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Is Snow White the Only One Eating Poisoned Apples?

16 Sep

So what exactly is a foodie? A foodie is defined as an individual who keeps up with the latest trends in food. Sometimes these foodies get a bit carried away and try to impose their passion on other people, like the man in “The Beefeater” who claims that those who do not eat beef are barbaric. Although these individuals insist that they know the best things to eat, Masanobu Fukuoka begs to differ.

Many people will pay anything to eat fresh produce out of season. According to Fukuoka, this obsession drives food producers to make things like fruits and vegetables, which are supposed to be gifts from Mother Nature, as artificial as possible. They do this because they know how much profit they can earn by selling as little as one crate of apples. If merchants were to sell the actual amount of successfully grown fruit, their revenue would be so little that they would barely be able to keep themselves from starving to death. Keeping this in mind, Fukuoka explains to readers how bruised apples “magically” turn picture perfect after the process of artificial coloration. If the majority of the apples in the crate look delectable, it is highly possible that a very large number will be sold, thus resulting in a greater profit for the merchant. Not only is this unfair to the consumer who expects to receive quality fruit for the amount that he is paying, but it is also extremely unjust to the farmer who works for hours in the hot sun for wages close to nothing.

Fuokoka would call the modern day foodie an idiot, to be quite frank. They may know where the best apple pies are served, but are they aware of what has to be done in order to make these apples look fresh? If they knew the amount of chemicals they were ingesting, they would probably never touch an apple pie again.

Dragon’s Breath & Heart Attack Balls

6 Sep

I have to say, this past summer has probably been my favorite one. Why? Because for the first time in ages I was not burdened by the cruel load of high school summer homework. I was really excited about the fact that I was able to enjoy summer anyway I wanted without having to worry about due dates. To top things off, my favorite cousin spent the entire summer with me. Aside from lazy days and late night 7-11 runs, we experimented with the food we found in my mother’s kitchen. One meal we made in particular stands out in my mind the most.

As usual, my mother had boiled some pasta for us before she left for work. By the time we made it downstairs, it had become cold. However, instead of microwaving it, my cousin and I decided to change things up a bit. “Why not have a cold pasta salad?” we asked each other. So then it was settled. We did include the traditional ingredients, like cherry tomatoes, sliced mozzarella, freshly grated parmesan, and a honey vinegar dressing; however, we also mixed in some unconventional items, such as crushed kettle cooked potato chips. But that was not the best part–to add a finishing touch, we diced onions and put them into the bowl. The newly formed pasta salad looked absolutely delicious, but would it taste as good as it looked? We were about to find out. That first bite was absolutely amazing. We ate the entire pasta salad so quickly and ferociously that it seemed as if we had not eaten for weeks. It was not until about an hour later that we came up with a name for our new dish. The salad itself was good, but the aftertaste was enough to kill anyone. Hence, we named the pasta salad “Dragon’s Breath.” Despite the foul odor in our mouths after, Dragon’s Breath was perhaps one of the best things we have ever eaten.

Experimenting with our main course simply wasn’t enough for us. After our delicious lunch, we decided to make our own dessert. I was really craving fried ice cream at the moment, but the nearest restaurant that served it was about 20 miles away. Then I remembered that one of my best friends taught me how to make fried ice cream from scratch. It’s quite simple really. Take a piece of bread and put a scoop of your favorite flavor of ice cream on top of it. Then, form a bread ball around the ice cream–the bread should completely cover the scoop of ice scream. Lastly, deep fry the ice cream ball on a pan, and after the bread turns a golden brown, turn off the stove. You don’t want to keep it frying for too long because then all the ice cream will melt. That ice cream ball was probably better than any fried ice cream dessert at an expensive restaurant. However, since it is probably 5000 calories, you can have one about every year or so if you don’t want to die of heart disease.

Experimenting this summer was definitely a blast. Now that I am on my own and am not blessed with my mother’s cooking skills, I have a feeling that I will be using vernacular creativity a lot. Parkside Restaurant, here I come.

