New Markets in Town

Image credit: New Mexico Farmers' Marketing Association

In addition to the longtime summer favorites – like the Downtown, Los Ranchos and Nob Hill Growers’ Markets, there are a number of new Albuquerque-area markets starting up this season! Support one or support them all…

Visit the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association website to find the market nearest you!

Albuquerque: Rail Yards Market
Location: ABQ Rail Yards, 777 1st St. SW
Schedule: Sundays, 9 am – 3 pm
2014 Market Season: May 4 – November 2
Contact: Chad Gruber, (505) 203-6200 or chad.gruber@gmail.com

Albuquerque: San Pedro Farmers’ Market
Location: Mark Twain Elementary School
Schedule: Sundays, 10 am – 12 pm
2014 Market Season: June 8 – October 26
Contact: Ian Kerstetter, i.t.kerstetter@gmail.com

Albuquerque: South Yale Market
Location: 504 Yale SE
Schedule: Sundays, 11am-5pm
2014 Market Season: May 11 – September 14
Contact: Michael Palombo, (505) 934-7592 or fansoffilm@gmail.com

South Valley: Historic Bridge/MainStreet Gateway Growers’ Market
Location: 100 Isleta Blvd. SW
Schedule: Wednesdays 4pm-7pm
2014 Market Season: May 28 – September 24
Contact: Richard Meadows, (505) 217-2484 or rmeadows@bernco.gov

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SeedBroadcast Gives Us a Shout Out!

SeedBroadcast, a collaborative grassroots seed story project, posted a great overview of the 6th Annual Sustainability Expo & Lobo Growers’ Market.

SeedBroadcast partnered up with University of New Mexico Lobo Growers Market and Sustainability Expo for a celebration of Earth Day and the seeds that grow Earth. Located on Cornell Mall on the main campus of University of New Mexico, this gathering was organized by the Sustainability Studies Program and brought together the Lobo Growers’ Market, food trucks, and a variety of local organizations dedicated to healthy and vibrant communities in common with resilient environments. Read more…

seedbroadcast

 

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2014 Expo & Growers’ Market

Thanks to all who contributed to the success of the 6th Annual UNM Sustainability Expo & Lobo Growers’ Market! Over 60 vendors and thousands of customers enjoyed the Earth Day celebrations on a sunny (and slightly windy) Albuquerque day on Cornell Mall.

UNM Parking & Transportation Services, the Office of Sustainability, and the Sustainability Studies Program Growers’ Market Practicum students deserve special recognition for their efforts. And, with the help of Knowaste, we worked toward making the expo a no-waste event.

In addition, much gratitude goes out to Noah and his crew of Uplift artists who impressed the crowd with breakdancing, bellydancing and live art demonstrations.

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Some of the many wonderful vendors that participated in our event:
Agri-Cultura Network
Affordable Solar
Albuquerque Herbalism
Albuquerque Old School
Burque.org
Celina’s Biscochitos
Chartwells
De Smet Dairy
Decorative and Functional Pottery
Delicious New Mexico
East Central Ministries Growing Awareness Urban Farm
Edible Santa Fe
Environment New Mexico
Erda Gardens
Firenze Pizza
Food and Water Watch
Food Corps
Full Circle Baskets
Granja Para Manana
Grow the Future
Heidi’s Raspberry Jam
Hippity Hooves Farm
Irrational Pie
Kids Cook
Knowaste
La Montanita Co-op
Le Paris Bakery
Los Jardines Institute
MRCOG Agriculture Collaborative
New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
Nolina’s Heavenly Organics
Pop Fizz
Railyard Market Committee
Red Tractor Farm
Reyes Farm
Santa Fe Honey
Seed Blossoms Art
Seed Broadcast
Sierra Club
Sol Harvest Farm
South Valley Soap
Squeezed Juice Bar
Street Food Institute
Tio Frank’s Chile Sauce
UNM Lobo Gardens
UNM Eco-Reps
Veteran Farmer Project
Ye Ole Kitchen Witch

For those of you who missed the event, check out our coverage on KASA television and in the Daily Lobo.

Join us next year for the 7th Annual Sustainability Expo & Lobo Growers’ Market on April 21, 2015. In the meantime, the Sustainability Studies Program is aiming to hold another series of weekly Lobo Growers’ Markets in the Fall 2014 semester. During August and September, local produce will be at its best and most abundant! Stay tuned for more info…

- Posted by Jessica

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Let the Sunshine Feed You

The warm gentle rays wake you as the sun peeks above the Sandia Mountains. You look through your window and see a beautiful sunrise, crawl out of bed and start the tea kettle. You don’t want to use your fuel today for lunch or dinner, so why not let the sun feed you?

Albuquerque is sunny about 278 days out of the year! This means you could potentially make 278 solar meals annually, as New Mexico has the second highest solar potential in the country. Solar ovens are a great way to have the sun cook a meal while you’re at school or work. You save time, money, and help out the environment by not using gas or electricity.

Solar ovens, also called solar cookers, come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. The three most popular solar cooking devices are the parabolic cooker, the box cooker, and the panel cooker.

The parabolic cooker
These cookers are extremely powerful and can get as hot as 400 degrees Fahrenheit due to the reflector. This means you can fry foods and cook something faster than in a box or panel cooker. The only downside is that the parabolic cookers are not automated; you have to be around in order to move the oven toward the sun and make sure nothing is burning. Decent parabolic cookers made in the US are priced from $100 to about $350. This guy made his own parabolic cooker!

The Box Cooker
This solar oven is comparable to a kitchen oven. It is an insulated box made to collect and trap heat, and can reach about 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The great thing about box cookers is that you can cook something while at school or work! There are many designs for box cookers. You can buy them, but it is much more affordable to build them out of salvaged materials. The Solar Wall Oven Plans originally designed by Barbara Kerr, and provided by The Ampersand Sustainable Learning Center, are the best plans for a long lasting box cooker.

The Panel Cooker
Panel cookers are the cheapest and most portable cooker. They can be made with simple materials and you don’t need handsaws or cut glass! This cooker can get to about 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Fancy panel cookers can cost about $150, but there are several cheap designs you can make with aluminum foil and cardboard or even windshield car shades.

Parabolic solar cooker at the Ampersand Sustainable Learning Center. Photo by: Paloma Sanchez

Parabolic solar cooker at the Ampersand Sustainable Learning Center. Photo by: Paloma

The Ampersand Sustainable Learning Center in Cerrillos, NM, is home to Amanda and Andy Bramble, two amazing, hard working people with enormous hearts, a love for ecological systems and cats. They have 15 years of experience with solar cooking and use the sun almost everyday to cook their meals. In the past I have baked peach kuchen in their solar wall oven and parabolic cooker and have decided it is now time for me to build my own solar cooking structure.

My Solar Experience
The solar funnel cooker is a very simple design; these guidelines give you all the information you need. What I used for my solar funnel cooker was a box that was roughly 2 feet by 4 feet when flattened, recycled aluminum foil, wheat paste, yarn, and a small wooden square for insulation.

Materials for solar funnel oven. Photo by: Paloma Sanchez

Materials for solar funnel oven. Photo by: Paloma

Amanda Bramble’s blog is filled with wonderful DIY information; one of my favorites is her post about solar stew. I was so inspired by this that I decided to try to make my own solar vegetable stew, so I ran to La Montañita Co-op to get the ingredients.

Recipe:
-About two cups of water
– One Radish from Cornelio Candelaria Organics
- One Beet from Agri-Cultura Network
- One yellow potato from White Mountain Farms
- One organic carrot
– Five organic Crimini mushrooms
– ¼ of a large organic red onion
– Two tablespoons of diced Hatch green chile
– A pinch of sea salt and rosemary

Cooking in the solar funnel oven! Image by: Paloma

Cooking in the solar funnel oven! Image by: Paloma

All the ingredients are set into a small cooking pot and into the center of the funnel oven at around 9:30 AM. When I checked on it again at noon, the pot was very hot to the touch and the stew was steaming. At 3:00 PM the stew was ready! Yum! There’s a really strong broth that is produced from the slow cooking. The stew would have been ready much faster if the cooking pot was completely black and covered by an oven bag. But, the reason I did not do either was because I wanted to use materials that were on hand, instead of going to the store and purchasing them. All in all it was a great first time solo solar cooking experience!

