For hundreds of years, miners toiling deep in the earth have taken small birds with them. If the air got bad, the canary died and the miners knew they had to get out fast or perish. Today we use the expression “a canary in the mine” to indicate an early warning. Honeybees are that warning species for people.
I write a lot about our fragile food system. It is fragile because much of our food comes from great distances, dependent on transportation infrastructure and lots of cheap fuel. It is fragile because the synthetic fertilizers and pesticides that we put on our crops are hard on the land and ultimately destroy it, making it incapable of growing food. It is fragile because weather has always made farming fragile, and we have messed up our weather patterns with human-created climate change, so crop-destroying weather events are becoming more common. It is fragile because it depends on a fragile economic system that puts food production under a factory model that is subject to wild economic swings.
If you want to eat more local food, you have choices. You can grow your own in your back yard or at a community garden. You can forage wild foods or glean food, like picking the apples that your neighbor doesn’t want. You can shop at the farmers’ market. Or you might buy a share in a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm and pick up your share every week during the growing season.Most CSAs are on small farms outside the city, with weekly boxes of produce delivered to “drop-off” locations in your neighborhood. Continue Reading
As I write this, I am just back from a weekend at the Wild Food Summit on the White Earth Reservation in northwestern Minnesota. People come from all around to teach and learn from each other: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Manitoba, Wyoming, Illinois, Indiana, and even farther. (The woman from Russia didn’t make it this year.) It included those who “wrote the book” quite literally, naturalists, teachers, Native elders and the rest of us—eager to experiment with new foods.
Dear Brian Rosenberg:I am writing to let you know why I will not be attending my 45th reunion at Macalester this weekend. Briefly, I am upset with the decision to administer harsh retribution to current students seeking divestment from Wells Fargo Bank.It may be important for you to understand a certain perspective, so I am going to take the liberty of telling my own story.I never planned on attending Macalester when I graduated from a suburban Kansas City high school in 1964. I had already been accepted and been offered generous scholarships to Grinnell, Earlham and Antioch. However, part of my high school experience was chaffing under the residential segregation of that time; the closest African-American families lived perhaps eight miles from my house and not one student of color attended my school of 2,300 students. I tried to break this barrier a bit by attempting weeklong exchanges with local high schools including predominately African-American students. Continue Reading
As I write, snow and ice are still thick on the ground and it’s below freezing, but I am planning for the spring. I’m getting ready for maple syrup season. As daytime temperatures inch above freezing, the sap starts to flow. To get ready, I have contacted friends and neighbors with maple trees, bought my taps, checked my buckets. I am feeling a smug self-satisfaction at using an “untapped” urban resource.But then I run into a wall. Continue Reading
When the weather gets cold, one thing growers sometimes do is go to conferences. The other day, I went up to St. Cloud to see what was up with the Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers. The most interesting talk for me was listening to a bunch of apple growers talk about climate change. Now understand this: You are pretty careful to avoid the terms “climate change” or “global warming” when you talk to groups of farmers, because some of them think the whole thing is a big conspiracy so Al Gore can heat his Nashville mansion or so some university climate scientists can get bigger research grants and sell more books. Continue Reading
All week I have been thinking about Steve Brandt’s November 9 article about Josh Reimnitz’s win in the Minneapolis School Board election. (http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/178176771.html)