Friday, March 1, 2013

To Pause

I often counsel my clients to pause before eating. To take a moment to appreciate the food they are about to consume. Mindfulness not only can make a meal more enjoyable, but it also has been shown to be a great tool in helping people lose weight.  In a sense this is exactly what I’ve been doing as I’ve taken a hiatus from blog posting. I’ve paused to pay more attention to the things in front of me—personal and professional.  I’ve had several inquiries as to when I will return to posting and so as I continue my sabbatical, I thought I’d offer some of my favorite places on the web to stay abreast of sustainable food and nutrition topics…enjoy these resources:




Friday, August 24, 2012

Local Food Movement—changing our landscape

An afternoon tour of Clockshadow's rooftop garden in Milwaukee's 5thWard.
Last night, as I enjoyed my simple, yet delicious, Minestrone Soup of locally grown Yellow Eye Beans, red onions, Purple Stripe Garlic, and green cabbage from farm markets, as well as Beaver Dam Peppers, an array of heirloom tomatoes and herbs from my garden, I thought about how rooted the concept of eating locally has become in our culture.  The 5th annual Eat Local Challenge kicks off soon and if I look back over just the last 5 years of good food advocacy, I find that we can see and taste the fruits of our labor.  

At home in Milwaukee, the landscape of our city has literally changed—with gardens and restaurants and markets and production facilities and festivals and food carts dedicated to local food cropping up all over the city. Nationally, the cultural landscape has shifted as well—the local food movement having reached the ears of corporate marketers who now place pictures of farms in ads and farmers in commercials and label anything they can “local” or “fresh.”   

Back in 2007, when Milwaukee’s first Eat Local Challenge began, many aspiring locavores were struggling with the question of whether eating locally all year long (much less for two weeks in September) was even possible.  Five years later, the question has been answered agreeably (yes, one can eat locally year round in Wisconsin, but especially during harvest time) and the setting in which we’re making choices has dramatically changed.  Not only can we find local food on the menus of dozens of restaurants and in our local groceries, it now seems standard fare to feature, if not to build one’s entire menu, around locally grown foods and to label local options at the co-op or grocery store.  Five years later we have farmer’s markets year round, giving eaters and producers more options.   Community gardens, backyard gardens, front yard gardens, rooftop gardens, school gardens have grown by the hundreds due to the efforts of so many individuals and organizations.   Grant funding for programs connecting local food and healthy residents is reshaping neighborhoods and helping create wellness in our communities.

The Eat Local Challenge continues to grow—in reach and depth.  This Saturday, August 25th, at the Urban Ecology Center, the planners of the Eat Local Challenge & friends are once again bringing our community the Eat Local Resource Fair.  Local food vendors, workshops, and tips and tools from local organizations will be available for free to anyone interested in deepening their knowledge of our foodshed.  

While celebrate we should, we do have a long way to go—the one size fits all, industrial approach to feeding people still prevails globally our food system.  We need to continue working to become more diverse, making room for farms and food businesses of many sizes and shapes.  But.  There are real, measurable impacts to the food movement.  And the feel of our foodways has changed as well…with more terroir at our tables, there’s more poetry on our plates.

Friday, July 6, 2012

NYC Launch of "Eating Planet 2012"

It is a time of both excess and scarcity. One billion people go hungry while much of our food goes to waste. One billion people suffer from obesity while our industrial food system produces as much as one third of our greenhouse gasses.    Biological, cultural, regional and economic diversity in our food supply is rare.  In this time of incongruities comes a book that explores the complex problems that lie beneath our most pressing problem of how to feed ourselves. Check out “Eating Green 2012” and the NYC launch with some of the world's best food thinkers here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Solstice Sustenace

spinach soaking up some rays.
The summer solstice has long been an astronomical event that inspires celebrations of the sun's all important rays through, rituals, poetry, songs, and meals.  I always end up musing a bit about the magic-like process of photosynthesis that makes the world's food system go around--this capture of the sun's energy is really the basis for all life of planet earth so a bit of musing seems appropriate. And appreciation as well.  Today at my weekly cooking class, we celebrated the Solstice with goods form our community garden in a salad of Lolla Rosa and Speckled lettuces, Bloomsdale spinach, sweet Cascadia snap peas, shelling peas, and the edible  flowers of our French Breakfast radishes.  When celebrating, I also like to enjoy the wild things that grow, untended, in fields and yards and gardens, which is why I appreciated this piece on NPR that led me to this beautiful blog on foraged foods.  After a quick onceover today, in my own urban yard, I can find wild garlic mustard (for pesto), purslane and lamb's quarters in the garden (for salads or sauteeing), daylilies (for stuffing with chicken salad), and mulberries (for snacking or baking or canning)...all available due to the sun's constant shine. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Spring Apple Affair

Isn't apple blossom time just so beautiful?  

