The healthy eating food story is gaining momentum around the world. People everywhere are taking a more serious look at their resources and food choices like never before.
You may remember in a past newsletter how excited I was to share one of my heroes stories. Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution television series was a big hit for me and opened the opportunity for many to use his models to bring healthy food to school lunch programs. Jaime began his current Food Revolution in the UK, then brought his ideas for change to Huntington, West Virginia in 2009. His next season was based in Los Angeles where he battles their Unified School District's food services nightmare. He continues his revolution across the world, and we're always looking forward to his dispatches.
|"Together we can change the way people eat by educating every child about food, giving families the skills and knowledge to cook again, and motivating people to stand up for their rights to better food."|
-- Jamie Oliver
Jamie declared May 19th as Food Revolution Day across the globe. Over 600 cities participated with events large and small. From private dinner parties, bluegrass festivals highlighting local farmers and cuisines, to one of my other heroes, Robyn O'Brien's Food Swap: Dump the Junk, in Boulder Colorado. Robyn's action: kids could bring in any piece of junk food and swap it for some real food offered by their local farmers and merchants. (You can find her story in the June 2011 Rawsome Creations Newsletter.)
Food Revolution Day was a great success across the nation, and this is only the first one. That's exciting ! Next year, who knows how big it will be and how much further we can spread the message that Food Matters, in so many ways. We're marking our 2013 calendar to let you know far enough in advance so you can be part of this great action next year.
Our beautiful Northern California Spring has begun to warm up; the promise of Summer is in the air . . . and the soil. We began planting our small veggie garden last weekend with tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, some leafy greens and of course peppers. If Mike has his way, we'd only be planting tomatoes and peppers. I'm seeing home made salsa in my future, lots of it!
Farmers Market season is in full swing as the soil begins warming up. It's great seeing our local farmer friends at Market, and beginning to get strawberries, Spring vegetables, and young greens that have that vibrant, alive taste of fresh-harvested produce. Even here in California, our winter-time megamart produce often comes from far away, leaving much of its taste in the ground or in a trail of diesel fumes.
I'm a beginning gardener, and this is only the fourth year for our garden. We constructed a big raised bed with full sun exposure. Unlike many Californians, we have lots of water, and enjoy timely watering . . .we're even planning a garden fountain to circulate all those good vibes.
As soon as spring hit last year, we were off to our local organic growers, Forni Brown, and their annual plant sale where we loaded up the car with plant starts. We eagerly put them in the ground and before we knew it, there was a lovely, productive garden that fed us right through the Napa Valley's long, warm Indian Summer.
|"To continue any longer as blind consumers of life, without learning to be visionary restorers of life, will likely insure an end to both opportunities --sooner than most of us would like to look at. Yet to look fully, in search of what is true, must surely be the first step."|
-- Donald A. Weaver
Ever notice how you often learn something just when you need to know it? Last year at the beginning of gardening season, I encountered a wise gardener named Don Weaver . . .but now I call him "my Dirt Guy." For a guy with such a calm and casual demeanor, he's got a pretty compelling message: if we don't put the minerals back into the soil that our veggies take out when they grow, civilization as we know it will grind to a halt! Last year, this thought made so much sense to Mike and me that we bought a bagful of Rock Dust -- the Dirt Guy's remedy -- and spread it on our garden bed. And the results were spectacular!
It makes good sense. We eat our home-grown veggies because we expect them to be bursting with the trace minerals our bodies need to stay healthy . . . the very same minerals that may be absent in mega-agricultural produce, or that may decay somewhere along the long road from the foreign soil where they're grown to my megamart's produce department. And those minerals have to come from somewhere, and one of the enduring lessons of our age is that the resource isn't infinite. If we mean to keep cropping our soil, we better keep replenishing its nutrients, right?
