Monday, December 14, 2009

Why Choose Heritage Breeds?

There's a fantastic post by The Ethical Butcher on why choosing Heritage Breeds is crucial to developing sustainable meat production. 

From the article:

Every farm that is raising and selling heritage meats is one more that IS NOT a disgusting feedlot. As I stated earlier, the needs of these breeds make factory farming a non-option. They basically demand a farmer to revert to old methods, seasonality and bio-diversity. All of this requires respect, attentiveness and a connection to the earth and its cycles from the farmer. By raising far fewer animals, the problem of pollution from the waste products are greatly reduced. A natural diet lessens pressure to produce the corn and soy used in commercial feed, and therefore also lessens the amount of fossil fuels needed to transport these foods. All that waste only results in diseased animals.* Because heritage breeds eat good food, are given space to live their lives the way nature intended, and allowed to form familial bonds and have farmers deeply committed to their health, I can only imagine these animals are much happier than their industrial counterparts. At this point, most heritage breeds are raised on very small farms and so often become local products by default. Supporting these local farms bolsters local economies. It's like killing 10 birds with one stone. On a purely visceral level, it is not even worth comparing the flavor and texture of heritage breed meat to that of industrial breeds.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Animal Rights Groups Enter The Backyard Chicken-Keeping Fray

There is a new campaign by animal rights activists against backyard chicken-keeping.

These folks are well-intentioned, and their work is valuable. I was a vegetarian for twenty years primarily for ethical reasons and only went back to meat-eating when I discovered local, pasture-raised meat from animals that live as animals should. I have no ethical objection to the eating of meat, but I don’t want to eat an animal that has lived a life of misery ending only in a horrific death in a factory-farm slaughterhouse. But animal rights activists tend to believe meat-eating itself is unethical and therefore have an axe to grind when it comes to backyard chicken-keeping. They don't believe animals can ethically be used for food production, even when the animal isn't killed to produce the food. They advocate a vegan diet -- no eggs, no milk or cheese, no honey -- and their opinions and arguments are profoundly colored by this.  However, some of their concerns are valid, and those considering keeping chickens should be aware of these concerns.
  • There are no laws controlling methods by which breeding hens and roosters are kept, which means some hatcheries could be keeping them in small, crowded cages with no access to pasture.  Be sure to investigate where your chicks or fertile eggs for hatching come from; don't buy from any hatchery who mistreats breeding animals. Buy from a those who raise birds on pasture, just like you want to raise yours. Your best bet may be a small producer of heritage breeds, preferably someone local whom you can visit to see how the birds are treated.
  • Male chicks are not in demand for backyard flocks and may be mistreated because of their relative lack of value to a hatchery focussed on producing laying hens. Again, choose your hatchery carefully and don't buy from one that mistreats its male chicks.
  • Shipping day-old chicks is not ideal.  I don't know what kind of stress chicks experience in shipping, but while most chicks survive, it's probably a safe bet that no baby animal should ideally spend its first few days in a shipping box.  Again your best bet may be a small local producer of heritage breeds.
  • Roosters are often unwanted and sometimes illegal.  If you can't have or don't want roosters, have a plan for any bird that turns out to be male.  The producer who sold you your chicks may be willing to take the males to add to their flock of meat birds; ask ahead of time. Or you may be able to slaughter your unwanted males yourself or send them to be slaughtered.  It go should go without saying that dumping them on a shelter or otherwise abandoning them is not an ethical option.
  • Hens may be abandoned after they are no longer productive.  As an ethical backyard chicken-keeper, it's incumbent upon you to either treat your no-longer-productive hen as a valued pet, the same as you would an aging dog, or to either slaughter her yourself or send her to be slaughtered.  Have a plan in mind before you get your chickens.  
When push comes to shove, though, what's also true is that if you eat eggs, these problems are not ones that can be solved by not keeping your own chickens.  Producers of eggs, even those you buy at the farmers' markets, are probably getting their laying hens from the same hatchery as the chicks down at Tractor Supply.  So whether you get your eggs from Kroger, the farmers' market, or your own backyard, at some point some hatchery was likely involved.  Unless you are willing to give up eggs altogether -- which is what the animal rights groups want you to do -- keeping your own chickens is always going to be the best way to ensure you know how your eggs are produced.

These animal rights groups are asking supporters to actively oppose backyard chicken-keeping by attending meetings of their local city council, writing letters to the editor and to their government representatives, and talking to friends and neighbors. If you are waging a chicken-keeping fight in your town, be aware of this potential source of opposition.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nomerati On Mayberry, Redux

Cincinnati Nomerati liked Mayberry (which sources locally) so much a couple of weeks ago that they went back for brunch and a second review. 

Mayberry on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 7, 2009

OEFFA Conference Feb. 13 & 14, Granville OH

The Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) will hold its 31st annual conference, Growing with Integrity, Eating with Intention, February 13-14, 2010 in Granville, Ohio at Granville Middle and High schools. The conference will feature keynote speakers Joel Salatin and Chef Ann Cooper; workshops; exhibitors; a kids’ conference; locally-sourced meals; a child care area; and Saturday evening entertainment.

Keynote speaker Joel Salatin is one of the best-known farmers of the sustainable food movement. Joel’s family farm in Swoope, VA serves more than 1,500 families, 10 retail outlets, and 30 restaurants with grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, eggs, pork, forage-based rabbits, and pastured turkey.  In his Saturday evening talk, Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal, Joel will get to the heart of the local food movement challenge. From zoning to food safety to insurance, local food systems face regulatory hurdles designed and implemented to benefit industrial food models. Joel will call for guerrilla marketing and other solutions.  Joel will also be speaking at an all-day pre-conference event, Ballet in the Pasture, on Friday, February 12, at which he will discuss how his farm’s choreographed plant-animal symbiosis heals the landscape, the community, and the eater.

Author and educator Chef Ann Cooper is an advocate for better food for all children. Chef Ann’s mission is to transform the National School Lunch Program through lunch menus emphasizing regional, organic, fresh foods, and nutritional education.  In her Sunday evening keynote address, Chef Ann will detail the importance of changing the way our children eat and why parents, schools, farmers, food service providers, and governments must work together.

In addition, the conference will feature more than 60 hands-on, educational workshops with topics including: cheese-making, becoming a successful farmers’ market vendor, off-grid energy production, goat husbandry, organic certification, weed control, successful farmers’ market management, social networking, green building, organic dairying, urban gardening, fruit production, organic grain production, pastured poultry, sustainable agriculture policy and grassroots organizing, soil testing, rain water harvesting, pruning, pork production, community kitchens, on-farm record-keeping, tree grafting, healthy lunch programs, green cleaning products, drip irrigation, worm composting, farming with horses, beekeeping, renewable energy, and cover crops.

The conference will also feature a kid’s conference offering a variety of workshops for children ages 6-12; a playroom for children under 6, a book signing by Joel Salatin, an exhibit hall offering an array of information, products, services and resources that relate to sustainable agriculture; and a Saturday evening film screening featuring King Corn’s Curt Ellis.

The Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters who committed to work together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system.

To register or for more information about the conference, including maps, directions, workshops, speakers, and a schedule, visit the website or email Renee.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

CityBeat Podcast Featuring North Bend Beekeeper Richard Stewart

CityBeat's Stephen Carter-Novotni interviews Richard Stewart of Carriage House Farm in North Bend about his bees in a forty-minute podcast.  Richard talks about the bees and his no-chemical approach during the first twenty-five minutes, and then photojournalist Andrea McLaughlin discusses her experiences learning about bees and beekeepers. Great listening!

