Posts Tagged ‘farmers’

More exciting news: Farmer’s Festival

Talk about full circle moments…it’s a major award!

About 8 months ago, I started on my visual strategies in public relations project with the desire to choose a client/event/organization that was focused on sustainable agriculture. At first I was going to design marketing materials for the Green Festival but then decided that I had ideas in my head that the Green Festival just didn’t really incorporate. My professor, Debra Witt, suggested I create my own concept, which would be a bit more work, but could be a lot more interesting in the end.

I had an idea of a huge festival-like event on the National Mall where people could gather, meet farmers, get information from them, see how to milk a cow, learn about how crops are grown, learn about what CSA’s are available to them, and what affordable options were there and most of all—learn the names of farmers—find a farmer that could be their food producer and get to know them. I kept the name simple, the Farmer’s Festival, and let my thoughts unfold around a design that I wanted to keep whimsical, colorful, kid-friendly, but informative.

I know it’s not the best and even now I look at it and see things I would tweak, and have thought about working on it more to make it a few more pages, or even just one more so that the back cover just has contact information (now the back cover has a lot of text–but the assignment was an 8 page brochure so I worked within those limits…)

WordPress doesn’t let me embed, but the brochure is on Issuu here if you’re interested.

Anyhow, I found out today it won for best visual strategy in my school‘s Public Communication competition. I am seriously shocked because I know how amazing a lot of my classmates’ work was and I’ll be seriously honored to accept it.

… And I’m off to see Lester Brown’s talk!

Happy Earth Day! Happy Birthday!

This week is like woah. Really busy.

But look what I made for breakfast this morning, the first time I could sleep in for ages (9am=sleeping in).

It’s eggbeaters over a grilled portabella mushroom with onion and micro-baked red potato. (Everything’s from the Dupont market, of course, except the eggs…)

Monday I caught up with my independent study professor and we decided how I shall be wrapping up this semester, and he also told me about this awesome school/farm in Pennsylvania that we may try to visit in the next week or two. Then Monday night was the talk with William McDonough. Tuesday was finishing up a presentation on the Green Movement in Iran (not related to the environment really, but green nonetheless) as well as another presentation for PR portfolio. Wednesday was my last day of classes, final presentation to the Arlington Academy of Hope, and final presentation of my group’s non-violence project to our class.

And today is Earth Day!

Which means there’s lots going on as well, and for the next few days, too. Tonight, Lester Brown is speaking on campus, but it’s also my friend’s birthday dinner. I hate having to pick between things but I really would love to see him speak so I think I’ll end up going. Also, tomorrow is my birthday and Brad‘s birthday so the three of us can have a collective birthday bash out on the town.

Friday evening is also the release party for AmLit, the literary mag on my campus. I got a photo in this year so I’m going to check that out, they always do a beautiful job with the magazine.

Saturday there’s a brunch reception I’m going to for a mentoring program I was a part of this semester. My mentor can’t make it because her life is quite possibly busier than mine, and she lives in New York City so it’s even harder. (I think the brunch will be a good networking opportunity anyway.) But I told her I would make a trip up one weekend soon or she can come down another time. She does public relations for LUSH, which is basically my new favorite cosmetics brand. Their soaps and shampoos make my bathroom smell heavenly.

Sunday, there is the Climate Change Rally on the mall which I would really love to check out. It is supposed to rain though, which kind of sucks :/. Some of my favorites will be there though (The Roots, Passion Pit, Joss Stone, others). So I will keep my fingers crossed for good weather but might still brave a little rain…Also Sunday, my Environment & Development professor Eve Bratman is throwing us a farewell BBQ/party with various awesome people in the field. She is bummed about the possible weather because she had plans to take us on a walking tour around the area (she lives on a HOUSE BOAT in southwest D.C.–how hilarious and great is that?). But she is awesome, she does worm composting and I’m really crossing my fingers the meteorologists are wrong because this is/was going to be a really fun day.

What I am saying is, pray or do whatever it is and hope for no rain!

Then next week, as schoolwork goes, I am sort of busy, but not totally in over my head. Luckily, I have professors who believe that we should actually prove how hard we can work and how well we can think, instead of how well we can memorize, so they have assigned us at-home final exams. My Environment & Development exam is timed so I have to study leading up to that. My Non-violence paper is due Wednesday but shouldn’t be too hard and we are having a dinner party at the professors house where we will turn those in. He is Palestinian so I imagine the food will be totally new to me, and I’m excited. And then just finishing up with my paper for this class! And then graduating May 8th!

Soon after I will probably figure out how to transform this site, moving into my non-student life. But more on that later.

