Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Time to get pollinating? June 26, 2013

Filed under: Food Activism,Home Economics,Politics — realfoodmama @ 9:57 am
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beekeepingAs you readers may or may not know, last week was national pollinators week. Unfortunately, the week was kickstarted by a horribly mass murder – namely, the loss of 50,000 bumble bees and assorted other pollinators. An Oregon Target parking lot was littered with corpses after thoughtless landscapers sprayed trees in bloom with toxic pesticides. This is a pretty serious blow to an already struggling group of flying insects.

As a gardener and someone who is concerned about her own food security, I am deeply troubled by the apparent disregard for the lives of these tiny foodies. I experienced low yields of tomatoes and squash last year as a result of, I think, diminished pollinator populations, and already this year I have watched my tomato plants flower only to see that several days later those same flowers have died and fallen with no fruit. It’s pretty terrifying, to be honest. All this work going into growing food plants only to have nothing happen because there are no bees.

Frankly, the obvious solution seems to be bee-keeping. I have an orchard and three gardens. I have drought tolerant flowering plants in my front yard. I already have livestock in the form of goats and chickens. Bee-keeping seems like the logical next step in my journey towards food security. The only problem is that I am “kinda” afraid of bees. With the stinging and the swarming and the flying into my face…

BUT, if we’re being completely honest here, I was also kind of afraid of chickens. With the flapping and the pecking and the crazy dinosaur eyes. I totally conquered that fear, so bees should be easy, right!? They’re so much smaller than chickens after all. And you get honey! Eventually…in theory.

In either case, I have some bee keeper friends who I will speak to about it and I am really thinking of just diving right in. Food security is reliant on our pollinators and small hives with access to organic and non-toxic food sources (such as those found in my garden!) are the best way, in my humble opinion, to stabilize the bee population. The first step in my journey I think will be to read up on beekeeping techniques and philosophies. I will share any reviews about books and how-to guides that I come across. In the meantime, Happy Eating!

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So Inspiring! August 27, 2011

Filed under: Events,Food Activism,Uncategorized — realfoodmama @ 10:04 am
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Last night I had the opportunity to listen to Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface farm and author of several books including one titled “Everything I want to do is Illegal”. He has been a long time proponent of organic, sustainable, locally grown food and is an icon of the Real Food movement. I was really excited to hear him speak and he did not disappoint. The lecture he gave last evening was focused on local food sheds and the things necessary in order to have a successful and sustainable local food system.

The things he mentioned were relatively straightforward – farmers, obviously, and then distributors, processors and consumers. He spoke of the need for local processing plants and how the lack of local butchers and canners has a huge impact on the ability of local, small farms to get their product from farm to table. The same problem arises with transporting the product. Rather than having each farmer drive in their own vehicle to the farmer’s market, he suggested a cooperative transport system.

What was so inspiring about this was that here in Santa Fe we actually have some of that infrastructure already. We have something called Santa Fe Farm to Restaurant Delivers, where a truck goes to the farms, picks up the produce and then delivers it to the restaurants here that participate in the Farm to Restaurant project. All of this is made possible by the Santa Fe Alliance. It is so wonderful to live in a place that is working to move towards a more sustainable local food system.

I was able to walk away from the lecture last night feeling not only inspired, but also hopeful and confident that the local food movement will be successful. I only hope that I can take my small backyard farm and turn it into a sustainable and healthy place to raise my animals and our food. And while not everyone can raise their own food, everyone can support local farmers and their local food shed. So Happy Eating!

 

The Urban Homestead February 21, 2011

Filed under: Animal Husbandry,Food Activism — realfoodmama @ 10:42 am
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Don’t you just love controversy?

This week in the urban homesteading community there was a fairly egregious act perpetrated on the rest of us by one family. The phrase Urban Homestead was trademarked by the Dervaes family in an effort to keep others from using the term, even though the term has been used in multiple publications prior to the trademark and is frequently used to describe what people like myself are doing. And while I consistently refer to my little operation as the urban farm, this move on the part of what I can only assume is a family more interested in fame and fortune than in the proliferation of the urban homesteading movement, has made me reconsider that.

