Farm News

Posted 12/8/2009 2:36pm by Trent Thompson.

Downtown Kalamazoo restaurant to offer 'rustic comfort food'

By William R. Wood | Kalamazoo Gazette

December 07, 2009, 1:45PM

RusticaAdam Watts, a chef for the soon to open Rustica restaurant stands in front of the restaurant on Wednesday, December 2, 2009, on the Kalamazoo Mall in Kalamazoo. The restaurant plans to open December 12.
KALAMAZOO — Chef Adam Watts plans to buy whole ducks and chickens and prime cuts of lamb and pig from local farms and cook with every part of them at the soon-to-open restaurant Rustica.

With duck, for instance, he’ll make a ragout from winter vegetables and dried fruits and put that over the duck breasts, cook the duck legs in their own fat and serve that as an appetizer with potato hash, then roast the bones of the bird for sauces and soups.

 
RUSTICA
Address: 236 S. Kalamazoo Mall.

Opens:
 Saturday.

Hours: 
5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. (No reservations taken.)

The bill:
 Appetizers, $5 to $10; entrees, $13 to $19.

Type of cuisine:
 European fare such as cassoulet, braised pork shanks and paella.
Phone: (269) 492-02247.

Web site:
www.rusticakzoo.com.


The 57-seat Rustica is scheduled to open Saturday on the downtown Kalamazoo Mall, in the site formerly occupied by Sprout and before that by Sandwich Express. It will serve dinner only, with entrees ranging from $13 to $19.

“We’re not trying to kill people with high prices. I’m just trying to cook honest food, rustic comfort food,” said Watts, 28, who grew up in Spring Lake. “I’m not trying to dress anything up, just cook with the ingredients we are blessed with here in Michigan.”

Rustica co-owner Bill Weier said Watts was hired because he shares the restaurant owners’ philosophy of “farm to table” — meaning using local products whenever possible. It is an Old World concept that the restaurant’s other owners, Saad and Habib Mandwee, natives of Iraq, are comfortable with, although Rustica will have no Middle Eastern fare, only central European fare.

Watts’ last restaurant, the Kitchen Cafe in downtown Boulder, Colo., was known for its success with the farm-to-table concept. Watts’ kitchen kept in contact with 25 farmers who provided the heart of the eatery’s menu.

The restaurant was also known for having a 30-seat community table where people could enjoy inexpensive meals of whole grilled fish and local roasted potatoes.

“Running that kitchen was interesting,” Watts said. “You really learn where your food comes from working at a place like that.”

Watts realizes that the challenges he faces in opening a restaurant with a farm-to-table concept in the winter, but he believes many people will appreciate the dishes he’ll offer. He plans to use vegetables like parsnips, kale, turnips, carrots and potatoes as his painter’s palette, then use dried beans and fruits and fresh local meats. 

For the spring, he’s already partnered with a new farm, Green Gardens in Battle Creek, which will supply the restaurant with much of its produce. Watts plans to sit down with the owner of the farm this winter to help choose the seeds of the vegetables that are to be grown on the farm. It is Watts’ hope that the new restaurant and farm will grow together as a team.

Watts has also worked with other restaurants that have used the farm-to-table concept. One was Rhubard in Edinburgh, Scotland. That restaurant cooked French cuisine with local Scottish ingredients. But nobody there talked about the farm-to-table concept because it was a common way of life.

While living in Europe in 2005, Watts ate his way around France, Italy and Spain to experience the cuisines of those countries.

His most meaningful job, he said, was in 2004 at the now-defunct Tapawingo restaurant, which was located in Ellsworth, just south of Charlevoix. At the time, Tapawingo was considered one of the top restaurants in the nation. The four-star restaurant served eclectic fare. He said he learned most of what he knows from Tapawingo.

“I sunk my teeth into what I was doing in the industry there. I saw them ordering $8,000 of morel mushrooms every spring, and it blew my mind. I really saw what it was like to be a chef. I knew that is what I wanted to do with my life. It made me want to reach for the best wherever I went.”

Posted 12/3/2009 11:23pm by Trent Thompson.

From the Progressive Farmer...

