Thursday, June 28, 2012

We're Moving!

It's official. Just Saying and Adventures in Container Gardening are fully immersed in the merger and development of our new site:

Just Saying posts will now appear under Organic Matters on the new site are are but one of many fun features of the website.

Adventures in Container Gardening will be expanding - alongside the size and scale of its associated garden - to include a Kitchen that will feature a recipe database searchable by course, ingredients, season, culture and food preferences.

And that's not all! We'll be highlighting fantastic farms and vineyards in our region and posting (plenty) about our future farm. Read more and explore on the site, in our About Us section, and be sure and check out the latest posts.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Maryland True Blue

How many crab cakes can you make after an hour out on the Choptank River with a trotline, hand-bagged clam bait, a heavy-wire net, an experienced captain and a handful of regional bloggers? Not as many as you might think. In fact, probably only one or two. If that.

I think this is the message that Steve Vilnit, the Director of Fisheries Marketing for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, hopes to send home with the local chefs and bloggers that he takes on experiential adventures in Maryland Seafood - one of which I had the pleasure of participating in this weekend (read all about it in EatMoreDrinkMore's post here).

Catching and picking crabs in our region is a labor-intensive and time-consuming endeavor with costs that can't be recaptured (let alone sustained) if the majority of "Maryland Style" crab cakes are made with less-expensive crab meat imported from the Gulf of Mexico, Venezuela or the Far East (ah'hem: not sustainable). Unfortunately, many restaurants are capitalizing on the illusion of "local"crab meat without supporting the Maryland seafood industry directly.

According to Vilnit, only a small percentage of restaurants in Maryland reliably make their crab cakes from local crab meat and the state does not require restaurants to identify the source of the meat. So how do you tell the difference? Look for the True Blue label.

The new True Blue Certification Program aims to boost the use of local crab meat and the local seafood economy by certifying establishments that can verify at least 75 percent of the crab meat used annually is harvested and/or processed in the state of Maryland. Qualifying restaurants are then able to advertise their certification with the True Blue logo. A list of restaurants and retail venues selling Maryland certified crab meat can be found on the Maryland DNR's website.

If you want to purchase delicious, sustainable Maryland crab meat directly, check your local Whole Foods for Epicure Crab Meat. The authentic "Blue Crab crab meat" is harvested and processed naturally (without chemicals. additives or preservatives) by the J.M. Clayton Seafood Company, a fifth generation family operation (that just so happens to be the oldest working crab processing plant in the world ).

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Butterflies at Brookside Gardens

In case you haven't been or heard about the Wings of Fancy Exhibit at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland, allow me to suggest a visit or two be added to your summer day-cation list.

From early May through September 16th (10a.m. to 4p.m. daily) you can surround yourself with hundreds of African, Asian, Costa Rican and North American butterflies fluttering freely inside the South Conservatory.

The $6/adult $4/kids 3-12 admission fee allows entry to the exhibit all day long and includes a quick instructional on the butterfly life cycle.

Butterfly populations are decreasing due to habitat loss, pesticide use and pollution. The folks at Brookside not only offer a protected greenhouse habitat for rare and/or endangered butterfly species but also have host and nectar plants throughout the grounds and encourage visitors to build their own native butterfly habitat at home. For details on how to do so in our region, check out How to Build a Butterfly Garden and Gardening for Butterflies.

There are also tons of great picnic spots, educational gardens, signs and takeaways throughout the grounds so if you are planning a visit, this is an easy spot to spend the entire day. Be sure and bring your reusable water bottles too, since Brookside banned the sale of disposable bottled water bottles.

Brookside Gardens
South Conservatory
1500 Glenallan Avenue
Wheaton, MD 20902

Friday, June 8, 2012

Happy Birthday, Lily Goat!

Well, actually TWO Lily goats.

