Bugs: It’s what’s for Dinner

Dear New Millenial Farms,

Today I took a bite of Ginger Cricket Cookies made with your Cricket Flour. Then I had another bite. They were tasty.

I went into it knowing the cookie was made with a cricket based flour. If I hadn’t been told there’s no way I would have known the difference.  But mentally it was still a challenge to get past the fact that I was eating mostly bugs. I know, I know, they are a great source of sustainable protein. I just can’t get the image of a giant box of crickets (like at the pet store) out of my mind.

So here’s what I suggest: Do a Pepsi challenge scenario. Back the same cookie recipie with cricket flour and regular flour. On camera, have people taste both cookies without them knowing one is made from crickets and ask them which was their favorite. If they say the cricket cookie was better (or that they both tasted the same) I’m sure their reaction will be YouTube gold! You might even get some people to barf and make it onto Tosh.O.

But my guess is that after the initial shock, most people would think it’s pretty cool. Have you ever heard the San Francisco food truck Don Bugito?  They service “Prehispanic” food which basically means bugs.

Thanks

PS: To take the Pepsi challenge scenario a step further, blindfold the participant and have them eat the spicy wax worms. I might even freak out after eating those. Yikes.

Peaches For Me

 

Dear J.T. Lemley,

Summertime in Texas means peaches and watermelon. Biting into a ripe summer peach or a cold slice of watermelon can almost make you forget that it’s 100 degrees outside, if only for a moment.

When I see a roadside fruit stand in the summer, I pretty much have to stop (it’s in my blood quite literally). But when I’m not on a road trip and I get that itch all I have to do is drive down to the Dallas Farmers Market and find your booth.

You are a cornerstone at the market; an authentic local farmer who sells what they grow. Most people don’t realize that a majority of the vendors aren’t real farmers but resellers. That’s not to knock their role at the market, I’d still much rather give them my money for produce than say Tom Thumb (but obviously mangoes and coconuts are not “local”).

I was skeptical of the Farmer’s Market redevelopment plans when I first wrote about the changes happening last summer. Now I’m feeling confident that the developers are actively working to make it work for everyone though time will tell.

Good luck with the rest of the growing season and see you soon!

PS: This song is usually going through my head when I buy your peaches:

I like Shrimp

New indoor shrimp farming methods could make shrimp the next chicken. 

Dear Addison Lawrence

I like shrimp.

I like shrimp cocktail. I like shrimp bisque. I like shrimp Po-boys, sushi, and gumbo.

….Ok I’m sure you get the reference there, I just couldn’t resist.

I had never considered that before chicken farming was industrialized in the 1960’s, chicken was actually more expensive than beef (but I guess meat was a luxury no matter what animal was on the dinner plate).  Now we enjoy healthy, lean chicken meat at every level of society. For the same reasons, it’s exciting to hear that shrimp farming is on the way to becoming such a viable and sustainable source protein.

I can see it now. McDonalds will be selling Shrimp McNuggets. Jack In The Box will sell shrimp tacos. Gas stations will sell frozen surf-and-turf burritos. Shrimp could even make its way into pet food (not just Fancy Feast). The possibilities are endless.

Next step: bring Lobster to the masses? Boy I  hope so.

PS: …. Shrimp salad, deep fried shrimp, shrimp creole,

Conscious Capitalism

Dear John Mackey,

I saw you speak about your book Conscious Capitalism at Good People in Austin a few years back. You were nice enough to even sign a copy for me. If Whole Foods is a leading example for conscious capitalism, would the opposite end of the spectrum (unconscious capitalism?) be Wal-Mart?

Wal-Mart and Whole Foods make a great analogy for American society.

For many millions of Americans, their only grocery store is Wal-Mart. Maybe there used to be a local grocery store but they just couldn’t compete so now that’s the only option. Maybe it’s the only place they can afford to shop.

For fewer millions of Americans, their first option for grocery shopping is Whole Foods. They have plenty of choices of course but they choose to shop at Whole Foods because it makes them feel nice. That they are doing their little part to help and are healthier for it.

There are well known stigmas and connotations associated with both stores but it seems to be a two sides of the same coin. Which side is up and which is down? Is one side making a bigger difference in people’s lives? Who gets to flip the coin?

PodPonics

Cool Food Projects Week

Dear Matt Liotta,

Between shipping containers, wooden pallets, and duct tape I’m pretty sure you can build just about anything. Heck, I bet we could put a man on the moon with that stuff if we put Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and this guy on the job.

