Posts Tagged ‘moms for safe food’

Asian Spiced Kedgeree

This is one of our favorite ways to eat salmon.  You can serve more people on a smaller portion of fish, and if there are leftovers it really is a wonderful breakfast.  The recipe is from Nigella Lawson.

Makes 6 servings


2 1/4 cups cold water, for poaching the fish

2 lime leaves, torn into pieces

4 salmon fillets (approximately 1-inch thick), preferably organic, skinned (about 1 1/2 pounds in total)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 onion finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 cup basmati rice – you can use brown or white basmati, organic of course. 🙂

3 hard-boiled eggs, quartered

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves, plus more, for garnish

1 lime, zested and juiced plus lime segments, for garnish

Fish sauce, to taste (recommended: nam pla)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

This is because the easiest way to poach salmon for this dish is to do it in the oven. So: pour the water into a roasting pan, add the lime leaves and then the salmon. Cover the pan with foil, put in the oven and cook for about 15 minutes, by which time the salmon should be tender. Remove the pan from the oven and drain the liquid off into a pitcher. Keep the fish warm simply by replacing the foil on the pan.

Melt the butter in a wide, heavy saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid, and add the oil to stop the butter burning. Soften the onion in the pan and add the spices, then keep cooking till the onion is slightly translucent and suffused with soft perfume of the spices. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon so that it’s all well coated. There’s not enough onion to give a heavy coating: just make sure the rice is fragrantly slicked.

Pour in the reserved liquid from the pitcher, about 2 1/4 cups, and stir before covering with the lid and cooking gently for 15 minutes.

At the end of the cooking time, when the rice is tender and has lost all chalkiness, turn off the heat, remove the lid, cover the pan with a dish towel and then replace the lid. This will help absorb any extra moisture from the rice. It is also the best way to let the rice stand without getting sticky or cold, which is useful when you’ve got a few friends and a few dishes to keep your eye on.

Just before you want to eat, drain off any extra liquid that’s collected in the dish with the salmon, then flake the fish with a fork. Add to it the rice, egg, cilantro, lime juice and a drop or 2 of fish sauce. Stir gently to mix – I use a couple of wooden paddles or spatulas – and taste to see if you want any more lime juice or fish sauce. Sprinkle over the zest from the 2 juiced halves of the lime and serve. I love it served just as it is in the roasting dish, but if you want to, and I often do (consistency is a requirement of a recipe but not of a cook), decant into large plate before you add the lime zest, then surround with lime segments and add the zest and a small handful of freshly chopped cilantro.

This is one of those rare dishes that manages to be comforting and light at the same time. And – should you have leftovers, which I wouldn’t count on – it’s heavenly eaten, as all leftovers demand to be, standing up, straight from the fridge.


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Organic Blueberry Muffins

Organic Blueberry Muffins

This is a quick and easy recipe to make. You can use fresh blueberries if they’re in season, but frozen work great too. Don’t thaw them, just fold in while frozen and they work perfectly. For best results use organic, non-GMO ingredients and enjoy!


1 3/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup organic sugar – I use evaporated cane juice or rapadura

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 large egg

1/2 cup whole milk

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries


1 teaspoon organic sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

EQUIPMENT:  a muffin pan (preferably nonstick) with 12 (1/3- to 1/2-cup) muffin cups


Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Butter muffin pan or use muffin cup liners.  Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, then whisk in zest.

Whisk egg in another bowl, then whisk in milk and butter. Add to dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined (batter will be dense). Fold in blueberries. Divide batter among muffin cups.


Stir together sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over batter in cups.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan and cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12 muffins

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Sustainable farming in the news

Some article from the past week. The first one is such a great idea – Mom

Making Family Farms Profitable

In 1959, the U.S. was home to 4.1 million farms. Today, there are just 2.2 million. Some 40% of American farmers are 55 or older, and young people aren’t exactly lining up to replace them. But a new program in North Carolina hopes to make farming a viable career option once again.

Rutherford County, N.C., has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Yet some 6000 families own between 5 and 20 acres of land, and chefs in nearby Charlotte, N.C., are in need of fresh produce for their restaurants. Timothy Will, a retired telecommunications analyst, helped wire the region for broadband Internet access and set up an online ordering system—Farmers Fresh Market—that lets Charlotte chefs place orders directly with Appalachian farmers. Next, he convinced the locals to grow more exotic items like lacinato kale and purple beans. (“They’d never seen beans like that before,” Will laughs. “Here, beans are green.”) Two years later, Farmers Fresh Market counts 90 local farmers among its members.

