Empire Farm Days

Today was the beginning of Empire Farm Days, basically a big New York State (Empire State) farm fair!

I didn’t talk too much about my internship because of the semi-sensitive nature of my work.  But now that it’s over, I’ll share a little bit about it without disclosing too much.  My internship was with the Cornell Farmworker Program and we had a table in the Cornell Cooperative Extension barn/shed/tent.

My partner in crime, Xochitl, and I drove to Seneca Falls bright and early this morning to set up our table.

We provide information for migrant farmworkers in the state, as well as information on farmworker economic and community contributions.  Interesting stuff.

We got there a little early so we walked around to see what Empire Farm Days had to offer.

I thought this was really interesting because while a know a fair amount about food security and food systems, I know very little about actual farming.

There was a ton of information about new technology, sustainability, techniques.   Pretty interesting for a self proclaimed “city girl” like myself.  I like getting to learn different lifestyles and experience new things.  Honestly, that’s one of the reasons I chose Cornell for grad school.  I could have stayed in LA or gone to NYC, but I wouldn’t have learned fun new things about agriculture and rural life!  When else would I get to spend 2 years living in the middle of nowhere!?

Obviously, the most exciting part for me were the animals.

Goats

Horses

and Cows!

The cows were in the Beef Producer’s tent.  You know what that means…

Overall it was interesting, especially as someone who doesn’t eat meat.  I think I’ve said it before but I don’t think eating meat is wrong.  My concern is with animal treatment, environmental issues and overall health and overconsumption issues.  I know this sounds weird but I was pretty glad there was a live cow next to this Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner poster.  It’s important to know where your food comes from.  At the risk of offending card carrying PETA members, I will say petting a few cows didn’t stop me from thinking the BBQ stand not far away smell amazing!

Aside from livestock, there were tractors everywhere…

I got to see what tractor ROPS (Roll Over Protection Structures) look like in real life!  I’d only heard about them through my internship when we talked about on the job safety.  Safety first!

Concentration is essential.

Xochitl knows all about tractor safety.

After a few hours, we headed home.  I was pooped!  After a nap, I made a simple, meat-free dinner.

Sun-dried tomato waffle topped with some kale sauteed in pesto.  The waffle was as delicious as the first time I made it.  If you still haven’t tried it, I suggest you do so soon!

Also, if you’re in the Upstate/Western NY area I suggest you take a little trip to Seneca Falls to check out Empire Farm Days.  Even just from a foodie perspective, there were a ton of interesting things (a lot of which I didn’t photograph)!

Off to watch Modern Family and pack for my trip to Florida on Thursday!  Have a lovely night!

Wake up and smell the COFFEE Cake!

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

About 10 minutes after my last post, there was a knock at the door.  This arrived:

Thanks, Lovely Fella!

After smiling for a good while and admiring my flowers, I headed out on my mission to find new running shoes.  The first stop was Kohl’s.  I tried on pretty much every pair of running shoes they had and decided upon these Asics.

Can you believe they were only $35!!!!  What a steal!

I may have also done some more shopping… long exercise pants and maybe a pair of red pumps…

Sadly, I might have to return them 😦 They’re a little too tight!  This is sort of silly but I saw them at the store, didn’t even try them on just grabbed them and walked straight to the register.  These are the pumps I’ve been looking for!  I made the lovely fella go to every Marshall’s and TJ Maxx in the Bay Area to find my size!  A little sad they’re too small. Oh well!  There will be other red pumps!

Earlier this week, my friend Liz e-mailed a recipe to a bunch of friends (myself included) wondering if someone would be willing to bake it for Valentine’s Day.  You really don’t have to twist my arm to get me to bake… Of course I said yes!

I was intrigued by this recipe!  I’m sure most of you have heard of Pioneer Woman, right?

This is her recipe for Coffee Cake, Literally… as in coffee flavored cake, not coffee cake.

This recipe turned out ridiculously good!  I would definitely make it again (for a new crowd that is!).

The recipe makes a cake but I decided to make cupcakes because they’re easier to enjoy, and they’re just darn cute!   I used my environmentally friendly baking cups!