Please get outside and let the sun feed you!

Solar vegetable stew. Photo by: Paloma

Solar vegetable stew. Photo by: Paloma

Additional resources so you can make your own solar cooker!
-This website has plans for a variety of cookers that can be made without breaking the bank!
– I did not mention this tire oven but it’s worth a try!

-Posted by Paloma

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Eating Local Species

If you have ever had a garden, or landscaped a front yard, you know that weeds sprout up everywhere, and it takes a good deal of work to remove them. Some of these unwanted plants, such as the goathead, are a real pain (literally), and not nice to have around. However, some of these “weeds” that are deemed “bad” and sprayed with herbicides, can actually be incorporated into our diets. Some are held sacred by other cultures, but unknown to us. Why do we pull out amaranth plants from around the Swiss chard in our gardens, when both are edible and can make similar dishes? In a time of growing food insecurity, and rethinking of our food systems, it makes sense to learn more about the plants of our bioregion, the desert Southwest. So, without further ado:

3 “Weeds” that are edible and delicious:

  1. Verdolaga, aka Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

This plant is very common in the Southwest and grows in sandy, marginal, and disturbed soil. It has a creeping form, with leafy tendrils lying on the ground, outward from a central point. Its stems are brown to maroon, leaves are oblong to egg shaped. The plant produces uncharismatic yellow flowers, and tiny black seeds. Verdolaga’s leaves and stems are succulent, meaning they have a hard waxy surface and a fleshy watery inside. The plant’s fleshiness makes it great for sautéing with onions, garlic, and other vegetables, and adds a lemony flavor to any dish, such as a fresh Greek salad with verdolagas and tomatoes. Verdolagas contain various nutrients similar to eating other leafy green vegetables such as spinach or arugula, but also contain a high amount of Omega-3 fatty acids.

  1. Lambsquarters, Goosefoot, quelites (Chenopodium album):

Another delicious green, lambsquarters, is an upright annual herb, that has one central stalk with whorled branches, and pointed leaves somewhat resembling… you guessed it: a goose’s foot. Leaves have a silvery whitish look, especially when young. Tufts of white seeds form at the top of the plant, and at the end of its prominent branches.

Lambsquarter is in the same genus as quinoa, the sacred grain of the Incan empire, and is related to beets and spinach. It is best harvested young, before the leaves get too tough. The stems and branches are woody and tough, and are somewhat bitter. One of my favorite ways to cook goosefoot is to sauté it with other greens in olive oil, and a splash of balsamic vinegar, or you could even eat it for breakfast.

  1. Amaranth, aka pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus, possibly other Amaranthus species):

Amaranth is a large genus native to several continents, with numerous cultivars and domesticated varieties. Amaranth was a sacred grain to the Aztecs of Mexico, but was banned by the conquistadores because of its association with pagan rituals.

One of the common species growing as a weed around town is Amaranthus retroflexus, which has small spiky flowers and sometimes red lines on the stems. It has a similar growth pattern to goosefoot with an upright central stem, and a large prominent seed plume at the top, which sometimes flops over on itself. Its leaves are narrow and pointed at the tip, usually have prominent veins.

Culinary recommendations are almost identical to goosefoot. Stems are too woody, so young plants are tastier than old plants. Seeds are edible, but a lot of work to harvest. Some plants I have eaten have a very bitter flavor, so add a little bit to a dish, or use lots of seasoning, such as in this traditional curry recipe from India.

