Archive for July 24th, 2013


Five Ways You Can Support Climate Change Adaptation

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

In response to the widespread and overwhelmingly positive responses to the guest editorial by Gary Paul Nabhan in Monday’s New York Times titled The Coming Food Crisis — many people have been wondering what they can do in addition to applying the heat and drought adaptation strategies mentioned in Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land.

Nabhan and some of his colleagues have come up with a list of action.

One of the most critically important efforts you can make is ensuring the wild and cultivate plant diversity is available to heal our foodsheds and watersheds after climatic disruptions and to adapt to hotter and drier conditions. Unfortunately, several key programs that allow effective collaborations among federal agencies, farmers, ranchers, non-profits, and grassroots community groups are threatened with budgetary cuts or closures, as Nabhan mentioned in his op-ed. In addition to voting with your fork for the right kind of food system, contact your Congressional delegation and federal program leaders to express your continuing programs, some of which are now on the chopping block. Good policy and good practices are needed to survive the coming years, and there is no time better than now to ramp up these efforts.

Nabhan, and others, recommend helping these valuable programs as either an advocate, volunteer, or collaborator:

1. Plant Materials Centers of the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service

The 27 Plant Materials Centers play vital roles in collecting and evaluating native plant materials for ecological restoration and reclamation after catastrophic events, and for wildlife and livestock production in many habitats. Despite an outstanding legacy of service in the public interest, several centers are now threatened with closure due to budget cuts. Write your Congressional representatives expressing continuing support for their good work—especially if they are in a district which hosts a plant material center—and copy the letter to the following national staff leaders. See

John Englert, National Plant Materials Program Leader
USDA-NRCS, Ecological Sciences Division
PO Box 2890, Room 6157, South Bldg.
Washington, DC 20013
Phone: (202) 720-0536 | Fax: (202) 720-1814
Email: [email protected]

Shawn Belt, National Plant Materials Center Acting Manager
USDA-NRCS, Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center
Bldg. 509, BARC-East, Beaver Dam Rd.
Beltsville, MD 20705
Phone: (301) 504-8175 | Fax: (301) 504-8741
Email: [email protected]

 

2. Seeds of Success

The Seeds of Success (SOS) program is part of the Federal interagency Native Plant Materials Development Program. It supports and coordinates seed collection of native plant populations in the United States to increase the number of species and the amount of native seed that is available for use to stabilize, rehabilitate, and restore lands in the United States by partnering with the seed producing industry. The program began in 2001 through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for collections on public lands in the West. The need for geographically and ecologically diverse collections from across the United States led to partnerships with eight additional institutions. It and its partners draws upon a number of funding sources, some of which (like NFWF, below) are threatened with closure. Write your Congressional legislation and express support for a broad interagency plant diversity conservation initiative with funding equal to what mammals, birds and fish receive. Copy your letters or emails to the following national leaders.

Native Plant Materials Development Program
Bureau of Land Management Plant Conservation Program Lead
Peggy Olwell Bureau of Land Management
1849 C Street NW, Rm 2134LM
Attention: Peggy Olwell
Washington, DC 20240
Tel: 202-912-7273
Email: [email protected]

Seeds of Success National Collection Curator Megan Haidet
Bureau of Land Management
1849 C Street NW, Rm 2134LM
Attention: Megan Haidet
Washington, DC 20240
Tel: 202-912-7233
Email: [email protected]

 

3. National Plant Germplasm System

The National Plant Germplasm System holds more than 561,000 accessions of more than 14,800 plant species useful in adapting crops to heat, drought, and other climatic or ecological stresses. Despite its international leadership in plant conservation and many crop-specific climate adaptation projects underway, it is chronically underfunded relative to its significance. Write your Congressional representatives to express continuing support for their good work—especially if they are in a district which hosts a USDA/ARS Plant Introduction Station—and copy the letter to the following national staff leader. You can also check out their holdings and programs online.

Peter K Bretting
Crop Production and Protection
General Biological Science
Plant Germplasm & Genomes
[email protected]
Phone: (301) 504-5541
Fax: (301) 504-6191
Room 4-2212
5601 Sunnyside Avenue
GWCC-BLTSVL
BELTSVILLE, MD, 20705-5139

 

4. USDA Strike Force

Last year, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack launched the StrikeForce Initiative, a cross-agency effort to accelerate assistance to Historically Underserved groups. Through this initiative, USDA is working to ensure all producers have access to programs that can help them thrive, including proven conservation programs. In partnership with local community-based organizations, three USDA agencies—Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency and Rural Development—are working to improve USDA’s outreach to these communities in order to increase their access to—and participation in—these valuable programs. The StrikeForce Initiative is currently being piloted in 12 states stricken by poverty to help farmers, farmworkers, and food microenterprises adapt to changing conditions. Write your Congressional representatives expressing continuing support for their good work—especially if they are in a state which hosts a Strjke Force Initiative.

5. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

After years of supporting national plant species conservation initiatives among agencies and non-profits, NFWF has closed its program and restructured its assets away from plant conservation to animal conservation. Write Executive Director Jeff Trandel and VP for Evaluation Claude Gascon to request they reconsider:

Executive Director and CEO: Jeff Trandahl
VP for Evaluations: Claude Gascon
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
M 1133 Fifteenth St., N.W., Suite 1100
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: 202-857-0166

Summer Green Beans: 4 Ways to Preserve Using Salt

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

It’s summer time and green beans are officially in season. Yum! It’s so tempting to gobble them all up, but now is a great time to think about simple ways to preserve your food.

Here’s to months of delicious green beans ahead!

The following is an excerpt from Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation by the Gardeners & Farmers of Terre Vivante. It has been adapted for the Web.

Above a certain concentration of salt in food, microorganisms cannot develop and thus the preservation of food is assured.

While preserving with salt seems a relatively ancient process, it is not as old as the methods we have described so far. At one time, salt was mainly used for preserving meat, fish, and butter; every rural household had a salt tub. Today, salt still is used for fish, such as cod or anchovies, as well as for pork and butter. Among vegetables, we sometimes salt green beans, herbs, and vegetable mixtures for soup stock.

There are two main disadvantages to preserving food with salt:

1. The salt must be removed from most foods before consuming them, which usually requires lengthy soaking and repeated rinsing that also eliminate some of the nutrients;

2. If the salt is not completely removed, we risk consuming more than is considered healthy these days.

However, for preserving foods that we eat in small quantities, or that don’t need much soaking and rinsing, salt has its place. It is one of the best ways to preserve fish, for which other methods tend to be less convenient. Green beans seem to be the vegetable that best lends itself to being preserved with salt. There are many versions of this method of preservation, and we have included in this chapter several of the most common ones. Yet, among all the foods preserved with salt, mixed vegetables are perhaps the most appealing: no salt need be removed; they do not cause you to eat too much salt; and they make instant stock for soup.

 

Bottled Green Beans

  • Green beans
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • Widemouthed jars

String and wash the beans. Pack them tightly in jars (preferably with a wide mouth) and cover with water. Change the water every day for three days.

On the fourth day, replace the water with a brine made of one-half cup of salt to one quart of water. Finish with a capful of oil and close the bottles.

Mr. Buisson, Riorges
Green Beans in Brine

  • Green beans
  • Salt
  • A saucepan
  • A stoneware pot

Make a brine using one-half cup of salt to one quart of water. Boil and let it cool. String, wash, and blanch the beans in boiling water for five minutes, and let them cool. Put them in a stoneware pot, cover them with brine, and check now and then to see that they are always well covered in brine.

Soak the beans in water for a few minutes just before cooking them.

Marie-Françoise Lavigne, St. Ismier
Green Bean Halves with Coarse Salt

  • Green beans
  • Coarse salt (1 cup per 2 lbs. of beans)
  • A bowl
  • Canning jars and lids

Break the beans in half, and put them in a bowl with the salt. Leave them to marinate for three days, stirring occasionally.

Next, put the beans into canning jars (used rubber seals are okay). Fill the jars to the top and seal them. Do not transfer any liquid from the bottom of the bowl to the jars, nor should you remove any salt from the beans as you pack them in.

These beans will keep for three years. To use them, rinse the beans under the tap, before parboiling in a large quantity of water. Rinse the beans once again under the tap, and then finish cooking them.

Maurice Valle, Neufchâtel-en-Bray
Green Beans in a Salt Pot

 

  • Green beans
  • Table salt
  • An earthenware or stoneware pot or wooden barrel

Use only young and tender green beans, preserving them as you harvest them. Using the following method, they taste as good as fresh ones, and much better than frozen ones. Another great advantage: You don’t have to prepare all the beans in one day.

Put some salt in the bottom of a clean container (an earthenware or stoneware pot, or a wooden barrel). Fine table salt is best, but coarse salt will do.

Quickly wash and dry the beans. Remove the stems and the strings. Put a layer of beans in the container, packing them down carefully but firmly with a wooden stick or a bottle.

As you harvest additional beans from your garden, continue adding salt and beans in alternating layers until the container is full. Cover the container and store it in a cool place. Eventually, a brine will form, soaking the beans. Do not discard this brine—it’s the essential ingredient in the preservation process—but from time to time remove any film that has appeared on the surface.

When winter comes, use the beans as you need them. Rinse first in cold water for five minutes; then soak for two hours (not longer). Cook as usual.

Martine Saez-Mercadier, Camarès

 


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