Archive for November, 2009


The Fermentation Fascination Continues: Sandor Katz Profiled on Chow.com

Monday, November 30th, 2009

It started in 2003 with the publication of Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Katz: chefs, foodies, hipsters, and foodie hipsters rediscovered the magical process of fermentation—and the endless culinary possibilities that lay within. Maybe it’s something about the experimental DIY-ness of fermenting your own unique take on sauerkraut. Maybe it’s the vague sense that you’re breaking some kind of food safety law, somewhere. Maybe it’s just that pickled stuff tastes awesome.

Whatever the case, the fermentation infatuation is sweeping the nation. And Sandor Katz, fermentation guru of the highest order, is there to guide us through it.

Fermented “live” foods are the next bacon. There’s Kombucha, the fizzy health tonic made from a Himalayan fungus. Homemade sauerkraut is being served as a side at artsy barbecue joints in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. You’ll find kimchee stuffed inside a croissant at New York City’s Milk Bar. These unpasteurized, rustic preparations, made, essentially, by purposefully letting food rot so the beneficial bacteria in the air leave behind sour flavors and a healthy zing, are ancient. Live fermentation and old-fashioned pickling, using just salt and the air rather than vinegar, were ways of preserving foods before refrigeration, from meat to milk to vegetables. But the recent fermentation craze among chefs and DIYers can be directly traced to Sandor Katz, whose 2002 book, Wild Fermentation, is still the most exhaustive, info-packed exploration of the topic ever written.

Katz, who calls himself Sandorkraut, lives off the grid in a queer intentional community in the mountains of Tennessee and teaches workshops all over the world. His book, which is a cross between a cookbook and a science-experiment manual, is a compendium of years of research from cultures around the world. Besides covering pickles, sauerkraut, kimchee, miso, tempeh, beer, and breads of many kinds including sourdough, there’s obscure stuff like chicha, a Latin American corn beverage made with human saliva now being adapted by the brewery Dogfish Head (see Sam Calagione). “There’s a hunger for this information,” says Katz, whose recent Portland, Oregon, workshop saw 25 people approach him with samples [of fermented things] they’d made. “A mystique, and a little fear.”

Read the whole article here.

 

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The Farmer vs. Farmer Side of the Raw Milk Controversy

Monday, November 30th, 2009

There’s often some friction between conventional dairy farmers and their raw-milk selling brethren. But where does it come from? David E. Gumpert, author of The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights, has talked to farmers on both sides of the divide. Mostly, it comes down to the business of milk. Dairy processors have no incentive for paying farmers well and farmers have no incentive for creating an exceptional product. That has to change.

From David Gumpert’s blog, The Complete Patient:

Here’s the message I get from Tim Wightman’s comment following my criticism of Organic Valley Family of Farms:  Don’t be so quick to criticize this large farm co-op. There are some delicate political and economic issues involved here. Many dairy farmers have a big stake in the conventional co-op/processor distribution sytem, and at Organic Valley, farmers are being pinched financially because of a decline in consumption of pasteurized organic milk…and are resentful because some of their farmer brothers are making up for the financial challenge by selling raw milk. Besides, regulators and processors regularly communicate about routine issues, and may say a few things that sound conspiratorial. Cut us some slack.

It’s an intriguing message, coming as it does from a founder of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, and I can appreciate that there are business sensitivities. I actually think some of these sensitivities signify quite important issues, though. (By the way, if this is just a little internal misunderstanding, you might think that someone from Organic Valley might have at least had the courtesy to answer my email or phone call–there’s been only silence.) 

I say all this while acknowledging that I don’t necessarily have special insights into farm economics and pscychology, having spent practically my entire life in the city, with little or no contact with farmers until the last three years.

But I’d like to throw something out that may shed light on what’s really happening here. I think many Wisconsin dairy farmers, indeed, dairy farmers everywhere, are more upset about the raw milk controversy than has been generally appreciated. I remember when the Ohio Department of Agriculture began cracking down on raw dairy producers back in 2006, being told by regulators there that some of the cases the agency was pursuing originated with complaints by conventional dairy farmers.
I’ve heard similar rumblings in other states–that it’s dairy farmers who are concerned because some of their brethren are challenging regulatory limitations on raw milk…and earning nice money in the process.

