March 3rd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Green Zebras. Bloody Butchers. Big Boys. Polish Linguisas.
Organic gardeners will have a literal field day with these and other tomato varieties at Tomatomania, billed as the world’s largest tomato seedling sale. The event will tour select cities from March 20 to May 23.
If the tour misses your area, you may purchase several collections online—from heirlooms to paste tomatoes used in cooking—from Litchfield, CT-based White Flower Farms, which also sells organic tomato fertilizer. Shipping begins next month.
Tomatomania proprietor Scott Daigre, owner of PowerPlant Garden Design in Los Angeles, will sell his book, Tomatomania! How to Grow Tomatoes Successfully in Southern California, at the shows.
Daigre also teaches a Crazy for Tomatoes! class at California State University, Northridge. The course covers soil preparation, staking, fertilizing, saving seeds and getting the best production.
Read More:Grow Organic Tomatoes
February 3rd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
The Fifth Annual Oregon Truffle Festival concluded its run on Sunday, showcasing what gastronomy experts call the ultimate mushroom.
Truffles are found naturally throughout North American woodlands and are poised to become the next big culinary trend.
“With seven truffle orchards in production around the country, and dozens more about to reach producing age, an American truffle industry is about to be born, following in the footsteps of the American wine industry,” says festival organizer and mycologist Charles Lefevre, PhD.
Some of the state’s premier chefs prepared luscious dishes for the festival’s Grand Truffle Dinner, including Naomi Pomeroy of Beast (Crème Fraiche Tarts with Triple Cream, Shaved White Truffles & Mâche Salad with Black Truffle Vinaigrette) and Pascal Sauton of Carafe (Pacific Ling Cod Effeuilée with Foie Gras & Black Truffle Broth).
One of the festival’s highlights was the Truffle Dog Training Seminar, where curious canines learned to hunt for truffles (which grow underground) by detecting their unique aroma. Pigs have traditionally performed this job in Europe.
“The truffle dog’s role is not just to find truffles, but like a shopper squeezing avocados or sniffing strawberries, truffle dogs choose which truffles are ripe and ready to harvest,” says Dr. Lefevre, founder of New World Truffieres, Eugene, OR-based specialists in truffle cultivation.
The truffle business is projected to exceed $6 billion within the next 20 years, “rivaling many other agricultural commodities traded worldwide,” according to a feasibility study Dr. Lefevre conducted. As the study notes, truffles can be managed sustainably with organic farming methods and:
“With adequate support, cultivated and native truffles produced in Oregon could annually exceed $200 million in direct sales income; counting secondary economic benefits, the value of the industry could exceed $1.5 billion. These figures rival the current value of the state’s lucrative wine industry and could be greater if Oregon pursues truffle production with similar passion and focus.”
Truffles usually cost $300 to $500 per pound, according to the National Restaurant Association, but rarer varieties can fetch up to $4,000 per pound. For an affordable option, buy a high-quality organic truffle oil at your local natural food store (or online).
OrganicAuthority Publisher Laura Klein shares some of her favorite truffle-oil recipes here:
- Wild Mushroom and Black Truffle Organic Risotto
- Grilled Heirloom Truffle Potatoes
- Homemade Organic Ricotta Cheese Served with Black Truffle Oil.
Photo by John Valls
Read More:Teasing the Taste Buds with Truffles
October 9th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Sunday marked the beginning of Animal Action Week, an International Fund for Animal Welfare campaign to teach both children and adults about biodiversity, habitat and ecosystems.
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, an IFAW honorary board member, is promoting the campaign, which provides schools with a free education pack and Under One Sky: Why Animals Matter, a 15-minute film he narrates. Click here for access to educational downloads. You’ll also find a wide selection of downloadable Animal Fact Sheets—great tools to share with your kids.
Students may enter an art contest, with the winning design to appear on next year’s campaign poster. Families are also encouraged to sign a global pledge to make lifestyle choices that better protect the environment we share with animals.
“Animals and their vital habitat face more threats than ever before,” DiCaprio says. “Animals, like people, need a home that provides food, water, shelter and space. It’s our responsibility to protect animals and our planet’s vital ecosystems if we want to leave a better world for future generations.”
For Your Organic Bookshelf: The Animal Ethics Reader
Read More:Teach Your Children to Share the Planet
October 6th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Toyota’s Solar Flowers exhibit has left San Francisco (see photo), arriving at its final tour stop in Glendale, Calif.
The oversized flower sculptures, on display at The Americana at Brand, are partially powered by solar panels on the backs of their petals and bases of their stems. Some of the flowers are up to 18 feet tall.
