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
608. @alexmatzke picking and our last #sweetpotato harvest. We waited too long to get a few of our foods collected and paid the price. NATURE DOES NOT WAIT. Nature does not know wtf time is nor does it give a shit about your obligations. Nature does not operate on a calendar, it cannot be predicted, and it will constantly surprise you. But one things is for sure, when nature is done, it’s done. And if you weren’t ready, you missed it.
So I see my gardening less as a plan of action, and more of a practice in patience and paying attention. There are clues of when things are ready, and my goal is to sync up as much as possible with Nature’s cycles of when it wants things to be planted, harvested, or tended to.
Some of the things I missed this year include: my clover seeds never came. My winter greens did not sprout. I didn’t harvest all my dandelions in time. I missed planting my second corn crop. I didn’t harvest my sweet potato leaves in time and they all completely wilted, and I didn’t harvest all my purple potatoes in time and they turned to mush.
Things didn’t sprout for a number of reasons, birds, no rain, too hot. And by “not harvest in time” I mean when you wait too long things get bitter or tough and woody. Or if you wait too long into the cold, your plants can basically implode.
When the temperature dips to freezing (32), even for a moment, it can freeze the water inside of plant cells and rupture them. Micro climates mean that this can happen sooner for one side of your yard than the other, or that you might be lucky enough to prolong your harvest even a few weeks from surviving one cold night. Some root veggies will also turn to mush from first frost, while other might last until there is a hard freeze (multiple hours of freezing temperature). This was realized as my purple potatoes turned to complete mush by now but some of my sweet potatoes survived. A couple had tips that had turned to mush, meaning they’re a little hardier, but nothing is safe from the extremes.
On the other hand, some stuff survives the winter. On the bottom right you can see my green onions that will last all winter, i shoulda planted more. More lessons added to the list.
607. Make your own #condiments, sauces, and dressings. A few years ago I did a 3 ingredient fast where for every meal, snack, and beverage I strictly ate foods that had 3 ingredients or less for a month, meaning canned beans in water and salt was the most processed food I allowed in my body. (I felt incredible and want to do it again). It gave me the opportunity to try making my own condiments -homemade ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, (which I’ve posted about each of) etc. and it showed me that when you have some really bomb, homemade, healthy sauce, you can put it on any basic veggies or grains and it’s a super easy delicious meal. It’s easy to make these things in bulk and then have them for whatever quick meals you need.
A strategy I still use today in making food is to find the processed food that’s delicious to me, read the ingredients, and replicate it at home. The ingredients list is in order of most used to least used, so when I came across a product of onion and cucumbers soaked in vinegar (which had 20 more ingredients) I knew I had to make it myself. Theirs had vinegar and sugar so I use apple cider vinegar and sorghum (think molasses), a single cucumber and half an onion from the farmer’s market. Also added in there is a poblano from the market because I love spicy, and some herbs and spices.
I see this as a jar of freshly preserved local summer produce, and a jar of multi-vitamins I can add to anything, and also a way to incorporate more raw foods into your diet (not that I’m looking to be on a raw diet, but we need the mix). Specifically, it makes the easiest, fastest, delicious salad when I just chop up some winter greens and put some of this on top. Vinegar makes calcium more accessible by breaking down certain calcium inhibitors, and greens are the veggies highest in calcium, which might be part of why vinegar and leafy greens make such a great combo.
Maybe most importantly, this is a way to store your big cucumber and onion harvest (or bulk farmer’s market purchase) for the whole winter, without a refrigerator, in just a couple easy steps.
606. DISCUSSION QUESTION: Dollar General operates 15,000 stores nationwide ($25.1 billion) and is planning to open nearly 1,000 more in 2019. It is also planning to start adding fresh produce to it's stores, capitalizing on food deserts with no other option.
Within the dollar store model which prefer pre-packed goods over bulk options, $1 produce means smaller package sizes, creating more waste and controlling the purchasing sizes of produce, as opposed to bulk produce options where you fill your own bag. But it is also will be the only option for plenty of low-income, low food access communities.
Is this a solution to the issues of limited food access or does this exacerbate a problem and allow / cause grocery stores to further expand and centralize? Do you think the future is dollar-store produce? Will this model further devalue food and put more pressure on the agricultural sector or will it shift us away from high-price, high labor, luxury produce? Will this be a bandaid on the food access crisis which will allow cities to ignore real solutions? Are you gonna shop there? Thoughts?
605. Finally got my garden ready for #winter, and like the rest of my gardening, my process is very simple. I don’t prune or get rid of plants. I don’t make row covers, use plastic, lay cardboard, or really do anything that I may have done in the past. All I do is add leaves, lots of them.
I let the plants die or go dormant as they naturally would and leave them there. When a tomato plant turns to a jumble of sticks, I leave it as is and when it snows it will keep the snow off the soil and hold off a more intense freeze. For some sturdy plants like these stalks, the roots will stay intact all winter and still be there in the spring. Some think this means they are in the way, I think it means they’re showing me where not to plant these same plants again.