When the Eco-Goats were on the weed-eating job at Adkins Arboretum one year ago, one of the goats (Maggie) gave birth to triplets. Three babies can be a strain on a mom so when Arboretum Maintenance Coordinator Allison Yates told Eco-Boss, Brian Knox, she was interested in adopting one of the triplets and bottle feeding her, he was thrilled for her to be welcomed into a happy home.

Maggie's Triplets (both Lily and Lily visible), June 8th 2011

The folks at Adkins Arboretum named their new kid Lily and over the past year she has grown up alongside fellow goats, Rosie and Puffer Fish, in their goat barn near the Native Plant Nursery.

The other two kids that Maggie gave birth to that day returned to Eco-HQ. The littlest one struggled to grow as healthy as her siblings and ended up in need of a lot of special attention in the recovery suite. Because she was so little, we started calling her "Little," then "Lil" and eventually "Lily," at this point completely unaware that she her sister had been given the same name.

Larry and Lily at the Davidsonville Green Expo

Against all odds (and with a lot of love from Larry, the largest Eco-Goat who took a particular interest in looking out for little Lily), she pulled through and she and Larry have become a popular pair on the road. Had Adkins Arboretum not mentioned that it is their Lily's first birthday in an email newsletter this morning, we may never have realized this cosmic connection between siblings.

So it is with immense joy that we wish the Lily sisters and Happy First Birthday! Do you think we should we start calling them "Lily East" and "Lily West" in relation to their residences?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Blink Blink: It's Firefly Season

With so many of us busy as bees on a daily (and nightly) basis, it is easy to find ourselves overlooking the small wonders in our own backyard. Sure, we notice the unusually colorful migratory birds and chat with neighbors about the raccoon breaking into trash cans, but rarely do we stand or sit still long enough to admire how the littlest species (littlest yet visible to the naked eye, that is) communicate with one another and how we can communicate with them.

Insect interactions are incredibly complex and warrant fields and fields of study far more engaging than this little blog post can accommodate, but the call and response mating rituals between fireflies can be observed and contemplated by interested backyard bug-lovers after a few moments reading up on the topic in Carl Zimmer's 2009 New York Times article: Blink Twice If You Like Me

In the article Dr. Sara Lewis, an evolutionary ecologist at Tufts University, offers insight on the insects and a few patterns to look for when the fireflies emerge - at that perfect evening hour to coincide with winding down - and throughout their fascinating nightlife. Take a few moments to take a closer look and you may observe the following:

  • Each firefly species has its own pattern of flashes, discernible by the number of pulses (flashes) and seconds of delay in between.
  • Fireflies flashing in the air are males. The females stay down in the grass observing and looking for the flash patterns of males of their own species.
  • Female fireflies will sometimes respond with a single flash of their own, always at a precise interval after the males.

If this topic captivates you as much as it does me, you may want to check out this Tufts Now news article about the 2011 findings in Correlated Evolution of Female Neoteny and Flightlessness with Male Spermatophore Production in Fireflies (Coleopetera: Lampyridae) and start practicing the double blink of the male Photinus greeni on your penlight.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Potomac Snakehead Tournament: This Weekend

In previous posts, Invasivore > Vegetarian and Eating Invasives, we've discussed the many benefits of eating invasive species and are thrilled to see that the trend is catching on. A group of local outdoorsmen will be gathering for a large-scale (pun intended) snakehead fishing tournament this weekend.

Beginning at 5:00pm on Saturday June 2nd, teams of anglers and bow-fisherman are gathering for talks about the species then setting out to remove as many invasive snakehead fish from portions of the Potomac as possible within the 18.5 fishing hours of the Second Annual Potomac Snakehead Tournament. The teams will fish/hunt through the night and weigh in their fish at 1:00pm on Sunday where the team with the most snakehead meat, and individual with the largest single fish, will be awarded cash prizes.

For those of you who - like me - may not be entering the contest but are interested in the mission, you may want to plan your trip to the tournament location, Smallwood State Park, around the guest speakers and the "Invasive Species Tasting" prepared by Alewife Baltimore's Executive Chef Chad Wells who has pioneered the mission to get invasives on Baltimore menus. See you there!

