Come meet and talk to Food Rebel Abeni Ramsey and the creators of Food Forward in a special LIVE online social screening in celebration of Food Day Wednesday, October 24.
One of the stars from the episode, Abeni Ramsey-Masey, a single mother-turned urban farmer in Oakland, CA. will be joined by the show’s producers Greg Roden and Stett Holbrook to answer your questions and share more about urban ag around the country and future episodes of Food Forward.
What exactly is a “social screening?” you may ask. It’s a way to watch a TV show using a special online video player with real-time interaction. This player will run the episode along with a “chat window” to the side of it that displays the conversation. You’ll be able to see your questions, the panelist’s answers and enter a dialogue with other fans of Food Forward. There will also be icons that you can click on to express how you feel about the content the show itself as it plays.
All you need to do is go to:
1. Make sure you are using the most current version of your favorite browser: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer
2. Check that you are using the current version of the Flash Player.
3. Run a test to make sure OVEE works properly on your computer.
This special social screening is hosted by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) and PBS. ITVS funds, presents, and promotes award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television and cable, innovative new media projects on the Web, and the Emmy Award-winning weekly series Independent Lens Monday nights at 10:00 PM on PBS.
Now let’s watch together and chat! And please tell your friends to join us.
Like the majority of Americans, seaweed is not a major component of my diet. Before interviewing Kacie Loparto, a hand-harvester of wild seaweed, the salty, slippery vegetable was, to me, something that occasionally wrapped around my legs while swimming in the ocean and held the contents of my sushi roll in one piece. Though seaweed may be new to me in regards to food, it has been utilized as food source for a very long time, and traditional methods of harvesting it have been passed down through generations. In 2007, after completing her degree at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, Kacie decided to continue her hands-on education in agriculture and found somebody to apprentice with in Maine to learn seaweed harvesting. Harvesting of seaweed, like any wild food, is a craft that must be learned. So, she traveled to Maine to learn from some of the best, from somebody who had been out on the ocean for almost 40 years.
As the consumption and growing of seaweed is quickly increasing in popularity, sustainable methods of harvesting this wild source of nutrition are becoming more and more crucial. There are many things about seaweed harvesting that may only be learned by apprenticing with somebody who has sufficient knowledge about the practice. There are things like California Frond Tip harvesting–not taking a whole plant from the stem, but just a portion of it in order to ensure that it can replenish itself. And, how to monitor seaweed patches to determine if they are healthy enough to harvest from in consecutive years. Kacie has traveled from the East Coast to the West Coast learning different methods and seeing what it really takes to run a seaweed business. Whether in California or Maine, the best months to gather seaweed are June and July, and she always uses boats to get out to the seaweed, either row boats or kayaks. Her day usually starts around 3am, at which time the tide is the lowest and she has approximately two hours of prime time harvesting. If the tide is low enough, she may even be able to reach the seaweed by foot. After the seaweed is gathered and brought back to shore, it is hung out on lines to dry before it is ready to be eaten,
So, you ask, why seaweed? Seaweeds are extremely high in iodine and magnesium and thus, good for protecting the thyroid and protecting us from different kinds of cancer that are caused by environmental pollutants. Kacie also told me that seaweed is a good alternative for people who don’t live by the ocean thus are not able to absorb the proper amounts of iodine through breathing the ocean air. Studies have suggested that, if used as a healing food, it can slow the growth of cancer cells.
Six years after Kacie began her apprenticeship, you can find her selling her seaweed at different farmer’s markets and blogging about her adventures on her website, She Sells Seaweed www.shesellsseaweed.com She educates people about different ways to eat seaweed, and is attempting to figure out how seaweed gathering is going to fit into her life. In the future she hopes to get into something like botany, lead plant walks, learn/teach how to use plants medicinally as well as food, and most of all, to educate people about wild foods. When asked why seaweed is so important to her, Kacie said that above all, she appreciates seaweed as a food source and likes harvesting for the adventure of the work. The interview ended with Kacie admitting, “I just love to eat seaweed.”
While Kacie uses seaweed in practically everything she cooks, her favorite recipe, also one of the best ways to soak up the most nutritional value from the seaweed, is miso soup! This recipe can be found on her website along with many others:
“To make the vegetarian dashi broth, boil 3 cups of water with slices of fresh ginger root. After about five minutes add a few strips of kombu, turn off heat and cover. Covering pot helps retain iodine and infuses broth with the healing alginates. Steep for 10 minutes, and then pour through strainer if you want only the broth.
To make the broth into miso soup, add a teaspoon of miso paste, sliced scallion, and grated carrots and daikon radish. You can also add umeboshi plum paste and coconut oil to enrich the soup even more.”
Making your dinner is one thing. Preserving, canning, pickling, or fermenting food takes cooking to another level. The more food I make myself the more empowering it is. Picking something up from the grocery story is convenient, but making food yourself is usually cheaper and it strips away the mystique around food production and the myth that it must be left to experts. You can be the expert. That’s what DIY is all about. The more you do by yourself, the more you realize what you can do.
