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
550. We, as a people, need to better prepare for drought. Because it’s coming, and once its here, its already too late. We need to respect water, and cherish it. And utilize it as best we can, in the ways that co-inhabit nature, not just by bringing refined petroleum into the mix. By this, I mean, rain barrels are dumb.
Rain water is so much better than tap as it contains the minerals and electrolytes that are processed out in tap and then chlorinated. Rain is also free, but a rain barrel is inherently inefficient. A waste of money and energy, and make you lose thousands of gallons of vital water annually. Instead, taking a tip for our ancestors, we installed some earthworks to develop an urban farm in @allmypeopledeeper’s back yard.
A simple #trench, a hole in the ground, when done with an engineering mindset, will change this entire landscape. Right now, the land is barren after a season of letting chickens run through it. But even before that, it wasn’t going to produce major plants because it’s on a slope that lets all the water drain off into the neighbor’s yard.
The single more important controllable part of growing food is water so it should be the first consideration when planning to grow anything. Fast water destroys, slow water builds.
We want to slow down the water, retain it, and put it to use. And a simple trench will make all the difference.
In just a 1200 square foot house, 360 gallons of rainwater pours off the back in a 1 inch rainfall. This rain that would usually wash away, taking vital nutrition with it. So this trench is made to collect it. It’s perpendicular to the house and the hill and it’s level so that it distributes evenly. The trench is about 45 feet long, a foot wide, and a foot deep. It can hold 336 gallons at a time.
Petersburg receives an average of 46 inches of rain a year. From just two gutters funneled into it, this trench will retain an EXTRA 16,560 gallons of water a year. 331 full rain barrels. This is 60% increase, making this yard received something close to a Florida or Louisiana climate. This also means if a drought gave us half the rain we normally receive, the trench would protect the environment.
REMINDER. Lecture tonight at 6:30 at The Depot. 814 West Broad. Come learn about the crisis and how you can help.
We will also be trying to live stream it on here for those can’t make it. 🙏🏽
Super proud to share these photos my dad just shared with me showing his blood pressure, which has been high for some time, has dropped 14 points and he’s nearly in the ‘normal’ range! If you followed this page for a while, you know I been bugging my parents about taking better care of their health for some years. But now, both of my parents have been kicking ass and feeling so good.
I started cooking family dinners in high school to help out at home and when I left for college I turned up the notch and started gardening and trying to prepare every meal at home with the least harmful ingredients possible. The summer of my sophomore year in college, I lived two months almost exclusively off of oats, flour, and my 12x12 garden. Oatmeal for breakfast with berries from the garden, and pizza dough or bread made from the flour, with sauces and veggies from the garden.
I remember going home at the end of that summer, and taking all of the processed food out of my parents’ cabinets and put it on the counter until they got home. When they saw the kitchen lined with everything from poptarts to salad dressing, and I told them they’re getting rid of it all, they were understandably pissed. A moment I remember was my mom saying “why are you going to get rid of the ketchup?!” and my response was “why are you eating so much stuff that requires ketchup?”
At the end of it, we’d gotten rid of maybe 20 percent of the load, but mostly I painted a picture for them and hoped that they would remember that visual.
For the next few years, against my advice they tried some diets like juicing and the paleo diet to short lived successes (I really hate the paleo diet and all diets like it: whole 30, atkins, etc), and fluctuated between motivation and apathy. So I took another approach, I tried to make small changes – more tea, brown rice instead of white rice – and built them a bunch of gardens and encouraged them to make some free food.
Then, a few years later, I left my job, put my stuff in storage, and went to live with them for the summer. In that summer I helped the garden and I cooked them nearly every meal. For that summer I packed my parent’s lunches. Continued below.
547. This year I promise to learn more about ‘weeds.’ Weeds are what we call plants we don’t yet consider valuable, but every plant, every bug, and every animal on an environment is important to growing food in that enviornment. When our ideals clash with nature, instead of finding ‘solutions,’ we should listen to what it’s telling us. I’ve always felt this way, I just didn’t have the vocabulary to dissect the idea.
#Chickweed is found in spots of partial shade and moist soil. They are really all over the place, mostly in places that have been maintained. That is, they are less common in the wild, because they prefer disturbed areas like garden beds, which, after seasons of tilling, have lost its fertility. Chickweed is a sign of low fertility.
