The Potato Park of Peru



 From David Bollier
Patterns of Commoning

Drive an hour northeast from Cusco, Peru, and you will encounter some beautiful high mountain lakes, historic Inca ruins, and the richest diversity of potatoes on the planet. Approximately 2,300 of the 4,000 known potato varieties in the world are grown here, making it one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. The 7,000 Quechua people who live on this high-altitude Sacred Valley of the Incas have, with their ancestors, cultivated and improved Andean potatoes for seven millennia. That impressive record stems from a holistic way of life that blends deep spiritual traditions and cultural values with cultivation techniques, barter and exchange practices and ecological stewardship.

Potatoes are, of course, a central element of Quechua culture. When a reporter from Gourmet magazine visited the region, she was amazed to discover that “each potato, it seemed, had its own special or ceremonial use: There were potatoes to eat at baptisms; potatoes, like the bride potato, for weddings; and others for funerals. Potatoes like the red moro boli were high in antioxidants, while potatoes such as the ttalaco – a long, banana-shaped tuber – must be either soaked and steamed or made into a potato alcohol.”

Some potatoes must be grown on steep slopes above 13,000 feet. Some can be grown nearly anywhere. It is not uncommon for a single farmer’s field to produce hundreds of different varieties, many of them quite rare.

A Good Farmer is a Craftsman of the Highest Order…


The Farm-to-Street Revolution Is Almost Here…

f 5

From Modern Farmer

They might deal in gourmet grilled cheeses, Korean-Mexican fusion and chocolate-covered bacon, but rare is the food truck that also traffics in food justice.

Luckily, Cassandria Campbell and Jackson Renshaw have added “activism” to the chalkboard menu. The founders of Boston-based Fresh Food Generation aim to bring culturally appropriate, sustainable meals to lower-income areas of the city that typically lack for healthy food options.

The partnership was written in the adolescent stars. The duo met as high schoolers at The Food Project, a local nonprofit that brings together teens from diverse backgrounds to assist in sustainable food production. For both, it was a life-altering experience.

The mission of Fresh Food Generation is to bring culturally appropriate, sustainable meals to lower-income areas of the city.

Chef Blaine Wetzel’s Quest to Become the Ultimate Locavore…

From Outside

Chef Blaine Wetzel has one rule for his 18-course dinners at Washington’s remote Willows Inn. Whether it’s geoduck or fried moss, everything is foraged, fished, or farmed on a nine-square-mile patch of rocky coast.

In the winter of 2010, Riley Starks was in trouble. A fisherman and organic farmer, the 59-year-old owned a small inn on Washington State’s Lummi Island, a nine-mile ridge of fir and hemlock rising out of the sea near the Canadian border, with a year-round population of 964 weathered souls. Starks and his wife had bought the eight-room Willows Inn in 2001, and for a while they lived out their fantasy. Starks supplied fish and veggies to the restaurant, while his wife handled the inn and the cooking. But the economic downturn had clobbered both the inn and their marriage. His wife left in 2009, and Starks was forced to place an ad for a chef on Craigslist. He wasn’t looking for anything special, just a warm body to keep the place alive, and that was largely what he got among the 25 responses. Most were from restaurant-crazed Seattle, as he’d expected, but one reply jumped out at him. It was from Copenhagen, Denmark.

10 Bay Area Farmers and Food Crafters to Follow…


Behind every item at the farmers market is a story, and social media brings that story to light. Farmers and food crafters are using Instagram to share photos that take eaters behind the scenes, making an art not only of putting food on the table, but also of showing us the beauty, magic, and hard work in getting it there.

“Our business has so many different interesting facets, even beyond what happens inside our coffee bar and roastery,” says Ashton Goggans of Sightglass Coffee. “We’re in the mountains of Latin America and East Africa, sourcing coffee from these incredibly hard-working producers, meeting their families, and walking their farms. Our Instagram feed gives us the opportunity to tell the story of all of those relationships, and to broaden people’s understanding of what a specialty coffee company does.”

Sonoma Cropmobster: Connecting the Dots Between Farms, Food Waste and Hunger…


From Shareable

Perched along the rolling hills of Coastal Sonoma County, Bloomfield Farms spreads out across 50 acres, close to 40 of which are thick with kale, chard, heirloom tomatoes, summer squash, potatoes and more. The foggy gray skies that often hang over this part of the county on summer mornings have not deterred several families from venturing out to the farm where they make their way down rows of greens, picking their own vegetables as a part of the “U Pick” program. Back at the farm stand, several more gather for a Sunday pay-what-you-can brunch. A musician strums his guitar, friends and strangers alike gather around community tables and the sun breaks through the clouds for an idyllic late summer treat.