Friday Nov 27, 2009

On the threshold of Thanksgiving, a holiday centered on food, USDA released the disturbing news that 32 million American adults and 17 million American children lived last year in households in which food was scarce. Out of work or poorly paid, these people can't afford as much food as they and their families need.

Many are criticizing today's large-scale farming practices. But returning to the farming practices of the 1930s would mean a lot more people go hungry. (DTN file photo)

As I read these depressing statistics, my thoughts turned to the critics of commercial agriculture, for whom cheap food is a chief target. Incredibly, they want consumers to pay more for food.

So this Thanksgiving, I'd like to say a few words in defense of cheap food.

For most products, low prices need no defending. For manufactured goods, society salutes wringing out costs and lowering prices. It's regarded as the natural, beneficial result of free-market economics. No one criticizes cheap laptop computers, cell phones or televisions.

Not so, food. Commercial ag's critics say cheap food ruins the environment and promotes food-borne illnesses and obesity. "The high cost of cheap food" is one of their favorite cliches. When I did a Google search on those words, in quotation marks, 396,000 entries popped up.

Rest assured, the 49 million people who sometimes go hungry aren't penning polemics against cheap food. The critics are well-fed.

Food wouldn't be so cheap, the critics say, if farmers across the country abandoned pesticides, synthetic fertilizer and genetically-engineered seeds; if they all farmed fewer acres and hired more laborers, reversing the farm-consolidation trend; if they raised cows, chickens and pigs on the same farms with crops and planted fruits and vegetables in addition to a wider variety of grains; and if our meat and eggs came from animals that roamed free, munching on grass rather than corn, soybean meal and other animal feeds.

No doubt, if farmers did all those things, food prices would rise, although perhaps not as much as the critics think. Remember, farmers' share of the price of food is less than a fifth. (Every farmer would like higher crop prices, but that doesn't mean farmers want food to be expensive. Most would be happy if their share of the final price was larger, and the middleman's smaller.)

Still, food prices would rise. American families spend only 10 percent of their household budgets on food today, down from 20 percent a few decades ago. Is reversing that what we really want? What about those who can't afford food now?

And are higher food prices necessary? I happen to share the critics' belief that agriculture needs to do a better job of protecting the environment. But in the process of reporting and editing DTN stories on agriculture and conservation in recent months, I've learned that many big commercial farms are already adopting more sustainable practices.

I've also learned that the environmental case for taking agriculture back to the 1930s isn't as strong as it may appear. Small farms using bad practices can be worse for the environment than large operations using good ones. Conventional seeds can require more herbicide and pesticide use. Manure runoff can be as bad for the rivers as synthetic-fertilizer runoff. And animals running free are at best a mixed blessing for the environment.

These aren't the only flaws in the critics' case against cheap food, but this Thanksgiving holiday the flaw that's most in need of pointing out is the critics' elitism. Whatever the merits of the concerns about environmental degradation and unhealthy food, driving up the price of food and making life more difficult for the 49 million in need is an approach only someone who has never known hunger could espouse.

This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for cheap food and for the farmers who help make it cheap. I think the critics should be, too.

Oh, and finally, a note to those who edit the critics' polemics: Find a new cliche, please. "The high cost of cheap food" is getting old.

Posted 12/3/2009 11:04pm by Trent Thompson.


Pioneering move finds strong support from town's Good Food scene
By Patty Cantrell 
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

KALAMAZOO—The thing to know right off about Michael Rowe, food service director for Bronson Methodist Hospital, is that, in just two years, he's taken the facility from zero locally produced food in patient and cafeteria meals to almost 12 percent, or $366,000 in local products.

And he's just getting started; by the end of this year, Mr. Rowe hopes to bump that number up to 25 percent. Apparently, he has no plan to stop there, either.

In fact, he said, the proposition is simple for a locally owned hospital like Bronson: "We spend $3 million a year on food; why not try and give all of that back to the community? It matches our whole mission and the values of this hospital about stewardship of resources and supporting our community and neighborhoods."

It was Bronson top management's commitment to local people and the environment that embraced Mr. Rowe's big idea when he returned from a 2007 Health Care Without Harm "FoodMed" conference. He learned there about hospitals signing pledges to practice what they preach about healthy food, including playing a major role in opening markets for nutritious, sustainably raised food from local farms.

