springtwist

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you know those decorative pumpkins? September 29, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — springtwist @ 8:37 pm

this is how it went down in my house when i was a kid:

(picking up a tiny, ordamerntal pumpkin from somewhere) ‘daddy, i want to carve this one too, can we carve it?’
‘you dont carve those ones, ky’
‘but i want to know whats inside it!’
‘its a pumpkin – there will be exactly the same inside it as there is in any other pumpkin.’
‘but i want to see! why cant we cut it open?’
‘you just dont. its too small, they’re just for decoration.’

WELL.

around here we slice open those tiny pumpkins to see whats inside. and yes, its exactly like a big pumpkin, but its so good to see for yourself, isnt it? (and for the record, ‘you just dont’ is not a good reason to not cut one open to satisfy your kids curiosity. just do it, they’ll get a kick out of it.) then we scoop out the seeds and put the pumpkin halves on a cookie sheet and roast them, as an experiment kinda (roast those seeds too, btw). it feels weird to be planning to eat a ‘decoration’.

well, turns out that they are FANTASTICALLY DELICIOUS. whadda ya’ know. made a nice soup for dinner.

 

Protected: the mountain goat, the baby seal and some applesauce

Filed under: Uncategorized — springtwist @ 6:44 pm

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gold star, industrial food system

Filed under: Uncategorized — springtwist @ 3:58 pm

reason #68 to not eat industrial food:

the CBC told me yesterday that in the states there been an alarmingly  scary case (yes, people are dying from it) of – guess what? listeria. and where is it coming from? any guesses? – cantaloupes. listeria in a melon for fucks sake. its killed 16 people so far at least, with some more deaths suspected to happen. the cantaloupes are coming from just one farm but have been shipped to multiple states, making it very difficult to track them down again.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/29/listeria-outbreak-us-cantaloupe-melons?newsfeed=true

i wonder what they are not telling us. likely theres more information known than is being shared.

on a better note, blaze had her last appointment today with her midwives and the clinic was FULL of babies today. when we walked in the receptionist and two of our midwives came over to say hello, crooning over and sweet-talking to blaze (cordelia gets lots of love there too). they see babies in there every week and they are so thrilled by every single baby who comes along, they never get tired of it. they treat every baby as if its the best thing they have ever seen. blaze gave our midwife a slow, awkward half-smile and corinne melted over her right there. blaze got a once-over, a check for her reflexes, got measured and weighed. and lets just say that shes a fattie and i’ve started to call her my baby seal, shes 10 and a half pounds – roughly half of what cordelia weighs. it must be full-fat milk this time. blazes face is completely round, shes lost her chin and shes gained little dimples on her knuckles and rolls and folds in her chunky thighs. for me, i got a pap smear, a check on my mood to watch for postpartum depression (okay for now, just wait til it snows) and we talked contraception. corinne asked if we would have another one, and told me to remember to take prenatal vitamins ahead of time if possible, but warned me on getting pregnant again within a year, “your body really needs a a break now.”  on our way out the receptionist gave us a hug and said “call me again in about a year and a half okay? you guys need a boy next time”. i think blaze is the middle child, not the last.

but right now, two babies is enough. one is sleeping, one is sitting on the floor, having a conversation with and eating raisins. the apartment is a complete catastrophe like always, but i am trying to remember that i am a fertility goddess, not a cleaning goddess. a venus of willendorf.

i saw her, actually, in vienna. shes smaller than i expected, and so beautiful and comforting to look at. maybe i would like a tattoo of her next to my stretch marks too.

