Kirschbits was born in Schleswig (a small historic -and viking related- town in the northern most region of Germany) through the skills and creativity developed through my curiosity and desires to make different things, try different materials, and above all, Hand-making everything I shape in my mind.
Kirschbits is me, Vanessa Kirsch (Graphic Designer, Artist) a Venezuelan living in Germany. I make different kinds of handmade stuff (handbags, jewelry, art, design and graphics, etc). I throw in a whole bunch of ideas, concepts and above all, love and professionalism in everything I do.
Lately, there have been more than a handful of high-profile books touting a vegan existence. Freedman and Barnouin’s Skinny Bitch (pictured above) and Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet among them; I read one, skimmed several others and I have, to risk the use of a terribly cheesy pun, beef.
While I can, mostly off the top of my head, recite for you the nutritional needs of every animal in my care human nutrition is, admittedly, not my strong suit. For that reason — and because I find it largely irrelevant, another story for another day — I will not argue against the premise that meat is nutritionally detrimental to humans.
What I will point out — over the course of the next few weeks — is that books like those listed have completely overlooked an important and rapidly growing demographic of food producers in North America and that the consequences of doing so, on a mass scale, will negatively affect not just the people, but the animals therein. Yes, even those intended for slaughter. And that it is, as long as we’re speaking in cheesy puns and cliches, possible to have your happy, healthy pig (or cow or chicken or quail or duck or goose) and eat it too!
So what about the people? For the first time in decades the U.S. is seeing a significant increase in the number of small farms in operation. Perhaps since WWII herself, when the industrialization and centralization of our food system hit full stride, David is wiggling from under the thumb of Goliath. And, most significant, he’s being backed by consumer dollars. The very thing that makes the world, or at the very least business, go ’round.
But it’s not just David either. “Donna” has also entered the brawl. Between 2002 and 2007 the number of female farm operators increased by nearly twenty percent. Like medicine, engineering, mathematics and countless other industries agriculture has always been a boys’ club, but today women are playing a major role in the restructuring and revival of it from within. They’re supporting their families, strengthening their communities and paving the way for a healthier, more equal society tomorrow while implementing systems that can sustain both the earth and its people.
In fact, organic produce was harvested from more than 200,000 acres in 2007. That’s just from the farms that are not so small they’re flying under the census radar; and where there is organic produce, there are small meat producers not far behind. In many instances they are one and the same.
Small, diversified farms may, as a matter of fact, be the single most sustainable model on the agricultural landscape today. Able to produce natural fertilizer off their land, by way of animals they feed from it, they can create a cyclical balance that cannot be reproduced. And the people behind those farms are the ethically astute people we need behind the scenes of our Agricultural Evolution. Stop supporting them and we stop supporting the sustainable restructuring of our food system.
So how do we cut through the jargon and find the right meat, milk and egg producers? Join me next week when we’ll look at just that.
“Oh, Mom! What are those?”
I love it when my children get excited about things that can be grown so when my five year-old’s eyes lit up and the chatter started last week as I pulled a packet of Luffa Gourd seeds from the envelope Seven Acre Woods had lovingly tucked them in I couldn’t resist engaging her. The conversation that resulted was even more pleasing than what had spurred it because if there’s anything I love seeing my children excited about more than things that grow it’s how (and where) those things are grown. And that’s exactly where her interest turned.
“Can I grow one of those in my garden? Oh and Mom, don’t let Dad use that loud thing on mine okay? I just want a shovel and a rake.”
‘That Loud Thing’ is the rototiller and while her current interest is a bit misplaced — the decibel level of the machinery used to till land on which food is grown is of little environmental and social concern, after all — her interest in the production of food at all is encouraging; and timely.
For some the Farmer’s Markets either never ceased or have already made their grand re-opening for the 2010 growing season and even for those in colder geographies the season of local production is just around the corner — or so I keep telling myself as I stare out the window at a barren white expanse.
As we step foot back in the Farmer’s Markets this year we may know, at least for the most part, where the goods we find there were grown but do we really know how? USDA organic certification can be costly and for some small producers and those that are trying to keep consumer costs at a bare minimum in order to make healthy, local fare available to all income levels, certification can be downright out of reach — but that doesn’t mean their goods aren’t grown organically. It just means they can’t bare a USDA seal.
Without getting to know your growers; without asking how their products are grown you’ll never know if the goods you choose each Saturday and Sunday morning are meaningfully produced in the manner most important to you. As you venture back out to shop your local farmer’s market this season remember, knowing how is just as important as knowing where.
We interrupt this program to bring you the customary May Edition of ‘What’s In Season Now’. Many of the recommendations made in both the March and April editions are still applicable; if you missed it before, be sure to check those out now!
Last night I baked a Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie. It was delicious both in that it tasted like heaven and that it’s a sure sign, even here in the land of never-ending winters, the season of fresh harvested bounty is upon us.
While the rhubarb was harvested just a couple hundred feet from my front door, the strawberries were not local. Had we not already devoured all of those I’d frozen last summer they could have been, but alas we had. And as unfortunate as it is, strawberries and rhubarb have yet to get the memo that they should ripen at the same time — what with them being so very complementary to one another when coated in honey, sprinkled with cinnamon and baked into a flaky crust — and my children have yet to get the memo that frozen strawberries are supposed to last us until the following strawberry season.
The uncooperative nature of strawberries and rhubarb aside, May is probably one of the most diverse months of the early growing season in the Northern Hemisphere. As the climate in the north just begins to warm to true growing temperatures, in the southern and more temperate locales summer’s gifts are making their first appearances at Farmer’s Markets.
Those strawberries I won’t be able to source locally for another month are already gracing farm stands in some places, for instance. And don’t be fooled by their smaller stature when compared to their supermarket cousins. In every one of those small berries is ten-times the flavor — and one-hundred times the ethical ego-boost.
Beside them early blueberries are making appearances as citrus fruits close-up shop; garbanzo beans — while a lot of prep work — and fava beans also start showing up in their fresh, rather than dried form. Greens of all kinds are still in their glory in many places and can inspire myriad dishes when you get creative by serving them sautéed, steamed and even raw in all their forms; collard and chard are delicious drizzled with a favorite vinegar. Radishes, like asparagus, may be winding down in warmer areas, but in the cooler north they’re producing at peak; and make an excellent addition to salads and atop crostini with dinner. Likewise peas are a raw treat for kids and adults alike and later in the month even cherries will start to make an appearance some places.
What are you seeing at the Farmer’s Market this month? And even better, what are you doing with it? Share your favorite May finds, tips, tricks and recipes in the comments below and I’ll feature the best of the best later this month in a column!
And just one last note before I leave you to your shopping: Not sure where to find a farmer’s market near you? Check out Local Harvest for help. Not sure how to shop a farmer’s market? Never been before? Check out the farmer’s market guide that was featured right here at Try Handmade last year for tips!
Winter Lights Clothing: I specialize in original one of a kind clothes for chicks who aren’t afraid to show off their curves.
I believe that every garment in existence would look 36,000,000 times prettier with corset lacing and ruffles. ^__^
I’ve been sewing for going on 10 years, and the past few have been devoted to clothing. I am self-taught and don’t care much for patterns, so I only have made a few basics that I use. Sewing should be fun and intuitive in my opinion, therefore I have a fondness for ‘winging it’ and ‘seeing what happens’.