Bronson quickly became the first in Michigan to sign the Health Care Without Harm pledge, one of among many firsts for hospitals and corporate Michigan that Bronson has made in its long history of going clean, green, and local. This includes Bronson's pivotal decision 10 years ago, when building a new facility, to keep the hospital downtown. Rather than join the sprawl exodus of downtown business, Bronson put its money and future behind the city's core.

While the hospital made news with its intentions, Mr. Rowe quickly got to work on the ground, developing the program by connecting with Kalamazoo's Good Food scene.

His first contact was Grant Fletcher, a new Bronson staff person, who had ties to the Water Street Coffee Joint, a downtown Kalamazoo booster and Fair Trade and organic coffee roaster.

"We began using Water Street coffee throughout the hospital," Mr. Rowe said.

Then, through those contacts and Kalamazoo's farmers markets, he found others.

"Next, we were able to find some local organic farms and ready-made products, like a local bakery using all organic and mostly local ingredients," he said.

Now Bronson is up to 24 local vendors, from vegetables to coffee and bakery products. It hosts an indoor winter farmers market to promote local products and healthy food options. Employees also benefit from the opportunity purchase a 12-week share of a local farm's produce. The farm, Blue Dog Greens, from nearby Bangor, delivers its CSA shares (Community Supported Agriculture) direct to the hospital.

More Than Money
The hospital is doing more than just spending money on local food. It is also trying to educate its employees and customers with signage and other outreach. The signs explain to cafeteria patrons why buying local and organic when possible is important to the hospital and, ultimately, for the community.

It's about putting our local economy and food quality first, Mr. Rowe said. Buying from a local farm keeps money in the community, which can keep farms and farmland in the community, too, along with the food they produce. When that food is produced in harmony with the environment, through organic practices, for example, it also keeps birds, bees, and water safe and plentiful. Fair treatment of farm workers, finally, brings the justice of Good Food full circle.

"We try to educate as much as possible about why it's important that we know where food comes from and how it's produced," he said.

And the hospital staff just works around whatever it takes to work local food into the system.

"At first, it takes a little bit more time to wash all the lettuce by hand, for example, versus using lettuce prewashed in chlorine," Mr. Rowe said. "But it's not really that taxing, and it gets easier all the time, once you get to know the farms and work on your processes."

"The feedback has been super positive," he observed, especially from staff. "They're here eating at the cafe every day; to them it's huge. With a healthcare background, they understand the benefits."

Mr. Rowe attributes some of Bronson's high patient satisfaction, which a 2008 Gallup poll ranked in the top 1 percent nationwide, to the tasty, fresh food it serves from local farms.

Kalamazoo's other major hospital, Borgess Medical Center, has also started a Good Food journey with a monthly farmers market on site during the growing season, which it started in 2008.

"Employee and visitor participation has grown each month, and farmer's market days are now greeted with a buzz of anticipation," said Borgess property management executive Eric Buzzell.

"It's really great to see the interest in local foods and the community connections being made," said Laura Bell, food and nutrition finance manager, who is also the farm market coordinator. She added that employees can earn wellness credits for participating, and that the medical center has also signed the Health Care Without Harm "Healthy Food" pledge.

Beyond the Hospital
Mr. Rowe and Bronson Methodist Hospital also are very involved on the community side of Kalamazoo's food and farming network, engaging with neighbors and community groups ranging from film enthusiasts to the local library.

Both Mr. Rowe and Bronson's retail cafeteria manager Grant Fletcher, sit on the Eat Local Kalamazoo committee, a group of groups having fun and getting people together around food and farming. Eat Local Kalamazoo holds workshops, like "Everything But the Beak," which was about cooking a whole chicken. It also hosts other community events, like a recent evening with Nicolette Hahn, author of Righteous Porkchop: Farming and Eating Sustainably.

Not surprising, Bronson Hospital is a full-scale partner in Eat Local Kalamazoo, along with Food Dance Cafe, Kalamazoo Public Library, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, Michigan Land Trustees, People's Food Co-opSouthwest Michigan Community Harvest Fest, Water Street Coffee Joint, and Fair Food Matters.

