Dan, an Iowa native, is proud to practice a much different sort of agriculture than his home state is known for. As Farmscape's CEO, he oversees a multiple bottom-line approach that seeks to maximize the venture's social and environmental impact as well as its financial well-being. Dan is a Master Gardener and a member of the LA Food Policy Council's Working Group on Urban Agriculture. He is also a periodic contributor to The Huffington Post and Seedstock. In his free time, Dan enjoys playing basketball and board games, as well as volunteering with school and community garden projects.
On this blog we have talked quite a bit about local food but very little about local drinks. I’d like to change that. My motivation was NPR’s coverage of an urban vineyard in Paris that was created in the 1920s. It was a fascinating story and I encourage you to check it out.
The expert interviewed by NPR indicated that the wine sold for premium prices ($50 per half bottle) for novelty reasons and that the flavor of the wine was quite average. This makes sense given that differences in flavors of wine are produced by the distance between the vineyard and wine production, not the vineyard and the consumer. Wine, like beer and spirits, can age and be transported without substantial degradation of flavor (although the shelf life of some beers is not all that long).
Wine has a long history of being produced at the vineyard with careful attention being paid to how the terroir and geography impact its flavor. Appellation systems for identifying a wine’s geography date back to the Ancient Greeks.
Far less attention is paid to the locality of beer ingredients. After all, two of beer’s primary ingredients - malts and hops - are processed before being used in the brewing process. That is starting to change. In recent years, “wet hopped” and “harvest” beers have become increasingly popular. I’ll provide a bit of background in case these beer styles are new to you.
If You Don't Eat Your Meat, You Can't Have Any Pudding!
-Pink Floyd, The Wall
The front page of Saturday’s New York Times featured coverage of student-led school lunch protests. Healthier school lunches with larger servings of fruits and vegetables have not been well-received, leaving students to seek out junk food snacks as a supplement to meals they consider to be insufficient.
Nutrition in school lunches has been a point of emphasis in districts around the country for good reason. Childhood obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years and 36% of adults are now considered obese. As a result, First Lady Michelle Obama has made the fight against childhood obesity her top priority.
But, even if the motivation is noble, the question is whether the current response to this serious issue is working. And if these student protests are any indication, the answer is “no.”
Earlier this month, Grub Street did a write-up on eight restaurant gardens around Los Angeles. Among the projects featured were two collaborations between Farmscape and area restaurants.
One of those projects was the Jonathan Club’s rooftop farm, which was installed almost a year ago. It has since produced an abundance of produce for their on-site restaurant and for special events for their members. The garden gets a spectacular view of the downtown skyline.
Last month, I provided some practical tips on tasting tomatoes. Now I’d like to delve a little deeper into the science of tomato flavor.
It’s summer and the first tomato harvests are showing up in farmers markets and backyard gardens around Los Angeles. If you’re trying to figure out what heirloom varietal you’re most likely to enjoy or looking to impress your friends with tomato tasting expertise, read on. Here’s some background on how taste works and what it means for tasting tomatoes.
Tasting Fact #1: You can only taste five flavors - salty, sweet, bitter, sour and umami - everything else comes from your sense of smell.
What it means: Slice all tomatoes (even cherry tomatoes!) prior to tasting if you want to fully experience their flavor.