Tag Archives: Slow Food

Food: it’s always the best we can do

Making 4-pallet modular compost systems with Will Allen & Growing Power

You know, I love what my friends have done for local food.

I want some of that.

But now, as I make plans to go visit my mom and dad for the holidays, I think about how that will be. I imagine myself telling them “You can HAVE this fat, but you can’t have THAT fat.” And it all just gets so complicated. How ironic is it that I should have to tell my own parents – people who came from farms – what to eat and what not to eat?

How is it that my own parents don’t know what’s good for them when it comes to food?

It’s because they left the farm. And even if they hadn’t left the farm, they would still be the generation that was fed a load of lies by the media. Enter television. Enter advertising. Enter Big Ag and the end of my parents’ simple diet.

My parents left the farm because they were tired of being poor. And because they wanted to make a difference for their families. It had nothing to do with food. It is not their fault, necessarily, that I grew up with macaroni and cheese from a box and bread from a plastic bag. They did the best that they knew how to do, with what they had.

And that’s all we, all of us, know how to do. So, you out there, wondering what to feed your families and how to go about it: Listen, you are doing the best you can. Follow what’s true and what’s local… and we’ll all be alright.

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Denver Urban Gardens’ 5th Annual Bicycle Garden Tour

Sage and sapience at Steele School Garden

Sage and sapience at Steele School Garden

Yesterday I had the extreme pleasure to participate in Denver Urban Gardens’ (DUG) annual bicycle tour in south Denver. Once a year DUG takes us on a cycling tour of some of their 80+ community gardens and then we have a potluck. Little secret here: the BEST potlucks are held by gardeners and foodies! Well, you can imagine. Like community gardening, the cycling tour was a way to commune with like-minded folks, make lasting friends, groove in the bounty of a summer’s garden and savor a morning in the sunshine! The weather couldn’t have been finer and did I mention the food? Yesterday’s tour covered about 8 miles of easy cycling. We started with our guide, Scot, from DUG at Rosedale Garden and then we pedaled on to South Grant Community Garden, Urquhart Memorial Community Garden, Steele School Garden, The Bridge Community Garden, and then back to Rosedale for our potluck. As will happen with firsthand observance and fun, I learned many interesting facts and insights about how community gardens and city farmers are flourishing!  [Please visit the photo album at City Farmer’s Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/City-Farmer/139796795040]

Rosedale Community Garden 

The Rosedale Community Garden

The Rosedale Community Garden

resides in the University Park neighborhood and is the largest community garden in the Denver metro area with 80 plots plus common areas including an orchard, grape arbor, beehive and picnic/gathering area. Their composting operation in the back has been well established and honed over the years. Among other amenities and resources, DUG provides its gardens with the expertise of a certified Master Composter. This garden was established in the 80’s and has a board of directors. The beehive is a new addition and is the only community garden beehive in the city. The bees here will produce 300+ pounds of honey this year! The hive is maintained by its owner who will share the honey harvest with the garden and will also donate sweetness to Project Angel Heart. There is also a resident fox and her cubs at the garden. She maintains the squirrel and rabbit population at zero. Ms. Fox lives in harmony with the gardeners – children, teens and adults alike – and the garden has built a protective fence around her den opening.  Continue reading

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“IT’S O.K. TO WASTE FRIES” and other appalling notions

Is it okay to waste anything?

Is it okay to waste anything?

I could NOT BELIEVE my eyes when I saw this sign on a fryolator at an airport food court the other day.Yes, I was in the food court…. I was desperate for food because I’d been waiting on stand-by all day and couldn’t get on a flight. I will know better next time and fill my tote with real food whether I think I need it or not. 

Anyway, what’s with this company endorsed policy to waste? And look at the sign. It’s almost enthusiastic in the way it looks and reads. It’s like the message is “Go ahead! PLEASE waste the fries! And, while you’re at it, why don’t you waste everything?” Sure there’s plenty of money and shareholders and industrial agriculture. There are people who are desperate for work and they’ll eat a 99-cent burger if they have to. I know I have and I’m not ashamed to say it. And, yes, I realize that the intent of this sign is to ensure food quality and safety. And that is a good thing. 

I am not opposed to companies offering affordable food and making a profit. What I grow and eat is largely MY choice. What I’m opposed to is this public display of sanctioned unsustainability. According to Slow Food Nation, in this country we produce 1-1/2 times the amount of food each year than is consumed. In addition to this gross agroindustrialism, our children receive fast food and crap for lunch – the ONLY meal of the day for some children. This is so sad I am verging on tears. 

I ran across an article today at Civil Eats which brought to my attention a campaign developed by Slow Food USA called Time For Lunch. This campaign is petitioning Congress to add one dollar per meal per day to the National School Lunch Program. Please sign this petition at your earliest opportunity. I also urge you to have a conviction about how this dollar should be spent. In my humblest opinion, this extra dollar should be spent creating edible schoolyards such as the kind that Alice Waters, Chef Ann Cooper and the Chez Panisse Foundation have built in Berkely and, now, New Orleans. It is NOT enough to feed more dollars to a crippled system such as the School Lunch Program

And it is NOT “O.K. TO WASTE”.

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Canning is comfort…in a Slow Food way

Beets ready for pickling

Beets ready for pickling

Last Saturday I was privileged to have a home canning class with Claudia Kuhns in Denver. I had watched my Grandmas putting up their fruits and veggies as a kid, but I never remembered the technicalities – I did, however, remember the art.

I’m the sort of person who needs to see and hear and feel this kind of thing in order to get it. I need to get the technicality of it. And further, I need to understand ALL aspects: the worship of the plant, the brilliance of saving it, and definitely the technique and the engineering involved. And finally, last but not least, I need to experience the gastronomy of it: the science of appreciating the plant and the palette. Let me see if I can share my canning album with you here. Otherwise, please find it on my Facebook page called ‘City Farmer’ and become a fan if you will http://www.facebook.com/editphoto.php?aid=140778&id=139796795040#/album.php?aid=140790&id=139796795040&ref=nf

And let me say more about home canning and your options: You don’t need to have grown the veggies and fruits yourself. Don’t be hesitant in the least about buying fresh, local organic food to can and preserve. We all need to support our local farms who work so hard to offer us fresh, organic foods.  Be a purveyer! And furthermore, don’t you want to have fresh, organic foods that you’ve canned (with love) to feed to your family in the winter?

Our produce – tiny little delicious beets – was provided by Grant Family Farm. And the exquisite, flawless sweet cherries were grown with love and provided by Ela Family Farms. Thank you farmers!

Claudia’s and Irena’s Pickled Beet Brine

1 qt organic apple cider vinegar

1 qt + 1 cup water

1cup + 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoon salt

Mix and modify to your taste. This would also be quite tasty with canned sweet potatoes and others. Experiment for more delight!

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