Thinking ahead to the fruit these blossoms will create with the help of some pollinator friends & envisioning a time when diverse, heritage apple trees thrive--the rare Milwaukee varietal included--its been exciting to plant & distribute some of our region's most endangered apple tree varietals this Spring.  
Spring is the time for grafting and planting and tending heritage fruit trees.
To celebrate the beauty of springtime and to sell some heritage apples for backyard, farmstead, professional orchard growing, Slow Food WiSE is hosting a special event tomorrow.  
Please join us for the first ever Spring Apple Affair on Saturday, May 12th from 12-4pm at the Stahl-Conrad Homestead in Hales Corners, WI.   

Bring your friends and family (including mom--it is the day before Mother's Day after all.)  Bring a picnic and your favorite apple recipe to exchange.  Bring your work gloves if you want to help clean up our tiny heritage orchard. Leave with a heritage fruit tree, local honey, a Mother's Day present, more knowledge, and new friends. 

Spring Apple Affair

  • Heritage Apple Tree Sales
  • Holistic Apple Tree Care Education  (with organic grower Joe Fahey of Peck & Bushel
  • Local Product Sales, including Viola's Honey & Hack Farm's eggs & vegetable
  • Spring Clean-up of our Heritage Orchard
    Apple Recipe Exchange (bring your favorite!)  
  • Apple Preserves Tastings
  • Special Mother's Day & Kid Friendly Activities
  • And B.Y.O.P.-Bring Your Own Picnic!
For more info, to RSVP, or to volunteer, contact Jennifer -

To read more about our heritage trees and our grower, and to learn more about Slow Food WiSE, read the latest Slow Times.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Spring is such a beautiful time for good food.  The wild—ramps, wild onions, fiddelheads, morels, dandelions, violet blossoms.  The cultivated—radishes, pea shoots, asparagus, chives, rhubarb, garlic scapes, tender greens, scallions.  That particular green of sunlight on leaves and the scent of fruit blossoms shake us out of hibernation.  It’s a wonder that we all don’t succumb to spring fever and skip out of work each fine day to forage and tend and till.

Spring is a time when we can set ourselves up to eat well all year-round by grafting fruit trees, planting our gardens, signing up for a CSA, or using that tax refund for a food dehydrator or pressure canner.  It’s gardening that’s on my mind this spring the most.  With a freshly tilled new garden at home and an increasingly popular community garden program at work, I’ve been reflecting on the powerful positive impacts of gardens. Which is why, of course, they’re spreading like wildfires in Milwaukee and across the country—supported by community activists and public health officials alike.

People garden for many reasons—the pleasure of being outside, the remarkable taste of fresh food, the connections made with other gardeners, the security offered by a plot of food, the money saved by growing your own groceries, and so on.  Intuitively, people feel that gardening is good.  And there’s been some good scientific research into the benefits of community gardens to support those intuitions.  A few of the benefits I like to remind people of if there’s even a whisper that they think its all just feel good fluff:
  • Gardening is a promising practice for diabetes prevention and control through healthy activity and food.
  • Children & adults who garden eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • A garden program promotes healthy food security.
  • Gardening reduces stress and calms the nerves.
  • Gardening helps youth with self-esteem.
  • Gardens strengthen communities.
  • Horticultural Therapy “can help with mental health issues, such as post traumatic stress disorder, depression; and anxiety and may help ex-convicts with rehabilitation
  •  Gardening can reduce food miles & support local economies & cultures

Gardening can also promote food biodiversity.  The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity estimates that “300,000 vegetable varieties have become extinct over the last century.”
By growing heirloom and endangered foods in our gardens we can help save these foods from extinction.  The vegetables that have been boarded onto Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste are a good place to start if you’d like to grow endangered veggies—they are rare and delicious and storied.  Some Ark of Taste vegetables (seeds may be sourced through Seed Savers Exchange for most of these) that may be well suited for growing in Wisconsin include:
  • Amish Deer Tongue lettuce
  • Grandpa Admire's lettuce
  • Speckled lettuce
  • Tennis Ball lettuce (black seeded)
  • Early Blood Turnip-rooted beet
  • Beaver Dam pepper
  • Bull Nose Large Bell pepper
  • Fish pepper
  • Hinkelhatz Hot pepper
  • Jimmy Nardello's Sweet Italian Frying pepper
  • Sheepnose pimiento
  • Amish Paste Tomato
  • German Pink Tomato
  • Sheboygan Tomato
  • Red Fig Tomato
  • Aunt Molly’s Husk Tomato (ground Cherry)
  • Valencia Tomato
  • Lina Cisco’s Bird Egg Bean
  • True Red Cranberry bean
  • Hidatsa Shield Figure bean
  • Yellow Indian Woman Bean
  • Hutterite Soup bean
  • Mayflower Bean
  • Turkey’ Hard Red Winter Wheat
  • Roy’s Calais flint corn

If you want to learn more about growing food and/or want to be a part of an organized initiative to install home and community gardens in Milwaukee, consider being a part of the 4th Annual Great Milwaukee Victory Garden Blitz. Their motto at VGI: “Move Grass. Grow Food.”  My thoughts exactly…