Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New food policy? or more insanity?

The Times attempts to signal a season of hope with the question Is a New Food Policy on Obama’s List? They go on to say:
Parents want better public-school lunches. Consumer groups are dreaming of a new, stronger food safety system. Nutrition reformers want prisoners to be fed less soy. And a farmer in Maine is asking the president-elect to plow under an acre of White House lawn for an organic vegetable garden.

But quickly caution-
Although Mr. Obama has proposed changes in the nation’s farm and rural policies and emphasizes the connection between diet and health, there is nothing to indicate he has a special interest in a radical makeover of the way food is grown and sold.

Politics is the means to access resources. Subsidies may have a bad connotation, but, subsidies mean government. Without subsidies there is no government. What do we want to subsidize? Food systems that make up healthy local economies should be first, because we know that killer spinach and obese diabetic kids and oceanic dead zones and Monsanto death seeds and the death of the bees are the wrong mad cow sacrifice for our present subsidies.

What kind of change could we expect in the way subsidies should be allocated? And what is the source of the Times caution? When Obama and McCain were talking about drilling toward energy independence they were clearly insane- defined as doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results. And when Congress removed the restriction on coastal drilling they clearly were part of the same insanity. And the insanity is subsidizing the fossil fuel economy. And looking for fossil fuels solutions like fossil fuel generated ethanol as a means out of our pickle. People who don't participate in the insanity, like solar cookers, are seen as abnormal. The crisis may be a means to a solution but no one recognizes the role of fossil fuels in the crisis: that the crisis was recognized after it affected people's pocket books by snowballing in from the margins of the driving economy (Tracy, Merced, Stockton, etc.)

So first we have to see the problem of local government in building the infrastructure, commute roads etc., to facilitate resource consumption. Second we need to see the feasibility of what a local economy, progress, can mean. Third we need to recognize the source of our problems. Only then can be see the benefits of change. Change is hard- Exxon is not going to let Boxer give oil subsidies to solar panels. Change needs to be communicated from within a broad, not necessarily cohesive, coalition.

And it certainly doesn't happen by consensus. As the Times article notes:
Mr. Obama appointed Tom Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, which grows much of the nation’s corn and soybeans. Mr. Vilsack has talked about reducing subsidies to some megafarms, supports better treatment of farm animals and wants healthier food in schools. But his selection drew criticism because he is a big fan of alternative fuels like corn-based ethanol and is a supporter of biotechnology, both anathema to people who want to shift government support from large-scale agricultural interests to smaller farms growing food that takes a more direct path to the table.

At the end of the day change needs to be a win win for all. Otherwise we are just waiting for the Sarah-Palins to take their turn at the same insanity. And the goals of peace and health and independence remain wishful thinking. Our children cannot escape the yoke of OIL- Operation Iraqi Liberation.

Monday, December 22, 2008


One bottle chilled cheap red wine.
Two chilled oranges squeezed. Lujan from Hughson was selling them for 0.85c a pound yesterday.
We've been chilling stuff by leaving it on the north facing deck outside for four hours.
One sweet apple peeled, cored and cut small.
Dash of cinnamon.
Five teaspoons sugar.

Mix with a wooden spoon and serve.

Spicy dandelions and brussel sprouts and arugula.

Happy New Year. Yesterday was the winter solstice and at 4:10 AM the earth stopped its outward swing and was pulled back in orbit toward the sun. As the sun heads north our days will get longer. Today was a glorious sunny morning. However not trusting the fervor of the rain god to supply water for our crops, I put on the reflector and used the oven in the winter position. Good thing, because just ofter the food was cooked (I started at 9:00 AM) the clouds moved in.

Yesterdays at the farmers market our suppliers from Calderon, Hollister, had celery, dandelion (no chard this far north) and large pretty looking brussel sprouts. Barbagelata Farms from Linden had peppers, onions, garlic, beens, cauliflower, nuts, apples, and tomatoes. Bill Ferry Ranches has a mix of nuts. J&M Farms from Fresno had chard, arugula, and red peppers. Sonoma Oil Company doesn't come around this time of year so you better have stalked up on supplies of vinegar and oil. Spring Hill had a variety of cheeses about a month ago. They still come to the San Mateo Farmers Market.

Chop one bunch dandelions thin and then soak in water. Drain.
In the 5" oval pot layer:
Half a red onion chopped small.
Two stalks celery chopped small.
Two cloves garlic chopped tiny.
One jalapeno chopped small.
Two tablespoons Olive oil.
Sea salt crystals to taste.
Black pepper to taste.

Cook for 90 minutes.
Squeeze half a lemon. Sprinkle one tablespoon vinegar.
Mix, drain and set the liquid aside for stock.
Mix in a tablespoon of nuts.
Let cool and serve as a side.

Brussel Sprouts.
Cut in half six to eight sprouts.
Chop one clove garlic tiny. Mix with one tablespoon olive oil.
Dip cut sprouts in the oil and layer in the 5" round pot.
Salt with the sea salt grinder.
Cook for 90 minutes with the oval pot (see Dandelions above.)
Sprinkle with ground black pepper and serve hot.
Remaining liquid can be added to stock.

Chop one stalk celery small.
Chop one small apple small.
Chop one red pepper small.
Chop one sweet pepper small.
Drizzle one tablespoon vinegar toss and mix.
Salt and pepper toss and mix.
Top with Arugula.
Pour two tablespoon olive oil and mix, then mix through the whole salad.
Grind pepper to taste.
Shred generously a salty goat cheese like feta over before serving. Since the Spring Hill feta was not salty I salted the Arugula instead.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lentils with goa curry powder

Layer in 5" oval pot
Half a large red onion cut small
one cloves garlic chopped small
Two stalks celery cut small
Two tablespoons Olive oil
Black pepper.
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, cumin, and coriander
1/8 teaspoon turmeric, and ground cloves.
One cup brown or red whole lentils.
Three cups water.
Bake in the solar over for four hours in the winter position. You can also use the reflector and cook for two hours.
If the winter sky is overcast bake in the over at 250 deg for an hour and a half. If you use convect drop the temperature 25 deg and lower the shelf.
When done-
Chop one cup cilantro and mix.
Squeeze half a lemon.

Most of the ingredients came from Calderon Farms who were back at the Belmont Farmers Market after a two week break. The organic lentils are from Whole Foods. The olive oil is from the San Mateo Farmers Market.

The LA Times reported that with land repatriation in South Africa the nation has become a net importer of food. This doesn't make sense if the smaller farms are growing food for local consumption. The smaller farms must be part of growing cash crops for the global market. Given many of the positive policies like taking down the fences and friendship parks in South Africa I think they'll figure this out.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Brussel sprouts

At Calderon Market the Brussels sprouts are sold on their stalk for $4/-

Clip about 20 sprouts and cut in half.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Cook in the winter position for 90 minutes in the 5" oval pot.

Arrugula Romaine salad

The farmers market has shrunk for the winter but there's still summer produce available, especially from the vendors south of San Jose.

Four chives of green onions (green portion only) cut small. Put into a small bowl. Pour three tablespoons vinegar over and add 1/4 tablespoon mustard. Mix

Two cups arrugula
Two cups chopped romaine
Four carrots cut small
Two tomatoes cuts in half inch cubes
One red pepper cut small
Salt and pepper to taste.
Two tablespoons olive oil.

Mix with chive-vinegar-mix.

Top with one apple cut small, one jicama cut small, and (optional) one cup brown rice.
Shred feta cheese to cover before serving.