Look at these babies! Not one but two blue ribbon cabbages were grown right here at tricycle acres! Over 32 lbs of cabbage in fact and after taking home these first place prizes from the fall fair we spent much of the day using up every crisp sweet leaf of these high achievers! I favored the hearty and “biggest” cabbage, a green leaf variety that I have been calling Audry and singing little shop of horror ballots to for months now, Isis was taken with the stunning “best savoy” cabbage, who surprised us all with it’s beauty as it was hidden away behind a mountain of kale. Beauty and the Beast!
I was inspired again by Independence Days by Sharon Astyk A great book I read and loved a few years back, and then I just discovered this great web ring and decided to ramble off this list and participatein the five little homesteaders Independence Challenge, so here is what we have been doing at the homestead in the last couple days to continue our food resilience efforts:
Although the garden is fully planted we keep adding bits and bobs… yesterday Isis planted: yarrow (for medicine and food) and chives both in our newest fruit tree guilds, marigold for dye and pest control, and lovage because it’s tasty and lovely.
We have been wild harvesting chick-weed for salads, wild pineapple camomile for tea, yarrow flowers for tea and medicine, red clover for tea, mint from our bog for everything, horsetail for stir fry, volunteer mustard greens which are everywhere in the garden along with, orach spinach, swiss chard and kale are all making their way into most every meal.
In fact we are challenging ourselves (and me the cook) to eat wild foraged food each day!
Hey fellow foodies and food advocates here is some really exciting news!
The makers of Fresh the movie, are offering free online viewings of their movie for 1 week only! (Today – Feb 1)
Just click below, sign up and start streaming!
I truly believe that everyone, everyone, everyone who shops at groceries stores for their food needs to watch this movie!
I have been really keyed into what the makers of Fresh have been doing over the past 3 years, as when it was first released I bought the rights, and hosted a 20+person movie screening in my basement, we served local food, donated by my many great farmer and organic grocer friends, and the night ended with lively conversation and inspiration.
The best this about Fresh, is that it didn’t end at the launch of this great documentary, they are very active at keeping folks up to date on the latest legislation around GMO food / fisheries / and failures in the industrial food system. They have created many petition and letter writing campaigns to fight the likes of Monsantos, and are and all round super SOLE food advocates!
I LOVE THIS MOVIE.. you will too!
Wow this dish burned the mouths of my loved ones… while I enjoyed every spicy morsel… and as my world got doused in snow today the idea of peppery warmth with new Chinese flavours rolled over and over in my mind, and seemed like the perfect solution for a frustrating start to the wintery season. It’s all down to a great new book I started reading “Sharks Fin and Sichuan Pepper, a sweet-sour memoir of eating in China” by Fushsia Dunlop. The book it self is a bit of a conflict for me, as I never read in the day time, and I am not usually a late night snacker… but reading before bed about mysterious Sichuan dishes in mouth-watering detail is leaving me dreaming about pepper and meat and noodles and smoke, even wondering about the texture and taste of things like rabbit head and pig ear, and even jellied chicken blood!
Dan Dan noodles mean shoulder pole noodles, which come from tradition of Chinese street vendors who carried noodles over their shoulders on bamboo poles. The storey of eating these noodles, steeped in Sichuan peppers was instantly appealing to me, and when I found a recipe to follow the chapter I was delighted. Not only did I get to play with entirely new spices and fermented flavours, but I realized just how much I can relate to wanting to eat foods that warm you from the inside when you live in a humid climate (which is still pretty new to me, coming from the dry prairies).
It has been a while since I had a good blog rant and it’s about time…
My day today started as I read a through a number of awfully sad reports on the state of GMO and the misguided USDA partnership with my favorite Goliath company Monsanto’s, seems that Whole Food Market (the leading Natural Food Store in the US) is also in bed with the monster, and somewhere along the way this trusted brand representing organic clean and safe foods gave into profits and has made a fortune duping it’s consumers selling GMO conventional crops under their all natural banner.
