Hey all check out the latest posts by students at the Big Fresno Fair!
Horsepower is pleased to welcome Anthony Pannone from I Love Farmers…They Feed My Soul as our new guest blogger. We’re happy to partner with I Love Farmers and believe in their mission, and you should too! Anthony is a Cal Poly alum and a current grad student at Texas A&M University. You can find him on Twitter at @agrospheric.
We need food to survive. Okay, we need more than food, but food is important in so many ways and the more we talk and learn about the people behind our food then the better the future will be.
Like survival, agriculture is more than food. Farmers and ranchers grow crops and raise animals that nourish our minds, bodies, and souls. That’s why I Love Farmers … They Feed My Soul exists: to spread love for U.S. family farmers and ranchers who provide the foods, fibers, and fuels that sustain our lives.
I Love Farmers is a movement that anyone may join. No special pass is required. No secret password is needed. The only requirement is your passion for American agriculture. With that excitement, the possibilities to represent our agriculture are endless.
“We are agriculture together,” said Michelle Payn-Knopper, of the Ag Chat Foundation, during a discussion at the third annual 2012 Agvocacy 2.0 Training Conference. To me, she means that your agriculture might differ from my agriculture, and his agriculture might differ from her agriculture, but each version of agriculture ultimately comes together and creates the Agrosphere.
Everyone and everything is part of the Agrosphere—which is why I Love Farmers is a platform for farmers and customers, young and old, rural dwellers and urbanites.
I was recruited by the movement’s founder, Dr. Scott Vernon, who teaches agricultural leadership and communications at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. One day after class approximately two years ago he asked me if I wanted to blog about my experience, to share my story with the ILF Nation. I said yes, and now I’m the blog editor and a member of the Board of Directors.
My story, I thought, didn’t matter. Who was I in the Agrosphere? At the time, I was still wondering why I never thought about where my food came from. I’ve come to realize is I am who I am which is nothing more or less me—I just be me and, naturally, my emotional bond with food and fiber helps me tell my story. I am not a farmer of food, and I don’t manage pastureland or livestock. But, by using agriculture as a tool educate not only young people but every person, I strive to awaken possibility in others.
I Love Farmers is here for you if you want to join a conversation or if you desire to spark a conversation about American agriculture. You could use social media or you could stand on a corner and talk to random people. The important thing is that you are supporting your agriculture which then strengthens the Agrosphere.
A favorite set of words I’ve shaped into my motto are “If you want to change the world, tell a better story.” In the Agrosphere, one thing is truly certain: change. So why not improve your communication skills, develop a clear message, and be part of the movement towards positive change? Although change might hide from our everyday lives, over time it has proven to lead to a sustainable life in which liberty and happiness can be attained and maintained.
To some extent in this world, for sure with I Love Farmers, anyone with enthusiasm for food and fiber is capable of understanding that sharing a story means finding out about other Selves who also work toward becoming a positive beacon for others to find.
It’s never too late to join our movement.
California is blessed with an abundance of these creamy, pebbly-skinned beauties. Packed with nutrients like healthy fats, they’re one of those perfect (or darn close) foods that you can make a regular part of your diet. We’ve rounded up a couple reasons they’re so awesome.
How’s that for a starter? It’s becoming clearer to Americans that healthy fats have a solid place in our diet, and avocados are brimming with those monounsaturated fats. They’re good for your heart, great for your skin, and fill you up - so you’re less likely to indulge later.
Most people are familiar with California’s Hass variety, which grows year-round and has a thick, pebbled skin. Bacon avocados are green and are harvested mid-winter, while Fuertes are picked in the fall months. Both have thinner, easy to peel skin. Reeds are a summer fruit with green, thick skin and a rounder shape.
95% of the country’s avocados are grown in California, with the bulk in southern counties like San Diego. San Luis Obispo has a few regions - like Nipomo and Cayucos - where avocados thrive. California’s cool sea breezes and year-round sunshine provide an ideal growing atmosphere.