 

adventure tuesday September 27, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — springtwist @ 6:28 pm

i decided that we needed a regular, ‘take the girls out and do something’ special day. adventure day. its gong to be adventure tuesday.

apple picking. cordelia has a set of molars coming in that are ruining her naps, so after it became clear that she was not going to sleep today we changed the diapers, grabbed some canvas bags, loaded babies in the car and drove 40 minutes out to a really tiny family-run organic apple picking farm. really tiny. we were the only ones there today. us and a field of pigs and some dwarf variety of cattle.

we went inside, the lady told us how it goes – fill a bag, pay $25. its something like 20lbs a bag she said. other than that, you pay by the pound for $1.50 per pound.  since these apples are to be turned into mason jars of apple sauce we went the bag route. took one bag with us, went off to scout of the orange-ribbon marked ‘pick these’ trees.

jim picked a tiny, almost golf-ball sized apple and handed it to cordelia, and she followed us up and down the row steadily demolishing this little apple and ‘helping’ by picking some leaves off a tree occasionally. i wasnt exactly that helpful either because i had blaze on my front and blaze wanted to suck her thumb and doze, not be tilted, squashed or crowded by leafy branches while i tried to reach far-away apples. i picked apples off the ground that were perfectly fine and must have just dropped off the trees within the last couple days. we filled a $25 dollar bag in no time. then we decided that if we were getting out the pressure canner for this one, we may as well go all-in and fill another bag. we took our full bag (we both think it was considerably more than 20 lbs) and traded it for an empty one. somebody called the pigs over for an apple-peel feast, jim took cordelia over to watch. apparently all the pigs lined up nicely along the fence staring at cordelia while she commented and pointed at them, and then when they realized that she wasnt going to give them her apple they wandered off and went to do their own thing, which largely was harass the cattle in the upper end of the field. we filled our other bag just as quickly. now we have WAY TOO MANY apples sitting in two huge bags taking up a lot of space on the kitchen table. we should have weighed the bags before we started slicing, but i bet its over 50 lbs.

WEDNESDAY: took the bigger piccolo to her grandparents, snuggled the smaller piccolo in her sling, and slowly sliced our way through a ridiculous amount of apples. i was in-and-out of the project while i also had my hands busy with blaze, jim stuck to it and mostly did the whole thing by himself. looking at the bags, i had estimated we would get about 4-5 jars from each bag, so maybe 8 or 9. big jars, not the half-sized ones. maybe 10 at the very most.

after cooking down the first pot (we have two pots going at the same time, each at a different stage of cooking) and filling the first two jars, jim then estimated that we would have something like 16 jars. shows how good i am at estimating something that i have no experience in. this was interesting because we only had 12 jars.

the applesauce is strong-flavoured, slightly sour. a stick of cinnamon went in with each pot, and theres some freshly ground cloves and allspice in the sauce as well. in one pot we used the last of our very ripe pears and made a pear-apple version, with nutmeg. it smells like pie in here. the sauce is ‘rustic-y’ style with little bits from the core and small chunks of skin, stringy apple bits that would have, if we were a grocery store, been strained out. its delightfully pink.

 

September 25, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — springtwist @ 12:56 pm

looks kinda, roughly, tentatively like this:

some nice friendly intro based on way too many people telling me “oh I didn’t know there was a market there!”

m5 328 b
why eat organic

macro level

Environmental reasons to eat organic – chemicals in soil, air, water, species disappearing cause of bad chemicals sprayed on pesky insects. scary DDT (everybody has heard of scary DDT, not everybody knows that its lingering and that there are still just as scary chemicals we  are still using), chemicals moving up food chain. Everybody gets cancer and asthma. The amount of money is will cost in the long-run to pay for everybodys cancer treatment, then their asthma too.

Micro level

personal health reasons is a large part of this – find some studies about pesticides fucking up your body and giving you cancer. Pesticides linger, build up in fatty tissues and hang out for years, unable to rid body of toxins.  The current ‘dirty dozen’.  The ‘high cholesterol’ in free range vrs industrial eggs. Those bugs you re spraying? They’re getting over the chemicals and building immunities.
why eat local

macro

environmental reasons for the 100-mile diet – trucks, carbon footprint, the energy used to get that pint of raspberries from california to here in about 48 hours or else they will rot. How much food a grocery store throws out? How much food is wasted in over-stocking? (heather says theres a lot of waste in a market garden too, actually.) ah – how much food is wasted after it traveled so far. Better, slightly rigged argument. Market garden food is tilled under to use as fertilizer, maybe fed to the chickens. Grocery store food goes into the dumpster.

micro

Supporting farmers, farming lifestyles,  supporting heirloom varieties of plants and animals that are going extinct – if we didnt eat them, they wouldnt exist. How many varieties of potatoes/tomatoes/apples there used to be.  where your money goes when you give it to the grocery store vrs the farmer. It goes to the farmer. End of story.