The recipe called for buttermilk, which I never have around so here’s a tip: 1 cup milk (-1 tbsp) + 1tbsp of vinegar.  Let it sit for 5-10 mins!  Voila!  You’ve got buttermilk!

Honestly, I liked them better without the frosting.  The cake is so light and moist! The coffee flavor isn’t too strong in the cake.  The frosting on the other hand is very strongly flavored!  Pretty delicious as well!

I am thoroughly impressed at how good these are!  I feel like I need to try more of Pioneer Woman’s recipes!

I will be taking these cupcakes to a Valentine’s Day gathering!  But before that, I’m babysitting for a friend so he and his wife can have a Valentine’s Day outing!  They probably need it!

What are your plans for the day?

Have a great day!!!!

No Impact Man

In this blog, I probably come across as a person who is pretty concerned with the environment and climate change (see posts on environment by clicking “environment” tag on the side bar), but the reality is that relative to a lot of people I know (especially in my Master’s program), I’m not.

Yes, I care about the environment and climate change.  I turn off the lights.  I don’t eat meat.  I recycle.  I use reusable grocery bags, but the environment isn’t necessarily on the top of my agenda.  I try to do my part, but I wouldn’t call my myself an environmentalist.  I care about people, and people and the environment are undoubtedly connected.

This morning I woke up and opened a Netflix that had been sitting on the table for about a week, as I’ve been too busy to even open them to see what was in it.  It was the documentary No Impact Man.

In case you haven’t heard of it, No Impact Man is a documentary that follows a NYC family in their quest to live 1 year with no net environmental impact.  This means giving up all motorized transportation (including elevators), no electricity, no television, eating only locally, buying nothing, creating essentially no waste.

When I first heard of this documentary, I thought it sounded slightly ridiculous so I was interested in seeing it.  I often accuse extreme environmentalists of making the problem worse by alienating the masses and scaring people into thinking that the only way to reduce carbon emissions is by cutting everything out of your life… much like the family in this film did.

However, after watching it, this documentary and the family is much different than I expected.  They aren’t preachy; they don’t expect the world to live they way they did for an entire year, nor do they plan on doing so for more than a year.  I guess what I liked most was Colin Beavan’s point that it’s not about depriving yourself but rather finding ways to get what you need without harming the Earth.

Obviously, the family’s experiment was a bit extreme, but I enjoyed watching their lifestyle change.

I won’t bore you any more with my take on the film but I recommend it for a few reasons:

  • It was entertaining.
  • It makes you think about a lot of aspects of your life that you don’t always think about (i.e. toilet paper).
  • It sheds light upon the fact that cities can be sustainable and environmentally friendly. (I won’t get into this but since I’m in City Planning, you can probably imagine I have a ton to say about this.)
  • A large aspect of the lifestyle change revolved around food consumption, production and acquisition, which may be of interest to you all.

Have you seen or heard of No Impact Man?  Would you consider yourself an environmentalist?

I’m sort of at a loss for what to do the rest of the day.  I’m thinking I might go to a spinning class in about an hour but other than that, they day is free!  Kind of weird!

Happy Saturday!  Enjoy your day!

Copenhagen Update

Hey Everyone! Thanks so much for all your great comment about the 12 Days of Christmas Meal!

I’ve been slacking a bit on the food security aspect of this blog.  After all, I’m interested in everything about food; this blog reflects those interests.  Closely tied to food is the environment and climate change.  If you recall, a little over a week ago, I did a post about the UN Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen.

Well yesterday was the last day of the conference.

World leaders negotiate in the Bella centre in Copenhagen, from guardian.co.uk

The so-called Copenhagen Accord can be found on the UNFCCC website.  I’ve read a few mixed reviews about it so here’s a little recap of the major outcomes (essentially a summary of the Accord) in case you haven’t heard too much about it.

The Accord consists of 12 main points:

1. The nations agree that climate change is a problem and will work to combat it.

2. The nations agree that cutting global emissions is essential but “social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of developing countries and that a low-emission development strategy is indispensable to sustainable development.”  This also includes a cap on global temperature rises.

