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Garden Carnage

A pair of rampaging moose put an exclamation point on the end of our 2011 growing season this morning.

Moose absolutely love brassicas, and these two made a meal out of our remaining cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and pea plants. The loss of the sprouts is the hardest to take — they’re very frost tolerant and most of the plants were still in the ground — though we were able to salvage parts of three plants.

Our gardening friends in Anchorage suggested we surround the garden with cheap pinwheels to avoid moosepocolypse. Next year.

Romanesco cauliflower

Romanesco cauliflower from Alaska's Glacier Valley Farm.

Romanesco cauliflower is one of my very favorite crops — it looks like something from the pages of Dr. Seuss and the spirals expressed by the florets follow the Fibonacci sequence.

Ferndale fries, made from locally grown potatoes, will replace tater tots and French fries at one public elementary school in Ferndale, Wash. I like it!

Left: Before composting. Right: Cup after composting.

Left: Before composting. Right: Cup at second turn.

Since we started composting this summer, I couldn’t resist the challenge when my drink from Kaladi Brothers Coffee came in a compostable to-go cup made from corn.

I built the cup into the middle of my next pile, then turned as directed. The temperature spiked at 160 degrees (which is almost too hot) and by the second turn of the pile the cup had mostly disintegrated (photo at top right). When I moved the now-cured compost this afternoon the cup was completely gone.

It looks like Kaladi’s uses EcoProducts corn cups (EcoProducts CC16, according to the stamp on the bottom) which the company says “will completely compost under commercial composting conditions in just 45-60 days.”

The cups work as advertised but I do wonder how many of these cups ever find their way to compost piles, either commercial or residential. A more interesting question might be what happens to them in a traditional landfill.

grocery bag fee ref

Today is the last day to cast your vote on City of Seattle Referendum 1, which would require a 20-cent charge per plastic or paper bag when you buy groceries.

Opponents say the fee will hurt low-income folks — who are apparently unable to shop with reusable bags, which is all it takes to exempt anybody from the fee. Opponents also say the law is filled with loopholes, one of which is that businesses grossing less than $1 million yearly keep all the bag fees they collect. Hmm, that actually sounds like a pretty reasonable deal for those smaller outfits. But what really got me to spend 90 seconds finding and filling out the darned thing was learning that the American Chemistry Council spent $1 million to urge you to vote against it. I’m heading in to drop off my ballot now.

I’m a huge fan of peanut butter and tomato sandwiches.

(Most people look at me sideways when I say this)

Pea start
April is a difficult time in Alaska for local food. Palmer potatoes and carrots are available in the grocery store through March or so, but by the time the vernal equinox finally arrives supplies range from low to non-existent.

Gardens are still too wet to prepare and Memorial Day, commonly considered the first “safe” (ie no frost) weekend for planting outdoors, is still a month away.

But the geese are back, the sun is in the sky until 10pm, and our first batch of pea plants are coming up in our arctic entry. These plants will go into our greenhouse to supply us with early peas while we wait for the garden to start producing.

Unfortunately, Labor Day isn’t that far away.

There are zero local ingredients in the fridge right now. I’ll be back shortly, after recovering from actually having to work for a living.

The Well Fed Network has nominated this year’s best food blogs and among the chosen is fellow blogger Laura’s not-so Urban Hennery. Good stuff! Laura blogs about life on a small farm, with stories about raising chickens, building hoop houses for cold weather crops, canning and pickling, and dozens of other ways to eat locally. Vote for your local gal here.

Actually, we’ve decided not to change the name of our blog.

If you carefully read the letter from Greg Conner, of the Seattle company Eat Local, which sells frozen food up on Queen Anne, you’ll notice that he asks us to discontinue use of the phrase “eat local.” Forever.

As writers, words are our lifeblood. We cannot agree to his demands, and we believe the law is on our side.

The “eat local” movement is a grassroots phenomena that has been in existence since the 1960s, thanks largely to chef Alice Waters. “Eat local” is a term that has been used freely by millions of chefs, home cooks, restaurateurs, farmers, writers, and consumers for decades. It has been used promotionally by dozens of companies and organizations including Whole Foods and Patagonia, and by the City of Portland, Oregon, who hosted the first “Eat Local Challenge” that so many people now participate in.

Even we at Eat Local Northwest posted 166 posts before Eat, LLC trademarked the term “Eat Local” with the federal government, on August 19, 2008. They very sneakily did not contact us until after the public comment period had closed and your standard citizen could no longer challenge their right to the trademark.

We’ve sent our response to Mr. Conner and will be sure to post all of the gory details should this not be the last we hear from these folks. In the meantime we are going to refrain from replying to comments, but know that we are deeply grateful to our regular readers, and those coming out of the woodwork, for all of the support.

Eat Local Northwest

A food blog documenting the adventures of two friends trying to cook and eat sustainably in Seattle and in Anchorage.