October 29, 2007
Motown Gets its Garden On
(reprint from SNRE compostable times, food edition)
Having grown up in rural Texas, I used to have deeply conflicted feelings about cities, at once mourning the loss of the biodiversity while wondering at the intricate human infrastructure that has replaced the â€śnaturalâ€? environment. I have Detroit to thank for altering my view of urban areas.
At first look, I was stunned by the 45,000 vacant lots that pepper the city, and shaken by the hundreds of remnant industrial buildings that stand as testament to the nearly defunct car industry. Itâ€™s hard to believe that only a 45-minute drive east of the U-M bubble exits a metropolitan area with the highest unemployment rate in the nation for areas with more than 1 million residents. As a consequence of decades of discrimination, the primarily black residents are bestowed with a â€śfood desertâ€?. At last count in 2001, all but three of the large grocery stores had followed white flight to the suburbs. Most residents depend on corner stores, which are more likely to carry cigarettes than the minimum makings for a nutritious meal. Public transportation to the suburbs for regular grocery trips â€“ well, itâ€™s a joke. Adding insult to injury, corner stores often charge higher prices than up-scaled big box grocers.
So, amongst this post-apocalyptic backdrop of Detroit, the hundreds of community gardeners working to bolster their neighborhoods and form connections to this discounted land inspired me, to say the least. Organizations such as Detroit Agriculture Network (DAN) provide the education and means for Detroiters to transform blighted landscapes to productive urban farms. These efforts are beyond renewal; they exceed revitalization; they are hope embodied.
After looking at a map of vegetative regrowth in Detroit, I decided to take the idea of biodiversity conservation in fragmented landscapes utilized in Agroecology, and combine it with the emerging techniques of urban ecology piloted in places such as Phoenix. Iâ€™m studying the insect and plant diversity that exists in Detroit vacant lots, urban gardens, and the highest-quality remnant forests. With the help of former LA student Suzan Campbell, Ashley Atkinson of DAN, the Detroit Planning office and a multitude of friendly residents, I set up twelve sites across the city and spent the summer capturing, counting, and enumerating the less glamorous residents of the city. Iâ€™ll continue to process specimens this winter, looking to capture a picture of the life that endures on these particular land use types after 300 years of exploitation.
This year marks the first time in human history that the majority of people reside in urban areas. Itâ€™s important that we understand what processes are taking place in the cities, socially, politically, and physically, so that we can truly build a more sustainable future. The Worldwatch Institute devoted chapter three of the annual state of the world publication to â€śFarming the Cities.â€? Urban agriculture has many benefits, such as reducing the energy needed to transport food and protecting against hunger if distribution is disrupted. But as the authors note, there is more to food security than insuring calories if a bomb happens to fall on the highway. Food security means that all people get to eat a diet that is nutritionally sufficient and culturally appropriate.
More significant to practitioners, urban agriculture supplements a poor diet, builds community, improves personal safety and property value, and provides alternative waste and income streams. It provides opportunities to women and other groups that are often disenfranchised or unable to work outside the home. In Detroit, where most see the fire-scorched landscape that speaks of the cityâ€™s painful racial and economic history, I see the grasses and the milkweed, the wild pheasants and useful chickens, and the gardens that speak to a rebirth that only strength and perseverance can create. What a beautiful city.
June 08, 2007
Food & Film Series in June!
One of my favorite combinations... delicious food and a good movie! The Michigan Foodways programing brings the following events to ChelseaÂ´s McKune Memorial Library, with co-sponsor with Slow Food Huron Valley.
When: Tuesdays at 8:30 pm
Where: Chelsea Library 221 S. Main in Chelsea.
What: Michigan Foodways OR Call:
Slow Food Huron Valley
Tuesday, June 5
"Big Night" with SilvioÂ´s Organic Pizza
- Silvio, chef and owner of Silvio's Organic Pizza in Ann Arbor, will talk briefly about his food and philosophy and about his connection to the local food community. He will bring several of his heavenly pizzas to try.
- "Big Night": Primo and Secondo are two brothers who have emigrated from Italy to open an Italian restaurant but have trouble keeping financially afloat. The owner of the nearby Pascal's restaurant, successful despite its mediocre fare, offers a solution. He will call his friend, a big-time jazz musician, to play a special benefit at their restaurant. Primo begins to prepare a feast of a lifetime, for the brothers' big night.
