"Food, Inc," did a great job of exposing the intense mechanization of the animal food industry. As I was watching it my stomach churned thinking about eating animals grown and processed in that fashion. I wondered if others weren't watching the same images and feeling indifference to the disconnection between food and ourselves, and rather were feeling awe at the mechanized "progress" that allows so many people to eat "cheap" meat daily.
I have a few other documentary suggestions that I feel do a better job explaining the agricultural problems associated with our modern food system. "The Future of Food" (2004) does a wonderful job explaining the pervasiveness of genetically modified foods in our food system and the implications therein. This movie can be interlibrary loaned via the Michigan library system. One can also watch it via this link http://www.thegoodhuman.com/2008/07/21/watch-the-future-of-food-online-for-free/
"The World According to Monsanto," (2008) focuses on the biotechnology giant, Monsanto, and its role over the last half-century in the development and distribution of Agent Orange, rBGH, PCSs and gentically-engineered crops. This movie is definitely dryer than "The Future of Food," but broader in perspective than strictly food orientated documentaries. It's not available in the Michigan library system, yet...but you can watch it via the world wide web. Here's that link http://twilightearth.com/environment-archive-2/the-world-according-to-monsanto-full-documentary/
This is the winter version of a recipe passed on to us by a fellow that came to the market every week to buy our bagged arugula. He confided that the absolute best companion to arugula was slightly warmed shredded beets topped with toasted pine nuts, a flavorful goat cheese, olive oil and a tarragon vinaigrette.
My winter version lacks the arugula, because it’s simply impossible to find a nice peppery arugula at stores, but I‘ve found that parsley makes an amazing addition to the beets. For winter warmth and sweetness, I’ve also added Caramelized onions. Out of personal preference I omit the tarragon vinaigrette. I’ve been eating this multiple times a week and feel so satisfied after eating it, and it’s so easy to prepare, too.
Most people who happen into the room when I'm making this, make a disgusted ugh, sound when I offer the beets. After some prodding, they try it and low and behold it, they actually love beets. It's shocking to them.
Sauté 2 medium onions in 1 tablespoon butter on medium-low heat for 15 minutes. While sautéing wash 3-4 medium beets and food process or shred. Add beets to onions when almost caramelized, add another tablespoon butter, sprinkle with herbs de provence (~1 tsp) and warm for 5 minutes on medium heat. Remove from heat. Add juice from 1 lemon. Add 1 bunch of chopped, fresh parsley , sprinkle with cheese (I prefer a raw goat or sheep like Manchego or Spanish Murcia or a feta), drizzle with olive oil and top with pine nuts. Yum~
The owner of the land that we lease decided to put a pond on site to create some wildlife habitat, and he is ever so gracious to allow us the enormous benefit of using the pond to irrigate this season. With bulldozers and excavators digging near space we plan to plant on this season, Jacob has spent the past four days at the farm from dawn until evening guarding the fields from the possibility of soil compaction from the machinery. We plan on reducing tractor and fossil-fuel use this season by switching to more intensive “square-foot” gardening instead of planting in straight rows. This will help minimize soil compaction and free up more soil space for plants. One wrong turn in the field by an excavator would compact the soil with the 100 times the weight of our sub-compact Kubota. The pond is now finished, the fields are all safe and we can look forward to readily available water for the season. What a luxury!
20 feet deep in some areas! Yikes!
How very exciting! Jeffrey Smith is author of “Seeds of Deception” and “Genetic Roulette,” books that educate consumers in simpler terms about the who, why, what, where and how of genetically engineered food. Of the thousands of reasons to buy organic, we feel the absolute most important one is to avoid consuming genetically engineered foods and supporting the companies that produce them. We will definitely be in East Lansing on the 5th and 6th to hear more about what we can do to stop the spread of these potentially harmful seeds from spreading into our food supply (It's already nearly impossible to buy GM-free seeds from FDA "approved" GM crops (Corn, Soy, Alfalfa, Cotton and now...Sugar Beets.)) Certified Organic Alfalfa seed, for example, must contain less that 5% GM seed to be sold as organic.
Below is an artwork titled "Biotech Puppeteer" from The Beehive Collective, a collective graphics workshop that creates political posters, graphics and mosaics. I saw them present at WMU a few years back. Check out their website for some complex illustration of contemporary political issues.
