For anyone reading out there, can someone tell me where I can get organic mushrooms - for cooking - in Connecticut, or at least somewhere in the area? I know I can get them from the grocery store, but would like to find them locally and not wrapped in cellophane and styrofoam.
Also, I know black walnuts are more of a Southern find, but are there any farms that would be willing to ship them?
I meant to post this link earlier, but whatever, it's still definitely worth reading...
Will Allen, recipient of the 2008 MacArthur Genius Award for his involvement and spread of urban farming, was a guest on the Colin McEnroe Show on WNPR on Friday. Allen, as well as urban farmers from Connecticut, discussed some of the challenges facing this farming movement. Allen is CEO of Growing Power, a non-profit organization based in and started in Milwaukee that brings safe, affordable food to people of diverse backgrounds, ethic, racial, economic and otherwise.
Organic. Biodynamic. Local. These terms are all well and good, but everyone needs to know what they mean, and people need to work together with government and NGOs alike to provide education and access to good, clean food sources.
President Obama made two significant speeches, both at the UN, this week: One on the reduction of national and global emissions and climate change, and another outlining the need for nations to realize the interconnectedness of major issues (climate change, the economic recession and peace). In both, it was so refreshing to listen to an elected official official and actually believe in the subject(s) of which he was speaking.
Obama's promise to stay on course with climate change reduction targets for 2020 and 2050 is an immense statement of America's mindset and, greater, an obligation to the global community. Click here to listen to Obama's speech and commentary on the address.
The enormous size of the U.S., both its geography and population, makes it difficult for individuals to align on actions to reduce their carbon footprint and overall environmental impact. Obama did acknowledge that the U.S. would continue to invest in cleaner energy technologies, even during this trying economic time. The government can impose all the sanctions, plans and taxes nationally, but it comes down to low income Americans as well as those who don't have access to information and, conversely, those who choose to continue to ignore the reality of our actions on the environment to change their habits.
Although "change" seems to be catchphrase of this administration, it needs to happen. But, change is only as powerful as the people who choose to act and share a willingness to make life better for current and future generations. Otherwise, it remains just an empty, gimmicky political tactic.
Click here to read the transcript from Obama's address to the UN today.
Today was my first day off in awhile, and it was filled with cooking. As I write this, I have tomatillos and poblanos roasting in the oven for roasted salsa. This afternoon, I toasted off some herbs from the garden that had been hanging all summer and added them to the spice rack. Earlier in the day, I made a mocha chocolate cheesecake - totally not local, but equally delicious - out of the Angelica Kitchen cookbook.
I cannot tell you how much I love this food season. The winter squash is just being harvested, potatoes are more abundant and I get to use, what I call, warming spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, all-spice, cloves) in soups, stews, breads and anything else that needs a spicy punch. Before I left the farm on Tuesday, I was cleaning acorn squash for the markets and took the seconds home. Now, I have a ton of squash and so many options. Squash and/or pumpkin puree is the easy route - steam, roast or boil the squash until tender and throw it into the food processor. It's pretty much the basis for many winter squash recipes.
My new favorite use for winter squash is Squash Hummus, out of "Local Bounty" by Devra Gartenstein. For vegans, vegetarians and hummus lovers who are a little bored with regular hummus, try this unbelievable recipe:
1 acorn squash
1/4 cup tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. dried parsley flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
(1) Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds* (*I save the seeds and toast them off in the oven). Cut thehalves into chunks that will fit in your vegetable steamer and steam them for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they are soft.
(2) Scoop out the pulp and transfer it to a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth.
Perhaps ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power - or continued stupidity for some. I apologize for the cliche, but just go with it.
On Monday afternoon, I listened to Los Angeles Times columnist Charlotte Allen on NPR's "Talk of the Nation." Allen was discussing her recent op-ed piece, in which she suggests that those who support the local food movement or the "good is cheap mantra" are elitist, self-righteous and impractical.
I respect Allen's opinion about the cost of goods at farmers' markets. Access and cost is a problem, but not in all cases. I lived on a local and vegan diet as a college student; I wanted to prove that living local was feasible. I wasn't receiving money from my parents. I worked three jobs. I went to the farmers' market every week and was able to avoid grocery stores all together AND save money. I also knew that my money was supporting farmers ( I, unlike Allen, don't call them "art" farmers, just honest people trying to make a living).
The reason the prices of artisanal cheeses, breads and other goods are more expensive? They aren't able to be mass produced and require craftsmanship. These people need loyal consumers to buy their goods in order to stay afloat. Paying extra factors in the externalities - fuel, time, wages - of food and other products, something that is completely largely ignored in our culture.
But, perhaps the most ludicrous excerpt from the interview was in response to host Neal Conan's question over Chinese manufacturing standards and practices:
"You know, China does have serious environmental problems, but those are China's problems and they're not our problems. And unfortunately, that's where most stuff is made - not just cheap stuff, but high-quality stuff. Cole Haan shoes, for example, are made in China now, because the Chinese actually do have the capability of making good products."
I'm sorry, but the last time I checked, America imports an exorbitant amount of products from China. The question is not whether the Chinese are capable of making quality items - the nation is made up of highly skilled individuals just as with any other country. Unfortunately, some of these people are exploited and such behavior is not monitored. This is what is problematic. So, is Allen saying that even when we know the abuses suffered by workers and the environment, we are meant to ignore them and keep on buying? I would like to think that consumers have a conscience, but I guess Allen proves otherwise. If you know that one company's manufacturing standards infringes on human rights, contributes to environmental degradation, wouldn't you feel the need to boycott?
Further, if Allen criticizes Michael Pollan and others of his ilk for being elitist, what is she? Her favoritism of cheap over quality is inexcusable. I apologize for singling out Allen, as she isn't alone in her thinking. Americans don't often think beyond the price tag, but this clearly needs to change. If you know how products are made, and, even better, where, you can begin to be a conscious consumer.
Superfluous spending doesn't seem to be boosting the economy in any way, but spending at farmers' markets and supporting local communities may be a more proactive option, albeit alternative and unprecedented, than continuing to spend our well-earned money on generic products and mass produced Haagen-Dazs (yes, even the five-ingredient kind).