Tuesday, June 12
"BabetteÂ´s Feast" with Slow Food Huron Valley
- Slow Food Huron Valley presents delicious treats prepared from produce and other foods purchased at the local farmers markets, along with some ideas about connecting with and enjoying our local food community.
- "BabetteÂ´s Feast": In 19th century Denmark, a French woman refugee, Babette, arrives at the door of two sisters and begs them to take her in. Sometime after their father dies, the sisters decide to hold a dinner to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth. Babette implores the sisters to allow her to take charge of the preparation of the meal. Although they are secretly concerned about what Babette, a Catholic & foreigner, might do, the sisters allow her to go ahead. Babette prepares the feast of a lifetime for the members of the tiny church and an important gentleman related to one of them.
Tuesday, June 19
"Like Water for Chocolate" with Zingerman's Mexican Chocolate
- ZingermanÂ´s will do a short presentation about and a tasting of sweet and spicy Mexican Drinking Chocolate (made with water and chocolate!)
- "Like Water for Chocolate": Tita and Pedro are passionately in love. But their love is forbidden by an ancient family tradition. To be near Tita, Pedro marries her sister. And Tita, as the family cook, expresses her passion for Pedro through preparing delectable dishes. Now, in Tita's kitchen, ordinary spices become a recipe for passion. Her creations bring on tears of longing, heated desire, or chronic pain - while Tita and Pedro wait for the moment to fulfill their most hidden pleasures!
Tuesday, June 26
"Chocolat" with Sweet Gem Confections
- Presentation by Nancy, local chocolate and confection maker at Sweet Gem Confections suggests ways to "bring joy through chocolate" and, of course, sampling of delicious sweets.
- "Chocolat": When a single mother and her six-year-old daughter move to rural France and open a chocolate shop with Sunday hours - across the street from the local church - they are met with some skepticism. But as soon as they coax the townspeople into enjoying their delicious products, they are warmly welcomed.
May 01, 2007
Why Isn't Organic Farmland Growing Faster?
photo of Northern California from the sky, by SNRE graduate John Aloysius Zinda
A lot of us puchase organic food becuase we know that organic farming is better for the environment than conventional industry-driven production. However, though the desire for more organic food continues to grow, it appears that the number of "certified organic" farms is staying about the same.
That's got to make you wonder - I mean, it just doesn't seem to add up. But, this article by Tom Philpott from Grist magazine, which was publisized by the Organic Consumers Association, has some interesting insights.
Not too surprizingly, the processed & prepared organic foods market is growing, while the fresh produce market is only staying steady. Combined with an influx of imported organics to feed the new Wal-Mart line of organics, it seems that the smaller farmers are again getting squeezed out of the market, while the larger, more industrial organic producers are being pinched by imported competition.
Of course, the idea of buying local and direct for farmers plays a role in the solution. This article provides some solid explainations of why the food system will not be able to move to organic production under its current structure. Something to keep in mind when trying to find the energy you need to get up on the Wednesday or Saturday morning to make it to the Farmer's Market!
May 01, 2007
Slow Food Huron Valley events for May
Friday, May 11, 8:00-10:00am
Slow Food Huron Valley (SFHV) Leadership Meeting at Zingermanâ€™s Next-door, upstairs
If youâ€™d like to help make a difference in out community and help us spread the Slow Food word this is the meeting for you- itâ€™s open to everyone, the more people that get involved the quicker we can make progress!
Friday, May 18, 6:00-8:00pm
Agrarian Adventure Spring Festival. â€“ â€śFood from the Earth to Your Bellyâ€?
