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Archive for March, 2009

These baby arugula, red leaf and green lettuces left the green house a while ago and are now being picked from the high tunnels for spring salad mixes. dsc03426

dsc_2157We love salad with just a vinaigrette. But often we also add some radishes,

dsc_2421dsc_2217some baby turnips (my children’s favorite vegetable in a salad), and whatever else is freshly picked and sounds good – like green garlic, carrots or turbinado onions.

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A newer salad, to us, is the kale salad. Our friend Sheri introduced us to it. She buys our greens from Sevenanda and had some on hand while we were visiting, so we got to try it. She mixed up 1/4 cup of Braggs (you could use soy sauce), 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and  some garlic salt and tossed the torn up kale with this dressing. Then she massaged the greens for several minutes to tenderize them. Even the kids loved it.

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dsc_1896_2dsc_18941Michael Pollan‘s key note address at the GA Organic Conference last Sat. was so inspiring. He was definitely preaching to the choir, telling lots of small farmers and their supporters why factory farming is wrong, but he did it in a way that made us now able to take that information and pass it along.

The bit that stayed with me the most was in reference to us and President Obama. Pollan said that he had recently spoken to a friend of his who had eaten with Obama last week, after news of the White House victory garden was released to the media. The friend asked President Obama what, if anything, he was going to do to change our current food policy. Obama said that the White House garden was Michelle’s project and said that if we (slow food, small farms, anti-animal cruelty, anti-industrial – these are whom I hope he meant) want to see a bigger change then we have to make Obama take notice. He said, “Show me the movement, make me do it!” He has a lot on his plate. It is up to us to highlight the importance of changing the food on that plate as well as how that food got there.

Here are some of the facts that Michael Pollan shared the other night that help connect the dots about the current big food picture:

-When we eat from the industrial food chain, we’re eating fossil fuels. He thinks it would be great if food labels included the food’s carbon footprint as well as its calorie count.

– One third of our American diet is made up of processed corn and processed soy.

– California is feeding Iowa. We export sugar cookies to Denmark and also import sugar cookies from Denmark. This led an official to say, “Wouldn’t it be easier to swap recipes?” Re-regionalizing food should be our goal.

– How did we get this way? Because the priority in the sixties used to be making enough food. It was about quantity. Plus, we started to have petroleum fertilizer possibilities post- WW II. Now the priority needs to be (for both financial and health reasons) quality. How did we get to the point where we replaced photosynthesis with fossil fuels? We have this subsidy system for farmers that keeps them from poly-cultures, keeps them stuck in mono-cultures – one kind of crop on a farm. We need to change the incentives – reward our farmers for sequestering carbon and penalize them for putting carbon into the atmosphere. We need to pay for ecosystem services. We need to lease unused land for farmers.

-2 trillion dollars are spent on health care and 1.5 trillion of this goes to preventing chronic disease. 70 % of us will die from diet-related chronic disease. We can’t have a healthy population without a healthy diet and we can’t have a healthy diet without a healthy agriculture.

– Feedlot agriculture is not efficient due to the cost of feed that is not grown on the farms and the cost of antibiotics. They need to be regulated as the factories that they are and not called farms.

-We neeed more small meat plants and more small meat plant inspectors. The small farmers are having to follow regulations that are meant for much larger facilities.

-We need enforcement of anti-trust laws. Four companies control all of the animal feed, grain milling, fertilizations, retailing, seed and beef production.

-Food packagers are making more money than the farmers.

– 25% of food in this country is wasted.

– Why a backyard garden is a great idea – $70 investment in a garden yields $600 of food. Also, gardening teaches habits of independence and interdependence (what are you going to do with all that zucchini?).

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Nicolas shows us several of the vegetables that he’s had growing in the high tunnels; some plants have been giving and re-giving since October. The high tunnels have enabled the farm to produce year round and have really made a big difference for the better.

The original video is much better quality but I couldn’t get it to upload. First time I used this video camera too. Hopefully, Nicolas’ Belgian-accented tutorial makes up for all that.

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Tonight we are having chicken stock (I’ll turn it into chicken soup with noodles) that was made with one of the roosters that Nicolas killed last month. We use the stock recipe from Sally Fallon’s cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, based on the principles of the Weston Price diet. It’s like most other stock recipes I’ve ever read, using onion, celery, carrots, salt, pepper and filtered water with the bird (or carcass). It does call for soaking the bones or bird in vinegar (we use apple cider vinegar) for half an hour to an hour before turning on the heat. This helps to release the nutrients. We also add several chicken feet and the neck as these contain loads of that all-important gluten. We cook it for a really long time, even overnight sometimes, in order to have the richest broth. One more hint from Nourishing Traditions – add parsley for the last ten minutes of cooking in order to add (and not to cook away) lots of vitamin C.  This also adds to the taste.  I also really like this mixed with coconut milk as a base for Asian soups.

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Pollan-ated

Yesterday, the kids, With Michael PollanNicolas and I spent the day at the Georgia Organic Conference. As a result of a session that I attended led by Chef Linton Hopkins I am feeling passionately ready to cook and eat a Will Harris or Riverview Farms hog and/or cow, from horn to hoof, leaving no waste. I’m also ready to take on the challenge of saving our seeds – something that the farmer hasn’t had the time to do well. After attending Janisse Ray and Tom Stearns seed-saving session, we feel more knowledgeable about how to prevent cross-pollination. James Harris (from elemental interactive) gave an informative session about social networking that finally pushed me to start this farm blog.

But it was Michael Pollan’s keynote address that got me sitting in here all day instead of playing in the sun. He re-inspired me (maybe pollan-ated me while posing in that garden?) to want to share some of Nicolas’ fifteen years of farming know-how so that those who are newer to the field can have an easier time. Because one big thing we are lacking in this journey towards a new sustainable future is farmers. There are not enough farmers. There aren’t enough backyard gardeners or homesteaders, or discriminating, knowledgable consumers. Or, there are those who are enthusiastically breaking ground, but may still have questions.

In addition, for our Morningside Farmers Market, The Local Farmstand, Sevenanda and Whole Foods Market customers, there will be regular updates posted here about what you can expect to find each coming week.

More about Michael Pollan’s talk soon. But now, on this second day of spring, I am needed in The Backyard Farm (a smaller version of Nicolas’ farm, run by young Jesse and Gillen, using no machinery, and even more local than the farm).

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