Tag Archives: slow food

A Moveable Feast

Viertel_Sept_16_truck_farm_post

This picture is from a post from The Atlantic. It is of a couple from Brooklyn, NY who converted the back of their truck into a movable garden.

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This story hits home for me after my trek up to Lansing. I almost got killed by an aggressive, large pick up truck driving maniac on route to check out the Food Ways exhibit. Me in my Prius and him in his, I am not sure the make, huge pick up truck. I could not help noticed that the bed of his four door, low gas milage, vehicle was empty.

In fact most pick up truck I see have empty beds, and are probably not really used to carry anything more then the person driving it. I say if they are only driving a truck to puff up their peacock feathers in a fashion display to impress the opposite sex, then why not at least get some good use out of it and plant a garden in back.

Canada Grocery Stores Goes Local

BuyLocal.inddA Canada grocery store breaks from its parent large chain namesake to support local food. Bound to purchase food dictated by the Sobey’s Chain, the owner could not provide locally sourced food despite growing consumer demand. On July 3, 2009, owner Dale Kropf broke from the Sobey’s chain in order to have more flexibility to provide locally sourced food.

Read the full article

From the article:
____________
Canadians are increasingly subscribing to the “buy local” and “100 mile diet” philosophies due to concerns over imported food, Kropf adds. “The pressure was always mounting — the more recalls, the more bad press from China or wherever the product was coming from. I know that in our case, our private label pickles are made in Indonesia. I couldn’t believe that.”
____________

Like the McDonald article I posted, this story speaks to a local food victory. What is different in this case is that customers demand helped create the change. In both cases, corporate policy forced owners of have to break from the franchise.

What both these stories says to me is that the local trend is not going away and food distributor are starting to take notice. And we the consumers have the ability to create change with our wallet, which will not be ignored.

The more that local food is demanded and purchased, the more grocery stores, and restaurants will provide it. And the increased demand will create an increase in local farms and food producers of all kinds.

So how can we promote change?

The quick answer in my opinion is to push your grocer to provide More Local Foods.

Why the grocer store and not the farmer’s market, a CSA, or home gardening? All these things are great and are growing and need to be supported. At the same time the main source for food distribution is still the super market, and that is where change needs to come from too.

Simply ask the manager in various departments at the grocery store:

“What local products do you offer?”

If they do not know, or they do not have any, tell them that you are committed towards buying more locally sourced food and would like them to supply it.

Also ask what local food is coming. For example, I produce manager will know about a batch of local green beans coming in, or apples, or peaches etc…

If we show a demand for local produce, and create a run on say local peaches, the produce managers will take notice and most likely order more locally sourced items. If say the locally sourced food is selling better than the imported stuff, there will be an incentive for them to get more. Of course, only if their cooperate policy allows.

I am starting to see “Local” and “Michigan” labels on food items at grocery stores like Arbor Farms, Plum and even Whole Foods. They may be more demand for local than there is suppliers which is a good thing because this pushes the market to adapt.

$2.50:Turkey and Barley Stew

Ann Arbor FoodMy usual go to grain is short grain brown rice. This is a leftover from my days when I ate a macrobiotic diet. Now that I am eating more locally, I am thinking about other grains. Barley is a grain that is grown here in Michigan, along with oats, corn and wheat. I have yet to find whole grain corn available for making pasole, but I figure it is out there.

Here is a hearty stew made from whole barley. Most barley recipes call for pearled barley which is a more refine product like brown compared to white rice. The upshot is that whole barley comes out chewy and takes much longer to cook, about an hour or more, but it has more nutrition.

I provided a vegan option for this meal. If going vegan, the addition of dried mushroom which including the mushroom tea and perhaps some miso could be use to boast flavor. The addition of chopped nuts or seeds can also be added as a garnish for a hearty vegan option.

I forgot to garb an itemized receipt so there is not a 100% official local food cost breakdown for this meal, but I am sure it fits into a $3-5 range per person.

Turkey and Barley Stew

Makes 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

1 pound of whole barley, (Hampshire Farms) $1.50

1 pound of ground turkey (can substitute you favor ground meat or sausage), Plum Market $7.00 (Meat is optional, this meal can be vegan)

3 medium size leeks, cleaned and dice, with some green parts (AA Coop) $??$3.00

2 cup of sliced mushrooms (AA Coop) $??$2.50

2 cup of medium diced carrots(Garden works) $1.00

1 quart jar of canned tomatoes with liquid (Home Garden) $1.00

1 cup of frozen peas (not local) $1.00 ???

