California farmer communities have some of the richest and most diverse soils in the US and the World, but I beg to ask, why are these Californian’s subjected to so much malnutrition and cultural problems? I have a story here from NPR that could, if heard, wake America up! This takes place in Central California and may hit home because when we think of some of the most nutrient rich farms in the world and the picture esque hills that they sit on, we expect that the people around these farms are celebratory over their land, when in actuality they cannot even afford their own crops, the closest grocery store is thirty-five miles away from home and there is an ordinance that prohibits farm-stands and farmers markets due to industry in the area.

Due to not being able to upgrade my account so that I could provide the audio story, I have a link that will link you to the NPR website to hear the audio: Central Valley Disconnect: Rich Land, Poor Nutrition

Thanks to the Kitchen Sisters, I have become aware to some of the most disturbing and backwards stories I have ever heard. There is little that has been done in these types of areas. One of the most loud problems that really woke me up was the fact that “[they] produce more meth and more milk than any region in the country” (Arax). So much for the scenic farms that we imagine in the US’s most fertile areas…

The farmers are also hurt by California’s agriculture industry because traditions are being lost and small to medium farms are being forced to shut down due to the ever growing factory farm industry which their motto should be “faster, stronger, ‘better.'” It sucks to see such a community just fail… When I was living in San Diego, I was trying to be part of the “food revolution” and  I got to meet many farmers, go to many farmers markets and farms, and got to talk to some of the worlds nicest people. During my three months with this group I went to a protest against Monsanto, learn a lot about gardening, farming, and community, and also sat threw many lectures. But shortly after I moved to New York I saw the failure of one of my favorite farms in Escondido, La Milpa, that grew some of the most fantastic produce I have ever tasted. In search to find this same kind of emotion that I had on the day that I found out that La Milpa closed, I found an audio article, again from NPR, talking about a dairy farm that was forced to close due to there being an oversupply of milk and the prices of milk are so cheap that he just simply could not stay in business…

Cows on Joe’s Point Reyes, CA dairy farm

Are Dairy Farmers A Dying Breed?

As a message to all the farmers out there, just remember there are people out there who care and during an industry crisis such as this, and I personally want to thank you for your hard work, passion, and drive to keep tradition, culture, and nutrition in check with our modern day world.

Robbie

 

 

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Okay, so today I was doing some homework for a class called a food news journal where we peruse all the recent articles in the food sections from across America. I came across something that really just caught my attention. Lately I have been trying to re-think my ideas on sustainability because there are so many different considerations that one must take, to get a good idea that is good for economy, health, and small and medium sized farms. Now, I am not anyone who any extremist would like to listen to because I am a realist, idealist, and I like to mediate between extremes. I’ve met farmers, talked to tons of business owners/ restaurant owners/ chefs, and I’ve had plenty of time in my life to reflect on sustainability. I believe that I have good reason to believe what I believe and trust me, I will have people trying to argue with me that Walmart is part of the end of the world, when it is just a business that is trying to do something socially responsible for the first time since it opened.

First, I would like the readers to read this link to the Financial Article about Wal-Mart and it’s goals to go sustainable:

Yahoo! Finance News Article: Wal-Mart Unveils Global Sustainable Agriculture Goals

Second, I would like you to consider my point on this issue: My feelings are very mixed on the issue. I support Wal-Mart because they are starting to show initiative of social responsibility, but I find that others would disagree because they would say that Wal-Mart has done nothing except screw other people in the past. On the other hand they are doing what people are asking them to do and so far, I do not have a problem with it.

Now, read my point of view from my journal:

Walmart Unveils Global Sustainable Agriculture Goals

This article is about Wal-Mart following the sustainable agriculture trend. These goals are to support farmers and their communities, produce more food with fewer resources and less waste, and sustainably source key agriculture products. This initiative seems to be about the health of people, their local economies, and help small and medium-sized farms succeed and hopefully be treated fairly by fair prices and treatment.

This is a Win-win-win situation for all the communities, farmers, and Wal-Mart because everybody is impacted for the better and Wal-Mart is creative enough to realize that they are in a position where they are able to help fund a movement into a new age of food “localism”. This is a great example of being socially responsible on a national scale, which is also is hopeful to be so on a world-wide scale in the future.