With that in mind, here’s my recipe for yogurt. When I offer someone some of my homemade yogurt the response is usually, “No way!” You made this?” The truth is it’s very easy. It takes about 12 hours to make the yogurt, but the actual active time in the kitchen is less than five minutes. And all you need is milk and yogurt. Yes, the first time around you’re buying a little yogurt to make a lot of yogurt. What you’re actually buying is the bacteria culture in the yogurt. But after your first batch you don’t need to buy more. Just hang onto two cups of the yogurt you made to start the next batch. It’s like starter for bread. You can use it indefinitely. Oh, and you’ll also need a food thermometer.
1 gallon whole milk
2 cups plain whole yogurt
Add milk to a large pot and, using a candy or meat thermometer, heat the milk to 180 degrees over medium heat.
Once the milk has reached 180 degrees, let it cool to 110 degrees. While the milk is cooling, place 1/4 cup of yogurt into several glass jars (Ball or Mason jars are best) and place the jars on a baking sheet. Add the cooled milk to the yogurt and stir to blend, covering loosely with a dishtowel.
The trick to making yogurt is gently heating the milk/yogurt mixture. I use a heating pad under the baking sheet. You could wrap the jars in a blanket and put them in a warm corner of your house or place the jars in an oven with a gas pilot light to provide the heat. Or you could put the jars on the backseat of a car with the windows rolled up.
I let my yogurt sit overnight, but it’s generally done in 8 hours or so. Once it’s firmed up and turned into yogurt, seal and refrigerate. Add granola or fruit and enjoy.
If you thought hacking is just a way for computer geeks to take technology into their own hands, think again. Now there are farm hacks, an innovative way to marry farming with technology to create new solutions to old problems. Farm hacks are events created through a program, appropriately called “FarmHacks,” organized by the National Young Farmers Coalition. Kristen Loria and Grant Schultz co-coordinated this year’s first ever Midwest Farm Hack in Mechanicsville, Iowa, a two-day event with a focus on on-farm energy production.
FarmHack is actually a forum for new and older farmers to connect and collaborate. It’s a space to brainstorm common problems through web-based mediums and nationwide events that attract not only farmers but also those more tech-savy.
With ideas spanning from the “quadracycle” (a machine that allows farmers to lie down while berry picking) to a solar-powered chicken coop, this year’s event was deemed a success.
Kristen highlights FarmHack’s ability to embody a unique approach that is a “very practical, concrete project.” It builds from the community and interpersonal connections to create a new form of agriculture fosters that overcomes common challenges. FarmHack draws from communication and collective “creative ingenuity” rather than relying on “capital and input intensive solutions” that are traditionally utilized.
Kristen Loria coordinated this year’s first Midwest Farm Hack in Mechanicsville, Iowa, a two-day event with a focus on on-farm energy production. Kristen understood this event not only as a chance for farmers to think, tinker and talk about innovative approaches to age-old problems but also as a chance to begin discussions on widely shared agricultural problems. She intends for this to give more people a chance to become engaged and invested in the local food systems around them. Kristen became involved in Iowa’s Farm Hack through the Greenhorns, an organization dedicated to inspiring, recruiting and supporting new farmers with programs, events and multimedia resources.
Finally, Kristen tells us, “FarmHack provides the necessary support and relevant dialogue once the event has ended to allow for “long term communication and collaboration among people from all over the country.”
Want to find when a Farm Hack will be held near you? Visit http://www.youngfarmers.org/practical/farm-hack/events
“We have been able to unearth our traditions,” said Deborah Ramos about the Zenteotl project that she started in Minnesota in 2006. The Zenteotl Project, which in Nahuatl means, “first energy,” is meant to unite the Latino community of Central and South Minneapolis through art, traditional Mexica dance, and the traditional cultivation of corn. The project started as a multi-media performance created by Deborah, a visual artist, after traveling to Mexico and learning from traditional teachers about the origins of corn. She learned that corn is not like any other plant, it needs to grow within a community of other corn, and it needs a direct relationship with humans. Humans, and the Mexica people of Mexico in particular, grow with corn; it is a mutual relationship.
She was so intrigued by what she had learned about corn, that she began working on a narrative and a script for the performance that incorporated movements inspired by Aztec dance. But she knew that the only way to fully understand corn was to grow it. So that is what she did–hence, the Zenteotl Project. On a small plot in another community garden in Minneapolis, Deborah and members of the Latino community began experimenting with different traditional methods of cultivating a sweet blue corn that adapts well to a short growing season and has very unique nutritional elements. Over the years, more and more families joined the group through their outreach efforts that have a very specific experience with corn, allowing the group to experiment with even more traditional gardening methods. These methods honor the feminine energy of the earth, the sacredness of the seed, and the elements of the earth. They have experimented with different planting designs made up of rows, arcs, spirals, and many others. Their goal is to find the best traditional method that preserve and contain water.