Now, I think it’s safe to say many of these upset dairy farmers are being urged on by processors, who have absolutely nothing to gain and lots to lose when dairy farmers transition to raw milk.

Read the whole article here.

 

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The Socially Responsible Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Real Estate Galaxy

Monday, November 30th, 2009

The real estate downturn forced a lot of developers to reassess the way they were doing business. Fortunately for Martin Melaver, CEO of Melaver, Inc. and author of the socially responsible roadmap/memoir Living Above the Store: Building a Business That Creates Value, Inspires Change, and Restores Land and Community, looking out for the needs of the community paid off—and in more ways than he could have foreseen.

Recently, I’ve been reading with my son The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. We’re at that point in the story when our travelers arrive on the planet of Magrathea. Magrathea, you may recall, made a name for itself millions of years ago by specializing in building designer planets for the super-wealthy. Then, out of the blue, a severe economic recession hit the galaxy and demand for Magrathea’s high-end product vaporized. The citizens of Magrathea decided to mothball the planet until market demand returned. Fast-forward five million years, and the Magratheans are still waiting. Talk about an allegory for our time.

In a recent webcast, Stephen Blank, Urban Land Institute’s Senior Resident Fellow for Real Estate Finance, expressed what many in real estate already know and fear: that the downturn in residential real estate in 2007-8 was nothing compared to the tsunami coming at us in 2010 in the commercial sector. Values are likely to dip to 40 percent from three years ago, a commercial resurgence is not likely to occur until 2012, and the financial markets will continue to remain frozen except for the vulture plays stepping in with all-cash, low-ball purchases of distressed assets. Of the total $3.5 trillion in commercial debt out there, $900 billion is held in the problematic CMBS market. Thirty-nine billion dollars of that debt will be due in 2010; $150 billion by 2012.

The pace of foreclosures is uncertain. So, too, the pace at which distressed assets will then subsequently be written off at a discount, sold to vulture funds, and then stabilized over the ensuing years. What is certain is this: Want to build a nice upscale hotel in some touristy area? Forget it. Looking to pick up a piece of dirt on the cheap and build some cool office or retail development? Good luck.

Probably best to take a page from Magrathea’s playbook and mothball your empire-building business plans. It ain’t gonna happen any time soon. Which leads to some deeper lessons from Magrathea: probing into the viability of a business model that ignores a cosmos’ true needs.

Read the whole article here.

 

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LISTEN: Gene Logsdon on the Radio

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Farmer and author Gene Logsdon, the original contrary farmer, talks about growing up during the Great Depression, agricultural lessons we should learn from the Mayans, moonshine whiskey, and more in this hour-long radio interview with Tim Bates of KZYX in California.

From TheContraryFarmer.WordPress.com:

Today, November 23, 2009, Gene was interviewed on our local public radio station, KZYX. Tim Bates, local organic apple farmer, interviewed Gene on his farm show. Another local, Tom Davenport, recorded it.

Listen Now

Read the whole article here.

 

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Good Cod Almighty: The Global Fishing Crisis

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

By Keith Farnish

From the Community Blogs

Cod. Good Cod. Good Cod Almighty. It is possible that there is nothing more symbolic of the English seaside than this once ubiquitous fish. “Cod and chips twice” has been heard across the land for decades, and it even caused a war of sorts between two fishing nations! But who would have guessed that this animal, more than any other, would also provide the loudest shout of evidence for the unsustainable manner in which civilized humans were pillaging the oceans in search of cheap and plentiful protein? With a length of a metre or more, for the North Atlantic species, it was obvious which organism would have to be the subject of Chapter 5 of “Time’s Up!”, not only for its cultural importance, but also the route it would provide into the arcane world of feedback loops.

Before making any bold statements about the nature of the fishing industry, I had to get the facts. A handy piece of software called Fishstats was used, and the results that appeared on my screen were dreadful: there was a crisis, entirely of civilization’s making, and yet we were still pulling fish out of the sea like we owned the oceans.