June 2, 2012: 5:00 p.m. Pre-Tournament Conference

Speakers -  Joseph W. Love, Ph.D. Tidal Bass Manager, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Joshua J. Newhard, Fisheries Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

June 3, 2012: 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Invasive Species Tasting and Flying Dog Beer Sampling - Snakehead Tasting (Prepared by Chad Wells, Executive Chef, Alewife, Baltimore, MD); Blue Catfish Tasting (Provided by ProFish prepared by the Whackfactor Outdoors Pro-Staff); Flying Dog Beer Sampling (Ben Savage, VP Marketing and Brand Development, Flying Dog Brewery, will share some amazing beers)
2:45 p.m. Closing Remarks From: Steve Vilnit, Fisheries Marketing Director, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Find the full schedule of events here

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

ReFRESHing News for Farmers Markets and Shoppers

This morning, Tim Carman for the The Washington Post reported great news from a new W.K. Kellogg Foundation Survey: Three quarters of Americans say they would support a national program that would double Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as SNAP or Food Stamp) benefits at farmers markets. And that's not all!

  • 70 percent of respondents said they have purchased fresh produce from a farmers market or stand in the past year 
  • 68 percent of those surveyed say they eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables than they did five years ago
  • 63 percent of respondents say they know a lot or a little about where their fresh fruits and vegetables come from.
  • 89 percent say their source for fresh fruits and vegetables is within walking distance or is a short drive away.
  • 45 percent say they acquired fresh fruits and/or vegetables from their own garden within the past year.
  • 93 percent say they think it’s “very important” or “somewhat important” to “make sure all Americans have equal access to fresh fruits and vegetables.”
  • 64 percent say it’s “very important” that produce be grown in an “environmentally friendly way.
  • 64 percent say it’s “very important” or “somewhat important” that produce be organic.
  • 83 percent of those surveyed strongly or partly agree that “Washington, D.C., should shift its support more toward smaller, local fruit and vegetable farmers and away from large farm businesses." 

Check out what is going on in Maryland with regards to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and USDA here and here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Eco-Goats Back on the Road

In this photo, one of the Eco-Goats, Little Richard, is chowing down on problem vegetation in a Woodland Conservation Bank in Prince Georges County, just outside of Upper Marlboro. The weed pictured, Mile-A-Minute (Persicaria perfoliata, previously Polygonum perfoliatum) is also being eaten by tiny weevils (Rhinoncomimus latipes) because the folks at Straughan Environmental are seriously awesome. Talk about Integrated Pest Management!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day, Mother Earth!

Just a quick shout-out to the mother who makes it all possible: Mother Earth! The miracles of nature are the truest gifts. Every flower and fruit that blooms in the "native soil" at the Public Health Garden is an example of a miracle to those of us involved in cultivating and improving that piece of land. Check out the all the beauty that has bloomed there on our Flickr stream.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Secret Life of Peas

Check it out! The common pea is capable of processing, remembering and sharing information with its neighbors. Michael Marder, for the New York Times Opinionater, reports:

"...a team of scientists from the Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University in Israel published the results of its peer-reviewed research, revealing that a pea plant subjected to drought conditions communicated its stress to other such plants, with which it shared its soil. In other words, through the roots, it relayed to its neighbors the biochemical message about the onset of drought, prompting them to react as though they, too, were in a similar predicament."

Any scientists/geneticists out there know if these findings have anything to do with how or why Mendel was able to study and and demonstrate inheritance through peas? Were those peas co-evolving with us and telling each other that being relevant in modern scientific experiments would foster future generations of intelligent peas that could one day outsmart their human predators? Nah... probably not... but it certainly doesn't surprise me that they grow and work together. 

