Our topic for this program is Eating Sustainably. Our guests are Dave Miller, baker extrodinaire of Miller’s Bake House in Yankee Hill and Francine Steulpnagel of Chico GRUB: Growing Resourcefully, Uniting Bellies. We also share some international news stories on food issues and include some do-it-yourself ways of increasing the sustainability of your diet.

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Global News:

  • From “Sustainable Food Monitor” comes a description of “The Cordoba Declaration on the Right to Food,” launched on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal declaration of Human Rights as an outgrowth of a seminar on the world food crisis. “As a consequence of the 2007-2008 food crisis and its aftermath, a series of different initiatives have been promoted by governments and international organizations to tackle hunger and the unbalances created in the food system. Those initiatives pursue a common goal: to restructure the global agri-food system. To ensure that these initiatives will help to combat hunger, there should be a call on all States to place the right to food at the top of the political agenda regarding food and agriculture.” http://sustainablefoodmonitor.org/2008/12/12/the-cordoba-declaration-on-the-right-to-food/
  • Writing for Food Production Daily, Sarah Hills reports of meat and poultry product checks for melamine, [an organic compound that is often combined with formaldehyde to produce melamine resin, a synthetic polymer which is fire resistant and heat tolerant and is widely used in household products and fireproofing applications.] The US launched this program following the deaths of four infants in China linked to consuming baby milk contaminated with the industrial chemical. US officials are to begin sample checks on processed meat and poultry products that are already on shop shelves for traces of melamine contamination.  The US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced a general sampling plan to check those meat and poultry products that contain milk-derived ingredients such as non-fat dried milk, casein, whey, evaporated milk, and milk powder. The products it has chosen for sampling fall into five categories:
  • Baby food; containing a significant amount of meat or poultry products.
  • Cooked sausages; including hot dogs or frankfurters with and without cheese products.
  • Breaded chicken; bite sized morsels or nuggets with and without cheese products. Examples include “Chicken and Cheese Nugget Shaped Patties”.
    •  Meat and poultry wrapped in dough and pizza (including calzones). Examples include products enrobed in a dough that are often identified with descriptive names such as “Pizza Snacks-Crust Filled with Cheese, Sausage and Sauce”.
    • Meatballs.


  • From The London Telegraph comes the headline: Call for full ban on junk food adverts for children… “[The British Office of Communications], Ofcom, estimates the number of television advertisements for foods high in fat, salt or sugar seen by children has dropped by 34 per cent since 2005. Ofcom introduced a ban in April 2007 on manufacturers advertising junk food during programmes aimed at children. Campaigners, however, argue that children are still seeing many adverts for sweet breakfast cereals, salty snacks and burgers because companies are still allowed to advertise during programmes that are very popular with children, but predominantly watched by adults. These shows would include soap operas and talent programmes . . . . Richard Watts, coordinator of the Children’s Food campaign said: ‘Although we welcome this modest fall in children’s exposure to junk food advertising, Ofcom’s figures highlight just how far their rules fall short of what is needed. If we are serious about putting children’s health first, we must protect them from junk food advertising before the 9pm watershed, because children watch most TV in the early evening’.”  www.telegraph.co.uk/
  • More and more consumers raise the question of whether American farmers can supply organic food to everyone. An interview from Acres USA with Mary-Howell and Klaas Martens, New York field and vegetable crop growers and organic feed suppliers, winners of the 2008 Patrick Madden Award for Sustainable Agriculture, begins to answer the question of profitably and practicality of organic farming:
    • Mary-Howell Martens: We have tracked our costs very carefully on a computer program ever since the late ‘80s and early ’90s, before we were organic farmers, through our transition and now for more than 12 years farming organically. What we found is that our cost of production, our cost per bushel, has actually dropped as compared to what it was when we were farming conventionally. This year, with conventional input costs skyrocketing and the costs of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides going through the roof, organic farming is going to make even more economic sense because, except for petroleum, our input costs haven’t changed much while organic grain prices have risen significantly. Even if we weren’t getting a premium price for our organic grain, we’d still make more money farming organically.
    • Klaas  Martens: I think there’s another point we need to make here, and that’s how organic farmers are challenged by the statement that organic farming can’t feed the world with the population that we have now. I tell them categorically that’s a bunch of baloney, with one caveat: organic farming could definitely feed the world, but not on the diet that it has become accustomed to. We can’t have half of the Midwest planted to corn, and the other half planted to soybeans, and call that sustainable. But we could feed the world a much better diet with more diversity if we’d bring back the varied groups of crops that were once grown, perhaps also some new crops. We could feed the world with a more diverse crop mix that will also produce a healthy stable soil.”

