Sunday, January 29, 2012

TEDxManhattan - Changing the Way We Eat


Last weekend I spent my Saturday afternoon on the computer. That's not out of the ordinary, but what I did was a little different than usual. Instead of writing for one of the blogs, or researching recipes, gardening techniques, or homeschool resources, I watched TED cover "Changing the Way We Eat".

I didn't get to watch the talks in their entirety, but what I did see got me really excited. Excited about eating local, making local better available for urbanites, eradicating food deserts, and changing people's perception about food. So far I haven't been able to find the rebroadcast online, but I'll try to post the links here when they do become available.

In the meantime, you should really check out some of the fabulous speakers from the TEDxManhattan event. Those that got me most excited included Stephen Ritz and his "Edible Wall". He's helped to motivate and initiate a program (The Green Bronx Machine) that's produced more than 25,000 pounds of fresh produce in the Bronx and improve the lives of the over 2,200 kids in one of the poorest areas of the country through education and motivation. This guy is truly motivating.

I also liked the funny Cara Rosean, one of the people who brought us It's something like Google Earth with user updated information about restaurants, farms, and markets. What's really great is that it's integrated so that you can know which restaurants and markets offer which farm's produce - and then go on to learn more about the farmer's techniques through links to their websites. I was recently introduced to Real Time Farms through our Dark Days Challenge and have used it on several occasions to locate farm stands and restaurants offering local food.'s Gary Oppenheimer who's mission is near and dear to my heart also made an appearance. Over the past several years I've tried to donate a portion of my excess produce to someone, or some place, that could use it. When I was in Tennessee I offered some of my veggies to a local women's shelter. Ample Harvest is an organization that supplies local food pantries connections to gardeners that want to share their excess food.

I think the most shocking presentation was given by Stefani Bardin who is studying the comparison of whole versus processed foods and how they affect our bodies internally. This clinical study makes use of a camera in pill form and shows how food is digested. This one's not for the squeamish, but I highly suggest watching it: M2A: The Fantastic Voyage.

There's more information available on the other speakers and organizations from the TEDxManhattan event here. I highly suggest taking a few minutes to check out the speakers because they are, and will continue to be, making a huge impact on the way that we eat.

Friday, January 27, 2012

It's That Lemony Time of Year

Meyer Lemons

This week I got my annual supply of meyer lemons from the Lemon Ladies out in California. No it's not local, but neither is the rice that I use on a regular basis. They are, however, fed with organic fertilizer and grown here in the States - as opposed to being imported from Asia, the Mediterranean, Africa ....

In spirit of all this lemony goodness, I thought I'd revisit some of my previous posts. You see, I'm trying to use up as much of these while they're fresh. Seriously fresh - they were picked on Sunday! So I'm going through all of the lemon recipes I've listed, posted, and saved. I've even got a board devoted to lemon recipes over at Pinterest! I've got my zester and graters at the ready and my ice cube trays cleaned out. The only question is: cake or muffins first?

And there will be lemon curd. Lots and lots of it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Slow Going


Realization has set in that we're going to be in this rental for a while. Our house in Tennessee is still up for sale, but the market is such that we'll have to recoup what we've lost before we can get into another more permanent location. That means it will be a while before I have hens again, or get goats and sheep, or even a full-fledged garden. I do very much miss my farmette and all the activities I was involved in there: bees, chickens sustainable and organic gardening. I had a crawl space and a heated garage for storing food, and lots to forage from as well. And the solitude. Sometimes I just miss sitting outside where it's quiet or being able to not see another person for days.

While I'm heartbroken that I've left my hydrangeas, asparagus, and blueberries behind, the reality is that I've moved to Blueberry Central. All those other plants I've left behind can be easily replaced - if they would even survive here. Besides, I never did get a single fruit from those blueberries in Tennessee.

Honestly, we're pretty happy here in town. There's convenience galore, a large focus on local goods, a decent three-season farmer's market, and enough direct-from-farmer activity to keep me pretty satisfied. Most of this activity is even within a 30 mile radius from our current location - half the distance that I had to travel in Tennessee. Because of this great focus on quality and local goods, I've even wondered if it's necessary to start a new farmette. I can fulfill most of my wants locally - even goat milk should I so desire (and these people love their goat milk here!). Putting aside all government conspiracy theories and doubts, and assuming Monsanto doesn't take over the world, and that these farms can maintain, we should be able to continue our SLOW eating habits with a lot less physical work.

raw milk

There's three big reasons for doing some of it myself - for being as self-sustaining as possible. For one, after the initial investment, maintaining can be cheaper than continuing to purchase many products. Secondly, because I'm doing the work I can be sure that my product meets my standards, without the blurring that government and corporate wordage and blinded officials. Lastly, there's the satisfaction of knowing that I'm capable of doing it on my own and that I'm not reliant on anyone else. I can make the choices of what I want to produce instead of being limited by the choices available at the grocery store or farmer's market. Besides, the physical act of being involved in the production of our own food links us to the thousands of generations before us, and there's something fulfilling about that.

So while I'm researching farmland that isn't drenched in or downwind of pesticides and fertilizer, I'll be growing a small potted garden here on my tiny porch. I'll be focusing on items that are hard to find or expensive to purchase: things like French sorrel, herbs, and artisan lettuces. Even though organic heirloom tomatoes are easy to find at the markets, I'll be growing some of my own because there's nothing like the flavor that comes right from the vine. I know that I won't be as self-sustaining as I desire, but I am curious how much I'll be able to supplement our diet out of a pot.This weekend I'll be making my list and ordering my seeds (I'm open to suggestions!). Even though it will be months before I'm ready to plant, I'm already imagining the taste of that first tomato of the season. I'm looking forward to being involved in my own food production again, as small as it may be.

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