Tag Archives: Local Food Movement

Roasted Potatoes

Ann Arbor Food Potato Harvest

Long after the garden has been put to bed, there are POTATOES.

Above is a picture of some of the potatoes a grew this year, this crazy garden year. It is almost Dec and I am still enjoying my garden.

Ann Arbor Food Pan Roasted Potatoes

Ann Arbor Food Pan Roasted Potatoes

Looking at my potatoes and preparing my standard recipe pan of simple roasted, I wondered about looking into other potato recipes.

Emily asked why.

Why indeed. I can eat roasted potatoes for the rest of my life and not want for any other potato.

Here is my recipe:

1) Wash and rinse as many potatoes as you feel like. (for my that is about 5 pounds)
2) cut them into about 1 inch size pieces.
3) Place in a pan one layer deep (get as many pans as you need. I usually make two pans for leftovers)
4) drizzle some oliver oil on them
5) shake on some salt and dried thyme or rosemary or both

And bake in a 400 degree oven until they are done (45-60 minutes-ish)

Taste and add more salt if desired.

I use yukon gold and red potatoes. I grew red Pontiac and yukon gold this year.

Enjoy

 

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Local Food: Tell a Friend

I am a big fan of local food.

I picked up my Thanksgiving Turkey this year from the farm it was raised. And the pumpkin, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cranberries, eggs and corn meal in the meal were all local.

With that said, I really, really want to see the local food movement grow.

But do Local Food Eaters really want it to grow?

I have been thinking about that lately and part of me thinks NO.

The reason I say this is because I question the incentive for individual local food eaters to bring more people into the fold.

Are local food eater like myself telling friends, increasing our numbers, dragging reluctent friends to the farmers market?

A few years back, I belonged to a food club that offered raw milk. The club was kind of secretive, and I got the feeling that most in the club wanted to keep it that way.

More local food eaters means more competition for the limited supply of locally produced food.

Would the good nature local food eater (myself included) feel OK when they can’t get into a CSA, or they can’t get local eggs, or they get shut out of a community garden plot, or if there is a wait list for chicken when it once was easy to get?

Promoting local food feels like shooting ourself in the foot.

It’s like telling everyone about our favorite restaurant, which results in us never getting a table.

The incentive to not share in our good thing is strong.

But this mentality has a risk because we need more local food eaters.

Without more local food eaters, the movement is sunk because more local food eaters means more local farmers and larger/more farmers markets to meet demand, more local food restaurant, more prepped food products and more access all around for locally produced grown food.

There currently is not enough farmers market shoppers in my town to buy up the current farm production.

There are simply more food shoppers shopping some where else then from local farmers at the farmers market.

So perhaps the current group of local food folks have little to worry about, but that is my point here.

I feel that local food eaters and the movement enjoys the current size of the local food movement and I am one of them, I have to admit.

There is plenty of local food for us now, but not if our numbers grew.

Indeed local food access has grown. It is easier to eat more locally (in some areas). And without the work of local food advocates for years, the current folks like myself who enjoy access to local food would not be able to enjoy their local Thanksgiving.

But I do feel that the movement is vulnerable to stall because of an inclussive and hoarding mentality.

What I say, eventhough it may be shooting ourselves in the foot in the short run, is to tell a friend about local food. Get more folks to eat more locally.

This means dragging your friends to the farmers market until they become regulars, and then not complaining when it gets hard to get some of your local food items.

Be patient supply will grow to meet the increased demand and that is better for all of us.

Should you have a garden to support local food or just buy local food

I have been into the local food thing for a few years now.

It feels good, but I have to wonder if my efforts are making a difference or if they are largely symbolic.

Is there a better way to go about it?

My thoughts take me to my garden this year. I had a huge garden, which unlike other years produced a small yield for the space/time spent.

Most years, I grow so much that I cannot eat it all nor do I have the time to cook what I can eat. I have tried to grow foods that stores longer as a result.

But I end up giving a lot away if I can. I never plan for the excess, so my donation effort is pretty random and not very efficent.

