2007-09-29

Rural worker portrait

Rural worker, a rare specie who may become functionally extinct.
This could be a great headline in a few years.
As Spanish National Statistic Institute reflect in its statistic studies, rural population is going down year by year.
Spanish farmers are having a lot of problems due to the lack of workers, above all qualified workers. There are no people for working in our orchards and our authorities are continually persecuting us, like politic prisoners or bank robbers.
Last week, in our county (comarca) police carried out a raid looking for illegal workers, taking advantage of grape campaign. It seemed a war operation, with military helicopters, army cars.
Please, stop this persecution.
We have enough problems as it is without bureaucrats making us worse.
Spanish people don´t want to work in agriculture. And we need young people for working in our orchards. Young legal people.
We are a medium enterprise in this sector, and we have no problems to contract workers, but there are a lot of little farmers who haven´t structure and need workers during the harvest. They have finally been fined. Harshly fined.

Population evolution indicates that rural population is going down. It´s clear.
This is a rural worker portrait. Harshly portrait.

2007-09-24

What is Slow Food?


As Wikipedia says (and you surely know):

The Slow Food movement was founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy as a resistance movement to combat fast food and claims to preserve the cultural cuisine and the associated food plants and seeds, domestic animals, and farming within an ecoregion.
This movement, opposed to the culture of Fast Food seeks to encourage the enjoyment of regional produce, traditional foods, which are often grown organically . It aims to defend food and agricultural biodiversity.

I would like to speak in this and future posts, about chefs and restaurants with the cause.
If you are one of them, or you know anybody, I would be grateful for your comments.

Today, I would like to speak about Alice Waters, founder and co-owner of Chez Panisse.
Alice Waters and a group of her friends opened Chez Panisse in a craftsman house in Berkeley.
Waters was a 27-year-old former Montessori teacher from New Jersey. "Great restaurants for me were those little one-star restaurants in France," Waters says.

"That's really what I had in mind. I didn't want a fancy restaurant, although I admired and appreciated them. I just wanted one little restaurant run by the chef, with beautiful flowers in the room and all the food out on the counters, so you could see what they were serving that day.
I wanted a place with a simplicity about it."

Chez Panisse is one of the best restaurants in the world.

On the other hand, Alice has also promoted organic and small farm products heavily in her restaurants, in her books, and in her Edible Schoolyard program in the public schools.

From here, I´m very grateful for her.
Thanks Alice.

Eat more vegs

I just finished to read this in Leicester Mercury online edition:

EAT MORE VEG

10:30 - 21 September 2007
More than seven out of 10 people are failing to eat the recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables.

Researchers for Cancer Research UK said in the East Midlands only 27 per cent were eating the recommended amount.
About a quarter of all cancer deaths are thought to be linked to unhealthy diets and obesity.
Sara Hiom, the charity's director of health information, said: "This lack of fruit and vegetables in the majority of diets in the East Midlands is worrying. We should all be eating more fruit and veg."


What are we eating?
As I´m concerned I know what I´m eating. I´m not sure if everybody knows it.

Searching information about Sara Hiom, I have found this interesting cancerbusting eating plan designed by the leading organic chef Daphne Lambert on "femalefirst":

7 Breakfasts

1. Broccoli in tomato sauce with garlic and basil When eaten together, broccoli and tomatoes help to reduce prostate tumours.
Serves 4 - 2 cloves garlic chopped 2 onions chopped Olive oil 2.5lb chopped tomatoes 1.5lb broccoli florets Large bunch of basil Soften garlic and onions in olive oil. Add the tomatoes and half a pint of vegetable stock; simmer for 45 minutes until thick. Blitz in a food processor, stir in torn up basil. Steam the broccoli. Do not overcook.
Toss the broccoli in the tomato sauce and serve. For a more substantial dish, you can also add wholewheat pasta.

2. Beetroot and tomato risotto The anti-cancer properties of allysulfides found in garlic are enhanced by selenium (brown rice) and carotenes (beets).
Serves 4 - 3 tablespoons olive oil 3 garlic cloves, chopped 2 onions, chopped 8oz (225g) brown risotto rice 16fl oz (450ml) vegetable stock 3 peeled beetroot, cubed 1lb (450g) ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped Salt and pepper Chopped parsley Heat oil with a little water. Add garlic and onion; cook for one minute. Add rice and stir well.
Add beetroot and stock.
Simmer with the lid on until the rice is tender, add more stock if needed. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for five minutes.
Garnish with parsley.

