In association with the Ask the Expert column that I wrote in Fine Cooking this month (August/September edition), I will be available on the Fine Cooking site answering questions about eating locally for the next 10 days or so.
I have been developing a few photos from my trip, trying to decide what I am going to do with them. Of the few that I printed, this one came out really nicely in 8 x 10. I took it at the Dalat airport while we were waiting for our flight to Ho Chi Minh City.
I'm back in Los Angeles this week, working and also babysitting my favorite 12 and 9-year old boys -- the sons of some lifelong friends -- for a whopping eight days. Yesterday was a banner day as I took them to the first farmers' market that they've ever been to. Mark, the youngest, was pretty interested in everything, even choosing some purple cauliflower from Weiser Family Farms, carefully inspecting about 5 booths of strawberries before settling on our purchase, and also taking home some kettle corn.
If you happen to see a copy of Time magazine this week, check out this week's cover story "Eating Better than Organic"
about the local food movement and one man's account of trying to make a
decision between local and organic. I felt like a proud parent when I
received the press release on Friday, as the Eat Local Challenge blog and the Locavores
are both mentioned in the piece. Big pat on the back to all of you who
work so hard to talk about the importance of where your food comes
from. We are being heard, and are acting as catalysts for a conversation that is now occurring throughout this country!
When is Local not Really Local?
The point of view of a fruit farmer in upstate New York. In this post, he talks about the fact that providing local food is difficult when the consumer is looking for instant gratification.
Here again the consumer is the only one that can make a difference. If people want strawberries in February, then there is going to be someone out there to get it to them. Consumers often focus on buying locally grown products only when they are “in season,” instead of looking to use them throughout the year. Many local products can be processed for use throughout the year, but we don’t do that much anymore. And others like apples store quite well for many months throughout the winter.
Whole Foods, which enjoyed two decades of growth, is catching flack from all sides. From below: Wal-Mart is making a push to sell more organic foods, and so are old-line grocers like Safeway and A&P. From above: As Whole Foods becomes mainstream, food snobs are going ever further afield, and local food aficionados have taken to joining the Community Supported Agriculture movement.
Some new documents have been released that were in Unabomber Ted Kaczynski's cabin. Too bad that he didn't know about food blogging -- he could have focused all that bombing energy into every detail of his food life.
"He wrote about everything. He wrote about what he had for lunch on May
5, 1979, where he got the food, how he prepared it and what did it
Chez Pim posted an essay by Andy Griffin of Mariquita Farm today, and it's the most coherent discussion of the spinach / e.coli debacle that I have heard so far. In the essay, Griffin expresses some of the same frustration that I have been feeling with the broad strokes descriptions the FDA has been giving to the types of spinach we should avoid. And he does so using rational arguments and his own experience with the bagged spinach industry. You can read the essay here.
Photo taken by Jen Maiser of Life Begins at 30. All rights reserved.
Friday night is the worst night ever to post to your blog, but I suspect that there is going to be a revolt against this site if I don't post something soon.
Things have been very busy around here. As you saw from my pictures, I spent a little over a week in Los Angeles and then meandered back on Highway 101 stopping at some of my favorite places. You can read my write-up about the drive back on KQED's Bay Area Bites (Parts One and Two).
I finally made it to the fabulous Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers' Market. It was nearly three years ago that an elderly man ran his car into this farmers' market killing 10 people. I remembered this when I was at the market and noticed an amazing amount of camaraderie between the farmers there. All markets have their close relationships, but this was a palpable feeling that the farmers at this market were family -- and I truly believe that it's because they went through that horrible tragedy together.
I grew up in Southern California, and didn't move from there until I was 27. So in many ways, it feels like home there. It was interesting being there during the Eat Local month. One of the things that we always hear about eating local is "it's easy to do if you're in California." I would revise that stereotype to say it's relatively easy to do if you are in Northern California. Southern California, to my mind, is a whole different story. I have a friend who lives in Manhattan Beach who participated in the Eat Local Challenge, and she changed her challenge from 150 miles to the entire state of California. And being down there, I can see why.
I am planning on talking about this further in the future, but for now I'd just like to give a big high five to the Southern California participants of the challenge. You really had your work cut out for you.
One reason for the quiet on this site is because a lot of my attention has been focused on the Eat Local Challenge site. I am really proud of the work that everyone has done over there. And it's getting some attention. We were the Typepad Featured Blog a couple weeks ago, and then the site was mentioned in Time magazine this past week, as a part of an article about the Locavores. It included an interview with Barbara Fisher, and was quite a thrill.
Meanwhile, spring is almost gone and summer is almost here. Our CSA box* this week was one of the best yet: strawberries, fresh lavender, cherries, dino kale, beets, and fresh potatoes. I wish that I could bottle and sell the scent that filled my car as I drove home from the pick-up site. It was the quintessential smell of spring to me. If you make it to the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market this week or next, be sure to consider some of Eatwell's fresh lavender. It's only available for about a month a year, and is worth buying to either put in vases fresh or to dry yourself. To me, it is the yearly sign that summer is here.
* I would have taken a picture of the CSA box if my boyfriend wasn't off with BOTH cameras in the middle of the desert taking photographs. Bragging rights to you if you can figure out where he went. Bragging rights cancelled if I already told you in person where he was and you guess anyway!
So how do you gauge how much oil went into your food?
First check out how far it traveled. The farther it went, the more oil it
required. Next, gauge how much processing went into the food. A fresh apple is
not processed, but Kellogg's Apple Jacks cereal requires enormous amounts of
energy to process. The more processed the food, the more oil it requires. Then
consider how much packaging is wrapped around your food. Buy fresh vegetables
instead of canned, and buy bulk beans, grains, and flour if you want to reduce
You may think you're in the clear because you eat strictly organically
grown foods. When it comes to fossil-fuel calculations though, that isn't
relevant. However it is grown, a raspberry is shipped, packed and chilled the