Looking back to the beginnings of the mass fishing industry, one is filled with a sense that something was bound to go wrong. Tales of being able to drop buckets into the sea off Newfoundland, the edge of the now defunct Grand Banks fishery, and bring them back up full to the brim with fish may not have been far off of the mark during the spawning season – although the explorer John Cabot, who pondered whether he could have walked from one side of the Atlantic to the other on the backs of the cod, would almost certainly have come to grief. The point is, though, that the fishermen (and they were all men up to only a few years ago) really thought that there was an endless marine bounty. Fishing has always had an air of sentimentality, courage and permanence to it: men were made and broken, in dreadful conditions of isolation, wild storms, tiredness and constant pressure, only partly eased by songs, whisky and the thoughts of the family back home. Yet it most certainly was, and is a way of life: “Some guys couldn’t wait ’til the last day of school so they could join the boat,” says Michael Coe, a former trawler skipper at Peterhead in the north-east of Scotland, with genuine excitement. A way of life, but nevertheless an industry, partaken of by thousands of boats across the great fishing grounds of the North Atlantic, Southern Ocean, Arabian Sea, Mediterranean and wherever a mass of marine life is there for the taking.

But business and especially the search for profit now take precedence in almost all formerly traditional and self-sustaining occupations. Whereas the shops and restaurants would in the past have paid the going rate for fish and kept the industry alive for another season, it is now the supermarkets and fish-processors who call the shots – culling prices and progressively smaller fish until the skippers have no choice but to search deeper, further and with more technology; in the sad knowledge that their search for a high-volume, low-price resource is destroying the very thing that kept them going for countless generations.

In the last 35 years…the volume of Atlantic Cod retrieved from the water has plummeted from a high (for that period) of two million tonnes, to less than half that. The type of fish now being caught disguises the real volume – the smaller, immature fish may keep the industry ticking over for a few years, but the future looks barren. Fish colonies are in jeopardy around the world, with over half of all ‘stocks’ (a term used by governments to imply humans own these natural habitats!) fished to full capacity, and a quarter in decline or endangered. There is such a fine line between ‘near’ capacity and ‘over’ capacity that it is fair to say that three-quarters of the world’s major fish colonies are in an unsustainable state: they are not self-regulating – their numbers are being regulated by humans.

Talk about the thin end of the wedge! Once I went exploring the oceans, I found that even more than nematodes (see Chapter 4), the plunder of marine ecosystems was an analogue for the unsustainable civilized culture — cheap energy leads to “development”, leads to efficiency improvements, leads to even greater plunder…and this cheap energy (in the form of fish protein) gets used for a wider and wider range of things including, most notoriously, feeding animals for meat. How absurd is that: catching fish with which to fatten animals to eat!

It was also while writing about the oceans that I had to introduce the concept of Albedo; the amount of electromagnetic energy that something reflects, and something that is critical to the future of the planet. If something absorbs more energy than it emits then it will get hotter, and although the vast oceans will take a long time to get significantly warmer, once they start warming up then they take an awful long time to stop. Furthermore, if a body of water changes its function from being a reflector of energy (in the form of ice) to an absorber of energy (open water), then the way that it interacts with the rest of the atmospheric-oceanic system changes fundamentally.

Feedback loops are fascinating, vital and utterly terrifying when combined with albedo.

I often make the mistake of wearing a particular t-shirt I like on sunny days; it is grey, but with thousands of flecks of black, and those black flecks absorb solar energy (solar radiation) very effectively, leaving me hot and bothered. The difference between black and white is simply that black absorbs every wavelength of visible light (if it is truly black it also absorbs infra-red radiation, which makes things particularly hot) and white reflects every wavelength. Blue-coloured objects only reflect blue light and absorb everything else, green objects reflect green light, and so on. The more solar radiation absorbed by an object, the more energy is being forced into it, causing it to heat up. Albedo is a measure of how much radiation is reflected by something: the higher the number, the more reflective it is.