This year, we got our veggie starts at the plant sale and once again made it a priority to add the minerals before planting. Without Don Weaver and his passion for remineralization, we wouldn't have known about our responsibility to keep our soil full of the minerals we need to thrive. Don lives here in Northern California and travels the world sharing his passion with anyone who will listen. Taking care to 're-mineralize' our soils is crucial, and I can tell you it's also rewarding. I can't be certain that it was just our application of Rock Dust that gave us such a great garden last year -- it could have been us singing to the plants, or maybe our prayer flags in the garden, who knows -- but our veggies did amazingly well so we'll be trying all these things again this year. Wish us luck on the veggie harvest and I'll try to share pictures later in the season.
You can find a short video of Don talking about Rock Dust as a guest of my friend Kevin Gianni, along with additional resources.
For a deeper plunge into Don's work and thoughts, some classic papers on the subject are available online for free. The first, "The Survival of Civilizaton" originally written in 1982 by John Hamaker was edited and published by Don. The second, "To Love and Regenerate the Earth: Further Prospectives" was published in 2002. These are long and detailed treatments of a complex subject, but I got a lot out of reading them. I'm doing what I can, where I can, to make a difference in my food, my life. You can too.
Don is a contributor in the nonprofit "Remineralize The Earth," a group that has been sharing information and doing amazing projects worldwide based on the theory that preserving soil health is a likely key to solving the problem of global hunger. Their website www.remineralize.org also contains great resources for finding your nearest source of Rock Dust. For us Northern Californians, a good source is Eco Min, made near Salinas and available via direct shipment or individual pick-up at their location. For information and ordering call 800.414.3111. Similar products are available from many local landscape supply companies and nurseries. Don advises me that trace mineral soil additives and glacial rock dust, mixed together, are a very effective soil amendment.
The Soil and Health Library is another excellent online resource: www.soilandhealth.org. An enthusiastic tip of the Rawsome hat to Aussie Justin Crawford who maintains the resource! Isn't the Internet grand?
Last spring I set out to visit all the farmers markets within a reasonable distance of my home. Of course I began my quest by typing "farmers markets bay area" into my trusty computer. This tried and true technique has served me well on many occasions, and this was no exception. I found so many weekly markets open for the season that I had to plan scouting road trips for months. I discovered enough nearby year-round markets that we enjoyed fresh produce every week from the local farmers right through the Winter. Now that's satisfying! Many seasonal markets have just begun, and I'm off again on my annual search of obscure markets I haven't yet seen in person.
I use the "Google anything" technique to find farmers markets whenever I travel, too. Add this to your Staying healthy on the Road strategy list.
Northern California's Farmers Market monster is in San Francisco's Ferry Building at the foot (of course) of Market Street. One of my favorite discoveries this year: Hillcrest Farmers Market in San Diego. I thought it impressive even though it was raining the day I visited. Can't wait to return another time mid-season when the stalls will be bursting with fresh local produce.
The California Certified Farmers Market website is another good source for information on nearby markets. Many other states have similar tools.
It is worth noting that farmers are nearly always willing to talk crops, and are often brilliant sources for how-to tips on growing favorites under your local conditions. Their expertise is one more little bonus that you get when you seek to know the who and where of the food you eat.
While looking for alternate sources for food, look for a local CSA. Community Supported Agriculture is a growing and lively source for those lovely local veggies. Try localharvest.org to find a subscription farmer growing produce near you. Between our garden, our year round CSA weekly box, and my ongoing farmers market quest, we are awash in fresh seasonal veggies. We love it !!
We did it !! The ten-week signature drive collected nearly twice the number needed to put Label GMO on the November 6, 2012 ballot. In early May, California's Registrars of Voters offices statewide started vetting a total of 971,126 signatures. It will take them five to seven weeks to validate the signatures, then comes election season and the push to get voters to pass this initiative. We already know that the many big companies and deep-pocketed interests that count on keeping us in the dark about what they do to our food -- think pink slime, beef glue, toxic colorants and preservative -- will be outdoing themselves to mislead the public, so we have our work cut out for us. Thank YOU to everyone who signed a petition, talked it up, shared with friends and helped carry this issue forward. Amazing team work. Let's get ready to finish the job in November.
