Sunday, July 13, 2008

One world, one blog

I have decided to focus all of my blogging on to one blog, and so will only be adding items to from now on. There, I will do food, local economy and any other annoying topics I can think of. See ya there.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

You, me and Farmer McGee

Here I am at my second food conference in 2 weeks. Luckily for me, both were in areas I had not spent any time in-Chandler AZ, and Santa Fe NM. The first was 550 food activists(picture of the living mural done every day):
and the second was for about 75 food people within the 4 Corners region.

Much thought goes into the work in our food movement to have local foods represented at these things and locations that are also picked carefully. For example, the first was in Arizona, namely outskirts of Phoenix, Chandler. Chandler is home to the Pima tribe, which has the sad measure of over 90 percent of their people diagnosed with diabetes. And so they are working feverishly to turn that around, now that they have money as they recently won their 100 year legal battle to reclaim their water. The location of the conference was their new resort where they are recreating the Gila River basin to renew their agricultural traditions, and telling their story. This was a thoughtful conference that attempted to address underlying issues that local food systems need to address as well; racism, education gaps, long term poverty, other isms that have held our society back from being truly successful.

The second was put together with the wonderful folks from Farm to Table in New Mexico who have always inspired me with their work on food access, food culture and food sovereignty. I was asked to participate in 2 workshops around market issues and had the pleasure of listening to my fellow presenters who worked in the 4 corners region. Excellent, talented practitioners.
...and the natural world of Santa Fe. wow.

I came away with a renewed sense of purpose for integrating social justice issues into the food work, and also with a sense of gratitude for the fellow pilgrims on this road. Gratitude for people who have given most of their total energy and time and brain to the salvation of their food system, which will benefit all of us.

One of these folks appeared on the last day of the second workshop; a fellow New Orleanian, who was in town for a related thing; she had been on retreat for many weeks and this was her first re-entry into the serious mechanism of food system organizing. She was shaky after the first afternoon of meetings; physically so, and also seemed a bit taken aback at the swirl of ideas, people and decision.
Her physical reaction was of little surprise to me, as as she tends to be much more reserved and intentional in her life, which interestingly is a tension she and I have as peers as I have almost no patience at all and am about action, action, action, absolutely to a fault.
She is searching for her path within the work and I saw her (as we talked on the wooden stairs of the old hotel lobby that sits at the end of the Santa Fe trail) as if I was standing behind her (with a slightly safer vantage point) on a hillside path, looking over her shoulder at the beautiful deep protected canyon she was unwillingly climbing in to, while I could see my path farther along, skirting the canyon to get to the other side. Funny, how visions come.

I thought I heard concern in the words she voiced; thoughts about the missing pieces of the food organizing and also a bit of weariness as to the scale and bureaucracy that was becoming evident in this field.
I understood it.
I understood it and have wondered too if we could rein the big, fancy words and dazzling conferences in, rein them in while we do attend to the necessary BIG work of literally saving the food system daily, weekly, finding ways to save farmers and fishers and get good food to all, while using the visionary language and fast ideas that seem necessary to build an alternative system that is truly alternative, and still finding time and ways to comfort and cheer each other on in some fashion.
Can we do both?
Can we hold back our national tendencies to ramp up this work too fast to get to the "winning" I guess, and instead fashion a regional movement that would be the first of its kind in our large country? Hold back the glee at being invited to the table and instead insist on staying at the smaller table with more people represented directly- and insisting those decision makers join us there?
Are we brave enough to be truly at "scale" in our ideas and implementations and to have the type of thoughtful yet innovative movement that actually does shift the world. Shift it slightly globally- which is a massive shift locally and regionally, as it should be.
Or can we afford to be slow and deliberate?
What are our principles?
Do we know where to stop; what is too big?
Can we truly learn from each other, or are we all just recreating ideas over and over again within a largely protected white activist world vision?
Does our work always translate to indigenous and immigrant communities or are we just coopting ideas and language to spread outwardly?
is this a frontier of new ideas or a unearthing of old ideas?
What should it be?
And, who should lead? Should anyone?
What is the goal? Better food on its own...
Or a better community without injustice that includes good food for all?
I wish us luck.

Friday, April 25, 2008

what a time

Really, it wasn't about meeting Alice Waters again. Don't get us wrong; we ARE happy when she comes to New Orleans to see and cheer on her newest Edible Schoolyard...

But it was nice to see the work the kids have been doing to make their working garden a success.Nice compost, and incredible school!

and, speaking of entrepreneurs, check out Mockingbird Cafe on Oak Street to see another lovely, peaceful inexpensive food place with a soul.

And another entrepreneur on Toulouse between Royal and Chartres...

Finishing it all off with a work of edible art...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

No easy puns about them I promise

So, fava beans. The farmers market is the place to get baskets of these to de-pod right now, along with flats of strawberries to pluck greens from and cut to freeze to have all year long for fruit beverages, waffles and over ice cream. Strawberries I mean...
I make fava beans steamed with sea salt and olive oil, over whole wheat pasta, next to some catfish.

