Thoughts of a Hopi Farmer: Seeds, Sustainability, Stewardship & Sovereingty

My final semester in graduate school at American University, I participated in a practicum regarding the U.S. Farm Bill and additional agricultural policies. I worked on a particularly moving and significant case of seed sovereignty amongst the Hopi. For anyone unfamiliar, the Hopi Reservation is completely surrounded by the Navajo Reservation in Northeastern Arizona. The Hopi,  whose ancient seeds make most heirlooms look brand spanking new, also descend from one of the earliest inhabitants of North America. For my final project, I created and produced a documentary short in which Hopi Farmer Michael Kotutwa Johnson discusses seeds, sustainability, stewardship and sovereignty in Hopi.

The Case of Hopi Seed Sovereignty

Seed Sovereignty is the right of every farmer to use, save, adapt, and share their seeds freely in the commons.

The Hopi, descendants of the ancient Pueblo Peoples, have inhabited what is now the American Southwest for more than 2,000 years during which time they have cultivated unique varieties of corn, beans, melons, and squash. These ancient crops are truly resilient, having adapted to the arid, high elevation climate in which the Hopi reside.

The Problem: Hopi seeds, like many heirloom seeds, are threatened by the modern, industrial agricultural practices such as the monoculture cropping of hybrid and genetically modified crops and the extension of intellectual property rights to plant genetic material.

Robust policies and programs are needed at the Federal and local levels to protect these seeds, the cultural heritage they represent and the food as well as spiritual security they provide to the Hopi people.

In March, I had the amazing opportunity to visit what is now the Hopi Reservation in modern-day Arizona with a fellow student and one of our professors. While there we learned what Hopi Farmer Michael Kotutwa Johnson is doing to promote traditional farming practices and preserve these seeds.

To the Hopi, these seeds are life.

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Kutztown, Pennsylvania

Kutztown, Pennsylvania

The small town where Stephen grew up, predominantly farmland and rolling hills sandwiched between Allentown and Reading, is pretty breathtaking.

Kitchen Wish List: Part I

Part I: The BIG-ticket Items

The Vitamix

Berkey Water Filter

Mint Green Retro Fridge

Pistachio Kitchenaid

Happy Leap Day!

Happy Leap Day!! A “holiday” you can only celebrate every 4 years!

Leap year occurs in years evenly divisible by 4, except years that are evenly divisible by 100, with the exception of years evenly divisible by 400! Wow. Leap Day traditions include the famous Irish female marriage proposal, which if refused by the man warrants money, gowns, or 12 pairs of gloves (to hide the shame of no ring) to the asker. Also included is the Scottish superstition that marriage on a leap day is bad luck! Leap Day is necessary because it actually takes the Earth 365.2422 days to circle the sun thus the extra day every 4th year.

A Recipe I just tried that I totally love:

Grapefruit, Lime & Ginger Juice from Lottie & Doof

This juice was perfect for Sunday brunch! So clever. Mom & Stephen both loved it.

So after being sick for nearly the entire month of February, I finally feel GREAT. I came home on Friday with a lot of great produce from the “Amish Market” and decided I absolutely had to clean out the refrigerator. I started to throw out all the old food & condiments we’d managed to hoard over the days, months, yeaaars. Then I rearranged everything & cleaned off all the shelves with a white vinegar & baking soda mixture. I organized the whole fridge (except the meat/cheese drawer)! It made me feel like all the food I put into it was that much healthier… living in my clean fridge. Now I just need to clean out the freezers.

Then comes the big one… I cleaned my room. It started with washing my sheets, pillowcases & duvet cover (which I do on a regular basis, be reassured) and then I moved on to some major straightening. I folded every piece of clothing, recycled paper from high school!, threw away random receipts I found, and for the first time in what was probably years I vacuumed! Yes, I still have papers (and probably dirt) from high school! How ridiculous. I swear, I’m not that gross. I do shower. I wash my laundry. I don’t have bugs (except the occasional spider) in my room or old moldy food sitting around. I’m just really messy : ) In the kitchen too!

I also finally get to work out this year! I clocked in 25 minutes on the elliptical for my first (technically second if you count gentle yoga) workout since feeling well again.  I cannot wait to get re-immersed in yoga so I can do a thorough vinyasa routine at home.

Recipes I want to try really badly:

Asian Slaw by Once Upon a Chef

Topped with a peanut ginger dressing. This looks absolutely incredible. And perfect for Spring.

Lemony Saffron CousCous from The Shiksa in the Kitchen

So light & full of flavor. Another dish perfect for spring!

Jam-filled Scones from The Teaspoon

I’ve wanted to make these for weeks. The messy picture makes them look warm & perfectly wonderful.

Raw Macaroons from Simple Medicine

Grown-up, vegan macaroons? Yes, please, and thank you. I’ll take a baker’s dozen.

Sticky Toffee Pudding from Oh She Glows

I love how simple this dessert is. Only a few ingredients and voila – warmth & yum.