Phew. So much to think about but trying to stay in this moment as well.

Hope everyone’s having a great Earth Day…Doing anything special for the occasion? Or do you try to do a little something every day? =)

Review: Blue Duck Tavern

I have had the most amazing weekend, it came at just the right time.

Because lately I have felt like I don’t trust any decision I make. I hate second-guessing myself. I have also been super paranoid about mundane things. (Double-checking that I lock doors after already walking away, thinking I left the stove on when I didn’t, worrying I lost my keys/wallet/ipod/phone when really they are just tucked somewhere in my bag.) Consequently, I have been doing really ditsy things. The other day, I sent an email in which I typed my home address incorrectly, like not just a typo, but wrong. What in the heck?

This weekend was just what I needed and I owe it all to some great people, delicious food, and oh-so-what-I-needed yoga. (I don’t know WHY I ever stop going to yoga…it is one of the only things that really keeps me in line.) I already talked all about my experience at the food sustainability panel Friday. And I will fill you in on my new yogi experiences on Thursday–I am doing a sampling of a few new studios in the area and plan to write my last health column on it. That’s…such a sad thought. My last column? Forever?)

Blue Duck Tavern

So Friday night, Joe and I tried Blue Duck Tavern (“it’s quacktastic!”), a country-chic style sustainably-sourced restaurant in the West End that is well known for its local, fresh fare (not everything on the menu is local, but it does tell you exactly which farm everything came from, which is much more than most can say.) Their restaurant is pretty upscale, but their menu is set up “family style” so you choose your meats, veggies, grains, and then the expectation is that you share dishes, some of which are designed for 2-3 people.

So for an appetizer, he ordered “oven roasted bone marrow with a sea urchin crust and country bread.” I have never seen something so strange in my entire life. Apparently, it’s a delicacy. You spread the bone marrow on the bread and that is how you eat it. The one saving grace that prevents me from being grossed out by this is that it’s from a small farm in Pennsylvania, so you know the cow lived a happy, normal life and was slaughtered in as humane a way as possible, hopefully. At this point in dinner, I brought up how I had recently started reading, Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. Joe’s response was, “I love animals so much, I just want to eat them.” Sigh.

OK. Now, complaint number one of few at Blue Duck is that their menu uses a lot of meat. A meat-eater would never notice this or point it out, but it’s really true. All the salads listed and many of the vegetable dishes, had meat in them, and at a fancy place like this (while they did later accommodate my request to not have bacon in the dandelion dish) I just didn’t even want to request changes to, because then you are messing with the dish, which has been specifically designed to have certain flavors that rely on the meat. So the waiter suggested the butterhead lettuce with yoghurt dressing, and I love butterhead lettuce so I went with that. Now, I will just say that I had one delicious bite of the dish that proved it really did taste great, however, see how they present the lettuce in the little heads like that? Complaint number 2 – I think either someone screwed up and didn’t rinse the leaves, or they can’t really get into the lettuce head to wash the dirt/grit off. Because all I could think about was the grittiness it left on my teeth. Not a good way to start off a meal. I told the waiter (very tactfully, might I add), turned down his offer for something different, and he reported back the chef’s apologies and offer for free dessert. They were nice enough, but that was definitely a damper on my appetite.

However, they did an excellent job making up for it later.

Next, he got the the braised beef rib with homemade steak sauce and loved it.

I debated on what to order, and then got the swordfish. It tasted great, mind you…but why am I so awful at ordering the right seafood? OK, in my defense, I had picked out what I wanted online, according to sustainability and health guidelines, but since the menu was different once we got there, I had to think on my feet. I was under the impression swordfish but one of the better types of fish to order but…complaint #3, apparently it’s full of mercury, and imported (well, I knew it was imported because it said Hawaii on the menu–although that’s not exactly “imported”, since it’s still in the country…hmm…off on a technicality?). Anyhow, it isn’t listed on FWW’s magnet guide at all, so I thought I was safe for a second, and according to EDF’s seafood selector, “Although the U.S. has imposed strict regulations in the Pacific to reduce bycatch of endangered sea turtles, foreign fleets are not subject to these restrictions, and there is no international management for swordfish in the Pacific.” So, my swordfish, being U.S.-caught, was likely ‘humanely’ caught, but now I can’t have children. I guess I just always feel like places like this are going to offer only the seafood that is BEST, but I suppose they value taste above all. I am actually thinking of going back to being a vegetarian, for reasons such as, the only time I ever eat seafood is when I’m in a nice restaurant, and if even nice restaurants have not-so-nice seafood, maybe I shouldn’t bother?

