real-farmer@1020

I can’t remember how I stumbled on Kasha Bialas’s blog The Farm Girl Cooks, but I know I was immediately charmed by her photography and the clear integrity of her words about life on a working, small-scale farm, Bialas Farms, about 70 miles north of New York City. I asked her if she had anything she wanted to say on my site about the work. It turns out she did, about farm size, farm income, farm work, and what she would like you to know about buying from local farmers.—M.R.   By Kasha Bialas   I was raised on our 55-acre Orange County, NY, vegetable farm, as my father was before me, and as I’m raising my son now. Our family has owned and operated this business for 75 years. Sure, it sounds romantic, but it’s Read On »

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FM-suitcase-w-MR-@1020

Treat your farmers’ market like your grocery store. That’s my motto (when I’m not on the road). My problem, though, is I can no more carry all the goods in two arms than I can the goods from my actual grocery store. We used to have a red wagon and toted a two-year-old daughter along with dozens of ears of corn and other veg. But the wagon is long gone, and we don’t own a shopping cart or any kind of cart. Given how I’m always traveling, it was not a far stretch to put my bag to better use. That’s what I did ten days ago when I needed a lot of food for the week. Packed everything in a suitcase. Made everything so much easier. Takes up less room than a cart or a Read On »

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Barber-Moca-@1020

I had the great good fortune to interview Dan Barber before a sold-out crowd at Cleveland’s MOCA last night, talking to him about his fine book, The Third Plate (NYTimes review here). Barber, chef and owner of New York’s Blue Hill restaurant and maestro of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, is the most vocal and articulate chef soap-boxing for a sustainable food future. The problem has long been that, while he’s been very good at articulating the problems, he’s never had a realistic solution. Americans can’t completely opt out of the industrial food system by relying exclusively on CSAs and farmers’ markets (much as we cherish them). And chefs must cherry-pick the best ingredients if they are to keep their restaurants filled. Until this book, that is. Barber, through excellent reporting (how many chefs record interviews Read On »

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Veg-Stand-@1020

I want to call attention today to Dan Barber’s New York Times opinion piece from a week and a half ago, “What Farm-to-Table Got Wrong,” and his new book The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food. Both address the “odd duality” of our country’s embrace of sustainable agriculture, local food, organic food, farmers’ markets, and the farm-to-table movement with the fact that Big Food is getting bigger. Corn and soy account for 50% of the farmed land in this country (mainly a variety of corn that’s not edible until processed, I’m guessing). The current agricultural situation seems untenable in the long haul. In the short term, it’s created a population so sick we currently rack up a billion dollars a day in health care costs. On the other hand, do I really Read On »

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FM-comp-2014

  I’m finally home for a spell, long enough to plan out meals from my farmers’ market or, more precisely, growers’ market, and I was eager to see what was available this early in the season and after an uncommonly long, cold winter. Thanks to greenhouses there were plenty of greens, all kinds of them—kale, tatsoi, pea shoots, spinach, beet greens, basil. We have good local cheese makers so I picked up some sheep’s milk cheese and chèvre. Two dozen eggs, of course. Jason from Tea Hill Farms said, “Been so cold the chickens just don’t want to grow.” His chickens were just over two pounds and I bought a couple of them. They are so pristine, with firm, taut skin, they seem a different species from the ones in the grocery store. I bought oats and grits Read On »

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