3. Sprouted lentil and avocado salad Lentils are rich in isoflavones which reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer.When sprouted, they are a good source of vitamin C. Avocados contain lutein, which protects against prostate cancer.
Serves 2 - 4oz (110g) sprouted green lentils 2 shallots, finely diced 1 clove garlic, finely diced Half a lemon, zest, juice 1 tablespoon olive oil 1inch piece ginger, grated Half a teaspoon cumin Half a teaspoon turmeric Salad leaves (rocket, garden cress, spinach, cos) 1 avocado Combine lentils, shallots and garlic in a bowl.
Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, turmeric and ginger together and pour over lentil mixture.
Divide the salad between two plates, pile the lentils on leaves, finely slice the avocado on top.

4. Baked mackerel fillet with green leaf salad and a citrus chilli dressing. Mackerel is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids which protect against breast and other cancers. Raw green leaves are a rich source of chlorophyll, a powerful healer.
Serves 4 - 4 mackerel fillets 2 tablespoons olive oil Half a lemon, juice, zest 1 clove garlic, chopped Watercress, lamb's lettuce, mint, fennel, flat leaf parsley Dressing: 2 tablespoons orange juice, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 4 tablespoons Mix olive oil, garlic and lemon.
Place mackerel on an oiled tray. Pour over the marinade.
Leave for 15 minutes. Divide leaves between four plates.
Blend dressing ingredients.
Bake the fish at 180C for 12 minutes. Place fillets on leaves and drizzle over the dressing.

5. Grilled sardines with lemon and garlic and wilted spinach salad. Eating onion and garlic appears to lower the risk of breast, oesophageal and stomach cancer.
Serves 2 - 6 sardines scaled, head and guts removed 2 cloves garlic, chopped Juice and zest of 1 lemon 1 tablespoon olive oil Flat leaf parsley 2 handfuls of spinach 6 tablespoons olive oil 2 garlic cloves, chopped 3 onions, finely chopped Salt and black pepper Place sardines in a grill dish.
Mix lemon, garlic and olive oil and pour over fish.
Marinade for 30 minutes, then grill for 10 minutes.
Roughly chop parsley and spinach.
Cook garlic and onions in the olive oil, toss in the green leaves and cook gently until they begin to soften and wilt.
Serve three sardines to each person with the salad on the side.

6. Chunky vegetable and white bean soup. A diet rich in vegetables and pulses reduces the risk of colon cancer. The fibre helps eliminate free radicals.
Serves 4 - 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 onion, chopped 4 garlic cloves, chopped 1 carrot, peeled and diced 2 sticks celery, diced 1 leek, trimmed and sliced 1 turnip, peeled and diced 1 teaspoon tomato puree 2 pints vegetable stock 1 14oz tin haricot beans 2oz broccoli florets 2oz shredded spinach Chopped parsley Over a low heat, soften the onion and garlic in the olive oil.
Add carrot, celery, leek and turnip; cook for two minutes.
Stir in the tomato puree, add the stock, bring to boil, simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the haricot beans and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the broccoli and spinach, cook for two minutes, season and serve with chopped parsley.

7. Broccoli sprout salad. Use three-day-old broccoli sprouts for their superior anti-cancer fighting chemicals.
Walnuts are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids. All nuts are best eaten raw as cooking them is liable to damage the fatty acids.
Serves 2 - 2 handfuls of broccoli sprouts 1 bunch watercress 2 red peppers, seeded and cut into thick slices. 1 avocado, stoned, peeled and cut into thick slices 8 walnuts 2 tablespoons walnut oil 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar.
Arrange the broccoli, watercress, peppers, avocado and walnuts in a bowl.
Mix the oil and vinegar together and drizzle over the salad.

Thanks Daphne.
Glance at it.
Enjoy it.

Little hypocritical


Few themes excite organic farmers - and I speak as some who has the honour of belonging to that group - more than news about sustainability.