Sitting in the sunset getting fava beans ready for the pan, watching the bayou flow by and the tomato plants growing on the vine. Life in New Orleans, old city.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

~ Raw Abundance ~

Raw Foods & Sprout Workshop
At Maras Farm*

The workshop will involve:
∑ Tips on how to grow your own sprouts, shoots and wheatgrass at home
∑ A tour of the garden and greenhouse
∑ Information and tips on optimum nutrition and healthy raw foods
∑ A discussion and demonstration of appliances and kitchen tools used in basic raw food preparation
∑ Demonstrations of 5 delectable raw food recipes
∑ A live food buffet

Note: Raw food products and sprouts will be available for purchase at the workshop.

Dates: March 9th, April 13th, May 18th
Time: 2:00-5:00 PM, workshop followed by a live food buffet
Where: Maras Farm, 30002 Purvis Thomas Rd, Franklinton, LA 70438
Given by: Tommie Maras and Audry Herbert
Cost: $50 by registration date, $60 after registration date (if space is still available)
Registration Dates: March 4th, April 8th, May 13th. To register, call or email.
Methods of Payment: Send a check in the mail made out to Maras Farm
Phone: 985-848-1618

*At this time we are only offering workshops at Maras Farm but look forward to offering workshops for groups in homes or other locations. Please let us know if you are interested.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

New day celebrated with a potluck

On Feb 10th, Slow Food New Orleans and convened the first Sunday potluck at La Provence to bring a small Focus Group of chefs and farmers together-some of the chefs who had expressed interest in buying from farmers directly and farmers who are mostly not the same faces who come to markets to sell retail to happy shoppers and generous chefs and restaurants, but folks who want to make new customers of building a partnership with one, two,more restaurants who get to sit and pick seeds with those farmers and explain about size and color they would like in 2 months when that crop comes in.

This small group left some paragons of the local food movement out of the room, but that input will be added and more familiar names will become alumni every time; excitement is building all over the place, serious viral marketing going on.
Lunch was brought by farmers and chefs (like the menu item above) and the back doors stayed open to see the livestock that Chef Rene Bajeaux has behind the kitchen, and after lunch, urging among staff to get folks to crowd around 3 tables carefully diversified among the groups to talk about:
Expressly: how can we get more farmers and chefs to feel like they are getting their true, deserved value in each area and to get this big idea in all and then beyond our elegant dining places with our one of a kind professional chef leaders?

Good talk, honest talk and some ideas thrown out, so much that notes and discussion and analysis are still happpening, but what is clear is a hub of some kind must be created, either virtual or real and more intentional work from Forager Mischa Byruck, who seems to be the first of his title in the country to tackle the entire entrepreneurial regional food system as his homebase.

Stay tuned.

Friday, January 11, 2008

growing a garden..

M & V and I are starting to work seriously on plants and soil. 18 free trees have been delivered by Parkway Partners and 7 more are still coming for all of the property owners who asked for one on the front of their property. Marilyn at NOFFN has offered volunteers to put the trees in the ground; that should happen next Tuesday.
We are about to plant some rye grass on the farm site and on the front of my property (see picture below) to reduce the run off of water off the front onto St. Peter. I am researching bamboo for the front of the wooden yurt and will be picking out a type that does not take over the front of the property.
Trying to find soil in the city is problematic; the person at the place that Macon recommended was incredibly hostile and told them they were closing next week. Went to Grant's place (Laughing Buddha on Cleary), and he was gracious and helpful.
All of the AgCenter literature is out, as we read and puzzle about which type of fig trees and citrus trees we want to have on the farm and in our yards.

Next, is the vetiver for soil erosion; stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

West African Peanut Soup

Recipe from Jennifer, who makes it in cold months, whch is a bunch in Cincinnati!

This peanut soup is rich and spicy. The chopped scallions or chives are an integral element, not just a garnish.


2 cups chopped onions

1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon cayenne or other dried ground chiles (or to taste -- I used 1-1/2 teaspoons, I wouldn't use more than that but it was just about right)

1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger root

1 cup chopped carrots

2 cups chopped sweet potatoes (up to 1 cup white potatoes may be substituted)

4 cups vegetable stock or water

2 cups tomato juice

1 cup smooth peanut butter

1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

1 cup chopped scallions or chives

Saute the onions in the oil until just translucent. Stir in the cayenne and fresh ginger. Add the carrots and saute a couple more minutes. Mix in the potatoes and stock or water, bring the soup to a boil, and then simmer for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

In a blender or food processor, puree the vegetables with the cooking liquid and the tomato juice. Return the puree to a soup pot. Stir in the peanut butter until smooth. Taste the soup. Its sweetness willl depend upon the sweetness of the carrots and sweet potatoes. If it's not there naturally, add just a little sugar to enhance the other flavors.

Reheat the soup gently, using a heat diffuser if needed to prevent scorching. Add more water, stock, or tomato juice for a thinner soup.

Serve topped with plenty of chopped scallions or chives.