At PodPonics, you take a shipping container and hydroponically grow an acres worth of food in it . You’ve use an object once made for transportation to prevent transportation, specifically the shipment of leafy greens which are mostly grown in California. Gas prices are only going up and California is facing the most serious drought in memory. The concept saves water and fuel, the two most precious commodity on the planet (other than the children of course). It’s time for PodPonics the blow up!

My main question is: how much energy, from seed to dinner salad does the process consume? I see that ya’ll use fluorescent bulbs but you also need to temperature regulate and aerate these steel boxes. Judging my by electric bill last month keeping these containers the right temperature is your highest fixed cost.

So at the end of the day, how much energy is saved compared to a head of Romaine Lettuce from grown and shipped from the San Joaquin Valley?

Food is Free

This week’s theme: Food Projects!

Dear Food is Free,

There is a saying that I’ve never liked much:  “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

The sentiment behind this catch-all  saying makes the concept of free sound like something to be wary of. To not trust anything that claims to be free because whoever is “giving” it out will expect something back. That altruism is a myth or at best an antiquated ideal. So a project like Food is Free seems too good to be true at first glance. What’s the catch, right?

Healthy and essentially free food should not be such a novel concept. It is a human right to have access to healthy food, not a privilege. We as a society have completely detached ourselves from where our food comes from. So as you say, why can’t it come from next door?

I live in a neighborhood surrounded by fast-food options. Your choices for a meal within walking distance range from the gas station to Burger King. I also live next door to a boarded up house with an overgrown back and front yard. I’ve thought a lot about turning it into some sort of garden but dirt is really expensive. That’s what IndieGoGo is for I guess. Ballpark estimate, how much does it take to turn a decent sized front yard into a garden?

We need projects like Food is Free here in Dallas. Maybe if I get this off this project off the ground it will be the start of a Dallas chapter.

PS: John, you’re a boss:

RESPONSE: 

Love it Hayden!

We’d love to offer any advice we can but the first steps would be to see what you can get for free. Call some local tree trimmers and ask them to dump a load of mulch in the front yard of the abandoned house next time they’re in the neighborhood. Mention its for a community garden but usually they are looking for places to dump it. You can also call some local farms or nurseries and ask if they have any spare seedlings they can’t sell or plant and would like to donate them. Feel free to use the name Food is Free, its open source. If you mulch the whole front yard it will help keep the weeds down. First put down a good layer of cardboard across the grass to hold it back. You can get free cardboard boxes from many stores. Also consider starting to compost to generate soil and you could even set up a community compost pile on the overgrown lot so neighbors can compost together and put that free soil to use.

Check out our videos on wicking bed gardens. It may be a good first step. Also watch some YouTube videos on hugelkulture gardens, they’re super drought tolerant. Consider hosting a potluck or cookout for neighbors and you may well have some others to help and they may have tools or ready compost to offer up.

Stay in touch and go for it!

Best, John

PS: Okra is a great summer crop and gets really tall and impressive. You can plant it through July.

 

 

It Must Run in the Family

To wrap up Bike Week, I write to my Uncle who got me into cycling (in my mind at least). 

Dear Brant Hayenga (Uncle Brant),

I liked bicycles before I realized I liked bicycles.

As a three year old I  was allowed to ride my tricycle 4 houses up the block and back. I thought it was the greatest adventure every time. In the summer before first grade, I learned how to ride a bike without training wheels; the next step in discovering the freedom of bicycles. I rode that little yellow Specialized that you gave me all over the neighborhood and even to the lake a few miles away. Yes miles, an almost incomprehensible distance to an 8 year old. In high school I did that triathlon. Then I moved to the perfect cycling climate of San Diego although it took moving to Austin to fully dive into cycling as a sport and a lifestyle.

As my passion for bicycles grew, I felt like I was following in your footsteps. As if I subconsciously knew you supported my hobby even though I don’t remember talking with you about it much. Actually, I don’t think we’ve ever even rode together (and I’m not sure if I can keep up with you). But in my mind, from building bikes at the local bike co-op to riding a Century, you were encouraging me.

Aunt Connie always says how much I remind her of you. She says we hold ourselves in the same way and have a similar tone to our voice. I think that’s cool. Because you’re cool.

Looking forward to seeing ya’ll soon!

PS: Would classify yourself as a mountain bike guy at heart? I mean you’ve published a book on it. That’s an area of cycling I have almost no experience… not many mountains here in Texas.