http://attra.ncat.org/interviews/martens.html   [Reported in http://www.urbanagriculture-news.com/food-production.news]

Our Interview with Dave Miller

Dave Miller makes his bread in the foothills of Yankee Hill. The mission of his bake house is stated on his website: “The Mission: From the very beginning our intent has been to provide the best quality bread available. A bread that illustrates the full expression of the grain, and therefore gives you the most flavorful, pleasing, nutritious loaf possible.”

  • Tell us a little about Miller’s Bakehouse What’s your philosophy of baking bread?
  • Tell us something about your process of making bread. It seems you put a lot of emphasis on sustainable practices. What are some things you do to be sustainable? (“Some interesting features include our brick wood-fired oven,our Austrian grain mill where we grind our flour fresh between two massive granite stones, and the solar arrays outside the bakery which supply the majority of our power needs.  All of our organic wheat, rye, nuts and dried fruit are purchased directly from farmers in our region.”)
  • How did you become interested in baking whole, sustainably created products?
  • What makes your products healthy, better than we can get with more highly processed food?
  • Tell us about your background. Where did you get your training? What’s your history in Chico?
  • What value do you see in working through the Chico Farmer’s Market? Have you worked with other farmer’s markets?
  • Aren’t you a part of the “Slow Foods” Chapter of Northern California? What do they do? Are there other ways you network with other food people? How?

Dave Miller of Miller’s Bakehouse in Yankee Hill is online at http://millersbakehouse.com.

Our Interview with Francine Stuelpnagel

We’ve been greatly impressed by an Chico organization called GRUB, for  Growing Resourcefully Uniting Bellies a non-profit that began under the Chico Food Network. They operate a CSA (community, supported, agriculture) and have a commitment to minimizing their community’s ecological footprint. According to their website:

“Food systems and industrial agriculture as they exist today are extremely wasteful, generating 20% of the carbon emissions for the whole country. By using organic practices & ensuring that the food we produce stays local we can minimize fossil fuel usage.”  Tonight we have with us Francine Stuelpnagel, part of the GRUB team and working on their community outreach program. Francine, tell us a little bit more about the work of GRUB.

  • Who is GRUB? What does the core group consist of? How do you use volunteers?
  • Where do you farm?
  • Where does the food that you grow go?
  • What are some of the practices of farming that you are most committed to?
  • What does your community outreach consist of?
  • How did you get interested in growing this way? And how did you become connected with GRUB?
  • How can people become involved in GRUB?


Do-It-Yourself Sustainable Eating

  • The True Cost of Food is a project of the Sierra Club National Sustainable Consumption Committee.  “Their mission statement: “We, the consumers, through our food choices, can stop the practices that harm our health, our planet, and our quality of life.”  One of their topics is cooking:  “…[T]he cooking style that is kindest to the planet also yields the best-tasting food. Cooking sustainably means using fresh, in-season ingredients that have not traveled thousands of miles to your kitchen and preparing them simply so that their true flavor comes through. The sustainable kitchen includes a pantryful of unprocessed or lightly processed foods; the sustainable cook uses sustainably-raised foods from local suppliers.”  Several of their recipes are posted in the following section of the Ecotopia Web. http://www.truecostoffood.org/truecostoffood/cooking.asp
  • Also from the website of The True Cost of Food from the Sierra Club:  The Sierra Club argues we consumers can make a difference: “Most of the world’s problems can’t be fixed by individual action: disease, war, and poverty require concentrated efforts by policy makers and governments. But ONLY consumers can affect the way food is grown and transported; this is an area where our actions make a difference. If we buy food that’s grown sustainably supply will follow demand and it will become more available. When it becomes obvious that small farmers can make a decent living, more young people will be able to start farming.”  Some of their recommendations are to know how your food is grown and processed; to know your farmer; to eat seasonally and locally; to eat less meat, but when you do to buy grass-fed, free-range, or pastured meats; to shop at farmers’ markets, to join a CSA, and to ask restaurants, stores, and schools where they get their food.  http://www.truecostoffood.org/truecostoffood/takeaction.asp
  • Locally, you can learn more about the Chico Food Network, which fosters a “local food system that contributes to the long-term viability of farms in our region, provides Chico-area residents with fresh, healthy food choices, provides education regarding local food systems, and creates an awareness and interdependence between Chico consumers, food businesses, and local farmers.” Their projects include:
    • Gardeners’ Swap Meet Program
    • Coordination of Volunteers in School Gardens
    • Free Seeds for Education
    • In 2008 partnerships with three local nurseries led to the donation of over 500 vegetable Restaurant Partnerships
    • Grant Writing on behalf of school and community garden projects.
    • Supporting GRUB as a fiscal sponsor in 2008.


