Category: Eat Food

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Hard Fought Success in the High Country – Fields to Plate Produce

The drive to the Old Fort Farm in Hesperus, Colorado is deceptively steep. From downtown Durango I rose steadily, almost imperceptibly, and gained a thousand feet within minutes. From afar I had seen snow on this mesa just days before – not anymore. Pulling in, I found a large, aging, post-harvest farm; brushed with deep golden hues of well-watered land in a Colorado autumn.

With a bit of navigating, I located the Fields to Plate farmers. The small crew was harvesting a thousand-pound beet sunset: red, gold, pink, purple. The bounty seemed unlikely for such a dry, high altitude location; so, I set forth to learn how they did it…


READ THE STORY

Read my first article on Artisan Situation!

My good friend Zach Kaiser runs the site with some old chums from my college days with the Idea Fund. The story covers the recent history of Fields to Plate Produce, the farm David and I got our CSA from this summer.

my kitchen is a science lab.

Fermentation is kind of awesome.

During fermentation natural yeasts and bacteria break carbohydrates down into alcohols and acids.

Did you know that a third of the foods we eat are a result of fermentation? Beer, wine, ketchup, hot sauce, salami, cheese, yogurt, sauerkraut, soy sauce, chocolate (!) are just a few.

For a long time we’ve raged war on yeasts and, especially, bacteria. We kill them with cleaners and sanitizers, afraid of the small percentage that threatens our wellbeing. It’s true, there are some nasty bugs out there that we should take seriously, but a majority of the invisible organisms living in the air around us are harmless and, we’re now realizing, very good for us.

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cowspiracy: a lesson in naivety.

The newest calf! - Photo Cred: David

I’ve always struggled with vegetarianism.

In college I tried to stop eating meat, several times. As an environmental science undergrad, the more I learned about food systems, the more I felt compelled to convert. I had a burning desire to succeed, almost as if my morality depended on it, but I never found the resolve.

So I tried, failed, tried again, failed again, etc.

Over time, I’ve come across three main arguments for renouncing animal protein:

  1. Humans were meant to be herbivores
  2. Eating other living things is ethically deplorable
  3. Factory farms are terrible

I’m not an anthropologist, but I simply don’t buy the herbivore argument. I seriously struggle with the carnivore sin idea. I love animals, I’ve raised them, and I’ve slaughtered them – maybe some people think it’s insensitive, but I still (very much) like to eat them. The factory farm angle I can get behind 100%… but on just that foundation, it’s very, very difficult to refuse a juicy, grass-fed burger and fatty, free-range bacon.

No argument has successfully managed to turn me off the omnivore path, despite my noble aspirations – until now (sort of).

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tour de farms.

Once I overcame the annoyance of constantly avoiding other bikers, the Tour de Farms was extremely enjoyable. Saturday morning I rode 25 miles with dozens of other Durango locals to tour small farms in the Animas Valley (David was going to join me but he decided to go get 6th place at the Silverton Alpine 50k instead, without training I should add). The annual event is hosted and coordinated by The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado and the Colorado State University Extension.

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Lined up outside the Smiley Building.

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affording “real food” might take some work.

Not all food is actually food. Most of the stuff we can buy in the grocery store is chemically designed, processed, and manufactured. In Defense of Food is Pollan’s argument against this type of consumption, describing the reasons why processed food should be avoided and laying guidelines for a healthier diet. The guidelines were the main reason I read the book – I wanted the facts behind what I already believed was a healthier way to eat. Pollan’s simple manifesto? –  “Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants.”

You’re better off eating whole fresh foods rather than processed food products. That’s what I mean by the recommendation to ‘eat food,’ which is not quite as simple as it sounds. For while it used to be that food was all you could eat, today there are thousands of other edible food-like substances in the supermarket.

– Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food

But Pollan’s “diet” could not have been sustained a few decades ago. He admits that “There would have been no way to eat the way I propose without going back to the land and growing your own food. It would have been the manifesto of a crackpot.” But that’s beauty of living today. We have choices. Almost every town, or at least county, has a farmers market – and they’re growing in numbers every year. More small farms are in this country than there have been for decades. The “real food” is there. We have the option to eat it. And if you know anything about the benefits of this type of eating for your health and the environment then you would be crazy not to.

Except for money. 

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new earth farm, VA.

When we pulled up to New Earth Farm David’s uncle, David (confusing, I know), almost drove right past it. There was a sign, but it was small. There was a building too, but it was definitely not habitable. There were also weeds, everywhere. To the right driving in there was a newer building claiming to be the “Learning Garden.” Finally, as we rounded the dilapidated old farm house, we found the farm store

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