The general ‘fresher, higher nutrition’ argument.

The ‘are you on a friendly, first-name, ‘knows the name of your children and what you took in school’ terms with the grocery store clerk? Probably not.

Something you might want to touch on to bring it all together is the idea of resilience, building resilient communities, and food security in general. I realize there’s so many things you could be including and talking about, but that’s a big one that I don’t think gets incorporated into general material.
certifications and what they mean (if anything): organic, free range/free run, naturally raised, grass-fed etc – all the bullshit ones that want your money and then the ones that are actually meaningful. The “our hens are kept in state-of-the-art, weather-protected barns with the freedom to run around” and decode that to see it means nothing.
why small farms are organic but not certified (simply – its too expensive to go through that process)
markets in the GTA

info about each market: history, changes over time, vendors, what you can get, any CSA programs there. (Things to look for in each season – wild mushrooms.)

organic “pick-your-own” farms in GTA (theres two?)

restaurants that use local ingredients
info about specific restaurants: history, general feel of menu, who supplies them

delivery box programs in toronto (CSA that comes to your door instead of you needing to go get it)
butcher shops who work with local farmers
calendar of whats in season when
recipes

Toronto Farmers’ Market Manager’s Network and Farmers Market Ontario Association FMO

http://tfmn.ca/?page_id=2

http://eat-local.ca/

Vendor sales can range from $100/market for small-scale city-based vendors to several thousand per day for larger produce farms at peak season. In general, it is not considered economically viable for a farmer to come into the city for sales of less than $1,000, but many farmers have made investments in developing customer bases at small or new markets in Toronto where sales are lower, counting on longer-term success. While higher sales numbers can sound like a lot of profit, here are some things to bear in mind:

For produce farms, production costs (seeds, fertilizers and soil amendments (organic or conventional), irrigation equipment, machinery & repairs, temperature-controlled storage/washing/packing facilities, insurance, interest on farm loans, on-farm labour for cultivating, planting, weeding, harvesting, etc.) make up about 70% of the final price of produce at market.

For meat farms, sales volume is generally lower than for produce, and production costs are somewhat different, for example: a year of labour, fencing, shelter, veterinary and feed costs to raise calves to maturity, shipping and butchering costs ($45/animal plus approximately .45/lb to cut and wrap), staff to stay behind feeding animals. In the end, the total is again about 70% of the retail price at market.

So, for each $1,000 in sales, a farmer has $300 to cover all ‘going-to-market’ costs. These include:

1) Time (not including harvest, washing and packing in crates): in addition to market hours, 1.5 to two hours loading and unloading the truck on-farm, on average two hours travel at each end, plus 1.5 setup and .5 cleanup at the market, so a 4 hour market takes approximately 12 hours labour for two or more people. (Estimating the cost to the farm of having the farmer absent at peak season is harder.)

2) Gas and vehicle wear & tear: current estimates for a truck are .75-$1/km travelled, so for even the closest farms, over $100/market in travel round-trip. For farmers coming in from Niagara/Prince Edward County and other areas farther from Toronto, costs are substantially higher.

3) Equipment and supplies: tents, tables, signs, weigh scales, hand trucks, other display equipment, coolers and ice if needed, baskets, bags

4) Fees: markets charge about $25/week in table fees (or sometimes more) to each vendor to cover insurance, permit fees, some promotion, at-market equipment and manager/support staff time. Most farms also pay an extra premium on their own insurance to cover them at market.