When the plant goes dormant, it drops its leaves, sending all it's energy and nutrition down into its roots. Those leaves protect and feed the soil, and when the plant finally dies, the reserved nutrients in the roots dissipate deep and wide throughout the ground, without us having to do anything. Pulling up dead plants not only removes these nutrients, but turns up the soil, exposing it to damaging freezes. Even putting them in your compost for later use comes at a loss of some of the nutrients. Just leaving it as is is best.
So instead of removing anything, I pile 3-6 inches of leaves on top, making a blanket that will protect from wind and cold and give a steady release of nutrients that will break down from winter rains. They will also suppress the early spring voluntary plants that we don't want getting the jump on spring veggies.
Before the leaves, I spread more garlic and I spread my compost that accumulated over the year. So all the seeds in my compost are being planted too. I will probably add more leaves in February, but other than that, I will just let the land rest and recover, untouched until sprouts start shooting up in spring.
I don't fight the cold with hoop houses as they just provide breeding grounds for insects and fungi that otherwise would have been killed by the frost. Nature knows how to refresh itself if we don't get in the way and now all we should do is wait and plan for next year.
604. We need to talk about the reasons people flee their homes looking for life in the United States. Along with the decades of foreign policy of the U.S. overthrowing democracies and influencing dictators throughout Central America, plus decades of deporting people who have committed crimes in the US to countries they have little connection with, "there has been a 4-5 year prolonged drought in Central America in a region known as the Dry Corridor, it encompasses part of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
This year was one of the worst years of the drought, in some regions there was 90-100% crop failure. 80% of the region of this Dry Corridor is rural, it relies solely on agriculture as the base of the economy, and if the crops fail, there are no other jobs, there is no place to go, and people are starving.
I’ve interviewed dozens, if not more, people who have left Central America, who are part of this particular migrant caravan who are hungry. They can not feed themselves or their families. They've lost their crops, they dont have any other way to make a living and they are coming to the United States basically for food." - John Carlos Frey.
The Dry Corridor is home to 10.5 million people and an estimated 3.5 million people are in need of humanitarian aid. This is going to affect us all very soon. We need to shift our ways of life or the entire world will be facing these issues sooner than we realize. Both the ways that we are affecting the world and the ways that we are adapting to a changing world need some real consideration. This is why i am working to produce drought tolerant seeds and production methods for myself, and I hope, one day, to do so large scale.
Meanwhile, we need to care for the people being so harshly affected and take responsibility for our roles in their struggles. If anyone in Richmond has more things to donate to the van heading to Tijuana, we can take things until tonight. The van leaves in the morning.
Quote from @JohnCarlosFrey, PBS NewsHour Special Correspondent, today on @DemocracyNow talking about the #MigrantCaravan.
603. The fear of contaminated food has emerged from animal production sheds to the fields surrounding them. These headlines of E. coli and salmonella in vegetables have become commonplace, in fact, leafy greens now account for 1/5 of all food borne illnesses in the states, and greens plus broccoli, asparagus, and celery account for nearly half the E. coli infections.
E. coli comes from shit, manure, that is intentionally added or unintentionally added via contaminated water. The most outbreaks are found in pre washed, cut, bagged veggies, as the production line adds more risk. And many of the instances come from restaurant consumption. These outbreaks, while not terrifyingly deadly, represent everything that is wrong with how our food system operates.
We have been slowly building larger farms, killing smaller ones, for the last 100 years. There was a jump when synthesized nitrogen, invented for making bombs during WW1, was repurposed after the war to synthetically fertilize fields turning farms to factories. Another jump when small farmers were decimated in the Dust bowl and Great Depression, and only larger farms were able to keep up. Another jump when the New Deal opened the door to discriminations against black farmers, shuttering thousands of black owned farms over the next 70 years. Another jump when we moved the vast majority of growable land to the planting of soybeans and corn for animal consumption rather than human consumption, turning farm production into commodity production, planting more soy than Asia by the mid 1900s. Another jump when we redirected all our attention to stores and restaurants instead of farms, and no longer valued food production, just finished product.
Farming strategies have become very rigid throughout these years, as a single bad season can bankrupt even a large established operation. And so now most farming requires one unsustainable practice to support the last.
In order to grow food on huge farms, shortcuts are taken, and farms become more science project than natural endeavor. We look at input and output, work off averages, and bag up food by the ton. But nature is not a machine.
602. First #peanut experiments! I planted these from raw peanuts, aka green peanuts, that I got at the farmers market, which people buy for boiling or roasting themselves. Our ideas of gardens have become homogenous - tomatoes, peppers, basil - because they are fast growing and showy plants with high yields, they are easily recognizable by an Anglo-American palate, and they agreeable. And so from coast to coast across this massive continent, you see similar gardens. But tomatoes should not be grown the swamps of Virginia nor the sandy soil of Florida (where more east coast tomatoes come from) and if you need to build contraptions to grow your lettuce, maybe you should grow something different.