Boulder Belt 2010 CSA Program

Boulder Belt Eco-Farm in Eaton is now accepting applications for their 2010 Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. That's the share they provided the last week of May this year.  Look at all those asparagus!  For complete details, visit the website.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Woodstone Creek Spirits Now Available Online

Woodstone Creek's bourbon and vodka are now available for online purchases through Binny's.  If you'd like to try them, the bourbon is served at Hugo, Nicholson's, and Chalk, and the vodka at Below Zero and Chalk.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mayberry Reviewed At Food Hussy

Every food blogger in town is checking out Mayberry (which sources locally); now it's Food Hussy's turn.

Mayberry on Urbanspoon

Montgomery Re-legalizes Chicken-Keeping

Montgomery's City Council last night voted unanimously (7-0) to re-legalize the keeping of chickens in the city, after criminalizing it in July.  Residents had objected to criminalizing an activity that was currently legal and had been causing no problems and provided City Council with extensive research showing that chicken-keeping was not a problem in suburban backyards, and City Council listened. Re-legalizing the practice required a public hearing and three readings of the amended ordinance. 

Chickens currently being kept illegally in Montgomery will once again be legal starting January 1st, under the following conditions:

  • No more than six chickens may be kept
  • No roosters will be allowed
  • Coops and enclosures must not be visible from the street, must be screened from neighboring properties by fencing or landscaping, and must adhere to setbacks and property maintenance codes.
Congratulations, Montgomery-ites!  Raising a little of our own food -- whether by planting a garden for vegetables or keeping chickens for eggs -- is a way to develop a more sustainable suburban lifestyle. And for freshness, quality, and knowing where your food comes from, you can't beat an egg laid a few hours ago by one of your own hens.

An announcement ("Hens Find A Home In Montgomery") and link to the new ordinance are available on the city's website.

Blue Oven Bread At Park+Vine Sunday Dec 6th

Local farmers Mark and Sara Frommeyer of Willamsburg's Blue Oven Bakery will be selling their wood-fired specialty holiday breads at Park+Vine from 1 p.m. until it's gone Sunday, Dec. 6. For more information contact Park+Vine at 513-721-7275.

No Impact Man Screenings

Two screenings of No Impact Man are scheduled next week on UC's campus.  The movie follows the one-year experiment by Colin Beavan (dragging his wife and toddler along for the ride) to try to live without impacting the environment -- eating locally and vegetarian, living without electricity, buying nothing but food, walking or bicycling everywhere, producing no garbage -- in Manhattan. 

University of Cincinnati
Monday, December 7
Swift Hall 500

Wednesday, December 9
MainStreet Cinema

Free; donations accepted to offset cost of screening. For information, contact Jeff Cobb at 937.287.7208 or by email.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fresh Beef And Soup Hens At Green Acres

GreenAcres (8255 Spooky Hollow Rd in Indian Hill) will have fresh soup hens available December 11th ($2.50/lb) and fresh beef available the week of December 14th.  To place an order or for more information, call Peggy at 513.891.4227 or email her.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Review Of Lavomatic At Chickpeas, Please

Chickpeas, Please has done a review of Lavomatic, which sources locally.

Segoe Symposium On Smart Growth

The Segoe Symposium on Smart Growth at the University of Cincinnati on December 10th will feature a panel discussing the formation of the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council, followed by Kami Pothukuchi, PhD, speaking about SEED Wayne (Sustainable Food Systems Education and Engagement in Detroit and Wayne State University), a campus-community partnership dedicated to building more sustainable food systems. She'll discuss her research on the links between food and community & economic development, including urban agriculture, community food assessments, local policy and planning.

Panel at 5:30, speaker at 6:30, local foods reception hosted by Slow Food Cincinnati at 7:30 featuring small bites and local wines.  Niehoff Urban Studio at 2728 Vine St. in the Short Vine area of Corryville. Free, but email for reservations.

2010 Native Bee Calendar

The Great Sunflower Project is offering the 2010 North American Native Bee Calendar as a fundraiser.  The calendar has twelve of the most common bee genera and descriptions to help you learn to identify your garden's bees. Photographs are by Rollin Coville. All proceeds go to supporting the Sunflower Project.

$14.00 (including shipping). Order here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Review of Green Dog Cafe at Wine Me, Dine Me

Wine Me, Dine Me has posted a review of Green Dog Cafe, which sources locally. 

King Arthur Flour Bakers' Banter

King Arthur Flour has a fantastic scratch-baking blog, a boon to anyone trying to eat more locally -- which pretty much requires the willingness and ability to cook from scratch.  Their recipes are extensively tested, and as a (former) non-baker, I can attest to their excellence.  Each online recipe page also includes a link to a chat window where you can ask questions in real-time from their experts.  Well worth a visit.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Review of Mayberry at Cincinnati Nomerati

Cincinnati Nomerati has reviewed Mayberry, which sources locally. 

Polly Campbell Reviews Local 127

Polly Campbell has reviewed Local 127, which sources locally.

Local 127  on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 27, 2009

Locally Raised Pheasants Available

Jaybird Farms of Mt. Orab is taking orders for fresh or frozen (depending on the date of delivery) ringneck pheasants in time for Christmas.  Hatched on the farm and pasture raised in a flight pen with antibiotic/hormone-free feed.  $8.50 per pound, birds are 2.5 - 3 pounds processed, deliveries available to Milford, Anderson, Loveland, and Montgomery. To order or for more information, call Vivian at 937-442-4800 or email her.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Review of Mayberry at Cincinnati Bites

Cincinnati Bites has posted a review of Mayberry, which sources locally.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mayberry Sourcing Locally

Chef Joshua Campbell's Mayberry (915 Vine St, downtown) will open for dinner starting Dec 4th featuring a menu that Campbell says will change weekly depending on what is fresh and in season. 

“We don’t want to nail ourselves down to a set menu because it’s important for me to prepare and serve the best dishes possible. I want to be able to go to markets and buy the best ingredients to serve to our guests."
For the first weekend, dinner offerings will include crispy pork belly with Frank’s RedHot butter and cheddar grits and short ribs with creamed corn and smoked bacon. Selected lunch menu items will be available at dinner on a rotating basis. Until Mayberry obtains their liquor license, guests will be able to bring their own alcoholic beverages for weekend dinners.

Mayberry is actively looking for local ingredient sources, so if you've got something you'd like to provide Chef Campbell, call him at 381-5999.

Weekly dinner menus will be posted on the World Food Bar Restaurant Group’s Facebook page and on Twitter, and will also be available by phone at 513-381-5999.

Mayberry on UrbanspoonFor other local blogger's reviews of Mayberry, check Urban Spoon.


There's an experiment in autoblogging here at OpenFarm100, which simply receives Google Alerts for the word "locavore" and automatically creates a new post for each alert.  I'm not sure what to make of it, but it's an easy way to find what's being said about the locavore movement in the blogosphere.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ohio/Michigan Wine Clash: Kinkead Ridge

The Ohio/Michigan Wine Clash is the brainchild of Andrew Hall as an adjunct to the Ohio/Michigan football rivalry and to encourage people to buy local rather than support the transportation of Nouveau Beaujolais across the big pond.

