Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Real Food Face-Off

And now for something completely different…

My friend Katie over at Kitchen Stewardship has been running a Tuesday series called Real Food Face-Off. Every week, she posts interviews with two real food bloggers. It's not so much a contest as it is a getting-to-know-you, and a way to find kindred spirits and other interesting food blogs.

Anyway, this week, I was interviewed!

Click here to see the interview.

I've been "faced off" with Raine from Agricultural Society, a wise and thoughtful woman who has turned to real food for healing, after getting sick repeatedly and becoming disillusioned with mainstream medicine. You can read her eye-opening story here. Raine, thanks for sharing your intense story.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Raw Milk Interviews: Winton Pitcoff of NOFA; Terri Lawton of Oake Knoll Ayrshires

If you're new to my blog, you might easily conclude that I'm interested in only kimchi and raw milk. Which I don't recommend combining.

I can see why you might come to this conclusion. It's not true, I assure you.


Here's an excellent interview with Winton Pitcoff, who heads the Raw Milk Network for the Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association:


And one with Terri Lawton of Oake Knoll Ayrshires, the only remaining dairy of any kind in Norfolk County, Massachusetts:


Terri offers a perspective on the strict regulation of the sale of raw milk in Massachusetts:
Do you think it’s unfair that raw milk can only be sold on the farm where it’s produced [in Massachusetts]?
I think it’s wild that a person can go to any store and buy cigarettes or alcohol. Certainly cigarettes are known to have no additive effect to anyone’s health. And whether or not raw milk does—and a lot of studies that say that it does—but regardless of whether it does, it’s certainly not as inherently harmful as smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco. There’s no problem with selling any kind of tobacco at any kind of store. I think that’s pretty outrageous. If that’s allowed, there shouldn’t be any problem allowing raw milk.
She has a good point.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Kimchi Festival In The News At BostonKorea.com

An article at BostonKorea.com about the Greater Boston Kimchi Festival (or at least I hope that's what it's about...):


UPDATE: Click below for English (from the print edition):

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Where To Get Raw Milk In Massachusetts (Updated 2010-02-11)

Breaking news: The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources has been sending cease-and-desist orders to a number of raw milk buying clubs. Because of this, I will not name any of them, or talk about how to find them on the Internet. Buying clubs have served many Massachusetts raw milk drinkers for many years with ZERO incidents, and it is very sad to see the government creating problems where there aren't any. With a little luck, this situation might clear up…but luck is often not enough when it comes to raw milk and state bureaucrats. For an in-depth analysis, see David Gumpert's recent blog post. When it becomes clear where we should be writing letters, I'll let you know.

Here are some options for finding raw milk in Massachusetts, as of 2010-02-11:
  • Get yourself to a farm that is licensed to sell raw milk. This is the most straightforward option, if not always the most convenient. (1) At this moment, the closest farm to Boston is Oake Knoll Ayrshires At Lawton's Family Farm in Foxboro; I blogged about it here. (2) Starting on or around March 1, 2010, you will also be able to get raw milk at Eastleigh Farm in Framingham, which is significantly closer to Boston and Cambridge. I have blogged extensively about Eastleigh, and their licensing challenges, here. (3) NOFA lists other Massachusetts raw milk farms here. I've been to Upinngil Farm in Gill: Ayrshire cows, great milk, and great prices!

  • Pick up some raw milk on your next trip to Maine or Connecticut. Make sure to bring a cooler or an insulated bag. For extra points, bring an ice-pack of some sort, or ask for ice at the store—some stores will give you ice for free. I've purchased raw milk at Rosemont Market on Munjoy Hill in Portland, Maine, and at the giant Whole Foods in Portland. I've also been to Golden Harvest Market, in Kittery, Maine; just over the ME-NH border on I-95, it's a very cute store that reminds me of Debra's in Concord, Mass.

  • Join a formal buying club.
  • Join an informal buying club—one that does not advertise its existence, and that stays under the radar. I hear of them from time to time.
  • Start your own buying club, only deal with people you know, and keep quiet about it. All you need to do is get a bunch of people together, take turns driving to a farm, and figure out the finances and logistics to everyone's satisfaction. The smaller it is, the less coordination you'll need to do (but the more driving you'll do).

  • I have heard that there are dairy cow share programs in Massachusetts. For obvious reasons, I can't provide any details.
As far as other raw dairy products go:
  • Raw milk cheese is legal, so long as it is aged at least 60 days before sale. Whole Foods sells some cheddars made from unpasteurized milk. (Trader Joe's sells a raw milk cheddar, too, but it's not very tasty at all.) Other cheese purveyors may have greater variety and quality of raw milk cheeses, legal and otherwise.

  • Raw cream, raw butter, and any other such "processed" raw dairy do not seem to be legal in Massachusetts.
Please comment if you have additions, corrections, questions, or whatever.

Are You Looking For A Mother?

A biological mother.

Not your mommy, though.

I'm talking about a mother culture: kombucha, sourdough, vinegar, and so on!

My friend just brought this event to my attention. I wish I could go. Wrong coast.

Here are the details:

The Mother Cultural Exchange
Saturday, February 20 from 2-4PM
Cost: Free
3579 17th Street (between Dolores and Guerrero)
San Francisco, CA

RSVP to crittersalon AT gmail.com
Subject heading "Mother Cultures"

For more information:


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Greater Boston Kimchi Festival

Sustainable, traditional, fermented!

Announcing the Greater Boston Kimchi Festival. 3PM-6PM, Sunday March 21, 2010.

There will be kimchi, a kimchi contest, and a whole lot of kimchi-related activities and entertainment.

The awards ceremony will take place at 5:30PM.

Contest And Attendance
If you would like to attend the Greater Boston Kimchi Festival, it is $5. No advance registration is required.

