Thursday, May 08, 2008

Linda Colwell, Slow Food- Portland
What We've Lost - As Eaters
Did you know that 93 percent of North American food product diversity has been lost since 1900?

Linda Colwell recently spoke at a lecture in the Ag Sciences building in Corvallis Oregon. She's a chef, writer and consultant in food, farms, and school-garden education. She founded the Garden of Wonders school-garden project and the scratch kitchen at Abernethy Elementary School in Portland, Oregon. Check out an article she wrote in Culinate about garden education programs with public schools.

Notes from her lecture:

#1. "We've lost our ability to walk into our yards or into a market and harvest things from a source that we know.... food that has integrity."

Linda says that we're trained culturally to cook with our noses in a cookbook rather than following our instincts, which she thinks is a shame. "We have a whole industry around cookbooks," She says, adding that people need to trust their instincts, get in touch with their senses and just rethink the meal. "Opening a CSA box (full of veggies and fruit) is no different than opening a cookbook."

#2. "We've lost our skill at being adventurous around flavors and being willing to let something unexpected happen on the table."

"A perfectly cooked egg is truly amazing especially if it's 36 hours fresh from the hen."

Linda Colwell and OSU professor James Cassidy.

#3. Linda said it's not that we've lost our ability to cook, but our ability to taste. "We don't know how to taste anymore"

She says that most of us have become deficient in a seasonal way and in a nutritional way.

#4."We've lost our ability to understand the nuances of fruits or vegetables through the seasons."

#5 We've lost the biodiversity of our food products.

Linda talked about something called the Ark of Taste, foods, that the Slow Food movement has identified are at risk of dying out including traditional sea salt from Hawaii, a marbled chinook salmon

and a fruit called a pawpaw that is the "largest edible fruit native to the US."

All photos taken of Deep Run Pawpaw Orchard, owned & managed by Jim Davis of Westminster, MD.

And according to the Slow Food USA site:
The fruit is indigenous to 26 states from northern Florida to Maine and west to Nebraska. Fossil records indicate that the papaw’s forebears established themselves in North America millions of years before the arrival of humans. American Indians extensively used the pawpaw and introduced it to European explorers. As a much loved fruit, European settlers named towns, creeks, and islands after the pawpaw. Today, pawpaws are primarily eaten in very rural areas, and most Americans only know of the fruit from the traditional folk song, "'Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch."

Slow Food's Ark of Taste aims to rediscover and catalogue forgotten flavors, documenting excellent food products that are in danger of disappearing. Since the international initiative began in 1996, more than 750 products from dozens of countries worldwide have been added to the international Ark of Taste. The Ark of Taste is a resource for those interested in learning about and reviving rare regional foods–from Buckeye chickens to Ivis White Cream sweet potatoes, Alaskan Birch syrup to Greanthread tea.
-Slow Food USA Website

#6 We've lost our integration with the land and our relationships to the food systems developed and practiced when we lived close to the land as indigenous people.

She spoke about foods that are still raised and harvested by cultures that still know how to live integrated with the earth like the Ozette potato that's still harvested today and has been for 300 years by the McCaw Indians.


This month, why not try to procure some of these food and cook a meal with them, or procure the seeds and plant them.

Anyone up for the challenge?? I'll let you know how my SLOW FOOD dinner goes as I revive some of these foods in a meal.

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