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Asparagus! Food of Kings

23 Mar

At the local farmers markets here in San Diego, I am finding the biggest tastiest asparagus!  Normally I just grill it and eat it as a side or as a salad topper. But I have recently been trying new recipes and I found a cool one, Asparagus Avocado
Salad!  Try it and you won’t be disappointed.

The history of asparagus is pretty darn interesting.  About 20,000 years ago, asparagus was eaten near Aswan in Egypt. It has been used as a vegetable and medicine, owing to its delicate flavor, diuretic properties, and more. It is pictured as an offering on an Egyptian frieze dating to 3000 BC.  Still in ancient times, it was known in Syria and in Spain. Greeks and Romans ate it fresh when in season and dried the vegetable for use in winter; Romans would even freeze it high in the Alps, for the Feast of Epicurus. Emperor Augustus reserved the Asparagus Fleet for hauling the vegetable, and coined the expression “faster than cooking asparagus” for quick action. There is a recipe for cooking asparagus in the oldest surviving book of recipes, Apicius’s third century AD De re coquinaria, Book III.

Al-Nafzawi’s The Perfumed Garden celebrates its aphrodisiacal power, which the Indian Ananga Ranga attributes to special phosporus elements that also counteract fatigue, and by 1469 it was cultivated in French monasteries.

Asparagus is often called the “Food of Kings.”  France’s Louis XIV had special greenhouses built for growing it.  The finest texture and the strongest and yet delicate taste is in the tips. The points d’amour (“love tips”) were served as a delicacy to Madame de Pompadour.  

The asparagus growing beds in Northern Italy were famous during the Renaissance period. These graceful spears have always been a sign of elegance, and in times past, were a delicacy only the wealthy could afford.

I didn’t know veggies could be considered posh! Enjoy your food of kings my friends.

Asparagus and Avocado Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 4 or 5 thick asparagus spears
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, and peeled
  • 16 fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of fluer de sel (or fine sea salt) per serving

Cut away about 2 inches of the base of each asparagus spear. With a vegetable peeler, shave the entire asparagus from bottom to top, reversing your grip and rotating as necessary to shave as much as possible. Don’t rush it; be deliberate for the greatest precision.

Divide the asparagus strips among 4 salad plates. Cut each avocado half into 4 sections and place 2 wedges on each salad. Sprinkle with the mint leaves. Squeeze lime juice over the salads, drizzle evenly with the oil, and sprinkle with salt.

Thanks to epicurious.com for this recipe 

 

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Real Milk Comes From What?

22 Feb

Which Milk is "Real" ??

The California Milk Processor Board has launched a new ad campaign asking consumers to guess which milk is real on their Got Milk homepage.   I don’t know of anything more real than plants.  The ad makes fun of plant based milks with snide comments like, “This came from a cow? Please.”  I’m not sure anyone believes soy milk comes from a cow, so this is an insult to the intelligence of Americans.

Now I can go on and on about how unnatural it is that humans drink the breast milk from other species.  I could go into detail about how unhealthy cow milk is for our human bodies; i.e. sucking the calcium right out of our bones, creating allergies, causing respiratory problems, and increasing the incidence of cancer, especially prostate cancer and breast cancer.  I could remind everyone the purpose of cow breast milk is for baby cows to become full grown cows as quickly as possible, to gain hundreds of pounds within 6 months; it’s quite fattening – DUH!  But I don’t need to obviously, because this ad shows that the dairy industry is scared; scared of losing their profit because people are realizing the truth and striving to be healthier.  Their mud slinging is a sign of something to be celebrated my friends.  Americans are learning and accepting that factory farming is just simply: bad.

Below is an edited version of that ad, provided by My Vegan Journal.  When you play the real milk game, the Milk Processor Board fails to inform the consumer of the icky things in their cow’s milk.  My Vegan Journal was kind enough to help them be honest.  Shame on them for trying to hide the truth!

6 Reasons to Not Drink MilkThis video by Dr. Mark Hyman is quick and loaded with facts regarding the dangers of dairy.  Check it out if you have any doubts or you need a refresher of the facts.  

