for me and put into my container, they would still have to cut and wrap the rest of the wheel in plastic.

So I ordered and bought the whole thing plastic-free.

What I didn’t realize was that Perenzin San Pietro is a hard cheese. Very hard. Like parmesan. It’s hard to cut. It must be grated. A little goes a very long way.

So, how does one keep a 12-pound block of cheese fresh once cut? With olive oil!

1) Rub the cut face of the cheese with olive, canola, or other vegetable oil. 2) Store cheese in the refrigerator.  Since this cheese is covered with wax, I just have… Read the rest

April 4, 2008

Dairy Wars – Battle of the Milk and Cheese

The last two posts were about coffee. This post is about what goes in the coffee. Well, half of it is. The other half is about cheese. Anyway, I need your input. I confess I haven’t been using my soy milk maker as regularly as I’d planned, opting for cow’s milk in my coffee. (The soy milk maker is a pain to clean, plus I keep forgetting to soak the beans at night.) My question is which cow’s milk is better? The Clover cow or the Straus cow?

Now, before you weigh in, I need to give you all the facts that I am aware of:

Straus Family Creamery is a local certified organic dairy farm in Marin County (not far from me) whose cows are grass-fed and gmo-free. You can read about their healthy farm practices here and their position on GMOs here. Packaging: Straus milk comes in heavy glass bottles that are returned to the store and reused (rather than recycled.) The drawback: a fat non-recyclable plastic cap on each bottle.

Clover Stornetta is a much … Read the rest

December 19, 2007

Plastic-free yogurt? Well, almost. Plus ways to use whey.

Turns out we do have an almost plastic-free prepared yogurt here in the SF Bay Area. Saint Benoà®t yogurt comes in a reusable, returnable ceramic container and is sold at Whole Foods, Berkeley Bowl, and other natural foods stores. As with the Straus milk containers, you pay a deposit which the store refunds when you return the container. The containers are covered with foil tops, which can be reused until the yogurt is gone, and have a small plastic seal around the rim. That’s way less plastic than buying yogurt in disposable polypropylene containers, but I’ve found a better way.

I thought that in order to make yogurt myself, I needed to invest in a yogurt machine. Not worth it considering the small amount of yogurt we eat. But then Melanie Rimmer of Bean Sprouts revealed a brilliant method of making yogurt with only a Thermos in her post, How To Make Greek Yogurt. You should check out her post to see photos of the step by step process. Here are… Read the rest