Category Archives: Sustainable Agriculture

Farmers’ Market’s Seasonal Farewell

Boulder County Farmers’ Markets go fallow until spring.

Each year’s early-season downtown Boulder farmers’ market brims with enthusiasm for the coming growing season both for home-grown veggies and for those that vendors will be bringing in until well into fall. And that’s where we are now — well into fall and winding down our expectations of fresh local products every week.

 

 

Still, fall markets are simply gorgeous with an abundance of late-season produce, notably squashes of so many shapes and shades. Boulder’s last market of 2017 was today — an opportunity also to stock up on locally produced pantry products. There will be one  more market this year at the Boulder County Fairgrounds on Saturday, November 17. Then, it’s adios until April.

Two Colorado Chefs to Cook in Colombia

Tom Coohill and Daniel Asher at gastronomic fest.

Tom Coohill, chef and co-owner of the Denver restaurant that bears his name, and Daniel Asher of Boulder’s River & Woods  recently made their second trip this year to Washington, D.C., to work with Plate of the Union, a food advocacy organization that is working to address hunger issues through the 2018 Farm Bill.

Soon they are heading to South America for the 10th annual El Sabor Barranquilla Gastronomic Festival in Barranquilla, Colombia, August 25-27. They will demonstrate cooking techniques and participate in culinary forums using his recipes and the Colombian region’s ingredients.

El Sabor Barranquilla is a three-day event focusing on the foods of the Caribbean, with cooking demonstrations and contests, forums exploring biodiversity, sustainability, culinary techniques and advances, and a variety of dishes cooked by chefs from around the world.

 “A crew came out from SaborUSA TV last year to film at the restaurant, and things went so well that they reached out for this event,” says Chef Tom, who will be accompanied by his wife and Coohills co-owner Diane Coohill. “They’re flying me and Daniel down there, and as we proved in D.C. recently, Daniel and I work well together. So, I think this is a great opportunity to have a really cool cultural exchange through food.” 

Focus on Food This Election Year

Getting food issues off the back burner.

plateoftheunion-logo-jpgEven though First Lady Michelle Obama has made valiant efforts to bring to public and media attention on fresh and healthy food, such issues as food deserts, wide-spread hunger, food waste and the awful power of the agri-chemical industry still plague the country. The next administration is unlikely to build on the Mrs. Obama’s legacy. The White House organic garden might even be plowed under.

One effort to bring food issues to public and political attention is the Plate of the Union Food Truck Tour, which started over this past summer to calli for action on food and farms. In Cleveland for the Republican National Convention and Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, organizers of the Plate of the Union say the food truck drew  crowds, underscoring that legions of  Americans care about healthy, fair, sustainable and affordable food. At each convention, organizers say that they were “joined by delegates, members of Congress, media and everyday people who agree: we need presidential leadership to fix our food system.”

The post-convention road trip included stops in Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Ohio, Illinois, Iowa and North Carolina. This ambitious road trip did not appear to include Colorado. The truck staff gathered petition signatures and say that they heard from concerned farmers, food business owners, teachers, parents, workers and more. Aa New York Times article, “When Will Food Issues Be on Politicians’ Plates?”, featured the Plate of the Union. It reminded readers that food is not a red or blue issue, and it raises how food intersects with so many critical national issues this election season: immigration, labor, health, trade and more.

I doubt that upcoming debates will spend much, if any time, on food issues, but it won’t be for the of the Plate of the Union’s efforts.

Boulder Farmers’ Markets to Run One at Union Station

Wynkoop Plaza a natural location for local food market.

BCFM-newlogoThere is a happy cross-fertilization between the Denver and Boulder food scenes.  Boulder-born Zoe Mama and The Kitchen have taken root in Denver (at Union Station, in fact). Now comes the announcement that the Boulder County Farmers Markets will manage the seasonal marketplace on Wynkoop Plaza on the north side of the station. It will take place every Saturday from June 4 through October 24 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is said to be city’s first growers-only farmers market.

With 29 years of experience in operating growers’ markets, BCFM coordinated a pilot market this past October 10 that attracted approximately 1,670 visitors to shop among 25 farm, bakery, restaurant and food-producer vendors. That tested the feasibility for the new Union Station Farmers Market, which is supported by the Union Station Alliance, RTD and the Downtown Denver Partnership. BCFM was awarded a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program Grant in October to assist with launching and promoting the new market.