In addition to teaching farmers computing skills and converting a vacant plot into a demonstration garden, Will and his colleagues have introduced sustainable agriculture courses for adults and high school students. “It’s kind of a resurrection of our history,” says Lindy Abrams, a 25-year-old who, after losing her job and enrolling in Will’s adult-education class, now grows vegetables and salad greens on land her granddad once farmed. “People are really excited.”

— Jocelyn C. Zuckerman


Why Big Ag Won’t Feed the World

by Josh Viertel

A year ago I sat in a room at the Earth Institute at Columbia surrounded by executives from big food companies. One of them, I believe from Unilever, clicked to a slide that read “The solution to global hunger is to turn malnutrition into a market opportunity.” The audience—global development practitioners and academics and other executives—nodded and dutifully wrote it down in their notebooks; I shuddered. The experience stayed with me and I haven’t gotten over it. Last month, I had a flashback.

On a Tuesday evening I sat in a room on the 44th floor of a building in the financial district of lower Manhattan with representatives from General Mills, Monsanto, Dean Foods, Deutsche Bank, and the Rainforest Alliance. We were there to speak to institutional investors—the hedge fund managers, bankers, and others who invest in big food companies—about sustainability and food. In particular, we were there to talk about how sustainability and hunger issues may give these companies both exposure to risk and access to opportunity.

    At first glance, these answers make both Monsanto and Deutsche Bank look virtuous. But they rest on a false premise.

It was not your average sustainable food panel discussion. Reflecting back on it, three things jump out at me. The first was a false premise that is taken for fact. The false premise:

Both Deutsche Bank and Monsanto made it clear that they are basing their business strategy on answering a simple question: How will we feed the world in 2050, when the population reaches over 9 billion and global warming puts massive strains on our resources? The answer for Deutsche Bank: increase yields by investing in industrial agriculture in the developing world, with an emphasis on technology; put lots of capital into rural land to shift subsistence and local market agricultures to commodity export agriculture. The answer for Monsanto: increase yields by decreasing resource dependence using genetically modified crops.

At first glance, these answers make both Monsanto and Deutsche Bank look virtuous. But they rest on a false premise: “There will be over 9 billion people by 2050. We have less than 7 billion today, and people go hungry. We need to increase food production if we are going to feed them.” Indeed, there will be over 9 billion people by 2050, and indeed, with less than 7 billion today, people still go hungry. But we don’t need to increase crop yields to feed these people. In 2008, globally, we grew enough food to feed over 11 billion people. We grew 4,000 calories per day per person—roughly twice what people need to eat.

Eric Holt Gimenez, of Food First (The Institute for Food and Development Policy) put it eloquently in a conversation earlier last year: “In 2008 more food was grown than ever before in history. In 2008 more people were obese than ever before in history. In 2008 more profit was made by food companies than ever before in history. And in 2008 more people went hungry than ever before in history.”

Hunger is not a global production problem. It is a global justice problem. We need to increase global equity, not global yields. There may be profit to be made in exporting our high-tech, input-reliant, greenhouse-gas-emitting agricultural systems to the developing world. But let us not pretend it will solve global hunger or address climate change. After all, high-tech, input-reliant, commodity agricultural is a major cause of global hunger and climate change.

So what changes are necessary for us to feed the world? In 2005, the World Bank, the FAO and the UNDP brought together 400 leading natural and social scientists, representatives from government (including the U.S.), private sector and non-governmental organizations to ask how we would feed the world in 2050. It’s called the IAASTD report, and it just came out last year.

The scientists concluded that genetically modified crops and chemical agriculture had failed to show much promise in feeding the world. They won’t be a big part of the solution. Instead, tomorrow’s agriculture will need to be much more regionally controlled and locally adapted, and will need a diversity of approaches to meet the challenges of climate change and resource scarcity. The result is a farming system that uses water frugally, sequesters carbon, and doesn’t require external inputs.

A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists called Failure to Yield found that genetically modified crops have not delivered on increased yields. In fact, nearly all of the gains in yields over the last two decades can be attributed to other practices. Vast tracts of rainforest are indeed being cut down to plant commodity crops, particularly soy. This deforestation isn’t happening because the varieties are old, unimproved, and not intensive. These are acres of chemically farmed, genetically modified crops.

The IAASTD concluded that if we want to feed the world, we need regional ownership and control, locally adapted varieties and practices, and farmers to grow for subsistence and local markets—and we don’t need export commodities.

“So,” I said to the institutional investors, “I’ve got good news, and I’ve got bad news.” The good news is that feeding the world in 2050 is completely possible; these solutions are within reach. The bad news is that there isn’t a ton of money to be made by a small number of companies in doing it. You can make money investing in technology and putting great gobs of capital into rural land that currently doesn’t have it, but you will likely be exacerbating climate change and global hunger, not fixing it.”