Avocados, or aguacates, originated in Mexico, and evidence of avocado cultivation stretches back to 500 BC. The mother tree of all Hass avocados actually grows in Southern California, where a temperate, semi-tropical climate provides near-perfect growing conditions.
So how do you tell if an avocado is ready to open up? Generally, you want a slight give to the flesh. If your fruit is still too firm, toss it in a paper sack with a banana. The other fruit’s ripening gases will speed up the avocado’s journey to your plate. Before you bring that avocado home, though, make sure it’s a good one. Flick back the stem cap and look at the color underneath: if it’s brown, it’s likely that your fruit will have some unsightly spots too. If it’s green, you’ve got a good one!
Avocado goes well with quite a bit. We like to mash it up with some fresh chopped onion, parsley, salt and pepper for a quick guacamole. Spread it on toast or your favorite sandwich, or dice and mix into a green or quinoa salad. What’s your favorite way to eat them?
Craft the perfect meal based on what’s growing abundantly in California right now. You can find most of these ingredients at local farmer’s markets across the state.
Appetizer - Heirloom Bruschetta
4 medium sized heirloom tomatoes (go for a variety of color!)
10 ripe kalamata olives
2 green onions
extra virgin olive oil
6 sprigs Thai basil
2 cloves garlic
1 loaf crusty French bread
Dice the garlic and put into a dish with olive oil and oregano. Cut your bread and brush with the oil mixture. Place under the broiler until just crisped.
Dice the tomatoes, olives and green onions and toss together with olive oil in a large bowl. Right before serving, add in the basil and toss again. When the bread is done, scoop a generous amount onto each slice and serve immediately.
Starter - Fig & Melon Salad
3-4 Black Mission figs
1 cup melon
6 strips proscuitto
asiago cheese, shaved
extra virgin olive oil
Lay the proscuitto on a baking sheet and broil in the oven until just crispy. Dice the melon and figs into 1” chunks. Toss the arugula in olive oil, balsamic and salt to taste. Plate your dish by layering the greens over cooled proscuitto slices, adding the figs and melon along the sides. Shave the asiago onto the salad and grate some fresh pepper to finish.
Entree - Local Whitefish with Polenta & Summer Squash
Go to your local farmer’s market or fishmonger and pick out whatever’s freshest and local (or find it on Horsepower). I like a buttery halibut or sablefish out of Morro Bay.
1 cup polenta
1 ear corn
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 crookneck summer squashes
juice of 1 lemon
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Get your polenta going first. We use 1 cup as a base, but follow the directions on your box depending on how many you’ll be serving. While that’s cooking, chop your squash lengthwise (so you get long, narrow strips) and brush with olive oil, then toss in salt, pepper and oregano or your favorite herb. Lay on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, until bottoms are slightly browned. Turn over and bake for another 15 minutes.
If possible grill your ear of corn. Otherwise, throw it in the oven with your squash and remove when done. Use a knife to remove the kernels and set aside. When the polenta is thickened, stir in your cheese and the corn kernels.
Start assembling your sauce. Heat up a pan with olive oil, capers and the juice from one lemon. Cook the fish until just flaky. Plate your polenta, then squash, and lay your fish on top with a generous scoop of sauce.
Dessert - Stone Fruit Pie
1 pre made 9” pie crust (you’ve worked hard all evening, so take a break!)
ripe plums, peaches and nectarines (you need enough for 5-6 cups of fruit total)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Slice your fruit and toss with lemon juice. In another bowl, mix together the cinnamon, nutmeg, butter and sugar, then toss into fruit. Layer into pie crust. You can either leave uncovered - this is a pretty pie - or do some latticework with your extra crust.
Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for another 30 - 35 minutes.
Nestled in old Arroyo Grande, Oak Park Flower Farm features rows of vibrant blooms. Malcom spoke with me about how he choose what to grow, how he got started and how he sells. Find his bouquets at his farm stand, on Horsepower, or call him up for a custom arrangement.