Tappan Middle School
Agrarian Adventure Festival
Friday, May 18 - Sunday, May 20
U-M Clements Library
Symposium on American Culinary History: Regional and Ethnic Traditions
Symposium Registration & Details
Saturday, May 26, 8:00-9:00am
Ann Arbor Farmerâ€™s Market Walk
Meet at the Kerrytown Clock Tower
Saturday, May 26, 10:00am-3:00pm
Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit Michigan Debut: "Key Ingredients Michigan Foodways"
Kick-off Event: Chelsea Market Faire Day at the McKune Memorial Library, Chelsea, MI
EatThisMI Event Entry
Saturday, May 26 - Sunday, July 8
Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit "Key Ingredients Michigan Foodways" Events
Chelsea District Library, Chelsea, MI
"The Michigan Humanities Council is proud to host Key Ingredients Michigan Foodways, a year long series of exhibits and public programs touring six Michigan Communities (Chelsea, Calumet, Cheboygan, Whitehall, Frankenmuth, and Dundee) in 2007-08.
Key Ingredients is a Smithsonian exhibit depicting our national food culture. Michigan Foodways is a Michigan State University Museum exhibit exploring our state's food story by examining our rich agriculture, our diverse ethnic cuisines, and our special culinary traditions."
April 14, 2007
How to find the Arb... for the Day of Fun!
For those of you less familiar with the Arboretum, here is a map and directions to the Reader Center at the Washington Heights enterance, where we will be set up.
1610 Washington Heights
Ann Arbor, MI
From the Diag, head towards the CCRB using the bridge path that crosses over the road. Keep heading past the dorms, and accross the street. Turn right onto Washington Heights, and walk on down the sidewalk, past the dorm on your left and the parking lot on the right, and you'll see the big white house which is the Reader Center (and lots of trees)! The map shows the way as if you were driving.
The U-M SOUTHBOUND NORTH CAMPUS & NORTHWOOD lines have a drop off point on Observatory, near the Mosher-Jordan dorms, which gets you quite close to the enterance. If you are taking the AATA bus into town, then line 1U and 2 run past Washington Heights. Other lines may pass by the Reader Center enterance - call AATA to find out details.
See you soon!
April 09, 2007
Community Farm of Ann Arbor
I had the pleasure of getting a tour of the Community Farm of Ann Arbor on the fourth of this month. Community Farm, now celebrating two decades of serving Ann Arbor, is truly the vision of successful non-corporate farm.
Anne and Paul (featured below) use whatâ€™s known as biodynamic techniques to farm. Instead of chemical applications or large farm equipment, Anne and Paul depend on the vast diversity of their farm produce and soil enriched with fantastic compost from their two cows and other small livestock to nourish their plants and create a balanced system. Combined with the other important input - a lot of human attention and care - the farm fosters some fantastic produce and lots of life. (That's Ally on the far left with Anne of Community Farm on the far right at a local food event on U-M Campus, Jan 2007)
Community Farm is named such because it is run as a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), in which individuals or families support the farm by purchasing a share of the harvest before the season starts. Ann and Paul use that money to fund several interns and whatever the farm requires (seeds, building materials, etc.). In addition to getting a food share, the CSA share owners have plenty of opportunities to experience the farm, from working hands-on in the fields to visiting the animals that form an integral part of the operation. Lots of families use this opportunity to teach their kids about nature and farming.
They make a conscious choice to use natural materials such as wood seed starter boxes instead of plastic â€“ both for their ability to better balance moisture and air for growth, as well as the fact that wood will break down into harmless substances, whereas plastic will go to waste or take millennia to degrade.
Community Farm welcomes volunteers, and itâ€™s a short drive to just outside Dexter. They've got a great rope swing in the barn, and the cows are a comedy in themselves. Get out there this summer and see sustainable faming in action!
March 29, 2007
The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved
While I was flipping through my eco-spam junk mail, which is plentiful enough to make me never want to give to a non-profit again, I came across an article in the Real Goods catalogue (products for sustainable living) on a recent book entitled The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside Americaâ€™s Underground Food Movements by Sandor Ellix Katz.
This is the kind of book that is a great introduction and guide to becoming a food activist. That doesnâ€™t mean that you stand outside the local McDonaldâ€™s with signs about low wages, animal cruelty, unhealthy additives, or any of those clichĂ© efforts that â€śrevolutionaryâ€? infers to many people. What the book captures, and I try to express in the word â€śrevolutionary,â€? is the idea that you have a direct influence through your lifestyle choices on the political, social and ecological environment.