Peanuts are originally from Peru/Brazil and were called mandubi, shortened to the Spanish maní. They were grown as far north as Mexico, the Aztecs calling them tlālcacahuatl, again shortened to another Spainish word cacahuate. Spanish invaders took the peanut with them back to Spain and Africa, where they became known as a ground nut, and through the Trans Atlantic Slave trade, the legumes made their way to north America by the 1700s.
So peanuts are not original to Virginia by any means, but the climate is perfect for it. By the 1900s, when the U.S. map looked mostly like it does today, 80% of the nations peanuts came from central Virginia, specifically about 40 miles southeast of here. The elementary school down the street from my plot is named after George Washing Carver, that tells me peanuts are happy here.
Peanuts are a trip to grow. They develop a plant with sturdy tear drop leaves. The plant gets a foot tall and produces beautiful yellow flowers. Then those flower shoot downward into the soil and produce the peanuts underground. I dont think there is any other food that does this.
With my non-work gardening, I missed this process and just saw healthy plant with flowers and then less healthy plant without flowers a few weeks later. I was fine with it, as the plant is a nitrogen fixer, bringing nutrients into the soil even if it didnt make peanuts. But as I was puling up my potatoes (last post), I found these too!
@alexmatzke took these rare pics
601. #Potato harvest! Just as I made it over a major hurdle, finally allowing myself some time to breathe and heal, Earth gifted me with these beautiful roots. These potatoes were not watered, weeded, fertilized (except a tiny bit of manure), no compost was added, no soil was dug up. For each of these, I just cut up a spud, dropped it on the ground, and covered with straw or leaves, did basically nothing for weeks,and then came to dig them up.
This plot was covered with crawling grass and mint, making a thick network of roots just under the surface. I planted the sweet potatoes to vine out and kill the grass, and so for those I did cut back grass once a week or so to help it spread (and it worked!) but that’s about it.
The purple and blue potatoes didn’t do the same, since those plants don’t vine, and so the potatoes couldn’t penetrate the root network and came out much smaller.
But these spuds aren’t for eating, these are the seeds I’ve developed to produce 6-fold next season. Because I never watered these, these potatoes are theoretically more drought tolerant and acclimated to those climate. No one else is doing this, all seeds are started in greenhouses and all spuds at the store are watered regularly, so if I wanted drought tolerant seeds, I had to do it myself. I planted a lot, and lost a lot. But all this came from 6 plants, and so in theory, these 36 potatoes will make well over 100 next year, with no tap water and with little effort.
Now, as the fall turns to winter and the green to brown, the Earth will rest. While it’s tough to lose the greenery and not be able to plant, the winter freeze destroys fungi and insects that would otherwise take over in the spring. All parts of life are critical.
However, I will not “winterize” my plot. I will let it all die as it does, not removing anything. I’ll add some leaves and stuff that I find, but I won’t break down any plants because, for example, when snow falls, it will catch on the plants and freeze the ground a little less. Everything has a reason, we just gotta listen. Photo love from @alexmatzke
@grlpwrhaus always supporting to death! My lecture is on my live for now cause idk how to save it permanently. Might download and post on YouTube or something idk but you got 24 hrs to watch it now go watch 🤘🏽
599. White #rice fucks me up. Ive actually stopped eating at places that dont provide a brown rice option because it will mess me up for a few days. Theres no health in it and it just clogs up my whole digestion. But theres a few misconceptions with white and brown rice.
1. “Cultures that eat white rice seem healthy enough.” White rice, as we know it, is only 130 years old or so, so every culture eating heavy in white rice was eating heavy in brown rice before the industrial revolution. They seem healthier for many reasons outside of the fact they eat white rice today.
2. “There are not many types of brown rice.” Every rice is originally brown (with a hull) until it is removed. But brown rice is so unpopular in the U.S., the other options dont exist much.
3. “Brown rice is chewy or hard.” It is, if you dont know how to prepare it.
4. “Unprocessed brown rice is the healthiest option.” Not SLIGHTLY processing your brown rice, makes it nearly as unless as white rice.
Rice has been processed for ever, it requires processing to make it edible. Most food does. Historically, it was done in a mortar and pestle style (on a large scale) mashing open the hull and then sifting out the grain. This process often broke open the bran as well. Arguably, this produced white rice. But this white rice is different than mechanically produced white rice, which completely removes the bran and the germ inside, leaving nothing to spoil and making a significantly cheaper product. This came with the industrial revolution of the 1800s and changed the world as entire cultures adapted mechanically produced white rice, and lost the skill set and connection with the brown rice alternatives. This is why it is so damn hard to find brown Jasmine rice, but you can find a ton of the white Jasmine rice, its not that Jasmine rice (and all rice) doesn't start brown, its just not nearly as popular here. (The invention of the rice mill also led to the freeing of millions of slaves - so its always complicated.)
The mill also provided the opportunity to produce hulled brown rice that does not have a broken bran. In theory, its intact and contains all the fiber and b vitamins.