On the truth-in-labeling front, we have been handed a stunning defeat in Connecticut where, on the eve of their historic state legislature vote to require labeling of GE foods (and with 90% of the Connecticut residents in favor and a pre-vote tally indicating a bi-partisan majority of the legislature in favor of labeling) their Governor and his attorneys interfered with the legislative process and removed the key section of the bill requiring the labeling of GMO's. Here's what one (admittedly biased) reporter wrote:
The governor has yet to make a statement regarding his actions and there is of course speculation he is in cahoots with Connecticut-based biotech giant Monsanto, typically identified by honest foodies everywhere as the closest thing we have to a satanic corporation. The lame explanation being offered by Malloy's lackeys is that Connecticut did not want to place the State in jeopardy of being sued by the giants based on the outdated and unfounded concept that GMO labeling is unconstitutional as far as a merchants rights to remain silent on disclosure of such ingredients in their products. Whatever the reason, the bill was stopped as a last ditch effort as it was about to be passed in Connecticut. This could happen anywhere!
If you have any connection to Connecticut -- hey! that's cute! -- here are some contact points to let them know what you think:
If you're fired up about the Connecticut abomination and you've got friends there, have them write / email / or call the CT state legislature and tell them to put the people's interest before that of the biotech industry. Here are the places to write / call / facebook or twitter:
Phone: 860.566.4840 or 800.406.1527
I'm betting that Californians aren't afraid of this fight, but I'm still worried about what big money can do to uninformed voters. From now until early November is our chance to talk this issue up with our neighbors and friends, make sure they know enough to resist Big Money's pitch, and will be sure to vote.
I want to mention Raw on the Rawk again. Join me on Aug 10th and 11th on beautiful Salt Spring Island, British Columbia for a Raw Living Food Festival. I'll be doing demos and lectures along with panel discussions and showing my incredibly useful More than a Nut Milk Bags in the vendor marketplace. This event is sponsored by my good friends Jim and Chris of Rawsome Living Foods. This Friday and Saturday gathering will be a wonderful time to get your green on and join others in celebrating the bounty of the season. Registration is still open via the Raw on the Rawk website or facebook.com/RawontheRawk
Immediately following Raw on the Rawk I'll put on my Living Light instructor hat for a one day FUNdamentals class right there on beautiful Salt Spring Island. Join me for this jam-packed day of 17 demos highlighting the basics of the raw food lifestyle. These classes offer an outstanding opportunity to preview the Living Light curriculum, taste the food, and satisfy the pre-requisite for advanced Living Light class series offered in Ft Bragg, CA. Click here for more information and to register.
Loyal readers may remember that last year I plugged a wonderful movie, Dirt! The Movie. Seems apropos this month, with my theme of gardening and soil to point you at my February 2011 review. This timely documentary is all about all things dirt. In case you've missed a screening, it is now available on DVD and there's a short trailer online at www.dirtthemovie.org.
John Robbins is such a prolific writer! I always benefit from reading his works, and I always look for his latest when I find myself craving a new 'healthy' book to read. With my interest taking me towards the studies of our food and its relationship to longevity, I just finished reading his Healthy at 100. Published in 2007, it's getting some renewed interest now as baby bummers -- oops, boomers -- age and turn their interests not only to living longer but living with quality into their later years.
This is not a new subject as numerous books and articles have been written through the years. I found John's book to be concise, easy to read, and full of concrete evidence that our food choices, environment, quality of life and exercise do indeed affect our longevity. What surprised me: John's mention of J. I. Rodale, founder of the Rodale Institute, and Rodale's study of the Hunza people of China, one of the world's longest-lived people. Rodale was a student of the Hunza way of life and incorporated what he learned into the Rodale company. His book Healthy Hunzas is next on my list.
