Tag Archives: Farmers market

Thanks for the (Food) Memories

This is Blog Action Day  and the topic is food – my favorite!!  Website -http://blogactionday.org/  I am sure others will talk the politics of food, but I want to talk about food memories. (Cue the song from Cats here.)

The ambrosial experience of sweet corn fresh off the stalk is so memorable that when you buy (or pick) your first dozen, you begin to feel the pleasure of it before the actual consumption. After consuming several ears of the stuff earlier this summer, I watched Beekeeper cutting sweet corn off the cob to put in the freezer (hey, he likes to do it-what can I say). It always brings back the memory of sitting in my Aunt Babe’s kitchen as a child, watching her cut corn off the cob. She always called me “honey”. A pleasant food memory linking one generation to another.

A young Aunt Babe, my uncle Bill and my dad Verne

When we returned from a Pacific Northwest visit the end of September, we found this pleasant surprise in the otherwise finished garden…

A beauty

a memory for the eyes as well as the palate.

Anyone who has ever bitten into a ripe tomato off the vine, bending over to prevent the juice from staining your shirt, or the tongue-curling sweetness of a sun-drenched strawberry, or the first red raspberry knows how the taste, smell and sight of such bounty are programmed into your brain. All you need to do is think about them and you begin to salivate.

Food memories are ingrained in us, whether we are conscious of it or not – even before birth! Here’s an interesting feature from NPR that highlights research published in the journal Pediatrics stating babies in the womb develop taste preferences from what their mothers eat.

http://www.npr.org/2011/08/08/139033757/babys-palate-and-food-memories-shaped-before-birth

So I have lots of good memories connected with good, healthy food. I hope you do, too.

A Quiet Revolution

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

There has been a lot of First Amendment activity lately and I, for one, am glad to see it happening. Complacency has not completely taken over this country yet. Whether it is Wall Street protesters or Tea Party rallies, folks are immobilizing to make a difference in the future of their country. Here in Coshocton County, we have a revolution going on, albeit a far quieter one. We are improving our community by trying to change the way people eat.

Tonight there will be an open house at our brand new local food coop, Local Bounty.This indoor local products cooperative was produced out of Slow Food Coshocton discussions, the wishes of farmers market customers and vendors, comments of cooking class attendees, and myriad conversations among those of us who believe that making locally produced, high quality food available to our citizens will benefit our community medically, socially, and economically. Our children can have a brighter future.

I will be talking more about this community movement in the future, both here and on the Slow Food Coshocton website. But for now, if you are a Coshocton resident, please come to the open house tonight, 6 p.m., the old Scoops building at Lake Park. Local Bounty will be open Thursday and Fridays, 2-6 and Saturdays 10-6.

There are a lot of ways to revolutionize the world. This is ours.

(By the way, this is my 100th post here at Fishing For Words and I can’t think of a better subject for it!)

It’s National Farmers Market Week

That’s right, folks. It is the week that farmers’ markets are highlighted around the nation for their contribution to a healthy food system.  Since 2000, the number of farmers markets has grown 150%, from 2,863 in 2000 to 7,175 in 2011.

Not only do these local growers provide locally grown, seasonal, nutritious food at a reasonable price, they also provide a place for community interaction, teach people how to prepare the food, boost the local economy, and improve local health. They even inspire others to grow their own vegetables and fruits.

One of our local farmers markets

To find one in your area, go to http://www.localharvest.org/ or the USDA site, http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/. This is the height of the season when so many things are available. Tomatoes, green beans, carrots, beets, zucchini (believe me, they practically give that stuff away because it produces so much) honey, jams, and jellies are all available. Don’t buy it in the grocery where it has been shipped in from somewhere else. Find out what a tomato is supposed to taste like. Support your local grower; keep your local economy thriving.

Thanks to all the growers and vendors in our farmers markets and local farm stands! Keep up the good work.

The Hunger Month is Over; La Vida Local Begins!

February, the “Hunger Month”, is over (sigh of relief). March arrived like a lion, rivers rising over their banks around Ohio. Our middle daughter living on the west side of the state awakened to the news that her basement-level office at work was now a shallow pond. My heart goes out to anyone who has been affected by the flood waters. Living in the vicinity of three rivers, I am glad we are on a high hill!

