Sunday, March 22, 2020

Thoughts & Dandelions

Many of us will be hit hard by the fallout from the virus:

Particularly people whose roles involve "being there" and/or physical touch. This includes all of the communities I've become part of over the last 15 years.

Wellness practitioners and trainers of all sorts. Food producers and musicians and other performers. People in hospitality and travel and activity.

It is vital that the emerging florescence of consciousness, connection, and community driven by all these folks not be allowed to wilt, and that we find a way to weather the storm and grow from it in whatever way we can.

Having said that:

It's more important than ever that each of us think about our relationship to the food supply.

Straight to the mundane and actionable:

Do you have some outdoor space? Are you unsure how best to use it to produce food?

If you can't decide, I have a suggestion: grow dandelions.

Maybe you're already doing this. They pretty much grow themselves.

You can eat them. You can eat the leaves. You can eat the stems. You can eat the flowers (although ideally you won't pick them until they've seeded). You can use the roots.

You can read elsewhere about why dandelions are good for you--good for your liver, antioxidants, nutrient-dense, trace minerals, good for digestion, etc.

You can also find elsewhere lovely-sounding recipes for fermented dandelions with allspice and coriander that involve cooking a delicious brine, letting it cool, etc.

My goal, as usual, is to keep it simple, and to avoid being "extra".

So I followed my standard routine:

Weigh vegetables in grams. Add 2% salt by weight. Massage and stuff in jar.

I did this with the leaves and put them in one jar. I did it with the stems and put them in another.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Fermenting in the Time of Coronavirus

When I speak on the subject of fermentation and why it is important, I often talk about the Zombie Apocalypse. I don't  necessarily mean literal zombies eating your literal brains. The Zombie Apocalypse is an archetype of infrastructure collapse, representing unthinkable, unimaginable forces capable of interrupting our cozy routine, revealing the fault lines in our fragile post-industrial house of cards.

Welcome to the Zombie Apocalypse, 2020-style.

What does this have to do with fermentation?

Many of us take for granted our ability to go to the supermarket, buy almost anything we want, then bring it home and preserve it in the big white rectangular electric food preserving device called "refrigerator". (Credit to Sandor Katz for this characterization.)

What if some links went missing from this chain? What if, all of a sudden, we needed some other way to preserve our food?

Canning is the olde tyme food preserving poster child, yet it's relatively high-tech and resource-intensive. There are older techniques that don't require airtight lids and large amounts of fuel: drying, salting, and curing. And fermenting.

What would you do if you got several pounds of vegetables, and didn't know when you'd see more? Even in the rectangle, a month is a long time for fresh vegetables. But after a month at room temperature, fermented vegetables and fruit are just starting to get interesting.

For many of us, infrastructure instability has always been something that happened "somewhere else". Maybe somewhere far away—Syria, Iraq, Bangladesh. Maybe closer to home—Puerto Rico, New Orleans, Florida.

Coming to a city near you?

Let's hope this is just a dry run.

Either way, I'd suggest that you find a sharp knife, a cutting board, a big pile of salt, and some mason jars. Get them from a local store if you can, or on the Internet if you must.

And stay tuned for another post, with more specific recommendations, soon.