Saturday, March 10, 2012

On The Future of Food - Book Review

I was recently given a copy of a speech made into a small book titled On The Future of Food  by the good folks at Ecocentric and Meatless MondaysOn The Future of Food was a speech made by, believe it or not, the Prince of Wales himself Prince Charles.  I’m not one to usually pay attention to anything coming from the absurdity that is the monarchy, but this was much too important.  The fact is that millions of people adore the British Monarchy and so when the Prince says something many people will listen. 
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Presented last year in Washington DC at Georgetown University, On The Future Of Food is a look at our current food system. 
In the speech Prince Charles mentions in his opening remarks “I have been venturing into extremely dangerous territory by speaking about the future of food…questioning the conventional worldview is a risky business”; a statement which may be a testament to how difficult it is to break away from the current stranglehold on our food supply.  If the bloody Prince of Wales is finding resistance in addressing this issue you can imagine how difficult it may be for everyone else speaking up about our food system.  The Prince goes on to talk often about sustainability and mentions many important studies that have shown the yield and environmental comparison of small-scale farming vs. conventional farming, something I never thought I would hear someone in his position speak about.  One particular report he mentions from the UN “drew on evidence from more than 400 scientists worldwide and concluded that small-scale, family based farming systems, adopting agro-ecological approaches were among the most productive farming systems in undeveloped countries,” and yet this research has never made any public impact;  a true testament to the lobbying power of the food industry/agribusiness…you know the lot.
Why is this important? To quote Olivier De Schutter from a recent article “Producers of fresh, local food are undercut and forced out of business by multinational  food processors…who also benefit from government subsidies.”  Leading to “the breakdown of local food systems,” which “has far-reaching consequences…as shown by soaring obesity levels and endemic rates of under nutrition and micronutrient deficiency.”


Fine lad that Prince Charles.  I highly recommend the book.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Meatless Monday – Pumpkin Gnocchi w/ Sage Butter

Pumpkin!, an excellent source of vitamins A & C and a healthy addition to your meal; pumpkin also contains a good amount of B vitamins and like most any vegetable they are high in fiber!  “Well then why not make gnocchi out of pumpkins?” you say…I thought you would never ask.
Gnocchi are a traditional Italian dumpling most commonly made with potatoes and flour, however they were first made with just semolina and eggs.  The name Gnocchi is said to have originated from the word nocca (knuckle) because of their shape.  * I use canned pumpkin puree for this recipe; I have tried it fresh and believe me it makes for a tough go around in terms of getting the right texture (too liquidy) for your gnocchi.  Use the canned and your life will be easier…you’re making handmade gnocchi for crying out loud!, there is only so much we can do. 
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Ingredients
  • 1 can Pumpkin Puree (organic?, yes!)
  • 4 cups Unbleached flour (local flour mill? why not!)
  • 1 Free range egg 
  • 1/2 c Parmigiano
  • 2 tsp Nutmeg
  • salt
  • 1/4 c Butter  
  • 4 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • Handful of fresh Sage (rough chop)

1.   Mix the pumpkin puree, egg, parmigiano and nutmeg together. 
2.  Incorporate the flour 1/2 a cup at a time to the mix until the dough is pliable enough to work with (not too sticky, but not falling apart). This could take less or more flour than recommended.
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3.   Cut your gnocchi into any shape you like, I rolled out the dough then cut them width wise as shown in the pic below.
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4.   For the sauce add the garlic, and butter to a small sauce pan and place on low-med heat until the garlic is just brown, then add the sage.  Take it off the heat and add extra virgin olive oil to the sauce.
5. Boil your gnocchi as you would regular pasta in salt water, they are done when they rise to the top of the water (mine only took about 3-4 min).
6. Mix the gnocchi with sauce, add some final parmigiano on it and enjoy!!