If you would like to enter your kimchi in the Greater Boston Kimchi Festival kimchi contest, please click here for the Entry Information and Guidelines, and click here for the official Entry Form. For every batch of kimchi you enter, the fee is $10 if you register in advance, or $15 at the door. (So please register in advance, and save yourself some money!) Contestants must arrive and submit their kimchi to the judges between 3:00PM and 3:30PM.

The kimchi contest judges will be restaurateur Phil Paik, proprietor of JP Seafood Cafe in Jamaica Plain, a rave-reviewed Korean restaurant; and Alex Lewin, food educator, health strategist, blogger, and fermentation advocate. They will judge the following categories:
  • Best In Show
  • Best Professional Kimchi
  • Best Traditional Cabbage Kimchi
  • Best Traditional Non-Cabbage Kimchi
  • Best Innovative Kimchi
Location And Transportation
The Kimchi Festival will take place in the Parish Hall of the Theodore Parker Unitarian Universalist Church, at the corner of Centre and Corey Streets in West Roxbury, Boston. Enter through the door marked 70 Corey St:

Driving directions are available here: http://www.tparkerchurch.org/directions.htm.

There is ample free parking in lots and on the streets near the church, including at the Bank of America parking lot across Corey St. and at the public lot on Corey across Centre St. The commuter rail does not run on Sundays. To get to the church by public transportation, you can take the Orange Line to Forest Hills and take the 37/38 or the 36 bus, both of which stop in front of the church. On Sunday, the following buses are available from Forest Hills: 37/38 (2:15pm, 3:15, 4:15) 36 (2:25pm, 3:05, 3:25, 4:05, 4:25, 5:05).

For More Information
Web: http://kimchi.lactoferment.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=256529670892
Inquiries: kimchi-info@lactoferment.com 
Press: click here for the press release, or email kimchi-press@lactoferment.com
Press coverage to-date: click here to see what the press are saying

Monday, February 8, 2010

Urban Chickens And Ducks On Trial In Cambridge, MA

In Cambridge, MA, there is a kerfuffle over three ducks and two chickens (all female) named Potassium, Ferdinand, Penelope, Henrietta, and Frances, who live at 218-220 Putnam Avenue. They provide eggs and companionship to the humans who share the same address.

What's the problem?

Cambridge law does not specifically address the keeping of chickens and ducks. Ordinance allows "accessory use" of land. The keeping of cats and dogs and the maintenance of a vegetable garden are commonly understood to be such accessory use.

Some abutters to 218-220 Putnam Avenue have petitioned the city to disallow the chickens and ducks, claiming that the birds and their coops will attract rats, mosquitoes, and avian flu, and that they represent some kind of public health threat. City inspectors have found that the opposite is likely to be the case; these birds actually eat mosquito larvae, for instance. Beyond that, the five birds increase soil fertility, and provide food (eggs) for their owners. And they are certainly less disruptive to neighbors than barking dogs.

On Thursday, February 11th, at 7:30PM, at the Central Square Senior Center, the Zoning Board of Appeals will consider the abutters' petition, along with the appeal filed by the keepers of the birds, and will (hopefully) come to a clear and fair decision that can help guide Cambridge residents on this issue. An ideal outcome would be a clear decision describing reasonable steps that keepers of chickens and ducks could take to ensure that such accessory use would be legal. Many cities have such ordinances on the books, including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Seattle, Portland OR, Portland ME, Philadelphia, Chicago, Madison, Sacramento, Burlington, San Antonio, Houston, Minneapolis, Little Rock, Rochester, Miami, Mobile, etc.

Should residents of the city be allowed to use and enjoy their land responsibly, so long as it does not intrude on their neighbors' use and enjoyment? Should people who are raising food on their own land in a safe and sanitary manner be protected by the law?

The answer to both questions is "yes".

It is critical for individuals and groups to regain control over their own food. The industrial food and distribution system stopped serving many of us a long time ago, and if we are not able to create new systems that do serve us, we will be in big, big trouble when the music stops.

Here's what you can do:
  1. Sign the petition here.
  2. Call 617-349-6100 and ask to be connected to the Cambridge Zoning Board of Appeals. Verify the time and location of Thursday's meeting. (If they do change it, I will post an update to this blog, but please check for yourself, just to be sure.) Tell them (very briefly!) what you think. Most importantly, show up at the meeting and share your feelings. Prepare a statement to read, if you wish. Meetings like this one can determine policy that lasts decades. Showing up can really make a difference. Anyone who cares enough to show up at one of these meetings is very likely to be heard. See, for instance, my previous post about the raw milk question in Framingham.
For more information, you can see a Cambridge Chronicle here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Michael Pollan Was On Oprah

Last week, Michael Pollan was on the Oprah Show. (Click here to watch.)

What does this mean? Has "real food" hit the mainstream? Perhaps. At the very least, Michael Pollan's particular flavor of common-sense, easy-to-understand real food philosophy has reached a new level of mainstream audience. And he has continued his ascendancy in fame and fortune. Which is fantastic, as far as I'm concerned.

I've been waiting for the breakthrough event in the realm of real food—the Inconvenient Truth of the broken industrial food system, the system that hurts us every day, whose tentacles are growing to encircle even "organic" foods and small-time seed companies. I've been assuming this breakthrough would come in the form of a movie, for a few reasons: that's how Inconvenient Truth came; that's how many of the most popular food exposés have come in recent years; and people's attention spans these days are better matched to movies than to books.

But maybe the breakthrough will start with an interview on Oprah. People's attention spans are even better matched to talk shows.

Really, I don't care how it comes, or what it takes. As long as it comes. And it will come, once the real food movement reaches a critical mass.

The battle lines have been drawn, and a growing number of us are prepared to fight for real food, by whatever means necessary.