All of these groups and more, including the downtown farmers market, which Mr. Rowe oversees as a board member, are pathways in Kalamazoo's food and farm network.

This is the fifth in a series about food and farming in southwest Lower Michigan. Financial support for this Good Food tour comes from the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at Michigan State University. Patty Cantrell is a senior policy specialist at the Michigan Land Use Institute, where she built northwest Michigan's nationally recognized Taste the Local Difference program. Patty is also a 2008-2009 Food and Society Policy Fellow focused on promoting local food and farming as a new economic strategy. Reach her at pattycATmlui.org.


Posted 12/3/2009 5:22pm by Trent Thompson.

From Mother Earth News...

Alarming new research on the health hazards of Roundup weed killer is shining a harsh light on a regulatory process that was meant to protect us.


Widespread planting of GMO crops has led to a sharp increase in Roundup use.
MATTHEW T. STALLBAUMER

By Amanda Kimble-Evans

To protect our health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets maximum legal residue levels for every pesticide, for dozens of crops. But a new study in the respected journal Toxicology has shown that, at low levels that are currently legal on our food, Roundup could cause DNA damage, endocrine disruption and cell death. The study, conducted by French researchers, shows glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic to human reproductive cells.

The potential real-life risks from this are infertility, low sperm count, and prostate or testicular cancer. But, “Symptoms could be so subtle, they would be easy to overlook,” says Theo Colborn, president of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange. “Timing is of critical importance. If a pregnant woman were to be exposed early in gestation, it looks like these herbicides could have an effect during the sexual differentiation stage. They really lock in on testosterone.” The bottom line is more research is needed before we can fully understand the effects of glyphosate exposure.

A Perfect Poison

The researchers’ most disturbing findings were not only the cytotoxic and hormonal responses to low-dose exposures, but the fact that the “active” ingredient — glyphosate — had much less of a toxic impact alone than the branded chemical mixtures sold to homeowners and farmers nationwide.

Solvents and surfactants, legally considered “inert ingredients,” are mixed with glyphosate in products such as Roundup weed killer to create chemical formulations that increase mobility and more direct access to the cells. “Those same factors that aid penetration into a plant, also aid penetration into the skin,” says Vincent Garry, professor emeritus of pathology at the University of Minnesota. “These chemicals are designed to kill cells.”

Despite being termed “inert,” these added (and usually secret) ingredients are anything but benign, as the manufacturers have claimed for decades. The new French research found the surfactants not only amplify the effects of glyphosate, but glyphosate also amplifies the effects of the surfactants. Basically, one plus one equals something larger than two.

Herbicide manufacturers are subject to fewer rules in the testing of inert ingredients than they are for active ingredients, explains Caroline Cox, research director at the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, Calif. “The tests the EPA requires for inert ingredients cover only a small range of potential health problems,” Cox says. “Testing for birth defects, cancer and genetic damage are required only on the active ingredients. But we’re exposed to both.”

The Rise of Roundup

Glyphosate, mostly in the form of Roundup products manufactured by the Monsanto Co., has been widely used in the United States since the 1970s. Today, we spray more than 100 million pounds on our yards and farms every year, making it the most popular of the Monsanto chemicals. Monsanto continues to assure us its product is safe. “It’s used to protect schools,” a Monsanto spokesperson told Scientific American. Protect schools?! From what, killer weeds?

Glyphosate use has skyrocketed in recent years because of the widespread adoption of genetically modified corn, soy and cotton varieties that Monsanto developed to be resistant to glyphosate, according to the Center for Food Safety. Although the companies promoted glyphosate-resistant crops as a way to reduce herbicide use, there’s actually been a sharp increase in use on corn, soybeans and cotton since 2002, thanks to the emergence of resistant weeds. Farmers are battling glyphosate-resistant weeds with more glyphosate and other herbicides.

Most of the food we eat that contains corn or soy was sprayed with glyphosate herbicide, and we’re being exposed to higher and higher levels of residue. In response to petitions from Monsanto, the EPA has approved up to 20-fold increases in the legal residue limits for food crops.

