Archive: Sustainability

A Plea for Red, White, Blue -- and Local

Last September, I wrote about Roger Doiron’s grassroots campaign for a White House garden. Now Doiron, who’s based in Scarborough, Maine, is taking his home-grown ideas to another level -- one of stars, stripes and all things patriotic. (Photo courtesy of Foodindependenceday.org) Founder of Kitchen Gardeners International, Doiron has launched (in partnership with IATP Food and Society Fellows and the Mother Nature Network) Food Independence Day, a campaign to make your Fourth of July cookout local and sustainable. Remember last summer’s Eat Local Challenge? The same idea applies: Try sourcing as many of your feast fixins within 100 or 200 miles of where you work or live. In doing so, you’re doing your part to stimulate the local economy, a highly patriotic act, says Doiron. It’s not just the voting public Doiron’s after; he’s circulating an online petition asking for participation from America’s 50 governors, “to lead and eat by...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 30, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

Food for Thought From Denver

Greetings from Denver! I am here attending the 31st annual conference of the International Association for Culinary Professionals (IACP), joined by some 700 of my closest friends in the food world (including Food section editor Joe Yonan). We are writers, editors, farmers, chefs, entrepreneurs and artisan producers representing North America, South America, Europe, Australia and Asia. It is pretty darn cool to be among one’s brethren, people who speak the same language, often with their mouths full. Setting up shop in between conference sessions. (Joe Yonan/The Washington Post) This year's theme is "Pioneering a Sustainable World," an opportunity to discuss where our food comes from and how it's grown, raised or processed and how this conversation applies to the current economic crisis. Yesterday's opening session, "The Soul of Sustainability," featured a panel moderated by radio personality Lynn Rossetto Kasper ("The Splendid Table"), who asked the questions I have been longing...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 3, 2009; 10:43 AM ET | Comments (8)

Green Sushi Advice

Sushi lovers, it’s time to say sayonara to toro (aka bluefin tuna). Hamachi (yellowtail), too. And for the time being, you can forget about ordering those freshwater eel and avocado rolls -- unagi is also a big environmental no-no. Cover of Monterey Bay Aquarium's new sushi pocket guide. (Courtesy Monterey Bay Aquarium). That’s the latest advice from three ocean conservation groups that are poised to launch wallet-sized sushi guides next week. As of Oct. 22, the consumer guides will be available online via Blue Ocean Institute, Environmental Defense Fund and Monterey Bay Aquarium. Each group has its own card with a unique design and layout (Blue Ocean’s list offers detailed descriptions about each species, for example), but the message is the same no matter which card you print out: avoid red-listed sushi and seek out more abundant and better managed species. All three groups also single out species that are...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 17, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (7)

A Taste of Slow Food Nation

Like a really good lunch buffet, Slow Food Nation was enormous, a feast for the eyes, belly and mind. The four-day event in San Francisco drew a crowd of 60,000 over Labor Day weekend, according to organizers, who are calling it the largest celebration of food in America. It was also a first for parent organization Slow Food USA, the North American arm of the international Slow Food movement. The entryway for Slow Food Nation, with San Francisco's City Hall in the background. (Kim O'Donnel) The choices for what to see, taste, hear and discuss were many and varied, and my biggest challenge was in deciding what to do first. There were lectures with star-studded panels, smaller workshops with artisans and activists, a farmers' market, Victory garden and open-air food court, book signings, film screenings, a rock concert and a "Taste Pavilion," an indoor regional/artisanal foods expo. As a member...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 3, 2008; 01:40 PM ET | Comments (7)

What's Slow Food, Anyway?

Greetings from San Francisco, where I'm attending Slow Food Nation a four-day conference-convention-festival "highlighting the connection between your plate and the planet." To get you acquainted, here's a little primer on the ABCs of Slow Food: Slow Food was founded in 1989 by Carlo Petrini, in response to the 1986 opening of a McDonald's in Rome, near the Spanish Steps, the first McDonald's location in Italy. (The movement began with a fledgling group called Arcigola.) Its headquarters are in Bra, Italy, in the Piedmont region. Worldwide, there are 83,000 members from 131 countries; roughly 20 percent, or 16,000 members, are from the U.S. Slow Food USA, which is headquartered in Brooklyn, N.Y., was established in 2000. There are roughly 200 chapters (or convivia) in 47 states. Every two years in the fall, Slow Food International hosts a Salone del Gusto (salon of taste) in Turin, Italy, a celebration of artisan...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 29, 2008; 10:20 AM ET | Comments (1)

