Blue Heron Local Cuisine

Cooking, Eating, and Drinking on the North Shore (and beyond)

On Definitions September 22, 2008

Filed under: Agriculture,Ethical Eating — blueheronlocal @ 3:10 pm
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This may be my favorite semi-wordy definition of a sustainable food system.  
 
From the 2025 Vision Statement for Michigan Food and Farming
 
Sustainability as it applies to food means that societies pass on to future generations all the elements required to provide healthy food on a regular basis: healthy and diverse environments (soil, water, air, and habitats); healthy, diverse, and freely reproducing seeds, crops, and livestock; and the values, creativity, knowledge, skills, and local institutions that enable societies to adapt effectively to environmental and social changes.

 
Biodiversity, knowledge & skills, ecosystem health, strong communities, self-replication across generations, and the ability to adapt.  The inclusion of creativity is particularly rare—as our surrounding and systems change, we do need to be creative to maintain healthy systems.  Growers, cooks, bankers, lawyers, and politicians all need to be able to think within and also outside “the box” in order to adapt to new conditions.  My only complaint is that it does not explicitly include economic sustainability, although you could easily argue that the last section could include fairly valuing the work of those who work in our food system.

 

-groundcherry

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What are you drinking? August 13, 2008

Filed under: Ethical Eating — blueheronlocal @ 3:40 pm
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latte art courtesy of Atomic Cafe on Cabot Street in Beverly, MA

latte art courtesy of Atomic Cafe on Cabot Street in Beverly, Mass.

I can’t stand coffee.  Not even coffee ice cream.  The smell, on an empty stomach, makes me almost nauseous. But there are all you addicts out there, and responsible coffee drinkers have a lot of issues to consider.  Goldlentil recently asked whether buying her coffee from a local roaster was better than from her standard fair trade, organic, shade grown brand.  First, kudos to goldlentil for buying lovely shade-grown (great for biodiversity), fair trade (back to the pay-your-farmers theme), and organic (generally environmentally beneficial) coffee.  All you crazed caffeine junkies who aren’t up to her standard, work on adding in a couple of those adjectives [Ed note: shade grown, fair trade, and organic is easy to find in places like Trader Joe’s] and then you can get down to the debate on local roasting. There are three major issues to consider with “local” coffee: 1. There (mostly) must be middlemen.  2. Community self-sufficiency.  3.  Coffee is inherently a luxury. 

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Not in My Cookies! July 14, 2008

Filed under: Ethical Eating — blueheronlocal @ 3:37 pm
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(thanks, theperfectpantry.com, for the image!)

(thanks, theperfectpantry.com!)

Flour was a staple of my childhood—huge bags of whole wheat organic bread flour were almost always in the center of the kitchen. It was vital, literally the base of our diet, but also invisible because it was so available and familiar. Unlike the seasonal apples or the labor–intensive black walnuts, flour was a given that required no work and was always there. I didn’t even think about it until well into college, when I had one obsessive vegan in my life, which meant that there were fewer titillating topics at 3 am other than flour + fake butter + tofu (organic & local) + peanut butter (organic) + maple syrup (local) = ethical anti-establishment cookies.

 

What establishment? you ask. Well, to begin with, the industrial food complex, the corporitization of food, agribusiness, consolidation, vertical/horizontal integration, transnational takeovers… To most localvore types, these phrases sound dangerous, cues that our food system has moved far from the place where it was 200, 100, and even 50 years ago. Some of the structural changes have benefited society. More have not. Today I offer a superficial look at a few structural issues seen through my ethical adventures in buying flour.

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Ikerd for Secretary of Agriculture! June 25, 2008

Recent gossip around the food sphere has been littered with proposals for who should be Obama’s secretary of agriculture (oddly enough, no one seems to care about McCain…a question for another day: Do we think he’s losing or that he won’t listen to us?). My favorite is the head of the Analyzing Agriculture from Afar program at Urban University, followed by Jim Hightower, and then John Ikerd.

 

Jim Hightower is a strongly opinionated Texan who would insult lots of people and possibly get a few things done. John Ikerd, on the other hand, is a fascinating philosopher academic, with experience working at the USDA on sustainable production, who might be an effective advocate for sustainable agriculture. I’ve even heard that he is charming and likable, which makes him a more realistic candidate than Hightower.

 

John Ikerd is a strong writer with a background in agricultural economics, and accessible to non-policy wonks like us. A great many of his essays are available online. From the basics of what is sustainable agriculture to what values should underlie rural development, Ikerd’s writing is a readable and inspiring philosophical (and somewhat applicable) primer. Go. Pick one. Read it. Post a few thoughts. Or read my ramblings.

 

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