  • You can Learn more about the Slow Food Movement and how you can participate. “Slow Food USA seeks to create dramatic and lasting change in the food system. We reconnect Americans with the people, traditions, plants, animals, fertile soils and waters that produce our food. We work to inspire a transformation in food policy, production practices and market forces so that they ensure equity, sustainability and pleasure in the food we eat.”  The Slow Movement also supports the Terra Madre, an international project.that “grows, strengthens, organizes, and defends local cultures and products, and makes real the Slow Food concept of Good, Clean, and Fair quality. Good refers to the quality of food products and of their taste; Clean, to a production process that respects the natural environment; and Fair, in which there is dignity and appropriate economic return for the people who produce, including respect from those who consume.”  http://www.slowfoodusa.org/
  • You can also  Look into supporting the local Chapter of the Slow Foods movement—covering the counties of Shasta, Tehama, and Butte, found at  http://slowfoodshastacascade.org/  Contact information for Chico, Red Bluff and Redding can be found on their website.
  • In addition, you can  support The Chico Grange, whose mission is:    “To Promote Local Agriculture, Environmental Stewardship, and a Vibrant Community.”   http://chicogrange.org/

Recipes from the True Cost of Food Project

Basic Vegetable Quiche

From Swiss chard season (early summer) to winter squash season (late fall) this is always a hit at our pot-lucks. We have included two easy pastry recipes and have only tested this with homemade pastry in standard 9-inch glass or enamel pie plates. If you want to use commercial 9-inch frozen crusts, choose deep-dish and it will be just fine, but you may need to butter a custard cup or two to bake the excess filling because they are always smaller.

Makes 6 servings

Pastry for 9-inch single-crust pie, recipes follow

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped green or yellow onions

3 cups prepared vegetable, see Note

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/8 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups half-and-half or whole milk

1 1/2 cups shredded Jarlsberg, Swiss, or your favorite cheese

Prepare pie crust. On a floured board, roll out pastry to make an 11-inch round; fit into a standard 9-inch pie plate. Fold edge over and flute.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in prepared vegetable and cook until hot through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in flour, salt, thyme, and black pepper. Beat eggs until frothy in a medium bowl; brush a little egg over the bottom of the pie crust. Beat the half-and-half into the remaining eggs. Layer half of the cheese, the vegetable mixture, and the remaining cheese into the pie crust. Pour the cream mixture over all.

Bake quiche until center appears set when pie plate is gently tapped, 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside 5 minutes before cutting.

Note: Almost any vegetable or mixture of vegetables can be used in a quiche. If you are using asparagus, broccoli, celery, eggplant, fresh corn, bell peppers, summer squash, mushrooms, or zucchini, they should be sliced, added to the skillet raw, and sautéed with the onions. Carrots, green or yellow beans, peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, or winter squash should be parboiled and drained thoroughly before adding. Greens such as arugula, beet greens, collards, kale, mustard, spinach, Swiss chard, or turnip greens should be steamed, simmered or stir-fried until wilted, thoroughly drained, and coarsely chopped before adding.

Plain Pastry

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cold butter

4 to 6 tablespoons cold water

Combine flour, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle water over flour a little at a time and mix until pastry forms a ball when lightly pressed. Flatten dough, wrap, and chill at least 30 minutes.

Easy Whole-wheat Pastry

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 to 5 tablespoons cold water

Combine flour, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in oil until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle water over flour a little at a time and mix until pastry forms a ball when lightly pressed. Flatten dough, wrap, and chill at least 30 minutes.