Kinkead Ridge 2007 Cabernet Franc rated top Ohio wine in the 2nd annual Wine Clash. It was the only Ohio wine in the top five, and the least expensive wine in the group at $17.95, besting the other retail prices of $60.00, $45.00, $40.00 and $35.00. Details of the 2nd Annual Wine Clash are here.

Kinkead Ridge 2008 Riesling was in the top 11, and was the least expensive wine on the list at $11.95.

Here's what Joel Goldberg, one of the Michigan judges, said about Kinkead Ridge's Cabernet Franc:

"The only repeat-winner winery in either state from last year’s Clash, Kinkead Ridge makes its home southeast of Cincinnati, near the Ohio River.

They scored this time with the lone under-$30 wine among the top five. It provides the yang to 2 Lads’ yin; instead of a hulking bottle to lay down for years, you’ll be hard-pressed to keep your hands off this, with a berry nose that jumps from the glass and silky, fruit-driven palate that seduces your taste buds with a serious “yum” factor.

Co-owner and winemaker Ron Barrett – who formerly owned a vineyard in Oregon – explains his pricing as “part of our philosophy. Our whole objective is to show we can be competitive in the marketplace. If we priced higher, we’d still sell out – but at the same time we’d turn off some people to our wine.”

Think Before Giving the Gift of CSA

This post is a gentle warning to well meaning relatives and friends of locavores.

Do not buy a CSA share/membership for your locavore as a holiday or birthday gift unless you are really sure that this will be a welcome thing. I have had a few of experiences as a CSA grower where this has happened. Once it turned out well because the buyer was (and is) one of the pillars of the international locavore community and was positive the recipients got the whole CSA idea. And these people had been members of a CSA in Iowa where they lived before moving to Ohio.

The other two gifts did not turn out well. In both cases the giftees had never been a CSA member before and simply did not get the whole concept. Fortunately for Boulder belt Eco-Farm we sell monthly memberships and in both cases where the experience was less than good the gift was for a one month membership. One giftee did not want to drive to the farm so asked if she could do all 4 weeks at once. I told her no but I could do 2 weeks at a time. She was amazed at the amount of food she got the one time she picked up and almost understood why I would not make a 4 week share for her (almost). She flaked out on the second pick-up which was not good for her but a nice donation to our farm. the other giftee I believe picked up one time (and this was at a time we had delivery points) and we did not see that person ever again.

I feel that buying a CSA membership for someone is a bit like buying a puppy for another person. it seems like a great idea at the time but in the case of a puppy, if the person is not a competent dog person the end result could be disastrous (think "Marley and Me").

Okay, I do not believe that there is any way being a member of a CSA farm could ever be disastrous. For one the food is inanimate and will not try to destroy your home or year. But joining a CSA means the member must have cooking skills and know how to deal with raw whole foods, many of which will not be familiar. the member better be into the local foods movement as well and already sourcing a good % of their food needs locally via farmers markets, farm stands, etc.. And by this I mean the person is a very regular (weekly) attendee of at least one farmers market. Casual locavores should not be given such gifts as a CSA share.

What I believe happens to the giftee (remember I am a farmer and have never been a CSA member so I am going on what I have observed over the past 13 or so years I have run CSA farms) is they get overwhelmed with the food, especially if they are not a good cook. And the feeling of being overwhelmed gets worse as the season goes on. They are struggling to use the food and find they cannot use up all the food in a share in a week. So now they start throwing out food and that leads to food guilt. Members also tend to get burned out after months and months of CSA shares (even the long term member can feel this way).

So what one ends up with is a person who feels really guilty they are not using the fresh whole food well and they may quietly drop out (this is fairly common with CSA's everywhere and not just with members who joined because they received a gift membership). This is not good for the member who may have in the future become a great CSA member but needed more time to become comfortable with their locavoreness and now may never ever join a CSA again because they had a bad experience. The giftee may avoid the with the gifter over this whole thing because they do not want to talk about the gift because it is a disappointment for them. And the giftee is likely not to communicate with the farmer well over the issues they are having which always leads to hard feelings and a less than good experience (and with communication most things can be remedied).

So think long and hard before signing a dear friend or relation up for a CSA share at one of the many wonderful local CSA farms in the area and by no means make this surprise gift. If you feel you really have to do this talk about it with the giftee.

If your intended giftee is a member of a CSA already than to buy them a share in the CSA that they have been a member of for years is a horse of a different color. That would be a welcome gift.

So do not give a CSA membership this Holiday season unless the recipient already is a CSA member and intends on doing so in 2010 than go right ahead and buy a membership for that person.

Now if you are still set on giving a locavore a locavore gift it is much much safer to find out which farmers market(s) they attend regularly and buy them some gift certificates for that market. A gift like that will be welcomed and not turn into a food guilt fest.

Lucy Goodman
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm, Eaton OH

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Urban Foraging Experiment

Urban Forager Rebecca Lerner is experimenting with an all-foraged diet.  She'll be eating stored food she foraged over the summer and fall plus food she gathers fresh this week from parks, wilderness areas, and yards in Portland, OR.  Her experiment began yesterday and will end with a Thanksgiving Feast. 

Lerner's menu will include acorns, crab apples, and black walnuts harvested from city trees; mushrooms; stinging nettles; hawthorn berries; yellow dock seeds; cleavers, thistle, sumac, dandelion and other weeds; fat she rendered and stored from a roadkill deer; and more.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkeys: update

Mohr Animal Acres still has pasture-raised turkeys available from 6 - 24 pounds.  They'll be making deliveries in Hyde Park and Wyoming this Sunday 11/22. For more information, email them or call 937-484-5950.

Morning Sun Farm also has fresh, pasture-raised turkeys available. Call them at 937-787-4885.

Local 127 Opens For Lunch

Polly Campbell says Local 127, which sources ingredients locally, plans to open for lunch starting December 1. It will be Tuesday-Friday from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Chef Steve Geddes is working on the menu, which will not only have sandwiches, soups, etc., but possibly a three-course businessperson’s lunch.

Local 127  on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Slow Food Miami

There's a new Slow Food chapter, Slow Food Miami, starting up as a campus organization in Oxford. Their first event is a showing of Food, Inc. tonight.

8pm, Thursday November 19, 2009, Shideler Hall Room 115 (on Miami's campus), entrance is free and open to the public. For more information contact Jillian.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Preparing for Thanksgiving Dinner

In 1995 fresh out of college, living in a strange city and expecting a visit from my parents Thanksgiving Day I sat down to plan Thanksgiving dinner, my way. Turns out my parents at that time weren't interested in Thanksgiving dinner my way, preferring to eat at the hotel restaurant, so my fiance and I instead celebrated early with a feast straight out of the pages of Vegetarian Times, dinner was delicious, and gratifying. A tradition was born and I've celebrated with my own early Thanksgiving ever since.

The guests have changed over the years and so has the menu. In the early years I celebrated with friends, later added family. Now there is so much family we find other ways to toast gratitude with our friends. I've celebrated as a new parent, a newly single parent and for the last several years as a stepparent in my blended family. The menu has undergone its own metamorphosis. Most of all the celebration has been memorable.

