November 17, 2011
Our current food system is broken, and it didn’t happen by accident. Decades of bad food policy designed to benefit agribusinesses and mega-farms, combined with unchecked corporate mergers, have wreaked havoc on family farmers, public health and rural communities.
The Farm Bill is up for reauthorization in 2012, and if we can implement certain changes, we can create a healthy food system for everyone.
Yes, folks – seems like we just did this yesterday – but…
The Farm Bill is up again! This time Monsanto & gang are pinning our Legislature to the wall…who will win? The small farmer & the food eater?
the fat cats?
Take a look at the…fun & enlightening video on You Tube…
We gotta get this information out there…pass it on…see more at Food & Water Watch
January 13, 2011
PEACE! I am not the only one who is using this word – peace – since the murders in Tucson…in fact, many a good word has been typed in the last few days by writers better than me. I want to focus this post on the opportunity to feel peace. Peace within, peace of mind, peace of heart – peace in a daily small way – peace that improves our health, our love for self & others, and by extension – our way of interacting & creating community. Certainly stronger community has been created around this horrific event in Tucson, but at what price? How can we learn to love & look around, meet by candlelight & look into each other’s eyes without a catastrophic event as a tipping point? I suggest that we need community events – cyclical, & often – to remind us of the value of each other & the love that exists when we open to it. The Annual Spiral dance in Willits is one such opportunity we have created & the 200 or so humans that come together always leave with a deeper sense of inner peace & hope for a future of peaceful co-existence. If we could create such events several times a year – the feelings would deepen & merge into something much greater that our dreams can imagine!
Ultimately peace is a way of life – it is not a goal – as Martin Luther King so simply put it. Our American values support peace when it is Christmas or when it is about “us” and our special land of peaceful neighborhoods & quiet towns, but are we supporting Peace on Earth? The proliferation of wars, bombings, and increasing acts of violence show the truth, that we want anything if it helps us be more comfortable – our cars on the road, our homes warmed by fuel driven electrics, and our local Wal-Mart filled with toys & electronics made of plastic by poorly treated “commodity slaves” overseas somewhere – as long is it is not in our faces, we so easily forget.
I saw a great short film last night – A CIRCLE AND THREE LINES – on the history of the peace sign, and during it – I was moved by our historic love of peace, our willingness as a people to join in cause for this deep value. The peace sign offers us hope in a change for the better. It is time to reignite the peace sign again – this time in honor of true love, a deep community wide common ground of love – wanting a future of greatness & possibility for our children, all of them. The memorial candles surrounding Gifford’s office equate love with peace. I agree. Pass it on. Play it forward. Give someone the peace sign – and mean it!
See her wonderful
post on this same message of Peace at www.threadsofspiderwoman.blogspot.com
You can even buy a book on the history of the peace sign:
Peace: The Biography of a Symbol tells the surprising story of the sign in words and pictures, from its origins in the nuclear disarmament efforts of the late 1950s to its adoption by the antiwar movement of the 1960s, through its stint as a mass-marketed commodity and its enduring relevance now.
As the symbol’s popularity blossomed, so did an entire generation, and author Ken Kolsbun’s expertly selected images—from his own collections as well as a variety of historical archives—illustrate both the sign itself and the larger history that it helped to shape. Along the way, the book recounts the controversy inspired by the peace symbol, bringing to light several trials that challenged its very existence. Drawing on exclusive archival interviews with Gerald Holtom, the late creator of the symbol, Peace recounts its birth and goes on to build a historic portrait using both iconic and rarely seen photographs.
July 14, 2010
eating cold carrot soup, fresh salads with iced tea, fruit & cookies!
You can enjoy a 3 minute garden party yourself – A trip to the Local Produce market & a recipe for Carrot Ginger Soup in 25 minutes – now, how easy is that? There are lost of ways to make carrot soup – raw, complex, avocado based, chicken stock based…well, I usually make up my own using what I have on hand.
Check out this video on Youtube- the 3 minutes is fun & will give you an idea for dinner!…oh, yes - I substitute raw goat milk for the cream because that is even more local for me…or try coconut milk if you are a vegan – maybe not local, but very good for you & tasty too!
Ginger…well, that is actually possible to grow in a greenhouse or potted plant…but, might be one of those “trade items” we will have to import…enjoy the flavors, good tasting & good for ya!
May 28, 2010
Mea Culpa! I opened the new hive today… and they are starving to death…I think.
They were just lying around on top of the frames, or hanging to the frames, holding each other up, and had no energy even to hardly move; in all it was the most shocking thing I’ve ever seen during a hive inspection.
My excuse is that I haven’t done a split or gotten a nuc in years, & literally forget to feed them!