But that is the beautiful thing, chickweed is not the cause of the low fertility, chickweed shows up to save the day. Chickweed accumulates potassium and phosphorus from deeper or surrounding soils as it crawls through the garden and spreads them to the surface.
Potassium is the second most important nutrient for plant growth, behind nitrogen, (clovers are saving the day in nitrogen deficient areas) affecting all of the inner chemical workings of plants from photosynthesis, to water and enzyme regulation. So sick yellowing, dying plants for no apparent reason can be the result of low potassium.
Phosphorus is probably the third most important nutrient, it helps plants ‘digest’ nutrients and use them to grow, make flowers, and produce fruit. Small plants with no flowers, little fruits, or weak root systems are probably low in phosphorus.
When chickweed shows up, it is slowly trying to help the garden recover, and instead, we pull it out, throw it in the trash “so it doesn’t come back” and spray herbicide on the ground, followed by fertilizers when our plants look like shit, or get sick. This is the irony of human intelligence.
Started the day off giving a workshop for #How2SurviveInTheFoodDesert about making #biscuits and #jam. Then came home and made a batch of herb sweet potato biscuits for myself. Takes just 15 minutes.
Biscuits have a unique history in the Southern U.S., especially for people of color living in food deserts. Known today as a Southern comfort food, especially when paired with gravy, not many people consider the roots of this meal. There’s a long history of wealthy slaveholders sending enslaved Africans to Europe, particularly France, to learn how to become chefs. They returned with a skillset that, after cooking for the masters, they utilized with the scraps they were given, to turn waste into gold.
Meanwhile, as cotton was developing as an industry, cotton plantations had to relocate to more fertile lands to keep up with the high demand of the crops. There’s a large strip of rich, black, super fertile land that reaches from Central Virginia, south through Georgia and west to Texas, known as the Black Belt. The cotton plant is both more demanding on the land and more demanding on the people and almost overnight, a terrible situation became worse as the hours in the fields got longer and the work got more back breaking.
Because of this, two styles of cooking developed. They had food that they would start before going out to the field, and come back to eat after 14 hours of cooking. And they had food made super quickly, packing as many calories as possible into the dish to survive. These are the roots of soul food.
The striking thing is if you look at a map of food deserts, it matches the map of the Black Belt. Generations later, people living in the same areas are still eating high calorie meals out of necessity, but now instead of coming from mom it comes from Popeye’s, Dollar General, or the gas station.
The biscuit is the product of this perfect storm. “Bis-cuit” comes from a French word for “twice cooked.” The biscuit of that day more resembles the hard, cookie like biscuits eaten with tea. They were cooked twice, once baked and then dried, to be something you could throw in your pocket and eat later.
545. This is for the people that hit me up for a #scoby yesterday. These are the jars that I make my #kombucha in. I use gallon size glass pickle jars because the smaller the jar, the more often you have to feed the mother. Any jar this size would be atleast $20 but pickle jars are just 6 bucks and you get the pickles.
The scoby is a thin layer of cellulose (what makes up plant fibers) that you can see floating on the surface. It survives on caffeine and sugar and it needs air to breathe. So once you have the scoby, which you can make yourself (post 523) you just put it in a batch of fresh tea (I use black or oolong because they have the most caffeine) and sugar, with some already fermented kombucha.
Find a cool, dark place that you can leave it, because that’s where fermentation happens the most steadily. But don’t put it in a place that you’ll forget about it because it is a living organism. Also make sure it’s somewhere clean because it will be a reflection of its environment.
The scoby will continue to make babies so I basically get a few new mothers each week. And you will too, which you can either keep for faster fermentation, or pass along to your friends. Or compost, but what a waste.
So once you get your jars, a few boxes of tea, and some sugar ready (raw sugar or jaggery preferred), hit me up and you can get yourself a scoby.
544. Next up on my hippie hygiene list is #kombucha #vinegar #shampoo. @dinnerondemand_bmore hipped me to apple cider vinegar as shampoo to clean up my hair and pull out the coconut oil I use to style my hair. So when I left my jar of kombucha fermenting too long and it went to vinegar, I realized I now have a gallon of free (awesome) shampoo.
And also you can use the kombucha vinegar just like any vinegar - cleaning, in salad dressings, to make hot sauce, to preserve foods - you just don’t want to drink it like a beverage because it’s too acidic. You can take shots like some people do with apple cider vinegar, just drinking a cup of it would fuck you up. It makes a really great hot sauce though, it adds a slight sweetness, less than apple cider, and with more flavor (and nutrition!) than white vinegar.