By choosing to incorporate plants that are not found in the grocery store into your diet, there is personal responsibility with finding and eating these weeds. Here are a few words of caution:

  • The above listed plants are often unwanted by property owners and thus could be sprayed with herbicides.
  • Plants growing on the edges of major roads or railroad tracks could have pollution and dust on them.
  • The use of inorganic fertilizers has caused some of these plants to uptake harmful levels of nitrates if grown an area affected by fertilizer runoff.
  • Properly identify plants, and do not eat unknown plants.

My advice would be to not collect from a place you don’t know the history of, and don’t collect sickly plants. Better yet, collect seeds of these plants and grown them in your own backyard.

Even if you never get enthusiastic enough over eating local plants to sow your own verdolaga patch, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way. So next time you are noticing the baby goosefoot sprouting along your driveway, at least have a little sympathy for these uninvited guests; they’re not as malicious as you think!

For further reading, check out:
Cajete, Gregory (1999). A People’s Ecology: Explorations in Sustainable Living. Santa Fe, NM: Clear Light Publishing.

Emery, Carla. “The Goosefoot Greens”. Encyclopedia of County Living Weblog.

Special thanks to UNM’s Cheo Torres for corroborating information as well!

-Posted by Tom

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Food Trucks in ABQ

An idealistic concept without much success (yet)
There are multiple reasons for aspiring business owners to be lured into the food truck industry – from the autonomy it provides and the thrills of an ever-changing menu, to the low start up costs. A report from the National League of Cities states that the US industry revenue was $650 million in 2012 and is expected to reach approximately $2.7 billion by 2017. Food trucks are considered to have smaller environmental footprints than standard brick-and-mortar restaurants, as the gas and electricity used to power air conditioning/heating and lighting, paired with the fuel used for food service deliveries outweighs the fuel use and on-demand power use of a truck. Many successful trucks have pledged to use local produce to cut their environmental footprints, further support local business, and shorten their supply chain. But those who have tried in Albuquerque haven’t been quite so successful.

Food trucks in Albuquerque that have attempted to be more eco-friendly by incorporating responsible packaging, and/or shorter supply chains into their business models have encountered troubles that have most often resulted in them going out of business. The main reasons for these environmentally sustainable business models being economically unsustainable are:

Costs of local and organic produce, and sustainable packaging
Tim, of the ABQ Food Truck co-op, says that as much as trucks would like to buy local/organic produce, they can’t afford it. “They have to go with the highest quality and lowest prices in order to stay viable in the business.” He gives an example of food containers, which range from foam containers (cheapest), to non-recyclable paper containers with petroleum based plastic linings (about double the price), to containers that can be recycled (about three times the price), to compostable containers (about five to six times the price of foam), as an analogy of the linear price increase with quality of food. Shawn Weed, the head chef at La Posada (UNM’s dining hall) provided information on price discrepancies between two conventional vs. organically farmed staple ingredients: tomatoes and sliced turkey.

Infographic conventional vs organic

Lack of customer willingness to pay fair prices
As Monte of Skarsgard Farms and formerly the Harvest Truck says, “supporting local food is not a matter of accessibility but rather having the means and desire to buy local foods.” While educating children about pesticides, GMOs, subsidised fuel, and health impacts of various diets may open their eyes to the benefits of local/organic food, it will not change the fact that sometimes the only viable option for a meal seems to be one from the dollar menu. The expense of food is a sentiment common to many residents of New Mexico, a state whose average per income capita is 43rd in the US. If the bulk of people in Albuquerque think they can’t afford to buy local/organic produce themselves then they are highly unlikely to purchase prepared food that uses this fresher and more nutritionally rich, yet more expensive produce.

Climate
The drought-prone, desert conditions of New Mexico don’t provide the best growing conditions for fresh produce. Kimberly, the previous owner of The Seasonal Palate food truck, says that she used healthy, seasonal produce in her menu because that’s the way she likes to eat, but “finding suppliers with a regular product [was a problem]. Because we are so limited here in New Mexico, I have to go outside of the state to get regular items.”

