Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Stinging Nettle

imagesIn November of 2013 I shared a questionnaire over various social networking sites with an image of Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.) asking people to share any names of the plant and uses. 

imgres13 women with an average age of 36 and 14 men with an average age of 32 responded to the questionnaire. They were from Azerbaijan, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Jordan, Hungary, and the United States. All but two of the respondents recognized the plant; they had 11 names and 63 uses for the plant altogether.  

Respondents knew it by the latin name Urtica or Urtica dioica, and the regional names Nettle, Nettles, Stinging Nettle, Ortie, Csalán, Brenessle, Brennennetle, Brenninetla, Brennnessel, and the nom personel: La "putain de sa mère ça pique cette merde".
Respondents self-categorized their uses for the plant according to the layout of the questionnaire: 25% Food, 25% Medicine, 15% Nature, 12% Soil, 8% Technical, 5% Ornamental, 3% Fertilizer. Respondents who chose the 'other' option also said that they use it for cosmetics, and that they write poetry about it, get meaning from it, have an enjoyable activity with it, have a social experience with it, get a good feeling from it. 

Respondents were also asked to clarify the use of the plant as food. Their recipes and ideas follow: 

"I eat it as a soup, salad, cook the late season tips into a mash and then make green balls to freeze and have healthy green stuff all winter." 

"Used for tea, kept as a frozen vegetable for soups in winter, steamed cooked with lamb, fermented as a kim-chi, generally used like spinach."

"I collect it for soups; use it with other leaves and cook it with an egg; use the leaves for tea; soak it in water as a plant feed."

"In a pie or in a soup. I also mixed it with the dough to make 'galettes'.  It's not enough by itself to give a lot of flavor so I mix it with other plants."

"I have had nettles both as tea and in soup, but only in France."

"In soup or tea."

"For cooking! It will be boiled and fried. after we eat with garlic-jogurt dressing."

"I harvest the tips of the plant. Cook it shortly in water. Strain the water out, and cut it very small. Then fry it in olive oil with salt and pepper." 

"Eat it with potatoes, rice etc."

"Tea. Spice." 

"Dry leaves as tea."

"Wilted. Sauteed. Supposedly good as a tea and for allergies."

"For soup mixed with dock plantain marjoram kale and pumpkin."

Representative Democracy

Reaching out for communication and representation I got another canned email response from my Senator. It is messages like these that make me lose faith in representative democracy. 

Essentially what these messages say is that she is in full support of whatever opinion it is that I have about the budget, military action, appropriations bill etc. If I am for it or against it she'll vote whichever way pleases her (ultimately, it seems, those who fund her campaigns). 

In the face of such ridiculousness and with the momentum and importance of the occupy movements I hope we are redefining democracy. We might be able to have a true democracy in these days of mass communication. Why not have the people vote directly on everything? Every little aspect of the country is important to someone and they can have their say in a forum. 

I think the current style of democracy is too 17th century, we've missed the spirit of it as it should evolve with the times and the attitudes of the people. 

For You O Democracy

by Walt Whitman
Come, I will make the continent indissoluble,
I will make the most splendid race the sun ever shone upon,
I will make divine magnetic lands,
                   With the love of comrades,
                      With the life-long love of comrades.

I will plant companionship thick as trees along all the rivers of America, and along the shores of the great lakes, and all over the prairies,
I will make inseparable cities with their arms about each other's necks,
                   By the love of comrades,
                      By the manly love of comrades.

For you these from me, O Democracy, to serve you ma femme!
For you, for you I am trilling these songs.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Roosevelt 1910, Paris

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly"

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Ahrtaler Köksje

Endlich ist es so weit: Das Ahrtaler Köksje wurde dank des unermüdlichen Einsatzes von Achim Ziss und Martin Fuchs im Dezember 2013 in die Arche des Geschmacksaufgenommen!

Das Ahrtaler Köksje gehört zu den in Deutschland selten gewordenen Trocken- oder 
Körnerbohnensorten. Im Gegensatz zu den meisten noch kultivierten Stangenbohnen werden solche Sorten nicht als grüne Hülse in Suppen, Salat oder als Einkochbohne verwendet, sondern ausschließlich getrocknet zur kräftigen Suppengrundlage genutzt. Im Kreis Ahrweiler sowie im Köln-Bonner Raum ist sie die einzige regional nachgewiesene Trockenbohne. Mehr dazu findet Ihr / finden Sie demnächst auf der slow food Deutschland Webseite.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

22ème Rencontre européenne des Partenariats locaux et solidaires producteurs consommateurs



You can do your part to help us promote CSA models all over the world; all it takes is a small donation.
Vous pouvez faire votre part pour nous aider à promouvoir les modèles de partenariats producteurs-consommateurs à travers le monde; cela ne demande qu'un petit don.

28 FEVRIER/2 MARS 2014

Appel à tous les représentants des initiatives de Partenariats locaux et solidaires (PLS, c'est-à-dire, entre autres, les AMAP en France, les GASAP en Belgique, les ACP en Suisse), et leurs réseaux régionaux, leurs réseaux nationaux et les autres mouvements assimilés de toute l'Europe! Désirez-vous prendre part à cette deuxième rencontre européenne sur les PLS et les systèmes émergents de distribution pour la Souveraineté alimentaire

Cette rencontre doit se tenir du 28 février au 2 mars à la Bergerie de Villarceaux, près de Paris (France).

Ses objectifs sont d'établir des relations qui durent entre les Partenariats locaux et solidaires de toute l'Europe, et de continuer à construire une vision commune pour le mouvement

Plus d'informations: 


Comment accéder à la Bergerie de Villarceaux

Inscription dès à présent, et jusqu'au 31 janvier 2014: http://www.attac.at/index.php?id=1505


Unable to make a living, rice cultivators are taking up other livelihoods to make ends meet.

From: Angela Erika Kubo at The Diplomat, December 29, 2013

Rice may be a staple in the Vietnamese diet, but the country may face a shortage of the crop as struggling farmers leave their jobs.

Some farmers, such as those in the Vietnam's Mekong Delta, have been illegally converting their paddies to shrimp farms. Others who come from families that have been cultivating rice for generations have chosen to leave agriculture altogether. Young farmers, in particular, have been flocking to cities to work better-paying factory jobs.

"When our children grew up, they rushed to the big city to work in industrial zones, where they earn double or triple what we make growing rice," said one 53-year-old farmer who plans on selling his land. "Costs such as seedlings and fertilizer are much higher than in the past and rice prices often fluctuate."

In 2013, 42,785 families left over 6,882 hectares of fields untouched, allowing them to be turned into football pitches for children or grazing areas for cattle herders. Moreover, 3,407 families returned over 433 hectares of land, according to official figures. Some farmers state that the income they receive from growing rice has shrunk. A few hundred square meters of land can only provide them $2.37 to $3.79 a month on average.

In recent years other major rice exporters such as India have managed to increase their exports while importing countries have increased their domestic output. As a result, Vietnamese farmers are facing increased competition and lower rice prices.

"In the beginning the land allowed us to feed the six people in the family and send the children to school," said Le Thi Thoi. "But now I have to return it since the income from growing rice is very low."

Although Vietnam is the largest rice exporter in the world, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development plans on converting 200,000 hectares of rice fields in order to grow more profitable crops such as maize or corn, hoping to attract farmers back to their land and improve their incomes. The move has won support from experts.

"Rice output may fall in the next few years because farmers will switch," Pham Dong Quang, deputy head of the Vietnamese government's crop-production department, told Bloomberg. "While the issue of boosting rural incomes has been addressed for some years, it's now become much more urgent amid the difficult economic situation and more competitive rice market."