Blog Archives

Sunday Farmer’s Market in Shepherdstown…

Since I am trapped in my recliner with my broken bones, Elly has already gone without me over to the Shepherdstown Farmers Market to buy our weekly supply of organic vegetables and field-raised meats that show up there. We are fortunate in our geographic area to have several farmers markets…  Saturday is the one at Morgan’s Grove and of course we also have them in Charles Town and Martinsburg and recently we saw signs for one one over in Hagerstown at the VFW Hall.

Our local farmers make a point of raising organic foods and for that we can be thankful. There are plenty of places in this country where organic foods are not available. Also, GMO foods are becoming more and more pervasive in our grocery stores. Thank you, Monsanto.

I hope you have great food available to you wherever you are. and I hope the organic food world expands everywhere. Support your farmers markets.

Advertisements

80% 0f Antibiotics are Fed to Farm Animals – and it’s killing us!

Here’s something we should all be aware of (especially when we go food shopping):

I hope you signed the petition… and look for the label in the meat department that tells you your steak is from a cow raised without antibiotics.

My life has changed… not for the better, I’m afraid

Following my radio show this morning, I’m sitting over at Mellow Moods having coffee while I wait for my friend Cecil to pick me up

He’s over at  workshop at the Contemporary American Theater Festival and are schedules our slightly skewed.

This not being able to drive, what I have been condemned to since my accident, stands a real possibility of going on for the rest of my life. If I were in a city with public transportation to everything going on, it would be one thing, but I’m a few miles out of town in an empty, rural neighborhood where walking to anything is out of the question and there are no buses or anything else.

I’m dependent on family and friends to go out, can no longer do the grocery shopping, which I enjoyed, and, basically I feel trapped. The internet is my only way out, so you, dear blog readers, are now my connection to the world. I enjoy hearing from you whether you agree with me or not.

Think I’ll go buy another cup of coffee while it becomes 102° outside.

New GMOs Poised to Destroy Farmer’s Market Favorites

This article is from Rodale. The first couple of lines are below… then connect to the full story:

New GMOs threaten tomatoes and other garden staples.

By Leah Zerbe

Your tomatoes are under attack.

If approved, two new types of genetically engineered corn and soy crops will threaten some of America‘s favorite farm foods, including tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, squash, melons, pumpkins, green beans, grapes, and other farmer’s market and garden staples.

—> Read the rest HERE.

I guess I’m REALLY feeling older…

Al Thomas

Last night was Al Thomas’ Birthday Party over at the Folly, the wonderful timber frame performance area he built some years ago on Bradley Sanders’ property, surrounded by talking areas and wood benches and what’s left of Al’s giant trebuchet (which he says he’s going to put back together one of these days.)

Al turned 60 this week, which makes him 5 years younger than me and a person with so much more energy and personality, able to carry on discussions with anyone and loved by everyone, that I am totally jealous.

Elly and Bud were also at the party with me ( Bud stayed there till 1:00 AM… 1:00 AM!… when his mother picked him up and the party was still going on.) We got there around quarter past five and after 2 1/2 hours I was exhausted, so I talked Elly into going home (she was going to a 10PM showing of “Paris Texas” at the Opera House with her friend Joan anyway), where I went to bed (I had been up since 4:30 in the morning and could barely keep awake.

The music was great, the food was terrific and beer and wine flowed freely. By the time I left there were easily 100 people there… from folks my age and older to the youngest of children running around and speeding through crowds on bikes… and Elly said when she picked up Bud cars will still arriving as others were leaving. How folks close to my age can keep going so far into the night is more than I can understand.

My son says I’m not “social” and that’s probably true (Elly agrees), but I think part of it is that I can never think of things to talk about unless someone else and I are involved in the same project, and I can’t remember most names… even of people I’ve met only a day or so ago. I am so embarrassed about my inability to remember names and how it makes it hard for me to introduce people to my wife and son or others, that I avoid doing it… or I do “one way” introductions, hoping the person whose name I can’t remember coughs it up when saying “nice to meet you.”

As I get older, I’m losing my memory of other things, too… events, movies I’ve seen, etc. … and my energy level is dropping like a bag of stones from a bridge. I’m having more and more trouble losing weight as I get more and more sedentary. I only sleep in 90 minute chunks, so I’m up and down all night. If it were not for this blog, my podcast, and co-hosting for John Case on the Friday morning radio show, I would probably be in a coma.

I can’t figure out who I am at this point in life. Perhaps working on the Carnival project for August at the Folly will help me see who I am (and someday I’d like to direct some theatre again… there are so many pieces I want to do and no one, so far, interested in having me do them.

