Monday, September 18, 2006

california here I come

One more week, and I'll be back in California! Wheee! I just can't wait. In fact, I wish I could move on back there, if only for the next few months until K. gets back to the States. This time, I'm going out there to check out this fine program at UC Santa Cruz, a six-month apprenticeship on their organic farm combined with education on sustainable agriculture and organic farming & marketing. It could make the goat farm a reality, or at least my longings to work organizing farmers' markets or CSAs, plus teaching cooking classes and such.

There's a great article in the Bay Guardian about local restauranteur Larry Bain's Nextcourse program, which teaches cooking and nutrition to women in the SF county jail. Says one woman, "When I was in jail, I was thinking this was all bullshit. I can't do that. It's going to be too expensive. It's just you white people blowing smoke up our ass. But I got out and now I'm going to the market every week and my kids love it."

Bain points out that his teachers shop at the Alemany and Heart of the City markets, and that the produce they buy is almost always cheaper, and better, than similar items bought from Safeway or FoodCo. There are other limitations, too--no knives in the jail--and the menu of a main, a salad, and an vegetable has to be produced in 25 minutes or less, for under $5 a person. It can be done, and by now over 750 women have gone through the program.

The current bagged-spinach scare is yet another example of the danger of big agribusiness, organic or not. A recent article in the Times pointed out how the sealed environment of the bag offers a excellent haven for bacteria growth if the bag gets too warm. I know I've eaten spinach from the bag--hey, it says it's triple-washed, right?-- but those dirty, sandy bunches of locally-grown greens are looking a lot cleaner now.

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