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
686. Newest #clay #pot in the lineup as I slowly transition all my cooking tools and utensils to wood and clay.
The beauty of a clay pot is it retains moisture a lot better. Metal cookware got popular for its durability and faster cooking. Metal gets hot really fast but doesn't retain the heat so well, so you get a spike in heat, this burns food. Clay, being porous, retains moisture and heat, making a natural slow cooker. Because metal heats fast and erratically, we use fats and oils with it; you don't need oils for clay pots. Instead, I presoak the pot before cooking, which beautifully moderates the temperature of what is being cooked.
Clay is alkaline, making food less acidic. Tomatoes, for example, can be slow cooked to mush and they become this beautifully savory sweet soup. Cooked in metal they can develop astringent, metallic flavors, and need to be sweetened and salted just to balance.
Because clay is Earth, a vital part of soil, and a sustainer of life, clay pots can contribute extra calcium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus to your food just by cooking in them. The slower cooking, and retention of water and nutrients, makes for a much deeper flavor and much healthier meal from the exact same ingredients. It's amazing.
When it breaks down, it becomes Earth, not metal in landfills. It has no C8 or teflon, or anything terrifying for both us and Earth. Actually when my pots crack I add them to the garden. The porous clay acts like charcoal, locking in nutrients and housing microorganisms, feeding the garden for years to come. In the event this breaks (by heating it to quickly), I will add it to a bucket of bioferments (post 683) to collect all that incredible health and activity, and bury it for a slow release into the soil.
I do not wash these with soap (they are usually so easy to clean anyways because food doesn't burn) but instead just scrub with some hot water, and so the pot will become seasoned like a good pilón (wooden mortar and pestle) full of wonderful flavors and beneficial bacteria.
At just $20, this is my new go-to soup pot, that I just broke in with a ton of roasted carrot ginger soup.
685. You cannot buy health. No matter what the ads say. At the store, we are provided the option between very processed and less processed. But to call anything at a conventional grocery store “fresh” is a stretch. Even at a farmers market, or really any place you can purchase food, because Nature and capitalism mix like pipeline oil and river water.
Not saying you can’t find nutritious food on a shelf, but ripping food from the soil - it’s lifeline to Mother Earth - putting in a box, and selling it hours, days, or weeks later, means it is not fresh, it is just less processed. Foods wilt very quickly. As much as 1/3 of the sweetness of fresh sweet corn is gone in the first 2 hours after harvest. Meaning if you haven’t had it fresh off the stalk, first thing in the morning, at peak ripeness, you’ve never experienced what that food can really be. Multiply that by every single food on the shelf.
Water evaporates quickly from produce, with it leaves much of the sugar that is produced from the sun’s energy, and so most foods, fresh, have a completely different flavor profile than that same food, eaten the next day. And as we know, flavor is nutrition, showing how much our nutrition intake alters the farther we get from the source. And so we compensate in deadly ways. Imagine how much less processed sugar we would be interested in, if we were getting sweet, fresh produce straight from the soil. (And countless other nutrients we miss out on and replace artificially). Growing food ourselves is also the only way to have real knowledge over what we are eating. Not only knowing what is NOT in our food (chemicals, waxes, etc), but knowing what IS in our food. Knowing that we have cultivated healthy soil - food is only as healthful as its soil, after all - and knowing that we are the product of that soil and the water that gives it life.
Health can only be achieved through investment of energy. Only through months of invested energy, can i wake up in the morning and harvest truly fresh food made from a very healthy soil ecosystem.
This is a mix of lettuce, beet greens, radish greens, mustard greens, kale, and spinach, harvested while the dew was still on the leaves.
684. Their first kill!! Peep that lil excited hop step!
Chickens went outside today are feeling so excited/hungry/scared. Even butterflies scare them at the moment, cause they’ve never been outside before. But now they are finally large enough im not worried about they being eaten by small rodents of freezing on a cold night. And we’ve finished their entire lil chicken sanctuary so we dont have to worry while they are out.
Now, the routine gets very simple. Wake up early and let them out. Open the compost so they can feast. Make sure everyone looks happy and healthy, and come back at night to close the door. And fill the compost as we collect more scraps.
Since chickens are habitual and tend to sleep in the same spot, we left them in the coup for a week so they could figure out their safe spot and they will put themselves to be when the sun starts going down.
To see them excited to roam and eat is so great. To see them have a healthy feeling of exploration is assuring that they won’t go hungry. And to see them run inside to their coup whenever a shadow passes above tells me they feel safe there. And so we are one big step further.