A Big Slow Food Show of Hands

This afternoon, I'm headed to San Francisco, where I'll spend the long holiday weekend attending Slow Food Nation, a four-day mega-event "highlighting the connection between your plate and the planet." Part food and music festival, eco-conference and lecture symposium, product expo and tasting, schmooze-a-thon and gastro-intellectual salon, SFN is the first of its kind for Slow Food USA, the 16,000-member American branch of Slow Food, an international non-profit organization based in Bra, Italy. (Stay tuned for the ABCs of Slow Food in tomorrow's space.) On the eve of the festivities, I'll arrive just in time for an event that is poised to set the stage for a broader, longer-term conversation after the projected 50,000 foodies have come and gone. Later this afternoon (5 p.m. local time), Slow Food USA, in conjunction with Roots of Change, a Bay Area non-profit consortium, will unveil a Declaration for Healthy Food and Agriculture, in...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 28, 2008; 12:13 AM ET | Comments (4)

A Day at Polyface Farm

6:45 a.m. Saturday: The clouds have yet to lift off the mountains, but as I peer out the window of the dining room at the Hampton Inn in Staunton, Va. (pronounced without the "u"), the skies of the Shenandoah Valley, are promising plenty of sun. I'm not the only one awake at this fine hour on a Saturday morning; the hotel's breakfast area is packed with people who, like me, are headed just eight miles down a bunch of narrow country roads to the little town of Swoope (pronounced Swope) about 150 miles from Washington, D.C. A view of the Polyface fields, dotted with portable chicken and turkey shelters. (Kim O'Donnel) By seven, my farmer-friend and I pile into her car and join the caravan of cars snaking their way through the valley until we arrived on a dirt road called Pure Meadows Lane, home to Polyface Farm, where we...

 

By Kim ODonnel | July 14, 2008; 12:14 PM ET | Comments (7)

Who Wants to Take an Eat Local Challenge?

In November 2006, when I wrote a Food section story about preparing a 100-Mile Thanksgiving, the word "locavore" was a new word familiar to a small group of like-minded people in the Bay area, practicing what they preach, which is to eat food grown and raised within 100 miles of where you live. Yellow wax beans from my local foodshed. (Kim O'Donnel) Now the word locavore is filtering in the mainstream and becoming part of the vernacular - last year, Oxford American Dictionary declared locavore the 2007 Word of the Year. By now, you've probably heard about or read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle", the memoir Barbara Kingsolver and her family wrote about moving from Tucson to a small Appalachian town in southwestern Virginia and eating locally for a year. Shortly after the publication of Kingsolver's book in 2007, "Plenty," by Vancouver, B.C. couple Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon, hit the bookstore...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 27, 2008; 10:42 AM ET | Comments (0)

Swimming in Greenpeace's Seafood Report

I heard from the Washington office of Greenpeace (GP) yesterday; the environmental activist organization has just released a new report on the continually-shrinking supply of seafood, with a focus on the big supermarket chains. "Carting Away the Oceans: How Grocery Stores Are Emptying the Seas" is a 75-page document that includes a "supermarket scorecard" of the seafood purchasing practices and policies of 20 supermarket corporations and a "Red List" of 22 species that Greenpeace has identified as "most vulnerable" to overfishing and extinction. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which monitors 600 marine stocks, 52 percent of the world's fish supply is "fully exploited" and seven percent of species are depleted. Interesting angle, I think to myself. Oceana is the only other environmental NGO that I could think of that has been focusing on the retail sector, with its mercury advisory campaign at supermarket seafood counters. I'm eager...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 18, 2008; 12:06 PM ET | Comments (0)

Eco-Bite: Mapping Your Produce; SalmonAid

Until recently, both Bon Appetit and its Conde Nast sibling, Gourmet, shared online space via epicurious.com, perhaps the most well-known recipe portal on the Web. Epicurious.com's peak-season map on my Apple laptop. (Kim O'Donnel) Now they are distinctive Web entities (well, sort of) with their own domains, (bonappetit.com and gourmet.com), look and feel, offering up both re-purposed magazine content and online-exclusive multimedia wizardry. This does not mean epicurious.com has disappeared into the Internet sunset; in fact, it seems to be developing a personality of its own. You can find both BA and Gourmet from epicurious, and what I discovered along the way is one of the coolest Web food features I've seen in a long time. Someone rather brilliant at epicurious.com has produced a Peak-Season Map, an amazing interactive tool that provides month-by-month produce updates for all 50 states. Here's how it works: You click on a month, then you...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 29, 2008; 07:45 AM ET | Comments (6)

How Green Are You?