(I don’t think we even fed the swarms last year. I hope I wrote up the details anyway…)
I honestly didn’t think to feed them because the first weeks they were very busy going in & out & getting honey & pollen stored up – or so I thought. This last week of alternate cold & rain was not good for bee flights, so they probably ate everything they had, and today when I opened up the box, there was no honey is sight.
My action plan today was this – to feed them & to add another deep box below that initial super.
I made some sugar syrup, set up the top feeder near the new hive, then I opened the big hive “Queen-of-the-hood” in order to steal a honey frame …But, funny – as I went in – and let me just say that this big hive is stacked high with 2 deeps, then 2 supers on top…well – I couldn’t find hardly any honey in the supers either. The top super was almost empty – a lot of comb being built with masses of bees working on that project.
The lower super was a brood chamber with very little honey in it! How did I find that out? The hard way – there was a lot of hardened propolis holding each frame in & I had to pry hard to get them out, outer frames full of mostly finished & ready to go wax cells – then when I got near to the center I saw the first batch of closed brood cells, with lots of bees in attendance so I wondered at that – but – kept going to the center 2 frames, where – instead of it being yet more tough propolis holding them in, I made a huge effort to free the frame & behold!…(there was a too-big space between those 2 frames) & the 2 frames were actually stuck together with rogue brood comb built sideways! Yikes, big plump white larvae now broken open all over… and as I pulled that frame out to look closer, I realized that I was not seeing any big honey stash areas anywhere.
I went further in & worked the top deep box a bit – looking for honey stash, but again – so much propolis to unstick & tough to move carefully with the effort required to pull a frame apart…and, because I had now killed both brood & bees, they were all fighting mad. Nervously I began to close it all up, leaving out 2 smaller frames with some brood & lots of bees clinging. I put those into the weak new hive, laid the feeder on top, filled it with syrup & closed it up. I also fed them from the bottom with honey on a stiff plastic “tray”, which I slid into their open door. I think I may have seen their queen, looking very weak, and she is not looking healthy. Bigger than the rest with a long black abdomen. Geez, what a sad & exhausting day’s work. If I was a drinking woman, I’d be having a shot right now!
So – Tuesday – before I leave on my vacation, I’ll recheck that hive (hope it is warm enough) – at least I’ll feed them again. Fingers crossed, head bowed, I ask for forgiveness from the Queen & Her colony.
Monday – May 24th – The day after heartbreak…
I closed the entrance up last night with a reducer, and today there is a lot of activity out front – it is robbers & fighting & hopefully – the hive springing to life.
This morning also at least one disappointing discovery – the top feeder is leaking…yes, you know the signs- syrup running down the side of the hive, making an attractive pool of sweet on the ground – attractive to ants, that is! I sprayed the whole area & around the base of the hive stand with my garden spray – Neem Oil & Dr. Bronners. So far (it is now 2pm) there are no ants around the hive, and no dead bees in the sprayed areas, so this is a good measure to remember! Today is warm & dry, so I am happy about that. There appears to be nectar somewhere around because a lot of flights are taking off in the general westerly direction. The other 2 colonies are making their tidy take-off’s & landings all this warm day, while the Newhive fights & tumbles off their landing board…
The other worry is that there appears to be bright yellow bee diarrhea running down the front of the hive as well as many large spots of it on the top. Is this because they were stuck inside until they got fed, or do they have some disease? Gosh, I hope not!
As I prepare to leave for 2 weeks, I am making some more syrup, got the extra feeder into the hive & will double their food up for this week – expected to be cold & rainy yet again…it is clouding up right now! Got to go and feed my girls…
December 10, 2009
15th Annual Winter Solstice Spiral Dance 2009 presents:
“ A-Wassailing ! ”
Saturday, December 19, 7 pm
Willits Grange, 291 School St.
The 15th Annual Winter Solstice Celebration will have a choral theme this year. The spiral dance will occur at the end of the evening as always. This year we are blending our annual event with the Vocal Jazz Ensemble performance piece holding center stage.
“A-Wassailing” is a mock contest between peasants and nobles, set in Olde England. The medium is the Christmas carol–the audience will be the judge! Two groups of singers from the Vocal Jazz Ensemble will take part, one singing classical and the other folk-based carols from across the centuries and continents. The more experienced classically trained “nobles” will set the bar very high. The “peasants” have youth and enthusiasm on their side. Both groups have a unique collection of carols, many of which will be new to you. This is the final performance of the Vocal Jazz Ensemble, a class from Mendocino College (Willits Center) taught by Don Willis, who also created the concept for “A-Wassailing.”
Join us for a romp thru time, from medieval sacred music to modern jazz, as we celebrate the turning of the Wheel with a caroling ‘sing-off’ of peasants vs. nobles. Be prepared for a wild, entertaining ride!
This is a benefit for the Grange Remodel Project. $5-10 at the door.
