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Wife of Jim Norris with canned goods, Pie Town, New Mexico (LOC)

"Food preservation techniques can be divided into two categories: the modern scientific methods that remove the life from food, and the natural 'poetic' methods that maintain or enhance the life in food. The poetic techniques produce . . . foods that have been celebrated for centuries and are considered gourmet delights today." Eliot Coleman

Did you ever eat a pickled egg? Did you ever want to?

My ex's Uncle June had this farm down the road a piece in Johnstown, PA, and every Friday night, he'd come into town to play cards with his sisters n' their'ns -- you'd hear his old Ford pickup way down the road, backfirin' and belchin' past the now famous Altoona hot dog stand and before you could say "Punch Bucket" he'd be at the door, his huge burley frame barely visible behind the out-sized sacks a' veggies and eggs and chickens and fruit he knew better'n to leave home without. Hell, Uncle June fed the whole damn family. Three sisters and their offspring and then their offspring. For years.

By midnight, as Crazy 8s fans yielded to the Texas Hold 'em crowd and they were dippin' into Grammy's 16-quart-sized Mason jar a' pickeled eggs,  I'd be at my breakin' point, with my NYC born 'n raised snooty head rearin' up (God, they didn't have friggin magzine in that whole house!), thinking I'd go damn near crazy if I heard one more story 'bout the winter Uncle June'd been snowed in for two weeks with no power and how many damn cars the family'd stranded trying to reach him. Jees.

Never will forget my first trip down the creaky and forebodingly steep steps to the basement so as grammy could show me her cannin' section. She had a big old freezer down there with meat from the huntin' season and the whole west facing wall was flush - row after row after row - with silver and glass containers, all neat and dusted, with yellowed scotch taped labels facin' out, all with her fadin' tight and proper handwritin' notin' the date and contents: Peas. Sept. 76. Zucatash. Aug. 75. Corn Sept. 74. Pickled eggs. Yesterday.

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A few years later, I started canning myself. Living in funky old Bolinas, my friends 'n I'd harvest wild berries and make preserves to send back east for the holidays. Damn near drove my mother outta her mind, wondering what the hell had happened to the cosmopolitan young lady who'd left the nest for the wild west, never to be quite the same in the head again. Still, never ever considered picklin' an egg. No matter how many times my husband'd say how cool that'd be. Didn't have to, as Grammy'd visit once a year at least and while she'd also have the requisite homemade chocolate chip and snickerdoodles, so also she came bearin' enough of ces œufs damn to stink up my kitchen for an entire football season.

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scarlett johansson eggery: open for business by McBeth
... et une autre fois... des œufs récoltés dans de nombreuses formes... quelle horreur!!!

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I said I was writing about canning and I will and I can and I am ... but I have so much more to share so I've rolled most of my canning research up into a jetpak for y'all: Can You Can? Yes, You can Can. If I can can, you can can.

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RC02705. Migrant vegetable pickers waiting to be paid : Homestead, Florida. The Florida Photographic Collection

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In the past, whenever I donated to food drives, I'd always reach back into my cupboards to find those old cans of beans, tuna, soups, veggies, sauerkraut .. things I'd purchased back in the days of innocence and bounty, before the food revolution taught me to grow, buy local and fresh and preserve. These days, one of the most exciting projects we have in our county is the Marin Open Garden Project. Now in its second year, MOGP features food sharing sessions in towns around the county, where local food growers can swap and share. And while MOGP, since its inception, has donated extra food to local food pantries and shelters, its Microgarden project really rocks:

The Marin Open Garden Project also announces "Marin Micro Gardens," a new program for 2010 designed to increase the number of Marin residents growing their own food. MOGP volunteers will assist homeowners in installing and planting four foot square raised bed microgardens. MOGP will continue its existing programs, including, for example, (1) providing free gleaning of vegetable gardens and fruit trees to residents upon request, with all produce to be donated to organizations serving Marin County residents in need, (2) networking gardeners with land to share with gardeners without land, and (3) the online Fruit Tree & Garden Registry Mapping Project

.

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So I also wanted to take you on the Queer Farmers' tour around the country  and share some of what's happening in urban areas relative to permaculture and urban farming and the LGBT community ... starting with Indiana's Fruit Loop Acres  "... a 3/4 acre permaculture fruit farm in the heart of the city. Like many post-industrial midwestern cities, much of this urban center is fledgling, depressed, boarded up and faced with significant challenges to accessing good fresh food;" ...  moving along to a Slow Food USA blog, Farming?! That’s so QUEER! where one attendee at the Out Here: A Queer Farmer Film Project reports:

... We’re successfully challenging the norms of the traditional family, so perhaps participation in new food systems and community planning are natural extensions.

I leave it to social scientists to come up with data, but discussion pointed to a seeming tendency for queer agriculturalists to address the social justice issues at play in the food system. Likely, this is because queers too, face societal injustices every day.

When we talk "identity" politics and sociology we uncover diverse perspectives, but may still overlook others. One panelist noted that skin color was the identifier people notice first – not her sexuality. Queerness has nothing to do ability to teach another how to transplant tomatoes, but race and gender certainly may provide an element of "legitimacy" in one’s work in disadvantaged communities for whom the current food system disproportionately serves.

I never much reflected on my queer identity while working in low-income communities of color in Rochester. But on the days I walked the hallways of the inner-city high school where I ran a greenhouse, and heard taunts of "cracker" and the gay slurs teens everywhere seem to use today (these, ironically, while I was covered in dirt and looking nothing like the stereotypical f*g I was being called), I gotta say I was tempted to shout: "Hey! I’m oppressed too!" Is being gay my "get-out-of-jail-free card" when faced with the burden of "white privilege"? I’m not going there, so let’s postpone my crucifixion-by-blogosphere, but the question certainly crossed my mind.