It’s not just the screaming deals through Bloomfield’s pick-your-own program, the local, organic meal or the ambiance on these laid-back Sundays that have given Bloomfield Farms a prominent place on the map in the North Bay’s tight-knit organic farming community. A new food gleaning and supply-sharing program called Cropmobster, spearheaded by Bloomfield’s General Manager Nick Papadopolous, has created simple and effective solutions to address food waste and hunger and increase farmer visibility in a decentralized, community-based way. And it’s spreading like wildfire.

“It started in March,” says Papadopolous. “Standing in our vegetable cooler on a Sunday night it finally clicked that, wow, there is a lot of food left at the end of the week that should go to people.”

Swanton Berry Farm: Bringing Justice to the Table…


Swanton Berry Farm has been a leader in the sustainable food movement for more than 30 years, pushing boundaries for environmental stewardship as well as social justice. Not only were they the first organic strawberry farm in California, but they were also the first organic farm to sign a contract with the United Farm Workers, in 1998.

This month, Swanton Berry Farm became one of four farms in the United States to receive the Agricultural Justice Project’s (AJP) Food Justice Certification label, which sets rigorous standards for respectful treatment of farmworkers, living wages, safe working conditions, and collective bargaining rights. This certification has been a long time in the works for Swanton, and the farm has worked closely with AJP to help them develop their protocols.

“Farmer Jim Cochran is deeply committed to social justice, for the people who work on his own farm and on all farms,” says AJP co-founder Elizabeth Henderson. “He has helped the Agricultural Justice Project by allowing his farm to serve as a guinea pig while we developed our program.”

We spoke with Swanton co-owner Jim Cochran to learn more about this new certification and the future of the domestic fair trade movement.

Making Sauerkraut is Easy…


Now available from Mulligan Books and Seeds: These Gorgeous, Locally Made, Water Seal Ceramic Crocks (with weights) can be used to pickle almost anything: eggs, pickles, kimchi, and more. This is real food, with all the bacteria and enzymes our bodies need. These crocks are one gallon, and two heads of cabbage can be made in one batch. Color choices. $75.


Cobb Mountain

Sandor Ellix Katz, the author of Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods (Chelsea Green, 2003) has earned the nickname “Sandorkraut” for his love of sauerkraut. This is Sandorkaut’s easy sauerkraut recipe.

Timeframe: 3-4 weeks minimum, better if left to ferment

Special Equipment:
Ceramic crock with weights

Ingredients (for 1 gallon):
• 5 pounds cabbage • 3 tablespoons sea salt

1. Chop or grate cabbage, finely or coarsely, with or without hearts, however you like it. Place cabbage in a large bowl as you chop it.

2. Sprinkle salt on the cabbage as you go. The salt pulls water out of the cabbage (through osmosis), and this creates the brine in which the cabbage can ferment and sour without rotting. The salt also has the effect of keeping the cabbage crunchy, by inhibiting organisms and enzymes that soften it. 3 tablespoons of salt is a rough guideline for 5 pounds of cabbage.

3. Add other vegetables if you like. Grate carrots for a coleslaw-like kraut. Other vegetables you can add include onions, garlic, seaweed, greens, Brussels sprouts, small whole heads of cabbage, turnips, beets, and burdock roots. You can also add fruits (apples, whole or sliced, are classic), and herbs and spices (caraway seeds, dill seeds, celery seeds, and juniper berries are classic, but anything you like will work). Experiment.

Prop 37: Monsanto’s Lies and the GMO Labeling Battle…

Beyond Chron

You may have never heard of Henry I. Miller, but right now he is attempting to determine the future of food in this country. And he has enormous financial backing.

Mr. Miller is the primary face and voice of the “No on Prop 37” campaign in California. At this very moment, Monsanto and other pesticide companies are spending more than $1 million a day to convince California voters that it’s not in their best interest to know whether the food they eat is genetically engineered. And Henry I. Miller is their guy.

If you live in California today, he’s hard to miss. You see him in TV ads, hear him in radio spots, and his face is all over the expensive fliers that keep showing up uninvited in your mail box. Initially, the ads presented Miller as a Stanford doctor. But he isn’t. He’s a research fellow at a conservative think tank (the Hoover Institute) that has offices on the Stanford campus. When this deceptive tactic came to light, the ads were pulled and then redone. But they still feature Miller trying to convince the public that Prop 37 “makes no sense,” and that it’s a “food-labeling scheme written by trial lawyers who hope for a windfall if it becomes law.”

Actually, Prop 37 makes all the sense in the world if you want to know what’s in the food you eat. It was written by public health advocates, and provides no economic incentives for filing lawsuits.

