Saturday, July 31, 2010

New Feature on the Right

Since I received the Ipod, I've been noting podcasts here, but I thought it might be good to add the links in one box there on the right.

These four are also all available free from ITunes.

Earth Eats is the shortest one - from the Midwest and with a seasonal recipe every week as well as a bit of news on food issues. It's a quick and inspiring listen, though the seasonality of Indiana doesn't match mine.

Deconstructing Dinner is the longest, and manages to combine local interest from inland British Columbia with global concern. I've been fascinated by the saga of urban chickens in the city of Vancouver. You might not be, but there will be some other programs to engage you here, especially if you've got a long commute, or like to listen while knitting or even while doing routine office tasks as I do.

In between - in the half hour length that seems to be "just right" for podcasts - thank you Goldilocks - is one that is mostly local to me, The Queens of Green and one that is far away, the BBC Food Programme.

The Queens are on green radio from Berkeley, and interview a different notable from the world of sustainable food systems each week.

Sheila Dillon, the food maven of BBC radio 4, is all over the map, from cupcakes to fair trade to British Ag awards. This may be my favorite, since even when I am not particularly interested (Halal meat, for example) the show is interesting, and I've met some topics I would not otherwise have learned about.

Monday, July 26, 2010

5 a day the quickie way

Recently conversing with my doctor about the book I was reading while waiting (Tomorrow's Table), she mentioned she is a vegan. For some presumptuous reason, I said, "Well, if you are a vegan you really must eat dark leafy greens every day."

She then gave me a recipe - place in the blender a cup of raw spinach, a small cucumber, the juice of a lemon - and I'm afraid I forgot the other two ingredients. The result is - you guessed it - five a day in a glass.

Rather than commenting on how repulsive this sounded, all I could say was, "I like to cook and eat cooked food."

Too which she replied, "I don't have time."

So I was interested just now catching up on some podcasts, listening to a recent rebroadcast of Krista Tippett's interview with Barbara Kingsolver.

Kingsolver pointed out that she cooks, and is a working mother. She confessed to a very short commute - working at home - but also being at her desk from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. most days. She gave three reasons to cook, even if one does have a busy life.
It's family time, it's entertainment, and it's a spiritual exercise.
I like her thinking.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rights? Justice? Anyone?

For almost two weeks now I have been puzzling about a conversation at this month's Food System Alliance meeting. We go over and over and our goals, potential projects and markers. Someone asked if we wanted to beef up (sorry about that - it had nothing to do with meat or not) our language on food access. Don't people have a right to food.

Our facilitator leaped in and noted that we should avoid rights language, as we would alienate much of the agriculture community, where there's a feeling that people must earn their food. In other words, the question of rights was off the table. Now her response may reflect actual experience, but I was still appalled. Apparently things I take for granted - like UN statements on human rights - are not common currency in this greenish blue county?

Later in the meeting there was a question from the facilitator - did we want to include any statements about justice issues, using the j word, in our work. Perhaps we could have a conversation about this later was the dull response from the group. So I've come up against a place where values I take for granted are basically not shared, or if shared not asserted and acted upon, by this group of which I am a part.

I'm still thinking about it. And I'm thinking particularly about how much the church capitulates to the kind of the thinking I experienced in the FSA. Reading our Episcopal Church 2009 report on domestic poverty (asked to do so as part of the initiative on domestic poverty by the North American Association for the Diaconate) I realized how reactive, condescending and incapable of systems thinking the church is. Not that a hidebound yet amorphous institution can think, but the collective work of the church doesn't reveal much evidence that the bureaucratic leaders can either.

Uncommon values - that's where I find myself. I hope the deacon community can do better.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

a feel good story

I've felt negligent in not doing more baking on these cool evenings. There usually are plenty of summer days when being in my west facing kitchen late in the day is not pleasant, and turning on the oven is the last thing I want to do. Not so this year.

