Fukuoka meets fusion–“lasagna gardening”

13 Jun

In the US, a woman named Patricia Lanza has made popular Fukuoka Masanobu’s techniques of “do-nothing” farming–she followed, in turn, the earlier work of a woman named Ruth Stout.

Her concept selects and adapts particular features of FM’s work, and is known as “lasagna gardening.” It’s called this because it starts off with sheet mulching and wild mulching–laying sheets of cardboard over grass to tame it and get rid of weeds, and using plant matter on the spot for compost, letting it have its unruly way, rather than putting it in a tidy (“”) pile in a corner to gestate. It’s a kind of translated version of do-nothing farming that still involves some of the processes (sheet mulching, notably, and lack of interest in tilling). But it also drops some key features, such as the compelling autobio, the relation to a general critique of modernity, and questions about the role of the local vis-à-vis spiritual/mystical/Romantic/poetic histories.

Cover of Lanza's Fukuoka adaptation/localization

See what you think, by paging through it at Amazon

Is anything added? Anything lost? How does she imagine the task of adapting, localizing, translating? And what does “culture” (i.e. from cultivare, the word meaning ‘to grow’) mean to her, do you think?


In the news: tomatoes demystified

10 Jun

This story has obvious links to the Fukuoka reading for Tuesday. A critique of food–>a general critique of modernity, and re-connection with the sources of food is urged…

How we ruined the tomato

The plump red fruit has become a symbol of everything that’s wrong with modern agriculture. An expert explains why

How we ruined the tomato


Americans love tomatoes. As our second-most-popular produce item, we’re accustomed to the sight of them: plump and bright red, marble to soft-ball sized, and piled in abundance year-round in the refrigerated fruit and vegetable aisle of the grocery store. Many of us eat tomatoes every day: if not au natural, in ketchup, salsa, or marinara sauce.

Yet our favorite fruit may not be quite as innocuous and delicious as it appears.

continued, on Salon.com

Link to USC Master Plan

9 Jun

Here is a link to the “background” page of the USC Master Plan, that in turn has links to previous plans. And a link to an LAT article from last summer.


8 Jun

Tequila is one beverage that serves a propagandistic function for Mexico.  Tequila’s production is limited to limited areas in Mexico.  Tequila is very famous nationally and internationally.  Also, tequila, with its differnt flavors is one item that carries the Mexican pride.


Tequila is made from the agabe plant and this product is so well renown that even tevenovelas (mexican dramas) have been made with it as an important part of the story.  By the way, most of my knowledge comes from them, but upon research it turns out the information in the novelas was very accutare.

Tequila is still an acquired taste for me (it is very strong) so I can only assume that that is the reason this drink serves as steotypical for Mexican culture, we are good drinkers, apparently. Or perhaps, that if Mexicans can withstand beverages with 40% percent alcohol it means we have strong determination.  I cannot speak from personal experience since it is still kind of new to me (the taste). However, friends and family seem to like it a lot.

I would really like to learn more about it myself but it seems like it will require quite a lot of dedication to get used to it.  However, I have met many people that are familiar with the different tequila’s brand names and where they come from so I think it is very popular.

Inca Kola

8 Jun

In Peru, everybody grows up seeing Inca Kola at supermarkets, restaurants, basically everywhere, just as Americans grow up with Coca Cola. But what other country has a national soda  that can hold its own against Coke?

Here’s what it looks like:

It’s a soda that people say it tastes like bubble gum, and comes in only classic flavor and color.  The graphic design and marketing strategies have very much influenced my opinion about Inca Kola.

In the ad above, we can see the the obvious gold color, attributing to the Incas’ wealth in gold. Th ad below demonstrates a catchphrase in English naming it “the golden kola.”

Because of this phrase, when asked what it tastes like, I always said it has a unique “golden taste.” There are also ethnic-looking borders on the label and across the ad. This celebration of ethnic pride makes it a legitimately Peruvian product.

IT started back in 1910 when an English couple began experimenting with a Peruvian plant called hierba Luísa (lemon verbena). It has come a long way, being sold right next to coke at McDonald’s in Peru. Coca Cola has bought half of Inca Cola, but Inca Cola still is highly preferred in Peru. When signing the contract at a press conference in 1999, the Coca Cola CEO M. Douglas Ivester had to drink a glass of Inca Cola.

This soda is a staple in Peruvian culture; if you look at the picture above, there’s a caption that says “El sabor del Peru.” In English, it means “The flavor of Peru.” You can’t get more Peruvian than that.


8 Jun

Even you have never learned Korean before, you must know the word “Kimchi”. Kimchi is definitely the national food that can represent Korea the most.


 It is nothing flamboyant but a simple dish of fermented vegetables with seasoning that anyone can afford. Besides it is well known for beneficial to health, its flaming red makes people drool at first sight, not to even mention the flavorful taste that can spice up any dish and goes will with any other companion. It has such good taste that many of my Korean friends said that they can finish a bowl of rice just with kimchi.

It exists in everywhere in Korea, if you go into a Korean restaurant, you will be served with different side dishes, which for sure include kimchi that comes with anything you order. In addition, it is also an ingredient that constitutes for several kinds of Korean cuisine. For example, ramyeon, Kimchi pancake, Kimchi stew, stir-fry Kimchi pork, Kimchi fried rice and the list goes on.

kimchi pancake

kimchi fried rice

kimchi stew

Kimchi is an indispensable part of a Korean culture in the fact that many families still make their own Kimchi back at home though it can be easily bought at any market. Koreans certainly take pride in Kimchi that they also have been promoting the kimchi culture to the rest of the world. There is a museum in Seoul dedicated to Kimchi that attracts loads oof visitors from both domestic and foreign. Korean airlines also offer Kimchi as part of their airplane meal. I have also read a news article about the Korean astronauts bringing Kimchi to the space. 

Nowadays, Kimchi no longer is limited in Korea, it has breaks its way into the world, and had even became part of the food truck culture in Los Angeles.


7 Jun

Every kid in Korea has an experience of eating a red, spicy, delicious mouthful of tteokbokki at a street vendor’s cart on their way back from school. Although modern type of tteokbokki has a short history, it is considered one of the top street foods in Korea.


Tteokbokki can be easily bought and consumed anywhere. It is sold in millions of Kimbap Chunguk chain restaurants around the country, which is equivalent to McDonalds of America. It is also the main food that is sold by millions of street vendor carts.

Garaetteok used in tteokbokki is a long cylindrical rice cake that is used for various of  Korean recipes. Tteok is a food with a long history in Korea, which can be traced all the way back to the 3 Kingdoms period in Korea. Modern tteokbokki is related to Gung Jung tteokbokki, a dish which includes nuts, meat, vegetables, and eggs steamed in a soy sauce based sauce.

Gung Jung Tteokbokki

Because tteok required lots of grains and care to make, it was considered a delicacy, only to be served to the royal family. Interestingly enough, tteokbokki is one of the cheapest snack foods in Korea today although it has changed dramatically from its original form. Modern tteokbokki is stir fried with vegetables, eggs, oden in a gochujang (red pepper paste) paste based sauce.

Tteok is no longer handmade, but made in factories and can be easily obtained. A plate of tteokbokki only costs around 1000-2000 won (1-2 dollars), making it one of the top snack food choices for Korean people.

Images from http://emptydream.tistory.com/2635 and http://blog.naver.com/van9184/20130083836