Who, then, is Henry I. Miller, and why should we believe him when he tells us that genetically engineered foods are perfectly safe?

Does it matter that this same Henry Miller is an ardent proponent of DDT and other toxic pesticides? Does it matter that the “No on Prop 37” ads are primarily funded by pesticide companies, the very same companies that told us DDT and Agent Orange were safe?

I find it hard to avoid the impression that Henry Miller is a premier corporate flack.

Why Manufacturers Don’t Want Nutrition Labels to Include Added Sugars Info…


For years, we have been proponents of improved nutrition labeling on food products. There are various loopholes and tricks manufacturers use to embellish the nutritional value of their products. Labeling trans-fats as zero when they aren’t is one example.

Sugar is an interesting nutrient. We are all consuming way too much sugar daily. According to all health organizations, people should drastically reduce the amount of added sugars they consume. But if one turns to the nutrition facts label of products, the only sugar info available is “sugars”, which is a sum of naturally occurring sugars in a product and the added sugars.

The FDA recently asked for comments from the public on the matter. All the food companies that commented on the FDA website sided with NO CHANGES to the existing label. The reasoning: added information would only serve to confuse consumers. Lame.

The real reason that manufactures don’t want us to know the sugar breakdown is that we would be shocked as to how much is added to almost all products. Take Chocolate milk, with 3 teaspoons of naturally occurring sugar PLUS 3 added teaspoons of sugar. Per cup.

Bitters: The Revival of a Forgotten Flavor…

The Weston A. Price Foundation

Of all the flavors to grace our palate, there is perhaps none as fascinating as that of bitterness. It is a flavor that is universally despised—used linguistically to characterize pain, harshness and things that are extremely difficult to bear.1 Yet, it is also a flavor used in cultures the world over to strengthen digestion, cleanse the body and build vitality—in short, considered an ingredient essential to good health.2,3 In fact, so many of the plants humans have traditionally used to tonify and heal the body are bitter tasting that we still today often rate the strength and usefulness of our medicine by how terribly bitter it tastes.

It is unfortunate, then, that our modern diet seems to be completely lacking in the wild bitter tasting plants our ancestors considered so fundamental to their health.4 Many of the diseases riddling our modern culture—from indigestion and gastric reflux to metabolic disorders ranging from elevated cholesterol to type 2 diabetes—seem to all point back to the deficiency of bitterness in our diets, and the lack of the protection and tone it imparts to our digestion and metabolic functions.5

Recovery from Modern Diets: Soy-Ling Bacon…

Weston A. Price Foundation

Health experts often propose turkey bacon as a “healthy option” for those who decline to eat pork for either religious or health reasons. While this might seem an excellent alternative to the average health-conscious consumer, the question to ask is “What does it take to turn a turkey into a pig?” Well, dubious ingredients such as hydrolyzed soy protein, canola oil, hydrolyzed corn or wheat gluten, corn syrup, autolyzed yeast extract, “natural” and artificial flavorings and “liquid smoke.”

An even bigger question is “What does it take to turn a soybean into a pig?” More than you most likely want to know! Pig out intelligently with Smart Bacon® — a product advertised as bringing “that hearty bacon taste into the veggie world” — and you’ll get the following ingredients:

Water, soy protein isolate, wheat gluten, soybean oil, textured soy protein concentrate, textured wheat gluten, less than 2% of: natural smoke flavor, natural flavor (from vegetable sources), grill flavor (from sunflower oil), carrageenan, evaporated cane juice

Buttermilk Biscuits and Tomato Gravy [Organic Version]…


From Jack’s Skillet

[My all-time favorite cookbook for the writing, not just for the recipes. Met the author years ago at a bookstore in Santa Fe. Make all ingredients from local, organic farmers when possible and use fresh tomatoes for the most wholesome meal – DS]

FIRST get your biscuits in the oven. You can make the gravy while they rise, and it will be hot and ready when they are. Biscuits are easy. Just remember the two-to-one rules:

You can make perfect, wonderful biscuits nearly every time if you remember three sets of two-to-one rations. Here they are:

Use 2 For every 1

Teaspoons of baking powder……. Cup of flour
Tablespoons of shortening……….. Cup of flour
Cups of flour……………………………. Cup of liquid

Biscuits are easy. Just remember the two-to-one rules:

You can make perfect, wonderful biscuits nearly every time if you remember three sets of two-to-one rations. Here they are:

Use 2 For every 1

Teaspoons of baking powder……. Cup of flour
Tablespoons of shortening……….. Cup of flour
Cups of flour……………………………. Cup of liquid

Two cups of flour will make six to nine fairly large biscuits, so let’s assume those are the proportions you’re working with. For that amount of flour, according to the rules, you’ll need four teaspoons baking powder. You’ll also need a pinch of salt and a quarter teaspoon of baking soda, not powder–really, that’s all, a quarter teaspoon.