Just now when I got out the ingredients for some zucchini bread, I thought about a story I had missed and became aware of when I bought the new bag of flour on Wednesday. The checker at my market told me that Bob of Bob's Red Mill - yes, there really is a Bob, he's no Betty Crocker - gave his business to his employees in February.

At 81, Bob continues to be active in what started as a retirement project and is now a business distributing hundreds of projects around the world. But his workers share the ownership. Decent products and worker justice, instead of a buy out by a corporate food conglomerate.

You can read more about it here, find a store near you that carries Bob's, or order what they don't carry direct from the source. Recipes, too.

San Francisco Summer

Right here in Santa Rosa.

Well, not exactly. but almost.

We've only had two ninety degree days (F) so far - when we usually have had a couple of two-four day spells with highs over ninety by this time in the season. Night and morning fog has been persistent, with daytime highs running 4 degrees F below normal and lows 2 degrees F. My favorite factoid so far is that last week at this time it was 25 degrees F cooler in Santa Rosa than in Ukiah.

Our summer weather often alternates between San Francisco style and Valley style - but this year it's just been consistently cool. While we get used to having slow tomatoes, I'm wondering if I will have any ripe even by August 1. A few of my neighbors at the community garden have ripe tomatoes - but they are cherries or Early Girls - small fruited types - planted in April - that is, tempting fate! The real tomatoes have joined Slow Food!

I keep telling myself that the good news of this weather is that the lettuce is just now into wholesale bolting and there are still good greens in the garden. The wild blackberries are plump from spring rains and a cool summer. And nothing seems to daunt the summer squash.

How is this affecting commercial crops? I haven't read too much about it yet - but as we ooze into Gravenstein apple and Bartlett pear season I'm sure there will be some news - never mind the grapes!

It's important to remember, it seems to me, that climate change is real. While the globe is warming overall, there are pockets that will be cooler and wetter - like west coast climates where hotter inland valleys keep coastal areas damper and breezier.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Just learning about this resource for straw bale construction. In California you have the availability of rice straw which does not sprout the way wheat straw does.

Along with growing food right, the re-use of otherwise-waste products is part of responsible agriculture and husbandry.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

CALL for fall

Last week I spent several days learning more about effective on-line teaching using the Moodle platform though the Graduate Theological Union (GTU). Just in time, as this fall I am offering a course through the Church Divinity School of the Pacific's (CDSP) Center for Anglican Leadership and Learning (CALL).

Food and Faith: the Spirituality of Sustainability

Scroll down here to check it out:

Some of my readers know that this blog started when I offered a similar course a few years back and didn't have enough takers for it to go. I decided at that time to aggregate resources and ideas here, for free to the whole world! Now that the world has been (Michael) Pollanated, it seems a good time to offer the course again. It's available for CEUs, which I hope will encourage church workers of various sorts to take it. I'll also be paying attention to the North American Association for the Diaconate's (NAAD) initiative on domestic poverty as I choose resources and optional resources to recommend. It's not just about ecological sustainability - actually I didn't pick the title! - but about environmental, economic and cultural resiliency in our food systems.

It feels like I now I need to go and makes some real alphabet soup.

Dirty Movie

Just a quick review of "Dirt: the Movie" which I watched the other night.

Perhaps I have been watching too many documentaries and am just on overload, but there was something about the style of this one which got to me. It seemed to be quips from notables strung together to make the writer/producer's point, rather like a term paper with too many quotations. I long for some points of view on the part of those interviewed that are more developed, and some narrative segments with some detail.

That said, it's fun to see how many things Vandana Shiva can do with cow dung, and to get a visual on some of the other notables (I've never seen Wes Jackson or Wangari Mathai - but then I don't have a television). Some of the scenic bits are really stunning.

I still don't know what to make of the animated soil microbes - who look like they could play mutants on South Park - or the anthropomorphizing and woo-woo spirituality in which some of the experts indulge. I would have liked more from the scientists, less from the biodynamic vineyard guy or the tree sniffer.

Perhaps - that word again - you should see it for yourself.