A Farm Tour! And Epic Buckwheat Fail

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If you watched Food Inc., you had the opportunity to see one of the coolest farms around, Polyface Farm. What makes farmer Joel Salatin such a cool person is not just his incredible respect for a better food chain, but his humility in realizing that in consuming any food, we are asking something to give itself up to us. Whether that is an animal or a plant, we are sacrificing something in order to feed ourselves, and that deserves some reflection. When we buy into factory farms and mass-produced chicken houses, we are determining a certain fate for both the land and the animals involved. Are we OK with that? It’s a compelling question.

One of my goals last year was to travel to Staunton, Virginia, and visit Salatin’s Polyface Farm. Due to scheduling issues, we never made it there. But now, we have tickets to a special tour at the farm on May 18th. The tour is called the Lunatic Farm Tour. I can’t wait!

Here is a great video clip about Joel Salatin from Handpicked Nation. Give it a watch. I like to imagine a world where we were all such lunatics. Enjoy!

http://www.handpickednation.com/videos/the-lunatic-farmer/

But on to buckwheat. I love a good buckwheat pancake, although I don’t make them at home. They have such a nice taste and are so satisfying. So when I saw a recipe in Clean Eating magazine for a stuffed acorn squash recipe with ham and buckwheat, I thought “why not?” The recipe looked pretty good, so I purchased some buckwheat and cooked it according to the recipe instructions. Here is what the instructions did not say:

CAUTION: BUCKWHEAT IS STINKY LIKE OLD GYM SOCKS AND WILL FUNK UP YOUR HOUSE FOR HOURS.

Maybe it’s me, but I think little tips like that are helpful.

You know the quote “you eat with your eyes”? Well, my friends, you eat with your nose, too, and if something smells like a middle school locker room, you’re probably going to have lots of leftovers. I am not sharing the recipe with you because I care for you and I am not going to pretend that just because it’s good for you it will taste good (or even smell good).

Part of the journey is trying new things. Sometimes they work, sometimes they leave you gasping for air. That’s life. Tomorrow I will share an experiment that worked. It is called Banana Bread Oatmeal. And it even smells good 🙂

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The Quinoa Dilemma

English: Quinua (Quinoa) plants near Cachora, ...

So, I read an article lately that claimed vegans are responsible for consuming so much protein-rich quinoa that poor people in South America, who have lived on quinoa for centuries, can no longer afford to buy it. Now, I have to say that I am an avid fan of Snopes, the urban-legend busting website. This sounds like something I would read on Snopes. Hoards of American and European vegans descending like locusts and stripping fields bare of their trendy quinoa. True? Well, like most stories, apparently “yes” and “no”.

Quinoa, as a trendy food item, has increased in popularity and (as a result) in price as well. But that money is going somewhere, right? And some of it must be going to farmers (or at least, it should be). So what’s up? As it turns out, in our global economy, things are often more complex and nuanced than they seem in a screaming headline.

Ben Alford, a blogger with Earth Eats, dissects the issue a bit more and reveals that while there are some truths to the negative impact of quinoa’s popularity, the issue is more complicated. You can read his article HERE.

It goes to show that when we talk about sustainable and ethically sourced food, we need to look at a larger, global picture. How is our food grown, how are the workers compensated and how does increased demand for a trendy product affect the overall food system? If farmers are paid more for their crops, but average or poor people are priced out of the food market, is that ethical? If a healthy food has to be transported thousands of miles, is that sustainable? If we all stop eating quinoa, what happens to the farmers who depend on selling their crops? Where is the balance between carbon footprints and heath outcomes?

What does that mean for us? Well, in terms of our family, we eat very little rice and quinoa as it is, so it isn’t so much an issue for us in terms of our weekly grocery list. It does show, however, that when you expand into a global food market, the impact consumers have on economies and resources across the world and complex and often unintended.

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