Vegan French Toast by Epicurean Vegan

I love the easy ingredients & this just looks killer. Cannot wait to try!

Also, I’ve just noticed in posting these recipes that nearly everything I want to make has sugar in it. Is that just because I have a craving as I write or is that an everyday thing? Oh dear, I better watch myself. I can smell the maple syrup wafting off of the computer screen.

A Smoothie, A Sandwich & Some Yoga

At least once a week (sometimes more) I drive the 2 minutes down the road to the Harbour Center for lunch. WHY? Because I’m freaking obsessed with Robeks & Potbelly. And I always order the same thing.

From Robeks, I get a regular (which is actually HUGE) Dr. Robeks smoothie which contains strawberries, raspberries, orange juice, raspberry sherbet (which upon further research I’ve discovered contains a very small amount of dairy… oops), and immune system & vitamin boosters. Unfortunately, the HUGE regular sized smoothie has 372 calories in it and that is the smallest size offered for the Dr. Robeks that I enjoy so much. I usually don’t finish my whole smoothie but still, that’s quite a few calories. I shall try to cut back in the future or maybe cut out the smoothie altogether. I shall commence a mission to make my own, healthier, vegan version!

Then I walk next door to the Potbelly and order an original (size) vegetarian on multi-grain with no cheese (aka just fresh mushrooms please). After they toast it, I ask for “mustard, hot peppers, lettuce, onion & pickles, please.” Okay, let me rave. They make their own mustard which is a spicy brown & it’s freaking delicious. They make their how hot peppers which are actually comprised of peppers, cauliflower, carrots, celery and I honestly don’t know what else but they’re salty & vinegary & spicy & yum. Then, the pickles are sliced so thin they’re like sheets of paper. Oh how I love this sandwich. It is supreme. According to the Potbelly meal calculator  my sandwich is only 350 calories. There are also 9 grams of fat, 6 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of protein. It also contains a buttload of sodium but I can’t bring myself to skip the hot peppers… don’t make me… please… they’re so… tasty.

So, all in all, that’s about 722 calories for lunch. That may sound like a lot, but when you consider that there are 750 calories in a Chipotle burrito with no meat or dairy (just tortilla, rice, beans, fajitas, salsa, lettuce, guacamole), that seems like a pretty good deal. A big old portion of fruit, whole grains, and bit of veg. I’m satisfied 🙂

Pammy & I are also doing “gentle yoga” which really just means beginner yoga every Wednesday. And I called the local gym today to ask about membership costs… I’m thinking a 6 month membership since (fingers crossed) I may be moving to DC soon. They also offer yoga classes & a bunch of others.. cycling, zumba, etc. Emily may be joining as well! AND I just found a totally awesome Groupon deal for 10 classes of hot yoga. My only worry is that they’ve sold so many that the classes will be overflowing! Disclaimer: No, I cannot do yoga like Briohny Smyth. Seriously though, how many people can?

 

On a less positive side…  My immediate reaction to websites with unexpected sound is usually “HOW DO I TURN IT OFF????? HOW???” Does anyone else feel this way?

Echo Hill Goodies

Over the weekend I was in Bethlehem, PA for my grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration. Her official celebration was a bash Saturday night, cocktails starting at 6, at the Bethlehem Hotel. We had drinks, dinner, and cake (of course!).

3 of us took the morning on Saturday to sneak away & venture to Echo Hill before the party!!! So exciting!!! We each managed to buy a cardboard box (unfortunately, we forgot our reusable bags) FULL of goodies. Now, I did have a list going into this wonderful experience of happiness & joy, but I abandoned it slightly upon arrival. Some things I wanted that I did not purchase include: amaranth, dark chocolate chips (I couldn’t find any!), barley, assorted flours, cardamom, chili powder, cajun seasoning (I still have a ton), and everything else in the store : )

The List:

  • Raw Cashews
  • Raw Almonds
  • Split Peas
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Steel Cut Oats
  • Bread Flour
  • Dried Dates
  • Vanilla Beans
  • Black Cocoa Powder
  • Butterscotch Bits (for cookies)
  • Dark Brown Sugar
  • Light Brown Sugar
  • Spice Drops (for Stephen)
  • Mexican Hats (for Stephen)

I think the only reason the list stops there is because I know I’ll be back very soon to purchase all the other things my heart desires! I’m almost certain I’ll be picking up most of the items I had listed but overlooked.

I cannot stress enough what an amazing variety of products Echo Hill carries or the affordable prices. On top of those attributes, the people are wonderful, absolutely wonderful. They know exactly where an item is located if they have it, they’ll tell you about a product if you’ve never heard of it & one gentleman offered to open a package of goji berries once for Stephen & I to try. And the parking lot speaks for it. For a pretty small “country store,” the parking lot (and the inside!) was full. I should become the Echo Hill spokesperson, although I’m sure they don’t need one.