Posts Tagged 'slow food'

Not a Ba-a-a-d Idea – Goats Munch Weeds – LA Saves Dough

Goats are the ultimate eco-friendly weed whackers.

As one commenter said, they’re “weapons of grass destruction.” (That wasn’t you, was it Dennis?)

This article in the L.A. Times today (Thanks Caleb!) reminds me of one of the key systems that small farms use and “big Ag” (industrial farming) has gotten away from. Rotating crops and animals in complementary ways. This is part of what the Slow Food conference was about. Going fast, or “progress” brought us weed whackers and lawn mowers and such. Noise-polluting, fuel-consuming, waste-producing stuff = bad.

Goats bring us back to “slow” ways. Goats don’t use fossil fuel (except in the transport of them to this lot). They don’t pollute, but do fertilize; and they bring people together, too. The article notes commuters stopping to chat and snap photos. Normally, they’d be rushing by, avoiding the noise and dust and each other. Weed-eating, fertilizer-producing, community-building = good.

Pig farmers, I’ve learned, use goats to eat the weeds around the pigs’ paddocks. Chickens follow behind and scratch around in the poo, fertilizing the soil. Pigs eat a fresh patch of clover and grass and then the whole cycle gets repeated in a fresh patch.

Makes sense for everyone: the pigs, the goats, the chickens, the farm, the water supply. Compare it to what happens at factory pig locations such as Smithfield. Horrors of waste, pollution and well documented abuse of both the pigs being raised and the workers. See the original exposé in Rolling Stone here, Boss Hog.

The more you know about it, the more “going slow” makes sense.

For more on my Slow Food Nation experience see:

Jellyfish, By-catch and McDonald’s? Not in my Happy Meal!

Trying to Make Progress in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity

Sustainable seafood debates have their own language. Their terms have entered the general food discourse. Check this quote from LA Stages a Fast Food Intervention:

Fast food chains, he said, are like jellyfish in the ocean: with too many in one area, nothing else can thrive.

But he worries that the law could keep out places of more culinary interest. South Los Angeles has the best barbecue in the city, he said, and it has a growing number of cooks from Mexico and Central America making lamb barbacoa and pupusas. “Anytime you try to ban something, there’s a lot of bycatch,” he (Jonathan Gold LA Weekly food critic) said.

Okay, so the jellies analogy is a bit off (the overabundance is an effect of imbalance, not the cause of it) but here’s another interesting quote from the piece:

“Our policy makers abhor nuance and the subtle but distinct qualities that differentiate
fast food from food that can be served fast,” said Mr. Bain.

When was the last time a pushcart hotdog vendor sounded like that in your neighborhood? It’s an interesting article, worth a read.

Two observations:

1. Tried and true, or overused and hackneyed, (take your pick) arguments about governmental interference and individual liberties are being trotted out once again in the debate about whether LA politicians are over-reaching. Trying to protect citizens from themselves, and their taxpayers from the public health burdens, local politicians are balancing the rights and needs of citizens against the rights, needs of others (e.g. fast food restaurants restricted from conducting business in certain areas.)

What people often fail to realize is that government is always balancing rights of one constituency against those of another. It is the purpose of government, more or less. (e.g. smoking, seat-belts, helmets)

2. Sustainability arguments and issues have permeated the common zeitgeist. It now happens that an unrelated food safety or public health debate picks up phrases, concepts and messaging from the sustainability movement. This, I think, is progress. It suggests that our S/O/L/E issues are not a fad and won’t dissapear any time soon.

Come to the Table – A Timely Gathering

SlowFood Nation convenes in San Francisco August 29th – September 1. It will be a gathering of all constituencies from farmers, fishers, producers, growers, purveyors to policy makers, changemakers, film makers, local activists and simply, those who eat.

It’s the mission of the event to debate, celebrate, create, act and learn together over the course of the Labor Day Weekend. Organizers are bringing everyone who cares about food, food systems, farm to table issues and ideas together. Come to the Table!

In recent news we hear of meat processors sins against laws of the nation or their contracts (Coleman Beef and Whole Foods) and those of “a higher authority” (Kosher plant Agribusiness abusing underage and undocumented workers). If this were not enough to convince you that something is wrong with our food systems, then I don’t know what is.

Perhaps some good news is in order? How about the old foodways, gaining popularity again? Before we outsourced our food production to unscrupulous, unethical and/or unclean huge, industrial CAFO, operations there were more sane ways of getting food from farm to fork. May I offer the glass half-full view?

  • City Farms Taking Root.
  • Read about the Sustainable Harvest Alliance led by Wild Idea Buffalo. It’s a stirring and beautiful example of what can be done to bring some sanity back to our food systems. Responsible stewardship of the land and what we harvest from it, and how; these are concepts that will hopefully also become more common in the public dialog about our food.

Wild Idea Buffalo Ribs with Dad’s Sundried Tomato BBQ Sauce

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Whether it's Food & Cooking, Sports, Film, Travel or the Business of Writing can find it all through this page. Use this sidebar and the links below to go directly to whatever strikes your fancy. Jacqueline Church's Facebook profile

Where I’ve been seen, published, cited, syndicated…

  • - Tuesday November 11 @6 PM Povo Blogging Panel. Come to 660 Washington Street in Chinatown at the Archstone Building to see what a panel of bloggers have to say about the state of blogging.
  • - Interviewed by Sarah Turner of Suite101 about Using Blogs to Raise Social Awareness
  • - Reuters, Chicago Sun-Times, Austin American Statesman, BBQ Report, Computer Shopper. See clips here.

For Real on the Virtual Gourmet!

Noted food and wine author John Mariani ran my article Salmon and the Sustainability Zeitgest. Click here to read it!

Books make great gifts, for yourself or others.

Click here to see what's on my Powell's Bookshelf.
Powell's Books

Mark Your Calendars

August 22 - Courtney Hunt's acclaimed film Frozen River at the Coolidge Corner. See Diversions for more.

Caught my eye…

  • The Audubon Insectarium opens in New Orleans. See Getting Down with All that Skitters.
  • Copper River Salmon is so hot, even E!online is commenting on the stars who eat it. Taye Diggs was digging it.
  • Vertical farms? Colbert meets Ethicureans...heaven is for those with humor and ethics, yes? Interesting food for thought here....

On Women and Work

Read my contributions to The Glass Hammer a new blog for executive women.


  1. Tales of the Cocktail may be over but the fun continues. Check the blogs and podcasts for all the news that fit to drink!
  2. The Maori art of facial tatooing is called moko. It is a powerful expression of tribal identity which has only recently enjoyed a resurgence as the colonial Christian prohibitions against it have lessened. Go to the Peabody Essex Museum for this rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of this amazing cultural tradition. The documentary I saw at Sundance years ago on moko, was one of the most powerful films I have ever seen.
  3. The Audubon Insectarium is a new and top-notch attraction in New Orleans. We passed by it and wondered why we'd missed it before. Turns out it's just now opening. No time this last trip, but it's on the list for the next time. Check here for info.

What's on my list?