This article originally appeared in Edible Manhattan.
Despite its pivotal role in helping create civilization, wheat has had a tough go of it for the last few years. Diet fads espousing carb-free or caveman-like eating have inspired millions to say no to the bread basket and quit pasta altogether. Gluten has become public enemy number one to many who blame it for their digestive problems—and the gluten-free market is seeing galloping growth. Meanwhile, some scientists are making dire predictions about how climate change will disrupt worldwide wheat production. Read more
As you read this, wildfires are burning on about 1.7 million acres of land across the western United States. Most are in Washington and Oregon, where fire is raging uncontained in 23 separate locations. So far this year, nearly 7.7 million acres have been directly affected by wildfires—almost three times more than by this point last year. Read more
The menu at the Scottish Bakehouse bakery and café on Martha’s Vineyard is a veritable map of the island’s farms. The chicken comes, mostly, from The Good Farm, a 10-acre poultry operation across the street. The greens come from neighboring Blackwater Farm and the yogurt is made at Mermaid Farm and Dairy, six tree-shaded miles down the road. The basil for the pesto and the cucumbers in the salad are grown right out back, in the bakehouse’s one-acre garden. Read more
Every day, all the members of the intentional community at the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center (OAEC), gather in one place to eat together.
Located in West Sonoma County, California, OAEC has long been at the forefront of ecological agriculture. One of California’s first certified organic farms, it has existed as a renowned demonstration farm, nonprofit educational retreat center, intentional community, and eco-think tank since the 1970’s. And the group has been eating, and growing food in their “Mother Garden” together for so long, that OAEC has also been pioneering its own cuisine over the years. The meals follow a template that speaks to their seasonal, plant-based approach to eating: one or two garden vegetable dishes, one protein dish, one carbohydrate, a side of pesto, spread or sauce, and a huge salad. Read more
Most leafy green lovers probably remember the moment when they became suspicious of spinach.
In 2006, an E. coli outbreak that killed three people and sickened about 200 more was traced to the cool-weather crop growing along California’s Central Coast. Despite the fact that federal and state investigators claimed it was not possible to determine exactly how the dangerous E. coli strain spread to the farm, cattle and wild pig manure were implicated as the sources of the bacteria. Read more
It’s five minutes before three on a warm July Wednesday in East Boston, a mostly working-class, immigrant neighborhood that abuts Logan International Airport. With Boston’s skyline and harbor as a backdrop, vendors busily lay out their wares on folding tables—from Swiss chard to Swiss cheese. Lines form at a few of the booths, some of those waiting are holding WIC coupons, and neighborly greetings can be heard in English, Spanish, and Arabic. Nearby, volunteers from a local cyclists’ union are already fixing flat tires and tightening bicycle seats. A youth arts organization advertises its free programs for children; families renew their “food stamps” or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits; and a DJ spins bass-heavy Latin music while four young women invite onlookers to join them in a choreographed dance routine. Read more
On land that once housed a tomato cannery, a new type of farm is slowly taking root.
The farm is a flagship feature of The Cannery, a residential development in Davis, California, slated for public unveiling next month. And it’s on of a growing number of agrihoods, planned communities that eschew golf courses and build homes around farms instead. Read more
At Food Farm in northern Minnesota, Janaki Fisher-Merritt is getting back to his roots. This second-generation farmer is putting a modern twist on an old-fashioned idea that could help scale up the local food economy in the region. He hopes to build a 3,700-square-foot root cellar that he says has the potential to keep fresh vegetables—not just root vegetable, but winter squash, cabbage, apples, and other cold storage food—available all winter long. Read more
French Laundry culinary gardener Aaron Keefer knew what he cradled in his hands was special. Even legendary.
When he nestled the pea seeds into the ground just shy of spring this year, he had not only pored over a national magazine cover story lauding their distinctiveness, but The French Laundry’s Chef de Cuisine David Breeden had been pestering him for months to procure them to grow in the showcase garden of this landmark Yountville, California, restaurant. Read more
Second-generation organic peach grower David “Mas” Masumoto describes the difference between a farming disaster and a crisis this way: A disaster is when he harvests nothing, while a crisis is when he’s not making any money. Four years into California’s worst drought in history, and like many West Coast farmers, he’s in crisis mode. Read more