Fresh snow has an albedo of 0.8 to 0.9 – it reflects 80% to 90% of the radiation. Green grass has an albedo of 0.25, and soil has an albedo of about 0.2. In other words, the melting of snow increases the amount of energy taken into the ground by a factor of four. Now, compare this to what is happening in the Arctic Ocean. Bare ice, which is typically what floats on water, reflects 60% to 70% of the solar radiation falling on it, whereas open sea may reflect almost nothing, depending on the angle of the sun. This huge difference in absorption can make the difference between the temperature of the sea being below freezing – so the ice doesn’t melt – or above freezing. Once the sea gets above freezing-point, that heat energy spreads out with the movement of the ocean currents, melting more and more ice, which in turn causes the sea to heat up. This is a dramatic positive feedback loop and it is happening right now.

While writing this chapter I kept in mind the work being carried out by David Wasdell, among others, into the nature of feedback loops, and the dreadful truth is that we might have been OK without the myriad positive feedback loops that are operating, and still emerging, in the natural systems we depend upon for our survival. Included in these are the melting permafrosts which are starting to exude methane from the northern wildernesses of Siberia and Canada and the movement of the boreal forests northwards into former bare landscapes — both of which I discuss at some length in Chapter 6.

As for the cod, and the rest of the marine ecosystem, it turns out that as the ocean warms up then the ability of water to absorb oxygen goes down; this has a direct effect on all animal life from the smallest zooplankton to the largest gill-breathing sharks. Yet, and tragically, the warming effect may be the equivalent of feeding a child while enclosing it in a straight-jacket:

Cod grow tremendously fast at higher temperatures. At 14°C the growth of cod larvae is up to five times quicker than at 4°C. The problem with any fast-growing animal is that it requires lots of food, and a baby growing five times as fast as normal requires at least five times the normal amount of food. In a sea with unlimited food then that isn’t much of a problem, but in a sea where the amount of food is also being affected by the increase in temperature that is a huge problem; especially when that baby is near the top of the food chain. If a baby’s metabolism is fast but it can’t get the food it needs, then it will die.

Another part of the picture…is that oxygen can cause a ‘squeeze’ if there is not enough to match the metabolism of an animal. The amount of oxygen required by an animal relates directly to the speed and efficiency of its natural processes – breathing, digestion, growth etc. – so if the amount of oxygen available is not sufficient for that animal’s metabolism then its metabolism will have to slow down or the animal cannot survive. Just like when you reach the top of a steep hill and you have to stop for air, if you keep running or walking without a break then you will eventually collapse. Recent NASA data shows at least a 4°C increase in the temperature of some Arctic waters compared to the 20th-century average. If we use the figures from a couple of pages back, this means that the amount of oxygen the ocean can dissolve has dropped by 10% across significant parts of the ocean.

The final part of the picture is that the amount of phytoplankton, the primary source of food for the oceans, is being badly affected by oceanic heating. This is nothing to do with the increased ‘acidity’ of the oceans caused by growing levels of carbon dioxide being drawn into the sea, which in turn causes the shells of zooplankton (tiny floating animals) to dissolve; instead, the warming of the ocean surface means that cold water is not descending as rapidly as it needs to in order to refresh the levels of nutrients close to the surface. Cold water is heavier than warm water, so warm water will always reach the surface eventually; but if the air above the water is warmer than the water itself, then the surface of the water is not cooled down, mixing cannot take place, and nutrients essential to the survival of phytoplankton stay where they are – out of the reach of the plankton. The impact of this is far-reaching, and is bound to affect both the amount of prey available to cod, and the ability of the cod to catch their prey in the first place.

To say we have a poor understanding of the oceans is an understatement, to say the least, yet Industrial Civilization seems to use that lack of understanding as a reason to continue its assault on the greatest climate control mechanism on Earth, and one of the most important sources of food. There are none so blind as those who will not see.


Keith Farnish is the author of “Time’s Up! An Uncivilized Solution to a Global Crisis”, which is published by Chelsea Green in the USA, and Green Books in the UK. He is also the founder of The Earth Blog and The Unsuitablog. He lives in Essex, UK, with his wife, two children and a much-loved garden.

Photo: Cod at MacDuff Aquarium by Bruce McAdam.

Two Alaskas: Which One Are You Reading About?

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Want to know more about what’s really happening politically in Alaska? Don’t go to Sarah Palin. Go to Riki Ott.