This book helps to inform people on the regrettable aspects of our current food system, pointing out political and economic wrongs. â€śWrongsâ€? a strong word â€“ but one that our current system deserves. But, like most of the books that hit home with me, it doesnâ€™t stop at pointing out the wrongs. It gives you a myriad of ways to practice the â€śrightâ€? of sustainable eating; and these methods usually have side-benefits such as improved community participation, better ecological health, and improved personal health.
Isnâ€™t it nice when you need not be afraid of the fine print, which reads â€śyou must live an aware, caring, engaged, and happy lifeâ€?. Now â€“ getting everyone that right â€“ that comes next!
March 21, 2007
Parsley Pea Pesto on Pasta
Itâ€™s always a challenge this time of year to find local produce in the market â€“ the winter squash and rutabaga that I treasure has departed, and the early greens havenâ€™t been told that Spring has Sprung. So, I look for recipes that I can use frozen organic veggies for a few reasons:
- they are much less expensive than the â€śfreshâ€? ones hurriedly transported from California or even further like China;
- properly frozen veggies actually retain more of their nutritional value than transported veggies that havenâ€™t see the field for weeks;
- one day, Iâ€™ll grow enough food to freeze it and have it over the winter!
So, in these early spring days when I want something un-canned and different over pasta, I make this recipe. Itâ€™s quick and easy, takes minimal kitchenware [a blender or food processor), and certainly brings the â€śgreenâ€? home.
1 pound whole wheat penne or other pasta shape
1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen peas
1/2 cup blanched almonds*
zest and juice of 1 lemon**
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves**
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
1. In a large pot of rapidly-boiling salted water, cook the pasta al dente according to the package directions. About a minute before the pasta is done, add half the peas. Drain pasta and peas, reserving 1 cup of pasta water, and return the pasta-pea mixture to the pasta pot.
2. Using a food processor, grind the almonds finely. Add the lemon juice and zest, the remainder of the peas, parsley, and salt to taste. Process until combined, then--with the motor still running--add the oil gradually and process until the mixture is smooth.
3. Add pesto to pasta, tossing to combine, and adding reserved pasta water as needed to make the sauce the consistency you like. Season with salt and pepper to taste, transfer mixture to a serving bowl, and serve immediately.
*Almonds are packed with good oils, vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium, and provide a source of protein in addition to the peas
**Lemon is recognized as a cleansing agent for your digestive system, containing vitamin C (citric acid) to that not only wards off winter scurvy, but acts as an antiseptic
***Parsleyâ€™s volatile oils and flavanoids such as beta-carotene that give it a unique flavor also make it an effective anti-oxidant and "chemoprotective" food, especially in lung tissues; hence the addition to chicken soup when you have a cold or the flu!
March 19, 2007
Corporate Sweet Dreams? - Part 3
So, itâ€™s time for the Giant in the room to crawl out from under the table. What to do with the corporate organic market... otherwise known as â€śorganic industryâ€?. Is it a contradiction with the goal of sustainability? What could we do about it at Michigan anyway?
Let me start with the most obvious assertion. The practicality of itâ€¦ the whole eating local thing is great â€“ in theory. But what of the reality of a limited time budget for you, the consumer? Isnâ€™t it just as legitimate to drop a good amount of your paycheck or parental stipend at Whole Foods, and skip the early Saturday morning at the Farmerâ€™s Market? Unfortunately, in my opinion, no.
The usual first argument of buying local instead of instead of just organic is that most supermarkets, even Whole Foods, with their giant distribution chains and economies of scale, contribute to the shipping of foodstuffs all over the world and expending petroleum â€“ at an average of 1,500-2,000 miles per product. Considering Allyâ€™s great entry on organic v. local, I wonâ€™t bore you with the basics. But beyond the travel, elements like packing materials, shelving space, and advertising all play a role in the additional waste that is inherent in supermarkets.
