How to kill a turkey, forage for fresh clams, and get organic local lunches in schools

BlogHer Original Post

If you've watched Food, Inc., you likely have a pretty good, overall sense of what's wrong with our food system today -- which helps put all the continued news reports of foodborne illnesses and obesity problems in context. Of course, all that continued bad news still gets depressing even if you know what's creating the problems. So with this post, I'm focusing on what good foodie things are happening in the world today -- and the films and books that'll get you excited about these happy developments!

1. Urban homesteading. The current queen of this eco-trend's Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer, a book about her experience growing her own food and raising everything from chickens to pigs at her home in Oakland, Calif.

I've yet to pick up the book -- but Chow's put together a quick video about Novella's urban homesteading ways that could sort of serve as a preview for Farm City. Perhaps the 12-minute video could inspire you too to fish out fish guts from the dumpsters to feed your homegrown pigs!

Novella also blogs at Ghost Town Farm -- and her latest post reveals she's going to be teaching a class on how to raise -- and kill! -- a turkey! If you're a would-be homesteader in Austin, Texas, just $30 gets you into The Complete Turkey class.

2. Foraging. Why pay for high-priced sustainable seafood at Whole Foods when you can go clam digging? Jenni P. at Ethicurean did just that -- with the help of Langdon Cook, author of Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager. Writes Jenni about the excursion:

As we enjoyed our clams with a cold beer, the tide rolled in under a warm sun and we watched an osprey carry food to its young. I felt blessed to live among such beauty and bounty.

Jenni's post's both about her own experience with foraging -- and a review of Cook's book. Click over to read about this "testament to the power of food to root a person in the context of family, friends, season, and region" -- and to get a tasty recipe for Steamed Clams with Sausage, Tomato & Garlic.

3. Local school lunches. A title like Food Beware doesn't exactly promise a happy story, but this French film's apparently an uplifting one, since it shows the yummy things that happen when a French town called Barjac decides to go organic. According to NPR's review, the kids in the town get the first benefits of this decision, because the mayor and city council decide to make school lunches both local and organic. (via re-nest)

The film's apparently full of heartwarming scenes, like "a clamoring crowd of second- and third-graders growing their own produce in the school's gardens, digging into Cobb salads with enthusiasm, and talking about drinking-water purity at the foot of an ancient Roman aqueduct." That said, the film isn't just cuteness and fun -- Cynthia Fuchs at PopMatters writes that the film often overlays scary stats on top of cute images of kids:

As children playing hopscotch are observed from a scary overhead camera, titles note the damage done: “In Europe, 70% of cancers are linked to the environment,” and again, “In Europe, every year 100,000 children die of diseases caused by the environment.”

Still, the film sounds pretty inspiring -- and I hope to catch it when it plays in my area. Right now, Food Beware's only playing New York City -- but will be available on DVD next month.

Now that I've added 2 more books and a film to my fall reading and film list, I'll close by noting that Slow Food USA's continuing to work on revamping school lunches in America. Congress is expected to focus on school lunch in early 2010, so sign up for Slow Food USA's Time For Lunch campaign to stay in the know.

BlogHer Contributing Editor Siel also blogs at


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