683. All living things follow one common rule of survival: protect and prepare your environment for generations to come - except humans. Plants do this through dropping leaves that nourish the soil their roots grow from and protect the seeds they scatter. In some of the most lush areas of the planet, life is constantly being nourished and replenished, each step preparing for the next. But modern conventional ag is in the business of removal and control, and we will deal with the next problem when it comes (similar to how we treat our medicine).
At all times the forest has rich biomass on its floor, protecting, fermenting, nourishing - in rainforests you can expect as much as half a foot of the stuff - essentially perpetual compost nourishing all the life. Within the fallen leaves, trees, fruits, and animals, there is fermentation, tightly linking the cycle of life and keeping the balance between micro and macro health. When we use soil from bags, or till, or cook our soil (with plastic/chemicals) before we plant, we destroy this.
Since we are started our mounds from foreign soil here, we are working to reintroduce microorganisms to the environment. And so here are the probiotics, the fermentation, that will be added. The improved micro ecosystem will hopefully make a healthier, more resilient soil, one that retains water better and wards off infestations faster. We want every part of the garden to have a balance between micro and macro health.
This is the ferment that I mention in post 675, made from mostly water used to soak rice and beans before cooking, plus sugar. We will apply this as regularly as possible, and so we are consulate producing more even with water used to soak pans before scrubbing. My sisters (@proyectoagroecologicocampesino ) have shown me ferments made from everything from fruits to manure, and while theirs, made for their farm, are more potent and advantageous for specific results, I consider these light duty, all-purpose ferments. This bioferment will be added to the trenches after the next big rain we have, so that it is sucked up by everything, and applied evenly.
682. Chickens, being jungle fowl, naturally sleep in trees, which is why we build them roosts. It keeps them clean off the floor (which is also pretty cold at the moment) and gives a feeling of safety from ground predators.
These young ones just moved into their new house yesterday and just seeing them have room to run around an play and be little monsters fills my heart so much.
But because its all new, I had to teach them where to roost. I’m using their favorite snack, tomatoes, to entice them up onto this big foreign structure.
Since chickens are very habitual, I want to establish their sleeping space before opening the door to allow them to run around, this way they will always go back to the same place to sleep, and essentially put themselves away.
After doing this for a while they got used to the ladder and being up on the roost, but when the sun went down and I checked on them, they were huddled up on the floor as they were used to while inside. So, in the dark, I patiently moved each, one by one, to the roost, and then again when they would jump down. But they are much easier to handle when they are sleepy, and so they finally let it happen and got comfortable.
Second photo is me being an annoying af, but proud, dad. If they get up there tonight without help, I will breathe a little better.
681. Greens, beans, and potatoes. Everything comes at once, the garden’s communication is on point. Not sure if its the heat, or the moisture, but all these plants agreed now is the time to do the thing. And so all the pollinators are swooping in.
The potato flowers are my favorite because they’re weird af but also uncommon. Since I plant potatoes from the chopped up spuds from last year, the plants are clones, and so it’s rare that they produce seeds. But if there is enough nutrition in the soil, they might. And those berries will look like little tomatoes.
680. Water is life, and so through understanding the movement of and respecting the power and importance of water, we can achieve and retain life.
This does not simply mean more water. In fact, our innovations in artificially adding more water to our crops through convenient irrigation has been at the expense of our health. Irrigated produce is like a water balloon, big and juicy but tasteless and nutrient-deprived because its just full of water. The big plump orange is what sells, but the smaller, slightly wrinkled orange is naturally retaining its water and nutrients after being plucked, and it holds the health. Across the board, our produce has lost as much as half its nutrition in the last 70 years.
Food at the grocery store is so pumped with water that the vendors can’t break the water line or else - which is why they mist the produce on the rack to keep it artificially plump. And you take it home and it wilts.
Opposite of the artificial, timed watering make the rings of an onion perfectly round, rainfall comes in waves. In the moments of drought, plants toughen up and work on retention, and in the moments of rain, they binge. This combination makes a healthy plant which produces a healthy fruit/seed, which we eat. The weak plants that are babied produce water balloons.
These are the trenches throughout the garden after the last rain. This technology I learned from the Indigenous Americans of what is now Southwest America, who through the dry lands dug trenches upwards of 20 miles.
Unless your land is perfectly level (it’s not) the water is moving somewhere. And so even on the flatlands of the midwest, a trench will fill with water that runs off from a very short rain. Simple holes do this too.
These plants won’t receive water for a week or two, and they will dig their roots deeper and out farther in search of it. Along the way they will pick up nutrition and information. And then when the rains come, these huge root networks binge hard. Then the trenches collect water for a second helping, and from this trough the plants collect and save the water til the next rain.
