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Have you noticed the recent rise of Napoletana pizza? It seems to me that Napoletana pizza is the new kale – the new focus of the foodie culture. Personally, I am fully supportive of this trend.

I am lucky enough to have been exposed to great pizza through my partner of Italian origin – always homemade dough, and I’m certainly not shy of anchovies or blue cheese experiments. Since giving several friends pizza stones over the holidays, our efforts have been further boosted.

But still, even our amazing creations at home can’t quite rival what can come out of a wood oven in a Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) certified restaurant. I love the idea of the Italian government stepping in to protect the tradition of Napoletana pizza. The long list of criteria for VPN certification include the specific ingredients to be used, the preparation process, and even the way the pizza is eaten: Double zero flour, no rolling pins, a wood-fired oven, and enjoying the product inside the pizzeria.

It is a beautiful thing to be able to go out in Vancouver and enjoy a pie with straight up but captivating toppings (ideally starring arugula) – right out of the fire – and it’s impossible to replicate that crust at home. We’ve eaten at Via Tevere on Victoria Drive a number of times and absolutely loved it. It’s an amazingly affordable and gourmet way to dine out. This BC Living post suggests I have a number of spots in our city yet to check out. So here’s to all those wonderful pizzaiolis – cin cin!

GROW Week

This week is GROW Week with Oxfam Canada – a week of actions surrounding World Food Day (October 16th). There is a call for action on land grabs and many ways to engage in action to improve our global food system.

Check out this article exploring the issue of land grabbing in Africa, “The hungriest continent on the planet is leasing or selling land to foreigners, some of which are Canadian, to grow food mainly for export—while large sections of the population face ongoing food or nutrition insecurity.”

Long time no post, but I’m thinking about grains again as I sort out which types of grain seeds to order for our plot at the Cedar Cottage Community Garden. The EYA’s Lawns To Loaves Take 2 is starting up, and our garden is participating again. The muscle-intensive rototilling is done, but we seem to have forgotten to save part of our yield last year, so we’re back to ordering packets. I’m also thinking about breaking our field up into three plots, so that we can start a rotation and always be testing out a little grain (wheat, buckwheat or barley) – possibly grain – clover – corn.

Check out this video from the Lawns To Loaves project last year – with lots of great shots of the harvesting process:

A rototilling action shot of the EYA project coordinator at our garden, taken by the gardener who got Cedar Cottage Community Garden involved with the project (and who did a whole lot of the grunt work of finishing the lasagna-gardening-style planting of the wheat).

An article in the Vancouver Sun last week started out well, making the case for why the Lawns to Loaves project of the EYA, growing grain on lawns across the city this year, actually makes good sense even to those who are skeptical of the production potential of scattered urban patches of land. Our community garden has one of the biggest patches in the project this year, and it’s been lovely to see the grain sprout up slowly but surely, especially considering how slow-going my personal garden patch has been this spring.

The Sun journalist gets that the symbolic power of wheat growing in the city is enough to energize neighbours and get people involved, but he ends his article by criticizing the City’s subsidies for these sorts of “make-work or make-a-point” projects. I can’t help but think that the money (pennies in the big picture) this City Council has put into projects that are actually about people – connecting neighbours and building community while at least taking steps towards better environmental stewardship – has the potential to pay off big time. While I support a little critical thinking about greening vs. greenwashing, all these neighbourhood projects take the small grants they are awarded, add hours and hours of volunteer involvement, and produce experiences and projects that yield if not tonnes of wheat, a whole lot of joy.

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A sidenote about there being more to grain than just grasses: I’ve experimenting with cheese-making this summer – I took a great intro class out at the UBC farm and then went and WWOOFed for a week on Goat’s Pride Organic Dairy in Abbotsford before starting my summer job. When I came back from my week with the goats, some friends came over for a cheese-making experiment and we used kefir as our starter culture. We make killer poutine, some chevre, and the feta is still ageing in the fridge. All this made possible by the amazing power of kefir grains – wild and crazy mini ecosystems described eloquently on this Seeds of Health page. Add in a little rennet, and you’re off to the races.

CBC.ca | The Current. Today the CBC’s The Current covered the new report by the Oakland Institute  on the role of hedge funds and sovereign wealth funds in land grabbing in African countries. The piece includes an interview of the Canadian CEO of Emergent Asset Management, one of the companies identified in the Oakland Institute’s report. The CEO claims there are many inaccuracies in the report, and it will be interesting to read their rebuttal. A great piece that attempts to create an actual dialogue.

All this just weeks after Oxfam’s launch of the GROW Campaign on women and food security, which touches on the land grabbing issue. This campaign is timely, huge and hard-hitting – attempting to build on the energy of the local food movement and make the connection to the global struggle for food sovereignty and justice.

Our community garden is gearing up for the annual fundraiser event. Come check out the Cedar Cottage Spring Fling on May 1st, from noon – 3pm at Victoria at Hull, in the garden plaza.

The afternoon will include live entertainment, children’s activities, a seedlings and garden books sale, a bake sale, garden tours, and more. The West House demonstration laneway house will also be open for a tour.

The weekend after that, the Britannia Stone Soup Festival will be on. I’ll be volunteering at the children’s activities booth. Come sing about vegetables with me!

The Story of Food

I’m working on a research proposal on climate change adaptation in agriculture, and I’m distracted by wonderful USC videos on the importance of seed diversity. Enjoy!

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/7573579″>The Story Of Food</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user2288966″>USC Canada</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>