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November 08, 2008

Just finished reading Michael Pollan's excellent memo to President-elect Obama regarding the state of American agriculture. An excellent overview of the problems of the current intensive methods of "farming", if that word can be used for monocultures of corn, CAFOs, manure lagoons, feeding antibiotics to cattle as a matter of routine, food irradiation, a process that requires an average of 10 petroleum-based calories of energy to produce one calorie of mass-produced "food". What was on your dinner plate tonight? Do you know how much oil it took to get it there?

But even better than the overview of what's wrong, Pollan includes three critical steps for changing the current system, improving our security, improving our health, and addressing climate change: resolarize the American farm, regionalize the food system, rebuild our food culture. My favorite part: tear out a portion of the White House's South Lawn and put in an organic fruits and vegetable garden, use the produce to feed the Obama family (and the White House staff, presumably) with extra going to local food banks, and be sure that the entire Obama family spends a little time out there pulling weeds. I can't think of a better way to be the change we want to see, than to have our President take 20 or 30 minutes between meetings to take in the weather and harvest something edible. The world will have truly changed when the Secret Service guys can get involved, too.

(If you don't have a New York Times account and want to read the memo, check out BugMeNot for a login/password combo.)

November 05, 2008

We watched election returns at a friend's house and heard most of Seattle burst into cheers just before The Daily Show signed off with the announcement that Obama had won. For a moment, I thought it was just The Daily Show being funny, since sometimes I find it hard to tell when they are being serious. But when we switched to a "real" news station, it was all about the win. I don't miss the nail-biting cliff-hanger at all.

We watched McCain's speech and were generally impressed. And we watched Obama's speech - twice - and I teared up - twice. Caitlyn sat on my lap for the live airing of the Obama speech, and when he said "United States of America", she turned around to me and said, "United States of America! What was that again?" "It's our country," I told her, and was surprised to hear the pride in my voice.

I've probably failed at explaining to Caitlyn why today was significant, although she did learn the word "voting". Since we vote by mail, I'm not sure she knows what concept goes with the word, but it's start. I never seem to plan ahead for these large explanations, just start in on them and then suddenly find myself trying to define "government" in terms a three-year-old would understand. But I will be able to tell her that she saw President Obama's acceptance speech, that she was there, awake and paying attention, when America made history. Yes We Can.

November 01, 2008

I have eaten the last of the caramels made by my grandfather. I think I made the last batch last three years, sneaking them one at a time out of the freezer. But they are gone now. I may go into withdrawals at any moment.

To add to my list of things for the kitchen: candy thermometer and marble slabs and a stainless pot of sufficient size. Maybe one of those neat double handled knives Mom has... which could be useful for cutting large cheeses as well. I still need the 16 or 20 quart stainless pot for cheese making, plus the cheese press and molds for cheddar and gouda, and the mini-fridge for aging the cheese.

Don't ask about the cow. I still have to figure out how to convince the neighborhood that a herd of goats would be ok, never mind a cow. And the goats are going to have to wait until after I've gotten the anti-outside-clothesline rule repealed. Well, ok, I think I have a chance with the clothesline rule - the goats are probably more of a stretch than my neighbors want to make.