Crossroads update: Going the extra mile (or 10)!

Ellen and Rhea kick booty

The Crossroads spirit was with me on Sunday. At 6 a.m., I headed down to the starting line of Washington D.C.’s Marine Corps Marathon decked out in my Crossroads Farmers Market shirt and fortified by a well-wishing card from the market’s director. (For anyone interested, my tummy was fortified by some organic coffee and a PB & J on sprouted grain bread–what I’ve found to be an excellent pre-race snack).

I went into this knowing that the campaign to rejuvenate the Crossroads’ Fresh Checks program for low-income shoppers through writing articles about it and running 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) had not actually reached its goal. My attempt at a charitable and world-healing act–an act of tikkun olam–had raised awareness and monetarily netted just shy of $700 ($698 to be exact) in donations. My goal was $1,000, but I was pretty sure I had reached my limit. The market managers had sent the ask to their supporters and shoppers, too, so together we had tried the best we could. Continue reading


Yes, we kale! Er, can.


The Marine Corps Marathon 10K is seven days away, and I’m still fundraising.

This morning, I headed to the Takoma Park Farmers Market with the goal of drumming up some donations in addition to doing my usual shopping. I expected to make my plug, hand out my fliers, and just hope people would go to the website or send in a check to make a contribution to the Crossroads Farmers Market.

Then, as I was finishing my spiel, one woman bundled up against the cold just about cut me off. “So can I just give you a donation?” she said impatiently. I shut  my mouth and nodded. Then she handed me a $5 bill–less than the checks and PayPal funds we’d been seeing, but enough for a Fresh Check for a family’s week of groceries. Of course! I thought.

In the next few minutes, I got yet more cash. One donor was a man without a coat, wearing faded sweat pants. He was trying to catch a bus trundling closer to us every minute. Yet he took the time to fish a dollar out of his pocket and present it for the cause. If I’d stayed for another hour or two, I could have filled a hat or even quart basket.

I couldn’t stay longer because I had to scoot off to work for this announcement, but I’d learned something for the next time: Community support can come not only in chunks of money over the internet from your network of friends, but can come from total strangers in small but numerous packages.

So as James and Holly Hammond’s “Obama kale” from Waterpenny Farm reminds us, yes, the community kale! Er, can.

With that in mind, I went off and ran eight miles today–farther than I’ve ever run, and almost two miles beyond what I’ll have to do next Sunday.

Thank you to everyone who has given!

Seven miles down, many veggies to go


I’m at it again–asking friends and family to support the Crossroads Farmers Market. Before you read on, consider the photo you see above. This is a (slightly out of focus) example of elote loco, the wacky corn-on-the-cob snack you can’t find at any farmers market but the Crossroads. Behind that, you’ve got some truly fine-looking (and actually in-focus) zucchini. I just thought this yummy combo might help you envision how fun and healthy this market is.

And now, here’s the little update I sent out today:

Hello, everyone! I have good news. I ran seven miles this morning–a personal record–and this afternoon, the Crossroads Farmers Market received a $100 donation. More good stuff: Some of you have already given to support Fresh Checks, allowing low-income shoppers to buy more fruits and veggies, and modeling how communities can come together.

Unfortunately, I still have a ways to go to reach my $1,000 goal by the time of the Marine Corps Marathon 10K. If you’ve mentioned wanting to give, now’s the time! You can make a contribution via PayPal on the Crossroads site or send a check through mail or through me! Now’s also a good time to send this along to friends 🙂

If you didn’t receive my first email, or want a reminder of what this is all about, check out the message below [Blog readers, see the previous post].

As we’ve seen from the organic garden at the White House and the farmers market nearby, progressive food efforts in DC get noticed. Please consider making this another small but inspiring example. Thanks for your support!


Running for Fresh Checks


Dear Reader:

This week, I sent the message below to friends and family to raise funds for a cause I believe in. That cause just so happens to relate to food! Check it out, and give if you can.

Hello, friends! I hope this message finds you well and enjoying the new, fresh nip in the air.

I’m writing to ask for a little help. Recent chilly mornings and evenings have found me running, with the goal of completing my first 10K race on October 25. This is a bit of a challenge, given that my average run before this clocked in around 3 miles and this is more than double that!  (The run is part of the Marine Corps Marathon. Somehow this is very different from triathlons!)

I’m doing this to inspire others to do something new, too–to learn about and support a matching funds program for low-income shoppers at the Crossroads Farmers Market.

This program is in peril, and badly needs a boost to finish out the market season.

My goal, by the day of the race, is to raise at least $1,000. That equals  a market day’s worth of “Fresh Checks” – extra funding that low income shoppers can use for fresh produce. The race is just three weeks away!

A gift of $50, $25, $10, or whatever you can manage would make a huge difference in this effort, and for a lot of people trying to eat healthy, and feed their families in a healthy way, on a limited budget.

To give, go to and click on “Donate.”  If you’d like to pay by check, you can certainly mail one, or give it to me to pass along.

If you’d like to know more about how the program works, read on.

Continue reading

Taming raw ingredients: Roasted tomatoes and a (pastured) chicken in every pot

A tomato ripe for roasting. Photo by the author.

(Cross-posted from my page on D.C. farmers markets)

Cucumbers by the quart. Fifteen-pound watermelons. Hunks of farmstead cheese. Entire organic chickens. Smiling at you from a farmer’s table, they look delicious. Plunked down on the kitchen counter, they get a little more complicated. Turning them into good-for-you meals is the next step, and that task sounds mighty intimidating.

It’s a familiar feeling, though. Life is full of major chunks you have to deal with, and trying to take shortcuts isn’t the best solution. Taking the time to break down a major challenge like moving to a new city or asking for a promotion can be invigorating and ultimately lead to better circumstances. So it is with food.

“If you live a really fast-paced life, which most of us do, you’re usually grabbing and going,” says Monica Corrado of Simply Being Well, a Takoma Park-based holistic nutrition counselor who teaches holistic cooking classes in the D.C. metro area. “With a little preparation, you can grab and go with nutrient-dense meals.” Continue reading

Amaranth risotto recipe


This recipe uses my new favorite grain, amaranth. Amaranth comes from a plant much like callaloo. Amaranth–the grain part–manages to cook up both chewy and mushy. It eats like a hearty porridge with bursts of firm morsels. I looked at my first batch of this creamy base and had a feeling it would make a great risotto.

Check out this recipe on Culinate. It’s my first entry in my new account there, and a contender in the Naked Grains Recipe Challenge. Continue reading

The conservative Right meets the enemy, or: The top 5 ways the GOP will oppose School Garden Week

A small carrot, like a young mind, can be easily plucked and used for evil.

The week of October 5 through 10 is D.C. School Garden Week, a time when educators encourage children to set up or improve gardens at their schools, learn about healthy eating, take pictures of their plants, and see a screening of a garden documentary made by fellow school kids.

Just as I believed a farmers market near the White House would delight people of all political persuasions, one could easily assume this week would bring everyone together.

But one would be wrong.

If you don’t believe me, check out the comments on my article about the market. And have a looky at this column.

This time, I won’t be so naïve. I will carefully consider the ramifications of putting instruments of healthy eating into the hands of children. In fact, I have already given it some thought, and come up with…

The top 5 ways the GOP will oppose School Garden Week Continue reading