At least it is Sunday and I can nap the afternoon away.

Anyhow… Happy Birthday, Al. You are one of the people whose names I CAN remember and who I really enjoy talking with.

Educate yourself – learn about Monsanto, GMO foods and industry lobbying…

Most Americans go rambling through their grocery stores with no concept of what they are buying as it relates to the poison Monsanto and other chemical companies has spread through our fruits, vegetables and even meats. If YOU are unaware of this situation, then watch the video that follows…

Now look at the Top 10 Facts about Monsanto from the Organic Consumers Association:

  1. No GMO Labeling Laws in the USA!
  2. Lack of Adequate FDA / USDA Safety Testing
  3. Monsanto Puts Small Farmers out of Business
    Farmer Suicides After GMO Crop Failures
  4. Monsanto Products Pollute the Developing World
    500,000 Agent Orange Babies
  5. Monsanto Blocking Government Regulations
  6. Monsanto Guilty of False Advertising & Scientific FRAUD
  7. Consumers Reject Bovine Growth Hormone rBGH in Milk
  8. GMO Crops Do NOT Increase Yields
  9. Monsanto Controls U.S. Soy Market
  10. Monsanto’s GMO Foods Cause NEW Food Allergies

In 2009 a documentary was aired on French television (ARTE – French-German cultural tv channel) by French journalist and film maker Marie-Monique Robin, The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that you won’t see on American television. . . but you can see it HERE.

Got the picture? Now figure out what you are going to do about this. Start by educating others.

We’re off to Morgan’s Grove Market… but the weather looks chancy…

Elly and I are volunteering for Peter Corum today over at the Market. He has to leave early, so we’re going to help out n the afternoon getting all those veggies sold and just keeping things moving.

Instead of it’s usual 9 – 12 hours, we’re joining the Farm Day celebrations locally and saying open all day. I had hoped the overnight thunderstorms would have gotten all the rain out of the sky, but the Weather Bureau is calling for a 30% chance of rain today, with the biggest chance this afternoon. The clouds are pretty thick as well… not sure we’ll see any sun.

But the Market goes on Rain or Shine… so if you are in the neighborhood, come on by and you’ll get groceries, crafts, snacks, live music (starts at 10) and more… and you can take a look at the Sustainable Shepherdstown Community Garden (where the corn is now has high as an elephant’s knee). Elly is still signing people up for the few remaining plots… very inexpensive (provides for water and deer security).

What do you know about Food Disparagement Laws?

Until last night, I knew nothing about them… but as I attended the F.A.R.M. program (Food Art Revolution Media) last night it was one of the topics that Melinda and Dan Hemmelgarn discussed last night.

These laws currently exist in 13 states and do things like banning photographers from taking pictures of food processing plants, or writing articles protesting farms that spray their crops with Monsanto poisons, or just discussing in the public press (and no doubt in blogs like this one) the disadvantages of non-organic farming.

The food disparagement movement has major corporate support (Monsanto, Dow, Buckeye Eggs and others) and haul people into court with their heavy economic advantage if the smallest criticism is raised. This has been going on since the 1990’s (a lot of it came out because of films like “Food, Inc.” or the works of Michael Moore.)

Senator Patrick Leahy (D – Vermont) made this statement in the late ’90s concerning this situation:

Some states permit lawsuits against those who question the safety of our food supply. It is my view that under the First Amendment, Americans possess the right

Official photo of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

Sen Patrick Leahy (D - Vermont)

to raise safety and health concerns about the foods we eat, such as the levels of mercury in our fish or the levels of pesticides in imported foods. State laws that permit lawsuits against those who question the safety of foods can have a chilling effect on public health discourse. That is not the American way –healthy debate on issues of public concern is how this country does business.

The FoodSpeak Coalition highlights the chilling effect that these laws have on the exercise of free speech. Defamation laws should not intimidate citizens and the press who want to speak out about food safety.

Americans in all states must be allowed to openly debate issues of public health.

Here, here!

I spoke with a woman at the meeting last night whose 5-year work on a book concerning the dangers of chemical spraying on US Agriculture has been filed away indefinitely because she is afraid of lawsuit under food disparagement laws… and West Virginia doesn’t even have such laws. States like Iowa and Florida are affecting the entire country.

Rain or Not, the Earth Day Festival goes on…

I just spent three hours at the Earth Day Festival in Shepherdstown’s Morgan’s Grove Park. Elly and the Sustainable Shepherdstown folks had a booth, as did most of the non-profits and craftsmen in town.

