How to Host a Party That’s Fun and Food-Allergy Friendly
By Melissa Massello
Whether you believe that people with restricted diets are insufferable hipsters or canaries in a coalmine, the rise in food allergies is an alert to major problems in our food chain—and the reality is that no social gathering centered on a meal can ignore the fact that people have different requirements. But just because you're hosting a dinner party or a BBQ with a bunch of friends or family members who follow different diets (by necessity or by choice) doesn't mean that you can't plan a menu that will leave everyone full, happy, and even begging for your recipes.
To paraphrase food critic Michael Pollan, we should all be eating real food, not too much, mostly plants. And never anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
What does that have to do with party planning? It's a succinct reminder that if you stick to whole ingredients, in season and grown following organic practices when possible, and offer up a clearly labeled spread (especially for the big eight food allergens), you'll have a bunch of happy guests from the entire rainbow of eating habits hoping for a return invitation—and soon. Your "normal" friends may not even notice the difference, but your food-safety-conscious ones will be making heart-eye emojis at you for days.
It's always easier to plan ahead when you know what you're dealing with, and the easiest way is to ask. Send a quick note to your guest list asking about allergies and their severity. For instance, if there's a deadly allergy in the group—say, peanuts or oysters—you can ask those friends for their help in making sure the menu and your kitchen are safe and stress-free. If there's a consensus—say, most people are avoiding dairy these days—then you can easily narrow down your menu to cheese- and milk-free recipes, try a vegan alternative, or simply put the cheese or butter on the side.
Go Old School With Printed Menus
Ask anyone who suffers from food allergies or sensitivities, and they'll tell you that all they really wish for, more than anything in the world, is clearly labeled restaurant menus listed out with each and every single ingredient used in the dish, down to the spices. Nobody wants to "be that person" and bother the server, kitchen, or host just to be able to make their eating decisions without getting sick. A pretty, printed menu is such a rare delight these days, especially at informal and intimate gatherings, and takes only a few extra minutes to pull together. Just imagine how impressed every single one of your guests will be with this surprising, thoughtful, and dressed-up gesture. For between $5 and $10, Etsy has a number of gorgeous download-and-print menu templates available to design at home—and in a flash.
Serve a Buffet With Place Cards or Pins
One of my favorite ways to delight a crowd and make sure everyone leaves full and happy is to serve up brunch or dinner in a buffet-style format, with a bar of a la carteingredients and toppings clearly labeled and positioned to prevent cross-contamination. Taco bars, baked potato bars, brunches, and other more congenial culinary staples naturally lean into being an allergy sufferer's best friend. If you have a diverse culinary crowd, everyone will be happy so long as there are both meat and vegetable proteins (like lentils or chickpeas) and both glutinous and gluten-free starches—the latter is especially important if you're serving alcohol. Everyone deserves something to soak up the booze!
Stick to Recipes That Are Naturally This-or-That
Instead of playing around with gluten-free baking or vegan substitutions if those aren't dietary roadblocks that you already plan around, stick to recipes that are naturally gluten-free or naturally dairy-free. If you have an old standby that you've made a million times, ask yourself: How easy is this to adapt? If the answer is simply swapping butter for Earth Balance or olive oil, or opting for pre-made gluten-free bread or croutons, then go for it. But don't take big risks if you're impressing guests—coconut aminos do not taste "just like" soy sauce, and cassava flour or coconut flour can take several failed attempts before serviceably passing for wheat flour in baked goods because they both soak up more moisture. Bookmark these crowd-pleasing, naturally gluten-free vegan recipes: Thai coconut green curry vegetables over jasmine rice, a classic ratatouille, watermelon or sweet corn gazpachos, and bean and quinoa chili. If you really feel like protein is lacking, put a dish of grilled chicken, beef, shrimp, sausage, etc. on the side.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
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theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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