... and finally from Seattle's Urban Food Hub What Does it Mean to be Queer in the World of Urban Farming?

Queering the Urban Farm

The scene:  A person in their yard likely pruning tomatoes, picking at some weeds, sniffing rosemary or trellising some unruly beans. Perhaps picking strawberries with toddler.

At first glance you might just see a person growing a bit of food.

Look a bit deeper and you’ll see active engagement in building community/family around food  and food issues.

However, what is at the core of my gardening is my queerness. My queer politic around urban farming is one of resistance. By tearing out my lawn and replacing it with space for food production, I am resisting. By purchasing non-GMO, non-Monsanto, heirloom seeds: I am resisting. By refusing to use chemicals, I am resisting. By sharing knowledge, seeds, tools and skills: I am resisting. By growing enough food to eat, preserve and share: I am resisting. By engaging in local food justice projects, I am resisting. Resisting the agro-industrial complex. Resisting systems that multiply oppress.  So, while I grow, I also resist.  See?

Grow and Resist.

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The Sack and Feeding America


Sack Gardening: The Rural Poor


Arusha community farming education project by Lizzy Leighty

Previously, women in densely populated cities mostly planted vegetables on small plots of barren land. Nowadays, the novel form of gardening in sacks or all kinds of containers can be introduced in every urban area.  Indeed, as finding even small patches of arable land in a city or a town is becoming almost impossible, sacks or other containers, taking up less space than small-scale gardens, are an interesting solution for food production.

With only a small budget, NGOs can easily start up a sacks gardening project with a small number of women and later extend invitations to more women, and even schools, to join the group.  This seems to be a fantastic way for almost every urban family or school to have access to affordable vegetables, herbs and fruits.

Wherever needed, a short training in sacks gardening can be planned. Women and children can learn in the shortest time these simple gardening techniques of container gardening, in particular those of water harvesting, soil fertilization and adequate irrigation.

As sacks gardening can provide a sustainable source of vegetables and fruits, one can foresee a growing success of this novel form of gardening both in rural and in urban areas. NGOs and foundations can help women and schools to fence their gardening plots and to store irrigation water (not drinking water).

With a limited number of sacks of vegetables family members or school children do not fear to be hungry.  It would be a remarkably easy way of food production in refugee camps, where every family could have a small number of sacks close to the tent.

KENYA: Bag a farm
NAIROBI, 18 February 2010 (IRIN) – Faced with high food prices, low income and barely a patch of arable land, hundreds of residents of Nairobi’s densely populated slums have adopted a novel form of intensive agriculture: a farm in a sack. Ex-convict John King’ori is hoping the project, run by Italian NGO COOPI, will help him go straight after eight years behind bars for a violent robbery. King’ori chairs the Juja Road Self-Help Group, whose 76 members, also mostly former prisoners, are among the 1,000 households in Mathare and Huruma hoping their sacks will provide a sustainable source of vegetables such as kale, spinach, capsicum and onions.
"We can plant over 40 seedlings in each sack; each household is responsible for watering and maintaining their sack. We hope the vegetables will be ready for consumption in a few weeks’ time," said King’ori at a demonstration plot. COOPI fenced the plot, improved water storage and provided the top soil, sand, manure and seedlings.
"The aim of the urban farming project is to empower the people to have better food purchasing power," its manager, Claudio Torres, told IRIN.  

How to build a sack garden

Sack gardens are ideally suited to urban areas and contaminated soil, and certainly have wider relevance beyond our own work.

Materials needed:
a sack—burlap or plastic, soil mixed with organic compost, rocks for irrigation, and a cylindrical open bucket or tin.
discarded food aid sacks make especially good sack gardens, if especially for symbolic reasons.

Fill the bottom sack with soil mixed with organic compost. Using a cyclindrical tin (we use seed tins or vegetable oil tins) fill the tin with rocks. This will serve as an irrigation channel.

Surround the tin with more soil, and slowly lift it up, so that the rocks remain.

Fill the tin with more rocks, and surround it again with soil.And so forth, until the sack is filled with a tower of rocks surrounded by soil.

Poke holes into the side of the sack, at an even distance apart.

Transplant seedlings into the sides of the sack. Here, amaranth transplanted; cabbages also work well.
You can try direct seeding beets or carrots in the top of the sack.

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In a pickle! by steamboatwillie33 Seeing is believin'.

That's it. There she wrote, folks. Donate. Give some money. Share some food. Share some time. Encourage. Give a little more than is comfortable to give. And feel the better for it. But please, whatever you do. Don't force no pickled eggs on anyone. Nobody deserves that.

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If you want to donate money, here is the Feeding America donation page.

If you have time to volunteer, here are some handy tools to find out what assistance is needed:

--Plug your zip code into this search engine to find opportunities in your area to assist hunger organizations.

--Typing in your zip code and state in this search engine will locate food banks in your area.

--Clicking onto to your state on this map will return results for homeless shelters and soup kitchens in your area.

KuangSi2

Feeding America Blogathon Diary Schedule (all EDT):

Saturday, Sept 25:


10:00a -- rb137

 1:00p -- teacherken

 4:00p -- Patriot Daily

 7:00p -- srkp23

10:00p -- boatsie

Owls -- Jay in Portland

KuangSi2

Sunday, Sept 26


10:00a -- JanF

 1:00p -- Aji

 4:00p -- Timroff

 7:00p -- Chacounne

10:00p -- blue jersey mom

Originally posted to boatsie on Sat Sep 25, 2010 at 07:04 PM PDT.

Also republished by DK Feeding America.

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