Saturday, April 24, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and Our National School Lunch Program

Three Cheers for Chef Jamie Oliver, and all of his efforts to improve our food system! The season finale of his ABC show aired last night with a mixed bag of positive impact and government roadblocks. This is a great time for Jamie to be raising awareness of the need for vast change in the way we feed our children. The new Federal School Lunch Bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate. The group Mission: Readiness, made up of retired military officers has weighed in with the release of their report this week showing how obesity in America's youth has become a problem for military recruitment. The group is petitioning the government to support better food in our school system. I feel like some real threshold has been crossed when the Mission: Readiness group has turned it's attention to the poor quality of our school lunches. Read the A.P. article here, or the somewhat more informative NPR story here.
Click Here to sign Jamie's petition for better food in America's public schools. You can roll over each state and see how many people from each state have signed. Virginia has almost reached 12,500. That puts us a couple thousand below North Carolina, and about 50 thousand behind California. As for West Virginia, the state that played host to Jamie's Food Revolution Television show... they are at 5,343 signatures, interesting stuff. Check out Jamie's Food Revolution website to track progress and learn more on how you can help. The site even has a two week school meal plan with recipes included.
Locally, our new Richmond chapter of Slow Food has made transforming the food in our area public schools part of their mission. To learn more about Slow Food Richmond, and maybe join in, click here.
If you want more info here are some related reports from The Institutes of Medicine of The National Academies:

Tricycle Gardens Permaculture Presentation This Tuesday

I Pulled this from the latest Tricycle Garden's e-mail......
Tuesday April 27th, 7-9pm, Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Currently residing in Richmond's Museum District, Jonathan Brown is a certified urban permaculturalist who, with his wife, developed the nation's first edible, public forest garden in the City of Asheville, NC, the George Washington Carver Edible Park. This presentation will highlight this and some well developed urban ecology projects from around the country.
Location: Tricycle Gardens Headquarters, 211 West 7th Street
Cost: $5"

I plan to be there. This is some really exciting stuff. Also, if you haven't spent all your money already at this weekend's Herbs Gallore, there is still time buy Tricycle Gardens own kitchen garden plants. Tricycle will be selling their organically grown vegetable plants over the next few weeks at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens Plant Sale Thursday, April 29, through Saturday May 1, and at The South of the James Market twice per Month. I have been buying from them for the last couple years. The plants are healthy, organically grown, affordable, and the money you spend with them goes to support their very worthwhile mission.
Visit their website for more information.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Whole Foods and Other Area Farmer's Markets Today... Earth Day

Whole Food's Website says that they are still holding the Farmer's Market in front of the Glen Allen store on Thursdays from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. Tonight will be the first of the season. There will be locally grown produce and other locally made items. This market runs through October 21st. Their are other Farmers Markets opening or operating today. Check out the complete list in my post below entitled 2010 Farmer's Market Start Up.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

DIRT the Movie Shows Tonight on PBS

A documentary Film called 'Dirt' has been creating buzz for it's release for a year or so now. The film , narrated by Sigourney Weaver, features a number of well known activist, and scientist tackling the issue of soil degradation and its effects upon communities, health, and agriculture. Not released to theaters it instead is being sold to individuals and organizations like Tricycle Gardens for them to show. Erin and I went to a viewing of the film at Tricycle Gardens a few months ago and enjoyed watching it with the thirty or so people who were there.

Dirt is airing on PBS tonight at 10:00pm. Check it out, and don't be afraid of the talking microbes!

Monday, April 19, 2010

2010 Farmers Market Startup-

West End Market: At Gayton Rd. and Ridgefield Pkwy. Starts This Saturday, April 24th!
NEW hours are Wednesday 3-7 pm and Saturday 8am -noon Click here for their website. This Market has only grown since it's opening last year. This year their vendor list shows 31 food and plant vendors and another dozen or so soap and craft vendors.

South of the James Market:Forest Hill Ave & 42nd Street. Saturday's from 8 am - 12 pm, May 1, 2010 - December 4, 2010. Music, prepared foods, pottery, crafts and food. The huge vendor list is meant for both this market and the Bryan Park Market. In the past the South of the James Market has actually had the majority of the vendors listed at this market every week. A much smaller number have attended the Bryan Park Market. We'll see what this year brings.