Read Marder's full article "If Peas Can Talk, Should We Eat Them?" examining the ethics of eating such intelligent life forms here

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Maryland Day: Saturday April 28th

Visit the Public Health Garden on Maryland Day 2012 to check out all the amazing progress we've made in a single year (and all the other exciting, free, educational, agricultural, conservationist, delicious, etc - things happening on campus). We hope you will still be able to stop by and celebrate the success of this project with us!

The university has a great Plan Your Day feature on the Maryland Day website that you can visit in order to narrow down which activities you don't want to miss and print out your own itinerary. The Public Health Garden is listed under the football icon "Sports and Rec Row."

Parking is free anywhere on campus all day and events run from 10:00am - 4:00pm. And remember, the earlier you come, the better chance you have at snagging one of our plant giveaways :-)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Countdown to the weekend...

Itching to start the weekend on this B-E-A-UTIFUL Friday afternoon but stuck at your desk? Good news! There are lots of colorful new pictures of goats, gardens and greenhouse happenings up on the flickr stream. Check them out and get excited about spring plantings this weekend!

Happy Earth Day!

Hope everyone is having a beautiful Earth Week and has something enviro-friendly planned for the weekend to celebrate Earth Day. In case not, here are some local happenings:

The Science Center's Earth Day celebration on Saturday: There will be container-garden making with Baltimore Contained, herb cooking with Carrie Murray Nature Center, experiments with the American Chemical Society and plenty more eco-awesomeness with local green groups.More info can be found on the Science Center's site here:

Severna Park Earth Day on Saturday: Where the Eco-Goats will be!

Localize It: Baltimore Free Farm Block Party on Sunday: The second annual block party celebrating the value of local artists, musicians, food and social movements at its flagship project, the Ash Street Garden in Hampden. The event will include local craft and food vendors, street performers, live music and family activities. The block party's special attraction is ChiliBrew V, a home-brew competition and chili cook-off organized by BaltiBrew. More info can be found on their website

If you aren't local, check out the Earth Day Network for information about events near you!

Midday on the Bay: Natives, Invasives and Overall Health

In case you missed it, here is the link (Thursday April 19th) to hear my fave Chef Chad Wells talk about the invasive snakehead fish on Midday on the Bay. "If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em!"

Rona Kobell, from the Bay Journal, was on the show as well and shared some great news: There are 66% more blue crabs (764 million) in the bay since last year and the best year since 1993 which reveals that the restrictions made in 2008 were successful! As far as the report card grade, well... we can't control major weather events. Sigh.

Lots of very interesting conversation about bay health and how policies and threshold limits have helped maintain and improve that health. Some big things coming up surrounding menhaden protection too.

If you are interested in helping to maintain health by invasive snakehead eradication, support Chef Chad at Alewife Baltimore and consider getting a team together for the Potomac Snakehead Tournament this June.

Do you think Omega Protein the Monsanto of the waterways?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Chesapeake Bay Week on MPT

Did you know that the Chesapeake Bay estuary, the largest in the United States, was created by a meteor impact? Can you identify which aquatic life is native, invasive, protected and depleted? Want to know how you and your community contribute to the well-being of the Bay? Lucky for you, this week is Chesapeake Bay Week on Maryland Public Television! Programming throughout April 15-22 2012 will be highlighting some hot topics around the watershed  including several brand new programs:

  • Menhaden: The Most Important Fish in the Bay - Exploration of how the harvesting of Menhaden from the Chesapeake Bay is affecting its water quality (Monday April 16th 10:00pm, Tuesday April 17th 2:00am)
  • The Maryland Harvest: A Guide to Seasonal Eating - The food-to-table movement in Maryland and its impact on Maryland restaurants, chefs, farmers and consumers (Tuesday April 19th 9:00pm, Wednesday April 18th 2:00am)
  • Restoring the Bay: New Solutions for Old Problems - Riverkeeper Fred Kelley faces challenges to help clean up the Severn River (Tuesday April 19th 10:30pm, Wednesday April 18th 3:30am)

These are just a few of the new and returning programs so be sure and check the website for the full programming lineup and set those DVRs! The week wraps up with a live music broadcast in affiliation with all the amazing folks at WTMD 89.7 too. More info on the Concert for the Chesapeake Bay here. Want more facts? Visit: Chesapeake Bay Journal..

