Friday, March 24, 2006

Broken Limbs

In recent years, there has been much focus on sustainable agriculture and the importance of buying locally produced foods. This is all in the interest of supporting the "little guy" and it is also in the interest of eating better tasting food that is much better for your health. In most cases, these higher quality foods come at similar costs to their supermarket counterparts. In cases where they do cost more, my opinion is if we don't prioritize spending money on great tasting healthy food that is good for us, we will end up spending much more money on prescription drugs later in our lives--an easy conclusion exemplified by our country's current health issues resulting from an obesity epidemic.

More about the "little guy"...
Last night I saw the documentary titled "Broken Limbs". It's about the "New American Farmer" who is practicing old fashioned methods of growing our food so they do not deplete our soils and without dependence on pesticides and fertilizers. They are truly stewards of the earth. They're not scientists or soil experts, they are problem solvers. They decided they did not want to have to grow MORE to earn a living, they decided they would grow BETTER. They decided they would concentrate on Quality, not Quantity. And last, but not least, they simply cut out the middle man, or in the case of agriculture in America, the middle MEN. They marketed their own product and found out that they could set their own fair prices instead of taking what was given to them. It's a simple idea that has led to an amazing evolution in farming. An evolution that the big guys want a piece of can find organic dairy products and produce at Wal-Mart and Safeway--doesn't that seem paradoxical? It may, but do not confuse organic with sustainable. They tend to come hand-in-hand, but the standards for organic do not consider locality, nor size of operation. You can have a 5000 head heard of cows on minimum acreage, depleting the soil, and abusing the environment and still classify it as organic if it falls within governmental guidelines.

If you have a chance to see the film, take it. "Broken Limbs" is a highly entertaining documentary that provides some insight on what has happened to agricultural business in America from the viewpoints of a few of the little guys.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Victoria Pastry's Coconut Macaroons

A friend recently brought over a box of cookies from Victoria Pastry. I hadn't had their Italian and French confections in quite some time and they were even better than I had remembered... especially the coconut macaroon. No one does macaroons quite like they do. This is not the sticky condensed milk version and there is no chocolate involved. These are somewhat fluffy, somewhat dense and chewy, browned to perfection coconut macaroons. After scarfing down about three of them over the course of as many days, I decided I would like to figure out how to make them too. I've been researching recipes ever since, unfortunately for Lou, with little action on my part. We recently moved into a new place and my time away from my day job has been occupied with shopping for light fixtures and furniture and making a roman shade for our guest room before it is occupied this coming weekend. It turns out this version of the coconut macaroon, or rocher à la noix de coco, as the French know them, are Passover treats. What great timing! I plan on making my first trial batch this weekend. In the meantime, if you can not wait for a recipe, you can always order them from Victoria Pastry!