(photo from LA Progressive.com)

From LA Progressive:

By design, Sarah Palin has been all over the national media in the last couple of weeks, since the publication of her book,  Going Rogue: An American Life (New York: HaperCollins, 2009). Since her nomination as John McCain’s running mate, Palin has had a major impact on the public consciousness. In the process, she has given many people from the Lower 48 their first serious look at our 49th state, and their first chance to watch a talented Alaskan woman in political action.

Another Alaskan woman, a contemporary of Palin, provides a fascinating counterpoint to the story Palin tells. Riki Ott, perhaps a decade older than Palin, came to Alaska as a young adult in the mid-1980s, while Palin was just a toddler in 1964 when her parents brought her. Ott. with a doctoral degree in marine toxicogy, settled in the fishing town of Cordova and took up the fishing life. Her book,  Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2008), is the story of how that 1989 spill tore her community apart, and how the people of Cordova fought back over 20 years.

While Ott focuses her entire book on the struggle for justice in the Exxon Valdez case, Palin devotes just four pages (59-62) to the entire 20-year saga, though she claims that it crystallized her resolve to enter public service. Ott tells of the community’s struggle; Palin tells us about hers. Palin’s political story spans the same years as Ott’s, but you would hardly know that they were talking about the same place.

Both tell of disillusionment. Ott started out accepting Exxon’s assurances that “not one drop” of oil would spill in Prince William Sound, only to learn of gross negligence and determined avoidance of responsibility. She gave up fishing and lost her marriage in order to use her education and leadership skills in service to her community.

[...]

Read the entire article here.

LISTEN: Howard Dean Speaks at the Free Library of Philadelphia

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Doctor Howard Dean spoke at the Free Library of Philadelphia about his book (Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform: How We Can Achieve Affordable Medical Care for Every American and Make Our Jobs Safer), President Obama’s health care plan, the top Republican myths about health care reform, and took questions from the audience in this hour-long podcast from freelibrary.org.

Listen Now

Photo: Jeffrey M. Vinocur

 

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Announcing: Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

November 23, 2009
White River Junction, VT

In conjunction with the release of the highly praised documentary film COLLAPSE, Chelsea Green announces the publication of the Michael C. Ruppert book that inspired the movie, previously released as a self-published book, A Presidential Energy Policy: Twenty-five Points Addressing the Siamese Twins of Energy and Money, and now retitled, updated, and released as:

CONFRONTING COLLAPSE
The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World
A 25-Point Program for Action

• Available nationwide December 15, 2009 •

The world is running short of energy—especially cheap, easy-to-find oil. Shortages, along with resulting price increases, threaten industrialized civilization, the global economy, and our entire way of life.

In Confronting Collapse, author Michael C. Ruppert, a former LAPD narcotics officer turned investigative journalist, details the intricate connections between money and energy, including the ways in which oil shortages and price spikes triggered the economic crash that began in September 2008. Given the 96 percent correlation between economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions and the unlikelihood of economic growth without a spike in energy use, Ruppert argues that we are not, in fact, on the verge of economic recovery, but on the verge of complete collapse.

Ruppert’s truth is not merely inconvenient. It is utterly devastating.

But there is still hope. Ruppert outlines a 25-point plan of action, including the creation of a second strategic petroleum reserve for the use of state and local governments, the immediate implementation of a national Feed-in Tariff mandating that electric utilities pay 3 percent above market rates for all surplus electricity generated from renewable sources, a thorough assessment of soil conditions nationwide, and an emergency action plan for soil restoration and sustainable agriculture.

Mike Ruppert has been at the forefront of speaking and writing about the grim reality that the world’s crude oil output is peaking or has already peaked and will soon begin what could be swift declines over the next decade or two. The world needs to pay careful attention to the multiple risks this event will usher in. Thanks to Ruppert’s new book, readers around the world will have access to his well written work.
—Matthew R. Simmons, Chairman, Simmons & Company

Mike Ruppert has an unblemished track record for saying things that are incendiary, outrageous, shocking—and true. Our new president needs desperately to hear the uncomfortable message of this book about energy and the economy, and so do the rest of us.
—Richard Heinberg, PhD, author of The Party’s Over, Peak Everything, The Oil Depletion Protocol and senior fellow, Post Carbon Institute