Along with traditional ways of planting, they have also incorporated the corresponding ceremonies and traditional Mexica dance performed during the growth process of corn, taught to them by an elder of the community from Mexico. And, they use an ancestral method to make adobe homes to build an organic sculpture that represents a stage of the corn. The goal was to help participants understand that they could gain the basic knowledge to make their own home through this creative experience. They have even used recycled corn from prior seasons to make paper. “We take advantage of corn in the most respectful way and try to be as creative as possible,” said Deborah. In this way, this group attempts to recover their relationship with the earth and with each other. “We couldn’t learn this from a book, it had to happen through this collective process,” said Deborah.
In a time when climate change is becoming more and more visible in our everyday lives, Deborah wanted to offer her community more options for growing food. “We didn’t just haphazardly decide to grow corn, to garden, or to dance, it has all been very intentional from the inception,” she said. This unique Zenteotl project is on their fourth growing season, and Deborah feels that they are really onto something very powerful–they are empowering themselves. They hope to gain access to land outside of the city in order to grow more food, and they continue their work in the performing arts with indigenous artists in Mexico and the United States.
If you would like to learn more or get involved, look for “Zenteotl Project/Proyecto Zenteotl” on Facebook for more information.
Iowa may seem an unlikely destination for a young college graduate from Ithaca, New York. But not for Kristen Loria, who grew up with a passion for the rising food movement in Ithaca, later graduating from Cornell University in environmental science and sustainable agriculture. She grew to love a life rooted in agriculture with a commitment to creating a world that marries ecological and human well-being, rather than “one always being sacrificed for the other”.
After a splattering of experiences working on farms, in sustainable farm organizations and schools, Kristen landed in Iowa with AmeriCorps, immersing herself in garden and nutrition education programs. She found Iowa is a “place that embodies what our modern food system has become”.
Living in Iowa helped her to recognize “a serious flaw in the way we talk about food and agriculture” in terms of efficiency of production. She found although “many Iowans take enormous pride in Iowa’s effort to ‘feed the world’”, most of the productivity goes to energy and animal feed. This assumption stifles the necessary discussions to address and fix the food system.
However, changes within the Iowa food landscape are being introduced alongside conventional production practices. Kristen noted that while agriculture is a “very polarizing realm politically,” it is increasingly important to “collaborate with diverse farmers and perspectives” to truly make a change. Unlike New York, a relatively small producer state, Iowa has presented Kristen with a new, “beneficial dynamic.”
As her experiences continue to pile up, Kristen has realized the fluidity in which she can fit within the food movement–trying on different roles that “fit together and inform each other in valuable ways”, whether on the coast or in the cornfield.
Part 2 and 3 of this Iowa story will focus on two innovative programs that support the development of a new breed of young farmers, the Greenhorns and Farm Hack, which uses technology to create a collaborative environment between all farmers, young and old.
There’s a lot I love about the Midwest, but mostly it’s the people. And summer. Despite the worst drought on record raging through much of the lower and mid-region corn belts, you wouldn’t notice it at first glance in and around the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul
Out here in support of the Twin Cities Public Television debut of Food Forward, all I can see is lush green grass surrounding smaller suburbs and rural enclaves as I make my way down the Mississippi river valley and over to La Farge, Wisconsin, headquarters for our founding sponsor, Organic Valley.
After meeting up with the team in the main offices, we head through Amish country and over to Spring Green, WI for a picnic dinner and to see Shakespeare’s Richard III. Afterwards, I’m invited to stay at ‘The Kettle’ for a restful night of sleep below a bright and shiny milky way, deep in the back woods of rural Wisconsin and I’m reminded of how lucky and thankful I am to have these opportunities.
Back to civilization and its straight to the St. Paul farmers market in search of food rebels. Amidst a sudden mid-summer downpour we amble through the aisles and met up with several local pioneers, including Mary Falk of Love Tree farmstead selling her artisan sheep milk cheeses and Dean Schwake of Big Woods Bison, offering low fat, high protein meat.
Then it was across the street to meet with Lenny Russo of Heartland Restaurant and Farm Direct Market. Lenny is a true visionary focused on supporting small-scale and local family farms. We spent a good day of filming with Lenny and look forward to sharing more about his operation soon.
Finally, I watched the airing of Food Forward yesterday at legendary local hot spot, The 1029 Bar in Northeastern Minneapolis.
At this popular Sunday sports bar, we were able to coerce our lovely waitress into switching two monitors from the British Open to our episode on urban agriculture, sans sound. Sure, I’ve seen it literally hundreds of times now, but to watch it far from home, with just the crisp high definition picture, amidst an amazing display of really good food from the Smack Shack with none other than local host Doug Utter, was a real treat. Even though they are nationally known for their lobster rolls, it was the roasted leg of lamb sandwich with harissa, saffron aioli and fennel seed slaw that I’ll remember and will come back for again. Out of site, really.