There was the year where the extra mashed potatoes were put in the oven and promptly forgotten, until weeks later the stench reminded us, we obviously didn't use the oven much. Then there was the year that my family ooed and ahhed about how real the turkey looked and tasted... I guess they weren't expecting the vegetarians to pick up a turkey from the Honey Baked Ham Company. Most recently Birdzilla, pictured above, made it's appearance...we ordered a turkey from a local farm and didn't pick up early enough to get a midsized turkey, so wound up with a massive turkey, it didn't fit in our roaster and barely fit in the oven. The picture doesn't do the thing justice in the scale department, I think there are still leftovers in the freezer.

The menu is no longer vegetarian but for at least the last 5 years the bird has been fresh and local, raised by farmers I've met on farms I've visited. On Saturday we'll pick up our turkey from Tewes Poultry Farm. The Tewes family has taken the time to show us where the turkeys live, encouraged my son's love of chickens by letting him hold day old chicks and even came through with feathers to use as quills at his most recent Harry Potter themed birthday party.

The stuffing will be prepared from bread baked along the Little Miami River by Mark and Sara of Blue Oven Bakery. Farmer Mike at Martin Hill Farms grew the carrots. Jim, Karen and their family at Running Creek Farm are providing the celery. I grew the onions in our own back yard. We'll add apples Dennis grew at his Back Yard Orchards along the Ohio River. We'll saute the veggies and apples in butter from our local herd share.

Sweet potatoes are courtesy of friends from their garden. Honey is from Richard at Carriage House Farm. This year we'll have Apple, Cinnamon, Cranberry Sauerkraut as a side dish from our new friends Jennifer and Jordan of Fab Ferments. Nancy and Ron at Kinkead Ridge, and Bill and Patti at Harmony Hill grew the grapes and crafted the wines.

And there will be more... but I'll have to see what is available tonight at the Northside Farmers' Market. There I will visit new found cousins Ande and Lauren from Wind Dance Farm. I'll introduce myself to Mike from Idyllwild Farm, who has been a great source of information and inspiration on our Cincinnati Locavore e-mail list but who I've yet to meet in person. I'll stop and see Farmer Mike, Dennis, Jennifer, Richard, Tom of Rising Sun Farm, David of Wooden Shoe Garden and all the other awesome farmers and vendors there. I'll make purchases for our Thanksgiving, our winter storage, and I will purchase some winter squash for a friend which will serve as nourishment for her baby who is newly eating solids.

I really thought this post was going to be about my quest to avoid frozen turkey of unknown origin but in fact it seems to be about how my family and community has grown in unexpected ways. Much has changed over the last 14 years... I use my oven more, my parents not only eat my cooking but are welcoming my husband and I into their kitchen to prepare our early Thanksgiving this year, I love my life and feel very blessed. Plus the food keeps getting better.

I'm also realizing that by getting to know the farmers that grow our food, I have added to my community of friends and allowed them to nourish me, for that I am grateful beyond words.

Happy Early Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reskilling Cincinnati: Classes at Enright Ridge Urban Eco-Village

Enright Ridge Urban Eco-Village (ERUEV) is offering a series of hands-on 'reskilling' classes -- that is, classes to teach people traditional skills that have been lost over time to our convenience lifestyle.

The first classes in the series are on soil rebuilding and will include two related workshops, one on soil and the other on composting on Saturday, November 21st.

9:00am Soil: What is it? Why is it all-important? How is it made? Class will include study of local soil horizon, discussion of soil layers, best ways to build and maintain soil, how to take a good soil sample for testing. Instructor: Charles Griffin, biodynamic farmer, MS in Soil Ecology, UC Davis.

1:00pm Composting: Various methods will be demonstrated, including the three-bay system, windrow, and biodynamic. Class will cover how and when to apply compost and recommended components. Instructor: Vincent Stross, Master Composter.
Classes will be held at the ERUEV Farm Project Greenhouse on Enright Avenue, off W. 8th St. in Price Hill (five houses north of W. 8th on Enright). Freewill offerings accepted as donations to cover costs. For more information or to reserve space in one or both workshops call Nancy at 859 240-6140 or email her.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Avoiding Factory Farmed Foods: An Eater's Guide

Over at Fresh, guest blogger Nicolette Hahn Niman (wife of Niman Ranch founder Bill Niman and author of Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms) shares a comprehensive list of pointers for those interested in breaking free of the supermarket. Well worth a look.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ohio River Valley Annual Barrel Tasting Tour November 28th

The following five Southern Ohio wineries will again team up for the third annual Ohio River Valley Barrel Tasting Tour on Saturday, November 28th.

Kinkead Ridge Estate Winery: Taste medal-winning wines and sample red releases directly from the barrel. Tasting fees $3 - $6. 10am - 6pm. 904 Hamburg Street, Ripley. Overflow parking at the large white building across the street. For more information, call 937.392.6077.

Harmony Hill Vineyards: Barrel sample 2009 Woodwind, 2009 Rubato, 2008 Rhapsody. Tasting fees $2 - $4. Noon - 6pm. 2534 Swings Corner-Point Isabel Rd, Bethel. For more information call 513.734.3548.

Burnet Ridge: Tasting fee $15. By appointment, noon - 5pm. 6721 Richard Ave, North College Hill. For more information or to make an appointment call 513.522.4203.

Henke Winery: Tasting fee: 5 wines for $10, includes cellar tour. Reservations required; noon - 6pm. Also offering brunch 11am - 2pm with a Brunch & Barrel Tasting Special. 3077 Harrison Ave, Cincinnati. For more information or to make an appointment call 513.662.9463.

Woodstone Creek: Tasting fees $1.50 - $3.50. 1 - 5pm. 361 Newton Ave, Cincinnati. For more information call 513.569.0300.

Here's a nice map of area wineries from Michelle over at My Wine Education.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

College Hill Farmers' Market Moves Indoors For Winter

The Farm Market of College Hill is moving inside to the College Hill Coffee Company. Vendors attending will include:

  • Madison’s Produce: Organic and local fresh fruit and veggies all winter
  • Shadeau Bread: Gary Skitt will be selling bread and free range eggs
  • Wooden Shoe Garden: David Rosenberg will have organic micro-greens
  • Fab Ferments: Jennifer and Jordan will have raw organic fermented veggies
  • Yoder Farms: Baked goods, and talk to Vern about his herd share
Thursdays 3 - 5:30 until the market moves back outdoors in the spring. 6128 Hamilton Ave. For more information, email David.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkeys

You can still place an order for a fresh (never frozen), pasture-raised turkey from the following local farms:

Eaton Farm: Heritage breeds Bourbon Red ($100/bird) and Broad Breasted Bronze ($80/bird) will be delivered to Cincinnati on Wednesday, November 25th (the day before Thanksgiving) and will average 18-25 pounds dressed. Contact Elizabeth via the email link on their Local Harvest listing.

Green Acres: Turkeys will be available for pickup Wednesday, November 25th (the day before Thanksgiving) and will average about 20 pounds and sell for $3.99/lb. 8255 Spooky Hollow Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45242 (Indian Hill). Call Peggy at 513 891-4227 or email her for more information.

Johnson Poultry: Pickups in Wilmington and Lebanon. $2.20/lb. For more information email Walter.

