Certain issues are very near and dear to my heart and none more so than hunger. Having worked in a homeless shelter, I got to know people who struggled to get enough to eat on a daily basis and it was an honor to be able to feed them. Ironically the homeless shelter I worked at was in a very wealthy county. But hunger is something that the richest and the poorest countries have in common and it doesn't just affect the homeless. And it will take public effort to make the changes necessary to see that hunger is wiped out.
A Place at the Table, a film addressing hunger in the US was released on March 1st. I got a chance to preview it and found it very moving with portraits of people struggling in our midst. It looks at just some of the reasons that hunger exists in the US. Perhaps not surprisingly, politics and subsidies are an important part of the picture. The film aims to increase our understanding of the problem it also points to some solutions. Though the current debate on raising the minimum wage is not part of the film, it's worth taking a look at too. Should anyone working full time making minimum wage still have a tough time putting food on the table? As taxpayers we are effectively subsidizing the big corporations that pay minimum wage in the form of programs like Medicare and food stamps. And we are subsidizing big agribusiness rather than family farms with farm subsidizes that do little to address hunger.
I have 4 tips to make your kitchen greener, and you'll be happy to know they all respect the other green category – money.
1) Eat greener. The lower you eat on the food chain, the better it is for the environment. It simply takes more land / energy / water to grow a pound of beef than it does to grow a pound of broccoli or eggplant.
2) Recycle those table scraps, so you can turn them into compost. Get a small container with a lid, maybe even an old diaper pail, and keep all that old plant matter left over from preparing and eating a meal. No animal products. Just veggie scraps. Phase two happens out in the yard when you turn the table scraps into plant food by making compost.
3) Use non-toxic cleaning products. Your food sat on that counter, for God's sake. AND, vinegar and water and baking soda are much cheaper than the harsh chemical alternatives.
4) Avoid single use plastic whenever possible. Store your leftovers in re-useable containers that last for many years and save some dough. Plastic bags cost a lot over time.
After allowing my 13 year old daughter Hannah to sit on the couch
all summer and watch TV, while surfing the net for days on end, my
guilt that nothing worthwhile was filling that pretty little head of
hers was mounting. I started looking for things to do in this
wonderful town of ours. I definitely wanted to go to the Lautner
exhibit at the Armand Hammer Museum and Hannah saw a picture of one of
his houses and was actually interested too, but then I saw something on
Daily Candy talking about an event at the Santa Monica Library and
thought “Aha! This’ll be the thing I do. This’ll be the antidote to all
those episodes of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. I was going to take
Hannah to a symposium on Food and Climate Change.”
The Santa Monica Library reminds me of the NRDC (National
Resources Defense Council) building on 2nd street. Its obvious that
the entire building is green and a tremendous amount of thought was put
into every detail. It’s modern lines and materials are beautiful and
give me a sense of hope as I see more and more buildings like it.
The hors d’oeuvres and treats were supplied by the Co-Op and I gotta say “yeccchh!” When it comes to trying to approximate a chocolate cookie without chocolate, sugar, wheat and dairy you might as well just f*#k off. Hannah made the mistake of trying one and the look on her face as she tried to masticate this dust bomb was pitiful.
The future of our food system is at a critical juncture, says Arty Mangan, Food and Farming Program Director for Bioneers. “The industrial agriculture industry says that they want to feed the world, but at what cost?”
The cost Mangan is referring to is the system of subsidies that eliminates crop diversity, cost structures that force out small farmers, international trade agreements that favor free flow of grain over local food security, and farming methods that favor profit over food safety or environmental health.
“The system has been rewarding the wrong thing,” Mangan concludes.
One of the main methods being used to transform our food system is localization. The power of localization becomes clear when discussing the “multiplier effect.” If a dollar is spent at a chain store to buy imported produce, only about ten cents ends up in the local community. In contrast, if a dollar is spent at a local market buying locally produced food, that dollar ends up generating over $5 in local benefits.
Checks and balances. Have you ever thought about how amazing those
two words are? In the simplest sense, writing checks and figuring out
how much money you have left after you’ve written them. In the larger
sense, if something is depleted or out of whack, something comes along
to reestablish order.
Which brings me to AANWR....
