Simply in Season

News and reflections on all that's good about local food
from the co-author of Simply in Season,
a World Community Cookbook in the spirit of More-with-Less

Monday, May 22, 2006

SIS retreat in June

Join Simply in Season co-author Mary Beth Lind for a weekend retreat, "Healthy Abundance," in Lancaster County, Pa.

Coming June 23-25 to MCC's Welcoming Place campus, the weekend will be a time to:
-- Reflect on food issues.
-- Visit local farm markets.
-- Learn practical tips for in-season food preparation.
-- Hear from organic farmers and nutritionists.
-- Share questions and discuss solutions.

“Summer days as a child often found me sitting on the back porch with Mom and siblings shelling peas or peeling apples. Doing what we called BORING jobs. We would try to liven up the time by holding contests: who could shell the most peas in a minute; who could cut an apple into exact quarters. We tried anything to break the monotony of the job.

“Now I crave times like those. I love to sit on the porch and do “mindless” tasks. It is as I sit shelling peas or stand picking blueberries that my soul makes the long journey from my head to my heart and I come home to myself.” -- Simply in Season, page 84

"I now call these times REM for the soul," Mary Beth says. "Just as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is refreshing for the physical body, so to, these times of rapid hand movement but little mind activity are refreshing for the soul. As your summer gets busy, take a weekend for some REM for the soul and join a community of people trying to flesh out Simply in Season. Experience times of reflection, communal work, field trips, learning, and sharing of your own experience."

The weekend will start with supper on Friday evening and go through breakfast/brunch on Sunday morning. Here's the schedule.

For more information, telephone (717) 859-1152 (ext. 282). You can also download this flyer/registration form and mail it in by June 10th.

Friday, May 19, 2006

SIS in Portland

The Sustainable Business Network of Portland’s
Think Local First Campaign presents:

What’s so great about LOCAL FOOD?

Thursday, June 1 at 7 p.m.
4312 SE Stark, Friend’s Meeting House
$5-$10 sliding scale at the door

Supporting local farmers and learning to eat with the seasons is a delicious way to help make a better world, one meal at a time. Join me to explore the many health, environmental, and community benefits of choosing local foods – while tasting simple new recipes for preparing them.

For more info see or

Co-sponsored by: Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Foodfront Co-Op, Living Earth Gatherings

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"That's My Farmer" market coupons

I couldn’t be more thrilled about a pilot program taking place here in my home community of Corvallis. Would churches in your town be interested in doing something like this? Here’s a press release circulated by organizers last week:

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Coupon Program Promotes Locally Grown Food,
Helps Low-Income Families

In a time when family farmers are going out of business in record numbers and fertile land continues to fall out of production across America, local groups are creating strategies to keep small farms in the Willamette Valley in business.

This spring, five Benton County churches adopted a coupon program to promote a handful of family-scale farms, keep parishioners shopping at the farmers’ market, and provide fresh produce to the needy.

The program is called “That’s My Farmer!” after a similar effort that has grown and flourished under the guidance of the Reverend John Pitney, a Methodist minister in Eugene. [The Eugene program especially encourages church members to join CSA subscription farms.]

“I see the faith community as one of the only consistently organized groups in our community,” said Harry MacCormack, owner of Sunbow Farms and one of eight farms promoted by this year’s coupon program. “Congregations are an important basis of support for small family farms.”

Last weekend, participating congregations sold more than $1,500 worth of coupons in their first sale of the season.

Coupons are sold after services and in parish offices, and then taken to the farmers’ markets or farm stands where participating farmers sell their products. Ten percent of proceeds are used to provide coupons to low-income families.

This is an issue of food justice,” explained Sister Kathy Carr of St. Mary Catholic Parish in Corvallis, and one of the organizers of the program. “People across the economic spectrum should be able to enjoy fresh, nutritious produce all season long, and these coupons are a step in that direction.”

Participants say they hope some day people will feel a loyalty toward local farmers in the same way that they depend on a family doctor or a dentist.

“Small farmers need our constant economic support and commitment,” said project coordinator Liv Gifford of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO). “Locally grown food is a better choice for the environment and the local economy, in addition to just tasting a million times better.”

The coupon program evolved out of several years of dialogue at St. Mary Catholic Parish on community food security. Social justice activists launched the program last spring, adding a unique twist – 10% of proceeds were turned into coupons for families in need. This year, with the support of EMO’s Interfaith Food and Farms Partnership, the program has spread to five congregations across the county, reaching an estimated 7,000 people.

As of this week, St. Mary Catholic Parish, First Congregational United Church of Christ, First United Methodist, Monroe United Methodist, and the Corvallis Mennonite Fellowship are selling the coupons. Several others are about to join.

The eight farms – Gathering Together, My Pharm, Heavenly Harvest, Sunbow, Denison, Midway, Deep Roots and Bald Hill – send their coupons in to program organizers once a month for redemption.

EMO’s Interfaith Food and Farms Partnership is a two-year effort to support local farms, increase food access to the hungry, and raise awareness in faith communities.

“Most congregations of all faiths are involved in feeding the hungry, and this project expands that traditional role. Helping local family farms remain viable—a real bedrock of food security in a time of rising oil prices—and getting nutritious food to low-income families are very practical ways of loving our neighbors,” said Jenny Holmes, Environmental Ministries Director at Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon.

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Got all that? So you buy a booklet of six $3 coupons, redeemable for food at the eight participating farms (at the farm stands or the farmers' market). The cost is $20; the extra $2 provides free coupons for low-income families.

The coupon buyers get wonderful food (and as someone from my church observed, it's easy to want to shop at the farmers' market but having the coupons in hand will help her actually get out there on Saturday mornings). The farmers get more business. And lower-income folks get better access to fresh, nutritious food: everyone wins.

