How Now, Mignon Cow?

August 27, 2008

You’re a green eater. You buy local beets, local honey, local babka. Now, take the local food moovement one step further with your own miniature cow! Via London’s Times Online:

For between £200 and £2,000, people can buy a cow that stands no taller than a large German shepherd dog, gives 16 pints of milk a day that can be drunk unpasteurised, keeps the grass “mown” and will be a family pet for years before ending up in the freezer.

The Dexter, a cow that originated as a “cottager’s cow” in south Ireland in the 1800s, is twitterpating both city slickers and small ranchers alike, according to the Dexter Cattle Society: UK registrations of these bantam bovines have doubled in the past eight years.

Seems reasonable to me; not only do the cows crop the grass (goodbye, gas-powered mower!), they provide backyard-local dairy and, for the carnivores, a fine flank steak. While I’m not sure that in-city cattle farming is legal in Seattle — what with the methane and the lowing and (ahem) cow pies — I’m all for sustainability. Plus, with a herd of tiny kine, I could re-enact Lonesome Dove on a Living Small scale. Cattle drive, anyone?

Do you grow your own?

July 21, 2008

The big question: how ultra-locavore are you?

The Living Smallers don’t have room for a garden. Moreover, we don’t have enough sun to support one (a plus, in a way, ’cause the teeny house stays quite cool thanks to all the shade). We’ve tried some potted gardens, but those typically fail due to the lack-of-sun thing, too.

Are we alone? Do you have space to grow your own? (If so, do you live in Seattle? Can I buy your produce?)

We’re farmers market frequenters, but even those heads of lettuce and bunches of radishes truck in from at least 30 miles away, meaning oil expenditure. Any ideas for how we can get in on the growing here in the city? The P-Patch isn’t taking new residents, I should mention. What else? Pointers on container gardens? Foraging techniques? Let ‘er rip, and thanks.

Def Jam

July 9, 2008

Word up for home-canned raspberry jam! Post–farmers market run (and post-picnic in the park — all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy), I set about jamming the two quarts of raspberries Mein Schatz and I snapped up from a local berry farmer for a mere ten-spot.

My reasoning: Why not stay locavore even after berry season ends? Okay, so the pectin I used to gel the jam isn’t from around the Puget Sound. But the raspberries are definitely 100-milers. Likewise the water in which I boiled the jars, themselves veterans of previous canning endeavors.

But, lest you mark me Betty Crocker, I do have a question for the hardcore canners out there. Can I reuse the caps and lids? I uncovered the perfect number of unused caps ‘n’ lids with the rest of my canning rig, so this batch is moot. But next weekend will likely bring another round of homespun jammin’, and I’d like to avoid the cap and lid purchase if necessary. (Why buy new when you can reuse?)

Advice? Horror stories? Encouragement? Recipes?

More on Ann Cooper, the self-proclaimed “renegade lunch lady” I mentioned last week. CNN reports that Cooper is still at it in Berkeley and online, fighting the good fight for local, fresh foods in school cafeterias. Quoth CNN’s Fran Fifis:

Today, Cooper is director of nutrition services in Berkeley, where she has transformed the school lunch program from 90 percent frozen reheated foods to 90 percent fresh. Berkeley schools used to serve fruit once a week; now it’s on the menu every day, and so is the salad bar.

Ninety percent fresh eats? Unbelievable. Toques off to Ann.
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Did anyone see this Seattle P-I piece about feeding schoolkids local food? (You also can find it on The Ethicurean.) Next week, legislation will be proposed in our state capital that enables Washington school districts to purchase food from local farmers, as opposed to accepting the lowest bid from large-scale, out-of-state factory farms.

Hooray for farmers, hooray for schools, right? Not according to those who left comments on the paper’s website.
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