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.
Ah, the long stretches of yellow fields that have come to seem normal in springtime in the British countryside. When I posted this picture on Instagram, I got lots of likes that I sensed might be approving of beauty, and an idea of pastoral, productive bloom. Me, I see monoculture and pesticides and the economic restructuring of landscape and our relationship to it. I think about the battles between farmers (as represented by the NFU) and environmentalists about many issues, and neonicotinoids in particular, and just how complicated everything is.
To be fair, I also see Oil Seed Rape (OSR) for Rapeseed Oil as a rural, agricultural industry that has marketed its product very appealingly as local, gourmet, and of a terroir– as British “olive oil” in a foodscape in which most dietary fats are problematic in some (social, environmental, nutritional) way, and in which “British” and “local” represent virtues. Read the rest of this entry »
This is a very informative and sobering video discussing the pitfalls of the potential trade agreement TTIP– the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. TTIP would represent huge benefit for gigantic agribusiness players, and severely undermine local, ecological and democratic approaches to food and growing.
PLEASE educate yourself and others and keep making a stink in the realms you have any influence– with your representatives, your politicians, your social media, your streets. Use your voice.
By the way, I found this SHOCKING: Read the rest of this entry »
Bonjour and Bore Da, Johnny Onion, selling your wares from a bicycle, your blue eyes twinkling as you offer me a head of garlic. You’ve come all the way from Brest in Brittany to spend these months in Wales, basing yourself in Cardiff, trekking around selling strings of onions, shallots and garlic. You are part of a long tradition of French onion sellers spending autumn months in Britain. It’s an absolute pleasure to buy these onions from you.
In the old days, if you were from Roscoff and a speaker of Breton, perhaps you and Welsh speakers would have been able to figure some things out together. Today, as it was, we spoke in English as I didn’t dare venture with my bad French.
Thank you for these lovely strong onions. They are beautifully coloured with pink, have a potent smell and peppery taste. You can see in the photograph below they are very fresh, glistening with moisture. I get a good, proper welling up of stinging tears when I chop them.
Here’s “Man in the Maze,” a short film about Food System problems (hideous) and people-centered solutions (beautiful). The film is specific to “the geopolitical boundary with the greatest economic disparity in the world” but offers inspiration to people anywhere working hard “to rebuild the food system up from the bottom in a participatory way,” as Gary Paul Nabhan puts it in the interview — “to heal that food system, our economies, our bodies, and the land.”
Thanks to the lovely Charlotte Spring for the recommendation.
Heather Anderson is a give-you-goosebumps speaker, coming at the food-poverty system as a farmer, presenting ideas to build for Scotland a good food system instead, one that works for all “stakeholders,” including farmers. Read more of her here, on complicated CAP subsidies and directions agriculture in Scotland (and clearly elsewhere) needs to take:
Conference, we all now know that around 1 in 10 households in Scotland are food insecure – That means they worry every week if you are going to be able to put food on the table. Westminster austerity is taking another £10 per week from our poorest fellow citizens and it has no intention of giving it back. As a percentage of income, the poorest 10% are already spending twice as much on their limited income on food. We all know that thousands of children in Scotland are going to bed hungry.
And then they get up and go to school hungry.
For the thousands of people who rely on food banks every week, they are a life-line. Donating food is what we do in an emergency and we must applaud everyone who is trying to do their best.
But conference, we have to get our heads the fact that we…
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You take your beans and sear them in a hot, oily pan, and they steam and char at the same time, retaining lots of bean-taste. When they’re done, toss them in chopped garlic and salt.
This method is flexible to flavours that go around the world– ginger and garlic and soy sauce for a Chinese mood, mustard seeds and chilis for South Asian, add coconut milk for a Thai feeling.. you get the idea.
I’d been wondering about Runner Beans, those prolific stalwarts of the British summer veg patch. I’ve never managed to love them as deeply as I do green beans/ string beans/ French beans (as they are called here). Read the rest of this entry »
I requested a review copy of April Bloomfield’s A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals from the Garden as I’ve been so curious about the foodie buzz surrounding her. Now I get why she’s such a star.
April Bloomfield, in her writing and recipes, straddles something exciting between home cooking and cheffy imagination and technique, and it all feels accessible and inspiring. Her approach is relaxed and easy as she looks around the world for culinary ideas and somehow simultaneously simplifies and elevates the foods. It’s a kind of magic! Yet she never presents herself as the final word. Read the rest of this entry »
The Nettle Sorrel Soup was so delicious, I considered it a gateway to Schav, a purer use of sorrel that by never having sampled had become a little mythic. You eat it cold. And yes, that’s the true colour in the photo above, what we might have thought of as pea-green, a little dreary, a little khaki. I resisted the photoshop urge because I want to speak the truth about Schav. I placed the spoon in this position so you too could imagine picking it up and experiencing a spoon-full.
It’s what the real old-timers ate, the ones who gesticulated with their hands and ate intense, heavy food like … Liver and Egg Salad, or Chopped Liver in moulded, perhaps grotesque shapes, maybe with strawberries, maybe with pineapple. Or at least such recipes appear in my all time favourite Jewish cookbook Love and Knishes, along with loads of dishes with schmaltz and lima beans and kasha– these kind of ingredients. So the book was a natural first place to look for an “authentic” recipe for Schav.
Love and Knishes is a charming book. Read the rest of this entry »
Another quick must-share, yesterday’s Nettle Sorrel Green Soup, an easy and good Sunday supper and dish to discuss in my new anti-recipe, pro-technique zeal.
And I’m now polyamorous, sharing my passion for Nettles with Sorrel, because that lemony zing on the side of the tongue is a wild and captivating sensation. Read the rest of this entry »