Bryan Park Market: The Market Manager, who also runs the South of the James Market under The Market Umbrella is now referring to this market as The North of the James Market. Held in Bryan park across from the soccer field. Lakeside Ave and I-95, exit 80. Tuesdays from 3 - 7 pm. May 4, 2010 - October 26, 2010

The Farmers' Market at Saint Stephen's: This market has doubled in size in only its second year. Along with its focus on local producers, this market creates a neighborhood destination where local bands perform every week, and folks can linger over coffee and breakfast, while supporting local food. Click here for the market webpage, which has a link to the vendor list. 6000 Grove Avenue, Saturdays from 8-12, May through October

Lakeside Market: 6110 Lakeside Ave.Richmond, VA 23228 Every Wednesday this site has two Markets! One from 8AM til Noon and a second market 3PM til 7PM. The Vendors are different from the morning to the afternoon time slot. There is also a Saturday market, 8AM til Noon. Although I could always find plenty of great produced here, this market has stayed small since it's opening two years ago. That may change now that new market pavilion has been completed. The open air pavilion provides shade, light if needed for evening markets, and ceiling fans. The market will run May-November.

17th St Farmers Market: Richmonds oldest and recently revitalized farmer market has four different event days a week. The growers market starts this Saturday April 24 at 9:00am and runs unil 4:00pm. Victory Farm will be there This Saturday Only. A second grower market is held on Thursdays and runs from 8:30 am until 4:00pm. The first Thursday Market of the 2010 season will be on April 29. If you haven't been to this market in a while this Saturday might be a good time to give it a try. Check out all the Markets events and times here.

Market at Huguenot and Robious: Now Open! This Market Is every Thursday from 10:00am-3:00pm. Held At the Great Big Greenhouse on Southside, this market has been carrying on indoors throughout the winter. It looks like the outdoor market started back up on April 1st. They are advertising beets among other items for this week. Last year I heard from some vendors and some shoppers that this was their favorite market. The work day hours of this market have meant that I have yet to check it out.

Monument Market: (NEW) Saturdays, 8 am-noon, May 1-October 2
Corner of Monument Avenue & North Robinson Street at the First Baptist Church. Free Parking.

The Goochland Farmers Market:Sats. 8am-Noon May-Oct. 2955 River Road West Goochland . Starts May 1st. Goochland Farmer's Market offers a mix of Crafters and Food Producers. in a lovely setting. Click here to check out their vendor list.

The Ashland Farmers Market: Duncan Street behind the Town Hall. This is a Saturday Market running May 1 through October 3, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Try and check out their web page here for updates. They have a nice setup of links by date to list what vendors/products will be available, however currently all links are to blank pages. Perhaps has market season picks up these will fill in.

The Chester Farmers Market: This is also a Saturday Market starting May 1st and running through October. Hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Chester Village Green opposite the Chester Library on Centre St. in Chester. The Market will be closed on Saturday Sept. 26 for ChesterFest. This was a new market last year and I have yet to check it out. Their website states their products as typically..."Produce locally grown and trucked Vegetable plants and flowers in season Honey, bread, preserves, herbs, eggs Handmade soaps, craft items." Their website also carries this message...."You don't have to be a truck farmer to sell at the Chester market. If you have an abundance of vegetables or fruit from your garden or even eggs, honey or other home raised food stuff sign up and bring it to the market. Don't let it go to waste." A practice that varies with other markets around town.

Market at Whole Foods in Glen Allen: Thursdays 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. from April 22 through October 21st . This market is held in front of the store. Locally grown produce, baked goods and jewelry is sold here.

News on other Richmond area markets is in the works...

This Tuesday at the Byrd House Market

Ana sent out an e-mail listing all of the vendors that will be at the Byrd House Market this Tuesday April 20th. It looks good enough for a full season listing! Hope you can make it out.

