Yesterday afternoon, and this morning ( in drenching rain,) comprised "harvest day," at Summit Springs Farm, Maine. The greens have been washed, and everything else sorted and bagged or binned. The beets are beginning to look weary, having fought off bugs and rot all summer, the spuds are hearty, the greens luxurious, the kohlrabi--why do so few people eat these?--gorgeous but a tad scarred. Ah, the peppers, fab! Multi tomatoes, squash, eggplant....The CSA-ers will pick up their shares at the farm from 3 to 7 pm today, and a few from other locations, methinks.
Growing and harvesting food is haaaaard, to quote a past president known for his penchant for days off, and so each time you eat, thank a farmer! ( And buy locally....)
Right out in the open--no guerilla-gardener he, Bill Koen, City Horticulturalist of Lakeland, Florida, is planting edibles on city land. Bravo, Bill!
Via The Ledger.com
"A petite crop of vegetables, fruits and grain is thriving at Heritage Park at Kentucky Avenue and Orange Street. Indian corn, okra, peppers, kumquats and eggplant provide an unexpected agricultural filigree to the slice of city property.
Towering corn stalks also ring the perimeter of a circular planter in the parking lot at Lakeland's main library, and an assortment of ornamental peppers can be seen near the entrance to the Lakeland Electric building on Lemon Street.
City horticulturist Bill Koen said he started installing food-bearing plants at Hollis Garden more than a decade ago, and in recent years he has expanded the approach into other city properties...
Koen, a city employee for 41 years, said he planted the crops at Heritage Park in the tradition of the "victory gardens" Americans tended in their yards and in public spaces during World War I and World War II."
( Thanks for okra photo to Bijlmakers.com)
Prince Charles, who champions sustainable agriculture, is on a three-day U.S. visit that will include meeting with the president on Wednesday after delivering a speech at “The Future of Food” conference at Georgetown University, hosted by Washington Post Live.
Prince Charles' totally organic farm called Highgrove, in Gloucestershire, was converted to organic starting in 1986.
Whoa! "The seeds are extremely resinous and should not be eaten." Read this now after plucking a few cherries from a bush on the block yesterday, and eating them, as do children apparently, according to the horticulture folks at Purdue University. A former neighbor of ours first gave me some to try off his tree---lush, sharpish, with an oddly petroleum-ish undertone, dubbed "resinous" by Purdue. It's an odd tasting critter, but I like this cherry.
Perhaps due to a genuine affinity for resin--love Retsina wine, as a matter of fact--I have lived through my adventure in spontaneity.
This plant, Eugenia uniflora, sometimes called the Brazil cherry, though Surinam likely is its home, is thus an American native and has become a widely-planted hedge here in Florida. It's everywhere, and yet many people do not bother with its fruit. (!?)
(Photo from nursery Organic Living for All, Clearwater, Florida. This place sounds like a powerhouse of organic growing fervor! )
The "new" NYTimes food commentator, Mark Bittman, asks "Why Aren't G. M. O. Foods Labeled?" The short answer is obvious. Because of profits to be made, come what may. ( Lobbyists, too, are involved.) These products are labeled in Europe, but not in the US and Canada, although some U.S. companies and natural food chains have been labeling their products as Non GMO since at least 2005.
In the forefront of opposition to GE alfalfa, which the government recently approved for planting in the US, is one of my favorite yogurt producers, Straus Family Creamery. Albert Straus described his company's opposition to GE foods in a recent Food Democracy Now! post. He wrote:
The decision to deregulate GM alfalfa hurts both organic and conventional farmers who choose not to use genetically modified organism technologies. Alfalfa’s anchor at the base of the dairy supply chain puts the entire organic food chain in peril: Contaminated alfalfa leads to contaminated milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, as well as any other products containing dairy ingredients.
Straus Creamery is the first and only Non-GMO Verified dairy brand in the US.
For the consumer, it's a minefield. The Institute for Responsible Technology has taken on the GE topic on bigtime, and worked to create a free iPhone App named ShopNoGMO as a guide to shoppers.
The app came out just about one year ago, which leads me to this point: it's really up to us as consumers to aks questions of growers, producers, stores, to become as informed as possible even if we have little knowledge of the science involved. Commercial farmers and supermarkets always have said, "it's what the consumer wants," while actually laboring to create in the mind of the hapless American consumer that she/he wants perfectly-shaped, obscenely sweet apples, for example. Or only two varieties of sweet potato, both incorrectly labeled yams.
( A neighbor in New Mexico bought a house with a backyard group of a pear, apple and peach tree. The family never picks or eats the fruit, saying, when I asked about it, "We buy everything at the supermarket.")
Back in September 2010, a piece in the WaPo about labeling GMO salmon ( or not) underscored the notion that business wants to keep consumers "barefoot and pregnant," as that hideous old saw goes.
"The biotechnology industry is opposed to mandatory labeling, saying it will only bewilder a public that is not well informed about genetic engineering.
"Extra labeling only confuses the consumer," said David Edwards, director of animal biotechnology at the Biotechnology Industry Organization. "It differentiates products that are not different."
Opposition to incursions on our food chains from Monsanto and others have been vigorously opposed by groups, companies, institutions and individuals, across the country. But not in large enough numbers.
We Americans have been distracted, of course, in recent months, losing jobs, homes, medical coverage, two wars, and so on. We have not yet massed in protest to any number of worthy issues, including the proposed $107 billion in tax-payer $$ slated to slide into the slippery pockets of the corrupt Karzai government in Afghanistan.
But I digress. Resources on this tough food topic exist. Here are a few:
----Many states have organic organizations. The country's largest and oldest is MOFGA in Maine.
----Consumers, get with the program! The Organic Consumers Association, established in 1998 in Minnesota, is loaded with materials.
----Veritable Vegetable, based in California, says it is the nation's oldest distributor of organic produce. Many links re sustainable agriculture on its website.
----Multiple links from ecobusinesslinks.
Buried in this luscious snowscape is an organic farm, a CSA, run by delightful Mainiacs who happen to be family. They tell me the plan for 2011 is in place, the apprentices lined up, and in less than three weeks seedlings will begin to wiggle forth in the greenhouse.
The sous-farmer, an English major, writes the farm's blog. It's well worth a read.
We at The FOOD Museum salute the sowers and the seedlings of SSFarm, and all growers of good food everywhere, for their vision, pluck, and labors of love. And as for "pluck," how many among us knew that this perky noun also means " the heart, liver, lungs, and trachea of a slaughtered animal especially as an item of food," according to Merriam-Webster?!
Everything comes back to food, eh? We all learn to make hay while the sun shines, we know certain things are not worth a hill of beans, we'll never bet the farm on derivatives, and at dusk, the chickens always come home to roost.
After a two week utterly informal comparison test, I have decisively concluded that organic bananas do indeed taste better than the usual, much better. 29 cents each vs 19 cents at Trader Joe's. I focused in on the organic bananas because their texture was firm, their flavor not icky and cloying, and one had the sense that these were fruits that had not traveled thousands of miles in refrigerated ships and trucks, though of course, they must have.
It's well known that commercially grown bananas experience their share of herbicides and pesticides, as do the people who work with them in the fields and pack them in the sheds. That alone makes the move to organic--only a dime more per banana!--the appropriate choice.
Along with the taste.