This, of course, gets to the heart of what it means to help.

When I was a little boy, my dad was building a tool shed in our back yard. It looked like fun, and I had always wanted to use a hammer. I wandered out to help him as he sawed a two-by-four. I picked up a hammer and some nails and started pounding them, without any particular plan, into a piece of wood. My dad looked over at me and said, “Josh. Tell me, what are you doing?” “I’m helping.” I responded, completely sincerely. He gently explained to me that if you want to help, first you have to ask the people you want to help what they need. In this case, he told me, he could really use someone to sit on the sawhorse to hold down the piece of wood he was trying to saw, so it didn’t bounce all over the place. When I protested that that wasn’t nearly as fun as pounding nails, he agreed with me.

“You are welcome to pound nails into that board,” he explained. “Just don’t pretend you are helping me build this shed.” Yes, global hunger is a market opportunity; some corporations will make money treating it as such. But it in so doing they are about as likely to end hunger as seven-year-old me was to build a shed by pounding nails into a piece of plywood.


Save the Planet: Eat More Beef


Grass feeding required Cattle on this Hardwick, Mass., farm grow not

on feedlots but in pastures, where their grazing helps keep carbon

dioxide in the ground

On a farm in coastal Maine, a barn is going up. Right now it’s little

more than a concrete slab and some wooden beams, but when it’s

finished, the barn will provide winter shelter for up to six cows and

a few head of sheep. None of this would be remarkable if it weren’t

for the fact that the people building the barn are two of the most

highly regarded organic-vegetable farmers in the country: Eliot

Coleman wrote the bible of organic farming, The New Organic Grower,

and Barbara Damrosch is the Washington Post’s gardening columnist. At

a time when a growing number of environmental activists are calling

for an end to eating meat, this veggie-centric power couple is

beginning to raise it. “Why?” asks Coleman, tromping through the mud

on his way toward a greenhouse bursting with December turnips.

“Because I care about the fate of the planet.”

Ever since the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization released a 2006

report that attributed 18% of the world’s man-made greenhouse-gas

emissions to livestock – more, the report noted, than what’s produced

by transportation – livestock has taken an increasingly hard rap. At

first, it was just vegetarian groups that used the U.N.’s findings as

evidence for the superiority of an all-plant diet. But since then, a

broader range of environmentalists has taken up the cause. At a

recent European Parliament hearing titled “Global Warming and Food

Policy: Less Meat=Less Heat,” Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, argued that reducing meat

consumption is a “simple, effective and short-term delivery measure

in which everybody could contribute” to emissions reductions.

And of all the animals that humans eat, none are held more

responsible for climate change than the ones that moo. Cows not only

consume more energy-intensive feed than other livestock; they also

produce more methane – a powerful greenhouse gas – than other animals

do. “If your primary concern is to curb emissions, you shouldn’t be

eating beef,” says Nathan Pelletier, an ecological economist at

Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S., noting that cows produce 13 to

30 lb. of carbon dioxide per pound of meat.

So how can Coleman and Damrosch believe that adding livestock to

their farm will help the planet? Cattleman Ridge Shinn has the

answer. On a wintry Saturday at his farm in Hardwick, Mass., he is

out in his pastures encouraging a herd of plump Devon cows to move to

a grassy new paddock. Over the course of a year, his 100 cattle will

rotate across 175 acres four or five times. “Conventional cattle

raising is like mining,” he says. “It’s unsustainable, because you’re

just taking without putting anything back. But when you rotate cattle

on grass, you change the equation. You put back more than you take.”

(See the top 10 scientific discoveries of 2009.)t works like this:

grass is a perennial. Rotate cattle and other ruminants across

pastures full of it, and the animals’ grazing will cut the blades –

which spurs new growth – while their trampling helps work manure and

other decaying organic matter into the soil, turning it into rich

humus. The plant’s roots also help maintain soil health by retaining

water and microbes. And healthy soil keeps carbon dioxide underground

and out of the atmosphere.

Compare that with the estimated 99% of U.S. beef cattle that live out

their last months on feedlots, where they are stuffed with corn and

soybeans. In the past few decades, the growth of these concentrated

animal-feeding operations has resulted in millions of acres of

grassland being abandoned or converted – along with vast swaths of

forest – into profitable cropland for livestock feed. “Much of the

carbon footprint of beef comes from growing grain to feed the

animals, which requires fossil-fuel-based fertilizers, pesticides,

transportation,” says Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s

Dilemma. “Grass-fed beef has a much lighter carbon footprint.”