Organic certification costs money â€“ sometimes, a good bit more than a start-up has to spend. So, though they may be practicing organic methods, itâ€™s not marked with that label as the sign of organic goodness. A farmer dealing with just plants can expect to pay near $530, while a dairy farm would average around $672. Grower groups, or cooperatives, can expect to pay an average of $4,500, which is a huge sum to a group of small coffee growers in South America, for example. (Organic Standard)
I wonâ€™t deny that the consumer-driven demand in organic food production, at a rate of 20% or more per year since the 1990s is a significant and positive step in the right direction! This certainly reflects a desire to increase our own health, and perhaps it even reaches to a greater understanding of the environmental impacts of the conventional system. But Whole Foods certainly doesnâ€™t reach a kid living in central Detroit, who needs good nutrition and low toxic load the most â€“ to her, food may only exist at the corner store in the form of shiny wrappers and plastic bottles.
Unfortunately, neither does the union-repressing Wal-Mart store that is now the largest purveyor of organic food. And that Odwalla Carrot and Raisin Bar that Earl only gave a 4/10? Coca-Cola, formerly banned from campus for murdering union organizers in South American factories, gets the main cut of that snack. I know, it's virtually unavoidable, and organic is better than nothing... but take a look at the chart below, and youâ€™ll see that much like the other products you see on supermarket shelves, companies that were once smaller and independent are consolidating into monstrosities like those found in other industrial sectors â€“ and you can be sure that if theyâ€™re selling at near the same price as the farmerâ€™s market, the farmer sees a lot less of this revenue.
Whoa, thatâ€™s intense!
If youâ€™re like me and keeping small farmers is important to you, despite the fact that farming is no longer an occupation listed on the US census as only 1% of the population can make a living in this sector, then please consider supporting them [more on all these in the near future!] :
- Join a CSA when you get the chance
- Come out to the A2 Farmerâ€™s Market on Saturday morning
- Go to East Quad and get a taste of the local â€“ thanks to their new organic and local buying efforts (Even Daleâ€™s Honey!)
- Consider petitioning U-M, a campus that consumes several tons of food a day, to have every day as sustainable, local and organic food day
- Finally, try your hand at growing some food organically yourself by volunteering with the cUltivating coMmunity student group
March 09, 2007
Monday March 12th - Sustainable Food Day on Diag!
Please come join the EatThisMI crew, Brewing Hope, and other supporters of sustainable food systems on the Diag this Monday for local & organic food sampling, coffee tasting, and general fun!
We'll be looking for input on what you want to see on this blog... and we can't wait to hear from you!
See you there!!!
Ann Arbor Farmer's Market
March 09, 2007
US Farm Bill Webcast
Wednesday, March 21st at UC Berkeley
Food Fight: A Teach-In
Learn more about the farm bill and Food Sovereignty Wednesday night in Berkeley. George Naylor, Carlos Marentes, Ken Cook, Ann Cooper, and Dan Imhoff will participate in "Food Fight: A Teach-in on the 2007 Farm Bill," moderated by Michael Pollan at 7-9 PM (Pacific) on Wednesday March 21st at Wheeler Auditorium, UC-Berkeley. The event will be webcast at
The US Farm Bill, drafted approximately every seven years, is again up for Congressional and public consideration this year. This legislation controls the money for:
â€˘agricultural subsidies (what crops get price or production support, and caps on farmer income to receive this support)
â€˘rural development (hospitals, water and energy infrastructure, etc.)
â€˘land conservation and restoration programs (take land out of production, provide habitat for wildlife, wetland preservation, etc.)
â€˘international trade policy and support
This webcast will introduce some of the important aspects of the bill, and educate on the results of similar past legislation. The moderator Micheal Pollan is the well-known author of The Botany of Desire and the blockbuster The Omnivoreâ€™s Dilemma. I encourage you to check it out!
USDA 2007 Farm Bill proposal factsheet
A Commitment to Rural America
National Family Farm Coalition
Response to USDA Proposal
Farm and Food Project Declaration
Seeking Balance in U.S. Farm and Food Policy
Ag Secretary Mike Johannsâ€™
statement about USDA farm bill proposals
Ag Policy Analysis Center, U. Tennessee
Rethinking U.S. Ag Policy
National Farmer's Union
Farmers Speak Their Minds
February 22, 2007
Michigan Foodways/Key Ingredients: May 2007
While your out on your weekend bike or drive this summer, check out the following events!
February 20, 2007
Growing Hope Prom, Feb 24th!
