I haven’t written here a lot in the past few weeks, but only because so many exciting things have been happening in my life! I’m working on a few upcoming posts soon, including a run down of my most recent Supper Club menu, a few tapas style recipes using pantry preserves, and a peek into the amazing trip I took to Ireland with Jake a few weeks ago!
In the mean time, below are some great reads I’ve gotten into over the past few weeks, including many about creative farming and reflections on the future of our food systems. Happy Sunday!
Baltimore is a city that once supported many more people than currently call it home, and I’m often struck by the empty properties and even land that lie vacant throughout the city. Many urban farmers and communities in Baltimore are taking advantage of Baltimore’s Power in Dirt initiative to reclaim and repurpose vacant lots, and I recently read about efforts in Pittsburgh to do the same. For Modern Farmer, Meg Thompson wrote about Pittsburgh residents who are Growing Hops in Abandoned Lots, then selling hops to city breweries for a truly local product. Now, I’m looking forward to trying my hand at my first hop bines this spring!
Agriculture is changing in a lot of ways as thoughtful growers are re-envisioning our market systems. I recently read What Happened to Traditional Floral Bouquets? By Deborah Needleman for the New York Times Style Magazine, an essay on flower farmers who are eschewing cheap, imported, lackluster flowers for seasonal and diverse floral arrangements and farms. I am glad to live in a time where growers are considering how to produce organic, unique products! In the Baltimore area, we’re lucky to have Two Boots Farm, one such flower grower, and I also love to follow Chicory Florals, an urban flower farmer, for floral inspiration.
I haven’t yet tried a meal kit service like Blue Apron, but the premise is interesting, and it seems like there’s a lot of potential for people to have easy, nutritious meals they can learn from. Meal Kit Mania, Unpacked by Brian Barth for Modern Farmer and Who Grows Food for Blue Apron? And Barth’s follow up interview with Alison Grantham of Blue Apron explores local, seasonal, and ethical challenges facing meal kit providers seeking to feed people well.
James Rebank’s opinion, An English Sheep Farmer’s View of Rural America, raises further encouragement to Americans to invest in their regional, self sufficient food systems. Rebank raises an interesting proposition, that either we can learn to provide for our communities, or brace further for the hardship that cheap commodity agribusiness has wrought.
Episode 2 of The Artisan Situation Podcast with Ben Wenk of Three Springs Fruit Farm and Ploughman Cider, produced by Zachary Kaiser, delves in to how Wenk seeks to diversify his family’s fruit farm, as well as how he considers different markets and products. It’s an interesting look into the growth of a historic farm choosing to evolve, learn, and grow.
In 2015, I watched Paul Greenberg’s keynote speech, at the New York Times Food For Tomorrow conference: The Future of Fish. Greenberg speaks and writes on how humanity has eaten fish in the modern era and the challenges facing us going forward. I finally got around to reading Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, an even more in depth education of the issues surrounding fish consumption. Greenberg’s book is nuanced and thoughtful, and I appreciate the education about popular fish as well as alternatives to advocate for.
Finally, I’ve been interested in learning more about the world of wine for quite some time, but it’s fairly intimidating to sort through all of the labels, descriptors, and price tags for wine without a good starting point. Eric Asimov provides an excellent Guide on How To Drink Wine in The New York Times Cooking section that has made me feel like I can jump in and start exploring without worry.