Tewes Poultry: The farm is located off I-75 at the Buttermilk Pike Exit in Northern Kentucky (about 10 minutes from downtown Cincinnati). Fresh turkeys are dressed out weekly, each Thursday through New Years, upon request. For Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, turkeys will be available for pick-up starting the Saturday before and up until the eve of the holiday. $2.00 lb. To order or for more information, call 859 341-8844.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Northside Farmers' Market Moves Indoors For Winter

Starting tomorrow (Wednesday, November 4th) the Northside Farmers Market will move inside to the North Presbyterian Church Auditorium at 4222 Hamilton Avenue (across from the Northside Library).

Fifteen vendors will provide various goods, including apples, cider, eggs, assorted meats, bread, autumn produce, honey, cheese, locally roasted coffee, micro-greens, and baked goods, including:

Backyard Orchards: apples, cider

Idyllwild Farms: autumn produce, salad mix, braising greens, herbs

Back Acres Farm: raw milk cheese, eggs, grass-fed beef, whole hog sausage, American lamb, poultry, and autumn produce

Shadeau Bakery: breads, pastries

Farmer Mike: autumn produce, salsa

Fab Ferments: organic, naturally fermented veggies, kombucha, beet kvass

Rising Sun Farms: honey, pork, greens, eggs, autumn veggies

Cluxton Alley Coffee Roasters: coffee beans, baked goods, coffee/tea

Organic Micro-Greens: assorted micro greens

Wind Dance Farm: herbs, greens, winter squash, apples

Village Green Gardens: greens, bread

Carriage House Farm: honey

Janelson Arts: jams, breads, cookies

North Presbyterian Church Auditorium at 4222 Hamilton Avenue on Wednesdays 4:00- 7:30pm from now until the market moves back outside in the spring. For more information contact Robin Henderson via email or at 513-591-0083.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Chicken-Keeping in Mariemont

The Village of Mariemont, which currently has no regulations concerning the keeping of chickens, is reportedly planning to consider the issue at tonight's Council meeting (Monday Nov 8 at 7:30). The Municipal Building is at 6907 Wooster Pike. If you're in Mariemont and you have any idea of EVER keeping chickens, this would be a very important meeting to attend. Right now chickens are legal. If you want to keep it that way, you need to let your Village officials know how you feel.

Tonight's agenda has been posted, and the issue of chicken-keeping is not on it. However, given that a city employee told me this would be discussed tonight, I think it's still important to attend. If the issue doesn't come up, bring it up during the portion of the meeting reserved for "Permission to Address Council."

I'll be there tonight!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Holiday Master's Canning Gift Basket Class

Sonya over at Jam and Jelly Lady in Lebanon has spots available in tomorrow's (Monday November 9th, 6:30 - 9:30) Holiday Master’s Canning Class.  Bring a small basket appropriate for two jars, and in class you'll make and fill the jars with with Holiday Chutney and Cran-Raspberry Jam and then make a wired ribbon bow and “stage” the basket for gifting. 

For more information call Sonya at 513.932.6470 or email her

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Our Unplanned Hiatus

So sorry for the unannounced (and unplanned) hiatus -- I was crazy busy with Farmers' Fair 2009 and now with another project that will be ending soon. With any luck, I'll be back to posting sometime around mid-November!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Reusable Shopping Bags from Renewable Resources

I run a CSA type program called a Farm Share Initiative (okay it IS a CSA but I have found when you do a search on Ohio CSA you tend to get a lot of hits for Confederate States of America before Community Supported Agriculture and around here that could mean a lot of PU trucks arriving with full gun racks and confederate flags proudly displayed. Not exactly the crowd I want to attract). I started out the season back in April loading the members shares into non reusable plastic shopping bags (okay, these were all reused several times and came to me used but...). So I got to thinking about the whole carbon foot print thing and the huge and growing plastic island out in the Pacific ocean and decided I needed something other than the reused nonreusable plastic bags to pack the shares into.

I considered buying some sort of plastic tote-styrofoam coolers or storage boxes for the members. But here again this is using virgin plastic (and types that are not easily recyclable). Plus this would be an added cost to the farm which, while profitable (we keep out of debt and get the bills paid as long as we live simply and cheaply), is not raking in the bucks. I also considered buying shopping bags for the members but realized we all have too many such bags in our lives and many are not used.

So I hit on the idea of asking my members to supply their own bags. They could bring to the farm their reusable bags that they are not using. This has been a hit, over 75% of the members have supplied me with bags (I figure the other 25% are not complying as they do not read the weekly newsletters or they bring them but leave them in their vehicle as they would when they go shopping at the grocery store or farmers market, an all too common problem).

But I have noticed something about the reusable shopping bags, unless they are over 5 years old, they are made out of plastic. I think the Whole Foods bags are the worst, but Kroger and Wal-mart ain't much better. Most of the cloth bags I have received are from non food/grocery sources-libraries, universities, churches, etc.. I am assuming that these plastic bags are using recycled plastic, though I do not know this for sure. And if they are using post consumer plastic what % of this kind of plastic in the bags?

But the real question is what has happened to reusable shopping bags being made from natural sources like cotton, kenaf, bamboo etc.?

I know they are out there as the Oxford Uptown Farmers Market uses cotton bags as a premium for their Friends of the Market Program. So why don't the big corps use some truly renewable/natural material for the bags they sell to the public?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Farmers' Fair 2009 Sept 26 - 27 in Covington

Farmers' Fair 2009 will showcase local farmers and foods at their first-ever celebration of local foods Sept 26 and 27 at Greenup Street and Park Place in Covington.

Saturday evening 5pm-10pm is the kickoff celebration featuring samples of local foods prepared by local chefs, tastings of local beers and wines, and live music.

Sunday 11am-4pm is the farmers' market and more. Local farmers, growers, and producers will be selling locally grown and raised foods. The event will also feature tastings, educational exhibits including beekeeping, home brewing, composting, gardening, and more for adults and children.

The events are free and open to the public. Vendors are still welcome. For more information, visit the website at

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tomato Canning Class from Slow Food Cincinnati

Slow Food Cincinnati and Turner Farm are offering a hands-on field-to-pantry canning class with home canning expert Lydia Hirsh.  Participants will harvest organic tomatoes straight from the vine, peel, dice, pack, and process the tomatoes, and leave with 3 wide-mouth pint jars of chopped tomatoes.  All necessary equipment along with step by step instructions provided. 

$35 per person.  8:30am - 1pm, Saturday August 22nd.  Turner Farm, 7400 Given Road, 45243 (Indian Hill.)  For more information or to reserve space, call 513-561-7400 or email

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

At Wyoming Farmers' Market this week

From Wyoming Farmers' Market:

Nancy Ellwood from the MSD of Greater Cincinnati will be at Market this week with a team to survey Market goers interest in a rain barrel program. The survey is short, just 3 questions, and you can learn about using a rain barrel to water your garden.

The Market book group meets at Gabby's tomorrow night at 8pm to chew over Fast Food My Way by Jacques Pepin.

Be sure to see our farmers this week:

* Mohr Animal Acres—Chicken, beef, pork, goat, lamb, eggs, goat’s milk fudge, cheeses, goat’s milk soaps and lotions.

* RJ Veggies— Sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet onions, sweet peppers, hot peppers, green beans, new potatoes, kohlrabi, fennel, herbs, kale, collard greens, beets. We checked the watermelons today and some are ready. We will have some flowers.

* Walnut Ridge—Tomatoes & Cantaloupe-will be available at the Market tent, they are taking care of family today.

Don’t miss our cottage vendors:

* Blackbird Pond—Soap, shampoo bars (great for traveling!) sachets, facial steams, herbal foot bath, potpourri, lavender bath salts and sachets, and moth repelling sachets.

