Category Archives: Farming or Food Policy

Going out, grass feeding in Northern Virginia

Maple Avenue Restaurant Kobe Burger, Vienna, VA

happily, we are seeing a rising trend towards restaurants serving grass fed meats, at least in Northern Virginia. Thought people might want to know their options as much I’m aware of them.

1. Maple Avenue Restaurant, Vienna, VA — This is a sweet little place, right on the main drag in our Vienna town. We went for the first time on Valentine’s Day and its a great local food find. It has the feel of an urban…lunch box with windows…that’s how small it is. Clearly they want to put the focus on food–the wine selection is small but good; the beer selection looked similar.  Outstanding moments: the Thai fried okra, the shrimp and grits infused with okra and chorizo. These flavor combinations…original and tasty. To me, that signifies talent I can respect. They source their meats locally, even using the Market on Maple (which sells the grass fed bison we love). I called to clarify if the meatas are grass fed and  learned that the locally sourced ones are, and the majority of the non-local sources are too. (The waitress there did not know.) Oh the greens are organic too. The OhEmmGee flourless chocolate cake…deserving of the name. Check out the high ratings and photos on Yelp.

2. Elevation Burger , Falls Church, VA — You know, when you get a hankering for that burger, at least make it grass fed. Prices are reasonable and toppings include carmelized onions and balsamic mustard. You have to monitor your own self on the fries (100% olive oil) versus salad side choice!

3.  Chipotle, Vienna, VA (and other locations) — This one requires some context. First, they say that all of their pork is raised with pigs living the way pigs are meant to live–nose burrowing in the ground, eating grass. Chicken? They say 100% of their chicken is now naturally raised. That is not the same as free range, where the chickens have plenty of room. It means that they get more room than CAFOs (Commercial feed lots), have no animal by products in their food, and no antibiotics. Also, a vegetarian diet can include grain. They say 50% of their beef is naturally raised (similar definitions). I want to give alot of credit to this company on this account–that they are willing to pay more for better raised meats and therefore, are tactically helping raise the standards out there using their demand driven purchasing power. On the other hand, let me warn you–buttered rice in your burrito with cheese and sour cream and a 200-300 calorie tortilla….means lunch is inching towards 1000 calories. Healthy choice awareness?…eating just half the meal at one sitting?….yup, still necessary.  As a side, an interesting article by the Chipotle owner on last year’s USDA defintion of “naturally raised.” We might need to write the USDA and remind them that we have brains (and stomachs we want to protect!).

Other mention:

The Majestic, Alexandria, VA — Wonderful joint, in a way, some of the food is similar to Maple Avenue Restaurant–burgers, ribs…home-y american food, with less fusion options. I know for a fact that this restaurant gets some of its meats from Polyface Farms in VA, which are all grass fed. However, upon calling them they did clarify that not all of their meat is grass fed, though it is all local. Again, let’s start requesting!

By the way, a big shout out for Maple Avenue Market, our gem of a store in Vienna that serves all Locally Raised grass fed meats including bison and lamb to name a few. They also have grass fed dairy: milk, chocolate milk, and some cheeses from what I recall. Easy to find–kitty corner towards the far left across from the Whole Foods!

Please let me know if you know of other restaurants serving grass fed meats? Would love to see this list expand, at least for Northern VA. perhaps even DC?

small farms, women and local production

well, anyone who has read the “about” section of this blog must know that part of the impetus for starting it was a growing concern on my part about my food supply–that is, the source of the food i purchase, cook and feed my family with.

So I am definitely juiced by this article from Gourmet magazine. Thank you to friend Lorrie King for fowarding to me. The news nuggets are:

  •  a sharp increase in small farms since 2007.  These farms seem really small…as in less than $1000 in sales (is that annual?)
  • further concentration in large farm production (so now only 125,000 farms produce 75% of our agricultural production). As Michael Pollan noted, our food diversity has shrunk to only four major sources including soy, wheat, and corn. We subsidize these crops and as a result they end up as the basis of cheap, processed food. These large farms are largely involved in the production of these staple goods.
  • and an increase in the number of woman farmers (or farm operators). The article seems to indicate that the women farmers may be related to the rise in small farms.