Markets typically run for about 22 weeks, though some continue through the winter, with lower sales volume. Whatever the farmer earns at peak season must cover their expenses for much longer, and provide a buffer against crop failures; as well, for every top-notch day (eg/ peak of strawberry season) there will be slower ones, including days when inclement weather results in poor customer turnout but expenses must still be covered.

Why do they come? Farmers may work out an overall plan (participating in two markets in different parts of the city by dropping product and family/staff at one and attending the other, balancing production for a CSA (weekly box share program) with sales at markets, using direct sales as an alternative to the collapse in opportunity that occurred following mad-cow fears, combining deliveries to stores or restaurants with a trip to market…) that helps to reduce the risks and makes attending markets more viable. They also value the direct feedback, interaction and promotional value of markets. However, after calculating their expenses, it is easy to see that farmers must manage all aspects of their operations expertly to make a profit, and any trend towards higher costs would make it impossible to earn a living.

Toronto Farmers’ Market Network, August 2011

“From his post as director of food services at the University of Toronto’s St. George campus, one innovative, local-loving chef is upsetting the status quo.

Jaco Lokker, who also oversees Chestnut Residence, is in charge of feeding more than 1,000 students three (or four or five, depending on appetites) meals a day for 32 weeks of the year. Under the constraints of the student meal plan, that means putting out 13,000 plates of food a week at a cost of about $3 each. That hasn’t stopped him from converting 65 per cent of the food that passed through his kitchen last year to local fare and bringing farmers into cafeterias to trumpet it. That’s more than a million dollars’ worth of Ontario food, including all-organic Harmony milk, potatoes and Norfolk county apples.”

No more article unless I sign up with newspaper

Future of Farming in Canada:
1. How does your party’s platform address the shrinking number and growing size of farms in Canada?
2. Canada doesn’t have a national food policy. Is a National Food Policy a priority for your party?
3. Protecting farmland from development pressures has never been more important than today… what steps will your party take to both protect farmland and the ability for people to farm that land?
4. ON farmers have had to contend with free and open trade with the US without the benefit of a US-style Farm Bill for support. It leaves Ontario farmers at the mercy of the subsidized competition to the South. Does your party support either a) creating a similar Farm Bill or b) challenging the US Farm Bill at the WTO?

Climate Change:
1. It has been suggested that “real”, economically viable farms must be at least $250,000 in sales annually- yet many organic farms are more profitable with smaller gross income than that- what approaches to agriculture are supported by your party’s platform?
2. Organic agriculture provides 30-50% greater water retention in soil, reduces on-farm energy use between 20-60%, does not rely on synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. What would your party do to support greater adoption of organic farming as a climate change mitigation strategy?
3. Seeds are a big issue for agriculture. Our pride and joy internationally is Canola- bred through public research dollars. Traditional seed breeding in the face of climate change is ever more important. Today, we have no national seed bank, and our traditional breeding programs have been gutted in favour of funding trans-gene research. Do you support increasing public investment in a seed bank and in seed stock development?

Organic Regulation:
1. Canada adopted our Organic Standards in 2009- yet today we have no secure funding for maintenance and upkeep of this federal standard, nor any funding for the work of the committees that do the interpretation work. Without funding, our internationally recognized standard is at risk: what would your party do to ensure long term, stable funding for maintenance and upkeep of our hard won organic standards?
2. While we’ve had an organic standard nationally since 2009, there has been no promotional or educational campaign from the federal government to promote the logo or educate Canadians on what the logo means. Would your party invest in this promotion?

GMOs:
1. When the election was called, the Standing Committee on Agriculture was about to vote on a GE Alfalfa moratorium: what is your party’s position on a GE Alfalfa Moratorium?
2. Depending on the study, between 75 and 85% of Canadians want GMO foods labeled: what is your party’s position on GMO labeling and why?
3. Organic farming techniques are increasingly being adopted or, more rightly, returned to the broader farming landscape. Would your party support permanent funding for public research on organic agricultural techniques?