Indeed, although grass-fed cattle may produce more methane than

conventional ones (high-fiber plants are harder to digest than

cereals, as anyone who has felt the gastric effects of eating

broccoli or cabbage can attest), their net emissions are lower

because they help the soil sequester carbon.

From Vermont, where veal and dairy farmer Abe Collins is developing

software designed to help farmers foster carbon-rich topsoil quickly,

to Denmark, where Thomas Harttung’s Aarstiderne farm grazes 150 head

of cattle, a vanguard of small farmers are trying to get the word out

about how much more eco-friendly they are than factory farming. “If

you suspend a cow in the air with buckets of grain, then it’s a bad

guy,” Harttung explains. “But if you put it where it belongs – on

grass – that cow becomes not just carbon-neutral but

carbon-negative.” Collins goes even further. “With proper management,

pastoralists, ranchers and farmers could achieve a 2% increase in

soil-carbon levels on existing agricultural, grazing and desert lands

over the next two decades,” he estimates. Some researchers

hypothesize that just a 1% increase (over, admittedly, vast acreages)

could be enough to capture the total equivalent of the world’s

greenhouse-gas emissions.

This math works out in part because farmers like Shinn don’t use

fertilizers or pesticides to maintain their pastures and need no

energy to produce what their animals eat other than what they get

free from the sun. Furthermore, pasturing frequently uses land that

would otherwise be unproductive. “I’d like to see someone try to

raise soybeans here,” he says, gesturing toward the rocky, sloping

fields around him.

By many standards, pastured beef is healthier. That’s certainly the

case for the animals involved; grass feeding obviates the antibiotics

that feedlots are forced to administer in order to prevent the

acidosis that occurs when cows are fed grain. But it also appears to

be true for people who eat cows. Compared with conventional beef,

grass-fed is lower in saturated fat and higher in omega-3s, the

heart-healthy fatty acids found in salmon.

But not everyone is sold on its superiority. In addition to citing

grass-fed meat’s higher price tag – Shinn’s ground beef ends up

retailing for about $7 a pound, more than twice the price of

conventional beef – feedlot producers say that only through their

economies of scale can the industry produce enough meat to satisfy

demand, especially for a growing population. These critics note that

because grass is less caloric than grain, it takes two to three years

to get a pastured cow to slaughter weight, whereas a feedlot animal

requires only 14 months. “Not only does it take fewer animals on a

feedlot to produce the same amount of meat,” says Tamara Thies, chief

environmental counsel for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

(which contests the U.N.’s 18% figure), “but because they grow so

quickly, they have less chance to produce greenhouse gases.”

To Allan Savory, the economies-of-scale mentality ignores the role

that grass-fed herbivores can play in fighting climate change. A

former wildlife conservationist in Zimbabwe, Savory once blamed

overgrazing for desertification. “I was prepared to shoot every

bloody rancher in the country,” he recalls. But through rotational

grazing of large herds of ruminants, he found he could reverse land

degradation, turning dead soil into thriving grassland.

Like him, Coleman now scoffs at the environmentalist vogue for

vilifying meat eating. “The idea that giving up meat is the solution

for the world’s ills is ridiculous,” he says at his Maine farm. “A

vegetarian eating tofu made in a factory from soybeans grown in

Brazil is responsible for a lot more CO than I am.” A

lifetime raising vegetables year-round has taught him to value the

elegance of natural systems. Once he and Damrosch have brought in

their livestock, they’ll “be able to use the manure to feed the

plants, and the plant waste to feed the animals,” he says. “And even

though we can’t eat the grass, we’ll be turning it into something we



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Making Great Sauerkraut

By Stanley A. Fishman, Author of Tender Grassfed Meat

Sauerkraut is one of the oldest foods. It was used by the ancient Chinese, the Romans, the steppe nomads, and many others. “Sauerkraut” means sour cabbage. In its purest form, it consists of cabbage and salt that has been lacto-fermented. The fermentation process uses beneficial bacteria to transform the cabbage into a nutritional powerhouse that is an excellent source of Vitamin C, minerals, B vitamins, and many other nutrients. Sauerkraut is loaded with beneficial bacteria. These beneficial bacteria improve digestion, strengthen the immune system, and protect against many diseases. Alternative physicians in Germany use sauerkraut to treat many illnesses.

Making sauerkraut used to literally be a matter of life or death for many people in Europe and Asia. For most of these people, sauerkraut was the only source of vitamin C available during the long cold winters. If people do not get enough vitamin C, they will develop scurvy, a disease that first causes the teeth to fall out and which will eventually kill the victim.