The family has tried to deny that they are actively pursuing bloggers and other internet uses of the phrase Urban Homestead, but this post by Jamie, author of the urbanhomesteadx.com blog was sent a letter by the family informing her of the trademark and asking her to respect their “legally protected intellectual property” by ceasing use of the phrase Urban Homestead. Seriously?

I like to think that those of us interested in real food, self sustainability, urban farming, and all the glorious things that go with it such as canning and chickens, are in this together. I like to think that those of us who are doing these things are doing them in an attempt to take back our food from the corporations and the highly processed machinations of modern food production. But when one of the high profile members of this community actively works to suppress and discourage the rest of us, I can only throw up my hands with frustration and wonder if there is really any progress being made at all.

I sincerely hope that this trademark is overturned and that the Dervaes family is unable to push through any litigation against those of us who are simply trying to fight for healthy food and self sufficiency. However until then, I will proudly stand up and say I am an urban homesteader with an Urban Homestead. And you can’t do anything about it!

Happy Eating and Gardening and Homesteading!

 

Edible Institute, 2010! January 29, 2010

There is something inspiring about community.

This week Santa Fe was host to the inaugural Edible Institute – a gathering of food writers and activists from across the country who came together for discussions on a variety of issues. Topics included how to educate the public about SOLE food (Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical) without sounding preachy, specific ethical issues affecting food politics, and of course a panel discussion on the Southwestern Foodshed.

Perhaps the conversation most relevant to this blog was the panel discussion on the Southwestern Food Shed. The discussion was focused primarily on seed sovereignty and the work people have put into legislation here in the state that will protect farmer’s rights as concerns their ability to not only save their seeds, but also to be safe from biotech lawsuits in the event that GE crops cross-pollinate through no fault of the farmers.

I was fortunate enough to be able to ask a question of the panel about the GE chile mentioned in this post. Unfortunately I failed to get an answer as to whether or not the chile was in production, but I did get a long history of the chile. Apparently the research is being conduced at NMSU, located in Albuquerque, and began in 2005.

Additionally, it appears as though while originally New Mexico was breaking ground in seed sovereignty and farmer protection, this is no longer the case. A Seed Sovereignty Declaration was originally written here in New Mexico and has since been signed by not only all the major Native tribes, but also by International groups. Unfortunately the state that launched this movement is now watering down the original language thanks primarily to a million dollar donation by the biotech company in favor of continuing research on the GE chile.

Additional information on the Seed Sovereignty declaration as well as up to date information on the status of the legislation in question can be found here at the New Mexico Acequia Association web site. I highly recommend all readers in the state of New Mexico read the information contained on this site and, if inspired, contact your representative to express your concerns over GE crops, especially the chile.

And while this conversation was most relevant to me given its local flavor, the other thing of extreme interest to me was a discussion on the rights, or lack thereof, of farm workers. Particularly those workers who may be illegal immigrants and who are working for large commodity growers.

There is a lot of discussion about how disenfranchised small and medium farmers are in the current economic situation, but the rights of the workers are frequently overlooked. In fact, there have been 7 cases of farm worker mistreatment that have been successfully prosecuted under this country’s slavery laws! The most famous of which involved workers actually being chained to farm equipment.

The conversation was specifically focused on the Imokalee Tomato Workers and their struggle for rights. More information can be found on their web site here.

All in all, the experience was fabulous and I really enjoyed participating. These kinds of community events are so important – to share information, connect with others and generally feel as though the momentum of the SOLE movement is going strong.

This post has been my contribution to Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays blog carnival. Check it out for more Real Food info!

 

Genetically Engineered Chile? January 19, 2010

Filed under: Eating local,Fight Back Fridays,Food Activism,Politics — realfoodmama @ 6:39 pm
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GE or not GE?My local Co-op publishes a monthly news letter that is chock full of information on local food issues. Everything from information on state legislation to updates on the successes of local products.

This month, one of the more disturbing themes was about genetically engineered crops and the lawsuits brought against individual farmers by GE giant Monsanto.The most upsetting part of this article, however, was the disclosure that the NM state legislature has been funding the development of a genetically engineered chile since 2006. New Mexico is a huge chile producer (anyone who has seen Hatch green chile in their supermarket is buying from a town named Hatch in the southern part of the state – at least in theory), and apparently this research is being done on behalf on the NM Chile Association, web site here. Why is unclear and merits more research.

