Archive for August, 2009


It now seems amazing to me that that at the time of my last posting about our vegetable garden in mid-July, we were just getting a handful of Early Girl tomatoes.  For weeks now tomatoes of many hues and varieties have poured forth from our garden, averaging 30-50 per day.  (This on top of everything else mentioned earlier, with recent additions of carrots, eggplants, leeks, and melons).

Keeping up with this outpouring of tomatoes has been a challenge.  We’ve been eating lots of gazpacho (there’s a nice simple recipe at Farmgirl Fare that not only dispenses with peeling and seeding, but with tomato juice as well),  tomato sauce (click here for one favorite recipe, but follow the option for using fresh tomatoes) and salsa, salads (here’s a great recipe for black bean and tomato quinoa, although you can dispense with the complicated instructions for cooking quinoa and just cook it like rice, fluffing it up at the end), and of course tons of sliced tomatoes.  But that’s made only a small dent, so we’ve been freezing tomatoes in various forms (but mainly just cored, bagged, and popped into the freezer) for uses in soups and stews in the winter.  The fresh flavor holds amazingly well, even if the texture is mostly lost.

For my own memory and for fellow tomato growers (such as Donna, who posted a comment earlier on some of the varieties she is growing), I’m going to summarize and illustrate our experience over the past two years, when we began mainly to grow heirloom varieties rather than hybrids.  (The distinction between these is variable, but in my view the key thing is that heirloom varieties are open pollinated while hybrids are not, with the further observation that the point of most hybridization has focused on appearance, ease of mass transport, and supermarket shelf life, rather than flavor.)


We closed on the sale of our Cherry Hill house on August 7th, and soon our cars sported handsome plates from our new state (chosen by Monika to match our two cars), as may be seen below:


Almost every evening in Virginia we are treated to a spectacular sunset, but the one that greeted us shortly after our return was particularly so:


FoodInc_movie_poster-large fresh_poster_sm

The desire to escape as much as possible from the industrial food system and to participate in an alternative food culture was central to our retirement vision, and so it has been particularly gratifying to see two excellent films appear that both critique the system and explore alternatives:  Food Inc and Fresh.  Both film websites provide trailers and other resources, including book lists.

With author Michael Pollan and sustainable farmer Joel Salatin as maj0r figures in both movies, it is not surprising that they overlap a fair amount.  Still, the feel and the details are quite different.  Food Inc is more of a critique of the industrial food system and its truly devastating consequences, while Fresh tilts more towards documenting promising changes that point towards an alternative.  Overall they reinforce and complement each other nicely and Monika and I recommend all readers of this blog to see both!

Our only real complaint is that while both films make clear that it is public policy that subsidizes and creates the distortions of  industrial agriculture, both films end with a message of individualized consumer choice: vote with your food dollars for healthy and sustainable alternatives.  This is certainly good advice, but it ducks the difficult issue of policy reform, without which systemic change is unlikely.  It also sidesteps the contradictions of praising a company like Wal-Mart for stocking organic yogurt while ignoring the degree to which Wal-Mart is the antithesis of other values of the alternative food movement, such as local production and decent labor relations.

Still, it’s nice to see that food activists are finally getting a hearing, and to see evidence of change even here in Nelson County, where there is now not just one, but three weekly farmers markets and a broad array of organic and sustainable farms.  And it’s nice to have our property butt up against a pasture for grass-fed and free-range cattle!