This article may help me in my future career, but it may not. As we know articles have different meanings and biases and this is more leaned toward economy, but also has great potential to help millions of people out with local fresh food. Is what I am questioning is who has defined what sustainable and local is. Nobody has come to me and said local and sustainable is defined as… but all I seem to get is that “we are still learning about local and sustainable”. I am starting to see this problem as we are world is growing in population and we need to feed that many more mouths while still keeping in mind the health of our world, bodies, and economies. There is no way that one community with a lot of people can support it’s own, but a farm community with few people can support several of it’s surrounding communities. This is where mediation comes into play because Wal-Mart is dividing it’s regions into parts of a country and sourcing these regions and still bringing them to the rest of the US offering variety at their usual low price, this is a lot different from only buying within 100 miles of a place. I also want to bring up the fact that if you look at our ancient history all they had was local and if the weather was bad in that area and the food could not be grown, I read that the people of Mexico had to resort to eating algae and tree bark. This should give you something to consider if you are only eating organic, local, and “sustainable” because I know just about all Americans will not try to survive on algae and tree bark, with the exceptions of the extremists.

Please tell me what you think now, I would prefer comments, but would also enjoy e-mails to provocativeedibles@gmail.com

Thank you,

 

Robbie


Sorry that I haven’t written in so long… life has definitely got it’s hold on me. An update is that I have started a new adventure at the Culinary Institute of America in the Bachelor degree program and I’m also working full time at a new winebar in Rhinebeck, NY as a cook that uses all local and sustainable and eco friendly food. I hope I can write very soon, I’m learning a ton about sustainability and meeting tons of new people that will only engage me further.

Thanks to everyone for being patient,

Robbie Braman


It is my hard earned reason to complain that local and sustainable meat in Southern California is hard to find. While beef is not the issue, it is hard to find a hog farm that isn’t industrialized. Lately, I have been having a very hard time finding local meats that can meet the standard for local and sustainable for a recipe that is meant for a newsletter that promotes small farms that produce organic, local, and sustainable foods.

Now, my question is why? Why is it hard to find a farm that provides these things, when 50 years ago I would have not had a problem? And also, how do we change it?

I think the answer is because the industry has shifted by obscure monopolization of farms from big corporations and industrial farms. I’ve determined that people are too scared to raise hogs and sell them because they will go bankrupt. The industrial pork industry is so prevalent and cheap in supermarkets because that for the unknowing and average consumer, it doesn’t make sense to buy a meat that costs more, even though it’s healthier, more flavorful, and overall more quality. Part of the reason for this is that people have become more accustomed to supermarket pork, it’s the unflavorful meat that has less health benefits and more health concerns.

Have you ever eaten natural pork? I have, it’s absolutely amazing! It doesn’t dry out when cooked, it has more flavor, and it feels better when digested. I can’t believe how much better it tastes. Same thing with lamb, chicken, turkey, and goat.

How do we change this? I’m not sure, I need help… that’s like asking, how do I take down a whole industrial industry, that provides to our economy? But there’s one way, just eat local, shut down these industrial farms providing to the supermarkets and only buy from small farms, eat what is available and maybe we’ll see a come back of local meats and butchers. As much as I love meat, my love affair might be over, due to my disgust of an industry that has been taken over by jerks who have polluted my body and ruined my appetite.


Salmon with a Local Cherry balsamic, red wine, and honey reduction.


Salmon:


2 8 oz  fillets of wild Alaskan salmon

salt

pepper

Olive Oil

Cherry Sauce:

Olive oil

4 cloves of chopped garlic (Carlsbad Strawberry Co., Carlsbad)

1 lb of unpitted cherries (R & L Farms, San Diego)

3 Tbsp balsalmic vinegar

2 Tbsp Orange Blossom Honey (Max’s Honey House,  Lake Elsinore)

Zest of one lemon (Oaks Knoll Farm, Fallbrook)

Juices of half a lemon (Oaks Knoll Farm, Fallbrook)

Quarter a bottle of cabernet sauvignon

1 tsp of arrowroot

Preparing and cooking the salmon:


  1. Turn on the grill and heat until hot, then condition the grill by taking your tongs and a paper towel with vegetable oil to spread on the grill so your salmon will not stick
  2. spread the olive oil on top of the salmon and salt and pepper to your taste
  3. preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  4. Lay on the grill until the salmon has dark grill marks on each side
  5. Take a baking pan and lay the salmon in it and put in the oven  until the salmon is fully cooked.

Preparing and cooking the Cherry Sauce

  1. Pit the cherries, chop the garlic, zest the lemon, and cut the lemon in half.
  2. While the salmon is on the grill, heat up the olive oil on high and sauté the garlic until it begins to smell like toasted garlic, then lower the heat to medium.
  3. Drop in the pitted cherries, balsalmic vinegar, honey, and lemon zest.
  4. Juice the half of a lemon and make sure the seeds don’t get into the sauce and pour in the cabernet sauvignon.
  5. Simmer the sauce until it starts to have a light syrup consistency.
  6. Add the arrowroot and stir until the sauce has thickened.

Plating the dish

  1. Set down the salmon and place the sauce on top! This is a wonderful dish that would go well with quinoa or wild rice pilaf and some seasonal grilled asparagus or grilled broccoli rabe.