When I walked over to the park from my house (about a quarter mile away) there was a little bit of sun peeking through the clouds… but the weather said we’d have scattered showers and perhaps some thunder storms today, so I checked out the areas with decent coverage.

There was a fabric bandshell at the bottom of the hill from the Pavilion…the big protective area in case of rain… and they were warming up the mikes and checking the sound levels until it was time for the first act: a guy playing wooden wind pipes to recorded background music.

The next group to play was a country singer with an all-girl backup band – Lucas and the Lovelies – and they were pretty good.

Then it started to rain, which made the folks watching the music get under the pavilion so that they could see it without getting wet.

Meanwhile, Elly was selling cookies she baked this morning and Ruth Robertas’s Brownies under their tent top, raising money for Sustainable Shepherdstown and promoting the Community Garden. I watched the booth for a little while (sold some cookies/brownies) while she talked with some of their volunteers and with Peter Corum at the Morgan’s Grove Market Booth .

So I waited till the rain let up, then I walked home to feed the dogs. I think they’ll have a little more time without rain, but i do expect more before they close the booths in a couple of hours. It was fairly well attended, though.

Return to being a Vegan

I’ll admit it… about six months ago I gave up the Vegan diet I had been on for close to two years and went off on a meat and cheese (mostly cheese) binge. But now, since my weight stopped coming off and I just didn’t feel as good, last Monday I returned to my Vegan diet (but I will miss that occasional top sirloin!).

et’s see how long I can keep going (says bill as he digs out his Vegan Chili recipe.)

When was the last time you had an $85.00 Dinner? – Bill’s Restaurant Review of Potowmack Farm.

Elly and I, you must know, are not rich folks. Oh, we do all right, but I’m a retired graphic designer/web designer and she is one of the New Criminal Class – she’s a teacher. So when Elly pulled out the coupon she had planned to give me for Chanukah, but put it away and forgot about it, which was good for $25.00 off if we ordered two dinners at a restaurant in Northern Virginia called The Restaurant at Potowmack Farm, we decided to have a nice Friday Evening out. It’s about a 45 minute drive from our home in Shepherdstown.

We didn’t bother checking the menu on their web site, but only checked on the driving directions…it’s back country and up in the Catoctin Mountains, and, of course, we should have. The reviews of this place were excellent, and whenever reviews focus on the Chef (Christopher Edwards), we get curious. We’re hooked viewers of television shows like Top Chef and Chopped and all the restaurant makeover shows. We rarely get to eat at places with acclaimed chefs (there are very few, none actually, in our local area), and this seemed like an opportunity we couldn’t resist.

This is a lovely restaurant, located way up near the top of a mountain with a grand view of the Potomac Valley and the countryside below. We got there just before sundown and had a chance to see the spectacular view… if you go there, the view alone is worth attending a daytime brunch. The main dining room looks like a greenhouse, however this is a matter of design, it was obviously built directly for this use and has never been used as a place to grow vegetables. I should add, however, that Potowmack Farm is an organic food grower, maintains a commercial bakery and focuses on regularly changing local foods (they also buy a lot of their non-grown-there foods at Common Market in Frederick, where Elly and I love to shop for organics.)

The place is the cleanest restaurant I have ever been in…this would never be one of Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. The staff is courteous… sometimes to an extreme… and provides exceptional service. Our waitress was Rachel, and she explained the menu as she poured water. The menus, by the way, are single sheet pieces, well laid out and typeset with our name at the top (actually, it said “Menu for the Smith Party” on top… Elly had reserved in her maiden- and professional name, Ellen Smith.)

One side had an ala carte list, the other had the Prix Fixe description. Rachel recommended, since we were new at the restaurant, that we try the Prix Fixe, as it had samples of everything they do.

And then we looked at its price: $85.00 per (an additional $55.00 for wine with courses… it;s a good thing we are not drinkers.) This was going to be an expensive night, even with the coupon, whose $25.00 would be eaten up in the tip!)

So we had a starter, an appetizer, another appetizer, a main course, a dessert series, and coffee. And, I have to admit, the things we were served had the beauty that you see on shows like Top Chef – everything was artfully laid out on fine, white plates…oversized compared to the food and acting like a frame… and sided with sterling silverware.

Now for the down side (it’s not that bad, so don’t look for something outrageous). Portions are extremely small. We expected small, based on our television experience and having eaten at very good chef-oriented restaurants like Volt in Frederick, but  this was really teeny.  Given all the courses, we didn’t expect to be hungry when we left. We were.

