A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Alice Waters, founder of The Edible Schoolyard and owner of the renowned Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California. With her passion for locally sourced, fresh food, Waters is one of the country’s most effective and accomplished food activists. Here in New Orleans, where all things culinary are central to our very existence, we’re experiencing our own food activism movement that’s changing the way our city thinks about food. A key player in this movement is the Recirculating Farms Coalition, a nonprofit organization committed to building sustainable, local sources of healthful and affordable fresh food. Additionally, the Coalition works at the local, state and federal levels to promote policies that support farms and will ensure the presence of healthful foods in our schools.
 

What are Recirculating Farms?

Recirculating farms use recycled water to grow everything from fish (aquaculture) to flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables on their own (hydroponics) or together with fish (aquaponics); because these farms need not connect to natural water sources, they’re flexible in terms of size and location. With our planet facing a crisis of sustainability, self-contained farms are crucial to the future of agriculture. Growing Local NOLA, a project of the Recirculating Farm Coalition in partnership with New Orleans Food and Farm Network and many others, is a Central City food and farm center that’s providing its community with healthful, fresh food while raising public awareness about the many benefits of community gardening, sustainability in farming and eating locally sourced foods.
 

Are you a Locavore?
 

Individuals who maintain a diet consisting principally of locally grown or produced food are the driving force behind the Locavore movement. While locavores do benefit individually by eating fresh, healthful foods, the impact of eating locally reaches further than the health of the individual. The locavore movement strengthens our local economy by keeping the money we spend on food closer to home, it keeps us in touch with the relationship between the food we eat and the cycle of the seasons and it helps our children understand the connection between our health, our food and the earth. My 8-year-old son, Christopher, is always baffled when I tell him we can’t have grapes in the middle of winter because they aren’t in season. It doesn’t help that, as I’m explaining this to him, he’s typically standing next to a big display of imported grapes at the grocery store. He is 8 and he loves grapes; the fact that they’re imported from Chile doesn’t deter him (nor does it deter countless other consumers) from wanting to eat them. But I’m confident that won’t always be the case – thankfully, programs like Growing Local NOLA are making a difference in way we understand and think about food in our city and beyond.
 

For More Information

To learn more, visit the following websites: GrowingLocalNola.org and RecirculatingFarms.org.
 


Spicy Pepper Jam

⅔    cup jalapeños or Fresno chilies, seeded and chopped
⅔    cup red bell pepper, chopped
½    green apple, peeled, cored and chopped
½    cup white vinegar
1    cup sugar

Pulse the chilies, peppers and apple in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Transfer to medium or large pan with high sides. Add vinegar and sugar. Stir well.

Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium-low and cool, stirring occasionally, for 25-30 minutes.

Do not let the mixture set too much. Remove the jam from the heat. Once cooled a bit, place in jar and refrigerate.