“Our bodies are gigantic spider webs of chemical communications that work in the parts-per-trillion range,” says Warren Porter, professor of zoology and environmental toxicology at the University of Wisconsin. “When you put so-called ‘insignificant’ amounts of toxic chemicals into the mix, you have a molecular bull in a china shop. The possibilities for impact are endless.”

Better Testing Coming

In response to growing public concerns, the EPA is getting ready to launch new tests on 67 potential endocrine disruptors. Critics say the proposed tests will cover only a portion of organs in the endocrine system, but supporters say it is at least a step in the right direction.

Farm Commentary: Surprise, surprise. I once had a Forestry Professor at Michigan State...this was a guy with a Ph.D...tell me that Roundup was so safe you could practically drink it. I was pretty skeptical at the time...was asking about the possibility of using organic methods of weed control (tillage or cover crops) for organic tree plantations. It just didn't make sense to me, how this product could be so toxic to plants and not human beings. The professor's ignorance was well on par with the general public which has widely believed that Roundup is one of the safest herbicides for years.  And yet, as this article points out, the EPA's testing procedure is grossly ineffective, likely harming public health by approving a product that is in fact a health hazard. If Roundup is proven dangerous (as I expect), it won't be the first herbicide to lose it's safe status. Countless of other pesticides and herbicides have been banned by the EPA after years of thought-to-be safe usage. I hope that there is a sense of urgency at the EPA to do effective testing of Roundup and many more pest, weed, and fungal control products on the market. Despite pressure from the chemical lobby (Monsanto especially will push hard to reduce any restrictions on the use of Roundup), it's critical that dangerous chemicals be removed from the food chain for the well-being of plant, animal, insect, and human health.
The farm does on occasion (very rarely) use organic (derived from nature) pest and fungal control products on the crops. Though they sometimes may not be quite as effective as conventional ones, I do believe that the residues left on the crops are safer for human consumption and the biological life on the farm. It's also important to note that utilizing proper organic practices (crop rotation, cover cropping, crop diversity, building soil health) all greatly reduce the need for toxic sprays. This can be done on both small and large organic operations.
Posted 12/3/2009 5:11pm by Trent Thompson.
November 26, 2009, 8:32 PM


Thanksgiving. Since the beginning, Americans have connected the bounty of the land and the goodness of life to democracy. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison  —  farmers all  —  envisioned an agrarian society. We have since evolved into a very different kind of society. There are those of us who are not farmers. Take me, for instance. I live in a pretty fast city.
With fast talkers and fast walkers. And we have fast food.
Every city does.
And every suburb. And every little bit of this country has very fast food.
If you eat too much of this food, you become sick and also fatafat. And no amount of Fatafat pills will help you.
You would need to walk to California to work off the excess. Which is what I did. In my head.
Flying in the catastrophic, carbon-imprint vehicle, eating the catastrophic airplane food, I looked at the country. Things look clear  —  and naturally agrarian  —  from this height. I see sheep. I see Little Bo Peep. But that is not the way it really is. Is there some inherent value to that way of life that we have lost? Is there some element of democracy that is diminished? We can’t all be farmers. You would not want to rely on me for your food. And what about getting the good food? Do the wealthy have access to the really healthy food while the less affluent do not? When you look at it that way, it does not feel at all like a democracy. The fabric of our lives is bound in the food that we eat and the way we sit down to eat. What is going on now?
 Alice Waters has invited me to visit her program called The Edible Schoolyard, to see the work being done in California.

If you would like to read the entirety of her beautiful story, click here.
Posted 11/24/2009 5:24pm by Trent Thompson.

Editor’s note: The following information is being shared in partnership with the Michigan Potato Industry Commission.

Late blight came in with a vengeance last summer. It caused severe tomato and potato losses, hitting home gardeners and organic farmers and larger commercial growers.

Action right now can help prevent a repeat next year, says Michigan State University plant pathologist Dr. Willie Kirk. If you have any damaged tomato or potato plants or rotting tomatoes or potato tubers, make sure they’re dead by next spring. The easy way is to let the winter cold kill them. Pull up the plants and lay them on the ground, and spread the remains of the bad tomatoes or potatoes on the surface.

