Friday, March 25, 2011

Vote early and often

I was a little stunned when I opened the April/May issue of Organic Gardening and saw the community garden contest described on the inside front cover and first page.

Why? because the sponsor of the contest is a winery in my neighborhood, but not one garden in this county is among those for whom people are invited to vote.

What were the people of DeLoach thinking? Where have they been? (France, probably...) With all the emphasis on community and backyard gardening here through IGrow and the 350 Challenge, they just are not paying attention. We could use $20,000 at the TLC garden. Heck, we could use a few thousand and share the rest with the other three church-based community gardens in this part of Santa Rosa.

But - there is an option. Don't bother to read through the descriptions of all 15 gardens on the DeLoach website. Just go to the bottom row, next to the right column - #14 if you are counting - and vote early and often until August 1.
This is the garden at Our Saviour Episcopal Church in Dallas, which started small and added a little something every year. They serve a low income neighborhood without adequate sources of affordable, fresh produce. And they serve the whole Dallas community by being a teaching garden. They have a greenhouse, water collecting roof which shades an outdoor gathering space, bees, worms and chickens! And their goal for this year is to develop an accessible section of the garden, to serve those less abled.
Becky Smith, parishioner and gardener, was immensely helpful to me when I was researching church-based community gardens. Our Saviour offers their land for the garden not as a church growth strategy, but as a gift to their neighborhood.
Please support them and VOTE!

My life with food

Well, the food in New Orleans is tasty - but it's so far from my normal fare that I am just now, four days later, getting back close to normal. Meat-centric, high salt, low fiber - not my thing at all.

Meanwhile, the Sonoma County Food Forum report and more research on GMOs for the Episcopal ad hoc group (members of the Committee on Science, Technology and Faith; the Standing Commission on Health; and whatever the group working on global justice is called) have been keeping me amused when it is too wet to do any gardening. I did bring in some potting mix during a break in the rain today to start my tomato seeds - better late than never - and my windowsill has little signs of life - herb and eggplant and pepper seedlings poking up.

It does seem like the food movement(s?) is so popular these days that one could work full time on the issues. So much information to process, and so many conversations to be a part of.

But just for fun, here's a useful resource on making things at home that people don't normally think to make:
These ideas seem pretty uneven - most basic cookbooks will tell you how to make creme fraiche, but who really wants to make kimchee in an apartment kitchen? Also the quantities range widely and wildly - one jar of jam or 10 lbs of pork belly? And the directions are a little sparse in places. What is a small jar? a cup? a pint? And if there are places where I am not sure of a step, or see a step omitted, what would a novice cook be thinking and doing?

But - it's a place to begin, with lots of bibliography and webliography. DIY food is a good thing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Welcome to Lent

I preached about fasting yesterday, which is pretty funny given my lack of ability to do it well.

Mostly I drew on both choices of lessons from Hebrew scripture - Joel and Isaiah.

My three points were:

Fasting is a community endeavor, not a solo act.

The opposite of fasting is not feasting, it's mindless eating.

The point of fasting is not the practice itself.

Here's the development of the middle point:

For my second note on understanding fasting, I am stealing shamelessly from a Lutheran theologian of food, Shannon Jung. Jung posits that the opposite of fasting is not feasting, it is mindless eating.

This seems to me to be a lesson particularly for our time, when food is so abundant. Alice Waters reported seeing a bumper sticker which read, "If you are what you eat, I am fast, cheap and easy." And my guess is that for some of us that is true most of the time, and for all of us it is true some of the time. We eat without thinking about the connections that the food we eat represents - all food comes from some place, not just someplace else - as Deborah Madison says. We eat without thinking about the consequences of our eating - consequences for ourselves, for our communities, for the global community, and for our planet.

Sometimes I think feasting is just as rare a practice as fasting. Food is simply not that precious to us, and so special occasions are just not that special. Feasting in our times, and with our cheap food (most Americans spend only around 10% of their budget on food) is more often simply too much of "that which does not satisfy".

In such circumstances, fasting can help us get in touch with how much is really enough.

Mindful eating, then, is what we are going for. And if it helps you to think about mindfulness or intentionality, rather than going without, as the most important aspect of fasting, perhaps that will encourage some positive disciplines for Lent - and beyond.