by Cathy Erway
[Cathy writes about Wonderberry Jam and much more on her new blog Lunch at Sixpoint. -mb]
One of the cool things about gardening is that you get to grow things that you didn’t even know existed. Browsing the catalog at Baker’s Creek, Seeds of Change or Seed Saver’s Exchange, some of my favorite sites to find crazy heirloom seeds, is like opening the door to a third dimension of food, where cantaloupes come in fifteen distinct shapes and flavors, and eggplant can be ghost-white, green, golden or red. Or rather, welcome to agriculture, pre-monoculture, again. Eight-ball zucchini, anyone?
I still don’t know of anyone else who’s heard of wonderberries. They seem to have slipped through the cracks of popular food culture, and that was what probably compelled my boyfriend, Shane, to order seeds for the plant. From the start, it was one of the most prolific growers, beating its neighboring brassicas and lettuces in its race to regenerate. Branches and leaves multiplied. Flowers blossomed and withered in early spring. Now, we’re looking at three great bushes that seem to want to crawl out of their keg-containers and blanket the rooftop with berries. Maybe that’s why they were regarded with “wonder.”
By Kerri Conan
Last weekend I got one of those gee-I-wonder-what-will-happen-if flashes. I was standing at the sink, snipping the tough ends from the bottoms of just-picked garlic scapes, the lily-like flowers that sprout up from hard-neck garlic as the plants start to form bulbs underground; there should be some in farmers markets for at least the next week or two.)
Anyway, the pile of these extremely fragrant green sticks is growing, and they’re weeping a little garlicky nectar from the cut ends—sort of like tears—and now I’m thinking surely there’s a way to save my precious darlings who never hurt anyone from the compost heap. Or at least delay their demise.
by Edward Schneider
In another place, Mark recently wrote about the genesis of a dish. In some of my stories here and elsewhere, I try to describe this too, though not explicitly, and when Jackie and I are together in the kitchen I’ve been doing my best to tell her what goes through my mind as dinner is prepared. Her contribution turns our meals into real collaborations – and it palpably improves them.
Mark describes opening the refrigerator, pondering its contents and starting to cook. For me, a dish starts to come together – for good or for ill – before that, on my six-minute walk home from the office. I may not know exactly what the fridge and the pantry hold, but I have some idea of the staples and the more recent accessions – and of the scraps and leftovers that should be eaten before they need to be cast aside.
by Barry Estabrook
Something to Squawk About
During the winter here in Vermont, my 12 laying hens seem content enough residing in a retrofitted horse stable. But when I open the henhouse door for the first time in the spring, feathers literally fly as the birds stampede to get outside. In celebration of their newfound liberty, they flap, run, peck, and scratch—in short, behave like chickens.
Which is why I’m always skeptical when a factory farm claims that hens are perfectly happy spending their entire lives crammed into barns with tens of thousands of other chickens in stacked battery cages each not much bigger than the average computer screen. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) apparently agrees. Last week, the organization filed a complaint asking the Federal Trade Commission to stop Rose Acre Farms, the country’s second largest egg producer, from making “false and misleading animal welfare claims.” Continue reading
by Casson Trenor
Mackerel is a fantastic fish. Not only is it healthy and nutritious, but it reproduces quickly, breeds in large numbers, and often benefits from effective and precautionary management. In fact, saba has been a sushi staple of mine for years, and I encourage you to give it a shot in the place of other more sustainably troubling sushi items (like unagi or hamachi, for instance) next time you visit a sushi bar.
That being said, some troubling news from the Atlantic has forced me to revisit my standard double-fisted endorsement.
By Suzanne Lenzer
In this era of public cynicism toward corporate America, it’s exciting to see a company, traditionally known for developing junk food delivery systems, trying to do some real good. Walking through the aisle of the local supermarket it’s hard not to notice these Hostess Twinkies: there’s a giant ogre on the package.
Admittedly, it’s “only” a co-marketing campaign to promote the new Shrek film, but still. These Twinkies aren’t like the traditional ones with that cloying white cream substance in the center–these appear to contain a cloying green cream substance instead. At last, a product aimed at encouraging kids to eat their greens!
How exciting it must have been to have to be a part of that product development meeting: “Hey, instead of just making sugar snacks that encourage childhood obesity and diabetes, let’s do some good, public service even. Let’s make the same #$!% but in green! We’ll be helping kids get over their fear of green food–parents will love it.”
Sure, some will say the executives at Hostess really just needed a way to help sell movie tickets–and Twinkies–but come on, that’s just so cynical.
by Jill Richardson
Jill Richardson, who is the heart and soul of Lavidalocavore, meets Barbara Kowalcyk, the mom who lost her son to E. Coli (and was interviewed in Food Inc) -mb
There was one part of this week that was intensely emotional for me, and that was meeting Barbara Kowalcyk. If her name rings a bell, that’s because you saw her in Food Inc. She was the mother whose son went from perfectly healthy to dead in the span of a few days due to eating E. coli-tainted beef. When I saw Food Inc. I was newly grieving my brother’s death a few months before. Her story just hit me. When I used to see stories of tragedies like that, it made me sad but not overwhelmingly so. It just wasn’t even something I could comprehend in order to empathize with it. But now, now I get it.
So, while mingling with other attendees of the Consumers Union Activist Summit, I saw an attractive woman in a lime green top standing a few feet away from me. Upstairs, a crowd was watching Food Inc, which I was skipping because a) I’ve seen it twice and b) films give me migraines and Food Inc was worth the two migraines I already got from watching it but not a third one. I thought I had heard that Barbara was coming. And I was pretty sure that this woman in green standing near me was her. Continue reading
Pam Anderson, one of our regular contributors and the engine behind threemanycooks.com, joins her daughters in a video premiere. -mb