And as a shampoo it works wonders too. The oil in our hair is naturally acidic to protect us, yet most shampoos are alkaline, changing the pH of our scalps. The imbalance allows bacteria to grow and then encourages the production of more oil to fight it, leading to super oily hair. This bacterial growth, undeterred, is a main cause of dandruff and hair loss. So you end up in this vicious cycle of more shampoo/conditioner followed by more product as the problems build up. And in reality, each new addition just adds a new problem.
I’ve had dandruff my whole life and it wasn’t until I grew my hair out that I thought damn I need to do something better about this. But replacing my shampoo and conditioner with and using the vinegar just once a week has my hair STUNTIN.
So now I have two gallons of kombucha going, one to drink and one to make vinegar. And so I’m getting a product comparable to apple cider vinegar for just pennies (the cost of 2 tea bags and spoon of sugar) instead of $6 bucks.
Btw does anyone else want a scoby???? I have some more to give out.
543. Called on some ancestors to build this. This is the #trellis I made for my girlfriend’s bean plot out of sunflower stalks and twine.
The bed last year housed beets, carrots, and garlic and a TON of tomatoes. Because we leveled off the land on the higher end of the plot, it got a whole lot of extra rainwater and the tomatoes completely popped off into this huge bush of endless amazing tomatoes.
But because of that, the soil got sucked dry of a its nitrogen - fruit bearing plants take a ton of nitrogen from the ground. So, we need to replenish that. The most effective way to do it is to plant “nitrogen fixing” plants - plants that synthesize useable nitrogen from the air around them. These include a few different plants from clovers to gooseberries, but beans are the most used. The reason we have soy in everything is because we plant so much corn (to also put in everything) that we rob the country’s soil of its nitrogen year after year, so we must plant a bean to replenish the nitrogen. And soybean has become the bean of choice because we can manipulate it and put it in everything.
A simple rhyme to remember how to rotate your crops is: bean, root, green, fruit.
Since we had a lot of fruits last year, we’ll plant a lot of beans this year. So we need something to support a mass of vining beans.
Trellises support the weight of your plants and encourage vining plants to grow up instead of out, making more space for growing. You can technical do this with everything from tomatoes and grapes to squashes, but you have to account for how heavy the fruits will get.
More importantly, you have to account for your footprint. Everything you put into your garden affects your garden. Sticking pvc in the ground is putting plastic in your soil. Putting metal poles in the garden, since metal is a great conductor, will either make nearby roots colder or hotter than the surrounding area.
Using natural materials, though, doesn’t disrupt the earth as much, instead, these stalks left over from last year’s giant sunflowers are getting a second life. Sure they aren’t as durable as plastic poles, but when they break as everything eventually does, they become compost, not trash.
542. Just put #sweetpotatoes in the ground that I saved from my fall harvest. They are going with the garlic (in the background, which I started in October) and onions to provide ground cover in between. Sweet potatoes vine out, making these big beautiful leaves that are edible and are kinda like spinach. Don’t get this twisted with regular potatoes, which have poisonous leaves. Sweet potatoes aren’t really potatoes and aren’t apart of the nightshade family, we just call them the same name.
I’m planting them today because of yesterday’s full moon. A very general explanation of planting with the moon is – plant below ground veggies after full moon, and above ground plants after new moon. The understanding is that during the full moon, the area’s water is most pulled up towards the surface, and during the new moon it is the deepest in the earth. Therefore, directly after the full moon, the water is proceeding down into the earth more each day until new moon, so planting your root veggies will encourage them to grow deep into the earth, following the water.
There is a lot more depth to an understanding of lunar planting – you should plant your fruit trees when you plant your roots, which will keep them short enough to harvest, and there’s differences with every plant category as you learn what each plant prefers and needs.
This whole plot is a harvest plot. Onions, garlic, and sweet potatoes require very little maintenance and I’ll only really go to them when I want to eat. Therefore, it’s a plot that is out of the way, with a ditch on the higher elevated end, which will water the plot so that I don’t have to. I’ll eat the greens throughout the season, pull the garlic and onion in the summer, which will make more space for bigger potatoes which I’ll pull in the fall.
Good design is the foundation of good growing.
Keeping Puerto Rico on people’s minds today out at CURRENT Book Fair @studiotwothree from 12-8. @cvsprc @cvsprc @cvsprc