Tag Archive | food web

The Food Chain

Not food, for us anyway, but just a delicious color.

I picked two cucumbers, one way ahead of any others, and one more for enough, and made a quick half-pint of refrigerator pickles, with a perennial onion, dill, and coriander from the garden, some kosher salt, and the leftover brine from yesterday’s dilly beans. I’m grateful for food from the garden, as it begins to come into the kitchen daily at the beginning of this harvest season.

I’m grateful for food in general. I don’t take for granted that there’s always enough in the house to feed me and the animals; I know for many people that isn’t the case. I’m grateful for the conditions of my life that, for the time being, ensure that we have food; knowing that this could change with a moment’s misfortune. I’m grateful that I can buy avocados, bacon, croissants, and mayonnaise at the store. What a remarkable time and place to live in, where all these foods are delivered from near and far to a nearby supermarket, filling aisles with choices. I know there are many places in the world where this isn’t so.

I mixed up these store-bought foods with the first cherry tomatoes and some late lettuce from the garden, and created a gourmet sandwich that filled me for the day. So simple, so delicious! I’m grateful for my own appreciation of food, a simple yet essential pleasure, and to live in a community that values food. I’m grateful to know where most of my food comes from, and to think about where the rest of it comes from, knowing that the food I enjoy relies upon the efforts of many people to make it onto my table. I’m grateful for the root sources of food, the plants and animals, and all the plants and animals and other living things that their lives depend upon. I’m grateful for the food chain, the food web, that results in food on my table.

Zoom Cooking with Amy: Waffles + Mochi

Tomato in Drag lip syncing for her life

Oh, please let this be the new Sesame Street, the new Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, the new the rest of those zany educational children’s shows that hit the big time afterwards. Please let ‘Waffles + Mochi’ be the new culturally-defining kids’ show! Drag Race meets the Garden!

We’re all born naked and the rest is drag.”

What even is mochi? Auto-correct wants it to say ‘mocha,’ but it’s not. Even after looking it up it doesn’t make sense in my world view – some kind of rice. But this is what this show’s about: expanding the world views of children everywhere; children of all ages. Fearful people might perceive it as a threat to some single thing they hold dear, like skin color, pizza recipes, or language. But anyone else, a person with compassion, curiosity, and wonder at the miracle of life on this planet, a gardener for example, couldn’t help but be charmed. This show brings together all my favorite values. Good food (food that is healthy for us and for the planet), color (a dense rainbow of colors), self-inquiry self-discovery self-acceptance, curiosity, compassion, tolerance, love, nourishment, reverence for Life… and gardening! The transformative power of knowing where your food comes from.

Chef Samin Nosrat teaches the puppets that tomatoes are fruits…

From a ridiculous premise – give it a few minutes – it develops into an utterly charming exploration of food and food as metaphor. Guest stars Samin Nosrat and Chef José Andres add expertise and enthusiasm to episode one, teaching the puppets and some real kids about what makes tomatoes a fruit and a vegetable, and how to know where they belong.

… and Chef José instructs the puppets on the uses of tomatoes as vegetables.

Amy and I aren’t actually cooking this weekend, what with one thing and another, but we did FaceTime happy hour this evening. She reminded me that I meant to watch this show I’d read about, so now I’m doing it. It’s camp, it’s creative, it’s comedic, it celebrates real food, from the POV of an odd-couple of frozen puppets who dream of becoming chefs. Along with these novices fresh out of the frozen foods section, we (children of all ages) learn all about tomatoes in the first episode, and a little bit about how to think of our own belonging. In the second episode we explore salts of the world.

I’m no social scientist or education specialist, but my evaluation is that eventually this show (along with decriminalizing marijuana) could actually facilitate world peace. This world’s new crop of humans, the children of the Covid generation, could, with the loving guidance of wise, open-hearted elders, change the paradigm and bring humanity back into harmony with the planet, through a healthier relationship with food. I’m grateful for this clever, heartwarming show and its message of interconnection, well disguised as a frolic through the world of foods.

I’m also grateful for this ancient juniper on the canyon rim, and for still having the agility to get down below it for a portrait.

Raven Does it Again

Raven relaxing in happier days, on our trip east last fall.

Raven relaxing in happier days, on our trip east last fall.

My beautiful girl lay tranquilized in a cage all day, with an IV drip of vitamin K in her slender leg. Two nights ago she threw up her undigested dinner about nine pm. Every half hour through the rest of the night she threw up. Neither of us got any sleep. It wasn’t until around midnight when she started trembling that I realized something was really wrong.

We left before dark for the holistic vet an hour away as neither local vet was available. She felt better, and had stopped vomiting. The doctor gave her an anti-emetic shot and some follow up pills, and a custom homeopathic remedy. Her gums were pinker than usual, suggesting inflammation. Or, it turns out, maybe internal bleeding. We came home and straggled up to bed to nap.

On the way in I noticed that one of her vomit stains in the snow was a peculiar blue-green color with tiny particulates, which I hadn’t observed in the dark. Maybe she got into someone’s compost, I thought. When I woke up that afternoon and looked at it again, I remembered the vet’s question, What color was the vomit? All that I had seen inside and near the porch light had been vomit beige. So I emailed a photo to that vet and Doc down the road.


Bar bait, said Christy. What? You mean … bear bait? I had never heard of bar bait. Rat poison. It causes whomever eats it to bleed out from inside. Doc said bring her in first thing for the IV. While she lay there, I looked online and found some images of the poison with boasts like this pitch: rats and mice can consume a lethal dose in single night of feeding.”

Single-dose deadly rat poison comes in several shapes and colors, including these.

Single-dose deadly rat poison comes in several shapes and colors, including these.


That particular poison, bromadialone, is in a class of potent anticoagulants that “block the synthesis of vitamin K, an essential component for normal blood clotting, which results in spontaneous and uncontrolled bleeding.” I also learned that it can take several days for symptoms to show up, and that the poison lasts a month in a dog’s body. So she’s on Vitamin K pills for the next month.

Where did Raven get hold of that? I called all the neighbors with contiguous property, eight households in all, and all said they have not and do not use rat poison. Half of them have dogs themselves. Maybe she found a carcass of some rodent or other so-called pest, perhaps a raccoon, that had eaten the poison elsewhere and died nearby. Some day that mouth of hers is going to get her killed, I’m about resigned to that. She dodged the bowel obstruction bullet just a year ago, and now this.

She wouldn’t be the first animal to suffer the consequences of secondary ingestion; she’d be in the company of thousands, maybe millions of small and large predators, and an astonishing number of songbirds, deer, and other non-predators. Worldwide, owls, eagles, mountain lions and other wild animals are dying from these “second-generation” super-potent rodenticides. A complicated picture has emerged in the past decade of studies, another EPA v. multinational corporations struggle where what is right and good for the planet gets ignored in the interest of the almighty dollar. These powerful poisons, inspired by warfarin (diluted in pharmacology to the common blood-thinner Coumadin) now appear to be showing up in trace (but still toxic) amounts throughout the food web. One more way in which we continue to poison our planet, decade after decade, despite knowing better.

I was trying hard to welcome the new year with a positive, optimistic spirit. I had all kinds of inspiring resolutions, including to learn something new every day. What I’ve learned today just reinforces my curmudgeonly favorite phrase: Other people ruin everything.