Archives for category: Food Sovereignty

My old friend Lee Ann Brown wrote this poem about Polk Salad in her book In the Laurels, Caught.  She wrote it from notes jotted on a day with the herbalist Mary Morgaine Thames, in North Carolina, learning about wild plants.

——————————————

POKE SALLET

is cooked not raw

stay ahead
              of the red

Eat in spring
cook when 6 inches or less

lymph cleanser

2 boils

Do Not drink the potlikker

Eat the berry

1 on the 1st day
2 on the 2nd day
3 on the 3rd day

How far do you
spit out the poisonous seeds?

become a dynamic accumulator
bringing up minerals from below

Children in a school near here used poke ink
It was that with which they wrote

any daughter paints her arms

the way to play the plants

on paper the unfixed juice goes from bright magen-
ta to a dried blood color

the man who built our house

first dreamed of a pokeberry sky

but after a hot day of crushing berries
and smearing the boards, gave into Benjamin Moore

it’s “hard to fix”

that color more bright than cochineal


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BREADLINES is a new and very compelling internet publication exploring food justice in the UK.

“To unravel food justice in the UK – one of the world’s most impactful global empires – requires deep reflection, reconstruction of the systems that support injustice (with which we are complicit) and more shared conversation and collective action.  We hope that the content of this journal will focus on that awareness raising as it relates to the UK, but it will also draw connections with related issues and movements in other parts of the world.”

You can read the very first issue here with articles about food banks, the vulnerability of traditional public markets, land ownership, participatory work in practice, Nyeleni + 10, and much more.  It’s a deeply political and change oriented food journal, concerned with EVERYONE  having access to good food.

The work comes from an approach of “community centred knowledge” and activism. You can read about some of this, and access many resources, here.

 

I’ve learned so much listening to podcasts on A Sustainable Mind through the years.

This interview with Mallory O’Donnell, whose blog How to Cook a Weed is a favourite, struck me. The discussion reflects an approach to foraging which isn’t so much about wild food as trophy but instead gathered plant as relationship– with nature, with gardened landscape and feral escapees, with one’s own process of learning and self-education. I find this moving and hopeful. Have a listen.  And there’s loads to learn and recipes to inspire on the blog.  Looking forward to Mallory’s book!

How to Cook a Weed

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I had the great pleasure earlier this month to be interviewed by Marjorie Alexander for the incredible A Sustainable Mind podcast. Marjorie highlights people who are doing some truly inspiring work around issues of ecology, food waste, reusable energy, sustainable living and a myriad of other matters that all relate very closely to the issues that are close to my heart. I feel honored to be included amongst these folks who are contributing in a much more direct way to facing and resolving what is one of the great crises of our times.

It is my firm belief that living more simply and in greater harmony with nature is one of the most important and personal steps we can take in life. I urge you to think about the sustainability of your actions every time you collect wild food, to understand and acknowledge the relationships of the plants and wildlife around…

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Social Media really can widen one’s awareness of what goes on in the world.  So lucky me, on Instagram, happening to follow some fermenting accounts located, at the time of the Hurricanes, in Puerto Rico.

Of course as the storms bore down I wondered what my friends’ experience would be with their fermented foods, as a kind of disaster-proof preservation, through the violence of the storms: no electricity, no problem! But I did find myself worrying about them a little, especially with long radio silences that ensued.

(Well, it’s been pretty bad, as we all know, and I personally like to shout loud and clear the words CLIMATE FUCKING CHAOS as “weather” events keep getting wilder and more destructive.  CLIMATE ACTION NOW!  Let’s hope something radical happens in Bonn.)

The rebirth of the ancient arts of fermentation in the past decades have sprung from different sources including culinary creativity with diverse cultural influence, an interest in raw foods and nutrition, deep need for microbiome healing, an awareness of the mega-problem of food waste and the fantastic resource that is home-grown, glut-prone produce.

There has also been a kind of prepper strain– make that sauerkraut for the end of the world! As the end-of-the-world seems to be popping up here and there all over the globe for lots of people (and thankfully then beginning again), it’s a gift to our fermenting movement that Feast Yr Ears on Heritage Radio Network interviewed Brittany Lukowsky of @preservadovieques, an Instagram mate.

Have a listen to Brittany interviewed by Harry Rosenblum of The Brooklyn Kitchen (and author of the very useful and inspiring new book Vinegar Revival). They discuss many topics, paint a picture of life on the island before and after the hurricanes and a sense of the abundance and ease that fermented foods offer in a crisis situation.  Was disturbing to hear about how bees lost all their natural forage.  But inspiring to hear of the delicious curries Brittany was making.  It’s a close-in look at what surviving a hideous natural disaster might be like. Do listen:

FERMENTATION PRESERVES LIFE IN VIEQUES AFTER HURRICANE MARIA

 

Meanwhile, the heroic chef  Jose Andres has been organising amazing kitchens and networks of chefs to feed people throughout Puerto Rico, one part of the puzzle, and you can be inspired here.