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Maryland Arbor Day Festivities: Wednesday 4/4/2012

The University of Maryland's annual Arbor Day observance is an integral part of UMCP's Tree Campus USA participation. The University of Maryland will celebrate tomorrow, April 4th, from 11;30am-noon with a ceremonial tree planting at Rossborough Inn. The ceremony features campus representatives including Dr. Loh and remarks about Arbor Day and the campus arboretum.

While you are there, take a look at the rejuvenated Rossborough Inn landscape planted through a service project with the local and student chapters of the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS).

For more fun factoids about trees, check out the Urban Tree Benefits post from last year. Also, be sure and cast your vote for the University of Maryland in the Arbor Day Now tree grant contest.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Honoring Farmworkers: A Celebration of Cesar Chavez

The Accokeek Foundation, Rural Coalition, and Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission co-present the 2012 Food Justice Series. The Series kicks off this Thursday, March 29th, at 6:00pm at Cesar Chavez Prep with "Honoring Farmworkers: A Celebration of Cesar Chavez," which includes a brief film screening and discussion with members of the Chavez Family.

This four-part presentation of the Robert Ware Straus Lecture Series brings together farmers, policy advocates, community leaders, faith- and government-based initiatives focusing on building local, equitable and sustainable food systems. Topics include a celebration of the legacy of Cesar Chavez, farmworker justice, food access in Southern Maryland, and young and beginning farmers as well as a look at our diverse ancestral farming in this region.

Oysterstock 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Environmental Film Festival in DC

180 Documentary, narrative, animated, archival, experimental, and children's films selected to provide fresh perspectives on environmental issues facing our planet. This year, the festival selections examine the critical relationship between health and the environment with 75 film makers, 115 special guests, and extraordinary cinematic work from 42 countries. Download the full schedule here. Don't you wish you could see them all?!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Still a Fast-Food Nation

Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation and incredible inspiration to folks in and interested in the movement towards a functional food system, published the afterward to his book on the Daily Beast yesterday.

In the afterward/article, Schlosser shares some saddening news about prevailing fast-food advertising and sales and still-rising obesity rates. While pleased that his book remains in print ten years later, he points out that the atrocities within its pages are unfortunately not yet out-of-date as he'd hoped they would be. Thankfully, Schlosser is inspired and optimistic about the powerful food revolutionaries working hard to change the food industry into something that wouldn't sadden Upton Sinclair. Read the full article here.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Happy Friday!

Please enjoy this adorable little Eco-Goat: Napoleon. Find more videos of Sir Cuteness (and his friends, family and roommates) on my YouTube channel.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Is Ice Cream Addictive?

Obviously! But just in case your personal research and case studies of friends and family (namely, yours truly) did not reveal enough evidence of the addictive properties of ice cream, a study performed by the Oregon Research Institute has confirmed it. Well, sort of. They confirmed the following:

  • Teenagers like milkshakes.
  • Study participants who ate ice cream the week before the study were less excited about eating ice cream during the study. Researchers associated this with increased cravings yet less derived pleasure associated with repeated drug use.
  • The more ice cream you eat, the more ice cream you need to get an ice cream buzz.
  • It is unlikely that a person would develop a "full-blown addiction" to ice cream but the addictive properties could lead to overeating and weight gain.

While it was my initial intent to poke fun at this study, I have to admit that I not only crave ice cream - I succumb to those cravings very often. Why? Because I love everything about ice cream! Who doesn't?! I've never come across someone eating ice cream who isn't happy. I don't drink or smoke, I exercise regularly, I eat more vegetables than my garden can grow, but the hard-to-put-in-writing truth is that I have been known to consider a bowl of ice cream a great way to start my day. 