3. Developed countries will provide “adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources, technology and capacity-building to support the implementation of adaptation action in developing countries.” Essentially funding for developing countries to reduce GHG emissions without hurting development.

4. Annex I countries (mostly developed nations but see full list here) agree to implement emission targets by 2020.

5.  Non-Annex I countries (mostly developing nations but see full list here) “will implement mitigation actions.”

6. With regard to deforestation, the nations agree to provide incentives such as REDD-plus mechanism to acquire funding in order to prevent deforestation and environmental degradation in developing countries.  I’m a little fuzzy on this one so I’ll direct you to this site I found about REDD-plus if you’re interested.

7. Nations agree to seek a variety of alternatives in reducing GHG emissions (i.e. market based approached).  Those nations with low emissions should be encouraged to maintain low emissions.

8. Nations agree to provide adequate funding to developing nations in accordance with the convention.  Funding will be prioritized to most vulnerable nations and Africa.  Developing countries agree to provide US$100 Billion per year by 2020 for developing countries to meet their climate change needs.  This money will go through the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund.

9. Establishment of a High Level Panel to oversee the financing toward reaching these goals

10. Establishing the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund to “an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the Convention to support projects, programme, policies and other activities in developing countries related to mitigation including REDD-plus, adaptation, capacity-building, technology development and transfer.”

11. Establishment of a Technology Mechanism to speed up technology development and transfer.

12. Calls for an assessment of the Accord in 2015.

Here’s the final closing press briefing.  It’s around 3 minutes:

The conference covered a lot of the topics I was curious about as mentioned in previous post, particularly the question of funding.  $100 billion per year is a ton of money!  I’m happy to see governments being firmer about this issue and taking into consideration development and developing nations.    However, there’s still a long way to go as this accord is NOT legally binding.

My next question is who will control the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund?  I haven’t really seen anything about this.  Anyone else seen anything about this?

This seems like a new power angle that could be very interesting.

Did anything stand out for you at Copenhagen?

Is the Copenhagen Accord enough?

The next meeting with be in a year in Mexico City.  Do think we’ll get something legally binding in Mexico?

Copenhagen

In the news, you’ve probably seen a million articles talking about Copenhagen.  What does this mean exactly?

Yesterday, started the 15th meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP15).  It’s a meeting on climate change to follow up the Kyoto Protocol.  The Kyoto Protocol was an international agreement adopted at the end of 1997, as a way to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the world.  The goal was to reduce GHG emissions to the level that they were in 1990.  As of now, 187 national governments have ratified the Kyoto Protocol.  The US has not (this is not to say the US is not doing anything to prevent climate change).

If you click on the Kyoto Protocol link above, it takes you to the UNFCCC website that has a good summary of the Kyoto Protocol and the mechanism of implementation (for some reason I’m a fan of the “carbon market” idea).  Although the Kyoto Protocol doesn’t expire until 2012, preparations are being made for a new program to reduce GHGs.

Since the meeting at Copenhagen just started, I can’t say too much about it.  But I encourage everyone to read the news. Here is the first press briefing (only 2:39 long… pretty short):

Here are a few key points I find particularly interesting and I hope are discussed in Copenhagen:

  • Tension between environmental protection/prevention of climate change and development.  Can we have both?
  • How are we financing this?
  • What are the governance structures and power relationships involved?
  • Where are they looking to cut GHG emissions?  Transportation? Agriculture?

You may be wondering what this has to do with food security… I think it’s a crucial aspect as one of the causes of food insecurity is natural hazards.  Granted the changes in the global climate may be small, but this could effect food production in the future.

Also, food production produces a significant amount of GHGs.  While I don’t think may politicians would promote reducing food production to reduce GHG emissions, it could interesting to see if green agriculture is talked about.

What are your thoughts on Copenhagen?  Are you interested in this or not a whole lot?

Should we be worrying about this now?

I know as a planning student, I’m surrounded by people who feel very strongly about it and are working toward solutions, but I’m always interested in hearing other perspectives.