The other problem we had was the amount of salt used in some of the items… oddly enough in the sauce under a dish of raw vegetables which, I guess, was a salad (it was lovely to look at), and on the extremely tiny piece of smoked beef in the grand entree. The beef we also found somewhat tough and chewy (although the rare center was quite tender and not salty… I wish there had been more of that.)

The desserts were wonderful, though also small. My favorite was a dessert souffle that was larger than most of the items served.

I think Chef Christopher is an excellent visual chef and I wish he had a greater sensitivity to salt content on some things. Their bakery puts out lovely small cakes and muffins and grand breads. And just knowing that everything is organic and local is very satisfying. We are certainly interested in going again, most likely for a Sunday Brunch where we think we can enjoy Potowmack Farm for about half the cost of the Prix Fixe. We give it our Thumbs Up.

Potowmack Farm is in Lovettsville, Virginia. For current menus, reservation info and and driving directions, go to http://www.patowmackfarm.com.

Waiting for the refrigerator man… Fighting Fruit Flies.

The repair guy from GE is coming this morning some time (they said between 8 and Noon and we’re well into that now) to look at our noisy freezer that’s dripping water into the refrigerator section below. I tried defrosting (which on a frost free machine is hard to do) and that didn’t solve the problem. I have a feeling that there is a fan part that needs to be replaced. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, it is raining out, so I’ll have to get wet walking the dogs. They don’t mind, of course, but I do. It’s cold as well (my back deck thermometer hasn’t hit 60° yet), so this is going to be an uncomfortable walk. Still, of course, without a car until tomorrow when we go down to Linda’s to pick it up. So I’m trapped in the house again today.

I have been battling with fruit flies for the last week or so… they pop up everywhere… drains, fruitbowl, cutting board area… and, since we don’t use any poison sprays, getting rid of them was a real problem. Until I did my research, of course, and discovered how to make “fruit fly traps” which have worked so well that you hardly see any of the little bastards around.

How does one make a fruit fly trap? Simple. Start with a good, widemouthed jar (we always have plenty of old Ball jars around which we use for canning) and put in about an inch or two of warm water with a squirt of dishwashing soap. Then add a shot of apple cider and a shot of red wine. Cover the top of the jar with a piece of Saran Wrap and use a rubber band to keep it tightly sealed at the neck of the jar. Now comes the tricky part… you have to punch a few very small holes through the plastic wrap… small enough for the fruit flies to get in but not so large that they can go right out again. I use a nut pick to punch the holes, but a fork could do it, too.

Then all you have to do is put the jar wherever the greatest number of the pests have been spotted. I made four jars and put them in various places in my kitchen. Now all you do is wait. In about an hour or so you will notice a distinct reduction in the bugs. The next day when you check the jars you will find they are full of little drowned fruit flies. Amazing!

I change the liquid and reseal the jars every few days and my fruit-flies are now nowhere to be found (on the first refill day there were much fewer of them caught in the traps, so we are succeeding quite well.)

I think I’ll post this bit about my fruit fly traps over at Panhandle Vegan… I know my friends over there could probably benefit from the strategy.

For your morning entertainment…

“The Coffee Wars” by Kill The Lobster:

Over at Mellow Moods setting up for broadcast…

…well, actually, John is setting up for broadcast… he knows how this all goes together, I don’t.

Phil is running around his little coffee shop like crazy setting up for his morning business…none of his employees are here yet. He’s putting out the coffee containers where we squirt our own fresh brew into his cups. Fresh coffee is the morning delight over here.

Customers are starting to come into the Mood and John has to run back to the station to get a multi-plug jack for the headsets. I guess I’ll be broadcasting while he tests the feed over there.

OK…show’s on…more later.

Radio Show’s over and we’re having coffee at Mellow Moods…

John Case and I are sitting here planning next Wednesday morning when we’ll actually be broadcasting from the Mellow Moods Cafe. This is the first time we’ve attempted a location  broadcast (although John used to do them some years ago from the Lost Dog… another coffee shop down German Street.)

We’ll bring an extra mike so we can interview folks here… but we don’t really know who will be on the list (except Mellow Moods’ Phil).

So tune in to WSHC 89.7 FM next Wednesday morning from 7:30 to 9:00 AM and listen in.

Not all organic food is “organic”

Here’s a clip about food imported from China… Click on the pri.org address for more.

