Saturday, February 08, 2014

The New Super-Food: Pizza

Any fresh, real food is Super-Food.

A consumerist society needs a constant flow of fads and fashions to feed the marketing machine. The accoutrements of cool must constantly change, lest there be nothing new to identify one's membership in the Early Adopter or Hipster tribes, a.k.a. bobos, bourgeois bohemians.

Since Elite status is constantly being degraded by bourgeois Aspirational consumers desperate to claim higher social ground, there is a constant need for new signifiers of Elite status. This process is often laughably transparent: as credit cards lost their value, then Gold cards appeared, soon to be replaced by Platinum cards, which are topped by the elusive Black cards, and so on.

The food industry depends on fads to drive consumption: aspirational shoppers seeking a more refined cuisine, hipsters anxious not to fall off the coolness treadmill, and those seeking an instant "cure" that compensates for a diet of largely inedible convenience "food" and a zero-fitness lifestyle.

The latest iteration of food fads is the announcement every few months of a new Super-Food, a food so chockful of anti-oxidants, etc. that it's almost like a Big Pharma miracle drug--only it's natural! Blueberries recently got the Super-Food marketing treatment, for example.

A society addicted to quick, painless fixes for complex problems is easily sold pills, meds, supplements, vitamins, or blueberries, as long as no actual work or effort is required.

Alas, diet and lifestyle are ultimately defined by positive daily habits created by will, work and effort, not what handful of pills one swallows or what food fad one follows.

But enough of the negative--I bring you happy news: the new Super-Food is pizza.Yes, pizza. Properly prepared, pizza is loaded with natural goodness.

The key phrase of course is properly prepared, i.e. home-made with real-food ingredients. We've recently been making pizzas for guests, since everyone loves pizza and it's easy to fashion a great veggie pizza. (Meat-lovers, feel free to toss on some sliced pepperoni.)

First, start with organic unbleached flour (Costco and other big-box outlets sell it; the cost difference is trivial when measured against the cost of a single fast-food meal for four people). I've been using this easy-to-make dough recipe. Just combine the yeast, flour, water, sugar, salt and olive oil, let it rise, punch it down, let it rest a few minutes and then roll it out. This dough is very soft and it's easy to lay out the crust.

The sauce is equally quick to prepare--there are many recipes for quick pizza sauces online.

Next, chop and slice whatever fresh veggie toppings you prefer: garlic, onions, zucchini, red peppers, mushrooms, etc., and lightly stir-fry them in a good quality olive oil. Slice some olives and sprinkle on a handful of parmesan and mozzarella cheeses (or goat/sheep cheeses, if you're avoiding cow's milk cheeses) and put the pie into a pre-heated oven.

There is absolutely nothing fancy about making a home-made pizza, and the results will blow your taste buds away.

Like a lot of other things in life, the basic skills of cooking/baking require some effort to learn; you must "do the thing and you will have the power" (Emerson). But once these basics are in hand, then all sorts of Super-Foods become accessible at extremely low cost, compared to fast-food and convenience food.

Any fresh, real food is Super-Food. A diet consisting of a diverse variety of fresh, real food is by definition Super. Toss in some stretching, movement, walking, bicycling, swimming, wu-shu, yoga, tai-chi or whatever you fancy in the way of generating endorphins and the miracle cure of fitness, and voila, Super-Lifestyle.

Sadly, the Super-Lifestyle doesn't have a brand; it can't be bought, for it is an asset that cannot be packaged or traded: in other words, it's the real deal.

There is also a politics of experience facet to any home-made meal: "A healthy homecooked family meal and a home garden are revolutionary acts."

The Nearly Free University and The Emerging Economy:
The Revolution in Higher Education

Reconnecting higher education, livelihoods and the economyWith the soaring cost of higher education, has the value a college degree been turned upside down? College tuition and fees are up 1000% since 1980. Half of all recent college graduates are jobless or underemployed, revealing a deep disconnect between higher education and the job market.

It is no surprise everyone is asking: Where is the return on investment? Is the assumption that higher education returns greater prosperity no longer true? And if this is the case, how does this impact you, your children and grandchildren?

go to Kindle edition
We must thoroughly understand the twin revolutions now fundamentally changing our world: The true cost of higher education and an economy that seems to re-shape itself minute to minute.

The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy clearly describes the underlying dynamics at work - and, more importantly, lays out a new low-cost model for higher education: how digital technology is enabling a revolution in higher education that dramatically lowers costs while expanding the opportunities for students of all ages.

The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy provides clarity and optimism in a period of the greatest change our educational systems and society have seen, and offers everyone the tools needed to prosper in the Emerging Economy.
Read Chapter 1/Table of Contents

print ($20)       Kindle ($9.95) 

Things are falling apart--that is obvious. But why are they falling apart? The reasons are complex and global. Our economy and society have structural problems that cannot be solved by adding debt to debt. We are becoming poorer, not just from financial over-reach, but from fundamental forces that are not easy to identify. We will cover the five core reasons why things are falling apart:

go to print edition1. Debt and financialization
2. Crony capitalism
3. Diminishing returns
4. Centralization
5. Technological, financial and demographic changes in our economy

Complex systems weakened by diminishing returns collapse under their own weight and are replaced by systems that are simpler, faster and affordable. If we cling to the old ways, our system will disintegrate. If we want sustainable prosperity rather than collapse, we must embrace a new model that is Decentralized, Adaptive, Transparent and Accountable (DATA).

We are not powerless. Once we accept responsibility, we become powerful.

Read the Introduction/Table of Contents
Kindle: $9.95       print: $24 

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