Five flowers provide seating for up to 10 people, access to free Wi-Fi service, and power to charge cell phones and laptops. Hours of operation are from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, now through Oct. 18.
The flowers are part of the 2010 Toyota Prius marketing campaign, whose theme is “Harmony Between Man, Nature and Machine.”
Glendale bus riders will find solar-ventilation bus shelters spread throughout the area, which feature rooftop solar panels that help run fans and circulate air. This experience is designed to demonstrate the Prius’ Solar-Powered Ventilation System, which uses a fan to draw outside air into the cabin to reduce cabin temperature when the car is parked in direct sunlight.
“It’s exciting to see how the public has really embraced both the displays and the vehicle,” says Tim Morrison, corporate manager of marketing communications for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.
Photo courtesy of:
Read More:Solar Flowers Bloom in L.A. County
October 5th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
During yesterday’s successful concert, Farm Aid leaders asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support measures that help family farmers thrive.
In the 1990s, broken farm policies and consolidated corporate food production forced nearly 80% of hog farmers out of business. According to Farm Aid, similar circumstances are causing dairy farmers to be paid less than half of what it costs to produce milk, and the United States risks losing thousands of dairy farmers this year alone.
At yesterday’s concert, Farm Aid representatives reiterated their request for the USDA to set a price for milk that covers the cost of production, which would guarantee dairy farmers a fair price that keeps them on their land. Farm Aid also asked the USDA to stop using taxpayer dollars to fund new and larger factory farms.
“Family farmers are the first rung of the economic ladder in this country,” said Farm Aid Founder and President Willie Nelson. “Against all odds, they have persevered and found ways to stay on their land, growing good food for all of us and creating strong communities. It’s time now for policy to rise to meet their needs with fair prices and support for their innovations.”
“We invite all Americans to join us in pressing for food production that protects our environment, our health and our economy,” added Executive Director Carolyn Mugar. “We are encouraged by the opportunity the new administration in Washington offers us all for making the needed changes.”
At the concert, USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan joined farmers and food advocates in a conversation about the many ways family farmers are rebuilding local and regional food systems and reenergizing the economy.
“Farmers face overwhelming challenges as they work each day to put food on our tables, and Farm Aid’s ongoing efforts on behalf of family farmers have helped put a human face on this vocation,” she said. “At the same time, there is a bright future for small- and mid-sized producers because there is an agricultural renaissance taking place in America. More and more consumers are wanting to better connect with their producers, and USDA’s new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative helps to accomplish that goal.”
For Your Organic Bookshelf: Farm Aid: A Song for America
Photo: Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve Inc. 2009
Read More:Farm Aid Calls for Agriculture Policy Changes
October 4th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Farm Aid’s 2009 Concert begins at 5 p.m. today (ET), with sets from Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Dave Matthews, Gretchen Wilson and Jason Mraz, among other performers.
DIRECTV will exclusively broadcast the event live and in HD on The 101 Network. The company has also pledged to match customer donations up to $50,000 through Oct. 31.
The concert will be streamed live on Farm Aid’s website. To make a $5 donation that helps family farmers, text FARMER to 90999 during the concert. Click here to donate online. To follow the event on Twitter, click here.
Farm Aid has partnered with St. Louis businesses to help achieve zero waste goals during the concert and add to the established Verizon Wireless Amphitheater recycling program.
With the help of Replenishing the Earth and Route 66 Organics, all compostable waste will be turned into agricultural material. Volunteers will help concertgoers differentiate between landfill-bound trash, recyclables and compostables.
The energy used to produce the concert will be offset by purchases of renewable energy certificates through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Farm Aid’s concert greening initiatives are underwritten by Horizon Organic and Silk Soymilk.
Photo by Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve Inc. 2008; courtesy of Farm Aid
Read More:Support Family Farmers Tonight!
September 27th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Country star Gretchen Wilson has joined the lineup of stars for the Oct. 4 Farm Aid concert in Maryland Heights, MO.
Already slated to appear are Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, Jason Mraz, Wilco, Jamey Johnson, Phosphorescent, Billy Joe Shaver, Will Dailey, Ernie Isley & the Jam Band, Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses, The Blackwood Quartet, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, and Titty Bingo.
DIRECTV will exclusively broadcast the event live and in HD on The 101 Network, beginning 5 p.m. ET. The company has also pledged to match customer donations up to $50,000 through Oct. 31.
Farm Aid 2009 will also be webcast and streamed live on the organization’s website, beginning 5 p.m. ET. To make a $5 donation that helps family farmers, text FARMER to 90999 during the concert. Click here to donate online. To follow the event on Twitter, click here.
A limited number of tickets are still available at livenation.com, the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater Box Office (877-598-8703) and participating Blockbuster stores.