Michael C. Ruppert is a former Los Angeles Police Department narcotics investigator turned investigative journalist. He is the author of Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil, and the founder of the online newsletter From the Wilderness. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

For 25 years, Chelsea Green has been the publishing leader for books on the politics and practice of sustainable living. We lead the industry both in terms of content—foundational books on renewable energy, green building, organic agriculture, eco-cuisine, and ethical business—and in terms of environmental practice, printing 95 percent of our books on recycled paper with a minimum 30 percent post-consumer waste and aiming for 100 percent whenever possible. This approach is a perfect example of what is called a ”triple bottom line“ practice, one that benefits people, planet, and profit, and the emerging new model for sustainable business in the 21st century.

Read advance praise for the book here: http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/confronting_collapse:paperback/praise/

Read the reviews of the movie here: http://www.collapsemovie.com/COLLAPSEMOVIE/reviews.htm

See movie screenings schedule here: http://www.collapsemovie.com/COLLAPSEMOVIE/screenings.htm

 
To arrange for an interview or request a review copy, please contact Christa Demment González [email protected] 802-295-6300, ext 106

CONFRONTING COLLAPSE
The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World
A 25-Point Program for Action
by Michael C. Ruppert
Foreword by Colin Campbell, Ph. D.
Paperback, 256 pages, $15

Sandorkraut: The Self-Made Fermentation Experimentalist

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Fermentation is the food movement of the future. Just ask Sandor Katz, who’s a leader in the revolution against microwaves, the vegan or carnivore or pescatarian friendly, post-consumer food-reality where health and happiness converge in a crock. Katz says it better than me, so I’ll let him take it away.

From TreeHugger.com:

The day I first made dilly beans, everything changed. And all because of Sandor Katz.

Sandor Katz is a self-taught fermentation experimentalist. To him (and his devoted following–ahem, which includes me and half the people in the room I’m sitting in), live fermented foods are a critically important staple to sustainable human health…not to mention delicious. Ever had sauerkraut? Pickles? Yogurt? Sourdough? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it. Well, what about Ethiopian honey wine? Root kimchi? Elderberry wine? Persimmon cider mead? Ginger champagne? Kombucha? If you’re dribbling at the mouth, or even a little but intrigued, prepare to enter the world of Sandorkraut.

Sandor Katz’s “fermentation fervor” grew out of his overlapping interests in cooking, nutrition and gardening. (He’s also an herbalist, activist, writer, builder, craftsperson and bicyclist.) He’s written two books: Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods and The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America’s Underground Food Movements. A native of New York City, a graduate of Brown University and–as he calls it–”a retired policy wonk”, Sandor Katz moved from New York and now lives at Short Mountain Sanctuary, an intentional community in Tennessee. I talked to Sandor about fermentation fetishism, underground food movements, and the benefits of fermented foods.

And so….at long last…behold the grandeur of a fermentation revivalist, and get your crocks ready!

Makenna Goodman: Can you explain what you mean when you call yourself a “fermentation fetishist”?

Sandor Katz: I am very devoted to fermentation, fermented foods, and the organisms of fermentation. I think that as a group ferments are the most delicious of foods and are nutritionally powerful. My dictionary defines a fetish as an object “supposed to possess magical powers” or “any object of special devotion.” This definitely describes my relationship to the process and the products of fermentation.

MG: Your book, Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods, is a staple on the shelves of nearly every single homesteader, farmer, cook, nutritionist, thinker, and healer I know. What is it about fermented foods, in your opinion, that warrants it a food movement in and of itself?

SK: Fermentation is not exactly a food movement in and of itself. If you are a locavore and thinking about strategies for feeding yourself with local foods in the winter, you have to include fermentation. If you are part of a nutritional movement (any of them, really) and thinking about nourishing your body, you have to include fermentation. If you are a food recycler, mining dumpsters and rescuing discarded foods, fermentation is a great way to preserve a sudden abundance of random vegetables. If you are a farmer looking for strategies to add value to the vegetables you grow, fermentation is your best bet. Fermentation is an import realm of food transformation that is undergoing a revival not as a singular movement, but rather as an area of intersection among a number of quite varied food movements.

MG: How did you come to love fermentation?