Anyhow, the dandelion greens were great, and the mushroom polenta was AH-mazing. Mouthwatering good.

Then we ordered the apple pie. I had heard their apple pie was fantastic and it really was. It was also huge and between the two of us we didn’t even finish half.

Wrap-up review

  • B for taste. It’s unfortunate, because I really thought everything else was impeccable but I have to dock them points for the gritty salad. It wasn’t even a taste issue really, just poor food handling, which in my opinion is less excusable than simply me not liking a particular flavor I had never tried or whatever.
  • New category—Selection/variety/veg-friendliness: B-. I think this is an important factor I didn’t consider before. Restaurants nowadays need to offer more vegetarian selections. Even though I am personally not following a vegetarian diet right now, I have been in those shoes, and it’s really sort of embarrassing to have to make special requests.
  • A+ for atmosphere. The restaurant itself was perfectly lit, had a nice chatter but not too loud, was very chic and modern. The waiter was friendly and accommodating, and gave great wine advice.
  • It’s hard to judge value here. The place is pricey, but you’re also paying for the ambience, the freshest ingredients, the chef, the innovative menu, and other things–so really it depends on what you’re after, and if you value great tasting meat, this may be for you. What I will say is that vegetarians may not love it. And you might want to ask how large certain dishes are before you order or how many people they will feed, because I found that to be sort of erratic and it’s just hard to know when it’s “family-style” dining. Case in point, the apple pie could easily be split among 4 people who just want, say, 4-5 bites of apple pie.
  • B- for their sustainability/eco-friendliness because of the swordfish thing and the fact that only about half of farms listed were remotely nearby. They list all the farms that source their foods, whether or not they are local, which is nice to know and shows they care and are being transparent.

How do you handle sending dishes back at restaurants? Do you speak up or keep quiet when something is off?

The simple things in life…

This week and weekend had some up’s and down’s. But, luckily, it was mostly up’s. And I got through the down’s by embracing some of the simple pleasures.

Last Wednesday, I got pretty sick. I got two hours of sleep Tuesday night, then paid for it. My body doesn’t like not getting sleep. I didn’t go into my internship, which made me feel pathetically useless considering I was just out for the entire snowmageddon. However, I did some work from home–you can check out a little post about I wrote here–Two options for tap water at Vancouver Olympics: One is free, the other is Dasani. Friday, my spirits were lifted when I went to walk my new favorite dog, Timber. I love him, so, so much. Look at that face…

Then, Friday night, my PR Portfolio class had our fundraiser at the Town Tavern, and had a great turnout. I’m so grateful for everyone that came out to party and donated–we raised $541 dollars for the Arlington Academy of Hope. It was a great time.

Saturday, I caught up with my sis, Katie. We had planned on going to Founding Farmers, which is a restaurant I have been to for brunch on the weekend before, but never dinner. It’s a great restaurant. It’s LEED (gold) certified, gets produce from local farmers, composts food waste, and all sorts of other terrific stuff. But, what we didn’t consider was that a lot of other people think it’s great too-which is a good thing! Anyhow, there was a 2-hour wait when we arrived, starving, so we ended up getting Indian food at Aroma nearby. We will have to make reservations and head back to Founding Farmers another time. (Founding Farmers–I just love that name.)

This morning, I woke up and began job-searching and before I knew it I had been staring into the bleak abyss of the internet for four hours and felt completely hopeless. You know when you feel like you are trying to do too much but aren’t doing well at anything? That’s how I felt.

So I avoided a total meltdown by doing two things I can always count on in such situations: 1) I re-organized the kitchen and 2) I called my mom. My mom is always there to bring me back down to Earth when I am on cloud nine–but, on the flip side, when I’m down, she’s the best at picking me back up. She said a lot of comforting things and had some great advice for places I should look at and apply. But, the best advice she gave me came right before we hung up:

“You know what you should do?” (I waited with bated breath for the 57th reminder about usajobs.gov.) “You should get a crock pot.”

Best. Advice. Ever.

With a crockpot, I can just chop up all my vegetables and throw ’em in there in the morning or on the weekend, and then not have to worry or think about cooking. Then I’ll have healthy, delicious, home-cooked goodness throughout the week! So this afternoon on my way home from Bikram, I stopped by Best Buy and got myself a 3-qt slow cooker.

I guess the moral of this post is this: when it all seems too overwhelming and your brain hurts from too much thinking, take a step back, talk to someone you love, take a dog for a walk, buy a crock pot.

And if you already have a crock pot…what’s your favorite thing to cook in it? Leave it in the comments, I need ideas! =]