LoDo, the Platte River Valley and LoHi are among the booming Denver neighborhoods whose residents can be expected to make the farmers’ market a Saturday morning tradition.  In addition to the big seasonal markets in Boulder and Longmont, BCFM runs a small year-round stand as part at the Boulder Public Library’s Seeds Cafe and a two-day December market at the Boulder County Fairgrounds.

Boulder County Farmers Markets are growers-only markets in Boulder and Longmont that  support local farmers, ranchers and food producers and earned recognition as the  nation’s number one farmers market by USA Today readers in August 2015.

Sockeye Salmon Specials in 2 Area Restaurants

Kelly Whitaker’s Basta and Cart-Driver celebrate Sockeye Week.

BristolBayFishermanChefs Collaborative, a group of influential chefs dedicated to promoting sustainable, natural food sources. The group has declared this to be  Sockeye Restaurant Week through November 15. Restaurants and other businesses across the country are featuring wild sockeye salmon from Bristol Bay, Alaska, on their menus. No, sockeye isn’t fresh in November, but it was flash-frozen and is just about as good.

Bristol Bay is the world’s largest sockeye fishery. Today, it is celebrated by no less that President Barack Obama, a supporter of Bristol Bay’s pristine nature, who took action to protect the ecosystem and the fishing community. His actions assure that it will remain a sustainable and productive fishery. Until then, there was a long and ugly threat from the proposed development of the Pebble Mine, a porphyry, copper, gold, and molybdenum operation that would have put Bristol Bay and its population of all five types of salmon at risk if the mine were developed and its waste containment were to fail. Think of the Gold King mine mess near Silverton last August and the far worse situation in Brazil right now, where two burst mining dams have already cost 28 lives, safe drinking water and numerous small villages. Imagine that crap spilling into Bristol Bay. Fortunately, the mine project didn’t come to pass, and now, let’s think about delicious salmon again.

Chefs Collaborative member Kelly Whitaker is hosting two sockeye specials at Cart-Driver (Denver) and Basta (Boulder). Cart-Driver is replacing its popular tuna mousse with sockeye mousse, and Basta is they are extending Sockeye Restaurant Week into First Bite Boulder with a sockeye special.

IKEA Improving Its Seafoods

Furniture retailer’s café offering upgraded.

IKEA-logoPeople go to IKEA for affordable, assemble-it-your-self furniture and home accessories, but they often return for the reasonably priced Scandinavian dishes served in its public cafeterias. It never occurred to me that the seafoods might not be sourced from sustainable fisheries. It appears that they weren’t but are shifting in that direction. IKEA has announced that it will make all of its seafood certified sustainable by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) or the Marine Stewardship Council (ASC). It is currently working with the MSC to certify crayfish fisheries.

Additionally, IKEA will be providing consumers with more nutritious and appropriately portioned menu options, and also update the look of its restaurants to reflect its Swedish heritage and “a more personal experience and ‘homey’ feeling.” I am assuming, but don’t know for sure, that food products sold at retail will be meeting the same standards.

“We will continue to serve delicious food, offering a taste of Sweden at affordable prices, but with increasing focus on the aspects of food that are really important to people: health and sustainability,” said Michael La Cour, managing director of IKEA Food Services AB. “We have high ambitions, and our journey in this direction has just begun.”

Fab Fundraiser for Flatirons Food Film Fest

Wine, foodies & song in Boulder.

FlatironsFoodFilmFest-logoThree art forms were showcased at yesterday evening’s Flatirons Food Film Festival fundraiser: cinematic arts, musical arts and, of course, culinary arts. The event opened with food samples from some of the city’s finest chefs and adult beverages. Then there was a fast-moving live auction (some guests scored great deals). Then came short films on food subjects curated by James Beard Award-winner The Perennial Plate, which documents what it calls “adventures in sustainable eating.” Each chef viewed one of the films that inspired the dishes he presented, and in addition to the resulting food/film pairings, four fine singers from Opera on Tap Colorado performed operatic pairings.

Alex Krill & David Query, Jax Fish House

Query, who founded and operates the entire Big Red F Restaurant Group, of which Jax is just one concept, said that “10 Things We love About Italy” inspired him to offer fresh, simple food, preparted with “not a lot of over-thought, just thought.”

David Qurey and the shoulder of Alex Krill (sorry, Chef).
David Qurey and the right shoulder of Alex Krill (sorry, Chef).
"Crispy, creamy and cheezy" (their spelling) polenta with cured tuna, pickled mushrooms and a sauce of sweet corn, basil and olive oil.
“Crispy, creamy and cheezy” (their spelling) polenta with cured tuna, pickled mushrooms and a sauce of sweet corn, basil and olive oil.

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