* Blue Oven Bakery-A variety of artisan breads baked in a wood-fired oven.

* Donna's Gourmet Cookies—A variety of cookies, brownies, iced cookies and granola. Assorted Quiches and croissants (chocolate, and ham and cheese).

* Five Star Foodies-prepared vegan entrees, soups, and drinks.

* La Terza Coffee—Whole bean and ground locally roasted coffee in half-pound and 1-pound bags. Indian Monsooned Malabar, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, New Guinea Purosa, Brazil Daterra Estate Villa Borghesi, Decaf Brazil. Will be taking orders for Cup of Excellence Columbian and naturally grown decaf-Brazil Daterra Estate Opus One. Espresso drinks on site.

* Sweet Miss Confections— In honor of National Junk Food Day, which is an opportunity to guiltlessly eat your favorite Junk Food, I will have tons of Carmelious Corn, new packaging, now using bio-degradable packages! Also;ChocolateTruffles, Shortcakes, made with Snowville Creamery Cream! Also Crazy Raisin Cranberry Granola.

* Taste of Belgium—Authentic Belgian waffles to eat on-site or take home.

Now Accepting plastic (the very reusable kind) !

A new terminal at the Market Information Booth will allow shoppers to swipe a credit card (Visa or MasterCard) or electronic food stamp card. Market tokens are 19 for $20; cash bonus, buy 19, get 1 free. Ohio Direction users may purchase any amount of tokens they need. No more worries about running out of cash!

Won’t You Be Our Friend?

Look for the Wyoming Ave Farmers’ Market’s page on Facebook and join our online community! Get up-to-the-minute updates on Market Day -- follow us on Twitter (WyomFarmMkt)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Michael Pollan at Xavier

Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, will speak at Xavier University as part of their Ethics, Religion, and Society Lecture Series. 

Sunday September 27, 1 - 3 PM, Schiff Family Conference Center.  Free.  For more information, call 513.745.3279, email, or visit the website

Friday, July 17, 2009

Backyard Chickens at Civic Garden Center

The Civic Garden Center is offering Chickens in the City, a class on backyard chicken-keeping with instructors Tom Cail, Corina Bullock, and a panel of other chicken-keepers who will discuss choosing breeds, chicken care, coops, local chicken-keeping ordinances, and other topics.

Saturday July 25, 3 - 4:30pm.  2715 Reading Road, 45206 (Avondale.)  $10, free for Civic Garden Center members. Register online or by calling 513-221-0981.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lunch On The Land: a Fundraiser for Findlay Market

Turner Farm is hosting Lunch On The Land, a fundraiser for Findlay Market.  A tour of Turner will be followed by a five-course gourmet meal prepared by local chefs Jean-Robert de Cavel, Julie Francis (Nectar), Joanne Drilling (Slims), Summer Genetti (The Palace), Jody Miller (Bouchard’s), Dave Taylor & Luke Radkey (Lavomatic), Victor Brown (Molly Malone’s), De Stewart (Herbs & Spice), Joshua Campbell (World Food Bar), Matt Madison (Madisono’s Gelato), Debbie Spangler (Yummy-issimo), and local food writer Rita Heikenfeld, prepared and served on site at Turner. Keynote speech by Amy Tobin (EQ Culinary Director) and wines chosen by Sommelier Jeff Hickenlooper (Vanguard Wines.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009, 1 - 5pm.  7400 Given Road, 45243 (Indian Hill.)  $125 per person.  Reserve online or by calling 513 665 4839.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Linda Lou's Sweet Pickle Chunks

Over on Gardenweb's Harvest Forum, canning expert (she's a Master Food Preserver) Linda Lou is famous for her sweet pickle chunks, a 9-day pickle that turns out so crunchy it almost seems supernatural. I recommend making a double batch, as along about Day 7 you're going to have a hard time keeping your family from stealing these out of the crock before you can get them canned. This is a great recipe for beginning canners. We demo'd this recipe at Hyde Park Farmers' Market July 5th.

Linda Lou's Sweet Pickle Chunks
Makes 8 pints

24 pickling cucumbers (choose slender 6-inch cucumbers of similar size and even shape, preferably picked within the past 24 hours.)
12 c sugar
6 c cider vinegar
5 t pickling and canning salt
3 T pickling spices, tied in a bag

Day 1: Cover cucumbers with cold water and discard any that float. Wash gently in several changes of water. Discard any that aren't firm and fresh. Cut 1/16 inch off of each end. Place whole cucumbers into a large sterile (I use a five-gallon food-grade bucket) container and pour enough boiling water over them to cover. Weight them (I use a dinner plate) so that all are completely submerged. Leave at cool room temperature (not above 75 degrees F.)

Days 2, 3 & 4: Drain water off cucumbers. Rinse well. Rinse bowl and plate. Pour fresh boiling water over to cover and weight so that cucumbers are covered. If at any point you notice a scum forming, don't worry -- just rinse the cucumbers well and wash and rinse the container and plate that day. If you see mold forming or the cucumbers develop a nasty smell, compost the batch.

Day 5: Drain cucumbers, rinse well, and cut into 1" chunks. Make a syrup by combining the sugar, vinegar, salt, and pickling spices bag and bring it to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Pour syrup (along with pickling spice bag) over cucumbers and weight so they're covered.

Days 6, 7 & 8: Drain cucumbers, retaining syrup. Reheat syrup (with pickling spice bag) to boiling. Pour over cucumbers and weight so they're covered.

Day 9: Prepare pint canning jars. Drain cucumbers, retaining syrup. Remove pickling spice bag and reheat syrup to boiling. Pack chunks into jars and cover with hot syrup, leaving 1/2" head space. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ohio Proud's Kitchen-on-Wheels at Market on the Hill

The Ohio Proud Kitchen-on-Wheels is designed to educate consumers about products that are made in Ohio and grown in Ohio through cooking demonstrations. The kitchen travels around the State of Ohio promoting Ohio Proud products at fairs, festivals, trade shows and special events. It consists of a 24 foot trailer that has the look and feel of a home kitchen. Three large screen monitors will display the demonstrations to the audience. The outside shell of the Ohio Proud kitchen will be a traveling billboard showcasing a graphic wrap of Ohio agriculture.

The kitchen will make its only 2009 appearance in Southwest Ohio on July 25 at 'The Market On The Hill' farmers market located at Harmony Hill Vineyards & Estate Winery. At this event, Icelandic lamb, grass fed beef and free range chicken from Graceful Grazers and organic vegetables from Cundiff Farms will be prepared by local grillmasters, Page Block and Nancy Radke, and distributed as small samples for any visitors to Harmony Hill. 'The Kitchen' will open at 2pm and samples will be served until the food runs out. Do your part to support local farmers and producers.

Market On The Hill, 2 - 6pm Saturday July 25, 2534 Swings Corner Point Isabel Road, Bethel. No charge.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Forbes: Raw Milk, Pastured Meats among the "10 Healthiest Foods" has a new article out listing raw milk and grass-fed meats as among the healthiest foods on earth.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Chickens for Montgomery on Facebook

On July 1, Montgomery City Council passed a new ordinance that criminalized the keeping of chickens, which have always been legal in Montgomery. The ordinance goes into effect August 1, but Planning Commission has recommended that land usage codes also be updated to continue to allow chickens with a few restrictions intended to keep them from becoming an annoyance to neighbors:
  • No more than six chickens
  • No roosters
  • Chickens must be contained
  • Coops and enclosures must adhere to the setbacks and property maintenance codes and not be visible from the street
Given that there are currently chickens being kept by multiple households in Montgomery with no complaints (the police say they haven't had a complaint since the 1970s, when a family in the Shadowhill neighborhood was keeping a rooster) we feel these limitations are a fair compromise between allowing chicken-keeping and preventing any problems with chickens.

