Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Sharon Kitchens is a neo-homesteader learning the ins and outs of country living by luck and pluck and a lot of expert advice. She writes about bees for The Huffington Post and stuff she loves on her personal blog, deliciousmusings.com.
When she is not writing, she enjoys edible gardening, reading books on food and/or thinking about food, hanging out by her beehives and patiently tracking down her chickens in the woods behind her old farmhouse.
In her blog, Sharon profiles farm families, reports on farm-based education and internships, conducts Q&A's with master beekeepers, offers tips on picking a CSA, and much more.
Colman Andrews, editorial director of the Daily Meal.com, and a cofounder of Saveur magazine, has a new book out called Taste of America. The winner of eight James Beard journalism and book awards, Andrews has written books about cooking in Italy, Ireland, the Mediterranean, and the great Spanish chef Ferran Adrià. In The Taste of America he turns his attention back to America’s shores with the ever so essential question: If you are what you eat, what does America taste like? It turns out 250 edible items including Maine’s own Congdon’s Doughnuts, saltines, rainbow trout, bratwurst, maple syrup, lima beans, persimmons, and jelly beans.
Recently, I had the privilege of speaking with Andrews about his book, Maine seafood, and the state of food writing in America. Following is an edited version of our conversation….
For the record I like that you included junk food. Do you feel you have had to justify including it?
A drawing by Master Butcher Hans Sebald of pig parts.
Take it from me, buying pork direct from a farmer will mean (a) you will never ever buy it again from a run of the mill supermarket – at least if you can help it (b) you need a freezer (c) you need to have or acquire patience (d) you need a farmer you can trust.
Practically speaking you should probably find the farmer first. That’s pretty easy in Maine thanks to the direct access you have to farmers via the plethora of outstanding farmers’ markets. If a farmer is selling meat he/she might be willing to sell you a whole pig or know someone who would. During the winter, when access to markets is more limited, you could search the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s farm database.
"Wabanaki - Molly Muise, Mi'Kmaq", 2013. Image Copyright 2013 Scott Kelley, Courtesy of Dowling Walsh Gallery, Rockland, ME
In writing about Maine’s food sources I believe it is essential to look at the practices of those early Native Americans who inhabited Northern New England. In Maine there are a number of Indian tribes – we have the Wabanaki, a confederacy of Algonquin tribes, and other tribes stretching down the coast. Over the course of the next few weeks this blog will focus on the Maliseet, Micmac, Penobscot and Passamaquoddy, known collectively as the Wabanaki, "People of the Dawnland."
Helping guide this series is George Neptune, Museum Educator at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine. With Neptune’s help we will begin the Root’s Native American series with a look at oral traditions. While, as Neptune explained to me, many are fantastical in nature, he stressed the importance of understanding these stories as ways of understanding important historical events through a very specific cultural lens. According to Neptune, it cannot be said what the significance of Wabanaki stories is within Wabanaki culture, because each story has it's own significance.
Wild blueberry farmers in Washington County.
Today the House and Senate agriculture leaders announced a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on a five-year farm bill. The House is expected to vote on the 900 plus page bill Wednesday morning and the Senate could then vote on the bill as early as next week.
The overdue bill has a huge impact this country, with more than 16 million Americans working in agriculture related fields.
Hand pieced blocks for a Farmer's Wife quilt. Image by Shelby Faux, courtesy of Alewives Fabrics.
In recent years people have become fascinated with rural life. An increase in farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture has helped fuel this interest, by offering opportunities for customers to engage with the very person who grew the tomatoes and raised the chickens that laid the eggs they will serve to their family for breakfast. With more people taking an interest in how their food is grown, the idea of self-sufficiency has also begun to take hold. People want to learn how to make cheese, raise a small flock of backyard chickens, pickle and preserve fruits and vegetables, and other skills more often associated with a 19th-century farmer than a 21st-century urban dweller.
Helping to propel one’s dream of being a “hobby farmer” is the digital world and sites like Flickr and Pinterest, where thousands of beautiful and inspiring images are shared daily.