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Archive for January 2009

Update: the dozen down to two

The Sustainable Dozen is down to two.  Chuck Hasselbrook and Karen Ross are serious candidates for Undersecretary of Agriculture.

Food Democracy Now! has created a list of 12 candidates for the crucial Under Secretary positions that will stand up for safe, healthy food, clear air and water, animal welfare and soil preservation.

Tap on Food for Democracy’s website and learn about Chuck Hasselbrook and Karen Ross. Although FfD’s enlisted the help of the usual celebrities–Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, Wendell Berry and Marion Nestle–there are serious and unrecognized foot soldiers in this movement.

We all love swanning around the IMA dreaming about what is possible, or schmoozing at a Farm-to-Table event, but now’s the time to roll up our sleeves and go to work.

As they say,

Be the Change!


Written by Susan Gillie

January 23, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Posted in food as power

The Sustainable Dozen

This week Barrack Obama became President. While we’re all waiting for the first family to plant a victory garden on the White House lawn, there’s other work to do.

Food for Democracy, a grassroots organization, needs your help. They’ve compiled a list of qualified, committed candidates for Undersecretary of State. Go to their website and sign the petition urging the President to nominate one of these people. Right now, they have 60,000 signatures, but they need 100,000.

Click and sign for a better future. Email your friends and encourage them to sign the petition.

The Sustainable Dozen

Gus Schumacher: Former Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Former Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture. Boston, Massachusetts

Chuck Hassebrook: Executive Director, Center for Rural Affairs, Lyons, Nebraska.

Sarah Vogel: attorney; former two-term Commissioner of Agriculture for the State of North Dakota, Bismarck, North Dakota.

Fred Kirschenmann: organic farmer; Distinguished Fellow, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Ames, IA; President, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Pocantico Hills, New York.

Mark Ritchie: current Minnesota Secretary of State; former policy analyst in Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture under Governor Rudy Perpich; co-founder of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Neil Hamilton: attorney; Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law and Professor of Law and Director, Agricultural Law Center, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.

Doug O’Brien: current Assistant Director at Ohio Department of Agriculture; worked for the U.S. House and the Senate Ag Committee; former staff attorney and co-director for the National Agriculture Law Center in Arkansas, Reynoldsburg, Ohio.

James Riddle: organic farmer; founding chair of the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA); has served on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Organic Advisory Task Force since 1991; appointed to the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board, serving on the Executive Committee for 5 years and was chair in 2005, Board of Directors. Winona, Minnesota.

Kathleen Merrigan: Director, Agriculture, Food and Environment M.S./Ph.D. Program, Assistant Professor and Director of the Center on Agriculture; Food and the Environment, Tufts University; former Federal Agency Administrator U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service; creator of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, mandating national organic standards and a program of federal accreditation. Boston Massachusetts.

Denise O’Brien: organic farmer, founder of Women, Food, and Agriculture Network (WFAN); represented the interests of women in agriculture at the World Conference on Women in Beijing, China in 1995; organized a rural women’s workshop for the 1996 World Food Summit in Rome, Italy; received nearly a half million votes in her 2006 bid to become Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture. Atlantic, Iowa.

Ralph Paige: Executive Director, Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund; served as presidential appointment to the 21st Century Production Agriculture Commission; participates on the Agriculture Policy Advisory Committee for Trade; the Cooperative Development Foundation; and the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education & Economics Advisory Board. East Point, Georgia.

Karen Ross: President of the California Winegrape Growers Association and Executive Director of the Winegrape Growers of America; awarded the Wine Integrity Award by the Lodi Winegrape Commission for her contributions to the wine industry. Sacramento, California.

Note: As of today, more than 78,000 people signed the petition. Indiana needs to put it over the top!

Written by Susan Gillie

January 22, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Posted in food as power


This month I celebrated a milestone birthday. I turned sixty.

A few days before the big event an old friend, David W., sent me this picture. Judging from the hair style, and the state of the flower-bed in front of my partent’s house, the picture was taken in the Sprng of 1968. I was a freshman in college and 19 years old.

Miss Full-of-Herself thinks the world is hers to conquer. When I look at it, I laugh. To paraphase the late Beatle, George Harrison, that was six or seven lives ago.

What I see is a girl who doesn’t know how to cook. She’s never had real mayonnaise or vinaigrette. She’s never eaten an artichoke or tasted fresh tarragon. She doesn’t know that tuna is a great big fish and thinks it’s something that comes in a can like Chef Boyardee ravioli.

In a very short time this young lady is going to fall down the rabbit hole into the wonderland that is cooking and eating and sharing good food.

It will be a lifelong adventure.

Written by Susan Gillie

January 21, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Posted in food as adventure


Happy New Year! Sorry for the long absence, but a bad bout of illness during the holidays, followed by a burst of cooking endeavors is my excuse.

Feast of the Epiphany

Trying to stave off the horrible intestinal/sore throat flu raging through Indianapolis in early December, I succumbed at an inappropriate time. The weekend before Christmas, I knew I’d lost. Food didn’t look good, didn’t smell good, didn’t taste good. When I woke up on Christmas Day, the bugs had seized my throat as their territory. December is when I clean out my freezer in preparation for the new year, so there wasn’t any food made chicken stock. Campbell’s and Mrs. Grass became my new best friends.

After 500 bowls of chicken soup and gallons of orange juice, I hobbled through the holidays. The good news–I don’t have to worry about shedding the 5 to 8 lbs. of end-of-the-year flab. The bad news, I didn’t get to eat any of the good stuff–no cookies, no succulent meats, no nuts, no chocolate.

Don’t feel sorry for me, though. While I was shivering on the couch, I spent my time reading “Christmas Around the World.” If I couldn’t indulge in Christmas (or New Year’s) at least I could still read and dream about them.

Published in 1937 by IDEALS it’s a romanticized, idealized fantasy of Christmas:

“In this book describing the Christmas customs of many countries, we join the world-wide fellowship that Christmas has produced and so realize in our experience something of the ONE WORLD that is implied in the angels’ song:

Glory to God in the highests, And on earth peace, Good will toward men.

As saccharin as the stories are, in other parts of the world Christmas is a season, not just a day. When the veil of temporary misery lifted and my appetite returned, I decided I’d celebrate the Feast of Epiphany.

Epiphany is the “real Christmas.” Western Christianity celebrates it as the pilgrimage of the Wise Men and homage to Baby Jesus; Eastern Christians celebrate it as Jesus’ baptism. What the day brings to a foodie like me is a lot of latitude, creativity and a better chance to cook food I like than December 25th.

I opted for the Eastern version. Grilled lamb, bulghur pilaf a peasant salad of greens and hearty bread pudding.

Greek Orthodox bishop at the Great Blessing of Waters on Theophany, releasing the cross off the Glenelg Jetty, South Australia, for one of the swimmers below to retrieve.

Greek Orthodox bishop at the Great Blessing of Waters on Theophany, releasing the cross off the Glenelg Jetty, South Australia, for one of the swimmers below to retrieve.

Too bad we celebrate just Christmas Day in this country and not the whole season.

For 2009, I’m thinking about a trip to Mexico. Afterall, they celebrate Christmas all the way to Candlemas–February 2.

Written by Susan Gillie

January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Posted in bloggage