Friday, May 04, 2007

Slow Food Nation

Via the Purple Asparagus listserv:

Carlo Petrini, founder of the international Slow Food Movement, will be in Chicago on May 19th, to discuss his new book, Slow Food Nation: Why our Food Should be Good, Clean, and Fair.
Date: Saturday, May 19th, 2:00 pmLocation: Thorne Auditorium, Northwestern University School of Law. The auditorium is located at the corner of Chicago Ave. and N. Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago .
Admission cost: $5, with advance reservations strongly advised.Students and faculty with valid ID, admitted for free.To Reserve: On-line or call the Chicago Humanities Festival, 312.661.1028, ext 40.

His talk will focus on three strategies outlined in his new book:

  1. Defending biodiversity;
  2. promoting taste education;
  3. building of local food communities

Traveling the world in order to write Slow Food Nation, Petrini witnessed first-hand the many ways that local and native peoples feed themselves without making use of the methods employed by agribusiness and the food industrial complex described in such recent books as Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.
Petrini relates real-life anecdotes about the behaviors of peoples in places as varied as Chiapas, Mongolia, Puglia, Bangladesh, and Sweden.

He concludes that the food we eat should be healthful and delicious (good); sustainably produced using environmentally sensitive methods (clean); by producers who are justly compensated and treated with dignity (fair).

Co-sponsors of this event are Slow Food Chicago, the Chicago Humanities Festival, L'Istituto Italiano di Cultura, the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, Chicago's Green City Market, and Rizzoli International.

Petrini will present his lecture in Italian with an onstage translator. Afterwards he will be available to sign books, with on-site sales provided by The Book Stall of Winnetka.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

And Now for Something Completely Different

But still green!

With the lettuce (head), lettuce (mescalun), cooking greens (chard), green onions (two bunches!), and radishes (well, the tops are green); this week's box also included broccoli.

Ah, spring.

Plenty - Something I Did Not Know

I Don't Need Much Convincing.

I'm not reading Plenty for ecological footprints and animal cruelty and salad recipes. They got my respect from page one. I'm convinced. Still, I was hoping to pick some things up from this couple who ate everything from 100 miles or less, and 3 or so months into the adventure, I got my first good factoid.

It took an Act of Congress in 1976 that allowed for farmer's markets, a law that essentially allowed states to allow farmer's markets. Before this, there were fewer than 300 farmer's markets in the USA. Now, there are more than 3,000.

I pine for a year round market in the Chicago area. It is May, however, and markets around here are (at least) soon: Green City (May 17) and Evanston (May 19) are about the first to roll out. But also, the "French Market" in Forest Park (which actually features French nuns, or even more accurately, actual French, French nuns) will run this Saturday from 9-1 PM on Madison in Forest Park. Here's a report on last years early Forest Park French Market.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

What's Local at Caputo's...What's Local at Whole Foods...What's Local...

I'm only a bit into Plenty, the tale of two people who only eat local. In the beginning we learn much of what they cannot have, because it is beyond their 100 mile limit. One of the hardest things for them is no local grain, forcing them to make sandwiches from sliced turnips. On the other hand, their stores in Vancouver supply an array of local seafood. Me, if I was a bread baker, could use my Wisconsin wheat or my Minnesota oats or my cornmeal from two states, yet in my stores, I find, well, whitefish.

While Caputo's today had Michigan apples on sale, 59 cents/lb, whitefish is probably the one local item that can always be found around here. I heavily interrogated the fishmonger at Whole Foods about their fillets, making him let me smell them, before a recent purchase. As I am wont, their localness made dinner extra delicious. My wife used a preparation that highlighted their freshness.

She thawed some asparagus (how's that for an off riff on Cali-corporate seasonality, eating last year's asparagus this time of year) and made a bed on a sheet of foil. Sliced lemon and herbs (local of course) made a layer before the fish. She rubbed a bit of mustard (mustard, there's another thing that would keep me from being 100 mile pure), splashed some white wine and folded. 20 or so minutes in a pre-heated oven, and we were local-licously eating our second course of dinner. First, last week's chard, which turned its accompanying pasta pink.

Sadly, my joy over dinner is lessened (a lot), by the fact that I cannot seem to find my camera--I had wanted to document the whitefish. I hope that mere words suffice.

Reason to Eat Local

Last year, inspectors sampled just 20,662 shipments out of more than 8.9 million that arrived at American ports. China, which in one decade has become the third-largest exporter of food, by value, to the United States, sent 199,000 shipments, of which less than 2 percent were sampled, former officials with the agency said.

Now, as F.D.A. inspectors travel to China to investigate the source of contaminated pet food that has killed at least 16 dogs and cats and sickened thousands of others, critics in Washington are warning that the agency is woefully understaffed and underfinanced to keep America’s food supply safe.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Drink Local

Via the Trib's food blog, South Water Kitchen is offering an array of Midwestern wines. I'll have to try this soon.

South Water Kitchen is located at 225 N. Wabash Ave. 312-236-9300 .

How to Store Vegetables

Farmer Vicki provides some useful tips this week on storing veg. As the author of the Time Magazine piece on Eat Local noted, CSA/farmer's market stuff lasts a lot longer than expected, a huge benefit of you getting it so soon after harvest. In our house, we find vegetables lasting much longer than standard advice given in books. Here's Vicki's advice:
How to store veggies

First, veggies like humidity but not wetness. With a few exceptions, like tomatoes, they are best stored in the refrigerator.

Leafy greens - If they look a little tired, immerse in a bowl or sink of cold water for five minutes. Remove, drain or spin and place in a plastic bag or container with a paper towel to absorb moisture and to later provide humidity. If you lack time, moisten a paper towel. Place it in the bottom of a plastic container, place the green on top of it and seal and store in the frige. One of our members treats them like fresh flowers. She cuts the bottom of the stem and sets them in a bowl of water for a half hour or so.

Lettuce - Lettuce should be treated the same as greens. It is even more sensitive to excess water so be careful not to get your towel too wet. Storage of lettuce can be two weeks, if kept humid, not wet, sealed and cold.

Root crops - Beets, turnips, carrots, radishes, etc. These crops are best stored long term without greens. The greens may be left attached if they will be used within a few days to a week. Otherwise cut off the tops to use as a green. Most of the greens are more nutritious than the root. Even carrot tops are edible and highly nutritious. Use them for juicing, smoothies or as a salad ingredient. Store roots with humidity. A paper towel, dampened in a sealed plastic container works well. They can be stored for a long time - even months this way. Traditionally these crops were stored in a root cellar in damp saw dust and held up for 5 or 6 months. The only caution is not too much water. Water causes rotting.

Vital Book

Like Martha at the Reader, I've started reading Plenty, the tale of a couple who take eating local VERY seriously. And Like Martha, I'll withold judgment until I finish (or at least until I can spout my mouth off).

Genesis Growers in the News

My friend and supplier Farmer Vicki rightly counted as a top foodie.