Basic Soufflé

The secret to a perfect soufflé is using high quality eggs and gently incorporating the beaten egg whites with the vegetable puree mixture. The variety of vegetable purees that may be used makes it possible to serve this spectacular dish any season of the year.

Makes 6 servings

3/4 cup vegetable puree, see below

6 large eggs

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1/4 cup very finely chopped onion

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh dill, marjoram, oregano, or thyme, see Note

1/8 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper

1 1/4 cups milk

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Prepare vegetable puree. Separate eggs placing whites in a large bowl and yolks in small bowl. Gradually beat puree into yolks with wire whisk.

Melt butter in a medium skillet. Add onion and sauté until tender about 3 minutes. Stir in flour, salt, your choice of herb, and the black pepper; gradually stir in the milk. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until smooth and thickened. Fold yolk-vegetable puree mixture into thickened sauce along with 3 tablespoons of the cheese. Cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Measure and cut a 26-inch long piece of waxed paper. Fold paper in thirds lengthwise. Lightly grease one side. Fit paper, greased side in, around outside of 1 1/2-quart souffle dish with at least 2 inches above the top of dish. Tie tightly with string.

With electric mixer on high speed, beat whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold some of whites into vegetable mixture. Then fold mixture into remaining beaten whites. Gently spoon mixture into prepared souffle dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon cheese. Bake souffle 40 to 45 minutes or until top is golden brown and center does not shake when dish is gently tapped. Serve immediately.

Note: You can use asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, peas, pumpkin, summer or winter squash, and greens such as chard, mustard, and spinach.

Basic Purees

Purees are colorful and comforting as a side dish (We like to pair two compatible flavors and swirl them in the serving bowl.) and are an essential first step to vegetable soufflés, cream soups and breads. Because they are simply made from fully cooked vegetables and seasonings, you really only need to know how much to cook and how long.

Makes 1 cup puree

Vegetables, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks, if necessary

1/2 teaspoon fresh or about 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme, oregano, basil, cilantro, or rosemary, optional

Salt and freshly milled black pepper, optional

Combine vegetable, water to cover and herbs in a small saucepan. Heat to boiling over high heat; reduce heat and cook, covered, until tender. Drain vegetable very well, reserving cooking liquid. Puree vegetable in a food processor or blender adding cooking liquid 1 tablespoon at a time until mixture is smooth and creamy, yet stiff enough to maintain a furrow when a spoon is pulled through the mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Use puree as directed in recipe or prepare puree recipe in multiples and serve as a side dish, allowing about 3/4 cup puree per serving.

Basic Omelets and Frittatas


There is nothing faster than an omelet for breakfast, lunch, or dinner when you are serving a small number of people. This recipe serves 1 but can be multiplied to serve more. We suggest using an 8- to 9-inch pan for a double recipe and a 10-inch pan for four. If serving more than that, you might want to go to a second pan or cook the omelets one at a time and keep them warm in a very low-temperature oven.

Makes 1 serving

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon milk, water, broth, or sour cream

Salt and freshly milled black pepper

2 teaspoons vegetable oil or butter

1/2 cup warm omelet filling, see below

Whisk together eggs, milk, and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 7- or 8- inch omelet pan or heavy skillet over medium-high heat.

Pour in egg mixture, tilting pan to distribute egg evenly. As egg sets, push toward center of pan with an inverted spatula and swirl uncooked egg onto pan surface. When top surface has just set, fill, fold in half, and slide onto serving plate.

Omelet Fillings: To fill one single-serving omelet, combine about 3/4 cup of any chopped or thinly sliced hot cooked vegetable or mixture of vegetables with 3 tablespoons grated American, Blue, Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Munster, or mozzarella cheese (or 1 tablespoon Parmesan), salt and freshly milled black pepper to taste, and 1/8 teaspoon dried basil, cilantro, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, or thyme. Cooked meat, poultry or fish can make up part of the 3/4 cup as well.


This Italian-style omelet couldn’t be easier. Any cooked vegetable can be used and you can serve it right from the pan. Mix and match the cheese and herbs with the vegetables you have chosen.

Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 cups chopped or thinly sliced cooked vegetables

6 large eggs

Salt and freshly milled black pepper

1/4 cup grated Cheddar, Munster, or Swiss cheese

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, cilantro, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, or thyme, optional

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy 9- or 10-inch skillet with broiler-proof handle over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add vegetables and cook, stirring, until hot.

Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl; fold in hot vegetable mixture, cheeses, and herb, if using. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over very low heat. Pour in egg and vegetable mixture, spreading with spatula to distribute evenly. Cook, covered, until top surface has just set, 8 to 10 minutes.

Preheat boiler half way through cooking time. Broil frittata just until top surface browns. Cut into 6 wedges and serve.

Basic Gratins

The only thing that makes a casserole a gratin is the crisp, well-browned, broiled topping. You can use buttered bread crumbs, grated cheese, a mixture of the two, or nothing at all over layers of cooked vegetables. Almost any vegetable will make a delicious gratin and if you choose to add the cheese or a little meat, it can serve as a main dish.

Makes 4 main dish or 6 side dish servings

1 pound potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, or Jerusalem

artichokes, peeled, and thinly sliced

1 pound leafy greens, cabbage, zucchini, summer squash, fennel, Belgian endive, or cauliflower, rinsed, and sliced, or an additional pound of roots and tubers above

1/4 cup olive oil or butter

1 cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, optional

2 cups milk, broth, or cooled vegetable cooking liquid

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Salt and freshly milled black pepper

1 1/4 cups shredded Cheddar, Swiss, Munster, Monterey Jack or other cheese

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs or panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

Cook root vegetables in salted water 5 to 7 minutes or until surface starts to look cooked. Drain; save and cool cooking liquid to use for sauce, if desired. Blanch the pound of more tender vegetables; drain thoroughly.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 2-quart gratin or shallow baking dish. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic, if using, until it starts to brown, about 4 minutes. Whisk the milk into the flour in a small bowl. Whisk the mixture into the onion mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is bubbly and thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Layer half of root vegetables, 1/3 cup sauce, 1/4 cup cheese, half of the tender vegetables, 1/3 cup sauce, and 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat ending with 1 cup sauce and 1/2 cup cheese. Combine crumbs and remaining oil. If using butter, melt it before combining. Sprinkle over cheese.

Bake until root vegetables are tender and top is well browned, 35 to 40 minutes.

Basic Pizzas

There is almost no limit to what can go on top of a pizza–fresh or parboiled vegetables; meat, fish or poultry; and any kind of cheese you crave.

Makes 6 servings

Makes one 14-inch pizza or 6 individual pizzas

2 to 2 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour

1 package quick rising dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup very warm water (120° to 130°F)

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cups prepared vegetables, see Note (or part fully-cooked meat, poultry, or seafood)

1 cup tomato sauce

2 cups shredded mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Munster, Cheddar, Fontina, Provolone, or crumbled goat cheese, or a mixture

Combine 2 cups flour, the yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and oil; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a board with the remaining 1/2 cup flour; knead until smooth adding any additional flour as needed. Oil bowl; return dough; let rise 30 to 45 minutes until double in volume.

Meanwhile, prepare vegetables.

Shape dough on lightly oiled pizza pan. Set aside 15 minutes. Place oven rack at lowest position. Preheat oven to 450°F.

Top dough with tomato sauce, vegetables, and cheese; bake 15 to 20 minutes or until crust has browned and cheese is bubbly.

Note: Asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, broccoli rabe, cauliflower, carrots, cooking greens, fresh peas, green beans, summer and winter squash and zucchini should be cut into bite-size pieces and parboiled until crisp-tender. Onions and mushrooms are best if sautéed. All should be well drained.

Text and recipes from Recipes from America’s Small Farms by Joanne Lamb Hayes and Lori Stein, copyright 2003 by Joanne Lamb Hayes and Lori Stein. Used by permission of Villard Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

Playlist for Ecotopia #14

1.Food, Glorious Food (From ‘Oliver’)        3:49    Cast Of ‘Oliver’         

Lionel Bart’s Oliver   

2. Shortenin’ Bread                           2:03    Mississippi John Hurt          

The Library Of Congress Recordings

3. Chicken Soup With Rice (Album Version)         4:20    Carole King  

Really Rosie 

4. Home Cookin’                                           4:32    Linda Miles   

Home Cookin’                                  

5. Tacos, Enchiladas And Beans                2:52    Doris Day      

Golden Girl (The Columbia Recordings 1944-1966)