A Sustainable Kitchen brings people together to learn, share, innovate and discuss sustainable strategies for everyday life. Welcome to the table!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Sustainable Christmas Table

from contributing editor, Stephanie Georgieff

LED Xmas lighting uses 80% less energy !
According to the Soil Association, a typical Christmas Feast can wrack up 49,000 miles in imported ingredients. I don’t know how they got to this number, but when you look at all the driving and flying that is involved in getting feed and bees to farms that produce meat and vegetables, all the spices, wines and other imported goodies, it certainly can add up. Another depressing statistic is how much food is thrown out during the Christmas season, with parties, special meals, going out and all that, one source said for each person celebrating the season, we create an extra trash bin of food waste than normal.

Practicing a “sustainable” kitchen, is actually one of the greatest gifts you can give your family and community this holiday season. Basically, because it is the gift that keeps giving in terms of a future life filled with resources for generations to come. So how can you have a sustainable Christmas without being really annoying? Here are a few tips: (Please note all of these suggestions can be used for Chanukah, Kwanzaa, New Years, Solstice and Festivus)

1)   Have a Vegetarian Feast. Locally grown and sourced produce does not create the carbon footprint of meat. Vegetable dishes are actually more interesting, and face it the side dishes are what makes the feast anyways. Check Out LocalHarvest.org for ideas on what is in season and where to get it at your local farmers market.

2)   If you are going to serve meat, serve locally grown, organic and pastured meat. Neimans Ranch is an excellent source that incorporates 700 small family farms throughout the nation, producing pork, lamb, and beef. Mary’s Chicken has organic poultry options, and is in California. Fronteier Family Farms in Chino and Sage Mountain Farm in Temecula are also great options for locally grown Organic poultry, lamb and beef.

3)   Serve Organic Wine and Beer. Make your own drinks from these wonderful options. Here in California we have many to choose from, Benziger and Frey are good options for wines. Eel River Brewing Company and Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown are excellent brews from California. Organic libations do not use Genetically Modified grains or ingredients, pesticide use is decreased, and well, all the reasons you want organic are obviously involved in your holiday beer and wine selections.

4)   Use reusable plates, cups, utensils and napkins. Keep paper and plastic out of the landfills. It also looks so nice! A trick I used to use when I was in graduate school was to buy plates and such from a thrift store; they were usually cheaper that purchasing paper and plastic anyways, and then I would donate them back (clean of course) when I was done. No trash and the charity thrift shop I bought from got twice the money through re-selling my stuff.

5)   Save water by scraping plates clean, before washing them.

6)   Compost the table scraps. I feed the chickens at a local farm school with my vegetable and fish scraps.

7)   Menu Plan with Leftovers. In America, we waste 40% of our food. Food scraps from homes and restaurants goes into landfills causing green house gases. If you have leftovers, think about how you can use them in casseroles, soups, sandwiches, lunches and snacks.

8)   Give gifts of homemade goodies. Make sure you put them in containers that can be re-used or recycled. Simple gifts made from nuts, honey, oil and herbs are in-expensive, delicious, and do not contribute to waste.

The Holiday Season as it is practiced here in the United States is simply not sustainable, creates a lot of stress, and costs much in terms of personal income as well as resources. A simple and delicious way to celebrate is to use any or all of the ideas above. The great thing, it REALLY tastes great!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Farmers Market Report: Montrose Harvest Market

Montrose Harvest Market
Sundays from 9am-2pm
2200 Block of Honolulu Ave

I've been to Montrose a few times for lunch and always found it quaint and charming. I needed a farmers market last Sunday and this was the only one nearby. And it is quite the market. Going beyond the usual farm stands, seasonal produce, and prepared food, the Montrose Harvest Market is a Winter Wonderland. Boy Scouts meet you at the corner selling mistletoe (I highly recommend this), you can pick up a sustainably grown Christmas Tree, and take a free ride in a horse-drawn carriage. Then there's also the two bands playing, the petting zoo, bounce house, and craft show. Something for everyone !

Small town charm, big time fun !

Yes, there is a Starbucks on one corner and a Coffee Bean across the street...

The band plays and kids make a run for the bounce house !
Retro record clocks make a unique gift...
or perhaps a birdhouse?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Garden Master, David King

10 Great Things About a Seed Library!

  1. A far wider variety of seeds can be kept fresh by many people growing rather than one person growing in one garden.  We all gain when we combine our efforts.
  2. Participants can save hundreds of dollars each season by growing their own food and saving their own seed.  In Southern California, we are blessed with a climate that allows us to grow food year-round!
  3. A seed library ensures we have a food supply that is reproducible, local, uncontaminated by unproven genetic modification, and free from external controls.
  4. Our seed library is focused on varietals ideal for home gardeners (full flavor and variety in a small garden) rather than commercial varietals, which often sacrifice flavor and personality for the sake of uniformity and durability for shipping.
  5. Over time the plants will change in response to our local climate and soil, and gradually will become better seeds for our area.
  6. We get to hang out with other like-minded gardeners!
  7. Growing our own food and saving our own seed continues the fine American tradition of self-reliance.
  8. Gardening nourishes the soul as well as the body, and is a great source of relief from the chaos of urban life.
  9. As caretakers of seeds, we cooperate with nature in carrying on priceless genetic material for future generations.  Seeds are a sacred trust passed down to us by our ancestors.  The seed library helps us to best honor that gift.
  10. By growing a plant from seed, eating its fruit and returning it back to seed, we become fully engaged in the rhythm of nature, grow more attuned to the world around us, and gain a deeper understanding of our own place in the web of life.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Farmers Market Report: Mar Vista

Mar Vista Farmers Market

Sundays, rain or shine
Grandview Blvd. at Venice Blvd.