A few days ago, looking for information about organics, I visited the Wal-Mart site, and was surprised about their new program. This chain is committed to protecting our environment and concerned about "global environmental challenges". It's good news.

Recently, I learnt that large oil companies, whose business fuels global warming, are also starting new renewable energy projects. Only few years ago we had no idea that these companies would lead the renewable energy market. Incredible, and perhaps a little hypocritical.

As I reviewed my diary, I compared Wal-Mart to the large oil companies and I was struck by how much money they are prepared to invest in environmental initiatives. It's good but perhaps hypocritical. I don't know.

However, I'm sure it's necessary that big companies start initiatives like Wal-Wart.
But whether you are a big company CEO or just an employee, I'm sure you don't want to feel like a hypocrite.
I'm sure.

2007-09-23

Top 10 reasons to go organic


Some months ago, the organic Pioneers, Alan Greene, MD (Organic Trade Association), Bob Scowcroft (Organic Farming Research Foundation), and Sylvia Tawse (Fresh Ideas Group) came together to produce a new version of Ms. Tawse's popular organic credo, Top 10 Reasons to Go Organic.
Dr. Alan Greene, author of Raising Baby Green, is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of California San Francisco. In addition to being the founder of www.DrGreene.com, he is the Chief Medical Officer of A.D.A.M., and the Pediatric Expert for WebMD. He is the Chair Elect of The Organic Center and on the Advisory Board of Healthy Child Healthy World.

Bob Scowcroft currently serves as Executive Director of the Organic Farming Research Foundation, a national organization, based in Santa Cruz, California. OFRF’s purpose is to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming practices. It was co-founded by Bob Scowcroft and a number of certified organic farmers in 1990.

Sylvia has an extensive background in retail-level natural foods marketing and public relations. She has conducted new product launches for dozens of brands including Horizon Organic, Allegro Coffee Company and Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes. She also served as the public relations director for Alfalfa's Markets Inc. In addition, for three years she served as director of marketing and public relations for the Colorado Music Festival. Sylvia has firsthand knowledge of the food industry, from the ground up. She and her husband currently own and operate Pastures of Plenty, a 32-acre certified organic farm in Longmont, Colo. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Chef's Collaborative, Les Dames Escoffier and Slow Food International.

The updated version was released at Natural Products Expo West in March.
1. Organic products meet stringent standards - Organic certification is the public’s assurance that products have been grown and handled according to strict procedures without persistent toxic chemical inputs.

2. Organic food tastes great! - It’s common sense – well-balanced soils produce strong, healthy plants that become nourishing food for people and animals.

3. Organic production reduces health risks - Many EPA-approved pesticides were registered long before extensive research linked these chemicals to cancer and other diseases. Organic agriculture is one way to prevent any more of these chemicals from getting into the air, earth and water that sustain us.

4. Organic farms respect our water resources - The elimination of polluting chemicals and nitrogen leaching, done in combination with soil building, protects and conserves water resources.

5. Organic farmers build healthy soil - Soil is the foundation of the food chain. The primary focus of organic farming is to use practices that build healthy soils.

6. Organic farmers work in harmony with nature - Organic agriculture respects the balance demanded of a healthy ecosystem: wildlife is encouraged by including forage crops in rotation and by retaining fence rows, wetlands, and other natural areas.

7. Organic producers are leaders in innovative research - Organic farmers have led the way, largely at their own expense, with innovative on-farm research aimed at reducing pesticide use and minimizing agriculture’s impact on the environment.

8. Organic producers strive to preserve diversity - The loss of a large variety of species (biodiversity) is one of the most pressing environmental concerns. The good news is that many organic farmers and gardeners have been collecting and preserving seeds, and growing unusual varieties for decades.

9. Organic farming helps keep rural communities healthy - USDA reported that in 1997, half of U.S. farm production came from only 2% of farms. Organic agriculture can be a lifeline for small farms because it offers an alternative market where sellers can command fair prices for crops.

10. Organic abundance – Foods and non-foods alike! - Now every food category has an organic alternative. And non-food agricultural products are being grown organically – even cotton, which most experts felt could not be grown this way.