A Instagram page on food philosophy and affordable health through real food, developed into a series of zines by the same name.
Where Do Bananas Come From?
EAT SHIT & DIE
Chicken of Tomorrow
440. I also came home to this beaut. Very thankful to all the friends that came through to water everything 🙏🏽. #Cantaloupe, and most #melons, need a ton of water at 3 times in its life. The sprout, the start of the vine, and early fruit production. Really this applies to most fruit producing plants, but melons especially, since they are mostly big balls of water.
So watermelons, you might not expect, originate in the deserts of Africa. It makes sense now why they got the name water-melon, they gather up the stuff and hold it in a tough skin waiting for someone to break it open.
Side note - for this reason you should add sand to your soil when you're growing melons, to recreate the drainage that the melon prefers.
But so at the infant stage, and the plant is first setting it's roots, it needs a lot of water to encourage the roots to strengthen. At the stage where it's starting to mature, making the vines, or stem and branches, it needs a lot of water to help the plant to make more and stronger cells. And when as the fruit starts growing, it needs a lot of water, because the fruit mostly is water.
However, this does not mean you want to be watering a lot always. Ever had a melon that tasted like nothing? That's cause too much water. They wanted a big eye catching fruit, they didn't care about flavor (or the environment). To achieve sweet fruit, you have to starve the plant a bit. (I love all of nature's metaphors). As it notices a drought, it will tighten up, sending energy (and sugars) to the fruit (the next generation).
This is best timed for just after the plant has gotten maybe a foot long (or tall), when the plant flowers, and the week leading up to harvest.
This does not be drought your plant to death, it means give it just enough to survive, no excess. This gets tricky as you also are timing with Mother Nature, and this is where that passed down knowledge of old farmers gets important. Growing stuff is easy, growing stuff well is a skilled science and art that I'm practicing a little more every day.
439. First things first upon getting back to the states is I rigged up a #rocket #stove. It's a new branding to an age old idea of cooking. And it's being appreciated once again because it's super efficient. It uses a fraction of the fuel necessary for an open fire and gets much hotter, making cooking stuff up actually feasible.
The idea is simple, you are making a chimney to set the fire through. Since the fire needs air to survive, limiting that air supply pinches the fire, forcing it up the chimney towards the air above. It works a little like putting your thumb over the end of the hose - squeezing it produces more force with little pressure.
What you get is no need for big pieces of wood (which I couldn't find well in the city anyways). And you can in fact cook a whole meal basically off twigs.
The efficiency of the fire - based on it being so hot in such a small place - uses up the wood so much that it doesn't even produce smoke. The smoke you see is from me adding a bunch of green leaves from my corn plants to flavor the food a bit more. But the fact that it's normally not smoky is also better for the city/planet.
And the best part is this was free. This is my wonky scrap-brick fire pit, featuring a ton of bricks straight off the sidewalk. Also featuring the grate I snagged off a tiny grill on the curb. It's held together by the weight of the bricks, stacked carefully to support itself. But then reinforced with dirt and clay from the ground.
I dug a few inches down before building - for extra stability - and thing dug some more to allow airflow under the wood pile inside. This left a bunch of dirt and eventually clay, that I used to fill in the holes - making it both stable and more efficient.
The plan eventually is to encase the whole thing in clay to make it just a beautiful and functional earthwork in my yard, right now you're looking at the skeleton.
And now I got grilled potatoes and onions with no money for a #grill, and without heating up our already hot ass house.
438. Been very blessed to be able to work with a number of farmers from Borinquen (Puerto Rico) in the fight to save the island. So much knowledge and experience has been shared and so so much food. Food is how they often feel that can pay me, and the meals and harvests are banging so I'm always hype but I always feel bad for how much they give. So my last day with each farmer I try to cook for them.
And this meal touched my heart so deeply because I felt like I was was really able to give back while also helping to connect them to our ancestry in a way. Simply #tortillas with eggs from the farm and sprouts that the farmers make. Topped with salt from the island and lime juice from the farm.
I wanted to make this because we had gotten into a conversation about the origin of tortillas and because our shared Latin American roots mean shared roots in maiz (corn). It is a food that has fed, and continues to feed, generations of people from the Americas for thousands of years.
And it was this sustainability, rooted in easiness, affordability, and nutritional fulfillment, that I wanted to share with a few people that work so so hard and give so much. The hope was the contribute the balance of still being able to fulfill themselves - something that is too often so difficult for farmers.
And the amount of appreciation they had for this nearly brings me the tears as I write this. We spent over an hour talking about them and bringing people in to taste one or make one, and sharing our knowledge of our ancestries.
This is a food that they can make for a crowd so easily and cheaply. It's a food they can make throughout the day rather than having to stop working to go inside to make entire dishes. And now that they know about it, they are planning to plant some corn so it can be a food that is straight farm the farm and is able to sustain them between harvest seasons. And it's a food that fulfills them.
I don't think I've ever loved food as much as I do today. I plan to do a workshop on making sourdough bread with them when I come back.
Sad to leave but I'm excited to bring this feeling back to Richmond. About $1 fed 7.
437. Unlike most foods, #avocados don't ripen on the plant, they never do. They stay hard until they are picked, or the tree releases them, and then finally soften after some time off the tree. Which is why we can get them year round, hundreds of miles away from where they can be grown.