March also marks the start of “La Vida Local”! In an earlier post I outlined my intent to add one new local food to our diet each month for the next six months.  I’ve decided to define “local” as within 30 miles of home. But what are we eating local already? Here’s my inventory:

  1. Our own honey, maple syrup and maple sugar.
  2. Summer vegetables, both our own and our CSA’s (community supported agriculture).
  3. Free-range chickens from our CSA, and venison off our land.
  4. Eggs from free-ranging chickens on our neighbor’s farm (but not in winter).
  5. Strawberries from our CSA in spring, wild raspberries in summer, and our own fall raspberries (yum). That also means jams and jellies.
  6. Wine. We have several local wineries, although none are organic. Hey, one cannot live by bread alone.

Speaking of bread, local sustainably-raised grains and flours are items I haven’t resourced yet. Along with a sustainable raiser of pork, turkey for Thanksgiving, dairy for milk, a winter source of eggs, and apples, peaches, and pears that are not sprayed.  I don’t have room in my garden for winter squash.  I’d like to find a source for squash that’s grown in an organic manner.

So, I begin my hunt. This month I intend to find a source of grains and flours.  Our newly-formed local foods group (see “A Meeting of Minds“) will really be an asset in my quest for resources. I’m going to try to convince my (adult) kids to join in – at least, to increase their awareness.

Will you join me? Maybe your goal could be to pick one food your family loves and find out where it really comes from. Or maybe get online to sources like Local Harvest and locate a farmer market or CSA near you. You might decide to grow something in a container on your patio this summer. Wouldn’t you like to live “La Vida Local”?

A Meeting of Minds on Local Food Networks

I tend not to pop up on your screens until Thursday or Friday , but I wanted to do a quick post on something I am excited about. Our friend Alan has been interested in furthering a local foods discussion here, especially after the viewing of the movie “Fresh”. Last night, he was able to convene a small group of people to talk about local food networking.

Our group consisted of a chiropracter, a personal chef and farmers market rep, a web designer, two small-scale producers, a librarian, Beekeeper and me. Others who were interested but could not attend last night were a museum director, a doctor, and a CSA producer.

It was heartening to have so many segments of our community interested in promoting healthy, local foods. We each had specific areas of concern that we were able to bring to the discussion. The number one item we agreed on was that we are too segmented. How do we network more effectively? The group advanced some ideas that we can work on for the next few weeks.

We don’t have a name, or a structure, or even a mission statement. All that will happen if it is right for our community, but I am psyched that we have so many folks (most of whom are already quite busy) willing to commit time and effort to this. I’ll be updating you on our progress.

If you’ve done this in your community, I would love to hear about it. We are open to all suggestions.

Gussow: “Time for a Revolution”

“It’s time for a revolution.” These words brought thunderous applause from the audience at the “endnote” speech for the OEFFA conference in Granville, Ohio this weekend. They were spoken, not by some rabble-rousing young militant, but by 81-year-old suburbanite and author of This Organic Life, Joan Dye Gussow.

Forty years ago, Ms. Gussow, appalled at the disconnect between nutrition and how we treat our planet, instituted a course at Columbia Teachers College called Nutritional Ecology (which she still teaches today). She is considered, although she hates the term, the matriarch of the local food movement. Her talk this weekend was not sweetness, light and kumbaya, but an honest look at the world today.

She made the point that eating locally or organically won’t take us “back to normal”. We have irrevocably changed the planet. But doing these things can help us to cope with what is coming in the future. She said the revolution will not come through the food movement, but because of economic inequality.

As I looked around the room, I noted the conference attendees were varied in life style, from grad students to farm families to suburban ecovillagers to academics, but the faces were also white. Several hundred people came together in Ohio to talk about local, natural food systems, and not one person of color (that I noted) was in attendance. Until local food movements truly become meaningful to a diverse population, if revolution happens, it more likely would happen because people have to choose between paying medical costs or eating, not whether their food choices are factory farmed or organic.

So those of us who believe in this “eat local, eat organic” stuff have a task ahead of us. How do we reach those segments of our society that we are not now engaging? (Will Allen and Growing Power, notwithstanding) How do we make it affordable without bankrupting our farmers who want to be better stewards of the soil? Walmart and other big box stores are buying more local and organic, but, as Ms. Gussow pointed out, will they demand the producers lower their prices next year or the next, as they have with other suppliers?  Do you have any ideas you would like to share here?

Despite what may sound like doom and gloom, I felt uplifted by the friendliness and interaction of the participants of the conference. There was a genuine “we’re in this together” mentality that was refreshing. Some sessions I attended were very informative and I’ll be passing on what I learned in the next few posts.

