A week of home cooking

Huffington Post readers like to consume progressive, left-leaning news. Now the publication has challenged readers to live those politics–if only for seven days. HuffPost bloggers Katherine Goldstein and Adam Clark Estes have announced the Week of Eating In Challenge, intended, they write in a post last week, “to make it all personal.”

The project is simple: divisions HuffPost Green and HuffPost Eyes&Ears have dared readers to cook their own food. The challenge is inspired by HuffPost blogger and author Cathy Erway’s book The Art of Eating In. Erway avoided restaurants and takeout for a full two years. The Challenge only lasts from February 22 to 28.

A post detailing the challenge reveals there are actually few details. Make your own food for a week and eat it—that’s it. The challenge itself, though, could have many intricate and delightful results. “We think that if you take the time to cook and learn about where your food comes from,” write Goldstein and Estes, “you’ll make better choices for yourself and the planet.” You could also save a ton of cash.

Farmers markets can play a big role in eating in. At market, challengees can buy fresh vegetables that inspire them to cook creatively, get recipes and tips from local farmers, and meet other devotees of healthy home cooking. Once you get the food home, be sure to show the HuffPost how you prepared it all in your tiny D.C. kitchen. Continue reading

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Q & A with food and agriculture policy veteran Kathy Ozer

(Note: I originally posted this on DC Food for All)

Anyone who thinks living in D.C. precludes any chance to influence national food policy should meet Kathy Ozer. Since 1987, this Adams Morgan resident has been representing farmers and fighting to fix what she calls a “broken” national food system. She currently serves as the executive director of the National Family Farm Coalition on Capitol Hill. Last month, she keynoted the Future Harvest conference, the annual gathering of the Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. This year’s gathering also included a special presentation by Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan on the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative.

As a long-time resident of D.C., Ozer also strongly supports local initiatives to make healthy food accessible to low-income consumers in the District, and bringing fresh, nutritious food to the city’s school cafeterias. I recently spoke to Ozer about what she does, and how anyone—with or without a vote in Congress—can help put the pieces together.

How did you get involved in farmers’ rights?

I came to the coalition from the perspective of how important it was to have different voices represented on Capitol Hill, but I definitely did not grow up on a farm. I grew up in Bethesda, Maryland. In the 1970s and the 80s, my family was supportive of the Bethesda Food Co-op. So since then, I’ve always had a real interest in food access issues and where food fit into some of the broader sets of issues that we all confront. Continue reading

Michelle Obama highlights familiar tools in the battle against obesity

(This is cross-posted from my Examiner.com site. But in this one, photo credit goes to moi.)

Michelle Obama announces Let's Move - cropped

On Tuesday, sixth grader Tammy Nguyen brought down the White House with her thoughts on produce. Leading up to a much-anticipated announcement in the State Dining Room, Nguyen described how she helped grow a rainbow of vegetables in a kitchen garden on the “first lawn.” “My friends and I have learned a lot about change, about eating healthy food, and making the right choices,” the former Bancroft Elementary School student explained. “My classmates and I plan to keep that color on the plate–and I don’t mean M&Ms,” she said.

Nguyen then introduced First Lady Michelle Obama, who summoned all hands on deck to bring the Bancroft students’ experience to every American child to promote better health. She outlined a detailed initiative, called Let’s Move, to curb the startling rate of childhood obesity (about one in three children is overweight or obese, she said), and save the nation’s kids from preventable diseases. Such an initiative can also create jobs and help fish the budget out of a deficit. That can only happen, Obama said, if many sectors work together and the action starts immediately. Continue reading

Super Bowl snacks go all the way to the farmers market

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Potato wedges. Photo: Creative Commons/fotoosvanrobin

Though neither Super Bowl contender hails from the East Coast area that you likely inhabit, dear reader, your game day spread can still come from local sources. Why not? Local food supports the economy of your home town (or adopted city), and offers healthier options. And with year-round farmers markets in full swing, it’s easy to find ingredients for locally-sourced snacks.

To add local tang to your table, compliment tortilla chips with salsas from Toigo Orchards (just be sure to warn guests that the medium-hot chipotle is addictive). Or make a veggie platter with kohlrabi, radishes, carrots, and raw turnips from area farms. For a refined Super Bowl soiree, spread Firefly Farms goat cheese on slices of Atwater’s sourdough.

As for recipes, guacamole is out. This year, everyone from Melissa Clark of the New York Times to Bobby Flay in Parade is sharing their perfect version of bleu cheese dip. Why not try it for yourself, and make yours local? Whether it’s for vegetables, chips, or wings, Keswick Creamery’s Blue Suede Moo and Firefly Farms’ Mountain Top Bleu are at your service. The recipe below pairs a bleu cheese dip with hearty wedges of potato. That fall crop still arrives fresh at farmers markets through the winter, thanks to farmers’ root cellars. (Recipe after the jump). Continue reading

Washington Jewish Week publishes my food blatherings

One afternoon in late December, Danny Abruzzese, the executive chef of Asilomar Conference Grounds charged with preparing glatt kosher food for the 2009 Hazon Food Conference, ushered me into a side dining room to talk. On the way, he pointed one thick hand toward a slim man in a hat and tzitzit, ritual fringes. “This is my brother right here,” the Italian American said, grinning.

So begins the piece “Heated differences lead to brotherhood” in the January 27 issue of Washington Jewish Week. WJW now joins the likes of Jewcy.com, The Jew and the Carrot, and The Washington Post in the ranks of publications that find my Jewish food ramblings worthy  of publication. Check out the full piece in the Community Voices section of last week’s paper.