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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, December 2

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Random Tue Oct 19 2010

A Glance Into Local Agriculture

Thumbnail image for October 2010 310.JPGIn Northern Indiana, the corn is standing 8 to 10 feet tall, dried out and yellow now by the summer sun and cooling autumnal temperatures. The weeds are creeping back to find their old homes they knew last fall, as weary farmers' hands and backs allow their fields the rest they need around this time of the year.

Every Saturday morning, rain or shine, I walk over to my local farmers market to the same stall, and pick up a box of produce. For those of you that are just newly getting into this whole "know your food, know your farmer" movement, this is a great first step. So called CSA or Community Sustained Agriculture means I paid my farmer one lump sum in the spring for a box of produce for 12 weeks running, chosen by the farmer for what is in season that week. July IN 003.JPGIn the end, it's a great deal for me and for the farmer: I get a whole box of produce for much less than it would cost me if I went stand to stand on market day, and the farmer has money up front to buy seeds, tools and hands needed to do the work.

On a chilly but sunny Sunday afternoon in late September, I drove out for a little visit to see the ground where my goods have sprung from and met Tamera and Patrick at Iron Creek Farm. We went for a tour pulled along by the tractor, picked pumpkins and got a sneak peak into the hows and whys of the produce we've been enjoying all summer.October 2010 292.JPGWood furnace-heated green houses lined with 30 foot tall tomato plants and tiny lettuce seedlings answered my burning questions. I had been wondering all summer just how they grew such perfect tomatoes, bearing fruit from May, well into November. And aquaponic agriculture has been providing me with crispy fresh butter and red lettuces all year.October 2010 312.JPG
Tamera and Patrick made the decision to grow organically after thinking about the kind of environment they wanted to raise their kids in. "Farms can be toxic," says Tamera, "and we didn't want to live in that kind of environment." Laughing she says, "don't get me wrong, organic farming has its fair share of things we put on the fields. Chicken manure, fish emulsion, most of it smells pretty funny." They started growing organically 4 years ago and are in the process to get some of their other land certified. Land has to sit barren for three years to rid the soil of chemicals. They acknowledge that it takes quite of bit of patience but say they haven't lost any yield in switching to organics.October 2010 317.JPGWhether you go organic or not, I highly encourage you to try out a CSA. Some deliver straight to your door, some you pick up at the farmers market or a local school or even directly at the farm. It's a great way to take ownership of the food your eating. Community Sustained Agriculture means you are face to face with your food, and directly supporting a local farm that isn't growing food in factories. You are paying for quality and nourishment for yourself and your family. If you're interested in a fall share, the Local Beet has a great list of farms in the Chicago area. csa box.jpgThere is something transcendent in knowing face to face who is making your food. I'm newly grateful for my lettuce and peppers and beets and leeks. And while I'm cooking them tonight, I'll think about dirt on my hands and dried corn in the fields.October 2010 308.JPG

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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