This was a wonderful opportunity for those of us past our prom prime (read â€“ over 21) to get in on the silk, taffeta and sequins. Growing Hope, a non-profit organization in Ypsilanti that helps community and schools in need to start their own gardens, hosted a â€śPromâ€? at the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti February 24th from 7:30-11 pm.
The show started at 7:30, with a brief swing lesson from Ms. Amanda Edmonds, the inspiring founder of Growing Hope who is also an alumnus of the University of Michigan.
Since the inception, the organization founded several community and school gardens in the Ypsi area, and offers several Americorps internships and volunteer opportunities. They have a vigorous community outreach program, in addition to holding some of the finest fund-raising events around, generally with a local-organic theme. Check out their impressive work at the Growing Hope Homepage.
The non-smoking venue is only a 10 minute or so drive from Ann Arbor. Even without the Prom, you should check it out - great ABC beer, wide open spaces, and plenty of tables to share.
February 13, 2007
Local Food Systems Conference
Should be a great event; there's even a great student rate! Here's the announcement...
"On Thursday, March 29th the Food System Economic Partnership [FSEP] is hosting a conference as part of their efforts to build a better food system in southeastern Michigan. The conference will run from 8:15 a.m. through 3:15 p.m. and will take place at the Washtenaw Community College, Morris Lawrence Building in Ann Arbor.
Participants will gain an understanding of the local food system and explore opportunities for growth in production, processing, distribution, sales, and consumption of local foods.
February 12, 2007
Iâ€™m not a regular at Leopoldâ€™s, though you might think that with my eco-friendly preferences Iâ€™d spend many happy hours swigging organic libations and playing board games with fellow green-thinking friends. Leopoldâ€™s has a loyal following for good reason â€“ the following are just a few elements that make it a good fit with our ideals.
Leopoldâ€™s is an organic brewery â€“ the beer ingredients and the distilled liquor such as gin â€“ are entirely organic. A huge amount of beer hops, grains, and other materials are expended in regular brewing processes â€“ as well as enough water to fill your same pint glass 15 times over. That makes for a lot of waste! To remedy this, the ingenious partners designed their own brewing system. This means that Leopoldâ€™s has reduced the material inputs by about 1/3, and reduced the water usage to almost 1:1. Thatâ€™s pretty amazing!
Unfortunately, what are not amazing are the beer and the smoky atmosphere. As for the brew, the darks are ho-hum, and the lights and reds a little off taste. Perhaps itâ€™s because many of the ingredients have to be shipped from England, as we donâ€™t grow these crops organically here in the US. Happily, though, the gin, vodka and whiskey are quite tasty, and the bartenders make a decent margarita (as a Texan, thatâ€™s a complement). The smoke is the inevitable result of a bar that needs its customers, and gives the otherwise placated hippies (such as me) something to complain about.
The pub has all the comforts you would like in a bar â€“ pool tables, big seating areas, no obnoxious table staff (get all your drinks at the bar), and an impressive juke box. There are nightly drink specials listed on the boards behind the bar, and they alert you by phone to let you know when itâ€™s time to pick up that half-price beer or inexpensive but effective long island iced tea. The food is nothing fancy (quesadillas, nachos, wings, etc.), but itâ€™s reasonable in price and made with primarily organic ingredients or hormone-free meat.
Leopoldâ€™s is on the south side of the Main Street drag, just before all the lights of town fade away into daytime shops and housing. Established in an old brake factory, the building has been fitted with a super-efficient (and fun!) air system that creates a rippling noise to interrupt any games that may have gotten too competitive. They occasionally give tours of their facility â€“ join in if you have the opportunity, and see one of the few and possible the most efficient organic brewery in the nation.
Check out their newly updated site Leopold Bros Homepage
February 05, 2007
Looking for the best organic lunch deal in town? Look no further than Silvioâ€™s pizza, just to the rear of Sushi.come in off North University. The pies and hand-tossed, fresher than imaginable, and each unique topping will keep you coming back for more.
For just $5.00 at lunch, you get a slice of hand-tossed pizza (with about 95% organic ingredients!!!), a generous 16 oz. cup of organic soup (at least three choices daily), and the pop of your choice. If you prefer something more nutritious than pop, there is always organic juices to be had. If you have wheat allergies, they even have gluten-free crust.
