Blume for Banned Books Week

It’s Banned Books Week! Makes me want to go back to high school and sneak one into physics class to read (Mr. Masters would occasionally bust me for reading poetry during physics—yep, I was a real badass). Or maybe I should go to graduate school to become a librarian so I would be able to create a display to promote the books. Be a rebel: Read these!

The American Library Association has links to lists of the most challenged and banned books. There are some literary heavyweights that have been banned, but I will admit to being most happy to see Forever by Judy Blume on a list. Here’s my copy, along with my Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. I wish I could say the Forever copy was one I had when I was a kid, but I had only the PG-rated Blumes in my childhood library and had to grab glimpses of the “dirty,” dog-eared pages of Forever in the school cafeteria, holding the tattered paperback under the table so no adults would see. I picked up this copy at a yard sale a few years ago and gleefully read it cover to cover in one sitting.

Rock T-Shirts That Rule



When I was a teen, I remember the excitement of arriving at a music venue to see one of my favorite bands perform and going right to the merchandise stand to see what the T-shirts looked like. If I liked the artist or band, there was no question about the fact that I would splurge on a tee. (I still have many of the ticket stubs but I regret not saving all those T-shirts.) Then I grew up and stopped buying rock shirts, but I’ve made some good purchases this year. It started with a Wilco tee; I loved the color and the design (see it above) and when I found out it was made of a bamboo and organic cotton blend, I was sold (“it’s eco-friendly” is one of my favorite rationalizations these days). At yesterday’s Radiohead show at the Hollywood Bowl, I was tempted again. The shirts come from the band’s merchandising company, called W.A.S.T.E. (We Are Sensibly Talking Endlessly), and it’s made of a polyester that comes from the fibers of recycled plastic bottles and organic cotton. Yep, easy sale; I got one for me and one for Mr. MVP (both pictured).

Amelia Saltsman: On Farmers’ Markets and Good Food

The complete version of this interview was originally published on Greenopia.com

Below, my interview Amelia Saltsman, an educator and the author of The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook.

How did you get involved in your line of work?
I thrive on a sense of community— that’s how my connection to the farmers’ market began. I began to write about my experiences and the farmers’ stories and the ingredients themselves and then the farmers’ market became a focal point.

Best part of your job?
When a reader or student comes to a demo or class and says, I can do that. We think everything is so hard and we’re reluctant to change habits and we often think we need to have to do everything all at once or it’s not good enough. But you can do a little at a time.

Is there a particular environmental nonprofit you support?
Sustainable Table and I do a lot with the Southland Farmers’ Market Association. Also Heal the Bay.

What’s an eco-friendly gift you like to give?
Small food items that are unique to Southern California. For instance, I love to bring freshly dried dates or special citrus—an offering from my area and something that evokes a sense of place.

Do you have a favorite environmental book?
Omnivore’s Dilemma. I love the way Michael Pollan writes and I think he has the most wonderful way of writing about the issues.

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
Blenheim apricot tree. We had one in my backyard when I was a kid and my grandmother would come to visit from Israel and make apricot jam. It’s a beautiful tree with sun-kissed fruit.

Describe your path to green: how and when you became eco-conscious.
Flavor. When you look for foods that taste great naturally, everything falls into place. Once I found farmers’ markets in my local community, I never looked back.

Behind the Green Scenes: Amelia Saltsman

Originally published on Greenopia.com in December 2007

I meet Amelia Saltsman at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market on Arizona on a Wednesday morning as she’s preparing for a cooking demo and book signing for her just-published book, The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook. She’s pushing a cart that is already loaded with cardboard boxes full of heirloom tomatoes when I greet her and then she stops to speak with a vendor about cucumbers. “Whatever’s best,” she tells him.

Next she selects a bunch of purslane and invites me to taste it. “A lot of people consider this a weed,” she says. “But it’s great to throw into salads.” She unloads the vegetables at a table in an area that’s being set up for her cooking demo before she making a final stop for olives and olive oil. She moves quickly through the crowd and navigates the cart with ease, stopping occasionally to greet others in her path and to invite them to come to her tent for food.

Today she is serving a plum crisp with a corn meal topping and tomato and cucumber bread salad-both recipes from her book-and she’s demonstrating how to make the salad. Under the tent, students from a local culinary school have already begun to prep for the day’s offerings, slicing the cucumbers and chopping tomatoes, as market shoppers approach to find out when the food will be ready. Two friends of Saltsman have also come over to help with the book sales and passersby have begun to thumb through the pages of a display copy.

