Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you go hungry. Take the case of the huge jumping spider (maybe a male Phidippus regius) hanging out in our Spanish lavender. Hey, pretend I'm not here! It stealthily crawls up and down the stems, blending into...
The US Manager of BCI, the Better Cotton Initiative, Scott Exo, and BCI's San Joaquin Valley Coordinator, Carlos Silva, visited the longstanding NRI Project field in Five Points, CA on March 28, 2017 as part of a tour hosted by CASI's Jeff Mitchell. BCI is a not-for-profit organization that encourages a holistic approach to sustainable and brings together people who are involved in cotton's complex supply chain, - from farmers to retailers. Initiated in 2005, BCI exists to make global cotton production “better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector's future, by developing Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity.” Exo and Silva visited the NRI Project field to learn about the work that has been done over the years on cotton production in this field using no-tillage and cover crop practices and the benefits that stem from the use of these approaches in lower costs, fewer dust emissions, greater carbon and nitrogen storage in the soil, increased soil aggregation and water infiltration, reduced soil water evaporation, and other positive changes in soil biology that have been documented since the project was started in 1999. They also discussed with Mitchell the California Farm Demonstration Network, a broad group of partners who are working throughout the State on establishing local farm demonstrations of improved performance, conservation ag, climate-smart and healthy soils systems, and BCI's potential involvement in the network as a partner.
Better Cotton Initiative website: http://bettercotton.org/about-better-cotton/regions/usa/
If you like writing with light (photography), then you'll probably love capturing images of honey bees spinning like helicopters. In the late afternoon, when the light softens, head over to your favorite Spanish lavender patch. Pull up a chair, listen...
Let's wing it, they said. And they did. But this event wasn't "winged"; it was well planned and rooted in educational information. Wings? A reference to the flutter of the ever decreasing butterfly wings. The occasion? The inaugural "Wing It"...
The scenario: Tomorrow is farmers market day, but not just any market on any day. This market happens once a month as part of a collaboration between the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County and Lopez High School. The high school, a continuation school in the south part of San Luis Obispo County, has a program called Hands-On Parenting Education, or HOPE, which helps expecting and parenting teenagers to graduate.
It's the day prior to market day and HOPE students have a guest lecturer today: Dayna Ravalin, UCCE Master Food Preserver coordinator of San Luis Obispo/Santa Barbara counties. She's demonstrating how to make and store baby food safely. The timing is impeccable as students can (and do, as a result of the lesson) load up on fresh ingredients the very next day.
Dayna takes the students through the Core Four food safety tips while demonstrating how to convert fresh market produce into baby food blocks.
- Clean - Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. Wash cutting boards, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.
- Separate - Don't cross contaminate. Keep raw meat and poultry apart from foods that won't be cooked.
- Cook - Cook to safe temperature.
- Chill - Chill leftovers and takeout foods within 2 hours. Keep fridge at 40°F or below.
Lastly, students are shown how to easily preserve that baby food to last through the month or longer, until the next Lopez High School/Food Bank Coalition market day. Ravalin demonstrates the use of an ice-cube tray to aide in freezing baby-sized portions before providing each student with their own tray to take home, empowering them with building blocks for healthy eating.
The students leave, eager to take advantage of their resources the next day, and with two basic recipes using seasonal produce to get them started.
Homemade Baby Food Recipes
- 1 pound of carrots
- 1 cup water
Trim and peel carrots, cut into 1-inch segments. Put in a medium saucepan with the water. Bring to boil, reduce to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 25 minutes (this will take longer if your carrots are thicker). Let cool in cooking liquid. Purée in a food processor, blender or food mill, cover and freeze in small portions.
Add in ideas: pinch of cumin, coriander, cinnamon or mashed potatoes.
- 2 sweet eating apples or pears
- 4 to 5 tbsp. water or pure apple juice
Peel, halve, core and chop the apples. Put into a medium saucepan with the water or apple juice. Cover and cook over low heat for 6 to 8 minutes until really tender. Let cool in cooking liquid. Puree in a food processor, blender or food mill, cover and freeze in small portions.
Add in ideas: pinch of cinnamon, pureed carrots, ginger
“You can even freeze the different purees in layers so it is triple colored when you empty the trays,” Ravalin said.
Through this 1.5 hour lesson, the expecting and new parents learned how easy it can be to extend the life of food, taking advantage of the school's monthly market to provide for their families. This partnership is one example of how UC Master Food Preserver Program volunteers donate more than 20,000 hours of their time annually educating families throughout California on safe food preservation.