Archive | August, 2008

August 30th, 2008 – International Day of the Disappeared

30 Aug

Amnesty International USA
25 years remembering the disappeared

Jorge Alberto Rosal Paz “disappeared” in Guatemala on 12 August 1983. The 28-year-old agronomist was kidnapped by armed military personnel in a jeep, while driving between Teculutan and Zacapa. He was never seen again.

When he “disappeared”, Jorge Rosal was married with a daughter. His wife was expecting their second child. It is believed he had no political or religious affiliations. Despite reported sightings of him in detention after his kidnapping, the Guatemalan authorities denied all knowledge of what had happened.

Jorge’s family took his case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In 2000, the Guatemalan State issued a statement acknowledging its institutional responsibility in Jorge Rosal’s case and others. In 2004, a friendly settlement was agreed between the State and Jorge Rosal’s family.

Jorge Rosal is just one of hundreds of thousands of people who have been victims of enforced disappearances around the world in the past 25 years. And hundreds of thousands of family members and friends are still left without any knowledge of their fate. They will all be remembered on Saturday 30 August, on the 25th anniversary of the International Day of the Disappeared.

Read full story @ http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGNAU200808295834&lang=e

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Urban Farming in San Francisco

28 Aug

A couple of years ago, I was listening to one of the Deconstructing Dinner shows about Urban Farming and one of the guests was discussing the use of city backyards as a way to use the existing green space to grow crops. I have been fascinated with this idea ever since and have been trying to find information about a similar project in San Francisco. Today I stumbled upon Victory Gardens which, according to the website, is a pilot project funded by the City of San Francisco to support the transition of backyard, front yard, window
boxes, rooftops, and unused land into organic food production areas.

It is still early days yet, but I am very interested to see where this goes.

Summer Observations

25 Aug

This is most definitely the best time of year for produce at the farmers’ market. Just about everything that is available at any time of year in the Bay Area is in season. My favorite things available right now are the fresh beans (black-eyed peas, cranberry and edamame) the wonderful berries (blueberry, strawberry, blackberry and raspberry,) fresh mission figs and dry farmed heirloom and early bird tomatoes. There are plenty of squash varieties too and lots of interesting melons. I love keeping track of when certain things are in season. Blueberries, edamame and figs tend to have a relatively small window of availability and I look forward to the different seasons of produce.

This is also the time of year for tourists. The city is full of visitors right now and, as I live in one of the most visited parts of San Francisco, I run into them frequently. It is interesting to see the different kinds of tourists, where the are from and how they respond to the small mountain of steps they must walk up or down when visiting Coit Tower. The gardens on Telegraph Hill are in full bloom right now, and continental Europeans walk up and down the hundreds of steps with ease, while British and American tourists voice there disbelief at the thought of anyone actually living here. How do people go shopping? Do they have to CARRY everything up and down these steps? How much further is it? What do you do if you need to run and get some milk?

Sometimes I feel like a bit of an oddity as I turn towards the building I live in and away from the people-filled steps as they watch me carrying groceries or household items. My cat is fond of following us up and down the steps as well and sometimes I catch her posing for photographs with the tourists. It’s terribly adorable and I often get the urge to tell people that she is my cat. She walks around like she owns the place.

Now, back to the food! Below are the recipes that I have made today, using the wonderful local ingredients that we picked up today.

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What Is This Herb? – Revisited

12 Aug

Some time ago I wrote about a strange herb that I acquired at the farmers’ market. I was told that it was called water mint, but all the photographs and information I found online could not confirm that. Thanks to a blog post over at Pinoy Cook, I think I have discovered what this plant actually is: Water Spinach!

Now to start searching for recipes!

Some interesting historical information about the water spinach here.

Health, Food and Human History: The All-American Banana?

7 Aug

As part of my move toward eating locally produced food, I have cut out certain fruits and vegetables from my diet. In an attempt to have some sort of balance, and in cases where they are available, I will purchase organic and fairly traded varieties of coffee, chocolate, tea and coconut products but have nearly cut out the consumption of all fruit that cannot be grown within California. This includes pineapple, papaya, mango, and of course: bananas.

I’ve recently become somewhat fascinated with the banana. I often wonder why it is so popular. Perhaps it is because the banana is so easy to carry and eat. But the banana is not a local fruit. Not unless you live in South America, Hawaii, or parts of Asia. How did it get here and when? And how have banana prices remained so low, even though the fruit travels thousands of miles to reach our markets and tables?

Not just Organic, but Fair Trade!

Most of us have seen organic produce varieties popping up in supermarkets across the United States. Though knowing how food is grown is extremely important, so too is knowing how the farmers and workers are paid and treated in the process. Finding Fair Trade coffee, tea and chocolate is becoming easier and easier and I find it interesting that there doesn’t seem to be as much of a movement to engage fresh fruit producers and distributors. I have no doubt there are many challenges with storage, shipping and USDA guidelines though I have not found any specific information as yet. Fair Trade fruit is available now, though can be difficult to find and I have not seen any form of labelling system to indicate that the fruit is in fact Fair Trade.

Below are some resources about the Banana and Fair Trade Fruit:

Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World

Yes, We Will Have No Bananas

The Banana

Banana.com

Fair Trade Banana Cooperative

Fair Trade: Fresh Fruit Program

The State of Food in San Francisco

7 Aug

As many people know, San Francisco is one of the wonders of the foodie world. With it’s melting pot population, coastal location, climate that offers year-round produce and upwards of 10,000 restaurants, foodies are spoiled for choice.

San Francisco Magazine‘s recent issue focuses on food in the Bay Area. Though it’s not my favorite magazine it did definitely have some very good articles this month.

To eat local, kill local With just one slaughterhouse remaining within 80 miles of San Francisco, we stand to lose not only our local beef industry, but our grazing lands as well. Now a thick-skinned herd of ranchers and environmentalists are determined to keep the cows close to home.

The State of the Plate When it comes to dining out, is San Francisco becoming a Valhalla or a Vegas with hills? Josh Sens looks back on a confounding 12 months of meals and takes the measure of a region and its restaurants.

Moth Class What the light brown apple moth—and the pesticide shower it nearly unleashed—taught us about the future of our fruits and vegetables.

Weapons of Moth Destruction How the Bay Area maneuvered to beat back an impending pesticide assault.

Update: California Green

6 Aug

Here are some interesting stories I’ve collected over the past few months about California and the San Francisco Bay Area. Thanks to Green Daily!

Fresno-Yosemite International Leads Green Airport Movement

San Fran tests new parking technology to decrease traffic, emissions Visit SFpark website!

San Jose, CA’s Green Vision

San Francisco’s New Solar Program

Mayor Newsom trying to make S.F. recycle

San Francisco’s First Grease-To-Biodiesel Facility

Conservationists win battle on key California land