The really upsetting part of this is noted in the Co-op newsletter, that being that chiles are used so extensively in the state of NM as both food and decor that the potential for contamination is mind blowing. Chile seeds everywhere on ristras and plates all over the state…

Of course, the NM GE chile no doubt does not contain the roundup readiness of Monsanto’s famous grains, and an argument could be made that the act of creating hybrids is crucial to the evolution of agriculture – domestication of wild wheat, etc. However it still makes me nervous, and rightfully so.

In either case, it has certainly inclined me to do more research on the topic. I dislike the idea of a group such as Native Seeds SEARCH going to all the trouble of saving heirloom and historical varieties of chile just to have the state of NM undermine their own agricultural heritage by actively funding a GE crop.

This post has been my contribution to Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday‘s blog carnival.

 

Local Food Events! January 12, 2010

Filed under: Events,Food Activism — realfoodmama @ 7:51 pm
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I was pleased to discover this week that Santa Fe is host to two very exciting food related events in the next six weeks. First, Edible Communities is hosting it’s first annual Edible Institute here on January 28th!

For those of you unfamiliar with the publication, Edible Communities focuses on local, seasonal food from coast to coast. Each separate publication highlights local fare and food news. To find a publication in your area, go to this website and check out the offerings. Publications are listed alphabetically.

The Edible Institute will be a gathering of writers, eaters, and locavores coming together for a discussion on a variety of topics affecting local, sustainable agriculture.

Additionally, the Santa Fe Alliance is hosting a Local Food Growers and Buyers Expo in the beginning of February. This will be an opportunity for these two sides of sustainability to connect with one another and learn how to get locally grown sustainable foods on the tables and in the kitchens of local food businesses.

I will definitely be attending the Edible Institute and I am hoping to be able to make the Santa Fe Alliance Expo as well, although this is primarily for people in the “biz”…not sure my dairy goats really count!

In either case, it is just fabulous to be living in a place that hosts these kinds of events! Coming on the heels of the last year’s Slow Money conference, it is definitely a joy to live in the city dipherent!

Happy Eating!

This post has been my weekly contribution to Real Food Wednesday, hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

 

New Year’s resolutions? January 3, 2010

Filed under: Food Activism,Garden Fresh,Home Economics — realfoodmama @ 8:50 pm
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So we are now three days into 2010 and I have moved from holiday planning to garden planning. It is the time to start thinking about seeds and I have a list a mile long…or so it seems.

In addition to resolving to continue buying locally and eating well I am also resolved to have a more successful garden this year than last. As some of you may remember, 2009 was a year of mixed successes and failures as far as my garden went. While our tomatoes did great, our squash were a complete bust, our corn failed to mature, and we managed to kill our raspberry plants because we placed them dangerously close to the potato patch.

All in all, not a huge success!

So in an effort to combine my gardening resolutions with the aforementioned “buying local” I have decided to purchase seeds from local sources as much as possible. One of the suppliers I am most excited about is Native Seeds SEARCH (Southwestern Endangered Aridland Resource Clearing House) While they are located in Tucson, AZ (not all that close, frankly) they carry seeds that are region specific. Things like the Chimayo Chili (Chimayo is a short 24 miles NE of my home in Santa Fe) and New Mexico bolitas (a dry bean grown for centuries in the northern sections of the state).

Of course I will also be purchasing seeds from Seeds of Change, a certified organic seed company with offices in Santa Fe and farms throughout the state.

My primary goal is to start several things from seed this year that we purchased in plant form last time…mainly tomatoes. Secondary to that of course is to improve upon last year by planting earlier, paying more attention to companion planting, and generally trying to improve my food stewardship.

In addition to my excitement about our garden, I am also anticipation several significant events regarding livestock. One of my dairy goats is pregnant and is due to deliver her kid9s) in March. We also have planned on getting chickens this spring (for eggs, not meat) and will need to design and build a chicken coop before May.

In either case, 2010 promises to be an interesting year and I am hopeful that I can continue my education about all things food.