From its inception, the Mar Vista Farmers Market was supposed to be more than a farmers market. Both the local businesses and the the neighborhood envisioned it as a more of a 'town square'. The first Mar Vista Farmers Market was on August 6, 2006, and since then with six yearly festivals, a monthly locally produced art and crafts show, weekly kids' activities, on top of the local farmers and prepared food booths, that is exactly what it has become. With a focus on sustainability and community, the Mar Vista Farmers Market is a Sunday favorite.

J&R Organics is gearing up for the holidays...

with beautiful handmade wreaths, flowers and great produce.

This last weekend, they had a Latka Party and a Klezmer band, Klezmer Juice.

 Atkins Nursery from Fallbrook had a great selection of California winter fruit...

and citrus trees! That would be a lovely gift.

County Line Harvest had greens and a rainbow of vegetables...

..including carrots, radishes, and..


Every weekend, someone from the sustainable community is invited to the 'Green Tent'.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A New Ritual in Redlands

from our contributing editor, Stephanie Georgieff

In this era of financial challenges, issues such as sustainability are often dismissed
as too expensive or unrealistic in the business realm. As many traditional forms
of employment are no longer viable, many displaced workers are becoming
entrepreneurs in the artisan food and beverage industry with amazing results. One
such business that combines both sustainability and emerging food industries
is Ritual Brewery in Redlands California. Cicerone Owen Williams and Home
Brewer Steve Dunkerkin came together to create a craft brewery. Dunkerkin is a native Redlander and son of a farmer, who lived in Northern Italy. He met Slow Food there, and was further inspired by Slow Food Nation in the Bay Area in September of ’08. Steve participated in the founding meetings of Slow Food Redlands, and has integrated Slow Food ideals in every aspect of Ritual Brewery.

The Tafelbier (a Belgian enkel), the Wit's End (a Belgian White Witbier), the Extra
Red (an American red) and the Hellion (a Belgian golden strong ale) are their new
releases. When Citrus is incorporated in the brews, it is locally sourced. Water in
the fermenting and cooling containers is recycled, and most of the brew equipment
has been salvaged from larger breweries no longer in service. The tasting tables
are made from recycled bowling lanes, and the wall dividers were salvaged from
grocery stores in Los Angeles. One of the most amazing practices at Ritual is to give
their spent grains to local cattle and poultry farms. Brewing involves lots of grains,
and after the fermentation process, the “spent grains” are often shipped to landfills
creating ozone destroying gas. Ritual found some floundering small dairy and beef
farmers who could not afford rising feed prices in the area and let them pick up the
spent grains on a regular basis. This practice has allowed these family farms to stay
alive in a very difficult farming climate, while reducing waste from the brewery.
Owen Williams teaches brewing classes at Cal Poly Pomona, so Ritual will have
an emphasis on taste and fermentation education. Ritual has paired up with Farm
Artisan Foods in Redlands, a local organic farm to table restaurant, to do food and
beer pairings. Outside the brewing plant, a lone hops bush has been flourishing. Co-
founder Steve Dunkerkin plans to have more herbal plants and citrus trees for their
upcoming brews, making locally sourced products, literally in front of the office.

Ritual combines the true art of artisan craft breweries and sustainable business
practices of reducing waste, recycling of resources and reusing fermentation tanks
and building materials in its physical plant. It also is bringing much needed jobs and
revenue to the San Bernardino Valley, and has helped to save family farms. Most
customers will only know Ritual produces really great Beer, but what enhances the
experience for me is knowing the yummy brews have a very small carbon footprint.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I Was A "Glean Team" Member (For A Day)

From contributing editor Annette Eason

Gleaning is an ancient concept. It means to gather what is left in a field after harvest or to collect, little by little with patient effort. Food Forward has given the concept of 'gleaning' a much needed contemporary twist, first gathering fruit from trees in peoples yards and now in its latest venture, gathering what is left after local framers markets.
So why bother with modern gleaning? It keeps a lot of perfectly great food from going to waste, taking up space in landfills and producing polluting gases. More immediately, it can help feed those in the greatest need. That's a double blast of sustainability. Gathering what was left at the end of the farmers markets, the FM Recovery program, just started last August. So when the call went out at the end of last week that Food Forward's Hollywood Farmers Market "Glean Team" had an opening on Sunday, I jumped on it. 

When I got there I met the real "Glean Team", from left to right, Jane, Colin and Jack. What does the "Glean Team" do? The concept is brilliantly simple, distribute boxes to all the farmers who think they might have things left at the end of the market and then at the end of the market gather all the full boxes. It does take some serious work and hustle, attention to detail and a good attitude. The last was easy because this "Glean Team" was a seriously fun group.

Oh, did I mention it started to rain. No big deal. Also hand cart skills are a plus, but not a requirement.

And what we gathered was some beautiful produce, just look at those tomatoes. We got tomatoes, butter lettuce, arugula, spinach, rapini, rainbow chard, carrots, kale, potatoes, mushrooms, cauliflower, apples, grapes, persimmons and more....
It makes the farmers happy because they hate to see what they worked so hard to grow go to waste.

Each week Food Forward features one of the participating farms. This week it was Valdivia Farms from Carlsbad.

So by the end of the market, the four of us had "gleaned" over 1200 pounds of food. It was all distributed on the spot to receiving agencies who help fed the city's hungry. Not bad for an afternoon of work. Well, work was involved, but it was really a pleasure and I highly recommend the experience.

Are you interested in trying you hand at modern gleaning and joining the "Glean Team" for a day? Or maybe you can make a six month commitment to be a regular team member. Food Forward is currently looking for both!

Contact Mary at fmrecovery@foodforward.org for more information.