Lucky Dip – Friday, October 14th, 2011

It is the obligation of schools to create a completely allergen-free environment? And does that include banning foods that *look* like common food allergens, such as soy nut butter instead of peanut butter? [Toronto Star]

It’s taken a while to trickle down to the mainstream, but the mini-dessert trend allows people to have their cake and eat it too. [USA Today]

The Mommy Bloggers are coming – and they want freebies, samples and swag bags. [Toronto Star]

Restaurant patrons (hopefully) know that booking a reservation via OpenTable means a hefty charge to the restaurant. Soon-to-roll-out free booking services via Google and Facebook are about to change that. [Seeking Alpha]

Eating well in Halifax. [Recipes For Trouble]

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Down(town) On the Farm

Farm City
Novella Carpenter
Penguin Press, 2009, hardcover, 276 pages

Idyllic dreams of moving to the country to become a farmer abound – in this era of local food and “who’s your farmer”, most people involved in the local food scene long for their own garden patch and flock of chickens. We tell ourselves it’s impossible in the city, and if we choose to obey local by-laws, it usually is.

The answer then, is to live somewhere that is almost lawless – where the local cops have more important things to worry about than whether your turkey gets loose and runs through the neighbourhood, terrorizing the local crack dealers.

Such is the unique situation writer Novella Carpenter has found herself living in. A resident of downtown Oakland, Carpenter and her partner Bill rent a second floor flat in a house next to an abandoned lot, and over the years, she’s expanded her Ghost Town Farm from a few laying chickens and a garden to include honeybees, meat poultry, rabbits and pigs. She’s also taken over the vacant lot next door, and has encouraged neighbours to join her.

Carpenter’s book, Farm City, The Education of an Urban Farmer, chronicles the growth of Carpenter’s farm, a progression in which she continually pushes the boundaries of what a city farmer can do (and what a motley crew of neighbours will endure).

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The Common Cow

There’s a show running on the BBC in the UK at the moment called What to Eat Now. It’s a 4-part series about eating seasonally, and the first show of the second season (the first season ran last autumn) was about barbecuing. Divided into segments, the host Valentine Warner does a little bit of cooking, a little bit of foraging, and also interviews local food experts.

One of the segments on the first episode was about a herd of cows being kept on the Midsummer Common in Cambridge. With students and local residents walking, cycling or even rowing past, the herd of 11 Red Poll cows, as well as a bull, appear unfazed. The rare breed of East Anglian cattle were chosen for their exquisite taste as well as their gentle temperaments (they have no horns or “polls”) , and aside from the occasional drunken university student giving chase, it appears that most of the locals have become quite protective of the cows, even putting up protest when a local butcher shop began to advertise their meat for sale. (Which might be unnerving, but that’s the point of raising cattle, one would think.)

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