Sunday, May 13, 2007

Local food culture...

I'm reading Bill McKibben's new book, Deep Economy. I haven't been terribly impressed so far -- Michael Pollan and Wendell Berry are far more eloquent and sophisticated in their analysis and criticisms of modern farming-food culture, but McKibben understands better the unsustainability of the whole of modern American economy.

Berry says somewhere that it's a sign of how far removed we've become from the most primal experiences of life when children know where babies come from, but not potatoes.

"Eating is an agricultural act."

I spend a fair amount of time in the garden with my children, talking about how things grow and reproduce and die. And trying to share with them the wonder and awe I have for all things living, even the writhing mass of maggots in my compost bucket. They're usually out there with me planting seeds or helping harvest cukes and tomatoes. My daughter loves to pick snapdragons and make them ROAR!

From this morning's Times:

Local Food 101, With a School as His Lab


TALL, bald and of robust appetite, the chef Timothy Cipriano is casting an appreciative eye at the young free-range chickens clucking in their moveable, open-air run outside the Agriscience and Technology Center at Bloomfield High School. “By fall, I can give you three dozen eggs a week,” predicts Joseph Rodrigues, the agriscience teacher who oversees greenhouses, raised-bed gardens and a set of big, burbling aquaculture tanks.

“Fantastic. We’ll do frittatas,” Mr. Cipriano murmurs.

The two men are amiable and enthusiastic co-conspirators. Mr. Cipriano, the food service director for the Bloomfield school district, is also a committed activist for the Connecticut Farm-to-School program, which advocates serving students fresh, locally grown and sustainable food. He is clearly delighted by Mr. Rodrigues’s next promise: “We’ll be raising tilapia. It’s a good, mild fish the kids like. I’m hoping to give you a couple of decent harvests.”

Having cajoled a few students out of study hall, Mr. Rodrigues has set them to transplanting heirloom tomato seedlings in the greenhouse. He walks between potting benches reciting tomato varieties: “Moskovich. First Ladies. Juliets. The Great White ... .” The crops also include snap peas, leeks, broccoli rabe, carrots, herbs, lettuce, arugula, okra and squash. Crews of volunteer students will tend the beds over the summer, with early harvest going to a local food bank.

Students also test recipes, from watermelon gazpacho to Mexican pizza, and Mr. Cipriano has gathered the favorites in a self-published compendium intended for the delectation of “Not Your Average Lunch Lady.” His most popular dish is Squapple Crisp, a toothsome bake of winter squash, apples, cinnamon and brown sugar topped with crushed cornflakes. Has he had some losers?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very cool. those fresh vegetables are so important, since the majority of a typical food bank warehouse is filled with canned foods—with their high sodium, etc.

frozen foods are helpful as well. many big food banks have huge refrigerated storage areas.