This week we turned over garden beds, and planted rows of corn, pumpkin, and beans. FoodWhat interns cleared the ground of weeds and cover crop, then turned the soil with forks, and spread rich dark compost over the rows.
Squash, corn, and beans planted together is a field practice that comes from indigenous cultures, known as “the three sisters.” The corn provides a support for the bean vines, the roots of which take nitrogen from the air and and into the soil. The squash provides a ground cover and maintains soil moisture. The corn and bean seeds were planted an inch deep, every 3 or 4 inches. The squash were planted in rounded dirt mounds, made with upturned painter's buckets, 6 seeds per hill.
The corn in the FoodWhat fields is japanese hull-less popcorn, which will grow this year, for next season's interns to pop. We made popcorn from last year's kernels, lighlty sprinkled with salt, and a type of yeast as a substitute to butter.
After the popcorn break, we gathered in the circle tent to discuss how food travels from producer to consumer. From the farm to our plates. For the consumer and the farmer, the most advantageous food system is the one with the least steps; like a farmers market, where the food is transported and sold by the farmer, and the profit goes to the farm and its workers. The produce that people buy at a farmers' market has often been picked that day or the day before, supermarket vegetables and fruits can be frozen for months before sale. The end product is less nutritious, more expensive, and near tasteless.
Processed products have more steps of production and delivery. Food must be grown and collected, transported to a processing plant; turned into a product, then packaged, shipped to a distributor, and shipped to a market, then bought by a consumer.
Interns played the parts of workers in the food system. Truck drivers, farmers, factory workers, supermarkets and corporations all look to make a profit in a commercial food system; leaving little for farmers. A dollar's worth of Pennies trickled between interns' hands, slowly diminishing, until five or six cents fell into the intern/farmer Brendan's palm.
Foodwhat intern Tommy played the part of a strawberry, a fruit shipped across the globe and used as a ingredient in many processed foods. Tommy had to perform 50 jumping jacks to simulate the energy required in shipping a strawberry around the world, but only one for a farmer's market.
The meal of the evening was veggie sushi. We chopped carrots, sweet potato's, tofu, onion, avocado and cabbage into long slivers. When the rice was boiled, rice-vinegar, sugar and salt were added to give it the proper consistency and taste. The seaweed wraps were laid down rough side up, and rice spread evenly across about 1/3 of the surface. The veggies went on top of the rice, and then the seaweed was folded over and rolled tightly. Cut, dipped into wasabi, and devoured.