I (Katie) am cherishing all the down time of winter, even if it means short days and cold weather. I can be stagnant, read a bit, recover from the summer... Jacob, on the other hand, can not wait to get back in the fields, try out all the new experiments he's been pondering over these past few months and be in a glorious non-ending stream of work. Yesterday's warm, sunny weather (40 degrees:) was the perfect opportunity for him spread his wings a bit. He left sunrise for the farm and returned sun down, excited with all he had accomplished in the day. End walls for the hoophouse are now in place and the plastic freshly taunt and repaired after some winter weather. Here are the photos from his day's work. Thank you, Jacob.
This Sunday began week 12 of our 21 week season. We’re a little over half way though the CSA. We appreciate all your appreciation and enthusiasm thus far. Below is a little reflection on the experience for us.
The learning curve has been huge for us thus far as first time farm operators. As one can imagine, there is a major difference between working on an established, mature farm with seasonally experienced farmers as decision makers and tilling up ground and creating growing soil at a production scale out of overgrown, vacant land. This challenge increases when the amount of time one has to prepare soil for planting is non-existant.
Ideally, if one wants to plant seeds in the spring on new soil for large production purposes, the field is plowed the previous year, and time is given for the roots that are overturned to dry out in the sun, die, and decompose. The partially intact roots that remain in the soil can either fight hard for another chance at life or die from impact of the till. The defeated roots decompose in the soil and air fills the space where the roots previous rested. The tilled soil on top is breathing anew from the break-up of soil compaction, and the aeration continues even further down into the spaces the now decomposed roots formerly occupied. This added soil aeration is important as it catalyzes the decomposition of organic matter, oxidizes soil minerals thus increasing their bioavailability to the growing plant, and facilitates proper function of soil microorganisms - the true continuous workers on the farm. Ideally, soil is not re-tilled successively for a variety of reasons, but rather maintained. After the soil is given a few weeks or even months to fully breathe, a fall cover crop is planted to naturally amend any needs the future crop land may require and to protect the loose soil from erosion. For instance, if tomatoes are planned for a particular field the following season, vetch (a sprawling plant) could be planted to reduce future weed pressure, increase plant biomass for soil incorporation, fix atmospheric nitrogen, and reduce winter runoff.
Because of some unfortunate circumstances, we did not arrive onto our current growing soil until mid-May. With time being limited, we were unable to give the soil proper breathing time after tilling before transplanting into the soil. The plants had the disadvantage of limited space for root growth because the root masses from pre-existing weeds need months to compost into the soil. Additionally, we no longer had our greenhouse to for early season growing as promised.
Honestly, this was quite a stressful change for us. In good faith, CSA members invested in us, and we had promised our best intentions to provide produce. At the time of this offering our understanding of the soil we were working with was already nutrient-balanced and prepared for planting. This all changed, of course, when we moved into our Goodrich/Grand Blanc location and had NO IDEA what the pH of the soil was or its nutrient content.
Even though there has been some disappointments because of soil nutrient deficiencies in certain fields (melons, winter squash, corn, early beans, etc), overall we’ve been incredibly satisfied with the Veggies we’ve produced thus far with the challenges we’ve had to work with. And, in case we haven’t said it enough, THANK YOU for your understanding at the beginning of the season when the complete change of farm location was announced. We have learned soooooo much through experimentation this first year and just through the act of experiencing. We are grateful to be able to carry this knowledge with us for progressive years.
SO, I’m running low on time…again, sending this out a little incomplete in thought, but getting it out is the important part. There’s way more to say, as always. Until the next time, experiment and know that those little green husked things in your shares are called Tomatillos. Use in salsa with cilantro, onions, garlic, peppers and tomatoes for some wonderful nourishment and detoxification.
Also, know that our tomatoes are being struck by the fungus blight that’s been perpetuated by the big box stores. More of that to come in next newsletter...
Blog entry #1
Apparently the thing to do is blog. That is make a web log, which is to say have an online diary. Now, I was always one to tuck my hard-copy diaries in the most obscurest of places. A part of me didn't really want anyone to know what I feeling, and it seems culturally embedded in us to maintain privacy at all reasonable costs. Mostly, it would have been difficult for my former understanding of self to handle the judgment of grammatical errors such as the aforementioned, very possible, but entirely intended, double superlative combination of "most obscurest".
So, if you're interested in the daily meanderings and thought crossings of young folks like us, please do tune in. Keep in mind the former paragraph and realize, because of the permanence of fiber-optic cable and our own decency, only so much will be blogged. The truest experiences, exchanges of ideas, and opportunities for making accurate judgments of character come from the human-social interaction of meeting face to face, eyes in eyes.
We'll try our best to maintain a rhythm of entries throughout the maturation of our future nourishment. All that being said, we are extremely excited to be growing food with our community this year. The energy of change is buzzing, and we'll all create what unfolds.