However, in response to this study I have decided to give up ice cream for the remainder of the month of March in hopes to determine whether or not I am addicted. I will tweet cravings/confessions as I have them and report back on the topic come April. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Is this soda serious?

Last week, I caught a few minutes of a news program dedicated to a Coca Cola machine that allows you mix your own flavor through the use of a touch screen (rather than the teenage tradition of just moving your cup around under each fountain nozzle). I thought the machine, called the Coca Cola Freestyle, was brand new but apparently it has been serving up empty calories and cavities since 2009.

Not to be outdone, Pepsi has kept up in the flavor game by offering their own array of unusual flavors that are sure to turn your stomach:

Ice cream flavored Pepsi is available in Russia. White yogurt flavored Pepsi is available in Japan. I can't believe people are really drinking this stuff. (See more here)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Green Matters: Urban Farming Pioneers

"The essence of the pioneering decision is: Those who choose to change their paradigms early do it not as an act of the head but as an act of the heart."
- Arthur Baker

This Friday, February 24th 2012, Brookside Gardens is hosting their third and final food-focused symposium titled: Green Matters: Urban Farming Pioneers. The all-day event will highlight innovative approaches to feeding the world's population and feature the following speakers:

For more information and to register for the conference, visit the Brookside Gardens: Green Matters website.

Super-Sized Snakeheads

Check out the size of these invasive snakehead fish brought in from the Potomac Watershed by a ProFish Blue Cat Fisherman. Alewife Executive Chef Chad Wells (pictures) says these are the biggest he has seen and reminds us that there is nothing in the Potomac that can compete with these creatures:

"I've seen thousands, caught and cooked hundreds. This was the scariest batch I have seen. One of these weighed over 12 pounds after it had been gutted - so it was probably over a 16 pound fish. It scares me when I see size like this on these fish. It goes to show how fast they grow. There is nothing native to the Potomac that can compete with fish like this. Even scarier? They are only going to get bigger and more abundant."


Cecil County Couple Challenges Zoning Law for Pet Goat

An interesting article was published in The Baltimore Sun this morning regarding a goat turned pet in Cecil County, MD. The Balunsat couple purchased Snowbird for several hundred dollars through a newspaper advertisement and have raised her alongside several other animals since she was just a kid.

Snowbird, who lives in a home with less land than zoning laws require for animal husbandry, was not the original complaint. A rooster was - and the family already got rid of it (seemingly without objections). Neither the law or the family involved are concerned with whether or not the goat (or chickens, dogs, etc) qualify or act as working animals - or about the natural needs/purposes of/for the animal in question. 

The idea of farm animals in urban areas has been a hot topic lately as many urban and suburban neighborhoods are circulating petitions to allow residents to keep chickens for the purpose of fresh laid eggs. University of Maryland Extension sheep and goat expert, Susan Schoenian, points out the separation human beings have had from farm animals and processes and that there is a growing movement back towards that connection. 

But this particular case does not appear to be affiliated with the growing "backyard farmer" movement - which begs the question: What is it that draws human beings to animals? Is it for food? Survival? Companionship? Or a need to nurture? 

To keep up with Snowbird's story,
'like' her Facebook page.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Purple Squirrel

What's better than waking up to find a baby seal has entered your house and snuggled up for a nap on your couch? Not much. But if you happen to love squirrels and have an affinity for all things purple (because it is your niece's favorite color), hearing about a bright-colored, bushy-tailed little fella like this is a pretty nice way to start the day.

Connie Emert, of Jersey Shore, Pa., spotted the purple squirrel dining on bird seed a few times before her husband Percy trapped it on Sunday. Experts at have speculated that the squirrel may have fallen into "some purple ink of purple paint at some point." I suspect the squirrel is nature made because nature is just that awesome. 

