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.