Freezing temperatures should deal a killing blow both to the vegetation and to the nasty organism that causes late blight. This organism is a fungus-like water mold that attacks plants in the nightshade family including tomatoes and potatoes. Its most famous feat in history was causing the Irish potato famine in the 1840s.

The late-blight organism is still around in slightly different strains but as vicious as ever. Once established, it sweeps through fields, converting lush vegetation to skeletal remains in little more than a week.

Kirk notes that commercial tomato and potato growers can control the spread of the disease through carefully timed and applied fungicides. He estimates that Michigan potato growers alone spent an additional 2.5 million dollars this past growing season to defend their crops against the onslaught

Organic growers were especially vulnerable because they do not use synthetic pesticides on their crops. Especially hard hit this past summer were many Amish farmers.

Home gardeners also suffered throughout the Lower Peninsula. Many did not recognize what the symptoms meant until too late, and their control attempts may have been hit-or-miss with substances unsuited to stamp out the disease organism.

The abnormally wet summer contributed to the above-average incidence of late blight. The organism is well equipped to proliferate, developing spores so tiny they cannot be seen with the naked eye. They can drift on air currents across several counties or even farther. Since Michigan has so many large potato and tomato fields, the air-borne spores found an abundance of moist sites for settling out and destroying crops.

“Home gardeners may be disappointed at their losses, but organic growers were devastated. This is their livelihood,” Kirk says. “We don’t want the same thing to happen next year.”

He emphasizes that everybody from the hobby grower to the commercial producer is involved in the issue. Spores from an urban or suburban backyard garden can float out into the countryside and infect the plants of farmers.

“It’s important to make sure the organism gets killed this winter,” Kirk says. “Leftover potatoes should not be put in piles because interior tubers may resist freezing, and if they carry the organism, they allow a foothold for disease next year. Spread them out on the ground so they’ll freeze. Do the same for tomatoes and for uprooted potato and tomato plants.”

Another point to remember about potatoes is that if infected tubers remain underground, they may not freeze during the winter. As you pull out potato plants this fall, make sure any tubers attached come up so they also can be exposed to killing cold temperatures.

For more information, check Dr. Kirk’s website, www.lateblight.org.

Posted 11/23/2009 7:05am by Trent Thompson.
From the NY Times...

How tough is it to eat healthy on a budget? The advice Web site DivineCaroline gets you started with a list of 20 healthy foods for under $1. 

Some items on the list, like oats or eggs, aren’t all that surprising to experienced budget shoppers. But a few, like kale, wild rice or garbanzo beans, may not be regulars in your shopping cart. Not surprisingly, none of the foods on this list are prepared or processed, meaning that healthful eating on a budget will require more time in the kitchen.

For people who don’t see many foods on the list that they would eat, DivineCaroline suggests finding similar foods in the same areas of the grocery store where these are stocked.

Getting the most nutrition for the least amount of money means hanging out on the peripheries — near the fruits and veggies, the meat and dairy, and the bulk grains — while avoiding the expensive packaged interior… Although that bag of 99 cent Cheetos may look like a bargain, knowing that you’re not getting much in the way of nutrition or sustenance makes it seem less like a deal and more like a dupe. Choosing one of these 20 items, or the countless number of similarly nutritious ones, might just stretch that dollar from a snack into a meal.

Here’s the DivineCaroline list of 20 healthy foods for under $1:

1. Oats: High in fiber and good for cholesterol. A dollar buys you a week’s worth of breakfast or keeps you well-supplied in oatmeal cookies.

2. Eggs: Costing about a dollar for a half-dozen, these are one of the cheapest sources of protein, says DivineCaroline. The site suggests huevos rancheros, egg salad sandwiches and frittatas.

3. Kale: At about a dollar a bunch, this is one of the cheapest greens you’ll find in the supermarket. Toss into a stir-fry or check out recipes for German-style kale or traditional Irish colcannon.

