Friday List of Links

Two posts and articles to consider, falling on either end of the real food debate spectrum:

Check out Kurt Michael Friese’s comments on Slow Food’s “Time for Lunch” campaign on Civil Eats: it contains some valuable background information on the movement and a call to action in the form of a Labor Day Eat-In.

And I have to take issue with MSNBC’s “Organic food is no healthier” as simply a piece of organic food bashing (I can hear large agribusiness rejoicing already):

“A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs, but these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance,” said Alan Dangour, one of the report’s authors.

Perhaps MSNBC would care to elucidate a little bit and let the readers decide on the relevance? My family has shown a marked improvement in overall health since we converted almost completely to organic food over the past 4 years, and I’ve heard many others say the same. And how about the benefit of organic food production to the environment?

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White House Garden watch

Michelle Obama continues to excite discussion with the “what next” side of the White House garden: “The Next Course.” I’m happy to see that although her team is clearly well aware of the issues (local, organic, sustainable, etc.) they have intentionally chosen to keep it on the vague side – indeed, when there are many inner city neighborhoods in America that have no viable source for fresh produce, it seems a bit odd to champion such concepts. Let’s work to get fresh produce into schools and homes and making our food supply safe before we start asking people to consider the next step! I’m a firm supporter of buying local, organic, and sustainably raised products, but I’d rather see conventionally farmed food made available to all our children in place of the “food products” that so many seem to exist on.

Settling in

We’re loving Michigan so far…except for the eagle-sized mosquitos!

I visited the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market two weeks ago and was thrilled to find a wide variety of vendors and some beautiful produce. After living next door to the Torrance Farmers’ Market, it was difficult to drive so far to one, so I was happy to discover the Westside Farmers’ Market, which is much closer to home. The vendors there are fewer, but the produce is excellent, and I found a CSA that is still offering a 10-week share (Two Creeks Organics) as well as McLaughlin Farm, Ltd., a vendor of pastured highland cattle.

We’ve explored the local Asian market and found it quite satisfactory, although I will certainly miss my Asian produce from the Torrance Farmers’ Market!

Finally (has is been a month already!) I feel like my pantry and fridge are full, and I can get back to cooking and blogging for real!

Chinese Chives with Pressed Beancurd

Garlic chives, jiucai in Mandarin, are available in Asian markets and at farmers’ markets that have vendors of Asian produce. The look like a long, flattened version of our chives. When fully grown they are not hollow at the center and sometimes have buds at the tips. If you can’t find them, you can substitute the more commonly found chives (reduce the cooking time) or scallions cut into thin 2″ long strips. The flavor won’t be identical, but it will be tasty all the same.

Pressed beancurd, called doufu gan (sort of translates into “tofu jerky!”) is literally tofu that has been pressed to squeeze out excess moisture. The result is a firmer texture that some people compare to meat, although the flavor is of course different. Pressed tofu comes in a variety of flavors – the most common one for this dish is five-spice, which has a dark, slightly smoky exterior and an off-white center. You can easily substitute baked tofu, now readily available in most conventional markets, for this ingredient.

ingredients:

  • 3 squares pressed five-spice beancurd or baked five-spice tofu
  • 4 oz garlic chives (or use 2 oz chives or 4 scallions as mentioned above)
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 T light soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste

method:

  1. Slice the beancurd 1/8″ thick, then cut the slices into shreds approximately 1.5″ long.
  2. Wash the chives well and cut into 1.5″ lengths – you can keep the buds intact if there are any.
  3. Heat the oil in the wok just  until it shimmers.
  4. Add the tofu and stirfry to coat with the oil and heat through.
  5. Add the chives and stirfry gently until the vegetable just wilts but is still bright green.
  6. Add the soy sauce, stir to combine and heat thoroughly, adjust seasoning, then slide onto the serving plate.

Planning ahead: School lunch is around the corner!

Still trying to get across town to the asian market, but in the meantime a very important quick link for those of us with kids and those of us who care about all kids: sign up to support Slow Food’s Time for Lunch campaign, which promotes  small changes to the Child Nutrition Act, which is up for renewal this fall. Their platform is simple, it’s the right thing to do, and you can read about it at http://www.slowfoodusa.org/downloads/campaigns/time_for_lunch-platform.pdf.

Almost done…

We’re almost completely unpacked, now looking for those last few must-have items – mirrors, lamps, etc. – and waiting for delivery of a few more. I’ve investigated the local central farmers’ market and will visit a neighborhood one today – Michigan is about a month behind California in produce, of course, but the cherries are amazing! Had to visit a conventional grocery for the first time in a long time, and it was so disappointing to see how much of the produce was NOT local – even the cherries.

On the bright side, I may have found a CSA that still has shares, and I’ve discovered several sources of natural, local, pastured meat and poultry!

Friday List of Links

Still unpacking, managed our first home cooked meal in 2 weeks last night, but wanted to note a few pieces that caught my interest while we were on the road:

More on Will Allen: “Street Farmer”

“Say No to Raw Cookie Dough” (Darn! I love the stuff. More incentive to make those changes to oversight…and to buying pastured, wholesome eggs and making your own cookies from scratch!)

How Michelle is faring on the Obama’s trip: “In Mother Russia, She’s 1st Lady of Gardening”. Thanks to John Hershey of RakishWit for passing this along. Who’s weeding the garden in Michelle’s absence?