The food served at the event came from local and organic producers and was so-o-o good. I found a milk I love from Snowville Dairy in Pomeroy. These folks pasture feed their dairy cows, no rbST (artificial bovine growth hormones), don’t homogenize the milk and pasturize at the lowest legal temp.  They have a diverse mix of breeds and claim that it makes their milk richer tasting. Their milk was served at meals and it was the best tasting fat-free milk I have ever had! (Caveat: I received nothing in exchange for the above endorsement.) Now I just need to convince our local grocer to stock their milk!

If you care about good food and want to know more about growing and marketing it, or just want to rub elbows with those who think like you, make a date to attend this conference next year. It is worth your time. Thanks, OEFFA!

Sustaining a Community One Conversation at a Time

Our friends, Ron & Mary Meyer of Strawberry Hill Farms

Beekeeper and I attended the local viewing of the movie, “Fresh“, on Tuesday. As I explained last week, two of our local chefs initiated the event. We had a great time during the meet-and-greet, talking to folks about bees, the benefits and flavor of local honey, and other sustainable living topics.

Several people took the copies I had available on the changes proposed to the school lunch program. Their interest was encouraging. If any of the attendees who took note of this blog are reading it today for the first time, welcome!

We enjoyed both the movie and the presentation on nutrition given by Chad Guess, a local medical practitioner. Some of what we learned will be discussed in future posts. (We were told margarine is one molecule away from being plastic! I will be following up on that little tidbit…)

The best part of the night was not the movie, although it is well worth seeing. It was the interaction of a community about something we all have a concern  – nutritious, delicious food. There were both larger producers and smaller farmers market producers like us there, but there were also representatives of the medical profession, the Ohio Farm Bureau, and greenhouses. (And the Boy Scouts had popcorn-a must at a movie and a healthy snack, if you don’t smother it in butter and salt!)

Scout Troop 400

 With only one exception that I noted, people had either an enthusiastic or a thoughtful response to the movie. We had a very nice conversation with a conventional farmer who, although he did not agree with us on everything, was willing to consider our views, and we were educated on some of his legitimate concerns.

With the vitriolic atmosphere that seems to penetrate our society these days, it was heartening to know that we can still discuss an important issue with mutual respect, even though we have different points of view. It is this mutual respect and interaction that sustains a community and allows it to change and grow in the best possible way. Thank you all who attended, and thank you to the Starving Chefs, Amy Taylor and Rashelle Gillett, for organizing it!

At the end of the night any proceeds (after costs were met) were donated to our local food bank to buy local, healthy food for the needy in our area. 

Beekeeper ready to meet-and-greet!

From time to time, I like to link you to a new blog on sustainable living. Here a link to Agrigirl’s blog, with an interesting post on a “victory garden” in the heart of Miami, Florida:

http://agrigirl.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/close-up-on-a-community-garden/

What Is This Stuff On My Lunch Tray?

If there is a universal question among kids in school, it has to be the one above. We’ve all experienced the mystery object on our plates in the school cafeteria. Well, there may be hope that those strange mounds we were supposed to consume with gusto will be a thing of the past.

The USDA has just issued a proposed rule  for new nutrition standards for the national school lunch program. The proposed standards for menu planning offer more fruits at breakfast; increase the amount and variety of vegetables at lunch; offering  more whole-grain rich foods and limit fluid milk choices to fat-free (unflavored or flavored) and unflavored fluid low-fat milk. They also establish minimum and maximum calorie levels for each age/grade group; increase the emphasis on limiting saturated fat; seek gradual but major reductions in the sodium content and minimize trans fat. The intent of these proposed changes is to offer school meals that are nutrient-rich and calorie-appropriate.

If you want to see the differences in a nutshell, I have the USDA’s table comparing the old and new rules on a separate page. And here’s a sample school menu.The public can comment per the USDA:

 “USDA is seeking input on the proposed rule from the public through April 13, 2011. Those interested in reviewing the proposal and offering comments are encouraged to do so atwww.regulations.gov, a web-based portal to make it easy for citizens to participate in the Federal rulemaking process. All comments received will be considered carefully in finalizing the rule before it is implemented.”

 

This is good timing here in our neck of the woods. On January 18th, there will be a showing of the movie “Fresh” along with a meet-and-greet of some of the local food providers (CSAs, farmer market, etc.), greenhouses, and health professionals. Beekeeper and I will have a table set up there and are looking forward to talking with folks about local, healthy food choices. If you live within driving distance of Coshocton County, you can link to the details here. Hope to see you there.

If not, check out the website, http://www.freshthemovie.com/. Also, please consider commenting to the USDA on the new rule. What better legacy can we leave our kids than the habit of eating healthier every day?