Happy Earth Day, folks. No matter what you think about the 38th annual eco-fest, here are some indisputable statistics about the state of our planet: The Earth is getting hotter and hotter The oceans are getting emptier and emptier. The rainforests are getting smaller and smaller. Americans are getting fatter and fatter. (Kim O'Donnel) I'm not suggesting that all of these phenomena are related, but it's dawning on me more and more just how incredibly fragile our ecosystem is, how quickly these changes happened and how much they impact our lives. Whether or not we like it, believe it or can afford it, our daily choices have a measurable environmental impact, which cuts across all geographic, political, religious, racial and socioeconomic lines. It's tied to how we clean our house, our clothes and our bodies, the cars we drive and how we get to work and school, how we travel,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 22, 2008; 09:55 AM ET | Comments (15)

The Year Without Salmon?

It's the number three most popular seafood in this country, but this year salmon may have to sit this one out. It seems that won't be difficult because there are so few to go around. According to the Pacific Fishery Management Council, a federal agency under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Commerce, 775,000 adult chinook salmon returned to spawn in the Sacramento River valley in central California in 2002. The minimum number to maintain conservation goals is 122,000 - 180,000. This year, the projected run: a mere 58,000. (Check out this graphic from the Sacramento Bee.) As a result, the PFMC voted last week to cancel this year's chinook salmon season in federal waters off the coast of California and most of Oregon. On May 1, the vote will be reviewed by NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service and will likely be confirmed. And yesterday, the California state Fish...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 16, 2008; 10:31 AM ET | Comments (0)

Navigating the Meat Label Maze

Label Confusion: Kim, I love the little links you have been providing lately to shopping guides -- sustainable fish and dirty fruits/vegetables etc. I am trying to find a definitive guide to meat labeling and guidance on when to go organic or when natural will do. I've noticed that finding red meat labeled as organic is increasingly hard even though the chicken is everywhere. I am also concerned about making sure the animals have been treated as well as possible during their upbringing and during slaughter. Any ideas? I agree, it's tricky business trying to navigate your way through the sea of labels. Here's the situation in a nutshell: When you see a certified organic label on meat or poultry, that means that the farm is following the standards of the USDA's National Organic Program, which include the following rules: The livestock is raised without antibiotics or synthetic hormones (although...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 9, 2008; 07:53 AM ET | Comments (20)

At-Home Mussels -- And a Case for DIY Curry Paste

We were hankering for mussels at Casa Appetite over the weekend, a craving that also met our objective of eating more sustainable seafood. Mussels get a unanimous green light from the environmental community, getting high marks for aqua-farm management practices and their low position on the food chain. Mussels with a red curry take off the chill. (Kim O'Donnel) If you've never dared to make mussels at home, it's time to get busy. They are so easy to prepare you'll be wondering what took you so long to wake up to this marvelous dinner secret. Once rinsed and inspected, mussels require less than 10 minutes of cooking time. Dinner can literally be on the table in a half hour. For Sunday night's supper, I wanted a bowlful of ka-pow, a little heat in my mussel broth on this stubbornly chilly spring eve. A coconut curry sounded just right. But I...

 

By Kim ODonnel | March 31, 2008; 10:51 AM ET | Comments (0)

Sustainable Catch of the Day on Your Phone

The wireless gadgetry that I love to hate (I refer to Mister MA's BlackBerry as his "girlfriend.") has just earned its way back into my good graces. Remember when I was lamenting just a few weeks ago about what a pain it's become to be a seafood shopper? You practically need a degree in marine biology to decipher (and remember) the constantly changing health and eco advisories for all of your favorite fish, a daunting task when all you want to do is grill up some salmon steaks and call it a day. Friend of the Sea's eco-update on cod, via SMS. (Kim O'Donnel) But if you own a cell phone (I think most of us do) or a PDA "girlfriend," your seafood counter confusion may soon be a thing of the past. For basic cell phone users, getting the 411 on tonight's shrimp can be easy as sending a...

 

By Kim ODonnel | March 27, 2008; 07:55 AM ET | Comments (9)

Eating Green

In honor of Earth Day, which takes place this Sunday, April 22, I offer an updated list of area farms that still have CSA shares available for the upcoming season. But first, let's break down this acronym: CSA is short for Community Supported Agriculture. Translated, that means a relationship between you, the consumer/eater and a farmer who grows all the stuff. The commitment from you is cash money upfront, in the range of $300 or $400, a financial guarantee to the farmer. This money pays for your subscription and entitles you to a "share" of the land. In return, the farmer delivers a weekly box of just-harvested produce, for up to 20 weeks in succession (depending on the farm). Every grower I talked to this morning delivers to a variety of drop-off points in the Washington area, and the key for the would-be subscriber is to find a CSA with...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 20, 2007; 11:46 AM ET | Comments (5)

 

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