Basically the baby avocado grows and gets to the size it can sustain and then hangs out. Not changing color or texture, but developing a more intricate flavor as more and more plant chemicals accumulate in the fruit. So as a farmer you have the choice of picking it immediately to be able to sell t and let more grow, or you can leave it on the tree to become so much more tasty and nutritious. I mean that nuttiness/sweet fruitiness that you get a taste of sometimes becomes more dense and overwhelming as it ages. But what do you think most mass avocado producers do?
It makes the most sense to pick in batches, utilizing the free storage the tree provides. As 100 come in, you pick 10 at a time. The first 10 will be flavorless and by the time you get to the last 10 of that first batch, they're aged and delicious. Hence why avocados at the big grocery stores are such a gamble.
For the tree's perspective, this technique is what has spread the tree so well naturally. They are tall trees, so if the avocado got ripe before it fell, it would crush the seed in the fall. Keeping it hard protects that seed until it can hit the ground.
The size of the seed is dependent on a few things, one mainly in water. This particular tree is growing wild in an area of really rocky earth. If it was in soft dirt closer to the river or trenches, it'd have a much smaller seed (because of less worry about future generations, the tree can focus less energy into the seeds).
But the point is, you've really really gotta try some avocados from the source. Where they've grown until the tree has given all it can give. It's incredible.
Specially, this is actually called bitter ginger, or #shampoo #ginger. So a relative of the ginger we eat, and this is also edible, but it's bitter. This likely means it's even more medicinal than the one we know.
This is actually used in a lot of shampoos too, because it's doing the amazing work of washing and conditioning your hair - the shampoo companies just gotta bottle and preserve it (and add a bunch of nonsense in the process).
The liquid, actually, is edible too. It tastes like sweet ginger water. The arrival story is actually ancient Polynesians brought it to Hawaii, using the flower as natures water bottles for the voyage. And since they could condition their hair and even treat dry/sunburned skin, it made for the perfect long kayak trip necessity.
The leaves can be used for teas and are popular just for cooking with - wrap your fish in it for some bomb ass ginger fish. And the roots can be used like regular ginger, but aren't as tasty so they are often ground up and used like how we use medicine (not for flavor, just for health).
And my hair and skin feel incredible. So conditioned without the bs oily chemically feel after. So basically some explorers found this magical plant a long time ago, and bottled it up to take home and sell. It's all starting to make sense now.
This is when I think about why we are able to pay 50 cents a pound for #bananas and #plantains in Maine when it requires cutting down a tree in the middle of Chile.
And I'm working with a small small farm. The large scale productions look nothing like this. There the fields are way more dense, barely any weeds grow because there's such a dense canopy. Things move quickly there. Zip lines are used to move product and people up and down the hills. Its basically the factory version of this. Trees going down by the dozen all the time. And this is still done by machete on the big farms too. In not the safest "I chop and you catch" style of harvest. But machines can't fit in the dense fields and the farmer couldn't afford them anyways.
The transit is about a week on average, from a zip line in South America to the back of a U.S. grocery store. On truck and ship. And still, less than 50 cents a pound.
Tomato Sandwich, Elliott. 2017.
Thank you to everyone that made it out last night to #therichmondcookbook. The support was incredible and I'm very excited to move forward with the project.
The show will be up for 2 months, if you're ever in Richmond swing by @andersonvcuarts and peep.
#TheRichmindCookbook (swipe left)
Beautify your hood, even one plant at a time will eventually make a jungle. You can officially see my red #corn and #sunflowers from down the street 🙏🏽
431. I once saw a movie about poverty in different states in Mexico and the documentarian was in a particularly poor area, talking to people they'd gotten to know over a few months and this woman was crying. When asked why, she said that she just felt so bad for one of her neighbors. And when asked why, she said 'because she is just so poor'.
The documentarian, recognizing that all of the houses there were patched together and no one in the area had much more money than anyone else, said 'but everyone here is so poor.' And the woman responded: but she has no family, and no garden.
When we think about the food that you gotta eat when you're poor, we think fast food, snacks, and ramen. The common denominator is those foods are old. Processed to be stripped of all perishable nutrition and then laced with chemicals that preserve them even longer. This is what makes them cheap, because they have a shelf life longer than actual food and therefore can be sold to more people before expiring.
But poverty food for much of the rest of the world is the exact opposite. It's as fresh as possible, as few ingredients as possible, and includes every single part of the food. Now, this is quickly becoming a thing of the past as places "Americanize" for a variety of reasons, but so much of the world still understands the connection between garden and plate. And it's necessity, something that once you have, atleast you'll be able to eat.
This is one of the healthiest lunches you can imagine and it's absolutely the cheapest. This is nothing more than the dirt around me combined with a few seeds + a bag of flour - tell me that doesn't sound like the poorest person's lunch.
My weekly #sourdough (50 cent loaf) + my basil + olive oil + a tomato gifted by @anyabsky after her interview for #theRichmondCookbook.
The health of the fermented wheat, plus the sugars and oils that are only in the #tomato and #basil for the first hour after harvest, make for health beyond what the nutrition labels describe. And that is what's so filling about it. And maybe 10 cents total? Imagine eating like this for a month, how much you could save, how good you'd feel, and how little you could live off.