SK: I’ve always been drawn to the flavors of fermentation and throughout my childhood I sought out sour fermented foods. I didn’t learn how to make sauerkraut until I was in my thirties. My motivation to learn was purely practical, having a garden for the first time and facing the fact that all the cabbages are ready at the same time. After that I started exploring many different ferments. I taught my first kraut-making workshop in 1999 and learned that there is a widespread cultural fear of aging food outside of refrigeration. That began my mission of demystifying fermentation and empowering people with simple tools to reclaim this important process.

MG: In terms of health, what are the benefits of fermented foods?

SK: Fermentation pre-digests foods, breaking down compound nutrients into more elemental forms and making them more available to us. Minerals in particular become dramatically more bio-available. Fermentation also produces unique micronutrients not found in the original ingredients but rather produced by the fermenting organisms. Some examples of these are anti-carcinogenic isothiocyanates in fermented vegetables, or dipicolinic acid in miso, which draws heavy metals out of our cells, binds with them, and removes them from our bodies. Ferments also detoxify certain foods. But the most profound benefit of fermentation is the live-cultures themselves, not present in all fermented foods but only those not subjected to heat after fermentation. The bacteria in these live-culture ferments replenish and diversify bacteria in our digestive tracts. These bacteria enable us to effectively digest food, assimilate nutrients, and create a competitive situation that helps protect us from pathogenic bacteria. Ferments have numerous benefits to our health.

Read the entire interview here.

Naomi Wolf: Who Is Sarah Palin?

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Love her or hate her, Sarah Palin is going to be around a while, and she’s set to be a force. That’s according to Naomi Wolf, a noted feminist writer and author of The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. But there remain a lot of unanswered questions. Was she a puppet of the Right? A telegenic but empty-headed Evita? A Trojan horse for more of the same Bush and Cheney policies? Or something more?

And does she have a serious political future? Naomi Wolf asks the question in this article from the Times Online.

Who is Sarah Palin and why is she making everyone so crazy? Here in Manhattan, with the carefully orchestrated release of Palin’s memoir Going Rogue: An American Life hitting bookstores this week, we are in the midst of what a colleague has called “Palinmania”. Some quarters are in a rage; some are laughing; some are defending and some are inspired. No one is neutral.

There she is on the cover of Newsweek, in short shorts and running shoes, smiling coquettishly; there she is on her Facebook page, denouncing the Newsweek cover (from an image shot for Runner’s World) as being taken “out of context” and as sexist. Here’s her alternatively charming and whiny Oprah interview; there’s the book cover itself, stacked at Barnes & Noble at the top of the bestseller list, showing her in Gainsborough-type heroic portraiture convention, positioned before a glowing blue sky. When I went to my local chain bookstore, I asked the manager how the book has been received. It was attracting crowds, he said, but they were “the gigglers”, not buyers. “It’s the West Village,” he noted drily. He said with a half-wink that he was planning to release the book in a package with the forthcoming Playgirl issue that features revealing pictures of Levi Johnston, the former boyfriend of Palin’s daughter, Bristol, and therefore the father of Palin’s grandchild. “Levi did an interview with Michael Musto,” he said, mentioning a campy gay journalist.

“That’s an odd choice,” I said foolishly.

“Is it?” he asked, arching an eyebrow.

I too have found myself swept up in the furore she is causing, having braved a Larry King episode on her on Tuesday in which four women from both sides of the aisle — one from the McCain campaign itself — spat venom at one another on her behalf. And I was soon back for another oestrogen-soaked Larry King venomfest about her on Thursday. Her critics, on reading her book and watching her rolling out her own brand on her own this time, not handled by the McCain professionals, are calling her self-serving, naive and dangerous; her supporters — and I have to hand the right wing credit for this: they are scarily on message — are spinning her wildly as a “real American”, “down-to-earth”, “genuine”. But no one can look away.

She is like an itch that the nation needs to scratch, and I have watched popular culture long enough to know that, when a country can’t get enough of reviling or scrutinising or sexualising or exalting a woman, something is going on that has less to do with her and more to do with the way our collective unconscious projects on to certain women contemporary fears, hopes and anxieties from deep within.

Read the whole article here.

 

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