Natalie Portman blogs about Eating Animals

7 Feb

I absolutely adore Natalie. She is one of my favorite actors, and on top of that she is a wonderful and smart human being.  I fell head over heels for her back in 1994 when I saw her as Mathilda in The Professional.   She continued to show off her acting chops in some very cool movies, like Garden State, Closer,  V for Vendetta, and Black Swan.  Everyone knows she is an amazing actress, she did win an academy award last year, but what a lot of people don’t realize is how impressively educated she is.  She graduated from HARVARD with a B.A. in psychology, she authored research papers that have been published in scientific journals ( “A Simple Method to Demonstrate the Enzymatic Production of Hydrogen from Sugar” and “Frontal Lobe Activation during Object Permanence: Data from Near-Infrared Spectroscopy”), she speaks 5 languages, she took graduate courses at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, she appeared as a guest lecturer at a Columbia University course in terrorism and counterterrorism.  Natalie Portman is one smart cookie!

Now onto Natalie’s love of animals. She has a compassionate spirit; she has been a vegetarian since childhood, and went Vegan in 2009 after reading a powerful and influential book called Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (The guy who wrote  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close which is now a major motion picture).  I was going to attempt to write a review of this book, however Natalie Portman wrote her own, and it is so appropriate and moving, I just had to share it.  From the mouth of a babe:

“Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals changed me from a twenty-year vegetarian to a vegan activist. I’ve always been shy about being critical of others’ choices because I hate when people do that to me. I’m often interrogated about being vegetarian (e.g., “What if you find out that carrots feel pain, too? Then what’ll you eat?”).

I’ve also been afraid to feel as if I know better than someone else — a historically dangerous stance (I’m often reminded that “Hitler was a vegetarian, too, you know”). But this book reminded me that some things are just wrong. Perhaps others disagree with me that animals have personalities, but the highly documented torture of animals is unacceptable, and the human cost Foer describes in his book, of which I was previously unaware, is universally compelling.

The human cost of factory farming — both the compromised welfare of slaughterhouse workers and, even more, the environmental effects of the mass production of animals — is staggering. Foer details the copious amounts of pig shit sprayed into the air that result in great spikes in human respiratory ailments, the development of new bacterial strains due to overuse of antibiotics on farmed animals, and the origins of the swine flu epidemic, whose story has gripped the nation, in factory farms.

I read the chapter on animal shit aloud to two friends — one is from Iowa and has asthma and the other is a North Carolinian who couldn’t eat fish from her local river because animal waste had been dumped in it as described in the book. They had never truly thought about the connection between their environmental conditions and their food. The story of the mass farming of animals had more impact on them when they realized it had ruined their own backyards.

But what Foer most bravely details is how eating animal pollutes not only our backyards, but also our beliefs. He reminds us that our food is symbolic of what we believe in, and that eating is how we demonstrate to ourselves and to others our beliefs: Catholics take communion — in which food and drink represent body and blood. Jews use salty water on Passover to remind them of the slaves’ bitter tears. And on Thanksgiving, Americans use succotash and slaughter to tell our own creation myth — how the Pilgrims learned from Native Americans to harvest this land and make it their own.

And as we use food to impart our beliefs to our children, the point from which Foer lifts off, what stories do we want to tell our children through their food?

I remember in college, a professor asked our class to consider what our grandchildren would look back on as being backward behavior or thinking in our generation, the way we are shocked by the kind of misogyny, racism, and sexism we know was commonplace in our grandparents’ world. He urged us to use this principle to examine the behaviors in our lives and our societies that we should be a part of changing. Factory farming of animals will be one of the things we look back on as a relic of a less-evolved age.

I say that Foer’s ethical charge against animal eating is brave because not only is it unpopular, it has also been characterized as unmanly, inconsiderate, and juvenile. But he reminds us that being a man, and a human, takes more thought than just “This is tasty, and that’s why I do it.” He posits that consideration, as promoted by Michael Pollan in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which has more to do with being polite to your tablemates than sticking to your own ideals, would be absurd if applied to any other belief (e.g., I don’t believe in rape, but if it’s what it takes to please my dinner hosts, then so be it).

But Foer makes his most impactful gesture as a peacemaker, when he unites the two sides of the animal eating debate in their reasoning. Both sides argue: We are not them. Those who refrain from eating animals argue: We don’t have to go through what they go through — we are not them. We are capable of making distinctions between what to eat and what not to eat (Americans eat cow but not dog, Hindus eat chicken but not cow, etc.). We are capable of considering others’ minds and others’ pain. We are not them. Whereas those who justify eating animals say the same thing: We are not them. They do not merit the same value of being as us. They are not us.

And so Foer shows us, through Eating Animals, that we are all thinking along the same lines: We are not them. But, he urges, how will we define who we are?” ~ Natalie Portman, “Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals Turned Me Vegan

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