On our recent trip to India (side note: you've seen this, right?), we got a wake-up call from environmental activist Dr. Vandana Shiva on the reality of these issues and how they can impact farmers to the point of suicide.
'sustainability' on Serious Eats
The rice terraces of YuanYang in southern China are a manmade wonder. Built into the steep hillsides, this 1,300-year old system can't be farmed by machine, but functions in more sustainable ways than any farm I've seen.
Bluefin is not the perfect fish; it can hardly be considered sustainable. But due to overfishing and careless overconsumption, we are dangerously close to killing the last of the wild Bluefin tuna. This fishery in Wakayama Japan (at Kinki University) is the only place in the world that spawns Bluefin. Watch the video to find out more about this near extinct, and delicious, fish.
Is there a viable alternative to takeout coffee cups that can satisfy both coffee drinkers and baristas? KeepCup hopes so: Check out one Australian company's "perfect" reusable cup.
While it doesn't get much better than sipping Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale from the tanks or the chance to try unique beers from previous Beer Camps every night in the brewery's taproom, Sierra Nevada's commitment not only to their employees but to sustainability and to protecting the environment left me inspired and excited for them to call North Carolina their second home.
This short film was made in Immokalee, Florida, where one-third of the tomatoes in our grocery stores are grown. The Perennial Plate spent a day with Lupe Gonzalo, a tomato picker and organizer for CIW (Coalition of Immokalee Workers). The Coalition is fighting to change the way our country's tomato laborers are treated.
In this week's Perennial Plate episode we visit a school garden and take a class on radishes with Ashley Rouse of Georgia Organics, a non-profit that connects organic food from Georgia farms to Georgia families. When Ashley introduced the kids to different types of radishes, including the French breakfast radish, one kid asked: "does that mean French people eat these for breakfast?" It's a very sweet video.
While watching the Grammy Awards last night, it was an ad during the commercials that had me looking up from my take-out dinner (well, Katy Perry's blue hair and the Beach Boys' performance did too). Chipotle's 2:30-minute commercial is set to a poignant Willie Nelson cover of Coldplay's The Scientist. The scene moves from pigs to factories to pink meat that spits out of machines, until the fences flip open into more idyllic pastures where frolicking animals roam free. A farmer contemplates his two options.
The way we eat seems to be in constant flux: eat no meat, eat lots of meat, everyone has their opinion. But when a family that actually raises sheep for meat suggests we change our meat consumption, that's pretty interesting. Such was the case at Magnolia Farm, located on the rolling grassy hills near Riddle, Oregon, where Elissa raises her sheep with such love and attention that each death is a challenge. And the price of this coddled meat makes it a treat for all but a few.
For those of us who want to live green without sacrificing our to-go cup of morning brown, here are some ideas to keep your commute caffeinated and your conscience on nature's good side.
We want to introduce you to Daniel Klein, creator of the web video series The Perennial Plate. After filming a year's worth of videos in Minnesota—as diverse as squirrel hunting, community gardens and roadkill—the chef-documentarian is taking the show across the country: from Minnesota to Louisiana to Portland to Florida and back again. Klein will be airing his cross-country episodes, but before he gets going, he needs your help with story ideas. We're talking cool farmers, crazy CSAs, and real people doing good, honest things with food in your area.
Summer is the perfect time to start a new garden, or make your current garden even more awesome. No matter what your level of gardening expertise, you can start your own compost to enrich your soil and help your plants grow to their greatest potential. Composting is the process of combining kitchen scraps, dry material from your yard, and other organic matter (including soil) into a big pile—and then letting it sit, stirring occasionally. As well as helping your plants flourish, it's a great way to reduce your kitchen waste and use up all those weeds and other garden materials.
You may remember Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis from the Meet & Eat we posted a few weeks ago. At the time, they were gathering entries to their Wicked Delicate Garden Contest, a chance for young people across the country to show off ways to make gardens in unexpected places. The entries were judged by Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, and Marion Nestle for "creativity and resourcefulness," and last week the winners were announced!
Chicago Botanical Garden's Green Youth Farm is a novel program takes more than 60 high school students and teaches them the skills of operating and growing crops on a small farm. They learn team-building skills, participate in community service projects, and get to eat lots of tasty, tasty fresh produce. I spoke with Eliza Fournier, the manager of community gardening, to get a better sense of why and how this organization makes such a big impact on its community.
Longtime friends and documentary filmmakers Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis broke onto the food scene with their thought-provoking documentary, King Corn. Still hopeful to arouse new interest in agriculture, the two are now attempting to prove that farming can happen in even the most urban of areas. Despite many skeptical looks, they are successfully growing vegetables in the bed of a pickup truck! I chatted with Curt and Ian about their current projects and their hope for the future of urban agriculture.
This week we bring you something a little bit different from our typical Meet Your Farmers profiles. Avia Hawksworth isn't a farmer. She's the forager for the newly-opened Farmstead Restaurant in St. Helena, California. That means she sources local ingredients for the always-rotating menu and educates diners on where they're food is coming. Chez Panisse was first to start a "forager" position back in the 1970s.
As a newbie apprentice at Fleisher's Meats, I spend plenty of time at the shop cutting down meat for the chop bin. Whenever a rack of lamb is frenched, the meat in between each and every rib must be scraped or pulled off the bone. If a cut of pork shoulder or belly is being rolled and tied into a roast, we save the meat that's trimmed prior to tying the roast. In short, everything that's not displayed in the case must be turned to grind or used in stock in order for the shop to maintain its input/output calculus.
The natural wine movement is growing, spurred by winemakers' concerns about the long-term viability of their land, the quality of their wine, and the protection of the environment. In honor of Earth Day on April 22, we chatted with Michael Honig about his efforts toward sustainability at Honig Vineyard and Winery in California, and taste-tested a few great natural wines to recommend.
In preparation for a week's worth of wonderful recipes from Alice Waters' wonderful new book of cooking basics, In the Green Kitchen we sat down with her to chat about the Slow Food event that inspired the book, some of her favorite recipes that made it in there (pickles, roast chicken, poached eggs) and tips for greening your own kitchen.