Silvio Medoro is an Italian native; his craft was perfected there in his fatherâ€™s bakery. If you are lucky, Silvio will appear while you dine, and ask you your opinion on his newest creation. I tried the â€śsolo mioâ€? pizza â€“ a delicious mixture of chunky fresh vegetables like bell pepper and asparagus, partnered with fresh farmerâ€™s cheese. As Silvio tells it, this cheese originally arrived at the store by accident â€“ but this new creation became my immediate favorite! The salads are also delicious and fresh, but itâ€™s almost a sin to pass up the heavenly crust and killer lunch deal that runs all the way to 4pm.
Iâ€™m reassured that my lowly American palate doesnâ€™t lie, as a stream of Italian-speaking customers wash over the close quarters of the restaurant. Itâ€™s obvious that Silvioâ€™s has fostered itâ€™s own loyal community. I have been told that Silvio and wife were well-liked regulars to Planet Rock climbing gym as well; before the pizza business became a lifestyle.
The only drawback is the disposable plates, cups and utensils, though the recycling containers for drink bottles, etc. are prominently displayed. Perhaps in the future theyâ€™ll find room in the tiny kitchen for an extra dishwasher. I bet they'll let you use a tupperware if you must.
Check out Silvio's Homepage for a full menu. Also, see the reviews posted in the restaurant (not available online without a subscription) for more praise of Silvioâ€™s Pizza!
February 04, 2007
Corporate Sweet Dreams? - Part 2
Nestle was founded on the creation of an alternate for breast-milk, and is infamous for an advertising campaign that left mothers in developing nations feeling that bottle feeding, even with inappropriate formula substitutes, was superior and more civilized than breast-milk. After the recognition of the death of approximately 1.5 million infants a year from contaminated water, a US and European boycott of the Nestle formula started in 1977, and at the turn of this century a ruling in Europe finally confirmed that the company had produced an inappropriate campaign that encouraged this sad consequence.
They also invented instant coffee, which anyone with a taste for good coffee objects to, and which is now a frequent source of coffee for the urban populations of developing nations â€“ even coffee-producing ones like Guatemala. Instant coffee has the highest profit margin of any coffee product, and despite its recent incursion into the world of fair trade, â€śthe reality of Nestle is that 99.9 percent of their coffee is still not fairly traded, but launching this one product has allowed it to be affiliated with the Fairtrade movement.â€?
So, buy your products from the snack machine carefully (see pic). Nestle owns over 1000 brands, and they are hard to avoid (see their website listing below). But my Co-op Fair-trade, organic coffee and my Cali-baked Suncake (youâ€™re welcome for the free marketing) will quell my hunger for justice and stimulation this lunch hour â€“ and for less than a Starbucks fancy drink and muffin.
Products I mentioned:
List of Nestle Products
Brewing Hope Coffee, distributed by Java for Justice @ U-M
January 06, 2007
Corporate Sweet Dreams?
Here I sit at Peopleâ€™s food Co-op on a Saturday, enjoying my Brewing Hope coffee â€śfor hereâ€? (to avoid the paper cup) and taking advantage of the best public wireless connection in town.
Itâ€™s no surprise to most folks that Iâ€™m not a big supporter of Nestle products. Based in Switzerland, Nestle is the largest food conglomerate in the world, with around 7.9 billion in net income for 2005. Youâ€™re probably most familiar with Nestle from the various chocolate products that they started producing in 1920. In 2004 Forbes wrote an article on the use of forced labor, especially child labor, in the cocoa bean production operations of Nestle in Africa. It seems that no meaningful actions have been taken on this issue since this the publication of the article. Makes me wonder about that newsletter offering â€śGood lifeâ€? to the â€śVery Best Kidsâ€?. They must define this a bit differently than I do.
Iâ€™m going to take this opportunity to talk a bout a couple of things. First, to serve as an example, Iâ€™ll share a bit about the Nestle corporation, their past actions, and their motivations for providing so much positive spin to the public. Secondly, Iâ€™ll explain a bit about the current structure of the food system, including the organic food portion of the market. Both the organic production lines and the food system as a whole have become increasingly consolidated, and I think itâ€™s important that we take this into consideration when thinking about our food choices.