November 22, 2009
Today we worked the straw bale planting beds some more… Experimental straw bale bed # 1 – which was dragged together, cut & planted several weeks ago continues to be much warmer than the surrounding soil. The rest of the garden soil has dropped to about 40 degrees at about 6 inches deep, but the bales continue to hold a temp of 65degrees, even in the upper 4″ soil portion of the planter cuts, as well as deep internally in the bales. The bale at the west end, getting full sun along its high side, has a higher temp that fluctuates throughout the day up to 80 degrees! Today we built a simple cloche or hoop cover for it. Rebar, PVC, and quality greenhouse fabric will keep the temp inside above the rest of the air during the night, giving my winter greens a better opportunity for growth & water retention. The arugula has sprouted prolifically & densely & so I moved the babies around by small bunches – to open areas for hopeful growth. I am such a lazy gardener, saving time with these casual approaches to planting.
Bed #2 was planted with tomatoes last summer & did not retain water or do very well at all, for whatever reason. I am hoping that the straw bales address the issue of water as well as amending with organic substance to the soil as it breaks down. This experimental bed is in early stages – has had a few inches of rain, and got a late start overall. The straw is still fairly dry inside the compressed bales, and does not register any temp variability from ambient surrounding soil. I hope it is not too later in the year to get some temp increases as the straw fully wets & decomposes internally. Does this bale planter need the sun’s heat to bring the temp up inside? We will see. We are cutting out the straw planters now, a time consuming job. RJ is bringing his chain saw tomorrow to rip it up faster- he calls it “hogging it out”. Once that is done, we will plant spinach starts & my ‘saved seed’ broccoli rab. Then we must wait for more good soaking rains. One it is wet & filled with rainwater, we will cover it with the fabric. If there is a great temp increase inside, we could have the makings of a warm greenhouse effect! Very excited to see how this works out over the winter.
The handsome coco lined hanging basket that was used as an “upside down” tomato garden last summer never did well either. Seemed too dry always…only a few cherry tomatoes dared the hot dry conditions to actually redden up. The salad greens appear to be much happier in their small but moist winter home. Ambient air temps will be a factor in this little garden’s success, but…So far – so good!
November 12, 2009
The movie – Food, Inc is a mind blowing look at industrial farming & our modern lack of available “real food”. The ability to feed ourselves healthfully from a supermarket basket, the way our meat is raised & killed, handled & packaged…so many great points of FOOD information are addressed in an understandable format. The discussion guide provides a series of questions to facilitate thoughtful discussions for audiences high school age and older about the issues presented in the film, including health, sustainability, animal welfare and workers’ rights.
Join the Lunchbox Brigade. Support healthy eating in schools by signing the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization petition.
August 31, 2009
Beans are a very inexpensive form of good protein, & they have become popular in many cultures throughout the world. With a rich flavor, black beans have a velvety texture while holding their shape well during cooking. Black beans are my favorite legume, right next to peanut butter. A stash of cooked beans in my fridge offers me lots of menu choices for the week, and is a great way to save time, money and get health benefits for my whole family.
Save money! About 15 cents per serving…Replace expensive red meat in your menus while enjoying the health & rich taste of black beans. Black beans are a good source of protein, and when combined with a whole grain such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice, provide protein comparable to that of meat or dairy foods without the high calories or saturated fat found in these foods. And, when you get your protein from black beans, you also get the blood sugar stabilizing and heart health benefits of quality soluble fiber. A cup of black beans will provide you with 15.2 grams of protein (30.5% of daily protein requirement), plus 74.8% of the daily value for fiber. All this for a cost of about 15 cents, only 227 calories with virtually no fat. (vs a 2oz hamburger meat serving cost more than $.50)
Health Benefits – Protein, Fiber - Reduces Cholesterol, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Cancer
Black beans are a very good source of dietary & cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other legumes. In addition to lowering cholesterol, black beans’ high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans a great choice for anyone with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When combined with whole grains such as brown rice, black beans provide high quality protein.
Antioxidants -When researchers analyzed different types of beans, they found that, the darker the bean’s seed coat, the higher its level of antioxidant activity. Gram for gram, black beans were found to have the most antioxidant activity, followed in descending order by red, brown, yellow, and white beans. Overall, the level of antioxidants found in black beans in this study is approximately 10 times that found in an equivalent amount of oranges, and comparable to that found in an equivalent amount of grapes or cranberries.
Fiber - A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as black beans, helps prevent heart disease. Want to literally keep your heart happy? Eat black beans. A cup of black beans will provide you with 30.1% of the DV for magnesium.
Cancer Fighter - A study published in Food Chemistry and Toxicology suggests not only that black beans may help protect against cancer, but that whole foods naturally contain an array of compounds that work together for our benefit.
