Sunday, December 6, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
French cheese, Italian wine and Belgian chocolates. These three foods show a unique decadence that has come to demonstrate classiness, and perhaps even show off cultural awareness in American food culture. Of course the grass is always greener on the other side, and that guy’s car is always better than yours, and certainly any spiked fruit that comes from an unpronounceable country is delicious—it doesn’t truly belong to you. It’s exotic. This is not a unique American phenomenon. In fact, exotic foods, pomp, and circumstance date back to the Roman Empire.
In lieu of airplanes filled with “fresh” produce, the Romans had military triumphs. Caesar and Pompey used to hold military triumphs when conquering a new foreign land, and this city-wide party was not surprisingly popular among citizens. They paraded not only tasty food (usually new types of fish) but different species of animals and even dancing women from these foreign conquered territories. But one day circa 80's BCE, Pompey, always trying to show up Caesar, decided to make his grant entrance by marching into the center of Rome with (perhaps atop) an elephant from a recently conquered territory. Pompey had taken the exotic a bridge too far, and the oversized creatures were unable to fit through the city gates. He had to dismount said elephant and walk in stag. How embarrassing for Pompey.
So, French cheese, Italian wine, and Belgian chocolates. We may not think of them as carrying any sort of cultural or social stigma, but instead as a privilege that comes with new developments in our globalized age . But now that we've consumed pounds upon pounds of them, a Hawaiian pineapple and a Colombian banana may evoke different feelings in some of us, and make us grab an apple instead. American consumers are gradually learning that appalling working conditions, harmful pesticides, and environmentally detrimental byproducts are all condoned when purchase and consume bananas and some other exotic foods. Perhaps the structural issues and resulting embarrassment presented by Pompey’s elephants are being mirrored, two thousand years later, when we hold our imported foods, grown in lands we’ve never seen by people whom we’ve never met.
I know that I haven’t eaten any fruit grown in Chicago. But the thought of it seems appealing… maybe even exotic.
A toast to the jam of seasons!
Monday, May 18, 2009
What a great idea for all that excess produce that often comes with home gardening. Growing up, my parents kept a 500 sq. foot garden in our backyard that produced more than enough to feed our four-person household. I remember boxes brimming with leafy greens, bell peppers, tomatoes, gourds and string beans, as my mother and father went down their phonebooks in search of friends who might like to share our bounty. Veggie Trader would have certainly simplified the process.
The listing process seems very simple - create postings with what you'd like to buy, trade or sell (including pictures are encouraged) and wait for a response. When someone responds, your identity is kept anonymous until you feel comfortable enough to arrange your exchange. Of course, there are going to be an array of legal issues involved from licensing to taxes to general safety, so you must trade at your own risk. Still, the idea is a great one, especially in tough economic times - encouraging community values and representing the idea that variety and choice are still available.
Browsing through the postings, I was disappointed to find very few from the Chicago area. However, as a pilot effort by a couple in Oregon, the marketplace still has a long way to go. I do hope that with our collective efforts, Veggie Trader will eventually be in full swing over here in Chicago.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The bar where we chose to hold our event is a bar that was built almost entirely from recycled materials. If you look around, you can spot seat belt straps that are being reused, science lab countertops used for tables, and other neat things. WeFarm is looking to partner with Simone's for a rooftoop gardening system and on this night we walked up onto the roof and saw some of the things they're starting with; a beehive and some basil and tomato buckets. Simone's is also looking to develop easy to use composting and we were able to discuss with them the possibility of composting with Bokashi as a solution. They were great hosts and we look forward to continue working with them in the future.
UrbanWormGirls were also present and it was an opportunity to learn about their mission and company. For those that are unfamiliar with their company, they provide a worm composting bin that uses red worms (I don't remember the exact type, just the color) to digest waste and turn it into soil. At Loyola's Earth day event they showed us one of their kits and it was interesting how it's setup and works. Additionally, these girls have been around for about a year and a half so it was informative to learn about they've done in that time.
Overall, it was a great opportunity to get everyone that supports us together in one spot to socialize and have a good time. A lot of drinks and laughs. Thanks to everyone that made it a great night. See you at the next one.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
In observance of the hardship that seed patents and regulations can place upon farmers and the future of organic food, the Institute of of Near Eastern & African Studies has designated April 26 as International Seeds Day, a worldwide effort to get the word out on "patent-free seeds, organic food, and farmers' rights."
In a personal effort to support the right to save and exchange seeds, it is definitely worthwhile to check out WinterSown, an educational non-profit organization dedicated to the cost-saving germination method of winter sowing. WinterSown also encourages seed saving and trading. They are even willing to share a 6-pack of their seeds with you, for free.
While it may be too late in the year to attempt winter sowing, a pack of shared seeds is certainly a great way to recognize the right to fresh, organic food in a personal and economical way.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
In the midst of national economic hardship, Michelle Obama's garden (in which all members of First Family will work on, not excluding the President himself) will symbolize her dedication to the accessibility to fresh, nutritious foods as a right that all citizens are entitled to. Enlisting the help of D.C. public school students to cultivate the White House garden, Mrs. Obama said, “My hope is that through children, they will begin to educate their families and that will, in turn, begin to educate our communities.”
Amazingly, the cost for the materials for the 1,100 square ft garden, including seeds for the 55 varieties of fruits and vegetables that they plan to grow, was reported at just $200.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
The name "Chicago" is the French rendering of the Miami-Illinois name shikaakwa, meaning “wild leek” or the smell of onions. The name initially applied to the river, but later came to denote the site of the city.
Welcome to our farm! It's winter here in Chicago and today gave us a lil reminder of why we put ourselves through this each year (well not me, I just moved here from California, but you get the idea). We are about to begin a transformative journey into the realm of urban gardening and we're excited for you to join us.