Blue Heron Local Cuisine

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

On Skills, Economics, and blogs that won’t let me comment October 2, 2008

(photo from Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center)

NPR* has this snazzy little radio show called The Splendid Table, hosted by the grand dame Lynne Rosetto Casper (with a voice like pork cooked with apples, topped by well-buttered biscuits).  About a year ago, she started a local food challenge blog,  which includes posts from people around the country.  I’ve been sporadically following a woman named Autumn, from my home state, West Virginia. 
On 9/11, Autumn posted a thoughtful rant about the economic past, present, and future and how that relates to food: growing, eating, preserving, buying, obesity, health, life, the universe, and everything.
In short: WV has economic and health problems, which grew out of a history of subsistence lifestyles that were rendered obsolete and not properly replaced with anything else (other than coal—a place I will not go today). This lead to a loss of skills and host of modern health issues, which can be summarized by saying that obesity is bad and prevalent. 
Her solution: Rebuild local economies based on meeting basic needs, like food, locally.  (more…)


On Definitions September 22, 2008

Filed under: Agriculture,Ethical Eating — blueheronlocal @ 3:10 pm
Tags: , ,

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.




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.