Farm and Food Infrastructure: 1. Local food is not a trend: it is a shift, says Sandy Houston of the Metcalf Foundation. Yet to have local food year round, Canada needs to heavily invest in and update our processing sector, as well as our post-harvest handling and storage infrastructure. What is your party`s policy on supporting investment in food processing?
2. Abattoirs are closing in Ontario at an alarming rate. The regulations in place favour consolidation, not diversity, in processing. Yet these regulations did not prevent the Maple Leaf deaths . Other jurisdictions have regulations for micro and small scale processing that is scale appropriate. What is your party’s position on appropriate regulations for local, sustainably produced processed food?

 

September 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — springtwist @ 3:30 pm

looks kinda, roughly, tentatively like this:

some nice friendly intro based on way too many people telling me “oh I didn’t know there was a market there!”
why eat organic

macro level

Environmental reasons to eat organic – chemicals in soil, air, water, species disappearing cause of bad chemicals sprayed on pesky insects. scary DDT (everybody has heard of scary DDT, not everybody knows that its lingering and that there are still just as scary chemicals we  are still using), chemicals moving up food chain. Everybody gets cancer and asthma. The amount of money is will cost in the long-run to pay for everybodys cancer treatment, then their asthma too.

 

Micro level

personal health reasons is a large part of this – find some studies about pesticides fucking up your body and giving you cancer. Pesticides linger, build up in fatty tissues and hang out for years, unable to rid body of toxins.  The current ‘dirty dozen’.  The ‘high cholesterol’ in free range vrs industrial eggs. Those bugs you re spraying? They’re getting over the chemicals and building immunities.
why eat local

macro

environmental reasons for the 100-mile diet – trucks, carbon footprint, the energy used to get that pint of raspberries from california to here in about 48 hours or else they will rot. How much food a grocery store throws out? How much food is wasted in over-stocking? (heather says theres a lot of waste in a market garden too, actually.) ah – how much food is wasted after it traveled so far. Better, slightly rigged argument. Market garden food is tilled under to use as fertilizer, maybe fed to the chickens. Grocery store food goes into the dumpster.

 

micro

Supporting farmers, farming lifestyles,  supporting heirloom varieties of plants and animals that are going extinct – if we didnt eat them, they wouldnt exist. How many varieties of potatoes/tomatoes/apples there used to be.  where your money goes when you give it to the grocery store vrs the farmer. It goes to the farmer. End of story.

The general ‘fresher, higher nutrition’ argument.

The ‘are you on a friendly, first-name, ‘knows the name of your children and what you took in school’ terms with the grocery store clerk? Probably not.
certifications and what they mean (if anything): organic, free range/free run, naturally raised, grass-fed etc – all the bullshit ones that want your money and then the ones that are actually meaningful. The “our hens are kept in state-of-the-art, weather-protected barns with the freedom to run around” and decode that to see it means nothing.
why small farms are organic but not certified (simply – its too expensive to go through that process)
markets in the GTA

info about each market: history, changes over time, vendors, what you can get, any CSA programs there. (Things to look for in each season – wild mushrooms.)

organic “pick-your-own” farms in GTA (theres two?)

restaurants that use local ingredients
info about specific restaurants: history, general feel of menu, who supplies them

 

delivery box programs in toronto (CSA that comes to your door instead of you needing to go get it)
butcher shops who work with local farmers
calendar of whats in season when
recipes

 

Filed under: Uncategorized — springtwist @ 2:42 pm

forgetting that its dumb to cut down trees to put on your floor, i want this in my house.

http://www.bolefloor.com/en/#p=home

i love the “allowing for more floors per forest!” bullshit – but still, very pretty. maybe they can make a fake ‘look-alike’ version.

also, susan write some encouraging words for the day.encouraging words are always nice.

http://www.fiberfarm.com/2011/09/the-kick-in-backside-you-need#comments