1/4 cup of organic soy sauce (No Local) $?? 1.50

3 bay leafs

3-4 tablespoons butter (AA Coop) $.50 (Substitute olive or vegetable oil for a vegan option)

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

salt and pepper to taste

Estimated Cost:

Eight servings $2.38

Ten servings $1.90

Vegan Option: $2.50-$1.20 (depending on how fancy you get with the dried mushrooms, nuts and other additions)

Procedure:

In a large heavy bottomed, brown the turkey with the butter. Remove the turkey and add the leeks and mushrooms with a little salt. Stir and cooked them down for around ten minutes. If they start to stick, add a little water. Add the carrots, some bay leaf, the can of tomatoes, the soy sauce, the barley, and turkey. Add about 2-6 cups of water, enough to cover. Barley absorbs a ton of water, so you might need to add more depending if you want this to be more of a soup than a grain dish. Stock can me use to substitute some of the water. Stir in the smoked paprika and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about an hour, or until the barley is cooked. Thaw the peas in put into the stew during the last ten minutes.

Garnish with parsley or scallion.

Pumpkin Buttermilk Ice Cream

This is my submission to the Slow Food Huron Valley Cook Off.

Most ingredients are local. The except is the pumpkin spices and the bourbon. Now that I am studying local food, I find it interesting that the taste of fall, specifically the spices come from so far away. Spices are hard to come by on a 100 mile diet, and substitutions for tropical flavors are harder still. If you want to go completely local, you can omit the spices. I used white sugar because it was local, but feel free to use brown sugar or a combination of both white and brown sugar. For a lighter texture ice cream, use milk instead of buttermilk.

The end product is a like frozen pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Buttermilk Ice Cream

Ingredients:

2 cups of heavy cream (Calder Dairy)

2 cups of buttermilk (Calder Dairy)

1-1/2 cups of pumpkin puree from a roasted pie pumpkin or can (AA FM)

6 egg yolks (Farmers Market)

1 cup of sugar (Michigan Big Chief)

1/2 cup of Maple syrup (Michigan Maple Sugar)

2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice (mixture of powdered cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and clove)  (Not Local)

pinch of salt

1 ounce of bourbon (optional)

Procedure:

If using a fresh pie pumpkin, cut the pumpkin with a heavy knife into 2-3 inch squares. Spread onto a glass casserole pan skin side up. You might need a few pans depending on the size of the pumpkin. Bake at 375 degrees for an hour or more until the pumpkin is fully cooked and is somewhat dry. Scoop out the flesh and process through a food mill. If you do not have a food mill, use a metal strainer and push the pumpkin through with a wooded spoon. You should have 1-1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree.

In a double boiler, heat but do not boil the buttermilk and the cream, and 3/4 cups of sugar. In a bowl whisk the egg yolks until they increase in volume and turn lighter in color. Combine the rest of the sugar, maple syrup, bourbon, pumpkin spice and salt to the egg yolks.

Now the tricky part, tempering the eggs. With whisk in one hand and a ladle in the other, ladle some of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture while constantly whisking. Add more of the hot mixture until the cream and the eggs mixture combined and brought up to a warmer temperature. If you see some cooked egg in your egg mixture, it means you the tempering was a little off. Don’t worry. It means you cooked a little bit of your egg. Simply stain the egg mix before adding it to your hot cream. Combine the tempered egg mixture to the cream mixture on the stove and bring up to 170-180, but no higher. Stir in the pumpkin puree.

Freeze or refrigerate the mixture until it is cool, but not frozen. Add the mixture to you ice cream machine and process based on the manufactures instructions. Freeze ovenight, or until the ice cream firms up.

Makes 1-1 1/2 quarts.

Pinto Bean and Chicken Casserole w/corn biscuit topping: $2.13 per serving

Ann Arbor FoodThis is a great recipe for cheap eats. It uses a bunch of tricks to make an economical meal. My money saver tips are adding beans when using meat, left over stock and chicken fat to add flavor and richness, and using corn meal and/or a baked element.

This meal can also be a base for many variation. You can switch the type of beans, the kind of meat, use sausage, fish/seafood, go vegetarian, and/or add cream for richness. I use a buttermilk corn drop biscuit topping, but you can substitute an biscuit recipe you like.