4. Potatoes: Stay away from fries and chips, and eat them skin and all as a good source of vitamin C and potassium. Choose sweet potatoes or yams for an added serving of beta carotene. Here’s a recipe for easy breakfast potatoesthat uses just 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

5. Apples: Tasty, cheap and filling, apples are a fun way to dress up a meal, either cooked or turned into applesauce.

6. Nuts: Some nuts like pecans and macadamias cost more, but peanuts, walnuts and almonds, particularly when bought in the shell, won’t break your budget. Eat them plain or sprinkle in salads. Nuts aren’t as fattening as you might think. Read more in Going Nuts for the Holidays.

7. Bananas: Shop around for deals; DivineCaroline found them for 19 cents apiece at Trader Joe’s. A dollar gets you a banana a day for the workweek, and they are great in smoothies, cereal and with yogurt.

8. Garbanzo Beans: Also known as chickpeas, garbanzos are cheapeast in dry form, but even precooked beans will still only cost about a dollar. If you don’t like garbanzos, any bean will do. Check out DivineCaroline’s recipe fororange hummus.

9. Broccoli: Easy to make and cheap, broccoli is a no-brainer for any budget meal.

10. Watermelon: The whole melon costs more than a dollar, but the per-serving cost is only about 20 cents, the site says.

And the list goes on here.

Posted 11/17/2009 7:01pm by Trent Thompson.

By James E. McWilliams

From the Wash. Post on Monday, November 16, 2009

 

I gave a talk in South Texas recently on the environmental virtues of a vegetarian diet. As you might imagine, the reception was chilly. In fact, the only applause came during the Q&A period when a member of the audience said that my lecture made him want to go out and eat even more meat. "Plus," he added, "what I eat is my business -- it's personal."

I've been writing about food and agriculture for more than a decade. Until that evening, however, I'd never actively thought about this most basic culinary question: Is eating personal?

We know more than we've ever known about the innards of the global food system. We understand that food can both nourish and kill. We know that its production can both destroy and enhance our environment. We know that farming touches every aspect of our lives -- the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil we need.

So it's hard to avoid concluding that eating cannot be personal. What I eat influences you. What you eat influences me. Our diets are deeply, intimately and necessarily political.

This realization changes everything for those who avoid meat. As a vegetarian I've always felt the perverse need to apologize for my dietary choice. It inconveniences people. It smacks of self-righteousness. It makes us pariahs at dinner parties. But the more I learn about the negative impact of meat production, the more I feel that it's the consumers of meat who should be making apologies.

Continued here.


 

Posted 11/12/2009 6:26pm by Trent Thompson.
From the NY Times on November 12, 2009, 11:15 AM...

By ANDREW C. REVKIN

Scientists sifting for trends in record high and low temperatures across the United States have found  more evidence of long-term warming of the climate, with the biggest shift coming through a reduction in record low nighttime temperatures. That is a pattern long predicted by climate scientists using computer simulations. The researchers said they sifted data carefully to avoid possible distortion of trends related to changes in instruments or conditions at and around weather stations. The changing ratio of cold and hot records is shown below (copyright U.C.A.R., graphic by Mike Shibao):

Farm Comments: Although we did have a cool summer this year, I have talked to numerous growers throughout the West Michigan area about the weather (this is something farmers tend to talk about a lot!) and many have told me of the increasing length of the growing season. Before coming back to Michigan two years ago, I had a Northern Michigan farmer (near L. Michigan) tell me that their growing season has increased by a month in the past two decades. While this may be bad news for plant and animal species not capable of adapting to rapid climatic changes, it is good news for the farm. A longer growing season means we can grow more food. In fact, I have noticed some seed companies considering SW Michigan to be now in Zone 6, not the usual Zone 5. 

Posted 11/11/2009 8:43pm by Trent Thompson.
Hello:

This week may be the farm's last harvest week for the 2009 season. It has been an awfully good year and I want to thank all of you for your tremendous support of the farm.

The farm still has some beautiful and delicious produce available from the online farm stand for ordering on Thursday until 3 PM for Thursday night farm pick-up (5 PM to 6:30 PM), or at the Kalamazoo Farmers Market on Saturday from 7:30 AM-12:00 PM on Bank Street. 

The farm's final crops include: Broccoli (Yes, it finally made it!), Broccoli Raab, Turnips, Radishes, Pac Choi, Kale, Collards, Mustards, Japanese Spinach, Cabbage, Winter Squash.

Best, Trent