Archive for ‘Gardening & Farming’

October 5, 2011

On Community Gardens, Meat, and the Power of Knowledge

A few years ago I read a book called My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki.  The novel follows a documentary filmmaker, Jane Takagi-Little, who is hired by the American beef industry to create a show for Japanese housewives called “My American Wife.”  She travels the United States and films women cooking with meat (the producers tell her to keep in mind while choosing material that “Pork is Possible, but Beef is Best!”).  However, as Jane gets more involved in the project, she gets more concerned about the product she’s selling to Japan, and starts investigating.  She researches how the animals are raised, the antibiotics used, the slaughtering process.  Needless to say, it is not a pretty picture.  And although this is a novel, the research Ozeki did was based on current practices in the US meat industry.

Growing up, I always thought veal was the only animal that wasn’t humanely raised.  As it turns out, in some cases veal can actually be raised humanely and that chicken, beef, and pork are just as inhumanely raised as traditional veal.  Basically, there is no winning.  Other than knowing where your food comes from.

March 20, 2009

Victorious Gardening!


It’s official!  We not only have a new president, but we also have a kitchen garden in the White House!  Many are ecstatic about this, and the hard work by everyone who has been active in promoting this high-profile garden has paid off.   The Obama girls will be eating spinach, fresh from their backyard next to their playset!

Some exceptionaly hard workers on the White House garden front: WHO Farm school bus organic farm drivers, Eat the View home farmer, and the woman full of grace.  Though, if you ask me, the guys driving around the country and digging up their front lawn had a much cooler way of going about activism!

My own garden update:

I am definitely having a garden this year.  I am one of the many people in the US who either don’t have a yard, have a very small yard, or have a yard but don’t have safe soil (or don’t have the money to test it).  My city has several community gardens, but it’s come accross an interesting issue with the fact that gardening seems to be in vogue this year: the wait-lists are twice as long as ever!  This means the chances of me actually getting a garden plot are limited.

What’s there to do, you ask?

Well, container garden!  I have a small, small plot of land between my front steps and our side street that I plan to get my landlord to let me use. Container gardening can be very inexpensive: it can cost just the price of seed, compost, and a small shovel.  You can collect all kinds of free containers (I’ll be getting some plastic tulip boxes from a florist/friend, asking nurseries for leftover pots, and have been asking for donations of buckets from my coworkers).   My containers may not be beautiful, but no one will notice or care once they see the tasty plants and food I will grow!

If I sound very confident, please know this is all a facade: my gardening resume is short and only includes a couple of house plants from college (one which died from some weird mites, the other which I actually flew home to my parent’s house to protect from said mites) and some carrots I grew when I was eight.

Let’s hope with age that I’ve picked up a green thumb…

June 21, 2008

Vermont Goat Cheese: Twig Farm

This spring I took a fascinating class on cheese for part of my master’s degree in Gastronomy.The celebration at the end of the class involved a road trip up to Vermont on a beautiful late-spring day to visit two goat farms: Twig Farm and Blue Ledge Farm.I’m going to post in two installments on this trip, as each farm and experience deserve a proper description.