Celebrate the Craft

By Rachel Helmer, SFUSD Board of Directors

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Slow Food Urban San Diego is honored and grateful to have been a part of the 13th annual Celebrate the Craft held at The Lodge Torrey Pines. The October event showcases the region’s best chefs, produce, wine, and beer. Guests came from all over California to gather together and celebrate with local culinary artisans, growers, brewers and vintners that were there to showcase their craftsmanship.

FullSizeRenderA portion of the proceeds will be donated to Slow Food Urban San Diego, to support efforts in raising public awareness, improving access, and encouraging the enjoyment of foods that are local, seasonal, and sustainable. Thanks to everyone who came out and visited the Slow Food table and to Executive Chef Jeff Jackson and The Lodge for hosting such a beautiful event.

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Serving and Saving Good Food: Where and Why to Buy a Heritage Turkey for T-Day

By Sarah M. Shoffler, SFUSD Board of Directors.

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Jersey Buff turkey, a heritage breed.

Heritage turkeys are different from most turkeys sold in the U.S. Ancestors to the Broad Breasted White turkey, the most produced commercial breed of turkey today, heritage turkeys have retained some of their historic characteristics. Unlike industrially-produced turkeys, which are mostly raised in captivity, the heritage breeds are raised outdoors and roam freely in pastures. They are allowed to grow older and eat a diverse diet, so put on an extra layer of fat. These self-reliant birds are known for their good flavor due to more dark meat, and “thriftyness” or good meat yield. Many heritage breeds originated in the United States and since the 1960s have been difficult to find. Some are nearing extinction.

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The Slate turkey, a heritage breed.

The Broad Breasted White turkey is so often preferred by industrial food producers because it grows quickly and provides a great deal of white meat. However, like the Broiler chicken, the most produced food chicken, the Broad Breasted White turkey has so much breast meat and such short legs that it cannot mate naturally. This bird also can’t fly, is prone to health problems and cannot survive without human intervention.

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Royal Palm turkey, a heritage breed.

Choosing to eat a heritage turkey may in fact save the breeds. By buying heritage breeds, consumers encourage breeders to continue producing the rare birds, thereby supporting their existence. To this end, the American Livestock Conservancy works to protect nearly 200 individual breeds of livestock from 11 different species. They developed the term “heritage” in order to help market historic and endangered breeds of livestock because “the loss of these breeds would impoverish agriculture and diminish the human spirit.”

Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, a living catalog of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction, also includes eight of the heritage turkeys: Bronze, Black, Bourbon, Jersey Buff, Midget White, Narragansett, Royal Palm and Slate.

The Narragansett turkey, a heritage and handsome breed.

The Narragansett turkey, a heritage and handsome bird.

Wondering where to buy a heritage turkey? You may have to order one, but here are a few places we found carrying them:

  • Some Whole Foods (the Hillcrest store was out, but La Jolla was still taking orders as of 11/12), Bristol Farms, Barons Markets (taking orders starting 11/13) have heritage turkeys available or are taking orders.
  • Mary’s Free Range Narragansett and Bourbon turkeys are available in a number of SoCal locations, including those listed above.
  • You can order Narragansett, Slate and Bourbon turkeys online from Local Harvest.
  • The Heritage Turkey Foundation also lists several heritage turkey sellers in SoCal.

Know someone else selling heritage turkeys? Please let us know: email sarah_at_slowfoodurbansandiego_dot_org.

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The regal Black turkey is a heritage breed.

Learn more here.

Girl Next Door Honey Pollinates Hearts and Minds

By Sarah M. Shoffler, SFUSD Board of Directors

Bees are critical to pollinating plants and to growing thousands of fruits and vegetables that we eat. They are the only insect who make food that humans eat. But since the 1990s, beekeepers around the world have noticed bee colonies are disappearing. Added to that, droughts mean less access to their food supply. These things together spell trouble for these amazing five-eyed, honey-producing critters.

DID YOU KNOW? There are three types of bees: worker, drone and queen. All worker bees are females. Their wings beet 200 times per second or 12,000 beats per minute. The average worker bee produces about 1/12th of a tablespoon of honey in her lifetime. Bees communicate through pheromones and dances. Plus watch this.

Hillary Kearney of Girl Next Door Honey

Hilary Kearney owner of Girl Next Door Honey

But you don’t have to convince Hilary Kearney, Owner of Girl Next Door Honey, of the importance of bees. Her whole business is grounded in making bees accessible to people on every level.

“First and foremost I am educating people about bees and I find that they are often less afraid of them once they have a better understanding of what they do. I like to think of it as ‘pollinating hearts and minds,” says Hilary. She does this by: teaching classes on backyard hives, managing home hives, relocating hives, teaching children about bees and giving Beehive Tours to the public. These efforts, she feels, will broaden bee knowledge among the public and lessen people’s fear of bees, which are critical to “engaging people with bees and on a larger scale their local food and ecosystem.”

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Hilary cares about her bees. Under normal conditions, bees will produce excess honey, enough to supply us humans with the sweet stuff and still feed themselves. But during a drought, there are fewer flowers, which means less nectar, which the bees need in order to make honey. So they may not be able produce enough for themselves and may have to work harder and travel further just to find the nectar. To support her bees, who rely on honey as their only food, Hilary doesn’t harvest honey during a drought. So when people buy honey from her, they can be assured that the bees it was taken from have enough food and are not starving.

Hillary tending her bees.

Hilary tending her bees.

In addition, the drought has weakened the wild colonies in the area. They are producing smaller and weaker swarms (when a queen leaves a colony with worker bees to form a new colony). “When I do a bee rescue it takes more effort and resources to keep those bees alive and healthy” she says. Wondering what you can do to support bees?

HOW TO HELP BEES:

  • Avoid neonicotinoids in pesticides. These are thought to weaken bees’ immune system and make bees vulnerable to disease, parasites, extreme weather, viruses, poor nutrition, and other stressors.
  • Plant organic bee-friendly flowers, like California poppy, citrus, sage, sunflowers and others listed here.
  • Make a bee drinking fountain: fill a baking dish or pet water bowl with pebbles or marbles and water. The bees will stand on the marbles while they drink, without drowning.

To learn more about bees, honey, beekeeping and how to help bees, you can check out Girl Next Door’s partnership with Suzie’s Farm and their new monthly Beehive Tours. You’ll be able to suit up and go into a beehive with Hilary. Or, come check her and our other bee-positive partners out at the Good Food Community Fair, Sunday, October 11th.

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