Friday, August 21, 2009

Food and wine as collateral for bank loans

After reading the story on Boing Boing I began to contemplate what I could borrow against my fig jam, or okra pickles. Or even better, a jar of my great aunt's bread & butter pickles that I have been saving for just the proper occasion.

(Posted by David Pescovitz)

Italian banks may soon accept high-end prosciutto and wine as collateral for loans. The Italian agriculture minister is into the idea. Apparently, it's not as far-fetched as it sounds.

From The Guardian: The Italian bank Credito Emiliano has long stored hundreds of thousands of parmesan wheels, worth about 300 (euros) each, in warehouses as collateral while they age. Since the bank can sell the cheese if creditors default, it can afford to offer low interest rates to an industry which is suffering from recession and supermarket discounting. Legs of cured ham, or prosciutto crudo, weighing about 10kg, can sell for hundreds of euros after months of curing in controlled conditions, while bottles of Brunello di Montalcino are regularly snapped up for the same amount. "We may start off with accepting wine as collateral, but I would prefer the Italian banking association to launch an industry-wide scheme which involves a range of products," said Zonin. "This will help producers in times of crisis as well as when the economy picks up."
Click here to read The Gurdian article

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cupcakes do make you smarter

Courtesy of Vanessa Ruiz's blog,Street Anatomy , and Boing Boing for leading me there...

If cupcakes are your thing, check out some great paintings at zou zou's basement.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bitten by Bollywood

Read my latest article on Richmond's Little India in the west end. Old Parham Road boasts a slew of Indian shops- a market, Laxmi Palace that stocks most of the provisions you need to whip up a curry or daal, a movie rental shop to find Bollywood's latest, a small kebab restaurant, and Indian Pastry House, a strange Indo- French fusion. While the whole block begs for ambience, there are some tasty treats that await you. As a few of my Indian friends have pointed out, it's no Bombay, hell, its not even DC or NY or London standards, but it's a heck of a lot closer for some take-out, and a birthday cake while you're at it.

Click here for the full story

This entire post is Courtesy of Obama Foodorama

Lee S. Dean, food editor at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, has created a series of nutrition awareness posters to help teach middle school and high school students about healthy eating. She sent in the most obviously relevant one to Ob Fo (wink wink), but her excellent poster series of historical figures made of good foods also features Abe Lincoln, George Washington, and Albert Einstein, among others, with the message that eating healthy is eating smart.

Ob Fo wondered if a poster featuring First Lady Michelle Obama might be in the works, given Mrs. Obama's food agenda? Ms. Dean said she's considering it, and she thinks the Obama food agenda is "definitely going in the right direction," and that the First Family is serving as good role models for eating right. In the pantheon of Obama food art, Mrs. Obama is far less represented than the President, which is interesting...but it's still early in the scheme of things, riiight?

In Ms. Dean's Obama poster, the jacket is made from collards, pear and turnip; skin and hair from black and mahogany rice, cracked wheat, flax seed, millet and wheat berries; facial features from cashews, garlic, jalapeno, olives, oyster mushrooms, peppercorns, pickles, raisins, red onion, tapioca.

Thanks, Ms. Dean!

*Visit Lee Dean's website here for more poster info, and check out her cookbook, Come One, Come All-Easy Entertaining with Seasonal Menus.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Green Tonic Redux

Take me to the river and drop me in the water
Dip me in the river, drop me in the water
Washing me down, washing me down.

~D Byrne/ A Green

A group of disciples were treated to a baptism of sorts, a ritual washing and cleansing in green, for a few days this week at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. Over 100 participants, from the region and beyond were privy to hearing impassioned national speakers talk about some of the most interesting trends in Greening Cities, Biophilia, Food Apartheid, and more.

Rachel Flynn, Richmond’s Director of Community Development, kicked off the proceedings with a heartfelt talk about “Urban Greening, Economic Vitality, and Environmental Sustainability.” She referred to the city’s Master Plan process and the hopes to focus more attention on green spaces, pedestrian needs and public transportation. She also reaffirmed a city commitment to making the James River as our Central Park

A bus tour gave visitors an interesting view of the city as we meandered down Boulevard and then through Carver and Jackson Ward on our way to Church Hill. Our first stop was Libby Hill Park, at the site where William Byrd was struck by the similarity of the view to that of Richmond upon Thames, a village outside of London and thus dubbed us Richmond.

A visit to Tricycle Gardens was eye-opening as Lisa Taranto explained the history of the community garden project that she started as well as plans for other similar initiatives around town.

Finally, we stopped at the new green headquarters of the Virginia Association of Counties and got an insiders peek at the LEED process as well as the rooftop garden.

After a lovely dinner of locally sourced salads and berry trifle, we had the pleasure of hearing from Tim Beatley, Professor of Sustainable Communities at the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture. The word of the evening was Biophilia, - “the innately emotional affiliation of human beings with other living organisms.” In a nutshell- it’s essential for our wellbeing to connect with nature. He shared a variety of examples of strategically planned communities where nature is integrated in interesting and fulfilling ways.

Wednesday’s highlights included Leni Sorensen’s historical overview of agriculture in central Virginia with a particularly interesting account from an 1805 slave garden journal from Monticello that detailed the produce sold to the plantation. I also learned that corn pone is a kissing cousin of our beloved spoon bread. La Donna Redmond gave a very personal glimpse into the world of food allergies and issues of access and nutrition in the Chicago Public School System. Her personal journey has been a launch pad for creating innovative farm to table programs in Chicago and for examining issues around “Food Apartheid.” that impact certain marginalized groups of our society who cannot access healthy food for one reason or another.

Drew Becher, the Executive Director of New York Restoration Project hilariously recounted his journeys with Bette Midler as they restored many of New York’s old parks and implemented an impressive Million Trees NYC campaign. “ By planting one million trees, New York City can increase its urban forest—our most valuable environmental asset made up of street trees, park trees, and trees on public, private and commercial land—by an astounding 20%, while achieving the many quality-of-life benefits that come with planting trees.”

Afternoon break-out sessions focused on issues like Food Security and initiatives to green our community. My head was spinning from so many great ideas from the previous talks that I felt a bit overwhelmed.

Kudos to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens for bringing together so many talented folks from around the country who were able to tell their compelling stories and inspire me and my fellow attendees to stay focused on the work at hand in Richmond to create a community of green.

Green Tonic was a refreshing drink.