GMO food is terrifying for so many reasons: it is having detrimental effects on humans, water, soil, animals, air and ozone. Simply put allowing multinational companies like Monsantos and Dow to decide that their profits are more important than our lives is criminal, and furthermore these multinational’s have gone so far as to create legislation to protect their profits. Both the Canadian and the US government have been bought and they have turned a blind eye to human welfare for the mighty buck.
Another exciting week of food adventures to report! This week I am playing with lactic acid fermentation, I know it sounds scary but it is super exciting! Also I am flush with squash and zuc’s from the garden… thus the final inspiration to get me fermenting: spicy kimchi here I come! I have a huge jar of kombucha on the go right now, which Dylan’s mom started for me last weekend with one of her mother mushrooms. Talk about a daunting entrance to the world of fermenting. I have a massive Costco size pickle jar on my shelf full of pink fluid with what looks like a piece of pig skin floating in it; kinda like a science lab jar with a baby something in formaldehyde! Fortunately our family has experienced the benefits of kombucha already; both Dylan’s grandparents, his mom, and him have all reported an easing of stomach ailments upon using commercially purchased kombucha in a jar, and thanks to Helens efforts to buck the system we are now brewing our own! So let me take this all back a step and get you thinking about more commonly used fermented foods: yogurt, sauerkraut, kosher pickles, & Korean kimchi… not too scary right? Well all of these are made using a super simple, old world method of preserving foods which doesn’t require heat, which in turn doesn’t diminish the health benefits of the food being stored, and in fact in most cases the natural bacteria within the process are extremely beneficial, does PRO BIOTICS ring a bell? So not too long ago the universe seemed to be hitting me over the head with the idea of fermenting foods; A truly talented and inspiring chef from back home and fellow Permie Valerie Andrews, did a demo of sauerkraut making simply using salt and water for our PDC class in Nelson, this happened only weeks after meeting with yet another Permie who was racing home to Vancouver Island and his bucket of fermenting cabbage, I then read an earlier mentioned book “Independance Days”, where the author raved to no end about her adventures in kimchi making, right around this time Helen got her first starter kombucha mushroom, and now that I am diving deeply into any and all methods of putting up food that don’t require heat other than the sun for drying (namely because I still don’t have a stove top), my current drowning in squash situation was really the straw that broke the camels back, enough encouragement for me to get on the fermenting band wagon. I am thrilled to share my adventures thus far!
An evening you don’t want to miss!
Being the accredited Earth Day Canada Co-ordinator for Calgary, I felt we needed a spirited celebration of Food for our city’s Earth Day Festivities. REAP quickly jumped on board and Food 4 Thought was born. This event will wrap up Down to Earth Week, REAP’s Annual education series .
Our evening will host farmers and chefs teamed up together to bring you not only amazing bites of celebrated local food, but a wealth of information and ideas on why susuatiable farming is best. This is your chance to meet your local farmers and ask them about their practises, then talk to some of the cities finest chef’s about why they go to the lengths they go to, to serve the fruits of our farmers labour.
From 6 pm- 7:30 you will Meet, and Eat, mingle and enjoy tasty conversations, then we are pround to be screening (for the first time in Calgary)
Food Fight : A documentary by Chris Taylor on the state of our food industry today, and the new revolution of sustainable food. An inspiration film about our future with real food!
More info here
Having chickens is like having a magic little production system in your yard…. where kitchen waste gets turned into fresh eggs, and nitrogen rich compost. And what could be a better step towards being more self sufficient that adding some lovely ladies to your yard to help with the work? It just doesn’t get much more local than your own backyard!
As we are only a few short months away from moving to the mountains, I think one of the many things I am looking forward to most is having chickens! If I wasn’t moving this spring I would defiantly be building a little chicken coop to house a few urban chickens, in my backyard. Instead we will be houses a couple dozen hens in a rolling coop for most of the season and our chickens will winter in a passive solar greenhouse.
As you re probably aware there is certainly some controversy across Canada and the US about home owners keeping chickens, and there is no end of regulation and bylaws which community groups are fighting, to allow folks to get one step closer to their food source.
A backyard garden along with backyard chickens just makes so much sense for so many reasons: you reduce your dependency on external food systems, you reduce your carbon imprint substantially, you increase your vitamin and mineral intake, you take control of what is in the food you are eating, you learn valuable skills, and you are reconnecting to the cycle of food.