This post is presented in cooperation with Panhandle Vegan.

clipped from www.pri.org
Think those “organic” strawberries from China are better for environment? Think again.

image
The organic label is meant to signify that a food is relatively environmentally friendly: Organic producers are forbidden from using many synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. When that organic food comes from China, that label may not mean much.
“When I see organic food from China, I question,” environmental journalist Michael Pollan told PRI’s The World, “how organic is it?” Organics are a $26 billion industry in the United States, and an increasing amount of that is coming from China. Pollan points out, “organic is a very big global business now. People don’t realize it.”
A Chinese grocery chain owner who spoke with Global Post estimated that “maybe 30 percent of farms that put the organic label on their food produce the real thing.”
Consumers should look beyond the label and consider the real environmental cost of their foods.
blog it

A few items here and there…

At a local Food CoOp meeting last night there was a pile of information revealed. First of all, there is in existence a Jefferson County (WV) Food CoOp, has been for around 25 years, but it has been shrinking and is all but invisible (down to a couple of dozen members). The Shepherdstown group looks like they are willing to buy into it (membership is $25.00 a year and they order food from a National CoOp supplier once a month).

Ruth Robertas got the Shepherdstown bunch together for meetings and is keeping minutes on the meeting, which are expected by e-mail.

At some point I hope to write an update on this venture… I’d give anything to have it turn into a real ongoing shopping area, like the Frederick Common Market which I go down to at least one Wednesday a month (on Wednesdays there is a 5% discount for folks over 60, which usually covers my gas and my lunch) and which sells the best organic and natural stuff and is especially full of products appealing to Vegans like us. That, however, is a long way away and would require a REAL organization.

_______________

Yesterday at the Farmer’s Market in Shepherdstown, I saw this good looking woman and her family shopping and she was covered in intricate tattoos. It made me stop and think about how many people you see these days that have turned their bodies into artworks…

While watching one of the Top Chef shows on Bravo I noticed that 2/3 of the contestant chefs, both male and female, were more than decorated with tattoos. They were never commented on or apparently even noticed by anyone (I mean, no one said “gee, what a great design” or anything like that), but were simply accepted as part of the current mode of expression.

And then, of course, I thought of Janeane Garafolo, who is even more tattooed every time she appears on television. Certainly this effects her ability to be cast in films. Or maybe not.

So I started thinking about what I would decorate myself with if I were to go for tattoos. My big problem is that I would tire of an image or a pattern relatively quickly and I don’t imagine removal is an easy thing (although I’ve heard of it being done.) The upshot is that I don’t want to find out how my skin would change as I got older. I don’t think I’ll ever get a tattoo.

_______________

The word on the BP oil leak this morning is that the cap that was put on the broken pipe is sucking in 11,000 barrels a day, but that may be only 10% or 20% of what is going directly into gulf waters.

At the government’s press update this morning they seemed to be trying to put an optimistic face on all this, but the bottom line was that there is no real solution until the relief wells are finished in August… and even then there is still a strong possibility that the problem could go on.

Somebody made the statement that there would be months of cleanup after the leak was stopped , but everyone knows that they are still cleaning up much less pollution from the Exxon Valdez spill 10 YEARS AGO!

BP’s cleanup price tag so far is 1.25 Billion Bucks and climbing.This doesn’t count any of the lawsuits which are being brought by destroyed businesses along the coastlines or by amounts that are being claimed by individual states who will lose tourist industry income. No one is questioning whether BP will survive, but if they go bankrupt, who will pay for all this. You and I both know the answer to that one (keep your hand on your wallet and wait for the tax increases.)

Here’s one more Food related piece you might want to look at… this time it’s a 5th Grader!

OpEd News did a piece today called “Talking About Food and Farming with Orren Fox” a young man in the fifth grade in Massachusetts who is opposed to factory farming and who raises chickens. What I enjoyed about it most was the information he had on chicken intelligence… something Foer gets into in “Eating Animals”.

You should read this article which was done as an interview with Orren by Joan Brunwasser. Go HERE and enjoy.

And if you want to see how well a 12-year-old can write, here is an article BY Orren at Every Kitchen Table, the great Food blog. It’s called “What the Heck is ProFood Anyway?” and it is very interesting.

And so we went to Volt for Lunch…

VOLTComments about Volt:
1.) Lovely restaurant… extremely clean and well designed interior.
2.) Wait staff seems to be 99% male… and all waiters. maitre d’s, wine stewards, sign-in girls, etc., wear the same brown fabric with white trim sneakers ( and classy suits with no ties).
3.) Food presentation is a visual experience.
4.) Serving sizes are teeny.
5.) Taste is great.
6.) Very expensive for a Frederick, MD, restaurant.
7.) Heavily into wines (which we can’t drink, more’s the pity.)

If you get the chance, it’s worth a visit expect to spend at least $60 bucks on lunch for two with tips.