“Farm Aid has deep roots in the Midwest that reach back to our first concert in Illinois in 1985,” says Willie Nelson, the organization’s president. “I’m looking forward to bringing my friends together on the Farm Aid stage to celebrate family farmers and the crucial work they do. Farmers do so much more than bring us the good food we all want to eat. America needs family farmers to revitalize our economy and make our country healthy.”
Presented by Horizon Organic, the event will once again feature HOMEGROWN concessions, with foods from regional family farms and local organic growers. The HOMEGROWN Village will host hands-on activities that give concertgoers a chance to meet family farmers and get their hands dirty.
“Family farmers are innovative entrepreneurs who safeguard our food, environment and health,” says Carolyn Mugar, Farm Aid’s executive director. “Since the beginning, Farm Aid has worked with family farmers in the Midwest to keep them on the land, especially in the face of factory farms that have threatened to take over food production. At Farm Aid, concertgoers will reap the benefits of this work and will experience food grown by Missouri’s family farms.”
Click here for information on Farm Aid’s petition against funding for factory farms.
Read More:Gretchen Wilson to Appear at Farm Aid Concert
September 26th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, director of documentaries like The Civil War and Baseball, trains his lens on The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, a six-episode series that premieres Sunday on PBS. (Click here to view a preview. You may also purchase the DVD boxed set or companion book on Oct. 6.)
Sadly, well-known parks like Yellowstone, Joshua Tree, the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Acadia (right) are beginning to show their age, and they’re now threatened by funding shortfalls, pollution, climate change and encroaching developers.
This hasn’t stopped committed individuals from fighting for the parks’ survival:
- Maxine Johnston, dubbed the “Godmother” of Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas, worked tirelessly for 50 years to help protect some 100,000 acres of highly diverse wildlife habitat.
- Former Miami Herald reporter Juanita Green, featured in Burns’s film, wrote stories that were instrumental in creating and protecting Biscayne National Park. In the 1960s, the park was threatened by a proposal to dredge a channel through the bay and turn the area into a city.
So, what can you do to help?
- Visit and explore one of our 391 national parks. Share your experiences with others to build support.
- Join the movement without leaving home. Sign up for news and action alerts. Write to President Obama, and contact your congressional representatives and other decision makers. Voice your concerns about park conservation.
- Reduce your carbon footprint. Global warming’s effects are already visible at national parks. At Glacier National Park, glaciers are disappearing faster than scientists predicted. In parks across the country, native trees and animals are losing ground because changing temperature and weather patterns affect the availability of food, water and shelter. Visit the Do Your Part! For Climate Friendly Parks website, which helps you calculate your carbon footprint. Set goals for buying local foods, reducing automobile use and saving energy at home.
Photo courtesy of ARA
Read More:Nature’s National Treasures at Risk
September 12th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
The famed Solar Flowers exhibit, sponsored by Toyota’s Prius, has left New York City (see photo, above) and debuts in San Francisco today.
The floral sculptures, up to 18 feet tall, have been installed at the Yerba Buena Gardens, where visitors can harness the power of solar energy to charge computers and cell phones. Each flower seats up to 10 people, who may also access free Wi-Fi service.
The exhibit runs through Sept. 27. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The city’s bus riders will also receive a pleasant surprise: solar-powered ventilation in bus shelters throughout the downtown area.
The Solar Flowers will complete their tour next month in Los Angeles (Oct. 3–18).
Photo courtesy of Toyota
Read More:Solar Flowers Bloom in San Francisco
August 18th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Farm Aid is sponsoring a photo contest, whose winner will receive an expenses-paid trip and two front-row tickets to the Oct. 4 concert in St. Louis.
Currently slated to appear are Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, Jason Mraz, Wilco, Phosphorescent and Jamey Johnson.
The event will once again feature HOMEGROWN concessions, with foods from regional family farms and local organic growers. The HOMEGROWN Village will host hands-on activities that give concertgoers a chance to meet family farmers and get their hands dirty.
To enter the contest, shoot a photo of anything related to family farmers and the food they produce. Here are some ideas to get you started: farms, farmers, farm families, tractors, barns, a perfect crop of organic veggies or fruits from your local farmer’s market, your favorite farm animal—any image that shows the vibrancy and beauty of the American family farm.
Photos should be uploaded to the Farm Aid Farm Fresh Pics website by 11:59 p.m. (ET) Sept. 6. You may also vote for your favorite photos until 11:59 p.m. (ET) Sept. 20.
Click here to view contest rules. Click here to view the photos entered thus far.
Photo by Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve Inc. 2008; courtesy of Farm Aid
Read More:Win Tickets to Farm Aid!