Friday, January 20, 2012

On Hiatus

This blog is currently on hiatus while I work on other projects. Keep in touch, though. Shimmy on over to my other (less-structured) blog, Cabinet of Wonders. Or check out my new, totally under construction personal website. I'm also always available via twitter or email.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Grow Local: Community Plots in Boston

Nightingale Garden in Dorchester opened in August, and is Boston's
largest community garden.
Photo courtesy/BNAN
As a localvore, it's important to note that the most locally sourced foods are the ones consumers grow themselves. Of course, in a metropolitan city, it's not as simple as clearing a plot in the backyard. And while indoor plants are relatively successful (I'm a firm advocate of the indoor herb garden), Boston has a vast market of outdoor gardening plots and community gardens.

Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN) has a useful resource on their website that helps consumers and potential urban farmers locate a community garden, and then provides them the contact information for that garden's coordinator or community ambassador.

The BNAN site also provides tips for growing, as well as various other ways to explore and enjoy Boston's Greenways and The Emerald Necklace (There's even yoga!).

The cost of the gardening plots typically covers users' water use and averages 25 dollars a season, according to Vidya Tikku, BNAN's vice president of development and special projects. She also mentioned that almost all of the community plots use organic farming methods, or ban the use of pesticides.

"Community gardens are the easiest way to access fresh locally grown food and they help promote a healthy and active lifestyle," said Tikku in an email. "In many cases, they are vital to supporting family food budgets. They also help build civic engagement amongst residents of all income levels and backgrounds and help build stronger communities."

Monday, November 28, 2011

"Eating Locally in Winter"

The Boston Globe reported a piece last week about the benefits of eating seasonally and locally. Globe Correspondent Nancy Rearden Steward interviewed local nutritionists and farmers and concluded that, while it's convenient to have the same vegetables available year-round, it's not necessarily beneficial to our health or our local agricultural communities. The diversity that result from eating seasonally is beneficial to our diets, as well as to our pockets and neighbors.

Check out the full article on the site.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Organic, Free-Range Turkeys

With Thanksgiving a week away, it's tough to find an organic turkey, last minute. But still worth searching. And if finding an organic, free-range and pastured turkey turns out to be impossible, consider which characteristics you'd be willing to compromise on. A free-range turkey from a small farm may not be organic, but will likely be leaner, and ethically raised. Food for thought...

View Turkey Map in a larger map

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

My mom has been teasing me with Facebook posts about lattes in the jacuzzi, family Scrabble games and home-cooked meals, making me more homesick than ever. So I opted to make myself some home-y delicious food.

Boston Organics clearly had an influx of butternut squash because it's been a recent regular. So I looked up their butternut squash soup recipe and got to work.

I baked the squash first (I did it at 350, since their recipe doesn't specify the temperature), and simultaneously sautéed shallots and onions and garlic powder, before adding vegetable broth and a touch of cream, which the recipe doesn't call for, but some other recipes did. I also used pears, rather than apples.

I'm terrible with recipes. I figure they're more like guidelines that actual rules, so I look at several and get the basic gist of what I need to do. Then I cook.

While I scooped out the squash and blended everything together, I also cooked up some kale and shallots (I didn't have garlic). The kale was beautiful, but a little bitter, so my roommate recommended that I add a vinegar-based hot sauce. I did and it made such a difference.

Delicious, if I do say so myself.

Massachusetts Health and Sustainability

Northeastern, with its on-campus farmers market, sourcing local produce
and individual recycling containers, received top marks for being a
sustainable, green campus.
Someone mentioned something the other day about Massachusetts being a great place to write and talk about health because its kind of an amalgam, what with the mandated health insurance and the high number of intellectuals.

And with "hippie" neighborhoods like Harvard and Allston, where eating organic is almost expected, the state is bound to be very green. So I did a little research. Turns out Massachusetts is incredibly environmentally conscious. We're not the healthiest of states (Colorado beats us by a long shot) and there are some cons to the reformed health care, but there are initiatives here that may contribute to nation-wide trends.

Some interesting statistics and articles:

  • In a money-related article, CNN points out the negative impacts of Massachusetts 2006 health care reform. Above all, they argue that the reforms will lead to increased costs, and that they support individuals who want to work less.
  • The Health Care for All site presents press release-esque articles and updates on the reforms and the (mostly positive) affects their having on the Massachusetts community. Though it's obviously biased, it's interesting to see the view from the inside.
  • According to the New York Times, Massachusetts beat out my home state of California for green efficiency rankings.
  • Northeastern University and Harvard were both named to Princeton Review's Green Honor Roll for receiving the highest score possible (99).
  • grades schools based on sustainability. Northeastern and Harvard both received A-. MIT was awarded a B+. Boston College and Boston University both received B.