Amy's Garden: Asparagus, Salad, Asparagus, Chard and Eggs
Bread for the People: Baguettes, Foccacia (feta, herbs, olives...), Brioche, Wheat loaves, Rolls and other good breads -
Deer Run Farm: Tender Young Greens, Sweet Potatoes, Eggs and more
Empress Farms: Whole Turkey, Ground Turkey Turkey cutlets, Turkey eggs, Rabbit, canned apple goods (Apple-Maple Jam, Spicy Pickled Tomatoes...) and sometimes
Faith Farm Food: Grass Fed Beef, Pastured Poultry & Pork, Amish Roll Butter, Farm Fresh Eggs, Noodles, Jams, Honey, Amhurst Mill 3-grain Pancake Mix, Grits, Buckwheat, Self-rising cornmeal; Organic raw meat Dog food and treats -
Perennial Pleasures Plant Pharm: Blossoming branches and cut flowers - See examples at
Rural Virginia: Asparagus, Mushrooms, Herbed Butters, Spinach and Preserves ...
Thistledowne Farm: Beautiful sacs of early spring salad greens and kale, flats of lettuce and pansies plants, Jams (Peach-Rosemary, Blueberry-Basil...), Pizelles, Apple Pie, Cherry Pie and handmade Soaps ...
Sub Rosa Bread: Offers exclusive monthly subscriptions to a naturally leavened, rustic, wood fired bread every week for the period of that month -

I am not sure why the phrase "and sometimes" is left hanging above Faith Farm. If you are planning on going just for them you may want to check in with them or with Ana at the Byrd House.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day trip, Part 1: Food!

Shannon and I have been talking about going on a trip to Charlottesville area wineries for over a year now, and a couple of Saturdays ago we set off to do just that. We had a wonderful day trip, and found some fun food stops as well as spectacular new favorite wines.

Our first stop was Feast!, a cafe and market on Main Street in Charlottesville. The tiny space is well used, and full of beautiful specialty foodstuffs. I walked out with a bottle of Lillet wine, (local, no- beautiful, yes) one of the tastiest vegetarian sandwiches ever (the Local- goat cheese, tapenades and artichoke hearts) a side of white bean salad and a chocolate covered, cheese stuffed fig. Pretty much my dream lunch.

Shannon says:
I loved this place. It can be a bit hectic, so it may not be the right spot for a quite restful meal, but if your up for a bit of deli-market style energy then you will be well rewarded. The amount of delicious food that surrounds you, wines and hard ciders you can't find in Richmond, the cheese counter, the olives and olive oils, candies and chocolates, and packages of prepared foods made with local eggs, chicken, dairy and greens, all give you plenty to look at while you wait for your own meal to be served. I had the Polyface chicken salad sandwich and I dare say it was the best chicken salad sandwich I have ever had. Served on Albemarle Baking Company bread the chicken was finely pulled or maybe slightly pureed for a nice texture. Smoked Gouda cheese and some kind of slightly spicy Dijon mustard topped it off. I had mine with a small salad of fresh greens. I could barely finish I was so full, but it was so good I didn't waste a bit.... delicious!

One flaw with the whole set up is the restroom issue. There is a one person bathroom in the common area connecting the various shops however, it is locked and you need to get the code in order to open the door. That worked out, we did a quick walk through of the connected kitchen wares shop and headed two doors down, straight to Gearhart's Chocolate! Well, almost "straight," as we walked past the shop entrance twice before finding the small but well appointed shop. We each got an 8 piece chocolate box as an Easter treat for family. You can pick out your own beautiful chocolates from the case or take a pre-packaged box. An eight piece box will cost you about $13 (about half the price I paid for 8 turtles at Godiva earlier this year). I picked out the Earl Grey, The Michigan, the Maya and the Mint Julep to name a few. So far not one has disappointed, which I can say because my husband has generously shared with me. The chocolate is made there for the Charlottesville shop, and now also for the new location on Libbie Ave. in Richmond.
This is the perfect fueling stop before taking on the Charlottesville wineries. It is easy to get to from 64, and in a lovely part of town. Stay tuned for Day Trip, Part 2- Wine! where we get lost and get found with some of Virginia's best wines.

Now in Season!

With the Farmers Market startup just around the corner I was thinking about what foods are at their best now. Now is time for delicious eggs. The grass is green and juicy, the chickens can happily eat their fill of tender grubs and bugs and the eggs will be all the better for that. Lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, asparagus, arugula, kale, collards, fresh spring herbs like thyme and parsley and sage have all put out their tender new growth. My radishes are up and my beets are well on their way. Perhaps most exciting are those tender red fruits the Strawberries! They are available now at places like the Chesterfield Berry Farm Market (for now you have to let them pick, their u-pick starts may 1st.) The Berry Patch on Richmond's Northside is where I went last year. Their website says they minimize spraying. Their festival on May 15th looks intriguing. Planning on Gorging yourself? Check out the vast nutritional data here.