Here’s a foundation to donate money to help rebuild Puerto Rican agriculture with an emphasis on local food security and food sovereignty . I learned about this through @eldeparamentodelafood and read about some of this work here.  There’s the worry that because the agricultural (and horticultural) sectors have been so utterly destroyed, this might be a shock doctrine kind of moment for export agriculture, when what is needed and wanted so hopefully is the opposite– the rebuilding of an agro-ecological way of growing that can meet food needs locally.

In New York City, there’s the @queerkitchenbrigade, cooking and pickling and sending delicious, healthful food to home islands where people really need this good nutrition.  They can use our help!

 

 

The Landworkers Alliance “is an organisation of farmers, growers and land-based workers… campaigning for policies to support the infrastructure and markets central to members livelihoods, building alliances and encouraging solidarity. [They] also raise awareness of the role that small-scale producers, family farmers and land-based workers play in providing food security, environmental stewardship, rural livelihoods, strong communities, animal welfare and high-quality affordable food.” Here are some films they’ve just made– really worth watching.

Here’s a really nice film documenting people getting together to grow their own food with support from an organisation called Community Foodie.

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Last weekend I was incredibly moved to be in the presence of seeds descended from those which Vavilov and his colleagues saved under wartime duress (i.e. a Stalinist prison, and starvation).  These were exhibited as part of the Artes Mundi exhibition at National Museum Cardiff in which the Futurefarmers collective of artists installed visuals to their “Seed Journey” exploration of the history and future of seeds as part of our common heritage. Amy Franceschini explains some of the project in this video below:

A few days later I found myself working at an event where Anne Parry of Felin Galon Watermill was speaking on behalf of her visionary efforts to network farmers, millers, brewers and bakers around “Welsh Grain.” We talked a bit about the Cardiff exhibition, and she shared that some Welsh grown wheat had gone off on the sea-faring adventures of FutureFarmers.

So exciting! I went home and wrote to Anne, asking if she could write a paragraph for this blog, sharing the story.  And she responded:

“As part of their Seed Journey the Flatbread Society were meeting with Andy Forbes of the Brockwell Bake in London. The Welsh Grain Forum has been collaborating with Andy, who is wonderfully knowledgeable and committed, to reintroduce the wheat Hen Gymro back to Wales….so since The Seed Journey group were travelling to Cardiff it seemed appropriate that we celebrate this by them symbolically bringing us a sheaf of Hen Gymro from Andy when they came up to Cardiff. (Pics from the Brockwell Bake gallery here). About half a dozen WGF members were able to be there and it turned out to be a simple, inspiring and encouraging event where we received the wheat, gave them samples of Hen Gymro grown once more in Wales, and other Welsh grown heritage cereals, to take on their journey and then shared bread and cakes baked with our locally grown and milled flour. There’s something about the it by Artes Mundi here , and stuff on our Welsh Grain Workshop page and on Rupert Dunn’s Torth y Tir page.”

Really wanted to share this wonderful story which gives Hen Gymro an epic adventure, its itself part of the whole global Story of seeds, grain, people, history.


And now, a moment with Johnny Cash, and an affecting photomontage:

Wanted to share this short film about young crofters in Scotland figuring out ways to gain access to land, to practice small scale agriculture and local food production.  Passionate, inspiring people.

New Year’s Resolution to experience and express gratitude– I’m grateful to people who work really hard on the issues I deeply care about.  Miles King is one of them. Here’s what he says about Brexit opportunities.

a new nature blog

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I’m delighted to be able to tell you about this new report which is published today. It’s the first People Need Nature policy report – A Pebble in the Pond: Opportunities for farming, food and nature after Brexit. You can download it here.

Here’s the summary:

As England prepares to leave the EU we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the way we support England’s land managers.  This report shows how leaving the EU will enable us to channel money from the public purse to land managers in such a way that they can both produce food, help nature and provide all the other benefits society needs.

The last forty years of farm subsidies from Europe via the Common Agricultural Policy has contributed to a dramatic decline in nature on farmland – land that covers three quarters of England. The vote to leave the EU means we…

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We need to keep informed about agriculture oriented towards energy production. In the case of maize in Britain, there’s also a terrible association with soil runoff during excessive rain events that contributes to flooding, as in this piece by George Monbiot with it’s quite shocking video component.  A responsible climate change policy would take into account both the importance of good land management (as nudged or not by subsidies) and actual carbon figures, which Miles King, in the post shared below, discusses so clearly.

a new nature blog

p1040939 Biogas Maize is now grown widely in the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty © Miles King

Maize grown specifically for Anaerobic Digesters to produce “biogas” is an increasingly common crop in England, especially in the South West. The area under Biogas Maize increased by 55% in 2016 compared to 2015, to 52000ha. The National Farmers Union set a target of 200,000ha of land under biogas Maize back in 2011, so they are 25% of the way to their target.

Maize is a very environmentally damaging crop, probably the most environmentally damaging crop grown in the UK. Why then is so much of it being grown? Because the Government pays not one, but two subsidies for it to be grown – the generous single payment (now over £200 per hectare annually) for anyone who owns farmland; and on top of this there are a range of payments including the Renewable…

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