Other challenges include:

  • Limited buying power due to small size of business
  • Additional costs of conforming to the same rules, regulations and licensing as brick-and-mortar restaurants
  • Irregular location reduces consistency of customer base
  • Restrictions on where the food trucks can do business
  • Owners must collect their produce rather than have it delivered
  • Weather affects customer desire to eat outside
  • Associations with old “roach coach” stereotype

The Street Food Institute
The Street Food Institute is a new training program that has partnered with CNM in order to transform the prospects of Albuquerque’s food truck industry. They have started collaborating with local food trucks and engaged in partnerships with financial institutions, other small business development groups, local farms and future food hubs for the students to participate in. Program director David Sellers says: “A big part of our long term goal is to make local farm stuffs available to local residents who right now cannot afford it, again keeping our dollars local, and everyone benefiting from healthy produce.”

Street Food Institute

What you can do

  • If you’re a farmer, try to make a connection with a food truck owner/operator
  • Support your local food trucks. Get menu and location updates at ABQ Food Trucks or follow your favourite truck through their own social media.
  • Ask if there’s any organic and preferably local produce in any of the menu items at your favourite food truck and order that!
  • Vote with your dollar – buy local and sustainably produced foods everywhere you shop!

ABQ Food Trucks

-Posted by Lena

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Get Healthy and Preserve Culture

“I was once told it takes 20 generations for a species to adapt fully to a place genetically,” says Roxanne Swentzell of The Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute in Northern New Mexico. Roxanne has started a study group of Pueblo People who are participating in The Pueblo Diet/Food Experience in which only foods that were available to the Pueblos pre-European contact are eaten. This diet consists of strawberries, currants, spinach, corn, squash, beans, turkey, and other crops naturally supported by the New Mexican environment. Blood tests before and after have shown great health improvements in people who had been eating the typical highly processed American diet and then participated in this Pueblo Food Experience. Dylan McLaughlin made a video of the first test group in which you can witness the health transformations for yourself.

currants

Currants

As a seed saver, Roxanne has observed the genetic adaptation of the seeds to the Northern New Mexican climate. However, it is not just the seeds that have adapted genetically to the climate, it is the people as well. The Pueblo people have lived here and eaten traditional foods for at least 20 generations. “Their genes fit the sunlight, the food, the cold and the hotness of [this] place… this is why we get all different human races on Earth,” says Roxanne. Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs and Steel is full of examples on how environment shapes the evolution of “civilization.” Diamond explains that the evolution of food production is a major factor in the way the world came to be what it is today. The varying climates and environments played a large part in the food and types of nutrition available to different groups of people. These groups spent thousands of years surviving off of whole, unprocessed foods found in their particular geographic areas.

Today in America we have access to foods produced all over the world and a majority of our nutrition — or more often lack of nutrition — comes from highly processed foods high in sodium, carbohydrates, and sugars. In Michael Pollan’s article “Unhappy Meals,” he explains that recently (during the last 80 years or 3 generations) the majority of our diets has consisted of processed food, as opposed to the entirely whole food diets humans had been eating for the past 200,000 years. Pollan uses the term “whole foods” to mean food that has not been processed, for example everything in the produce section of the market. In the last 80 years, along with the rise in processed foods we have seen an increase in health issues like obesity, high blood pressure, and hormonal imbalances.

The Pueblo Food Experience is an inspirational experiment that is showing significant results in the health of the participants. When I use the term health I use it in an all encompassing way, meaning both mind and body health. The Pueblo Food Experience is just that — an experience — not just with food, but with community and the environment. It is exciting to look into what foods might benefit your physiology. What foods did your family form a symbiotic relationship with? What diet would make you feel the best you could feel? I write this to encourage you to find out what that diet might look like.

Roxanne

Roxanne

When I asked Roxanne how the Pueblo Food Experience has influenced her life she said, “The Pueblo Food Experience has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I knew it would be interesting but I had no idea how profound it would be in a cultural sense. It’s hard to put into words, but maybe I would say that no ceremony or activity connected me with my ancestors like the diet did. I see things slightly differently now…..the story got clearer….we have gotten so far from our source and the diet helped me connect to who we were and still could be as Pueblo people.”

-Posted by Anastassia

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