I just finished reading a really inspiring story of an Australian family of 3 who go on a 6 month journey to sustain their family on only what they grow and barter from their backyard. It was a great read and it has helped make our future plans seem all the more doable. Also the volume of CHEESE this family made from one goat was really exciting!
There are lots of wonderful resources out there about chicken keeping and urban farming, and here are a few of my favourites:
For more info on CLUCK Calgary Liberated Urban Chicken Klub
Truly you will find corn in just about every processed food item and conventional meat product you eat.
This is because corn = cheap sugar, filler and feed. Corn is cheap simply because it is subsidized by the US government to be grown on a massive scale as a monoculture in a chemical dependent militarized industry. Corn production in the US represents a backwards and petroleum greedy way of getting food to the masses: rather than growing food for humans to eat, a genetically modified commercial grade of corn is grown which cannot be consumed by humans until it is transported, refined and then transported again only to be added into foods as a non nutritional additive in everything from soda to gravy mix. Not only is this way of growing and feeding humans unsustainable it is horribly dependant on gas and petrochemical fertilizers, well those and cattle too, as feedlots are the number one consumer of this commercial corn. Except cattle are ruminants (which means they eat grass, and there bellies are made to digest grass, not corn!) But this subsidized “cheap” corn is a more cost effective and transportable way to feed unimaginably huge feed lots full of hungry cows (CAFO’s). These cows must meet the needs of the consumers who want beef to be fat and huge and marbled! Because of this cheap food, cattle are fed a constant stream of meds and antibiotics to keep them alive and there stomachs tolerating corn just long enough to get them to slaughter. So now the consumer can then buy cheap beef, which is about 8 times fatter than meat from grass fed cattle, making the burgers 8x higher in saturated fats…mmmm.
There is something seriously wrong with this picture! All of these costly inputs (gas, chemicals, energy, pollution, animal welfare, pharmaceuticals, and tax payers hard earned cash) go into making foods which are really low quality causing dangerous health concerns (diabetes, heart disease, and obesity to name a few)
The industrialized food system is a scary place, Here are some of the eye opening books and movies on this subject you should look into:
Recommended Docs: most of these you can watch as streaming video by going to rbrand.ca/watch
So once upon a time I was a happy Pescatarian (vegetarian that ate fish and seafood) and then I stumbled on the book bottomfeeder by Taras Grescoe and it really shook my entire principals of eating! I am however a pretty easy convert I will admit! I don’t need meat, I don’t need sugars, I don’t really miss eating junk food or fast food, and once I get an idea in my head from any reasonable source about a corrupt system, company, or a chemical process I really can walk away from ever eating the guilty food again, that goes with cosmetics, cleaners, anything!
That said this book really changed my understanding of the seas and I delved deeper into the subject of depleting seafood, toxic seas, black market fish, farmed fish, even shark and whale welfare and I found myself drowning in despair. Last night we watched end of the line a documentary which neatly summed up bottomfeeder essentially. It is a horrible story yet wonderfully impact-full to see this made into a documentary which has such a broader audience than a book does… especially for a subject matter we really don’t spend to much time thinking about. Well as a prarie dweller at least I hadn’t. I mean I knew that tuna had mercury concerns and that dolphin were often caught in tuna nets, and I did know that not so long ago the cod fisheries out east collapsed… but I didn’t really change the way I ate because of any of that knowledge (aside from my pregnancy without sushi) Fish seemed to be a food topic I just overlooked! Well that has all changed over the past 7 months…
I can’t begin to summarize what I have learned over this time but I will recommend some docs + reading and I will not be posting any depleted or endangered fish recipes ever, likely you will not find salmon or shrimp recipes here either. Truthfully I haven’t eaten a piece of fish in forever…but I am challenging myself to cook for the first time; sardines, as they are really the most sustainable fish I can eat. I will post on the results! any who knows it might just be wonderful tasting.
In the mean time download a seachoice app or wallet guide, and use it to help you vote with your dollars and consume with a conscious.
MUST SEE DOCS:
addicted to plastic (you can watch this whole movie online here)