Who knows, speculates the author? Maybe more women are takin gup the cause of a nutrional food source for their families and local communities. Women of the US, unite! Really though, maybe these women and men who have taken up growing fresh, diverse, local food can serve as more and more of our local food supply.

An Eventful Passage

The first three weeks I was away from writing this blog, it was mostly because I was pretty sick (taking two doses of antibiotics), then because I was busy preparing for a vacation and then because I was on a vacation for 10 days. That vacation in itself was something to write about because I went, with my husband, to Hawaii, for the first time ever. I would like to write about that in a separate post. We went to the Big Island and Kauai and ended up in some pretty remote, undeveloped spots. Let’s just say it was a healthy reminder of how small and human I am! It was wonderful, calming, even restful.

Coming back, my workload has increased dramatically from the summer. I would say I am in a test period (or at least, that is what it feels like); I had so much time this summer because my workload was not demanding and as a result, I was at peace, I had energy and I found inlets and outlets of ways to feed myself (physically, spiritually, mentally). I had been hoping that all those habits could find a foundation and keep growing through what I knew were going to be busy times. Why did I know they were going to be busy? Because I have been wanting to be involved in opportunities that use my talents for a while now. and if everything I was doing to ask for it was going to work, I was going to be getting busy. And the other area that got “busy” is social activities. For the last 3 years, we have stuck pretty close to our inner circles, not really spending money, time or energy on acquaintenances or even professional relationships. November is changing that too. So its a tricky tricky time. I have made very little time to cook, instead relying on my mom’s leftovers and who knows what. The challenge on all fronts is to keep asking the same questions. In the midst of the responsibilities I have taken on, what feeds me? What gives me energy versus what drains it? I am obviously on shaky ground, I find myself quite sick once again, my body begging for rest. I have allowed myself to indulge in some old stresses at work in hopes of working out good solutions for my client. that doesn’t feed me. i’m not sure what to do about it though.

the weekend after coming back from hawaii was great. we were so calm and so together and so happy to be home, it took us very little time to get settled back in the house. We had been moving around quite a bit on the vacation and so we had gotten very good at keeping track of our stuff. So getting it back in the house was a no brainer. The house was totally uncluttered and we spent the weekend reconnecting to our home, our TO-DOs did not seem like a brick wall we kept bumping our heads against, they just got done peacefully. gosh how i long for that. the following week at work was wonderful, some new highs.

but then, beginning Halloween, a nose dive. Complete drop down off the cliffs in terms of my personal energy levels. Life turned into a lot of running around. YUCK. Sleep deprivation began. i can’t figure out how or when to stop but its not working. its causing me to enjoy my time less on all fronts–social, otherwise. so, as laurel used to say to hardy, “this is another fine mess you’ve gotten me into!”

Some shining moments: World Series, GO PHILADELPHIA!!!!! I am so happy for that town. Another was Election Night. I have been on FB to share in the collective glory. We had a wonderful evening with friends. We were all beaming by the end. Instead of Yes we Can; Yes We Did. It feels wonderful to beat back the tide of executive secretship, beat back any more Dick Cheney time, to have someone as our leader who values education and achieves excellence. Personally for me, it hits very close to home that this leader was influenced by Saul Alinsky and the principles of community organizing, as I was in my life. Its kind of a wake up reminder actually. It was a beautiful night and my husband and I were able to go to the White House and participate in the spontaneous block party that erupted there. But the hard work begins now, bringing everyone to the table, whether they were for or against Obama to make sure they work constructively to bring this country back.

And now I get to the point of this post which I only have a couple more minutes to write. I am woefully late posting this since it was written in October. However, if there is one person who speaks for many of the principles on which this blog was conceived, it is Michael Pollan. I have mentioned him and at least one of this books previously on this blog. Pollan has written an open letter to the President-Elect. I am a big fan of his writing. Its not just what he writes about, its how he writes it. His writing is so clear and objective. Each sentence links to form garlanded paragraphs.  In this letter, he shows the President-Elect how health care costs, energy independence, and climate change are all linked to food policy. Its a marvelous piece and a must-read. Definitely gets to my issues with the supply chain of our food and the trade-offs we’ve endured in order to have our food produced from the industrialization process to keep it cheap.

By the way, if anyone wants to give their input or vision for the new administration, you can simply go to www.change.gov  Yes, we can.