Ann Arbor Food

Ann Arbor Food

Pinto Beans, Chicken and Vegetables

Pinto Beans (Hampshire Farm) 1 LB $1.50
(Can use an beans you like. Substitute two 16 oz cans of bean for 1 pound of cooked beans)

Chicken Leg, (Sparrow Kerry Town) $3. per pound 21 oz, $3.93
(Can substitute another meat, sausage, seafood, or go vegetarian)

2 1/4 cups left over stock from the other night and some chicken fat.
1/2 cup AP Flour, 5 oz (Westmill) $.62
1 onion (Eastern Market) $.50
3/4 LB carrots (Ann Arbor Farmers Market) $1
broccoli (Eastern Market) $.50
1/2, 8 oz jar of roasted red pepper, jarred at home from FM pepper $1.00
1 small jalapeno pepper (FM) $.25
Garlic (FM) $.25
1/4 stick of butter (Coop) $.25
Dry Thyme, basil and oregano from garden
Smoke Paprika(not local, but could be)
Salt

Procedure:

Soak and cook the beans. Set aside. Brown the meat and set aside. Add the butter to a large pan and saute the onions for a few minutes. Add the carrots and broccoli and cook for a few minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeno pepper, and red pepper. Add the stock and the flour and combine. Stir in the beans and meat, and add to a large casserole pan.

Corn Biscuit Topping

Corn Meal (Hampshire Farm) 5 oz $.31
Ap Flour (Westmill) 5 oz $.62
1/2 stick of cold unsalted butter $.50
3/4 cup Buttermilk (Calder Dairy) $1.50
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (not local)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda (Not Local)
pinch of salt

Procedure:

In a food processor, combine the corn and AP Flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and diced cold butter. Pulse until the mixture is combined to a crumble. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the buttermilk.

Spoon out the corn biscuit dough in blobs on top of the meat, bean, veggie casserole. In a pre-heated 350 degree oven, cook for 30-35 minutes until the mixture is bubbling and the biscuit are golden brown.

season with salt and pepper to taste and hot sauce (optional)

Total: 12.81

4 Really Large servings: $3.20

6 Big servings: $2.13

$2.95 Local Meal: Roast Chicken, Potatoes and Greens

Ann Arbor FoodI am on my local food on the cheap kick, which is part of my $3-5 (per person) Local Meal Challenge. Here is todays meal of Roasted chicken legs, potatoes from my garden and mixed greens. The real budget miracle was the potatoes. I grew 40-50 pounds of spuds from about $5 of seed potatoes, which comes to about .10 a pound and about .05 per serving.

The other part of the this meal that is not listed is the chicken bones. They are reserved to make stock.

I also add a few cups of water to the roasting pan which collects the dripping and fat from the roasted chicken on the rack.

Here is a picture of the collected pan drippings and fat. Notice the two layers. The top is the chicken fat and some butter from the brushing the chicken. I let this cool then remove the top fat layer and reserve for potatoes and bean dishes. It is kitchen gold. The tasty broth is reserved to make sauces, and add a little flavor for beans, grains, and even mac and cheese.

Ann Arbor Food

Chicken legs have extra fat and skin, which I like to cut off and roast in the toaster oven to create what I call chicken cracklings, or Kosher Cracklings. They make a great little snack with hot sauce and a squeeze of lime.

This meal was very filling. I only ate half of my chicken portion, but most in the family had a full piece.

Roasted Chicken Legs w/ potatoes and mixed greens

Roasted Chicken

4 large 10.25 ounce portion
6 good portions

1/4 stick of butter melted to brush on chicken (local butter from Peoples food co-op) .25

4 chicken legs 2.6 pounds, ($3 per pound) $7.8, Sparrows Kerry Town

salt

$1.95 per large serving
$1.30 per good serving

Oven Roasted Potatoes
4 large portions

2.2 pounds assorted potatoes from home garden .10 per pound
render chicken fat from the skin of the chicken
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (not local, but could be) .20
salt and pepper

.10 per serving

Saute Mixed Dark Leafy Greens
6 portions

Collard and Kale One large bunch of each, $4.00 (Frog Holler)
1 onion $.50 (Eastern Market)
1/4 cup of michigan white wine $1.00
salt

.90 per serving

total:

$2.95 Large Portion
$2.30 Good Portion


$3-5 Submissions

I will be posting links to submission for $3-5 local meals

Here is a submission from MK of Motherskitchen.blogspot.com

The recipe is for crock-pot collard with ham hocks , and cornbread

$2.50 Local Meal: Black Beans, Cornbread and Kale

Ann Arbor FoodHere is a cost breakdown of my local meal. I am still trying to find a local source for cooking oil, so I used olive oil. The meal came to $2.58 per serving, but cheaper local beans were available, so the meal could have cost $2.08.

