Know Your Farmer - Beautiful People Like Sam Kass Say So

I don't really care if Sam Kass is one of the "most beautiful people" or not, apparently Washingtonians believe he is. What I do care about is the messaging from the White House and the Obama administration that regional and local food systems matter. Everyone eats. Food safety, food security, are issues we share no matter what else divides us.

Here's a new clip on YouTube with the lovely Sam Kass and other admin heads talking about hoop houses and the importance of eating from your local food system, supporting local farming, and knowing your farmer.

Pig Tales: a Love Story, the book I'm working on, will include profiles and interviews of local, small family farms that are raising heritage breed pigs. These farmers are the last line of defense between these old breeds and extinction. Some like the mysterious Red Wattle are on the "critical" list in conservation registries. Please visit the Pig Tales: a Love Story Fan page I created on Facebook - I drop links and pictures there when I come across new farms, or farmers.

? If you are a pig farmer or know one we should meet, please drop a comment and a link. Introduce yourself or them here or on the FB page!

If small family farms got even a fraction of the support that we routinely dole out to large industrial agriculture, we'd all have better local food systems as well as better access to healthier, more diverse, whole foods. We can't wait for all the change to happen from the top down. And not everyone can get to a farmers market or a farm stand's root cellar.

I'm a big fan of Sensible Sustainability - which to me encompasses small changes we can all do - without worrying about getting it all right, today. For example, in place of potatoes in your menu, try one new whole grain. You can buy barley, for example at any grocery store. It cooks beautifully in a rice cooker. Another grain I've come to love are wheatberries. Massa Organics and Bluebird Grain Farms both produce delicious, organic wheatberries. Massa sells one pound bags for $1.00!

My recent favorite is barley (also really excellent for lowering LDL cholesterol) which I've been calling "brown barley". I cook it in the rice cooker: one cup, plus one teaspoon of black garlic paste, one teaspoon of demi glace, water to the "brown rice" setting and Bob's your uncle! Even meat-eating, potato-loving husbands dig this barley!

Steamed Kabocha squash with Aka Miso sauce over my new favorite "brown barley."