It’s official: Spring is here! Soon (if not already) trees will start blossoming, crocuses sprout, daffodils nod, and the asparagus spear … all to say hi after their long winter’s nap. We will be there greet them with inspiration in our hearts and revolution on our minds. Let’s make this spring a great one, Warriors. Today we share news about local food, the Farm Bill (again?! Yes, again!), exciting anti-toxin laws in CA, great food coalition building, the latest fight against big soda, the incredible and amazing world of plants as seen through the eyes of Michael Pollan, and so much more!
Words to Live By
To the extent we diversify our farms, we diversify our diets, and we diversify our economy."
— Michael Pollan, at Permaculture Voices 2014
Local Food Needs Local Support
We’d like to think that all local food is created equal, but that may not be the case. A new study on the economics of local food shows that local-food economies, while robust in some regions of the U.S., fall flat in others. Some regions don’t receive a bigger local economic benefit because their infrastructure is not there to support local food, hence it is currently more cost effective for farmers to sell their produce to a national market. Notice, we wrote “currently.” The study did show a sizeable effect on some local economies, and if we all keep on fighting to support our local food movement, we could see local food generate real money for ALL local neighborhood farmers!
Stabenow: A Voice for the Veggies
Increase support for organic food … spend more money to support local fruits and vegetables … grow hemp; this all may sound like an intentional community’s budget meeting, but we’re talking about the 2014 Farm Bill. Earlier this month, the N.Y. Times rightfully applauded Senator Debbie Stabenow’s (D-MI) tireless support of America’s growing interest in sustainable agriculture and healthy food. Now, that’s not to say that the bill isn’t without its areas for growth. Marion Nestle is quick to point out that the numbers in the Times piece may be off by a bit
, and our friends at the Environmental working group and the Farm and Agriculture Policy Research Institute have been watching the spending on this bill increase
pro-facto. Let’s not forget, too, that the Bill did not deviate from its normal support-big-ag-and-agribusiness stance. That being said, we’re giving credit where credit is due and tipping our hats to Senator Stabenow’s work. America it seems is waking up and moving towards a healthier relationship with food and health, and we are right here watching!
A Dr., A Chef and a Nutritionist Walk into a Bar...
As Wellness Warriors, we’re all about health food, but let’s be honest, a spirulina, flax, and carob “candy bar” is a poor substitute for a Snickers. The Healthy Kitchens/Healthy Lives
conference is an initiative that is working on that exact issue: making healthy food taste good. It’s a magical annual event (eight years running) where the Culinary Institute of America, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the Samueli Institute (think chefs, nutritionists and doctors) all get together and get up-to-speed on the latest research in nutrition, the best ways to share that information with patients, and the best ways to cook nutritional meals.
In some good news for Californians (and hopefully, soon, the rest of our nation) the state is pressuring industry leaders to find safer alternatives for dangerous (carcinogenic, asthma causing, etc . . ) chemicals that are used in manufactured products. Get caught up through the Environmental Working Group press release below and learn a little more through the Fresno Bee article.
And while we’re at it, here’s an interesting story on how some of these chemicals have made it into our products. Despite best intentions, it seems that some doctors’ opinions can be bought
; luckily in this case, there are repercussions.
Tell the EPA to Take Care of Their Bees-iness
Concerns about bee colony collapse continue, for it is a real threat to our planet and our food system. Luckily the Center for Food Safety is doing something about it. We've got two days until they deliver their petition to the EPA and we want to make sure that your voice is on it. Take a second to click the link below and save our pollinator insect friends.
The Fast Food Frontline
Bring it On Big Soda, Berkeley’s not Backing Down
The “soda tax,” raising the price on sugary beverages, has been tested in a few cities and inevitably beat down, but Berkeley looks like it will be the next battleground
. This week, a poll showed that a big majority of Berkeley residents are still in favor of the tax. We have many months until November, and we anticipate that the soda giants will lobby heavily, so we’re keeping our eye on this one, folks. For now, though, we can celebrate that these citizens are interested in protecting their city’s health.
Ah, spring! Achoo!
With all the cold weather throughout much of our nation, it is hard to believe that spring is here. If you’re like us, then you are a big fan of getting outside, but you are not a big fan of the itchy eyes and sneezing that comes about when our plant friends so jovially spatter their pollen about. Fear not, though over the counter medicines can help, Dr. Weil has some great tips about allergies and some great preventative measures to take to try to avoid them.
What We're Watching
Sittin’ with Salatin
If you read Tuesday’s post, then you know how excited we were about last weekend’s Permaculture Voices conference. One of the speakers, was Joel Salatin, of Polyface Farm, Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Food Inc. fame. If you have never heard him speak, then, by all means, take the opportunity to do so now. He is an inspiring innovator and powerful voice in the fight to make our food system whole. Take a look and see why he says “There’s never been a better time to get into farming.”
Pollan on Plants (again!)
Michael Pollan is one of our favorite thinkers. Some of his favorite thinkers, it turns out, are plants. Back in December, he wrote a fabulous essay on the latest research on plant neurobiology (we ran it in our news roundup, that week!). Check out the essay here, and take a listen to Pollan explain the CIA testing plants for telekinesis, plants that share, how fir trees use mycelium (fungus) to trade goods in their own forest economy, how we humans may not be all that special with our intelligence, and a lot more. Get inspired by biology and learn why Pollan says, “We’re learning that plants have a great many more senses than we do.”
Aw, man! Almonds!
If you read the Wall Street Journal article above, then you are well aware of the innovations that take place at the nexus of health and taste. Below you’ll find one of those recipes; an unconventional soup that will pleasantly surprise the palate. Don’t be scared by the total time it takes to “cook.” Most of it is spent going about your business while water works its magic on the almonds. Click the link to check another delicious recipe that ran in the Journal this week.
David Bouley's Almond Soup With Glazed Scallions
Actual Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 days (including soaking almonds)
FOR THE SOUP AND GLAZED SCALLIONS:
- 2 pounds blanched almonds
- 1½ cups sparkling mineral water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 15 scallions, sliced on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
- 4 tablespoons fino Sherry
- 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
- ½ tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Organic almond butter (optional)
FOR THE CHIVE OIL:
- 4 ounces olive oil
- 2 bunches chives, chopped
- 1 tablespoon buffered Vitamin C powder (optional)
1. Prepare almonds: Add almonds and sparkling water to a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let soak 2 days.
2. Make almond milk: Add almonds and any remaining liquid (nuts will have absorbed most of it) to a blender. Process until smooth. Strain through cheesecloth or fine-mesh sieve, pressing on solids to extract liquid. Set aside almond milk. (Solids can be used for mixing into granola or topping salads.) Clean blender.
3. Make chive oil: Add chives, oil and Vitamin C, if using, to blender and process until smooth.
4. Make glazed scallions: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Once oil is smoking, add scallions and sauté until soft, 3-4 minutes. Add Sherry and cook 2 minutes, then add crème fraîche, tarragon, mint and 2 tablespoons chive oil. Season with salt and pepper and stir to coat scallions.
5. In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm almond milk until heated through. Place a few scallions in each soup bowl and ladle almond milk on top. Drizzle with chive oil and add a dollop of almond butter, if using.