They become brilliant and tough, and produce foods that reflect that.
679. Update on those bean plant babies (post 676). These are dark red kidney beans, the very same that I cooked for rice and beans. I soaked the batch to prep for cooking, and then before cooking I tossed a handful into the garden. This is what living food looks like.
I was recently asked if scattering seeds means that the roots of the plants are then shallow - because burying them an inch or so deep gives roots some more depth. And that WOULD be the case, if I watered them regularly. Since I do not water, the roots will still go deeper than usual. But some roots also stay up at the surface too, which is important, because roots need air. Simply tossing the seeds accomplishes all of the above.
Its this process of doing one less things means doing two less things that I prefer, instead of doing one more thing to make up for the last. My seeds are scattered and then hidden from the birds and squirrels under a thin layer of leaves or straw.
Around the north ends of the garden I planted sunflowers. This is so that they do not shade out any of the other plants, which receive mostly southern light. The sunflowers will get massive and produce tons of seeds, but they will also provide great trellises for beans to grow up. So anywhere that I put sunflowers, I put a handful of beans.
I’m planting both families of beans - bush and pole - together, which will synthesize TONS of nitrogen from the air (and plug it into the soil via their roots) for the sunflowers to feast on. Pole beans will climb up the sunflowers and the chicken’s fencing, and bush beans will only get about 2 feet tall. I’m starting the bush beans at the same time as the sunflowers, and a few weeks before the pole beans. This will give the sunflowers a chance to get about 1 or 2 feet tall, and it will give a separation between the flowering times of the different beans so that they won’t make hybrids. Then, once the bush beans are existing as a shade providing, nutrient collecting, base, i will add the pole bean seeds which will shoot up the sunflower stalks in no time.
If you took a knee in the middle of a bustling airport or a mall to tie your shoe, what do you think would happen? People would stumble over you, there would be congestion and traffic, some people would be upset at the disrupted flow and would crash into people walking nearby.
When you get into an empty elevator and then three people get in after you, do you spread to fill all for corners of the elevator? As more people get in, would you adjust to give everyone a reasonable amount of space?
I think about this flow people as I think about the flow of water. Dropping a rock in a stream is like putting a big box in a busy hallway. And the way people spread when confined is the same way that liquids fill a space.
This is important to me because as I design and adjust the trenches in the garden, I am not just thinking about where water can go, I am thinking about where it wants to hang out and where it wants to get away from: I am ultimately thinking the comfort of the water and how that comfort of flow is the same as the flow of a crowded subway station.
All around us are Natural blueprints which are lesson plans for coaching water and for understanding efficiency and sustainability.
The leave is the solar panel of the plant - it does the most important job for life on Earth - and it does so through efficient water distribution. To keep the leaf rigid and able spread out and absorb as much light as possible, the water that is pumped up through the veins is spread super efficiently, alternating sides as it goes, and creating flood basins as each vein branches to another smaller vein. The evaporation that happens on the leaf surface creates a negative pressure and allows the process to continue. (Room is made so the flow can keep going.) As long as each of those boxes can stay full, but not get too heavy, the plant’s solar panels can keep working.
In this mustard green leaf I see rivers and blood vessels, trees in the forest and cracks the desert. And I see a Natural blueprint with a lot to teach.
678. Growing a mini jungle and it is my favorite adventure. it's so full of surprises and lessons, and just spending time doing laps, looking closely and learning from how much everything changes every day is my favorite part growing this way. It's fun to learn the map of the space and be able to walk around in knee-high vegetation looking for one specific type of green or an herb buried by crops.
This process of tracking where food is is believed to be the reasons we developed the memory part of our brains. If we think to hunter-gatherer times, remembering where edibles popped up or where certain animals gathered this time last year would be the difference between life and death. I learned about this theory when i first started studying fasting. The act of food deprivation leading to more alertness and increased access to the memory part of our brains. The neurological pathways that we navigate when remembering where food is, are the same we use to remember solutions to problems or people's names, and so many other parts of the brain. And strengthening those connections for one purpose strengthens them for all uses.
The blue corn will be the corner stone of this hill. surrounded by massive scarlet runner bean pods. The clover and the beans will provide nitrogen synthesized from the air to feed the tall grasses of corn and oats. and while they take their time getting tall, the kale and mustard greens will provide us with food. This is my first time growing oats, as I am interested in how we can produce truly full diets from our growing spaces, but they seem to have plateaued in growth for the moment. They may be better suited for a cooler time, but we will see what happens. Just means more surprises and more lessons to come.