Wednesday, November 22, 2006


What is the one dish that if it didn't show up on the table tomorrow, you would be left unsatisfied?

The editor of Food & Wine said that they put a ham on the cover of a November issue years ago and received so much hate mail, they will never do it again. People have to have their turkey. Thanksgiving seems to be the most traditional of all holidays when it comes to the food that is served. I am a stuffing girl, myself.

Engagement anniversary

It's a strange thing to celebrate but it was 9 years ago on Thanksgiving eve that my now husband proposed to me. Me, this girl that was confident, happy to be single, loving life and enjoying whatever experiences came my way. Earlier that month, I had an epiphany and decided that I didn't need a label to define the relationship. My feelings were secure and I gave to him with wanting nothing more than his respect for me. I told him throughout that I appreciated his time and if he should decide to take a different path in life than one that involved me, I would respect his life journey. I still feel the same way and I still thank him for sharing his life with me. The more I seem to surrender to the present, the more strength and love I receive in return.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Wal-Mart Charged with Selling Nonorganic Food as Organic
Group Asks USDA to Fully Investigate
Organic Product Misrepresentation

For more information, contact: Mark Kastel, 608-625-2042

Cornucopia, WI: The Cornucopia Institute, the nation’s most aggressive organic farming watchdog, has filed a formal legal complaint with the USDA asking them to investigate allegations of illegal “organic” food distribution by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Cornucopia has documented cases of nonorganic food products being sold as organic in Wal-Mart’s grocery departments.

“We first noticed that Wal-Mart was using in-store signage to misidentify conventional, nonorganic food as organic in their upscale-market test store in Plano, Texas,” said Mark Kastel of The Cornucopia Institute. Subsequently, Cornucopia staff visited a number of other Wal-Mart stores in the Midwest and documented similar improprieties in both produce and dairy sections.

Cornucopia notified Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott in a letter on September 13, 2006 alerting the company to the problem and asking that it address and correct the situation on an immediate basis. But the same product misrepresentations were again observed weeks later, throughout October, at separate Wal-Mart stores in other states.

“This is disturbing and a serious problem,” Kastel said. “Organic farmers adopt and follow a rigorous range of management practices, with audit trails, to ensure that the food they sell to processors and retailers is organic and produced in accordance with federal organic regulations. Consumers, who are paying premium prices in the marketplace for organic food, deserve to get what they are paying for.”

Earlier this year, Wal-Mart announced a sweeping organic foods initiative and declared that they would greatly increase the number of organic offerings for sale in their stores—at dramatically lower prices than the competition. The move by the giant retailer has been under close scrutiny from members of the organic community seeking to assess what impact Wal-Mart’s decision will have on organic food and farming concerns.

A number of other organic food retailers throughout the country, including Whole Foods Markets and many of the nations member-owned grocery cooperatives, have gone to the effort to become certified organic in terms of the handling of their products and have invested heavily in staff training to help them understand organic food production and sale concerns.

“Our management and our employees know what organic means,” said Lindy Bannister, General Manager at The Wedge Cooperative in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “If Wal-Mart intends to get into organics, they can’t be allowed to misidentify ‘natural’ foods as organic to unsuspecting consumers.” The Wedge, the largest single store member-owned food cooperative in the nation, was one of the first retailers to go through the USDA organic certification process.

“One can question whether Wal-Mart has the management and staff expertise necessary to fully understand organics and the marketing requirements essential to selling organic food,” observed Kastel. “At this point, it seems they are attracted by the profits generated from the booming organic food sector but are not fully invested in organic integrity. Given their size, market power, and market clout, this is very troubling.”

Cornucopia’s complaint asks the USDA to fully investigate the allegations of organic food misrepresentation. The farm policy organization has indicated that they will share their evidence, including photographs and notes, with the agency’s investigators. Fines of up to $10,000 per violation for proven incidents of organic food misrepresentation are provided for in federal organic regulations.

This past September, The Cornucopia Institute also accused Wal-Mart of cheapening the value of the organic label by sourcing products from industrial-scale factory-farms and Third World countries, such as China.

The Institute released a white paper, Wal-Mart Rolls Out Organic Products—Market Expansion or Market Delusion?, that made the argument that Wal-Mart is poised to drive down the price of organic food in the marketplace by inventing a “new” organic—food from corporate agribusiness, factory-farms, and cheap imports of questionable quality.

Friday, November 17, 2006

"I cannot order a meal unless I have identified the font on the menu – drives everyone crazy."

—Erik Spiekermann

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dreaming of a small place

As I woke up yesterday morning I had an image of myself lying in bed and that image expanded to the house and town and world and I saw images of war and people crying and laughing and shopping and talking on cell phones and I heard sounds of technology crackling and wind as the image kept panning out further to a full image of our home and the moon and solar system and beyond until the Earth was a dot and then dissappeared as the image kept moving further out into space. It was beautiful.

My mind was calmly trying to make sense of it and I knew that all that really mattered is a few things - birth, respect for life, a peaceful death and the moments that matter with friends, a good book, laughter and respect for what we can learn from others. Everything else is a distraction to what is true - from that distance, all of those things that we deem important are not.

At that point, the image zoomed back in and I found myself curled up with my dog, waking up.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"To be unacquainted with what has passed in the world, before we came into it ourselves, is to be always children."


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Use it or Lose it.

Today is the day, Ladies and Gentlemen. There is little that is more important than to take 30 minutes out of your day to vote.

Monday, November 06, 2006

And above all - Friends
should possess the rare gift of sitting.
They should be able, no eager,
to sit for hours - three, four, six - over a meal of
soup and wine and cheese, as well as one
of twenty fabulous courses.

Then, with good friends of such
attributes, and good food on the board,
and good wine in the pitcher, we may well
ask - when shall we live if not now?

-M.F.K. Fisher

I am so fortunate to have such wonderful friends. Nick and Mary flew from San Francisco last Thursday to spend a weekend with Paul and me. We ate good food, drank good wine, local beer & champagne, recorded a couple songs and laughed, relaxed and reflected.

Yesterday, we went for a drive - I was hoping to go to the Union Church in Pocantico Hills, NY where the stained glass windows were designed by Chagall and Matisse. The small stone church was closed for a wedding so I continued up the road a ways where Britt told me about a wonderful place called Stone Barns.

We walked the grounds and made the heritage bourbon red turkeys gobble (they're so easily spooked!) and walked further to see a beautiful white dog guard a flock of sheep. I was completely blown away by the awareness and instinct of this animal and his ability to protect the flock of well over 40 sheep. As we stood there watching the dog lying in the center of the flock an obnoxiously loud teenage kid was walking up the road - the dog spotted him from a distance and immedately started barking and herded the sheet away from him. The dog (I named Charlie) owned those sheep - it was amazing.

Stone Barns and the Union Church are both made possible because of different generations of the Rockefeller family which has a home (mansion), Kykuit down the road from both places.

If you have an opportunity and find yourself in Tarrytown/ Sleepy Hollow, NY, I would call this place a 'can't miss'.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Rest in Peace

I was just thinking about what an ideal day it would be to lay on the couch with a cup of coffee in hand while the rain hits the windows and read a really good book. I wanted a story that was so well written you can smell the air the characters are breathing. Then I saw this: William Styron dies at the age of 81. We've lost one of America's best writers. May he rest in peace.