Cornbread

8 servings

14 ounce corn meal $1 Ernst farm

2 cups buttermilk $2 Calder Dairy

1 cup of milk .40 Guernsey Dairy

1 1/2  sticks of butter $1.50 (local)

3 eggs $.75 Farmers Market (FM)

$ .70 per serving

Black Beans

6 servings

 

2 onions $.50 (FM_

1/2 kaboshia squash $1.50 (FM)

3 carrots $.50 (FM)

2 cloves of garlic .25 (FM)

2 pounds of black beans $6 (but have seen beans for 1.50 per pounds)

1/4 olive oil  .6 (not Local)

1/8 rice vinegar .5 (not Local)

Kosher salt and pepper

$1.55 per serving (with cheaper beans could have been $1.05)

Steamed Kale

6 servings

 

one bunch of kale, $2 Tantre Farm

pinch of brown sugar

pinch of salt

$.33 per serving

$2.58 Total per serving


Local Food on a Budget:The $3-$5 local Meal Challenge

samplebox1One of the things I hear about local food is that it is too expensive. Nay sayers of the local food movement use this argument to dismiss our efforts. So I am throwing down a challenge.

Introducing the $3.00-$5.00 local food meal deal challenge:

The idea is to create a $3-5 (per person) local meal and either send it to me to post on this site or post your submissions on your blog and I will link to your post.

Why $3.00-$5.00? That is about the cost of a fast food meal, and I figure given a little creativity and research, we can make better local meals.

Here are the rules:

Every ingredient has to be sourced locally (with the exception of spices, salt, and baking supplies like baking powder, baking soda, yeast etc)

sweeteners must be local (honey, maple, michigan beet sugar)

Try to use local Fat and veggie cooking oil (I have a hard time sourcing local cooking oil, but still account for all non-local food cost)

The meal must be balanced and include a serving of protein, a starch and vegetable.

All items and cost must be accurately recorder, and sources provided to be included in the challenge.

Items from your garden, gleaned or wild foraged count. Account the best you can for your garden veggies. For example your packet of seeds for lettuce may have costed $3 and provided 10 servings.

Check out the $3-5 Meal Challenge section for some meals. Most are actually less than $3.00, and one meal I created cost less than a $1.00.

Please send your $3-$5 meal to me for post to:

Iceland Says Goodbye to the Big Mac

Iceland’s only three McDonalds are going out of business. The reason was that they simply could not remain profitable. This was due to the global economic meltdown in which lead to a drop in the value of their currency. And the Iceland McDonald’s owner was bound to an agreement which forced him to source their ingredients from Germany. High tariffs and the drop in the Krona, Iceland’s currency, raise a Iceland Big Mac from an already expensive $5.29 to $6.36, which made it the most expansive Big Mac in the world. The profit was simply not there with the current economics in place.

The interesting part of this story for me, as a fan of local food, is that the owner of the three Mcdonalds plans to reopen the restaurant under a new name, Metro and source his food locally. This means that 90 people get to keep their jobs, local food producers get a cut, and the owner can actually make a profit. Everyone wins except McDonalds. (Read a full article on this story)

I like this story because of the “Out with McDonalds and In with Local Food” theme, but there is more here than a local food victory lap. The idea is that McDonalds bailed on a country rather than trying to source ingredients locally. They also lost economically favorable circumstances, which made their business in Iceland possible. Similar favorable circumstances like cheap oil, a drive thru culture, and subsidies to the corn and soy industries make McDonalds profitable here in the US. If they lost favor and had to compete on a level playing field with locally sourced food, they might lose out like they did in Iceland.

Local has become a buzzword in food marketing in that last couple of years, but I never hear it coming from fast food. The economies of scale of fast food makes it hard for them to source locally, and that trend does not seem to be going away anytime soon. Will we ever see a “Local Big Mac?” Probably not, but who needs it. The burger I make from grass fed beef from the farmers market on an avalon bakery bun with Michigan cheddar cheese is way better than McDonalds will ever be, and its about the same price. The rub is that without all of the subsidies, McDonalds would not even cost mush less. In fact it probably would cost more because of the transportation costs.