Sauerkraut was traditionally eaten in small quantities, as part of a larger meal. I eat 3 to 4 tablespoons a day, as part of a larger meal. In fact, my body craves some sauerkraut with every meal. Traditional peoples usually had some form of fermented vegetable with every meal.

Traditional sauerkraut is a live food, whose nutritional value is dependent on the beneficial bacteria it should contain. Unfortunately, most of the “sauerkraut” found in the supermarket is a dead food, where the beneficial bacteria have been killed by vinegar and other ingredients. This allows the “sauerkraut” to stay on the shelves indefinitely, but I see little point in eating it. There are some brands of sauerkraut that can be found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. These brands have some live cultures, which is why they must be refrigerated. You can also order traditionally made sauerkraut over the Internet, and some of it is very good, especially the sauerkraut made by Amish farmers. This sauerkraut tends to be very expensive, both in price and in shipping cost.

What sauerkraut do I recommend? Well, the best sauerkraut I ever had, by far, is the sauerkraut we make ourselves. I found that making sauerkraut is much simpler than I thought. I only know how to make sauerkraut using a Harsch Crock, which is a stoneware container that has been specifically designed for making sauerkraut. The crock is not cheap, but it should last a lifetime if you are careful with it. Harsch Crocks are widely available over the Internet and you can often find a deal.


I recommend the following equipment for making sauerkraut:

•Harsch Crock, 7.5 liters

•Weight stones, (these come with the Harsch Crock)

•Stainless steel tongs

•Stainless steel potato masher

•Large stainless steel bowl

•Cabbage slicer, (you can use a food processor or anything that can shred cabbage)


If your Harsch Crock is a different size than 7.5 liters, adjust the amount the amount of cabbage and salt proportionately.

7 medium organic cabbages, about 12 pounds.

Approximately 5 tablespoons coarse grey French sea salt, (we use Celtic Sea Salt®)

1.Remove the core and outer leaves from the cabbage, and then wash well with filtered water, preferably reverse osmosis. Dry the cabbage. Save a few of the outer leaves.

2.Do the following steps, one cabbage at a time:

a. Shred the cabbage into a large bowl. (We use a cabbage slicer, but I think most food processors could be used for this.)

b.Use tongs to pick up enough cabbage to form a layer in the bottom of the Harsch Crock. (I use three large tongs full, but you might need more, depending on the width of your crock.)

c.Sprinkle between ½ to 1 teaspoon of salt over the layer.

d.Use a potato masher to crush and compress the cabbage layer as much as you reasonably can. This is very important, as it is crucial for the cabbage to release some of its liquid. You usually won’t see much liquid in the first few layers, but don’t worry, the repeated compressing will eventually give you enough liquid.

e.When the layer is well compressed, repeat steps b through d until you have used all of the shredded cabbage in the bowl. When you have used all the shredded cabbage in the bowl, shred the next cabbage, and repeat steps b through d until all the cabbages have been shredded and compressed into the crock.

3.Place a couple of the outer leaves you saved on top of the compressed cabbage. Place the weight stones on the leaves and press down gently but firmly on the stones (we press with the tongs) until they are covered with liquid. Put the cover on the crock. Move the crock to a convenient place in your kitchen (not next to the oven or stove), where it can rest for three days. Fill the gutter at the top of the crock with filtered water (preferably reverse osmosis).

4.Let the crock rest in the kitchen for three days. Check each day to make sure the gutter is fairly full of water. Do not open the crock, not even once.

5.After three days, remove some of the water from the gutter, so the crock can be carried without spilling. Move the crock to a cool place. We use our garage, but a basement or root cellar would be even better. Fill the gutter with filtered water. Let the crock rest for 21 days. Do not open the crock before then, not even once. Check each day to make sure the water gutter is full. How much water you will need is totally unpredictable. Don’t panic if the water gutter is empty, just fill with filtered water. We never check more than once a day and every batch has been great.

6.After 21 days, the sauerkraut should be ready. Use tongs and a ladle to put the sauerkraut and its juice into Mason jars. It will keep in the refrigerator for many months. Then get started on the next batch.

Now you have my secret recipe for sauerkraut. It gets much easier each time we make it. Making sauerkraut is a job for at least two people, but the rewards are great.

Stanley kindly sent us some of his Sauerkraut last month and it was the best we’ve ever tasted. So good we bought a crock (see a great resource on the links page) and have made our own. We can’t wait until it’s ready! Stanley’s amazing cookbook, Tender Grassfed Meat is available at Amazon, link below.

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