February 2011

Happy Birthday to Us! Reflections on Turning Two

It's hard to believe it's been just two years since my first post, a "golly gee whiz" piece about joining a CSA for the first time. There's a fine line between being excited and being naive, and I'm proud to run a site that continues to walk that line -- as we have since day one.

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Commit to Home Cooking -- and Try These Wontons!

Mark Bittman recently suggested in his New York Times blog that the government “encourage and subsidize home cooking ... [because] when people cook their own food, they make better choices.” I wholeheartedly agree that we make better choices when we cook our own food.

Because I love to cook, I tend to cook most of my family's meals. Still, over the past couple of years I found that it was getting easier to either go out or pick something up instead. So, last fall I renewed my commitment to home-cooking; call it a New School Year’s Resolution. We would eat out just once or twice a month, and the rest of the time we would eat our own home-cooked meals.

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A Whole New Kind of Lunch Lady at Emerson Spanish Immersion Learning Center

I don’t know about you, but until recently, the words “lunch lady” conjured less than pleasant memories of crabby women in hairnets glopping mystery meat and mashed potatoes onto plastic trays with ice cream scoops. Had I taken a moment to consider their point of view, I suppose I might have realized how annoying it would be to dish out food, day after day, to disrespectful kids yelling “ewwww, gross!” I’m ashamed to admit that this level of empathy was beyond me in my elementary school years. I was too busy yelling “ewwww, gross!”

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Feeding the Family: Weeknight Chili with Lots of Leftovers

Food writer and Simple, Good, and Tasty favorite Mark Bittman recently wrote his last Minimalist column for The New York Times, followed by what sounds to be the first of many pieces for the Opinionator section instead, "A Food Manifesto for the Future." In it, he offers nine ideas to improve modern growth, sale, preparation, and consumption of food, including this one, related to the home:

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Local Mobs Gone Global: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms

One of the best ways to experience a different culture is through its food, and one of the most fun ways of doing so is to travel to its place of origin. But that does not simply mean flying to Naples and enjoying an authentic pizza margherita in a real Italian osteria. If you truly want to get your hands on the roots of local food during your explorations, then get ready to dig in the dirt … literally.

Tapping into travelers’ insatiable appetites for gastronomic vacations, holiday tour companies offer everything from hawker stall hopping in Singapore to vineyard adventures in the Loire Valley to mole-making classes in Oaxaca. For many people, however, good food is not just about authentic flavors and traditional cooking techniques – it is also about the sustainable practices used to produce the ingredients that make up these regional cuisines. Now, there is a way for them to know exactly where their food is coming from, even when they are on vacation.

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Food Coaches Help Schools' Youngest Students Make Better Food Choices

Imagine, for a moment, that you're five years old. After a busy morning in Kindergarten, you notice that your stomach is growling. It's time for lunch. Unless you brought food from home, you'll be eating what's served in your school's cafeteria. You get in line and grab a tray. You're barely tall enough to see the food behind the counter, and your teacher isn't there to help because she's having her lunch elsewhere. So when the lady wearing the plastic gloves asks you what you want to eat, you're not sure what to say. Then you might notice something familiar -- maybe a hot dog, spaghetti, or some chicken nuggets -- so you point to it and watch as it's placed on your tray.


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Michigan Week Concludes: Small Farming's Future

This concludes our series of posts about small farmers and artisans in southwest Michigan. We featured stories about Local, Pat and Ellie Mullins's new retail business selling artisanal meats; Tabula Rasa Farm and its determined owners Bill and Greta Hurst; and the grass-fed beef Bob and Janet Schuttler are raising on Middlebrook Farm. In each case, their business is only a few years old, but growing under the impassioned care of dedicated founders. They represent just a few of Michigan's thousands of fabulous farmers and producers.

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Michigan Week Continues: Grass-Fed in Southwest Michigan

This is part three in our series of posts about small farmers and artisans in southwest Michigan. Earlier this week, we featured stories about a new retail business selling artisanal meats, and about a couple growing Chardonnay grapes. Today we profile the owners of another small farm. Tomorrow we will close with some observations about the future of small-scale agriculture in Michigan.

A Visit to Middlebrook Farm

Bob and Janet Schuttler didn’t set out to raise and sell grass-fed beef. Bob chalks it up to “dumb luck.” They had run out of projects at their vacation home near Lake Michigan and started driving by rural properties—including the 22-acres of land and 1844 farmhouse that comprise Middlebrook Farm. They bought the place in 2005, and two years later, Bob left his family-owned, Chicago-area construction business.

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Michigan Week Continues: The Grape Lake State

 Greta HurstPhotograph by Greta HurstThis is part two in our series of posts about small farmers and artisans in Michigan. Yesterday, we started with a bit of background on the state of small agriculture in Michigan and profiled a new business selling artisanal meats. Today we meet a couple learning the business of growing wine grapes. Check back later this week for the story of another southwest Michigan grower, and some thoughts about the future of small-scale ag in Michigan.

Starting From Scratch at Tabula Rasa Farm

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Michigan Week: Welcome to the Great Lake State

Welcome to Michigan Week at SGT!

This week we are delighted to feature a series of posts about small farmers and artisans in the Great Lake State. Today, we give you a bit of background on the state of small agriculture in Michigan and profile a new business called—our readers will appreciate this—“Local.” Over the next two days we will look at two other family farm businesses, and on Friday offer some thoughts about the future of small-scale ag in Michigan. 

21st Century Agriculture in Michigan

 When you think of Michigan what comes to mind? Did you think:

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