Local Milk 3 Very Different Ways

Here is a few quick bits on three very different approaches to local milk. First, on Homestead Creamery... Last year I did some online research to find out all that I could about the western Virginia company and it's practices. Details were a bit to vague for my taste really and Erin and I have been trying to plan a field trip out there all year. We still hope to check out the dairy, located near Smith Mountain Lake, sometime this spring. Meanwhile Whole Foods has an updated video about Homestead Creamery. It all look pretty good, pastured cows, no added hormones or antibiotics, low temp pasturization etc. They even grow most of the supplemental grains for the cows right there on the farm. Check it out Here. You can get Homestead Creamery milk, butter, cream, and ice cream at Kroger and at Whole Foods. I love the milk and the butter. The Ice cream contains high fructose corn syrup and would not be my top pick for a good ice cream. There is a two dollar deposit for each bottle. Simply return the bottles to customer service counter for a cash reimbursement.

If your interested in Raw Milk one option is Avery's Branch. Check out This post I did a while back. Avery's Branch Milk is available by purchasing a "Cow Share." Basically you become buy into the cow and in return you get milk. There are different pickup locations around town including several farmer's markets and shops like Olio on Meadow and Good Foods Grocery in the Westend at Gaskins and on Southside. The owner of Olio has enough room in his refrigerated case to store the milk until shareholders have the opportunity to come and pick it up. Check out their complete drop site list here.

Finally.... Breast Milk anyone??! Okay, this is one time when knowing your source might be a little awkward. Check out this unusual blogger story and Washington Post article about a respected restaurants dabbling with breast milk cheese! Warning... the comments on the Post site get a bit raunchy.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Asparagus from Agri-berry at St. Steven's Tonight

Agri-berry will be at St. Steven's Church selling their fresh picked asparagus from 4:00-7:00 pm!

Crop Mob This Saturday at Byrd House!

The second 'Crop Mob' at William Byrd House will take place this Saturday to add rows and plant crops for their 'Farmlet.' The idea of the crop mob is that a large group of people are invited to descend upon a small farm and in short time they have achieved a huge amount of work. It's a kind of party meets hard labor meets education type thing! For more information check out the project site started by two VCU students. Email for more information.
Richmond Ground Up at Blogspot
Richmond Ground Up at Facebook
First Byrd House Crop Mob

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Asparagus is Back!

Everyone is always asking us when asparagus will be available... Well, it's here! Last week we received an e-mail from a reader who said she had "scored" some at one the renegade markets around town (Blanchard's coffee on Saturday morning, or Byrd House on Tuesday evening?) Last week was also the first week of my mother-in-law's CSA with Olin-Fox Farms, and she had a lovely batch of asparagus for Easter dinner.
This week Elwood Thompsons has asparagus as well. If I remember correctly it was from about 70 miles southeast of Richmond. By the time I came across it yesterday the heads were looking rough as they had become dried out and somewhat fallen apart. Still, I snapped the stalks, using the "no pressure method" of course, blanched them, and then quickly sauteed them with olive oil and garlic. They were delicious, and hopefully I can enjoy naked and nearly raw asparagus this week as the Fall Line Farms Co-op has an abundance of fresh picked asparagus for it's members. When it rains it pours!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

New Book: The Town That Food Saved

For those of you who read Barbara Kingsolvers Animal, Vegetable, Miracle you might remember her summer vacation trip that took her to Hardwick, Vermont. This small town was built on the granite industry. When that industry shifted to China the town floundered. Kingsolver introduced readers to a family that built first a diner and then a meat processing plant just to preserve one the remaining sources of income for local residence, farming. Her description of the diner that was started in this small town just to provide an outlet for the goods of local farms was truly inspiring. Filling, fun, locally grown, and prepared hot meals for just ten dollars! Where is the Richmond version of this place?!
Now there is a new book by journalist, and Vermont farmer Ben Hewitt that tells the story of this towns revitalization and the vital role local and artisanal foods played. Check out The Town That Food Saved. I just started reading my copy this morning, and it promises to be a great read on the subject of local food and it's importance to our health as individuals and our communities.