In recent years, I find that I am growing more flowers instead of food to avoid the excess. At least the bees are happy, which is kind of a big deal too.

This year however, the hot weather destroyed my Spring crops. The grass burried my smaller crops regardless of long hours weeding. And the late start of the garden left me with no yield for my sweet potatoes.

With that said, I discovered that even extremely split cabbage still tastes good and flowering arugula tastes great too, which I had figured it to be done for. So maybe my yield was a little better then I thought.

I did not do the farmers market with my sprouts and bake goods this year, so I found myself as a shopper instead of vendor.

As a shopper, I noticed that I found that my garden competed with the market vendors. Instead of buying their produce, I had my own in my garden (sort of).

I never thought about it until this year, but did having my own garden make sense on a local food movement level?

Would both I, and the vendors (and the local food movement) be better served if I did not grow a garden, but instead bought from a local farmer instead?

I don’t have the exact numbers, but a garden can be a costly endeavor. There is the community garden rental, the cost of adding nutrition to the soil and then there are the plants and seeds, equipment/tools, plant supports (tomato cages) and fencing, not to mention the garden time.

I am not sure how much I spend in a given year, but it must be a few hundred dollars unless I found crazy good deals or started my own seedlings.

If you are willing to get your plants in late, you can find great end of seedling season deals at the farmers market.

Which again begs the questions, do farmers selling seedlings at the farmers market compete against themselves by promoting home gardens?

I figure that gardeners are the same customers who shop at the market, and they end up buying less because they bought seedlings.

I guess it ends up being a matter of timing because farmers end up having seasonal produce available before the gardener has theirs, but eventually they catch up with each other.

All of this has me second guessing my garden.

Of course, not all gardeners grow enough and many farmers market shoppers do not gardener at all.

Part of me thinks that at least on a local food movement level that I should still grow a garden, but I am starting to think about growing a high yield, low labor, low cost donation garden if I want to push local food to donate.

And that buying from a local farmer would make more sense.

Is the local food movement about growing more local food as efficently as possible and getting that food to more local mouths?

Are we simply playing a numbers game?

To a large extent, I think it is.

When I go to the farmers market, I still see tables of produce left at the end of the day.

If the local food movement is so big and growing, wouldn’t there be a run on local food with every vendor selling out?

After all only a small presentage of the food produced and consumed in any given area is local.

So it stands to reason that if the local food movement is so big given the huge amount of media dedicated to it, we would hear about fights over the last cartoon of eggs and shoving matches at farmers markets over a bunch of kale.

I could be wrong here, but it looks like the local food movement is having a hard time creating a demand for the current yield of food that is being produced let alone pushing for larger growth.

At least that is what it looks like at the farmers market.

The local food movement needs more mouths I figure reagrdless if I have a garden or not.

Ann Arbor Vegan Meetup at Zingerman’s Road House

Ann Arbor Food

Smoked Potato and Avocado Soup: Tomatillo and Avocado broth w/smoked potatoes

Today was my first day eating completely vegan. I have been looking into going Mostly Vegan for a while and when I found Ann Arbor’s vegan meetup group was hosting an all vegan meal at Zingerman’s Road House, I jumped at the chance.

The meal was great. The soup was rich and satifying. And the beans and rice were excellent, smokey and flavorful with local shiitake mushrooms.

Ann Arbor Vegan Meetup host dinners out once a month to a local restaurant.

Ann Arbor Food

Chef Alex of Zingerman’s Road House visits the Dining Room

Chef Alex came out before the meal and talk to us about the menu offerings. Many items came directly from the restaurant’s garden. You can’t beat that. I can eat like this everyday.

Alex said something that really stood out. He said that he had wanted to cook an all vegan meal for some time, but until now there was never a group large enough to do it.

Most restaurants will not go out on a lim to offer many vegan choices because the number (dinner tickets) are not there to make it worth while.

With that said, chef are a creative lot and many would jump at the chance to challenge themselves to export vegan. Showing up with 60-70 vegan dinners ready to eat might be the best strategy to get a great vegan meal from an award winning chef.