RESPONSE: 

Thanks Hayden- I’m honored to have you following in my footsteps (but I must warn you, that you know you are addicted when you try to get your friends and family involved). I started riding when I was 17 (1979) when I got my first bike shop job at the Arlington Bicycle Center, working for Arpheus Webb Cain (his real name). I worked in the bicycle industry up until 1996, when I switched over to education.
Now at 52 years old I still am crazy for bikes and ride every weekend. As for whether I’m more MTB or road, that is like Sophie’s Choice. I love both, but what I am not is a technical rock garden MTB kinda guy. I like MTB rides that are more physically challenging than technically challenging. Hence, the cabin in the Zuni Mountains with more than 300 miles of dirt roads and two-tracks.
I have an extra MTB you could take with you when you go out; if you want to ride in the Zunis. I could come out for the day and take you around for a few hours if you wanted, but that would leave your girlfriend bored (not recommended).
I think you should consider landing a job in the outdoor industry (Specialized, Patagonia, Trek, etc.)
with love,
Uncle Brant

You’re Special

Dear Mike Sinyard,

My theory is that cycling  perfectly combines man, machine, and nature. Working in equal parts, they create a harmonious and endlessly rewarding experience. It of course takes the right bicycle for the equation to work.

My very first bike was a Specialized. It was a children’s size neon yellow mountain bike given to me by my uncle/cyclist/former bike shop owner. He lived in New Mexico and we went for a little ride on a dirt path, where I promptly rode into a cactus. Luckily, that little mishap wouldn’t dampen my enthusiasm for bikes.

Two Specialized’s later, I’m the proud owner of an Allez Elite that I’ve rode 15,000+ miles throughout Texas and California. It’s has been nothing but dependable, still as solid as the day I bought it.

From what I’ve read, you are compared to the Steve Jobs of the cycling industry. Through your wondering (some may say hippie) years, you emerged as the preeminent entrepreneur and visionary of the bicycle world. You designed and marketed the first mountain bike available to the casual cyclist and from there you built one of the most respected and recognizable brands in cycling. How do you feel about the Steve Jobs comparison?

One of these days I’ll make it to the HQ in Morgan Hill. Maybe even catch a lunch ride. Until then, I’m looking forward to my next Specialized.

RESPONSE:

Good to hear.   M

Sent from  Roubaix SL4

Tagged , , , , ,

Dream Ride

BIKE WEEK

Dear Woody Smith,

As soon as I walk into Richardson Bike Mart that familiar smell of bike tires and chain grease slaps me in the face. It’s a scent that puts me at ease. I signals that I’m around like-minded people, those who share a passion for cycling (and probably beer). As I walk around, the gleaming carbon frames hypnotize me. In my mind I start adding up every penny I have to my name. I tell myself, “Ok. If I trade my old bike, cash the savings bonds from grandma, eat Ramen Noodles for a month, and zero out my bank accounts, I’m almost there.” And it seems totally rational in that moment.

When I travel, I make a point to pop into local bike shops. Truly none compare to RBM, not even Mellow Johnny’s down in Austin (plus they have an air of pretension that I never liked). I bought my first real road bike, a 2006 Specialized Allez Elite, from RBM back in high school. 15,000+ miles later, it is still my most prized possession. In fact, I’m about to go for a ride right now.

The day I can actually afford that dream bike, I wouldn’t think of going anywhere else. Until then, I’ll continue to walk around your store and daydream with this song in my mind:

RESPONSE:

Thank you so much for the kind words! Next time you are in our store, the Richardson location, come find me so I can shake your hand! Keep riding and stay safe!

 

.1%

BIKE WEEK

Dear Ashley Haire,

Congratulations on the new job and welcome to Dallas! Before yesterday, I didn’t even know we had a City Bike Coordinator so that alone is pretty exciting to me.

I hope the move from Portland hasn’t been too much of a culture shock for you (luckily you’re no stranger to the Texas heat. Hook ‘em). When I was in Portland last summer, I was amazed at the number of bicycle commuters on the roads (bike lanes). There was literally rush hour traffic for bicycles. I’ve read how Portland’s inner-city density pre-bike lane years was comparable to that of Dallas’ and they (you?) managed to build a vibrant cycling community.

Currently, .1% of commuters in Dallas ride a bike to work so we can only go up from here. You’ve mentioned how we need to link “clusters of multi-family residences” to important parts of the city. I can get most places with a combination of my bike and the DART (rail). When I lived in Preston Hollow, the problem for me was getting to the train safely. If each major neighborhood had a safe route to the closest DART rail station, I think we could make some progress.

Do you have a favorite route in Dallas yet? I live right off the Cottonwood Trail and have a great, safe, ride to and around the lake. What about Critical Mass, have you had a chance to catch one yet? Maybe I’ll see you out there this month.

Until then!

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