Thanks Everyone,

I hope you enjoy this dish!


I was in Henry’s Market yesterday, which is a nice store with what is supposedly all natural and/or organic and/or locally sourced foods. There’s a problem that I’m finding though, most of the products are from huge “organic” corporations that use that label as a marketing scheme of sorts. I want my audience to know that not everything that is labeled organic is all natural. Not only is it easy to sneak secret chemicals over a farm, while no one is looking, but there are certain chemicals or products that the USDA and FDA over look or people can use that aren’t necessarily healthy such as this organic compound used to kill insects called acetamiprid, which has a low toxicity level that will kill insects, but is “unlikely” to be toxic to a human. Honestly, I don’t feel comfortable knowing that any of this is in my food at all. Here is a huge list of organic compounds that probably can be considered somewhat toxic, but can still can be used under the organic label certified by the FDA and USDA. Please click.

Here are some ways of eating all organic that are typically cheaper than going to stores such as Henry’s, Whole Foods, and Jimbo’s…

1. Grow a garden. Take control of your food by growing it yourself, not only is it intensely rewarding, but you can control how to grow the garden so you know exactly what is in your food. I grow my own tomato and I know that it’s 100% a real tomato when I eat it because I grew it in my own soil mixture with things that I have composted for it myself.

2. Shop at local farmers markets and get to know your local farmers, then raise questions on how they grow their produce. Small farmers typically have a passion for growing their own produce and making it so it doesn’t harm their own family, friends, and consumers.

3. Subscribe to a farm CSA. Not only does it help the farms, but you get a one on one connection with the farms and their products. Also, ask them questions on what’s in their soil and how they grow their produce.

4. Do research for yourself. Find your own ways of obtaining produce and meats. Visit farms, shop locally, find stores in your area that only get their produce from local farms, find farm stands, visit websites, go to local farm events, find out how to make your next meal the most sustainable and delicious as it can be. The world is yours and you can decide how you eat and how it’s better for our world and our health.

As a low paid cook, a student, an activist in the slow food movement these are the things that I do so that I can eat sustainably and be able to afford it. As I learn more and more about whether I’m being lead in the wrong direction or whether I am right, I’m constantly looking to learn more about where my food comes from and how it is produced and that is what I want to convey to my audience.

I would love for you to prove me wrong. I want constructive criticism from you, who may be able to teach me a thing or two about what I am writing about.

Stay classy,

Provocative Edibles


This is one of my favorite topics, COFFEE. Ever since I’ve acquired the taste and smell for coffee, I’ve loved it! Then I discovered the politics and the stories of coffee. It’s such a magical plant! Most of the world’s coffee is grown on the Earth’s equator, in the tropical regions of the world. Some of us may know that coffee is a big staple crop in some of the worlds poorest third world regions like Ethiopia and Indonesia.

Economically, the coffee plant provides relief to third world countries. Environmentally, the coffee plant provides a place for wildlife. Our roasted coffee beans, keep our country on the go by keeping us awake. In all, coffee keeps our world going round! I’ve met a few people who have travelled to far away jungles and have hiked tens of thousands of miles just to meet coffee harvesters. Their stories are literally something out of Indiana Jones movies because they’ve dealt with tribes who have never seen anybody outside of their tribal unit and they have found themselves dealing with the monstrous mother nature. Then, there’s the coffee itself… the aromas that the roasted coffee exudes, the tastes that may be anywhere from bitter chocolate to fruity blueberries to straight herbaceous grass, and the after taste of either morning breath or clean nothingness.

The issues:


  • Coffee farmers are usually taken advantage of by distributors aka “the middle man.” I like to look for the fair trade labels on coffee because we can safely assume that these coffees farmers are treated fairly and get the money that they deserve in exchange for their coffee.
  • Organic coffee is the new coffee. Not only do they rethink the use of synthetic fertilizers and chemicals to grow coffee, which can cause cancers and diseases, they have to pay more attention to the plants or love them more so that the coffee tastes better.
  • The more coffee sold directly from the farmers, the more jobs that are created in third world countries. This literally saves our world and makes the world that much stronger.

The more we know about coffee, the more we know about what a magical plant it is. I really urge people to learn that the best part of waking up is not Folgers in your cup, but the best part of waking up is knowing that you did the right thing by buying a sustainable and organic coffee that compliments your morning with fair trade and helping 3rd world countries, think of it as a non tax refundable once a day donation!

Coffee grounds are also compostable! Instead of using manure as a compost, use your daily coffee grounds to make your garden more vibrant or tasty. I’ll have to try to plant a garden with my coffee ground and let you know how my plants turn out, the focus will be on the taste of some herbs and growth. All the coffee will be certified organic and fair trade so I know I’m using it for the better and not the worst.

Thank you so much for listening!

Robbie

Thanks for listening!