Archive for the ‘Food Politics’ Category

Grapes at Corner Stone

We were just talking about the lack of locally grown veggies in Napa because of the high price of land and all those grapes, and here’s what I run across when I sit down to catch up on a little gardenish reading this morning. The article from the Press Democrat, (which I wish I had seen before I left so I could have gone to Benziger last weekend) talks about some of the vineyards and their workers planting vegetable crops. Several of the wineries and vineyards are setting aside days just for working in the garden and have such abundant crops they are selling their produce to the restaurants and setting up farm stands in their tasting rooms. This seems like a head slapping, about time, epiphany for the Valley.


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Gourmet 1954


I have a special place in my heart (and garage) for my collection of vintage Gourmet magazines. I love the really old ones pre 1965 that have illustrated covers.  One of my favorite sites – Cooked Books, “All things culinary at the New York Public Library” – features a menu from a dinner held for James Beard and Julia Child and made me want to go paw through my own shelf of culinary ephemera. I will be taking a peek inside the culinary collection on Friday.  The Cooked Books librarian has generously offered to show us around the landmark building and the collection. Thanks, Rebecca!!

Flipping through the stacks of magazines, filled with advertisements touting the medical benefits of brown goods, the cover of this particular issue really jumped out at me.   Having just discovered Nose to Tail, and now Hunter Angler Gardener Cook and Offal Good, I am taking a second glance at the animal and the unusual.   This issue is February 1954, and it’s just a fantastically kitchy platter of what must be an aspic coated cows head filled with pate! That’s just a guess, having seen some crazy old European stuff like that in my time served in the Century Plaza Hotel kitchen. It’s just, wow.

You might think there is an awful lot of pig and cow head lately for a blog called green acres…but I say – you have to have an open mind!  I watched some videos on Chris Cosentino’s Offal Good and discovered an amazing looking Vegetarian salad with shaved raw parsnips tossed with a hot dressing of tarragon and sauteed grapes. It looked really good and the Veg he made it for was swooning. Over at Hunter Angler, I found a recipe for cardoon. Cardoon! Not a common ingredient, and one I have unlimited access to in the school garden. We are lousy with cardoon there for sure. There will be cardoon gratin added to the recipe box when I get back next week!

So you see, it’s not all guts and glory over at the seemingly carnivorous blogs. There are side dishes, vegetarian salads and there is adventure!  They are respecting the animal by placing a high value on every single piece of it. To quote Hank, he is an omnivore who has solved his dilemma.

Oh, and this heads for you Ryan!

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Last night the White House announced that Michelle Obama is taking out 1100 square feet of the White House lawn and planting a vegetable garden. You can read more about the “eat the view” movement at Kitchen Gardeners International, and see the plans. This is awesome! It’s the first step toward food reform and a promising indication that they GET IT! They get that we desperately need to overhaul our food policies and farming in the U.S.

But, not everyone has 1100 sq ft. in a sunny location. Which brings me to the idea for a Community of Gardens. A local garden club with an edible bent. An Urban CSA, if you will. A gathering of like minds and dirt. I have a community garden plot, because the trees in my yard limit the sunlight for certain crops. I wanted to have real farm conditions and grow “crops” to feed my family. And to know that the food I was feeding them was free from pesticides, irradiation, bacteria and full of the nutrients that are supposed to be in them.

Many of my friends and neighbors expressed the desire to grow their own, buy and eat local. Many want to convert front yards to drought tolerant herb gardens and backyards in to robust vegetable gardens. But there are hurdles. So, I was thinking…wouldn’t it be nice to pool our local resources, the land immediately to my right, or left. I can grow celery in my shady yard…pretty much year round. Maybe you have a super sunny yard and cannot grow lettuce during the summer…And there is the time. And the knowledge. You see where I am going with this?

Okay, I can think of 20 projects right now! The local schools have gardens but limited resources, they need teachers and volunteers to run the school garden programs. We could start a community compost, so the green waste being incinerated could go back in to the earth instead of into the atmosphere. We can pick the low hanging fruit, literally…there are dozens, if not hundreds of fruit trees loaded with citrus right now, that just goes to waste. We could take the citrus peels and make our own cleaning wipes. We can grow hundreds of pounds of tomatoes and have a canning party! We could volunteer at the Rancho, and help them with their gardens. We could collectively support bringing a community garden plot in out neighborhood. We can identify friends and neighbors with plenty of space and but no time to farm. There are strips of land for guerilla gardening as well.

But we have to start somewhere and perhaps a little meet up and food/seed swap would be a good start. What do you say the 1st Sunday in April? Now, where should we gather? How about the benches outside Rancho Los Cerritos? If you park in their lot, and walk straight ahead and take the low road…there are picnic benches in a pretty lovely setting! The alstroemeria on the little slope will probably be blooming by them…and the orchard in front of the Rancho is intoxicating right now…there are a zillion orange blossoms on the trees!! There is a red bud tree that is in full flower and their wisteria vine has begun to show as well. It would be a fun place to start and a nice walk around the grounds is an added bonus! The Rancho doesn’t open until 1:00pm, so we couldn’t get in to the area before that time. Hope this works, let me know!!

If you’re on Facebook, we have a Community of Gardens page that you can join. If you’re not on Facebook, get on Facebook!

Also, the photo above is my 10 x 10 raised bed in December, last year. I planted a bunch of peas in the middle on the black rack. There was an x of celery, and four triangles filled with radishes, carrots, onion, cauliflower and broccoli. I jammed the plants in close together and thinned as I went, eating baby vegetables and making room for some of the plants to reach full size. I would go out and break off a few ribs of celery all summer, before they bolted late in July. You would be amazed at how much you can grow in a small space!

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From tainted spinach to irradiated spinach. Or from bad to worse. Just another reason to grow your own. Why do we try to eat dark green veggies? For the nutritional benefits. They irradiate spinach and now they’re trying to do it without labeling. The short version of this food supply tragedy goes something like this; vegetables are high in water content. The radiation mutates the water component causing free radicals to form and greatly diminishes the vitamin content. In the case of spinach it messes with the folate. What’s good in spinach? Folate. Can you get folate from vitamins? There is new evidence that vitamins are not effective. Makes me feel better about not taking them. Makes me realize I should plant a row of spinach weekly.

Good Food on KCRW had a great show yesterday and interviewed a guy from The Center for Food Safety. Listen to the Good Food interview, then go to the site and get full story. Write, vote, donate and educate yourself on the issue.

Here is SoCal and specifically Long Beach we live near the port, freeway and airport. I get pangs of guilt when I think about the large particles my kids are inhaling because I have chosen to stay here. I get full blown agita thinking that maybe the food I am feeding them is or could make them sick! We simply must know what’s we’re feeding our families, and if you grow it you know it.

Look for the symbol of irradiated food symbol (icon above) when you do your shopping and realize that the term cold pasteurization is the corporate food industry’s choice for a more deceptive term for radiation. Be diligent and start planting!!

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