How to Select and Store
Whether purchasing black beans in bulk or in packaged containers, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that they are whole and not cracked.
Store dried beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place, they will keep up to 12 months or many years. They dry over time and become harder to cook. If you purchase black beans at different times, store them separately since they may feature varying stages of dryness and therefore will require different cooking times. Cooked black beans will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about three days in a covered container.
How to Prepare Cooked Black Beans:
1- Check & Wash - Before washing black beans, spread them out on a light colored plate or cooking surface to check for, and remove, small stones, debris or damaged beans. After this process, place the beans in a strainer, rinsing them thoroughly under cool running water.
2- Soak & soften - To shorten their cooking time and make them easier to digest, black beans should be presoaked. There are two basic methods for presoaking. For each you should start by placing the beans in a saucepan & add two to three cups of water per cup of beans.
1- boil the beans for two minutes, take the pan off the heat, cover and allow to stand for two hours.
2- soak the beans in water for eight hours or overnight, placing the pan in the refrigerator so that the beans will not ferment. Before cooking the beans, always drain the soaking liquid and rinse beans with clean water.
3- Cook - To cook the beans, you can cook them on the stovetop, in a crock pot, solar oven or use a pressure cooker. For the stovetop method, add three cups of fresh water or broth for each cup of dried beans. The liquid should be about one to two inches above the top of the beans. Bring the beans to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, partially covering the pot. If any foam develops, you can skim it off during the simmering process. Black beans generally take about one and one-half hours to become tender using this method. They can also be cooked in a pressure cooker where they take about one-half hour to prepare. Crock pot cooking will require 4-6 hours at low heat. I generally add veggies & seasonings after they are soft and then cook until done. Regardless of cooking method, do not add any salt or seasonings that are salty or acidic until after the beans have been softened since adding them earlier will make the beans tough and greatly increase the cooking time.
Black beans are low in fat, high in protein & are a good source of dietary fiber and folate, manganese, protein, magnesium, thiamin (vitamin B1), phosphorus, molybdenum and iron. A one cup serving of cooked black beans provides about one third of a day’s protein requirement. (vs 2oz meat cost $.50)
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
~ Stuffed baked potato or topping.
~ Black bean soup or chili
~ Refried bean replacements in burritos or other Mexican dishes.
~ Cuban inspired meal of black beans and rice.
~ Layered Dip – In a serving bowl, layer black beans, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, diced onions and cilantro to make a delicious layered dip.
July 1, 2008
Hey – I just bought a house near down town Willits – never mind that it is a cool house that I am exctied to fix up and be in….never mind that I have to downsize my closets ( yes, yes – a good thing, Iv’e heard from almost everyone)
The best part is that I am finally in a neighborhood – a place where people know each other and say hello and walk to work and make time to lean on the gate ( I hope)
After years of living “up the mountain” – in a mountain suburb of our village, a beautiful place – but must drive my car back and forth every day…I am going to reduce my gas consumption, get some better quality exercise and make new friends! Check it out, everyone…maybe you are ready to make a move too…it is becoming a back to the future trend….I plan on biking to work, walking to the movies!
As for other ways to change my lifestyle – I now have a sunny garden plot, a solar hot water heater, and enough sun to put up solar panels as well!
The 70 year old single pane glass is a pain, but – I think some thick curtains ought to help next winter…
May 16, 2008
Quality of Life and true happiness…Do we know what to ask for – do we know when we have it? Quality of Life can be found in the simplest of jobs, the most humble of homes. it is about happiness, satisfaction, a sense of inner peace, and perhaps a job well done. I am taking more time lately to check these values. I find that my “hurry-up” and “do-more” lifestyle has been unpleasing for awhile! I even think I am being held hostage by my job, my business – a thing that I started with all excitement and potential. So, every day we get to open our eyes to the world we created and the world we will create that day….here is a great story that illustrates the point…enjoy your work, your family, your lover, your friends!
A group of graduates, well established in their careers, were talking at a
reunion and decided to go visit their old university professor, now retired.
During their visit, the conversation turned to complaints about stress in
their work and lives. Offering his guests hot chocolate, the professor went
into the kitchen and returned with a large pot of hot chocolate and an
assortment of cups – porcelain, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some
expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the hot
chocolate. When they all had a cup of hot chocolate in hand, the professor
said: ‘Notice that all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken, leaving
behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only
the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.
The cup that you’re drinking from adds nothing to the quality of the hot
chocolate. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even
hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was hot chocolate, not
the cup; but you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began
eyeing each other’s cups. Now consider this: Life is the hot chocolate; your
job, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to
hold and contain life. The cup you have does not define, nor change the
quality of life you have. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we
fail to enjoy the hot chocolate.
The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the
best of everything that they have.
And enjoy your hot chocolate