The best thing about our Patches is the people who grow them. We caught up with one of our favourite Vancouver ladies, Jillian Walker to chat about recipes, running and her new blog, 52 Weeks in the Kitchen. A relatively recent Vancouver transplant, Jill grew up on Salt Spring Island, went to university in Calgary and then landed in our hometown in 2011. A runner, blogger, and HR pro, you can follow her on twitter @jillianwalker or follow her around the city with her running crew, Runcouver.
If there is anything as great as a good book, it has got to be sitting down to a great meal. We’ve decided to blend the two and give you a sampling of our favourite food books. While there are more than eleven wonderful books on urban agriculture and growing your own food, these next ones are a delicious start.
All of Michael Pollen’s books are fantastic and Food Rules is a great one to start with. In a world of ridiculous diets, calorie counting iPhone apps, and juice cleanses, Food Rules breaks down our meals into easy to follow steps. For anyone who’s ever been unsure of what to eat, this book is your new secret weapon. Simple concise rules, plus the reasoning behind them, Food Rules makes eating well fun again.
What is normal anyways? In Joel Salatin’s book, he highlights the strange new world we live in, where most people live miles away from the food they eat. A champion of small change, Folks, This Ain’t Normal is overflowing with practical advice for changing our diets and our lives.
When there is so much going wrong in the food industry, a book that celebrates the things going right is a welcomed read. In Fields of Plenty, Michael Ableman interviews a growing community of organic farmers and how their labours of love go beyond taste. The recipe section alone will inspire you to dig up every flower in your garden and plant as many edible things as possible.
Think you can’t grow food because your condo doesn’t come with a backyard? Think again. Urban Agriculture looks at how rural farming is coming to a city near you, in vacant lots, rooftops, even your windowsill. Packed with inspirational examples and practical advice, Urban Agriculture is the city kid’s guide to farming.
It’s easy to lose faith in our current food system, and to feel helpless when it comes to changing it. The Urban Food Revolution however is an empowering recipe for community food security and bringing food back home. Through community growing programs, investing in farmers markets and creating local fresh food initiatives, Peter Ladner lays the framework for a new kind of food system, putting people and the planet above profits.
Most of the world lives in cities. The trouble with this is that it takes a lot of food to feed cities, and that they create a lot of waste. From the land to the supermarket to the table to the dump, Hungry City follows the journey of food. Highlighting the issues with this process but also how we can change it, Carolyn Steel shines a light on the system that affects us all.
In case you haven’t heard, Canada is the place to be when it comes to creating new food systems. Sarah Elton introduces a motley crew of Canadian foodies, farmers, chefs and urbanites who are changing the rules of the food system. An inspiring look at how food travels more than people, and what Locavore showcases all the strides that are being made North of the 49th parallel.
When you think about it, our lives revolve around food. City Farmer looks at how our cities can revolve around food as well. From planting front yards with kale or foraging in local parks, city dwellers are taking back their yards, rooftops, balconies and public spaces, and creating a food production oasis in the middle of their urban lives. From composting tips to edible plants to grow, City Farmer has enough how to’s to help you get in on the urban farming action.
What do you do when you move to Oakland and live beside a vacant lot? If you’re raised by hippie parents, you turn it into a farm. In this hilarious memoir, Novella Carpenter recounts her adventures in urban agriculture, from geese and ducks to what we usually give up to live in the city. An excellent read for anyone growing their own food, from a herb plant to an apiary.
When it comes to the world of ethical eating, it seems like everyone has an opinion that they’re all too willing to share. From 100 mile diets to strictly organic to the debate between farmed and wild meat, there’s more debates than varieties of apples. Just Food cuts through the clutter and opinions and teaches us how to make the best food choices for ourselves, and the planet.
This book is for anyone ready to take their veggie patch to the next level. Agricultural Urbanism takes an innovative look taking sustainable food systems up a notch. From organic-food wholesalers to a slew of training programs, this book outlines key strategies for growing food in every city and producing it all year round.
We're going to let you in on a little Patch secret. We watch a lot of movies. Partly because we love the way that a great film can communicate ideas to audiences, and partly because we live in the Pacific Northwest and it rains a lot. So, with January underway, we thought it would be best to share our top food films of all time. If you've already seen them, please make yourself a foodie badge of honour and tell us what you thought. Any you would add to our list? If you haven't seen them yet, pull up the blankets, and maybe some kale chips, and get to watching!
5. Food Matters
Coming in fifth place is the 2008 documentary Food Matters. Produced and directed by James Colquhoun and Laurentine ten Bosch, Food Matters shines a light on the American Food and Drug industries, highlighting all that is wrong with them, as well as educating viewers on how we can take control of our own health by changing how we eat.
4. King Corn
In fourth place is King Corn. Produced by Aaron Woolf, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, King Corn takes a look at America's most productive crop. Ian and Curt move from Boston to Iowa to learn where their food comes from, where it goes between the farm and the table, and what's actually in it when it gets there.
3. Food, Inc.
The bronze medal goes to Robert Kenner and his film, Food, Inc. In this uncovering of America's food system and the regulatory bodies that govern it, Robert shines an often unwelcome light on how we are now able to grow chickens faster and keep produce fresh longer than ever before.
At long last, a feel good movie about food. In second place, Fresh looks at the things we are doing right. While the effects of industrial food production are still front and center, this film highlights the people who are re-inventing America's food system, often from the ground up.
The gold medal winning, best of the best, big kahuna food film is Forks Over Knives. This film makes the interesting point that, despite having the most advanced medical technology in human history, we are sicker than ever. Having made it through this post, it should come as no surprise that this is a direct result of the food we eat. Forks Over Knives looks at how most degenerative diseases can be controlled and sometimes reversed by changing what we eat, by eliminating animal-based and processed foods from our diet.
It should also be noted that any vegetarians/vegans/etc. watching this film will feel immensely smug afterwards.
To get you started on your cinematic food journey, check out the full length version of King Corn below.
Plans tonight? There's a good chance you'll be needing one of these tomorrow. Kick start your new year with a green smoothie. The biggest difference with this Strawberry Spinach one is that it's delicious, and doesn't taste like dirt. We found this tasty treat on Pinterest (obviously), but it was first featured on Young and Raw.
Happy 2013 Planters!
Strawberry Spinach Green Smoothie
2-3 Frozen Ripe Bananas
1 Cup Fresh Cut Strawberries
4 Cups Fresh Spinach
1/2 Cup Pea Sprouts
Put ingredients in a blender, add water and blend. The amount of liquid you use will depend on your desired consistency.