On the northern edge of our continent, stretching from the
peaks of the Brooks Range across a vast expanse of tundra to the
Beaufort Sea, lies Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. An
American Serengeti, the Arctic Refuge continues to pulse with
million-year-old ecological rhythms. It is the greatest living reminder
that conserving nature in its wild state is a core American value.
(National Resources Defense Council)
So we had a hail storm yesterday.
We'd had kind of crazy weather all day - blue skies and puffy clouds one minute, dark gray clouds, pouring rain and sky to ground lightning the next. The national weather service (or whoever does this) even interrupted TV programming to run some severe weather warnings throughout the afternoon.
Initially the warnings were about the lightning in the area, but then around dinner time they mentioned the hail. Bill and I had been in the kitchen - he was making dinner and I was making the TWD Mixed Berry Crumble (see previous post) - when the latest warning came on, and we went downstairs to listen (we have one TV, and it's in the basement), and after hearing about possible hail, and just sort of shrugging it off, we went back up to the kitchen to see - yes - hail coming down.
So we called the kids, I got my camera, Bill got the DVD camera, and we hung out, mostly at the big front window, watching the spectacle.
It's good to do things as a family.
A few years ago I noticed that a tree was growing in the tiny side area between my house and my neighbor’s. By the time I took notice of it the tree was 4 feet tall. Apparently I had been ignoring that side of the house. I don’t know a lot about trees but it looked like it might be some kind of fruit tree. So I waited and asked my gardener. Sure enough, it turned out to be an apricot tree. Since the window above my kitchen sink is right above where the tree has taken root I figured that I must have spit an apricot seed out of the louvers.
Yeah, it was a barbarian move, what can I say? But it was a Blenheim pit, so I decided to let the tree stay even though I was told that since it wasn’t a “grafted” tree and without a strong rootstock it probably woudn’t bear fruit. And for 5 years it didn’t, except for a few lonely guys who would appear each year on one branch. They were the few, the brave, and the delicious. Meanwhile, one year the tree trunk split nearly down to the ground. We shored it up and figured that there would be attrition, but no, the tree thrived.
I spent the morning in Chinatown, the afternoon in Altadena (don't ask
me where Altadena is; having just gone there, I still don't know) and I
had to get to Venice by evening. It's a good thing I drive a hybrid or
my carbon foot print would be out of control. With two hours to kill
before my rehearsal in Venice I came up with the fabulous idea to hit
up the Robertson car wash.
You can imagine my dismay when it started raining literally the second I got my keys back. Not only was my car no longer clean, but there was bumper to bumper traffic since LA drivers immediately forget how to drive the second even one drop of rain falls from the sky.
That's when I realized I that I hadn't eaten in over six hours (which for me is just enough time to come close to death by starvation). To make matters worse I was in that no man's land part of west LA and I was sort of late to rehearsal. That's when I found it.
Around 6 years ago, our family took a trip to France. Our friends
have a house in Ramtuelle, a Medieval city built in a circle
overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean. Honest, it does sparkle. We
frolicked on Pamelonne Beach, made famous by the production company
filming And God Created Woman with Brigitte Bardot and we ate at Club
Cinquante Cinque (55).
You know how you often hear “oh, the restaurant’s right on the beach”? Well, Club Cinquante Cinque (55), really, really IS right on the beach. Sitting around a large table in the canvas-shaded patio of this beautiful place, we had no idea how hard it was to get a reservation. Our girls, aged 12 and 7, adapted to the lifestyle like seasoned European travelers. The kids ate everything that came to the table. Fried smelt were eaten like potato chips…that is, until the real thing came along (one of the restaurant’s specialties). Lena and Hannah devoured catch of the day and seasonal vegetables such as artichokes without the usual suspicion, wrinkled noses and coaxing. Score! After 2 weeks in Ramatuelle, we went off to Paris.
After spending years in the political closet (one of the dangers of a politically mixed marriage) I have emerged with a flourish, and a job as Press Person for a Michigan candidate for the United States House of Representatives. I have been working for Bob Alexander, a Democrat running in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District, against Mike Rogers, a four-term Republican incumbent. Bob is the kind of Democrat my parents are – a Joan Baez, “if you want peace, work for justice” kind of guy who spent years circulating petitions and working crowds “cold” to promote the value of a living wage for working people, and eventually persuaded the Michigan legislature to raise the minimum wage by 29 percent. He was not holding office at the time, mind you; it was just the right thing to do.