Watch this video and see how seeds are so much a part of the commons,  in societies around the world.  Seed sharing not selling– a foundation of Food Sovereignty and therefore Food Security, as well as the continuance of culture and community…  It can all be a bit abstract, like the language I’ve just used, until you see women like these talking about the seeds that sustain their lives.

Yesterday I came across these videos and wanted to share them on Kitchen Counter Culture.

Insight Share is a really interesting organisation that brings training and video equipment to remote communities across the globe.  The idea is that people who lack economic and technical access are shared the means to tell their own stories and communicate with each other through video and internet. This movement is called “Participatory Video.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Last week by an element of chance I found myself at the bedside of my mother-in-law Grace on the night of her death. Is it odd to say that it was an incredible privilege to share that moment, to witness the transition between living and dying and all the physical and emotional resistance and surrender. There’s the call to rise oneself to the extreme importance of the moment in relationship, and to ponder the magical mystery tour that is life.

As intense and emotional as it was that night, there was also lots of down-time, and I passed some of it looking through a photograph album that happened to be in her nursing home room.

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“Create Your Own Local Food Movement,” or, thought-provoking top tips from the inspiring and effective Fife Diet in Scotland.   I <3 the worm at 2:52.

  • Know your place, map your region, think potential, understand heritage
  • Create community not just network, eat together
  • Re-skilling in growing and cooking
  • “With not for” — a philosophy of working.
  • Think Big.  Be ambitious.
  • Make space for children
  • Who are you, consumers or producers?
  • Think Global, eat local, but avoid the localism trap
  •  Enjoy!

(and be aware if you are in places with ethnic/ racial/ cultural/ economic diversity, a strong movement will reflect that, and seek to actively encourage and respond to diverse needs and needs of diversity).

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Several years ago I began to ponder the internet recipe site of Abel and Cole, the major organic vegetable subscription service in the south of England.  There was was something so incredibly interesting, and original, light-handed yet educational and resourceful there, a joyful and free competence around food that felt rare and precious and kept pouring forth, anew.  Visit that site; it’s such a great resource for recipes (even though I’m more drawn these days to the idea of “freecipes,” there’s still lots to learn from reading them).

For people who cook, who take their cooking “practice” seriously, learning from others is enriching and serious business, and I make it a task to learn as part of my love of cookbooks, and prefer most of all writers with style and a unique way of going about the kitchen.

Recently I met the Abel and Cole food editor Rachel de Thample. She is in person everything her food seems to be: warm, fun, intelligent, committed to a better food system, creative, interesting…  So as a cookbook aficionado I was really excited to read her new book Five: 150 Effortless Ways to Eat 5+ Fruit and Veg a Day.   On the one hand this book is what the subtitle says, an effort to get us all eating the way we should.  On the other hand, and more excitingly, it’s a wonderful insight into an original cooking voice with lots to teach, inspire and entertain.

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I filmed this at a fermentation workshop I gave with Sector39 Permaculture at the amazing Reading International Solidarity Centre.  This place has a cafe with really delicious Ethiopian food which was wonderful to eat with a great group of people.  Sorry the video is badly blurry– it’s nevertheless worth it to me to share it.

A participant in the session was an experienced sauerkraut maker, and showed us all his massage technique.  His hands were so strong and active with the salted cabbage, I’d never seen brine be delivered as readily.  Of course I wanted to film it as part of this Recipe by Gesture tag.

Hands belong to Prof. Chris Rhodes.

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The Festival of Holi —  a Hindu celebration of the beginning of spring, of love, and of colour, riotous colour, people throwing colour with spices, pigments, coloured waters, all over each other in frolicsome revelry.  I’ve only read about this, but it’s a source of fantasy, one day before I die to be somewhere in India during this time, to witness, no, to be part of it all.  The experience of colour is one of my greatest joys.  And vintage cookbooks!

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I know people like recipes, and that recipes define the public realm of cooking, including information and instruction to combat food waste in our kitchens.  I’m always struck by how irrational this is, because it’s rare that you’d have, as leftover (i.e.,waste you want to avoid happening), the specific amount of an ingredient that a recipe would call for.  Is there something I’m missing?

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Never mind, it's beginning to feel like spring!

Yes, they’re daffodils, and no, they’re not edible, but I’m trying to cheer myself up and not bring all of you down.  Cough, cough, hack, hack, up in the middle of the night, cough, cough, hack, hack.  Are some of you out there the same? Pity us.

I’ve been really craving good old fashioned Chicken Soup, in which you simmer the chicken with carrots, onions, leeks, celery, parsley, peppercorns, parsnip and dill if you are lucky.  Noodles would be great– I like the way Japanese Udon noodles get all gloopy the way I remember from cans of Chicken Noodle soup when I ate such things. Cough, cough, cough. Read the rest of this entry »

Here is George Monbiot at his insightful and impassioned best, speaking about agricultural subsidies at the Oxford Farming Conference in January.

This is really worth a half hour of your time to understand how things could begin to be different if we are concerned to integrate: biodiversity, social justice, food security, soil protection, sound energy policy, flood and drought management, and more.

He is calling the National Farmers Union to task for what he sees as profound hypocrisy, and suggesting ways that working together, “forming alliances” across assumed loyalties, might benefit most of us.

Of everything that this talk opened in my mind, I was especially shocked to learn about the growing dominance of biofuel maize on prime agricultural land, to be burned in schemes meant for methane capture of crop waste and slurry.

Please share this talk widely, or “reblog.”You might not agree with everything, but Monbiot weaves together many issues crucial to agricultural, ecology, social equality and the future of food justice in the broadest sense.  Wow.

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St David’s Day can feel like “Wales Day”, with children in Welsh Lady costumes and rugby shirts and woolen caps making daffodil crafts in school, shops trying to sell Welsh Cakes and Bara Brith, and plastic dragons made in China roaring all over the retail sector.  Yet the kitsch doesn’t feel sarcastic, or shallow, but rather an affectionate nod to the obvious signs of Welsh identity.  People dress their kids up as Welsh as they dressed up as Welsh and back and back, and in fact the early Welsh Ladies themselves were dressing up as Welsh Ladies as a way to go to market.   Much that is specific to Wales is invisible and elusive– a quality of heart and poetry and singing and performance and community. It’s hard to specify, this thing called “Welsh”– within it there’s the warm cuddliness of a cwtch combined with the hard-scrabble get-on-with-life of rugged hill people, and miners.  At least that’s how I see it after seven years here.  Any Welsh friends are welcome to correct me! Read the rest of this entry »

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