Garden Notes from 9/2 (Updated)

5 Sep

Compost

Things to avoid:

  1. animal scraps/bones–these may attract rodents into our compost pile
  2. feces–there is a risk of disease and/or bacterial transfer
  3. plastics–these won’t break down in time for us to use

Items used for compost should be close to the target ratio of 30 Carbon-1 Nitrogen.  Some common compost materials include:

  1. cardboard 350 C-1N (bad)
  2. corn cobs 75-1 (ok)
  3. fruit 35-1 (excellent)
  4. leaves 60-1 (ok)
  5. newspaper 175-1 (not too much)
  6. peanuts 25-1 (good)
  7. coffee grounds 20-1 (good)
  8. grass 20-1 (good)
  9. vegetables 25-1 (excellent)
  10. egg shells (good because of their Calcium Carbonate shells)

Compost should be watered once per week because the invertebrate living in the compost need water.  Before watering, mix the compost thoroughly, then water for about 5 minutes.  The compost should feel moist and spongy.

Fertilizer

The key ration of fertilizer is Nitrogen-Carbon-Phosphorus.  Our fertilizer has a ratio of 7-4-5.  Before we mixed the fertilizer into the soil, we tilled the soil with the spade fork and the hand cultivator.  In total we used 15 cups of  fertilizer.

Some Good Planting Techniques

There is a big difference between planting seeds and seedlings. When spacing seeds in a garden, you don’t need to waste too much space spreading them apart; it is extremely inefficient. Instead, estimate how wide the diameter of each plant is going to be so that adjacent ones do not merge together. Even if this occurs, it is not a big deal; all you have to do is cut them apart with a knife after they are picked.

Some things to keep in mind if you are planting a seedling or a potted plant:

  • Do not aggressively tug the plant out of the pot. Doing so may result in root damage, which will severely shorten the plant’s life. The correct approach is to handle the roots with intense care and make sure they are harmed as little as possible.
  • It is really important not to let roots dry out. Keep in mind that the roots are the ones taking in the water and nutrients from the soil. Without the roots, the process of mineral uptake is nearly impossible, and plants will be unable to photosynthesize because they are not receiving anything that can be converted into glucose (aka expendable energy).
  • When planting a potted plant into the soil, make sure you dig the hole as deep as the soil mold of the pot. The surface of the soil of the potted plant should line up with the surface of the soil in the garden. This way, the plant will have a better time adjusting to its new environment, and the roots will continue to grow.

Watering the Garden

Aside from using compost and fertilizer on top of the garden bed, one of the most crucial elements of attaining a healthy garden is to water consistently. Here are some tips and information to ensure that you water not only efficiently but also correctly.

  • Many people are not aware of the fact that the amount of time that plants should be watered depends on what time of day it is. The sun will cause a lot of the water to evaporate, so it is probably best to water the garden more during the day than at nighttime.
  • Temperature is a direct function of seed germination. Make sure that your seeds are receiving as much sunlight as possible. If not, they will never receive the signal to start growing.
  • In order to ensure proper plant growth, water consistently (morning and evening). Forgetting to turn on the sprinklers is one of the biggest reasons that plants die prematurely.
  • During the day, plants use their water to carry out photosynthesis. It is crucial that you water enough so that there will still be enough moisture after evaporation takes place. At night, keep in mind that you do not have to water as much because it will not evaporate as quickly. However, make sure that there is enough water in the soil to last through the night.
  • It is important to know that water goes directly down into the soil, so make sure you are watering directly above seeds and their roots. If you water next to the seeds rather than on top of it, you lessen the chance that the roots will properly receive the water.
  • Over-watering is another factor of plant death. Normally, in Southern California gardens, it is so dry that this is not really a problem. One of the few times that over-watering causes premature plant death is in houseplants. The soil in the pot gets so wet that there is no space for oxygen. Fungi start to accumulate and rot the plant roots. Again, since we will be dealing with an outdoor garden in a dry climate, this should not be a problem.

If we keep all of these things in mind, we should have no problem maintaining a healthy community garden throughout the semester.