If you're on Facebook and would like to show your support of efforts to keep chickens legal in Montgomery, please join the Facebook group Chickens for Montgomery.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Super Sunday Suppers at Granny's Garden School

Granny's Garden School, the largest and most comprehensive school garden program in the Midwest, is offering a series of three family-oriented Super Sunday Suppers, a unique opportunity to assist in the entire garden-to-table process. Guests will participate in every aspect of the meal from harvesting, cleaning and preparing the meal under the supervision of a local chef, gathering bouquets, setting the table, and cleaning up afterward. Each meal's menu is determined by what is ready to harvest that week from the school's gardens at Loveland Primary/Elementary.

JULY 12: Philippe Audax, Executive Chef, Thomas More College, will be joined by fellow chefs Spyros Gravas & Ian Sroufe and local food writer Rita Heikenfeld.

AUGUST 9: Mark Metcalfe, Owner & Chef, Veg Head

SEPTEMBER 13: Shawn Hobson, Chef, The Works

Sundays, 6 to 9 pm, 600 Loveland-Madeira Rd. $15 per diner (Children four and under free.) Seating is limited. For reservations email or call 513-324-2873, or make your reservation online.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Food Safety Enhancement Act HR 2749

What appears to be an extremely silly law is now before Congress.

HR 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act (FSEA) treats every food producer from Blue Oven Bakery, a small artisan bakery that sells at many local farmers' markets, to food industry giant Kraft as if they're the same: as if the food they produce presents the same risks of adulteration and as if the same preventive measures are necessary for both. This just isn't the case; small artisan producers are providing safe, healthy, sustainably-produced foods made by hand, often using traditional methods that have been in use for centuries and sourcing local ingredients from small farmers. Such foods are already safe, and in fact are the solution to our country's food safety problems. We should be encouraging these producers into the market, not erecting more barriers for them. This new bill will erect barriers, possibly insurmountable ones, to local artisan food producers.

For example: the bill requires every food producer to pay a $500 fee and undertake a "hazard analysis" to prevent their food from presenting a safety hazard to the public. So Blue Oven and other local artisan food producers such as Fab Ferments (which make fermented sauerkrauts and sells them at local farmers' markets) and Linwood Sausage Co. (which makes artisan sausages and sells them at Hyde Park FM) will pay the same fee as Nestle or Kellogg's and be saddled with the same paperwork burden. I'm thinking Nestle and Kellogg's won't miss the $500 and can probably absorb the costs of developing their "hazard analysis." I don't think the same can be said for Blue Oven Bakery.

Here's another example: Food producers engaging in "interstate shipping" must develop a "Food Safety Plan." Again, it doesn't matter how small or new a producer is or how they produce their food product. Capriole, a small goat cheese maker in Indiana who might want to sell at Ohio or Kentucky farmers' markets, is treated the same as Tyson, which ships tons of factory-farmed chicken to all fifty states. Under HR 2749, both will be required to develop a food safety plan including these elements:

  1. preventive controls being implemented;
  2. procedure for monitoring preventive controls;
  3. procedures for taking corrective action;
  4. verification activities for the preventive controls, including validation, review of monitoring and corrective action records, and procedures for determining whether the preventive controls are effectively preventing, eliminating, or reducing to an acceptable level the occurrence of identified hazards or conditions;
  5. recordkeeping procedures;
  6. procedures for the recall of articles of food, whether voluntarily or when required;
  7. procedures for the trace back of articles of food, whether voluntarily or when required;
  8. procedures to ensure a safe and secure supply chain for the ingredients or components used in making the food manufactured, processed, packed, transported or held by such facility; and
  9. procedures to implement the science-based performance standards issued.
I'm thinking this will put some of our artisan producers out of business.

It's always difficult to parse out the various reasons people are against any new law to figure out whether it's hysteria from those who simply distrust the government (though I have a lot of sympathy for these folks, too) or whether the provisions in a certain law are really as alarming as some would have us believe. For instance, I've seen headlines trumpeting that this law would "control home breadmaking." Uh, no, it won't, and such headlines just make those opposing this bill look like hysterical alarmists. It's easy to dismiss alarmists; let's dial down the hysteria. However, this bill, if passed in its current form, will make it significantly more difficult for small and artisan food producers to start and maintain a viable business. This will make it harder to find such foods. This bill, if passed as written, will actually make the food safety problem worse by eliminating sources of good, healthy, locally-produced artisan food products.

I believe small, new, and artisan food producers should be exempted from this law. At the very least, I believe that the compliance requirements should be as reasonable for Just Cured, who source and smoke sustainably-produced salmon, as it is for Hormel -- which means that Just Cured probably ought to pay $25 to register and be required simply to maintain records of purchases so that if a food safety issue arises, those records can be used to figure out what happened. But to require Just Cured or Blue Oven or Fab Ferments to jump through the same hoops as Pepsico and Heinz is not only silly but doesn't address the fact that Fab Ferments, which uses traditional fermenting methods to produce sauerkraut the same way it's been produced for centuries, isn't the source of the food safety problems we've seen over the past ten years. Artisans don't cause e.coli outbreaks. Industrial food giants do. Artisan food producers are the solution, not the problem. Let's ask our lawmakers to recognize that.

I'm not sure the answer is to ask our lawmakers to simply vote against this bill. We do need to address food safety issues in our industrial food supply. But we don't need to behave as if those same problems are inherent in all food production. They aren't.

Ask your congressperson to change this bill to exempt small, new, and artisan food producers. To email your congressperson, visit the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund's petition page, which takes you to a handy form where you can enter your address. Enter your message in the blank box, and it will be sent to your congressional representative. The message I'm recommending you send is this:
I believe small, new, and artisan food producers should be exempted from this bill. They are not the problem. They are the SOLUTION to our food safety problems. We should not be creating new barriers to entry and new compliance burdens for these small producers of healthy food.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Screening of Fresh Friday June 26

Wyoming Farmers' Market has arranged a showing of the movie Fresh. From the Fresh website:

Fresh celebrates the farmers and businesses who are re-inventing the American food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture into an industrial model, and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and morbid obesity. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for a future of our food and our planet.
Fresh features urban farmer and activist, Will Allen, the recipient of MacArthur’s 2008 Genius Award; sustainable farmer and entrepreneur Joel Salatin, made famous by Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma; and supermarket owner David Ball, challenging our Wal-Mart dominated economy.

The film will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Guy and Sandy Ashmore of That Guy's Family Farm, Warren Taylor of Snowville Creamery, Imago co-founder Jim Schenk, and Chef Mary Swartwood.

Friday, June 26th, 7:30pm, at Wyoming High School's Pendery Center, 106 Pendery Ave. $14. For map, directions, and to purchase tickets online, visit the Wyoming Farmers' Market website.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chalk Food+Wine Menu

The current menu at Chalk Food+Wine (318 Greenup Street, Covington, 41011) calls out several local farms supplying ingredients, including Carriage House Farms, Duncan Farms, Neltner Farms, Walnut Ridge Acres, Sheltowee Farms, and their own Relish garden. 