So here is what we had. (Soup or salad, choice of entree and dessert $25)

Ann Arbor Food

Pickled Watermelon Salad w/ arugula

Ann Arbor Food

Roasted Squash-Eggplant Crispy Lasagna w/ roasted tomato gravy (Entree one)

Ann Arbor Food

Quinau Pilau w/Curried Squash Slaw (Entree two)

Ann Arbor Food

Sea Island Peas and Dirty Mushroom Rice (Entree Three)

Ann Arbor Food

Chocolate Beet Cake w/Fresh Berries

Potato Update 2012

(Pictures coming soon.)

I was watering today (like everyday…where is the rain?), and I n0ticed some roque potatoes in my garden. Now this is a new garden spot, which was lawn for years before it was turned over.

The deal is that they ran out of seed potatoes at Downtown Home and Garden, so I figured I try buying organic potatoes and let them spout and plant them.

Well a few weeks go by and nothing, so being eager to use the real estate, I planted green beans in half of that space and ended up finding some seed potatoes at Colemans.

Well it turns out that I might have jumped the gun because I am seeing potatoes come up in my green bean patch, which creates an issue of how to mound up the potatoes without affect my now nicely growing beans?

And I also now have 2X the amount the potatoes growing in the other half of the potato bed.

Maybe it will work.

Real Time Farms Rock

Here is a great video of Cara Rosaen of Realtimefarms.com, a great resource to find out where our food comes from.

Underground Food

First it was secret supper clubs and now there are complete underground food festival and farmers markets.

They Gather Secretly at Night, and Then They (Shhh!) Eat, by Patricia Leigh Brown, New York Times

Underground Market: At this quasi-clandestine monthly event, a tribal gathering of young chefs, vendors and their iron-stomached followers are remaking the traditional farmers market as an indie food rave.

At midnight, the smell of stir-fried pork bellies was wafting through the Mission district. There was live music, liquor, bouncers, a disco ball — and a line waiting to sample hundreds of delicacies made mostly on location, among them bacon-wrapped mochi (a Japanese rice paste) and ice cream made from red beets, Guinness and chocolate cake.

In a sense it is civil disobedience on a paper plate.

How they work is that people sign up as members of a super club. As members they are allowed to attend “private” (public) events. The food vendors post that the food has not been inspected with language to some sort, and that allows them to sell their food to the public without the red tape.

The article says that it provides a kickstart for new chef/food business.

So could this take off in Ann Arbor?

AA is getting an outdoor food cart mall this year (Marks Carts) and the AA Farmers Market is also looking to add Wednesday nights this summer to their schedule.

And the passage of the Cottage food Law has also opened up Michigan for more small-scale food businesses.

We also boast secret supper clubs, breakfast clubs and private fundraising dinners.

And there are local food events like the Home Grown festival and street fairs.

So do we need an underground market too?

If there is enough people to support it, I say sure.

I do feel that Underground Food has a cachet, and in this economy any chance to generate some income and possibly make head way with a potential business is good. Most of these underground food markets are in larger cities where there is most likely competition to get in farmers markets and there could be a lot of fees and start-up costs.

With that said, I really would love to see more local food infrastructure to help create more above ground small food ventures.

This means more low-cost or even free commercial kitchens available to support local food product businesses and prepped food vendors.

Maybe local farmers markets or a group of markets could invest in a few food carts and rent them out to would be prepped food vendor.

I bet there would a lot of people who would like to sell prepped food at a farmers market, but do not because of the huge up front cost and commitment. Starting a small prepped food business is costly.

The LunchRoom, an upcoming Ann Arbor vegan lunch cart, successfully raise over $10K in micro donations for their Kickstarter.com campaign. $8,000 will go to their food cart alone, which is on the lower side because they are doing a lot of the building themselves.

I figure part of a local food system could include a few food carts that could be available for rent for a one day or short-term use. I picture it as a permanent fixture at a farmers market with various would be full-time or one time food vendors taking a turn to provide a variety of offerings.

It would be excited to come to a market and see what kind of prepped food was being offered at say “The Farmers Markets food cart.” One week could be pizza, another Philly cheese steak and another Indian food.