Read the full story and listen to the news report here

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Atlantic Sturgeon Officially Endangered

Although fishing for the Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhychus) has been banned for a decade, the federal government formally acted on a petition from the National Resource Defense Council and declared the prehistoric-looking fish endangered last Tuesday, January 31, 2012.

The fish have been scooped up in commercial gill nets harvesting other species along the East coast and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries service is hoping to decision will reduce that bycatch. Each year, a few dozen Atlantic sturgeon have shown up in Chesapeake Bay fishermen's nets. So if you catch one by mistake,just toss it right back in.

Read more here and here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Food = Art

I've been a fan of Baltimore's own Chef Chad Wells, Executive Chef at Alewife, since I heard he was sauteing snakeheads in an attempt to eradicate the invasive fish and working with the Department of Natural Resources to promote menu items centered around local seafood species. Turns out his sustainable initiatives aren't limited to the sea.

Earlier this month, Chef Wells teamed up with Joe Squared at Power Plant Live to host a "Campfire Dinner" in conjunction with the new monthly event promoting local talent called Food = Art. The inspiration for January's event was to take people camping by using food you can kill yourself - all cooked in a way that can be duplicated deep in the woods - with limited local ingredients, cast iron pans, smoke and fire. And boy did they pull it off!

The constant-campfire vibe of the event, which included an all-evening performance of folky, old-timey, American awesomeness from The Manly Deeds, was authenticated with each family-style entree arriving in foil and with a single utensil per diner - a fork. If that weren't enough, several people at our table were involved with the meal on a personal level. Mike Naylor, the DNR's Chief of Shellfish Programs, foraged the morels that accompanied the trout dish. Austin Murphy, Pro-Staffer for Whackfactor Outdoors, "harvested" the main ingredient in the venison stew in Flint Hill, Virginia.

So in case you haven't heard: wild game dinners are the new black. Here is the full menu for those of you anxious to recreate the deliciousness with your own circle of hunter-gatherers:

Hot Mulled Cider, Honey Comb Infused Bourbon

Hickory Smoked Trout, Pan Fried Wild Morels, Roasted Beets

Wild Duck Cast Iron Mac and Cheese, Two-year aged Grafton Cheddar, Grana Padano, Duck Confit

Fire Roasted Quail, Sweet Potato, Chorizo and Granny Smith Apple Stuffing, Smoked Pork Belly BBQ Baked Beans

Venison Stew, Dutch Oven Chipotle Corn Bread

Smore Dessert, Graham Cracker, Dark Chocolate, Marshmallow, Candied Bacon

To keep up with Food = Art events, 'like' them on Facebook. Most photos displayed in this post, with the exception of a few, are from the artistic view of Sean Scheidt See more of his images from the event here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

State of Our Earth: Eco Conference @ American Visionary Art Museum

In conjunction with the current exhibit ALL THINGS ROUND: Galaxies, Eyeballs & Karma, the American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore is hosting an all-day, FREE Eco Conference this Sunday, January 22nd starting at 10:00am. Speakers include:

  • Ecologist, author of Living Downstream, and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber
  • Marine toxicologist, Dr. Susan B. Shaw
  • Epidemiologist, Shira Kramer 
  • CEO of the National Aquarium, John C. Racanelli
  • Award-winning photo-journalist, Antrim Caskey
  • Founder & Director of the U.S. Climate and Emergency Council, Mike Tidwell 

There will be a 7:00pm screening of "What on Earth?" as well. Check out the conference details and schedule here.

Decline in U.S. Meat Consumption

After 70 years of steady incline, American meat consumption is on the decline. Considering we account for less than one twentieth of the world population yet have been responsible for one sixth of the world meat consumption (and therefore accompanying environmental implications), I think it is safe to say this is pretty good news.

Last week, Mark Bittman wrote a great piece about the swirl of discussions aiming to pinpoint reasons for the decline including: Growing exports making less meat available to Americans, ethanol and the rising cost of feed, federal government "waging war" on meat consumption, and the most optimistic reason (that I'm rooting for) conscious consumer decisions.