I'm really happy to see this.  It's been difficult to know which local restaurants are sourcing locally when so few menus call out their local suppliers, and seeing this information on menus is very helpful.

I had dinner last Friday with some friends, and while I don't feel qualified to do restaurant reviews, I do have to say that the Summer Bean Cassoulet (with green beans and edamame in a broth flavored with pecorino romano) on the current menu is one of the best things I've tasted in a very long time.  I think I could literally eat it every day and not get tired of it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Chicken Manifesto

Last night, the City of Montgomery's Planning Commission considered what possible exemptions to Montgomery's proposed new "Ordinance Prohibiting Farm Animals" they would recommend to City Council.

We'd done quite a bit of research to try to demonstrate to the Planning Commission that it was absolutely possible to allow chickens without causing a nuisance. Last week, we finished work on a document called "Chickens for Montgomery" and gave copies of it to City Hall to distribute to the Planning Commission and City Council.

I am happy to report that the Planning Commission voted 5 - 1 (one member of the 7-member commission was not in attendance) to recommend the zoning/land use codes be revised to allow up to 6 chickens, no roosters, with chickens required to be contained and enclosures required to be no closer than 15 feet to property lines. We feel this is a very fair outcome, and provides an excellent basis for allowing Montgomery residents to keep chickens while still addressing possible concerns from the rest of the community.

We aren't sure how likely City Council is to accept this recommendation. They have no requirement to do so, I don't think, so we do still need to show them there's support for this. But I am feeling very positive, and very grateful to the Planning Commission for taking what I think is an extremely open-minded approach to the question. I'm sure most of them probably originally thought, when City Council first asked them to consider this issue, that of course Montgomery wouldn't want to allow chickens. But they really listened to us, and last night spent a very long time discussing what additional restrictions might be needed and which possible issues could be addressed by current ordinances regarding noise, odors, setbacks, etc. They asked questions, and they were very fair in considering our responses. For instance, their initial idea for limiting the number of chickens was 4, but when we told them that most day-old chicks could only be sold in quantities of six, they changed their motion to allow up to 6 chickens.

The document -- which my husband is calling my 'Chicken Manifesto' -- is unfortunately at 12MB too large to be uploaded to any free file-sharing sites, but I've got it in both a .pdf file and a Word 2008 file, so if anyone wants a copy, please email me and tell me which version you'd like me to email you. (If you don't have Word 2008, I'd recommend asking for the .pdf file, as converting it to Word 2004 causes significant formatting changes which make the document much less usable.)

And if anyone has server space and would like to host this document so that it can be downloaded and used as a template by other chicken-keeping groups trying to change their town's laws, let me know! Anyone interested in using it for their own efforts on behalf of chicken-keepers should feel free to do so with my blessing. My sincere thanks to Chickens In The Yard, whose own similar document provided a template from which to work.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Locavore Dinner Series at Nectar

 Nectar (1000 Delta Ave, 45208) is offering another Locavore series of dinners. 

  • June 25 & July 23: The Delicate Sweetness of Berries with Vicky Tewes, Thistlehair Farm, Union Kentucky.  The June dinner will feature bluerberries and the July dinner will feature blackberries. 
    August 13 & August 20: Peaches, the Flavor of Summer with Beiersdorfer Orchard, Southeastern Indiana. 
  • September 10 & 17: Chiles, A Spicy Harvest with Nancy Ogg, Shady Grove Farm, Corinth Kentucky.
All dinners start at 7pm.  $55 per person.  For reservations, call 929-0525.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Slow Food Potluck

Slow Food Cincinnati and Gorman Heritage Farm (10052 Reading Road, Evendale 45241) are offering a potluck lunch to celebrate the late spring bounty on Saturday, June 13th. They ask those interested to stop by their local farmers market that morning (here's a link to CORV, which lists farmers' markets on a given day) and make a seasonal dish to share with the group.

The event will start at 1PM for those interested in a farm tour and 2:30PM for the pot luck. $8 for admission and tour/$5 for general admission to the farm with no tour. For more details or to RSVP, email Laura.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chicken-Keeping and Property Values

I've been doing a lot of research on chicken-keeping in Greater Cincinnati over the past few weeks since the City of Montgomery proposed an ordinance prohibiting 'farm animals' (including a few backyard chickens) on lots of less than three acres. As I'm hard pressed to think of even a single noncommercial property of three acres that isn't city-owned, this effectively will prohibit residents from keeping backyard chickens.

As one of the key issues for a lot of folks seems to be whether or not chicken-keeping will hurt property values, I started there. Here's what I've found:

Communities which allow chicken-keeping tend to have HIGHER property values than those that prohibit it.
Here's the data (please do call any mistakes to my attention -- this is the best I could determine from various communities' ordinances as posted online):

Chicken-Keeping Ordinances*
2007 Average Home Sales Price**
Indian Hill
Terrace Park
Generally Permit
$ 400K
$ 345K
Generally Permit
$ 326K
Symmes Township
$ 313K
Generally Permit (currently)
$ 297K
Generally Permit
$ 288K
Generally Permit
$ 274K
Essentially Prohibit
$ 213K
Generally Permit
$ 212K
Blue Ash
Case by Case***
$ 202K
Generally Permit
$ 174K
Essentially Prohibit
$ 166K
Sycamore Township
Essentially Prohibit
$ 165K
$ 157K
Generally Permit
$ 152K
Essentially Prohibit
$ 144K
$ 131K
Deer Park
Generally Permit
$ 130K
Essentially Prohibit
$ 127K
St Bernard
Generally Permit
$ 124K
$ 119K
Mt Healthy
Essentially Prohibit
$ 116K
* Generally Permit: chicken keeping is allowed under minor restrictions intended to prevent chickens from becoming a nuisance. Restricted: chicken-keeping is allowed, but ordinances will prevent a significant number of residents from keeping chickens. Essentially Prohibit: chickens are allowed under such profound restrictions as to prevent most residents from keeping chickens.
** Source:
*** Blue Ash requires "suburban farms" practicing "poultry husbandry" to have at least five acres, but they don't define "poultry husbandry." The city compliance inspector I asked about this said that a few backyard chickens would likely be handled on a case-by-case basis if there were complaints.

Now, I'd never use this data to argue that keeping chickens actually raises property values, but it certainly doesn't prove the opposite, either.

Montgomery is giving their proposed ordinance its second of three required public readings at tomorrow's meeting (Wednesday June 3, 7:00, 10101 Montgomery Rd) if anyone would like to attend, if only to provide evidence that I'm not just the Crazy Chicken Lady of Montgomery. The last meeting I attended started right on time and ended at 7:35, so there's not a huge time commitment to showing your support for suburban chicken-keeping!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Vote for America's Favorite Farmers' Market

American Farmland Trust is running a "Favorite Farmers' Market" contest. See if your market is listed (or download a flyer for to give to the farmers' market manager if it isn't) and then vote for your favorite market. Top vote getters in for small, medium, and large farmers' markets will win inning farmers' markets will receive No Farms No Food totebags to use in customer giveaways.

Currently NO local farmers' markets are listed, so get going and dowload those flyers to give to your favorite markets' manager this week.