One other interesting relevant factoid I learned in connecting these dots: Each of these cultures re-mineralize their soil in some way. Not that they go to their local garden shop and buy rock dust, but they have found natural ways to add minerals back into the soil to nurture their crops. The Hunzas capture the melting "glacier milk" that flows in their rivers during snowmelt, and the powdered glacial rock dust deposits nurtures their fields when they irrigate. The idea of re-mineralization and healthy soils are normal aspects of healthy societies and conscious citizens, and have been for millennia.
As many of you know the Café Gratitude locations in the San Francisco Bay area have been going through some changes since the beginning of the year. The owners, Matthew and Terces, announced the closure of some cafes with others remaining open. The Berkeley and Santa Cruz locations will remain open permanently. This includes Gracias Madre, the cooked vegan mexican restaurant in San Francisco. All others in Northern California have closed already or will be closing soon.
With that sad news there is some excitement in the Café Gratitude family: Los Angeles is open and thriving, Venice Beach will open soon, and Kansas City opened May 1st, managed by my friend Andrea. Congratulations to all the new Cafés and best wishes to all the staff members who helped feed me through the years. I wish you the best as you go on to your new adventures.
I get asked again and again, "What else can I do with the Nut Milk Bag?" You can find my growing library of answers online. Another common NMB question is "What can I do with the pulp after making milk?" I hate wasting good stuff, so I'm busy in the kitchen creating recipes that answer these two important questions. My new recipe collection is nearing completion and will include over 20 recipes for everything from juices to crackers, soups and desserts. But I'm still open to your ideas -- ALWAYS!
More than a NUT MILK BAG
My plan is to highlight the use of the nut milk bags so you'll never again have to ask, What can I make now? Collaborating with my friend Chef Meagan Ricks is great fun, and we're very proud of the recipes we are developing together. The collection will be available soon to the general public, but we want to make a special offer to newsletter readers. If you agree to be recipe testers and give us feedback, we'll send you a pre-publication copy of the book for a reduced price that just covers our costs. We need your input to help us perfect the recipes and improve the book. The recipes are intentionally simple and call for easy to find ingredients. Since there's nothing worse than trying to follow a recipe and having things not work out . . . and we all know it happens time and time again . . . so we want to enlist you in finding and eliminating any final bugs we overlooked. With your help as a recipe testers, we can be sure our book is user friendly, family tested, and that all the recipes are winners for everyone. We look forward to sharing new recipes with you and hope you'll share the recipe bounty with family and friends. If you're interested in being a tester please let me know and I'll be sure you get all the information.
As always, you can get your More Than a Nut Milk Bags at numerous local stores -- more and more every month! -- or by email from the Rawsome Creations website. Our five-for-the-price-of-four package is working extremely well; we're looking forward to delivering a nice chunk of cash to our beneficiaries in Bali when we go there in November. For the latest news on that, visit my sister website, Rawsome Pilgrimages.
Kale is one of my all time favorite dark leafy greens: a member, along with broccoli and cauliflower, of the brassica family and SO packed with nutrition. I'm trying to become an expert at growing my own. Every week I have kale in my grocery or farmers market baskets . . .so why not grow my own? I'm told it's a really easy green. Kale doesn't like the heat of summer but there's a shady spot in the garden box where this year I'm giving it another go. Using it for green juices, smoothies and salads I use a lot, so I expect I'll still be picking some up at the markets. In honor of my favorite green, here's one of my "go-to" salads -- Basic Kale Salad -- versatile, easy and great anytime. Enjoy!
All this talk about dirt, gardens, and veggies is making me impatient for things to grow in the garden. Lucky for me that farmers market list is close by and the CSA box comes in two days. Oh, the joy of living where veggies are plentiful !
Seasonal farmers markets are starting to open up all over. I miss my friends -- the farmers -- and look forward to seeing them again....
Readers of this newsletter know that our biggest political goal right now is getting honesty into the labeling of our food....
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