This week, Brent Kim put together an incredibly informative and thoughtful blog post about the USDA estimates that says everything I would say and more so I highly recommend reading heading over to the Center for a Livable Future blog and spending some time with his post (find it here).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Disappointed in Paula Deen?

Me too.

In case you haven't heard, Paula Deen, Food Network star and Southern cook, has now confirmed reports that she was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes nearly three years ago. I have to admit that I know very little about Paula Deen apart from the fact that she has been criticized for promoting the type of high-fat and high-sugar diet that leads to weight gain and other 'western diseases' and that she chose to keep her diagnosis a secret for years. What I do know is that during her appearance on the Today Show yesterday, she announced her spokesman-ship deal with Victoza, a pharmaceutical company and dodged discussion about diet. Here's the footage:

Her announcement happened to correspond with Michael Pollan's talk last night at the Baltimore Speaker Series in which he addressed Paula Deen's decision to partner with the Victoza. He pointed out the larger "fork in the road" this exemplifies. We could go one direction towards a nation of acceptance and complacency regarding the epidemic of diet-related health problems (Deen's direction), or another - more active and change-effecting direction - towards reformation of the food system, our understanding of it, roles within, and conscious involvement in its evolution towards something healthier.

Can you imagine the positive impact Paula Deen could have on the American diet if she were to re-frame this?  As disappointed as I am, I'm not going to give up hope. Turn it around, Paula. Sacrifice a little pride for the greater good of your fans and followers.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The New Face of Farming

This recording of Holistic Rancher Colin Boggess and Bev Eggleston of EcoFriendly Farms - addressing the American Farm System in a fun and informative way - is one of countless amazing thing to emerge from Future Harvest 2012 Conference.

Love it. Share it. Say it: "brand new playas in a brand new game!"

Goats vs Tortoises?

When talking goats here in Maryland, I like to point folks towards my favorite herd, the Eco-Goats, who are fighting the good fight against invasive plant species (and helping out the state's endangered turtle). But as you all are aware, not all eco-systems are created equal and what may benefit one place could be detrimental to another. No where is this truth more visible today than on the Galapagos Islands of Espanola. There, a population of hundreds of thousands of tortoises (Geochelone hoodensis) has decreased to a few thousand as the population of goats, introduced to the islands by humans, increased exponentially.

So what did scientists decide to do to save the population of tortoises to extinction? A pretty brutal goat eradication program that I'd rather not paraphrase. Read all about it here. The good news is: their efforts, that have been going on unbeknownst to me since the 1970s, appear to have been successful and the turtle population is going to be a-okay. The bad news is: their war on goats has been going on unbeknownst to me since the 1970s.

All kidding aside, it sounds like a success story. One eco-systems' trash is a blogger in Maryland's treasure.

In The Meantime

Dear Readers,

It came to my attention last night that we may have lost some of you during these last two months of heavy future harvest and herd planning so I've decided to continue to post to Just Saying while the new site is under construction. Please forgive us and add us back to your reading list!

Lots of new posts will be up this week but in the meantime, perhaps the greenest and awesomest thing you guys and gals can be doing this month is start researching and supporting your local farmers by purchasing your 2012 share in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Here are a few resources about CSAs:

Thank you for your patience,
Deborah Lakowicz-Dramby
Founder and Editor-in-Chief 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Site is Under Construction

After a rewarding year building the Public Health Garden alongside fellow sustainability steward and founder of Adventures in Container Gardening (and Local Eating), Allison Lilly, it is an honor to announce that our official blog merge is underway and coming soon.

As we iron out the details of the site, one thing is certain: it is going to be an awesome one-stop-shop for thinking globally, acting locally, growing, cooking, eating and learning about Maryland's food and farming foresight and initiatives.

While we are busy brainstorming and building, we encourage interested bloggers, developers and content creators to email us resumes and work samples.