Homemade Pie Crust Recipe


The baking season is upon us. In this video, Catherine Schon, of Sassafras Catering, demonstrates how to make a tasty homemade pie crust. Now for some of you this will be old hat, but for many who are rediscovering the baker within, this will be very useful to watch. Actually, even as a seasoned home-baker, you might pick up some tips – I did! Ms. Schon was kind enough to also share her Home Made Pie Crust Recipe.

Traditionally folks will make pumpkin pie for their Thanksgiving meal. Or, you might want to consider apple pie or pecan pie – both primary ingredients are in season. Whichever type you decide, try making it yourself. For me that’s part of the fun of making a Thanksgiving meal…find some good music, roll up your sleeves, create, and share!

And before you start making dough, here’s a good tip I learned from the TwoJunes post, Pie, It’s A Way of Life; double or triple the pie dough recipe, divide accordingly, wrap in wax paper, and freeze until needed.

Happy baking, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Book Review: The Town That Food Saved

the town that food saved book cover

The Daily Green 

A portrait of Hardwick, Vt., which may be unique in its efforts to develop a new kind of local food system.

I wanted to read The Town that Food Saved because I grew up and live in New York’s Hudson Valley, where small-scale farming has always been a part of the fabric of life…

The book tells the story of Hardwick, Vt., a small town that the modern U.S. economy basically forgot about after its days as a center of granite quarrying ended. An influx of Canadian farmers, followed by a wave of back-to-the-land countercultural types helped maintain a local farm economy while downtown decayed into a familiar rust belt shell of itself: a strip club, a liquor store, a supermarket and a lot of abandoned buildings. Then along comes, along with a wave of wealthy second-home owners seeking the bucolic country life, a fresh crop of farmers and “agripreneurs”: Young, educated and – in some key cases – as well-suited to the world of PR as to the world of farming. Buzz builds about how the town is redefining a local food system in opposition to the consolidated

Food Hubs Coming Back

Transition Voice 

During the 20th century, centralized forces made a long-lasting impact on the US food system. An economic and social structure of common markets supplying food produced by local farmers was slowly and steadily dismantled as food production, processing, and distribution consolidated into corporate agri-business.

These changes, on a national scale, created fundamental market barriers for small and midsize farms.

A return to roots

Today, Detroit’s Eastern Market, first established in 1891, is a revitalized food hub, returning to the historical practice of actively offering processing and aggregation support to small and midsize farmers, facilitating relationships between local producers and institutional buyers, and strengthening Michigan’s regional food system. Its evolution says much about the history of our food system and a transformation currently taking place across the country.

From the coasts to the middle of the country, people are seeking new ways to change and sustain the food system.

Nationwide, consumer demand for locally grown food is growing exponentially. The number of farmers’ markets is skyrocketing, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are on the rise, and restaurants

The Best Hash Browns Ever

Your Local Market Blog

My mom made the best has browns ever, but the recipe passed on when she did many decades ago. Since then, I have been trying to recreate her hash browns. After many, many years, much trial and error, and lots of failure, I’ve finally been able to produce Hazel Cox’s hash browns from my very own kitchen, and they are as delicious as I remember them from my childhood.Here’s how to make them.Start by filling a large saucepan with water and add a scant teaspoon of salt to the water. Turn the heat to high and let it reach a full boil.

Use Yukon Gold potatoes. She probably used Russets, a floury type, simply because they were the only potato variety available back then, except for red starchy potatoes. Yukon Golds are choice because they are sweet enough to brown up nicely. Start with about three pounds. Cut them into small, 1/3-inch cubes. I set a potato on its side and cut 1/3-inch rounds to the middle of the spud. I set these rounds, largest cut side down, on the cutting board. There will be three or four rounds, depending on the size of the original potato. Then, very carefully, I cut down through the stack of rounds at 1/3-inch intervals, turn the stack 90 degrees, and cut again at 1/3-inch intervals across the stack. I repeat this with the second half of the potato. It yields a nice pile of small, raw potatoes. I repeat the process with all the potatoes.

Now scoop up all the potato cubes and place them in the boiling, salted water. Stir every minute or so to prevent the potatoes sticking to the hot bottom of the saucepan. In about five minutes, each little cube will be al dente—done “to the tooth” as the Italians say, meaning that they are cooked but still retain some firmness. Remove the saucepan to the sink, pour off most of the water, and fill the pan with cold water to stop the cooking. Set the pan with the potatoes and water aside.

In a large iron skillet over medium heat, lay four slices of thick, applewood smoked bacon.