Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nourishing Wednesdays – Building Community From the Ground Up

Photo Credit: New York Times Teresa Fasolino

Wednesday is the day that newspapers traditionally run their food sections. Me too. I share what I learn about food, farming, cooking, gardening and community. Because people brought together over a shared meal can solve anything.

Next week is that most quintessential of American holidays, Thanksgiving. While you plan your own meal with family and friends, running around to stores, farmers markets, making stock for gravy and dough for apple, pumpkin or pecan pie, I’ve rounded up some articles for when you feel like putting your feet up, grabbing a hot beverage and taking a break before the hordes descend on the house and the holiday season officially begins. Gobble, gobble to you and yours.

Bay Area food banks and charity groups are being overwhelmed by huge jumps in requests for help this year — at the same time that donations have dropped off dramatically, including a 50 percent drop in corporate donations to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.

"That made up a quarter of our operating budget, so we're very worried about that," said Lynn Crocker, spokeswoman for the agency that helps 176,000 people a month in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, a big slice of the fabled Silicon Valley best known for technology and quick wealth. "If things don't get better, we'll have to reduce the amount of food we give to clients, maybe a half dozen eggs instead of a dozen, a half gallon of milk instead of a gallon."

Other food banks have the same problems — and fears. They're seeing more first-timers than ever before, getting larger requests for help from people they've assisted for years and fewer donors able or willing to help as much as they have in the past.

"We're serving 4,000 more families this year than last," said Christine Woodard, spokeswoman for Second Harvest Foodbank of Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties.

Consumers Union & Eat Well Guide® Launch Thanksgiving Local & Organic Food Challenge: Buy & Prepare One Local/Organic Dish for Thanksgiving and Share a Recipe

Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, and Eat Well Guide®, North America’s premier free online directory for finding local, sustainable food, have partnered to launch the Thanksgiving Local and Organic Food Challenge. The Thanksgiving Challenge aims to inspire Americans to learn more about local, sustainable or organic food by using Eat Well Guide’s comprehensive online tool for finding local ingredients for at least one dish they will prepare as part of their holiday meal.

“For Americans, Thanksgiving is the year’s peak travel weekend, but there’s no reason the food for our feasts has to travel thousands of miles as well,” said Eat Well Guide Director Destin Joy Layne. “With the holidays around the corner, and fuel-inflated food costs soaring, this is the perfect time to use our interactive Eat Well Guide to find locally produced turkey, fruit, vegetables, baked goods, dairy, meat and more, wherever you live.”

If you have heard about heritage turkeys, the old-fashioned birds with names like Bronze and Bourbon Red, then you know about the work at the Good Shepherd Turkey Ranch in Lindsborg, Kan.

The owner of the ranch, Frank Reese, is one of only a handful of people dedicated to preserving the genetic lines of poultry that meet the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection.

Together with Brian Anselmo, a young man from Kansas City, Mo., Mr. Reese developed plans for the Standard-Bred Poultry Institute, which would provide training to farmers who want to preserve the genetic pool of heritage breeds of turkeys, chickens and other birds.

In what is becoming an annual Thanksgiving rite, an animal rights group on Tuesday released undercover videotapes taken at the nation’s premier poultry-breeding operation, showing turkeys being stomped to death and punched by workers.

The group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, known as PETA, is asking for prosecution of workers at the Aviagen Turkeys plant in Lewisburg, W.Va., in a complaint filed with the local sheriff’s office under state laws regarding cruelty to animals.

Cranberry Orange Cornmeal Cake

A little something different to do with cranberries. I’ve made it twice so far and it disappears. And if you want to learn more about cranberries, along with blueberries and Concord grapes that are fruits native to North America, here’s an article from last week’s New York Times – The Zing Starts Here.

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