There are more blossoms
than branch on the neighbors tree
promising sweet plums.
I had dinner last week with Joel Salatin, the farmer highlighted in Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dillemma and featured in Food, Inc. Joel was two tables away and there were at least 100 other people also having dinner with him but if I leaned forward I could see the two chickens on his tie.
The event was a benefit for the CSA members of Tara Firma Farm of which I'm only an occasional, but excited, customer. The dinner of chicken, pork, butternut squash, beets, chard, salad greens, was entirely from the farms' harvest.
After the meal Joel talked about farming and being the lunatic farmer. He told a story about Gandhi's four steps for a revolution. "First they ignore you," he said. "Then they say you're crazy." He paused and looked around the room. I squeezed my husband's hand and we shared a look. I often feel like the odd person at the table.
"After that they fight you, and then you win." He made it sound easy.
"Right now, big ag, Monsanto, they are pushing back," he said and continued to talk about Michelle Obama's organic garden on the White House lawn. He'd had dinner with the White House chef, Sam Kass, and the story the chef told was that the organicness of the first garden was the cause of many upset calls throughout Washington. Joel threw his arms in the air pantomiming chaos. "Organic?"
He went on to talk about his farm and his neighbors farms. He told another story about a drought year and the fact that his farm stayed green. "Joel gets more rain," his next door neighbor told a friend. Joel shrugged his shoulders and reiterated a point he'd made earlier; "We see when we're ready to see."
"He doesn't get more rain, does he?" I whispered to my husband.
He shook his head no.
The talk ended with questions that could have gone on for hours. "If grass fed cows sequester carbon, why isn't that happening on a large scale?" "Is organic better than non-organic?" "What can we do to make a difference in our school lunch programs?"
He answered each question as if it were the first time he'd done so and ended the evening with this, "May your children call you blessed." I looked at my husband with wet eyes. He winked.
And then I came home and wrote a thank you note to the White House for the organic garden on the front lawn. Thanks to Joel Salatin and Tara Firms Farms I appreciate its crazy message of hope more than ever.
"It's criminal," I said. "People go to Walgreens, buy an item encased in plastic, the cashier puts it in a plastic bag, they walk back to the office, a block and a half and then throw the bag away." I couldn't stop.
"They use the bag for less than five minutes and it will be in the landfill for thousands of years and this is the world we're leaving our children."
He smiled. I smiled back with a polite reflex.
"Did you see the Super Bowl commercial," he asked. "The Green Police?"
"I don't have a television," I answered.
"You don't have a tele...." He didn't finish the sentence. "You sound like the Green Police."
"I know," I said sitting down. I didn't need a commercial to tell me that. There was no place to hide.
"I'll send it to you."
Here it is; the Green Police. You've got to check out Plastic Boy.
All I need is a badge, my bicycle helmet and with a pair of green shorts I'm there, which is as funny as it isn't.
This afternoon I got on the elevator with a woman from a higher floor. She was a professional with black boots, a button up coat and smartly tied scarf. And along with her leather bag she was carrying a three tier stainless steel food carrier. It was the first thing I noticed.
I know the rule about not talking on the elevator but I couldn't help myself. I smiled. "Do you like your food carrier?"
There was no hesitation. "Yes."
I stifled a cheer.
Does it hold soup?"
"No." My disappointment must have showed. "You could put soup in a container and then put it in there," she offered, giving the carrier a swing as the the elevator doors opened to the lobby.
Not a great solution but my enthusiasm would not be flattened.
"Will restaurants or food counters put food in it to go?"
"I haven't tried yet," she said following me out of the building, turning to walk down California Street.
I wanted to stop her, to suggest that we go to the nearest food counter right then and ask, "Would you please put my salad in here?"
But I went the opposite direction. And then I turned to take another look. This was the first tiered food carrier I'd seen in the city which is an endless parade of plastic in plastic. The stainless steel stood out but didn't flash. It had good lines deserving of a second look.
And for a minute, cable car bells ringing, I didn't see the plastic in plastic that is the norm. And I was happy.
French Breakfast Radishes
Red Kuri Squash
Yukon Gold Potatoes
Back Deck Harvest
From The Freezer/Pantry
Gleaned and Gifted
(From Someone Else's Yard)