“Look—you’re in it!” Saltsman says to a vegetable vendor when she walks over, opening the book to the “History of the Market” chapter that features portraits of smiling faces and still life shots of fresh produce from the market. Through her work in print and on TV as the host, writer, and producer of Fresh from the Farmers’ Market on Los Angeles cable TV, Saltsman has become an ambassador of sorts for the farmers’ market. The food stylist, teacher, and author had published numerous magazine and newspaper stories on her farmers’ market experiences when suddenly she had found a niche—and a platform to celebrate and support local farmers who produce sustainably and without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other additives. “I feel passionate that people need to understand what it takes to choose to be a small farmer, what it takes to get beautiful produce to market within 24 hours of harvest—and what a difference it makes to shop at a farmers’ market.”

The Los Angeles native’s own love of the farmers’ market is “about flavor and community,” she says. “I started as a shopper looking for delicious vine-ripened and tree-ripened and field-ripened ingredients. My passion for writing about farmers’ markets and farmers started with childhood food memories and childhood experiences shopping abroad in open air markets with relatives.” She fondly recalls foods from her youth and named her publishing company Blenheim Press for the Blenheim apricot tree from her childhood backyard. “We took it for granted but it has great importance to me.” Taking history for granted is not something that sits well with Saltsman, who is also passionate about the history of culinary arts and vintage cookery. For this, she also edits The Food Journal, a publication for the Culinary Historians of Southern California.

A sense of community is evident at the market today, just as Saltsman’s passion for food and cooking is revealed. At the table, she’s getting ready for her salad-making demonstration when a book-buying customer asks if she has a recommendation for a dinner for her son’s birthday. “Try Rustic Canyon,” Saltsman says, adding that the menu includes seasonal offerings from this same farmers’ market. “The chef is probably walking around right now getting food for the week.”
Quite a few books are sold—some purchase multiple copies and explain they’re starting their holiday shopping early—and quite a few more friends from the market stop by. A line forms and she needs to delay the cooking demo for a few minutes to sign books.

When she begins to make the salad, she tells her audience about the importance of using seasonal ingredients that are fresh and produced by local farmers. The time is right for heirloom tomatoes and she tosses them with pieces of bread (“it’s good to use day-old bread for this”), then the cucumbers. She’s using basil in the salad but encourages others to try different herbs they find or grow themselves. While working, she’s greeted by the chef from Wilshire restaurant and then the owner of Michael’s—both local restaurants that serve dishes made with farm-fresh ingredients they get here or directly from nearby farmers. “She knows what she’s talking about,” shouts Michael as he walks away with his full cart.

Also: Q&A with Amelia Saltsman

 

Greenopia Interview: Andy Lipkis

Below is a portion of an interview originally published on the Greenopia website in 2007.

Since founding TreePeople in 1970, Andy Lipkis has put his heart—and time and effort—into greening Los Angeles (two million trees and counting). Lipkis talked to Greenopia about his work and living green in L.A.

What’s the best part about your job?
I love so many aspects of it. Right now I like giving people a chance to see and understand that they are managers of the ecosystem.

What would you say is the city’s undiscovered or underrated jewel?
One is TreePeople’s headquarters: Coldwater Canyon Park. We have trails and a little amphitheater nestled in the woods that’s like a mini Hollywood Bowl.

Where do you like to take out-of-town visitors?
Almost anywhere in nature that will blow their minds. We might bike through the Ballona Wetlands or walk through the Venice canals or take hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains.

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
The Metasequoia glyptostroboides. It is know as the dawn redwood and it looks like coast redwood. It was only known in fossils until about a hundred years ago when living ones were found in China. They are beautiful with leaves that are soft and bright green until autumn when they turn red. There are a couple in the UCLA Botanical Gardens.

Describe your path to green: how and when you became eco-conscious.
I grew up in this city when the air pollution hurt and I watched open spaces I had played in disappear. I started planting trees when there wasn’t a professional for it and as a teen I had quite the crisis in following a green path when it wasn’t a known one. Back then I kept saying, I’m only going to do this for a while and grow up to be a professional of some sort. Now it’s a different story.