One hundred percent of coupon sales eventually makes its way to local farmers -- that's good for our local economy. Consuming more local food means less use of fossil fuels -- that's good for the environment. And all these things contribute to a healthier community.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

SIS in Minneapolis

Minneapolis, here I come! On the schedule:

Friday, May 12: Booksigning at the Ten Thousand Villages store in St. Paul, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Please come say hello and taste some sample recipes! The store is located at 867 Grand Avenue in Victoria Crossing West at the intersection of Grand and Victoria in the NW corner (same building as Bread and Chocolate).

Saturday, May 13: Mennonite World Relief Sale at Hennepin Technical College in Brooklyn Park. Among the usual festivities -- an auction, children’s activities, food court, etc. -- I’ll be offering two cooking demonstrations from Simply in Season at 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. I'm delighted to be working with Joetta Handrich Schlabach, author of Extending the Table, the second in the World Community Cookbook series, and we’ll both be available to sign books. (Not familiar with Extending the Table? Read what people are saying about it.)

Visit the Mennonite World Relief Sale home page to see photos of items being auctioned, including beautiful, hand-stitched Amish and Mennonite quilts.

Minneapolis just hosted the historic Passing on the Comfort traveling exhibit; it features 18 quilts and comforters made by North American women and sent to the Netherlands by MCC following World War II. For decades, the quilts were in the care of a Dutch Mennonite woman whose home had served as a refuge for Jews, hungry children and Mennonite refugees from Ukraine. Read about their story in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune. The exhibit is now on its way to Manitoba.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Dandelions and zucchini brownies

I keep thinking about those Locavores, and how I could stretch my own commitment-to-local-food muscles this month. My resolution of the day is inspired by the Simply in Season recipe of the week, Dandelion Bacon Salad.

Don’t know what it is, but I just haven’t made the leap to eating my own dandelion greens. There. I’ve said it.

The dumb thing is that I already know that I like the taste; I’ve bought them before at our farmers market. But somehow that’s easier, when they’re all neatly bundled up with a rubber band. Whether they’re pea shoots or garlic scapes (edible parts of the plant that don’t appear in supermarkets), dandelions or purslane (common wild foods), greens just look more appealing with a rubber band. Ah, the power of packaging, even at a farmers market!

Looking out my window at those dandelions and seeing “food” (eat it), not “weed” (root it out, kill it), is a stretch for me. Dumb thing number two: sheesh, we’ve got a bumper crop out there! I fuss about our peas that don’t come up while ignoring the veritable field of dandelions produced through no effort whatsoever.

OK. I pledge to make Dandelion Bacon Salad from my own dandelions this month. (How’s that for a baby step on the local food path?) And if I can’t make it from ingredients completely from within a 100-mile radius, I’m at least going to do some investigating into local sources. There’s already pasture-raised bacon in the fridge from our friends at Wood Family Farm, but the tablespoon of flour may present the biggest problem. More on local grains another day.

For more spring SIS recipes -- Vegetable or Fruit Oven Pancake, Sausage and Greens Soup, plus the one for Zucchini Brownies, a luscious favorite to file for later in the summer -- go to the recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Love the photos by Bill Wade (including this one).

There's also a terrific new Simply in Season review posted at Christian Book Previews.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Three cheers and bon appetit to the Locavores: a San Francisco-based group of folks who have pledged to eat foods grown within a 100-mile radius of their home for the month of May. ("Locavores": "local eaters," in the linguistic style of herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores.) In 2005 the group chose August; they select a different month each year in order to experience “going local” when different foods are in season.

Anyone is welcome to join this culinary adventure: the Locavore community already includes folks from at least 17 states and four additional countries.

It’s fun to scan the list of Locavore participants just to see the range of goals these folks are setting for themselves. Some are going whole hog, so to speak, with vows to seek out even local salt, baking powder and spices; one person says even his dog is going to go local. Others begin more modestly with pledges to eat one local meal per day or to include at least one local food item per week in evening meals.

Several folks aren’t quite ready to give up coffee, chocolate or bananas. And others comment that they already buy many local fruits and vegetables but they’re pushing themselves this month to seek out local sources of a new food, such as grains, meats, or dairy products.

The Locavores exemplify one of the things I find most encouraging about this journey with food choices: it’s not an all-or-nothing deal. We all make food choices constantly, and therefore there’s always another opportunity to make choices that feel good to us. Anyone can take steps down the local food path; it’s not a lifestyle available only to purists.

Maybe we’ll choose good foods today and not so good ones tomorrow, but every time we choose products that are good for our local and global neighbors as well as our own and environmental health, we benefit.

How might you want to challenge yourself to eat more locally this month?

Depending on the situation I might quibble with the order of priorities when choosing foods to buy, but in general I like this version of the Locavore’s pledge:

If not LOCALLY PRODUCED, then Organic.
If not ORGANIC, then Family farm.
If not FAMILY FARM, then Local business.
If not a LOCAL BUSINESS, then Fair Trade.

More on Locavores:
Tips for the May 2006 Eat Local Challenge
Opinion piece, “Think Globally, Eat Locally”
Valley Food & Farm, locavores in Vermont

Hands that harvest: a day without immigrants

Thousands of immigrants are boycotting work, school and shopping today as they urge the nation to imagine “A Day Without Immigrants.” To learn about immigration issues, peruse the wealth of materials available on Mennonite Central Committee’s immigration education website.

MCC’s suggestions for action on May 1 include fasting, prayer, and participation in a letter-writing campaign.

A new MCC resource, "Loving Strangers as Ourselves,” offers biblical reflections on the topic.

See also:
May 2006 Sojourners article, “Blessing the Hands That Harvest”: How consumers and farm workers together can make a better meal.

“Justice on the Table,” a 25-minute video

Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United)

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers