Thursday, December 29, 2005

Charlotte-area Local Providers of Sustainably-raised Food

A Few Charlotte-area Providers of Pesticide-free Produce, and Pasture-raised Animal Products

New Town Farms
Sammy and Melinda Koenigsberg
Sell pesticide-free produce, poultry and eggs.
Sell at the Matthews Farmers Market, from the farm, and by delivery. 704 843-5182.

Marianne Battistone, Poplar Ridge Farm
An Organic Community Supported Agricultural Farm. Established in 1995. Family owned and managed
Member of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association 704-843-5744

New Moon Farm Organics in
Mt. Ulla, NC, next to Lake Norman and Mooresville NC. We are a certified organic farm and we specialize in heirloom and open pollinated varieties. We have veggies, fruits (strawberries mostly) herbs and flowers. We sell what we grow at the farm and everything is organic. Our website is and there will be information about our CSA there. We’ll be doing an on-farm stand this year, and the Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market on Saturdays.

Mary Roberts

Windcrest Farm /
518 Greenfield Drive / Monroe, NC 28112
h: 704.764.7746 c: 704.320.8682 Visit our farm at
We offer not only produce, but 35 varieties of heirloom tomato, pepper and herb plants for those who would like to grow their own.

Grateful Growers Farm in
Denver, NC
Natalie Veres and Cassie Parsons
Naturally grown produce, pasture-raised pork, chicken and eggs
828 234-5182

Philip and Sheila Brooks and their son.
Sell pastured beef raised on their farm.
704 233-4902 (home) 704 506-7826 (cell)

Matthews Farmers Market A producer-only market with vegetables grown within a 50-mile radius of the market.

For more information:

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
919 542-2402 (Pittsboro)
803 779-1124, for
South Carolina

Charlotte- area natural food stores
Earth Fare 704 926-1201, Berrybrook Farms 704 334-6528, Talley’s Green Grocer 704 334-9200,

If you would like to be added to this list, please leave a comment on the blog after this posting. Or email us at

Monday, December 26, 2005

Charlotte Observer column

Posted on Sun, Dec. 25, 2005


They believe in virtues of vegetables

What does the clucking of 100,000 chickens sound like?

Sally Kneidel can tell us.

In the summer of 2004, she and her daughter, Sara Kate Kneidel, set out to write a book about vegetarian recipes and nutrition. Sally, who lives in Charlotte, has a doctorate in biology from UNC Chapel Hill. Sara Kate, 22, was a student at Guilford College.

Both vegetarians, they wanted to share recipes and facts -- but they also wanted to compile in one volume "all the possible reasons for choosing a vegetarian diet."

So they started visiting farms and asking questions.

They toured a hog mega-farm where Sally says sows were pinned in tiny stalls, a chicken farm with birds packed tight and an egg factory with more than a million hens.

Their discoveries are part of a new book, "Veggie Revolution: Smart Choices for a Healthy Body and a Healthy Planet" (Fulcrum, $16.95).

The `real culprits'

Their book discusses pollution, global warming, land use and hunger.It describes factory farms and details the benefits of raising livestock in pastures.

Sally calls it "a thorough piece of local muckraking on the subject of factory farming and the American diet."

"We were told by many people when we started the book that we would never get into any factory farms," she told me. "Yet we did get into four, and were even allowed to take pictures. We balanced this with visits and interviews at four small, humane and environmentally responsible farms in the area. The farm visits changed my life, to put it bluntly."

At first, Sally said, they thought farmers were responsible for what was happening on factory farms.

But then they came to believe that factory farmers "are just pawns in a system they did little to create. The real culprits are the corporations whose ads tell us we need animal products at every meal."

The last part of the book talks about staying healthy without meat, negotiating a vegetarian diet with your family and learning to cook vegetarian.

Eating less meat

Sally told me she hopes the book outlines how our food choices affect larger issues.

As long as customers buy cheap food that's produced on factory farms, she says, someone will continue to sell it to them.

And she hopes it helps readers decide to eat less meat -- or give it up entirely. "Every individual meal matters," she says.

Sara Kate agrees. "Each time you choose vegetarian, organic or local food, you are taking a stand for change."

The Kneidels will be at several area book signings in December and January, including one at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 4345 Barclay Downs Drive.

For information, go to



Jeri Krentz: (704) 358-5234;

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Upcoming Radio Shows and Book Signings for Veggie Revolution

Charlotte Book Signings

December 28, 7:00 to 9:00 pm, Joseph Beth Booksellers at Southpark Mall. 704 602-9830

January 5, 7:30 to 8:30 pm, Barnes & Noble, Arboretum 704 341-9365

January 6, 7:00 - 8:00 pm, Borders at Colony and Sharon 704 365-6261

January 7, Noon - 2:00, Books a Million, Cotswold Mall. 704 364-4035

January 8, Noon - 1:00, Earth Fare. 704 926-1201

January 21, 12:00 - 2:00 signing. 4:00 - 5:00 lecture. Earth Fare. 704 926-1201

Book Signings Outside Charlotte

January 25, 7:00 - 8:30, Internationalist Bookstore, Franklin Street in Chapel Hill

February 7, 12:00 - 3:00, Earth Fare in Athens, Georgia

February 9, 6:30 - 8:30, Earth Fare in Greensboro, NC

Radio Interviews

WFAE, Charlotte Public Radio, "Charlotte Talks," January 6, 9:00 - 10:00.

WUNC, NC Public Radio, "The State of Things," January 27, 12:00 - 1:00

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Another Bus Crash; Barbary Apes

Hi there,

So we're in Chefchaouen now. We finally made it out of Marrakesh, praise Allah! That place was like a pit of quicksand. When I was no longer too wretched to travel, Nicci was blighted and we still couldn't leave. But after 3 days of saying au revoir to our friends we finally fled to the bus station. We were planning to go to the Sahara but don't have time now. :-( We would never make it to Tanger by next weekend. So we decided on the modest goal of starting north right away; which proved wise because we only made it as far as Casablabca that day. But we learned a few things:

1) Do not follow the men who descend on you in swarms outside the bus station. They will charge you 10dh each for showing you a bathroom you could have found yourself and for buying a -dh bottle of water you could have bought yourself and hustling you into a bus you're not sure you want to take that leaves "immediately"

2) "immediately" means "in half an hour" and a four hour bus ride actually lasts 8 hours

3) Third class buses have frequent problems with things like starting and running. If this happens; all the men will get off and give the bus a rollstart each time it stops (on purpose or otherwise). Be ready to run alongside the bus and leap on as the engine catches and it rolls into the street

4) Third class buses like to hit cars. We know this because we got in another wreck, the 2nd out of 5 buses we've been on. This time it wasn't nearly as bad as the first time because no one died and eventually we got picked up by another bus where I stood in my aisle with my backpack on the rest of the way to Casa.

But now we are safely in Chefchaouen and it is beautiful and tomorrow we are hiring a guide to take us to see Barbary Apes (N'shallah). It is our consolation for having to replace the desert portion of our trip with diarrhea. I really hope we see them!! But I am trying not to get my hopes up.

Just so you know, we are going to be here til Saturday, then taking a bus to Tanger and a ferry to Algeciras.

Sara Kate

Nice Post about Veggie Revolution with pics

The website has put a description of Veggie Revolution and a couple of pics on their website. To see it, go to their home page and scroll down to the green band that says New and Noteworthy. That's the post about our book.

Here's the link:

Sustainable Ag Movement Gaining Steam

Picture of Sammy Koenigsberg of New Town Farms in Waxhaw, NC. Sammy is featured in Veggie Revolution.

Last night I went to my first meeting of folks in the Charlotte area who are interested or working in sustainable farming. It was a big turnout, really exciting! Most of the folks were organic farmers or farmers using sustainable, eco-friendly methods, or farmer wannabes. Tony Kleese and Amy from the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association were there and led the meeting. (Their number, in Pittsboro, is 919 542-2402.)

The general consensus was that the market in Charlotte for organic food and for CSAs is just beginning to pop. A CSA (stands for community-supported agriculture) is a small farm with local customers who sign on for a year, and pick up a bag of the farmer's produce every week. Most of the CSAs at the meeting said they have a waiting list of customers who want to participate.

Part of the reason for the surging interest in organic and eco-friendly, pesticide-free food here is the recent location of Johnson & Wales University to downtown Charlotte. It's a major cooking school and is having a big impact on the food community around here. They're very strong supporters of local, seasonal, organic food and the people who produce it.

We talked about distribution problems, and how to connect organic-minded consumers with the growing number of producers. So many people in Charlotte and the surrounding area are interested in local and organic food but can't find it. Although we do have a new Earth Fare natural foods supermarket, as well as Talley's Green Grocer and Berrybrook Farms Natural Foods. Soon we'll have a second Earth Fare and a Whole Foods Market.

A lot of the farmer wannabes at the meeting said they want to grow organic produce in the city, to make distribution within the city easier. We talked about a future where consumers can buy organically grown food on every street corner in the city. Availability is key, and we need to work on that. The producers are here and growing in number, so are the consumers. The possibilities are endless! Yay!!! It gives me hope for the future.

Sara Kate Drinks Tea in Marrakech, Survives Bus Crash; Hotel Proprietor Mops Up

Dec 1
Hello to all from Morocco.

My main difficulty right now is from this Arabic keyboard. The logistics of using it defy description. I would have better luck typing with my nose. For example to type the word 'am' I type the keys that on a normal keyboard are q and ; but on this computer they say Arabic symbols plus w and colon; but written over w and colon in permanent marker it says z and m. meanwhile the m key is where b should be but has w written over it in marker yet really makes a comma. AIIEE!!

The last three days have been some of the most challenging, exhausting, and amazing of my entire life. The main idea of the revelation I am having here is that the world is bigger than I thought. Before there were two worlds in my mind and you can divide them however you want, US and Latin America or first world and third world or English and Spanish, but now I see there is this whole other world and whole other way of doing things. Of course I knew this before but now I really KNOW it. And yet it still won't sink in. We continue on with our silly American agendas. Example, today we needed to buy Catherine a pair of pants. Ok we thought, we'll go to the pants store, be back in an hour max. Of course, two hours later we were still drinking tea, looking at the pants man's photos of his entire extended family, politely declining offers to come to his house to eat supper and meet his family, (only because we have another engagement) and explaining to him yet again why we haven't married our fiances yet. He called two friends on the phone just so we would talk to them and say hello. He is giving us some CDs of a 'movie' he made about Essaouira (which with any luck we will be able to watch together soon), and when I spoke to him in Arabic he kissed my hand.

Such is life here. It blows the mind. Every day we set out with a plan and end up drinking tea in shoe stores instead. Cultures are clashing in my brain.

Dec 3
Hi all,
So, we are in Agadir right now. We came here to go to the national park, which was quite an experience. Our plan was to leave Essaouira yesterday morning, so we packed up and went to say goodbye to our friends, but somehow we ended up drinking tea again and missed our bus. We just sat there and watched the clock tick away, and what to do? We decided we didn't need that bus anyway. When we finally got to the bus station we had to wait an hour, so we ate some slop in a bowl in the street (20 cents) and then had some perplexing multilingual conversation with some guys inside. Our bus finally came at 5:00 and when we got on there was barf on the floor and Nicci stepped in it. It was really beautiful out the window, though, until it got dark and we got in a wreck. We totally mashed this guys truck and ripped the front off our bus. I saw his body lolling over the steering wheel and I thought he was dead, but then it turned out he wasn't. Everyone was shouting in Arabic and drivers coming the other way were getting out and pushing their cars through the dirt to go around. Nicci and I went and peed behind a bush with some goats. But this is what I mean about everyone being nice here: we had no idea what to do, but two guys helped us rescue our bags from the bus and offered to share their taxi with us the rest of the way to Agadir. We took them up on it. Of course after about 10 minutes we passed a little village and had to stop and... you guessed it, drink tea. You may see why I am stqrting to understqnd the phrase N'shallah, which they say after every third word. I'll see you tomorrow, N'shallah. I'd like to eat supper now, N'shallah. We want to go downtown; N'shallah. It means god willing. Evidently, Allah was not willing for us to ride that bus yesterday. Allah wants us to drink tea.

Anyway we got to Agadir just fine and declined their repeated offers to stay with their family and eat a tagine. Instead we went a cheap little hotel mostly inhabited by Lord of the Rings guys with purple robes with pointy hoods and bare feet. I have this sort of conversation every time i set foot ourside our room (this is a verbatim example):

me: Ssalam malakum.

man: malakum assalam.

me: Labas, onta?

man: Labas, hamdullah. Onti?

me. Labas. Um, est-ce que je pourr--

man: Pardon me, you are american?

me: yes.

man: Oh! What country you from?

me: Uh... the United States?

man: Oh. Is that near Portugal?

me: Uh... not really. It's near Canada.

man: Oh, I know a lady with eyes like you from Columbus, she learn me English and Frisbee! And my cousin drive taxi in Alabama City.

me: Er, that's nice. So could I--

man: Pardon me, you are fuming?

me: Um, what?

man: Are you liking to smoke one cigarette.

me: Oh. Um, no thanks. La shukran. I really just need a blanket for the bed.

man: what?

me: Est-ce que il y a une coverture pour le lit!!! S'il vous plait! 'Afak!

man: Mmm, yes. Are you liking Michael Jordan?


You can see why it's hard to get anything done here. Sometimes we just give in and drink tea. Although today we actually did make it to the national park, so perhaps you have an idea now of what an accomplishment that is!

We are going to Marrakesh tomorrow.

Dec 5
So we are in Marrakech now. We haven' seen much of it yet because we only got here last night, and today we have been occupied with taking our clothes to "le pressing" and ourselves to the hammam (bathhouse). We smell feo.

Dec 10

Good morning
I think I'm going to go soon because I'm still feeling a little sick. We are currently still in Marrakesh. In fact, you could say we are stuck here, thanks to N'shallah and stomach parasites. Meaning, we were planning to leave several days ago but Allah didn't want us to, so the night before we were supposed to leave I was suddenly blighted with a dreadful affliction that left me sweating, fainting, crapping, and barfing while squatting over the shitter for hours at a time. Suffice it to say, whatever misdeeds I have committed in this life or the previous, I have now atoned for. And then some. But at least I am in the land of Niceness; my first ralphing bout left me standing on the terrace halfway between our room and the bathroom, sobbing piteously because I felt so miserable and I'd barfed all over the bathroom and had to clean it up but there was nothing to clean it up with because Morocco does not believe in toilet paper. I resolved to use my sock, because I'd already barfed on it anyway and what's to lose? So I began hobbling back towards the bathroom in my pjs, one sock on, one sock in my hand, my face streaming with all kinds of snot and ooze. Of course at just this moment the hotel proprietor, a round little man in his nightcap, came doddering up the stairs to see what all the commotion was. (It was the middle of the night.) "I'm sorry," I wailed in incomprehensible French, "I'm sick in my stomach!" Instantly I was enveloped in an astonishingly soft and cushy hug, barf and sock and all. "There there," he crooned as I did not know fat little men could croon, "you get back to bed." "But the bathroom," I wept, "it is very... badly. I must clean it." I brandished my sock for emphasis.

But he wouldn't hear of it. He sent me packing back to bed just like a mama bear, and when I was back in the bathroom an hour later, I saw that he had neatly removed all traces of my spewed spinach and eppglant. And for the next day, every time Catherine and Nicci set foot downstairs, he inquired anxiously after my health and reminded them fervently that, N'shallah, I would be well again soon. Nice people, indeed.

So that's my story about now. Let's just say that being back in my own house and bed in the States won't be entirely unwelcome.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Real Matrix, or What to Do Today

Today is December 7.
I don't know what to do today. I still need to nail down dates for booksignings and other events for Veggie Revolution, for when Sara Kate is back from Morocco in two weeks. But that means making phone calls and leaving messages, and all that. Sometimes I have the energy for that and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I get in a mood where I can just keep plowing ahead, no matter what. Getting answering machines or "he's not here" doesn't discourage me, I just call the next number on the list.

But this is the kind of day where, if I had some woods outside, I would go walk in the woods. Even though it's cold as hell.

Maybe what's dragging on me is that I watched The Matrix this morning because one of my friends is very interested in it. I watched it years ago but I didn't really understand it before. This morning I couldn't quite finish it, I had to go take the car to get fixed. While I was tooling around in the cold house getting ready to go out, the movie was in my mind and in my mood. The house felt unfamiliar and unpleasant to me, like walking into a strange hotel room. A part of me had the perspective that my house and civilization in general is the Matrix, or a matrix of a different kind. I was able to view my whole street, my city, as an artificial construct that someone has created - an artificial reality that we have created that separates us from our original environment, which was nature.

I live in this cramped and cluttered house, insulated from the outdoors and all the struggles of the birds and squirrels and chipmunks to survive in this cold (that's all the remnants of wildlife left in my yard). We humans have built this whole world that allows us to live completely removed from nature. Completely removed. Maybe not as completely as the humans in the movie were, but still quite apart. We don't have to experience the weather, we turn on the tap to get our water, we buy our food at the grocery. For the meateaters among us, someone else raises these artificially bred animals and kills them for us. We are so detached from the natural world. What I really mean of course is, I feel so detached from nature. The part of the movie that really resonated with me is this: we have been removed so long from our predecessors' intimacy with nature and wildlife, we're not really conscious of being severed from it. It seems normal and inevitable now to operate in a world that is cut off from the natural world in almost every way.

I mean, this is no great revelation, anyone would probably arrive at the same conclusion if questioned and pressed. But I felt it so keenly this morning. Maybe something else that made me feel it is this book I'm reading called The Trees by Conrad Richter. It's about a pioneer family living completely self-suffienctly in the woods in the late 1700s. It's a very well-written portrait of pioneer life. It's made me aware of how dependent I am on the human community around me. A community that does a lot of things I don't like, or approve of, but yet, because I am so dependent, I participate. For example, using the car and burning gas in my furnace. At least I don't eat animal products any more.

I don't know. I don't want to be part of the matrix of modern civilization. I want to do more to step out of it. Changing my diet was a first step. Writing the book Veggie Revolution was a piece of resistance I suppose. What now? I want a place to live that uses fewer resources, that's more green, more energy efficient. I need some woods and wildlife around me. Although I know that living in multi-family housing close to the place we work is really the most land-efficient and energy-efficient and sustainable choice. I need to rethink some of the choices we made years ago when we bought this house - this house that separates me from the outdoors. I'm thinking about my friends Jim and Kathleen's passive solar house. The floor of their house is only an inch or two above ground level. It really has a strong psychological effect of making the indoors and outdoors seem continuous.

In his book An Unnatural Order, Jim Mason writes about the development of our destructive Western attitude toward nature, which he calls "dominionism." He's right on the money. That word about sums it up. We feel as a species that we are entitled to have dominion over all other living things, to use and abuse nature and animals as we wish. Although we're destroying our planet and all of our non-human companions in the process.

As the evil Mr. Smith said in The Matrix, humans are different from most living things in that we completely take over an area, then we move on to the next area, spreading everywhere and destroying nature as we go. He asked Morpheus: What is the only other living thing that behaves the same way? Morpheus didn't answer. Mr. Smith supplied the answer: viruses.

That's not entirely true. Lots of introduced species spread like crazy in their new environment, like kudzu or honeysuckle, or cane toads in Australia. Because the predators that evolved with them are missing.

But anyway. The human race has made a mess, no doubt about that. And with Mr. Bush in office, the darkness is spreading. But we can choose how much we want to participate. We can back out. We can try to remember from whence we came and have mercy on other living things and their habitats. We can try to make constructive choices in the future. Which reminds me of why I'm working on the next book, about how we can stop supporting the corporations that are trashing the planet.

Okay, now I know what to do today. Put away the "phone calls to make" folder and get out the "Power of Your Pocketbook" folder. Make some coffee. Get to work.

Booksigning in Chapel Hill December 10

I'll be at Weaver Street Market in Chapel Hill NC this Saturday (Dec 10) signing books. There's an announcement about the book, Veggie Revolution, in their online newsletter this week. Click on this link, and then when you get to the newsletter, scroll down to see the book.

I wish Sara Kate could be there but she's still in Morocco.

Monday, November 28, 2005


Hi there

Wanted to let you all know I am fine. I am in Essaouira, Morocco right now. This keyboard is rearranged for Arabic right now so this email may be short but I am going to see how long I can stand it.

So... Bill, our farmer, drove us to Torvizcon on Friday, where we caught a bus to Granada. Then we got another bus to Algeciras, the Spanish port city. Next day; found a place to leave most of our belongings, made arrangements, and took a ferry to Tanger, Morocco. Catherine barfed a lot and oversolicitous men tried to help us fill out all our forms. When we got to Tanger we had a 6 hour wait before our bus to Casablanca. So went and walked around and bought some groceries. Then a 5 hour bus to Casa; then a 2 hour wait, then 7 more hours to Essaouira. Then we got off and wandered around blindly fending off people begging to put us up so so cheap and yes there is a hot shower madame! We ended up with a beautiful room for 3 dollars apiece per night and our hosts made us pots of hot mint tea just like Catherine learned in Mali. That was yesterday. Then we went to get something to eat and went to sleep for 13 hours. Jesus Lord! Or should I say, hamdullah.

It is so shocking being here. I don't think I've ever received a greater cultural shock I have in our first 24 hours here. I am so humbled. I thought I knew a lot, but I know nothing. Everything qbout this trip up til now seems like a joke in comparison. I have no idea how I am perceived here. We had a little incident in Tanger where Nicci and I got grabbed on the street. It was pretty upsetting. But why did it happen? Because we are female? Or white? Or unaccompanied? Or out after sunset? Or in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or dressed weirdly? Women here wear hijab, a floorlength tunic and a head scarf. Men wear a different kind of tunic with a pointy hood and sometimes a turban. We just cover ourselves from head to toe in what ze have.

Leaving the city was another kind of shock. The cities are surprisingly cosmopolitan but the countryside gets increasingly bootleg as we go south. The landscape looks like what I would imagine in the Middle East: dry and scrubby. Although in other places it is lush and looks like I have always imagined Africa. In the small towns no one even speaks French. I am learning to recognize the Arabic writing for "Women" (for the bathroom), "Coca Cola," and "Essaouira." But I still have the linguistic abilities of a three year old. In Arabic I am limited to one word statements. For exqmple, a conversation that transpired at the bus station yesterday:

Me: (in Arabic) Hello sir.

Man: Hello:

Me: (pointing at bread) Three. Please.

Man: (in French) You....speak.... is... French?

Me: Uh... espagnole?

Man: Ah! My brother... marry... with Spanish.

Me: Um...

Man: (smiling, in Arabic) garble garble! blah blah!

Me: (smile, shrug)

Man: blah! garble! hfdgjkhdfqgljk!

Me: (laughing helplessly, take bread, smile more) Thank you.

Man: You're welcome. garble garble!

Me: Good. Bye.

Man: Goodbye

:::me fleeing back to the bus:::

Meanwhile, in French I can embarrass myself more thoroughly. I am capable of entire sentences of gibberish:

Me: And the street of our hotel, what does he call himself?

Man: Rue alAttouane.

Me: Ah! I me am an agreement of where our hotel is!

Man: Uh...

Me: Are we wanting to go there now.

Man: (smiling uncertainly)

Me: It is good! Thank you! Yes! Goodbye!


You can see it is rather exhausting being here. We have a lot to learn. I have rarely felt more stupid, incompetent, or out of place, but so far it is ok. I am deeply grateful to be here with Catherine and Nicci of all people.

I also really want to keep going. I want to go to West Africa.

Ok. That is all for now. I can't stand the keyboard any more. Will write again soon.



Saturday, November 26, 2005


I just saw the post below (in purple font) on the forum on

It's a good question, b/c a lot of people don't like beans.

Im a new vegetarian and im worried about not getting the right protein. I hear peanut butter and bread have it but I dont wanna have that every night. I also hear beans do, but, i dont really like beans. Confused

So I thought I'd answer it here. I think about protein and calcium every day, every meal. In addition to over 100 vegetarian/vegan recipes, our book Veggie Revolution has a very very thorough coverage of vegetarian and vegan nutrition and cooking tips. It's not hard at all to get enough protein without eating beans. And you don't have to be a gourmet cook. The only times I spend more than 15 minutes cooking are Thanksgiving morning and Christmas Eve.

So here goes:

One cup of soy milk has 7 grams of protein. I drink 4 cups a day, or at least 3. That's 21 to 28 grams of protein a day right there. There are so many flavors of soy milk now - it's much more tasty than cow's milk to me. I like Enhanced, a variety of Silk soymilk. Sweet, full of calcium and vitamins, yummy.

If you're into convenience, there's a big variety of soy-based fake meat products, from companies like Morningstar, foods that are really good. Chik 'n Nuggets are great, my college-age kids love those. Four little nuggets have 12 grams of protein. Morningstar and other companies make a variety of plant-based burgers too that are really good, in the frozen foods section. My kids like the Pizza flavored ones or the Philly Cheese Steak ones. I don't have any in the freezer at the moment, but I think they have 10 grams of protein per burger. There's also a "Smart Ground" product that's very much like ground beef but is plant-based, has several grams of protein per serving. YOu can use it anywhere you would use crumbled ground beef, like in chili. My conventional grocery store has all these products. The Smart Ground is with the tofu and salad veggies at Harris Teeter.

A cheaper product to use in chilis, soups, and casseroles, with just as much protein or more, is TVP or textured vegetable protein. It costs pennies per serving. You can get it at any health food store, in bulk. It comes in dried little pieces sort of like oatmeal flakes that you rehydrate by soaking in water. Or you can just put it directly into any soup or chili and and it'll soak up the broth. It's a soy product, loaded with protein.

If you drink cow's milk, don't forget yogurt and cottage cheese. If you're vegan, soy yogurt is pretty good these days. Both kinds of yogurt have several grams of protein. I have yet to find a soy cheese that I really like, but would love to hear suggestions from others.

Tofu is a favorite in our house. 40 grams of protein per package. You can dice it and heat it in your favorite tomato sauce, it soaks up the flavor of the sauce. Then put the sauce over noodles. My teenaged kids love this and ask for it. For a lot of tofu recipes, see our new book Veggie Revolution (amazon). I eat tofu for lunch with a little broccoil almost every day. I slice the tofu (2 slices) and put some frozen broccoli florets or frozen cut okra on a plate, sprinkle it all with powdered ginger and tamari, and heat it in the microwave until hot - 4 or 5 mintues. Hardly any calories and very very good.

Then there's tempeh and seitan. Tempeh is a soy product that can be substituted for meat in recipes, it has a tougher texture than tofu.

And seitan is a popular meat substitute in vegetarian restaurants, chewy and flavorful. It's actually a wheat product, not a soy product. There's a nice little vegetarian restaurant in Greensboro NC that serves seitan dishes that are wickedly good. I have only seen tempeh and seitan at health food stores. Of the two, I like seitan better. It is very meatlike in texture (not that I like meat, but I do like the chewiness of seitan). Just like tofu or tempeh, it can be sauteed and mixed with a variety of foods.

There's more about all of these foods in our book Veggie Revolution. If you have any questions about nutrition or cooking, post them here and I'll answer them.

Sally Kneidel

Friday, November 25, 2005

New Endorsement from Heather Mills McCartney for Veggie Revolution

We're really excited to have gotten a new endorsement from Heather Mills McCartney for our book that came out in October, Veggie Revolution. She gave us a personal statement earlier for the jacket of the book, which was great, and we used it. But it didn't actually mention the book. This one does endorse the book directly, now that she has a final copy of it. Her new endorsement will go on the book jacket for the second printing.

Heather's words about Veggie Revolution:


Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation and co-author of Animal Factories, also wrote us a nice endorsement that's on the book jacket now. But there's no link to his comments on our blog homepage, so that's why I put it here.

"Veggie Revolution takes us into places that very few of us ever see: the factory farms where most of America's chicken, pork, eggs, and milk are produced. Read it, stop buying factory-farmed animal products, and use the helpful advice and great recipes to change your life and make a difference." Peter Singer


photo by Alan Kneidel

There's a good post this morning on VeganFreaks about pets and hunters roaming in the woods. Along those lines, take a look at these links:

Housecat predation on songbirds and small animals

National Wildlife Federation on protecting birds from housecats

Well-fed and healthy dogs and cats can really do a number on wildlife. Especially cats. Cats kill millions of songbirds every year. I think housecats are the first or second leading killer of songbirds (after habitat loss). The other leading killers of songbirds are collisions with glass windows and radio towers.

Last year in my hometown there was a stir in the media about roaming housecats killing wildlife. Our misguided mayor’s official position was “that’s nature. Let nature do its thing.”

The thing is, that’s not nature. House cats and dogs are not native animals, are not part of ecosystems,and they’re not controlled by the factors that keep animal populations in balance in natural ecosystems.


Hi friends!

Well, we are headed to Morocco this afternoon, where I hear they have Arabic keyboards. So my emails may dwindle in number from here on out.

We've spent the last two weeks on a wonderful and weird and totally different farm near Granada. We had a very funny Thanksgiving yesterday in which we made the family a Thanksgiving dinner and tried to explain Squanto and Puritans to them. Then we had a dance party in the kitchen because we were too full to eat dessert.

Rather than try to summarize our time here in this place of almond trees and Rottweilers, I believe the attached picture speaks for itself.


Sara Kate


Sara Kate, Nicci and Catherine have been working on a WWOOF farm near Granada Spain, are leaving for Morocco today, Friday. SK wrote this Thurdsay. WWOOF is the WorldWide Organization of Organic Farms.

Hi there,

We haven't served Thanksgiving our dinner yet. We'll have it when Scott and Bill get home tonight. We're going to dress up as pilgirms and Indians and teach them about the origins of the holiday. I taught Nicci to make sweet tater casserole last night. :-)

Alan sounds lovely, I bet his hair is longer than mine. Here’s another picture of mine.

I do like Rufus Wainwright. Carra likes him very much. Have you heard his song Hallelujah? It sends chills down my spine.

yes, we are planning to stay in Morocco til the end. We'll be coming back to Spain on the 18th or so. The itinerary we're thinking of is Essouaira, Marrakesh, Merzouga, Chef-Chouen, although that could change. I'll let you know all the details I have as I find them out.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Below is Sara Kate's Nov 23 email from southern Spain. She's headed for Morocco on Friday.

Hi there!

We're eating lots of nice food. It's interesting because this family is not vegetarian, and they've been a bit puzzled as to how to best accommodate us, but they're doing well. We help out some. Tomorrow we're going to make them a big Thanksgiving feast. Yum! Actually, in relation to that, could you possibly type me the recipes from our book for Veggie Stuffing and Sweet Potato Casserole? I would really appreciate this.

Yesterday we made an actual figgy pudding from figs we collected on our afternoon walk. It was delicious!

Catherine sometimes talks of moving here. It is a nice place.

We are leaving for Morocco on Friday. I will tell you what I know of our plans: on the night of the 25th we will be in Algeciras, Spain. The next day we will take a ferry to Tanger, Morocco, and then a bus to Essouira, a town on the Atlantic coast. We plan to stay there a few days before continuing to Marrakesh.




Our extended family has demanded that we bring this every Thanksgiving and Xmas for the last 10 years. It's almost like a dessert, it's so good.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Mix first 5 ingredients and spread in oiled 1 and 1/2 quart casserole:

4 cups mashed sweet potatoes
4 tbsp soymilk (or organic cream)
4 tbsp melted margarine or organic butter
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves (can substitute nutmeg or allspice)

Heat over low heat, stirring constantly until margarine or butter is barely melted:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 margarine or organic butter

Spread topping over potato mixture, cover with 1 cup of pecan pieces. Bake in 350 degee oven 1/2 hour or until topping is bubbly.

About 8 servings. You're gonna like it.


After watching the traditional stuffing being scooped right out of the turkey's rear end, you may want to take this vegan stuffing to your family's Thanksgiving dinner. It's from our book Veggie Revolution (see amazon), pg 197.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Tear 10 slices of whole wheat bread, crusts and all, into small shreds. Place the shreds in a large casserole dish and bake for a few minutes, until the bread is well toasted.

3. Meanwhile, thinly slice

1 medium onion
3 stalks celery
2 large carrots, peeled

and saute in 2 tablespoons oil until the onion is translucent.

4. Remove the bread from the oven and add the onion mixture, as well as

3 tablespoons raisins
1 diced Granny Smith apple (or other tart apple)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped pecans

and stir.

5. Sprinkle with

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon thyme
2 tsp sage
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt (to taste)
1/4 tsp black pepper

6. Drizzle with 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable stock and toss gently.

7. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Toss and serve. Serves 12.


The Humane Society filed a lawsuit Monday against the USDA, saying that turkeys and chickens should be unable to feel pain before they're slaughtered.

A spokesman for the poultry industry called the suit "a publicity stunt" for Thanksgiving.

Is that they best response they can come up with? So what if it is a publicity stunt? Good idea to file suit right now, as most Americans prepare to chow down on the basted birds.

The lawsuit says poultry deserve the same rights as cattle and hogs. Although the process is not exactly a picnic for the latter.

Upon entering the processing line at the slaughterhouse, single file, cattle are typically "stunned" by a captive bolt stunner that shoots a 7-inch bolt into their forehead. This knocks most of them unconscious. Both Fast Food Nation and Michael Pollan's excellent article "Power Steer" describe the slaughter process for cattle. I've read that hogs are stunned before slaughter with an electrical stun gun of some kind, I'm not sure exactly how that works. Although the factory hog farmer we interviewed for Veggie Revolution said that captive bolt stunners are used on hogs sometimes.

Anyway, I know that chickens are strung up perfectly conscious by both feet along a conveyor line that dunks them into electrified water, which causes them to empty their bowels. So the bath is essentially fecal soup, which the poultry then inhale. The conveyor line then pulls them out of the water and moves them along to machines that decapitate them one by one, then dunk them in scalding water. All done by machines.

Humane Society Sues USDA in Behalf of Turkeys and Chickens

I called a Tyson plant to ask if I could have a tour of the chicken "processing" floor. At first the plant manager told me yes. But when I called back a week later, I was told that "after the Sept 11 attacks we can no longer give tours." Right. Well, I haven't given up.

So how would you stun a chicken or turkey to make it insensible? In a humane way, that is. Can't use drugs, they would be in the meat. I don't see how that could work. Jeez, time to move on to a different subject.

Meanwhile I'm glad I don't have turkey on the menu tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Turkeys have it bad, no doubt about it. But at least we don’t eat their eggs. If we did, they’d be living in battery cages like the hens that lay our table eggs. I visited an egg factory for a major Southeastern grocery chain last spring while working on our book Veggie Revolution. It had more than a million hens living in battery cages, spread out over about 10 warehouse-sized buildings. All the hens had bare red patches on their chests and butts from friction against the wire cages, and their feathers were stripped of fluff. Their beaks were all "trimmed."

In the first building, the hens were deathly quiet - our guide said they were in a "forced molt" to make them lay eggs faster. A forced molt is induced by depriving them of food until they've lost 30% of their body weight. First their feathers fall out. Then when food is returned, their egg production picks up.

United Egg Producers guidelines to forced molts and beak trims

In the next building, the hens weren’t as limp and silent. But they still weren’t exactly sprightly. Our guide said that after a couple of years in the battery cages, the hens are so depleted, "we can't give them away." No wonder, the air was thick with fecal and feather particles, like it was snowing. The cages were arranged in vertical tiers so the crap from each cage rained down on those below. Many of the hens had gray splats on them. Under each row of cages was a deep trench filled with an 8-ft-deep pile of feces, like a long gray mountain range. The pile is removed only when the hens are replaced, every two years. That explains the stench. For more about this charming tour, see Veggie Revolution.

Friday, November 18, 2005


Here's a great vegetable dish to take to a pot-luck gathering of family or friends for Thanksgiving, or any occasion. It's one of the more than 100 recipes in Veggie Revolution.

Nancy's Time-Saving Green Beans

1. Crumble 1/2 to 3/4 cup of tofu into pea-sized pieces, then marinate them in enough Italian dressing to barely cover them while you prepare the rest of the recipe.

2. Snap and string 2 cups fresh green beans.

3. Steam beans for a few minutes, until tender but still slightly crunchy. Remove from heat.

4. Meanwhile, slice in half
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup black olives

5. When the green beans have cooled, mix the vegetables together. Dress with marinated tofu crumbles and Italian dressing to taste. Chill before serving. Serves 4.


Sara Kate and I went to interview the other day another farm family, one that raises a few hogs "in the woods." This was not for Veggie Revolution, which came out in October, but for our new book in-progress about how American's spending choices have more influence than our votes. Because our consumer dollars empower the corporations that increasingly shape our world and the future of our planet. For example, Tyson chicken factories and Smithfield hog factories are flourishing because many Americans are buying their products by the gazillion. And Wal-Mart, as we now all know, pays its sweatshop workers (women and children) less than 20 cents an hour, because many of us love those low, low prices. Hard to resist. And so on, you get the picture.

Anyway, we went for the interview, and the farmer dad and the teenaged son led us out into the woods, for real, to find the hogs. There they were, all stretched out, snoozing in the underbrush. We talked for a while, then left. I accidently left my bookbag there, so I had to go back later to get it. While no one was home. This gave me a chance to creep back out in the woods to try to get some close up pictures of the hogs, unencumbered by spectators. I got real close and sat there for a while until the hogs ignored me. I just watched their behavior. I was thinking about the hogs we wrote about in Veggie Revolution, on the factory farm for Greenwood Meatpacking Company (think Gwaltney and Jimmy Dean sausage). Those Greenwood hogs were in metal stalls with wire mesh floors, unable to take a single step forward or backward or sideways. Unable to lie down normally. Nothing to do for amusement day in or out. Sitting in their own crap, breathing fumes that give most of them pneumonia before slaughter.

But the hogs in the woods, they had it easy, as hogs go. They had chosen to lie in the loose dirt under tangled vines. They seemed to like having the vines lie across their skin. They liked the underbrush. The dirt was loose because they had made it so. One of them spent 10 minutes, as he lay on his side, poking his snout into the loose dirt and tossing it up so that it fell across his face. He wanted the dirt to lie scattered across his skin. He was very particular about it. When he finally had the vines and the scattering of dirt just so, he fell asleep.

And yet, the county extension agent I interviewed in Veggie Revolution told me "If you give a hog a safe place to sit [in a cramped metal stall] and enough food to eat, she's just as happy as can be." It's scary that the government officials in charge of animal comfort are so oblivious and indifferent to reality. The meat industry is big business for the state. And that's the bottom line. If for some reason caging all dogs and cats in tiny metal stalls became a profitable thing to do, then it would suddenly become legal to do so. Farmed animals are currently exempt from the animal protection laws that apply to all other animals - pets, zoo animals, circus animals, wildlife, etc. Because applying protection laws to those farmed animals could put a dent in the huge profits generated by the meat industry, some of which wind up in the state's coffers. And the meat industry is a big source of jobs for unskilled laborers in many states, certainly in NC.

What can be done? As a society, eat less meat. Pull the plug on Tyson and Smithfield and ConAgra and all the rest of them.

Thursday, November 17, 2005



Howdy all!

We are working here, but not very hard. Today I've been working at clearing a garden terrace above the house, tearing down pampas grass, rose bushes, and assorted other plants. It's actually quite enjoyable work just to let go and tear something to shreds. Therapeutic, really. I just wish we had better tools - it's hard to decimate a 10-foot bush with a pair of hedgeclippers. I'd give anything for one of the scythes from our other farm.

Yesterday I took a hike up into the mountains with one of the dogs, all the way up to the main roads. There are grape orchards everywhere and I stopped to pick the sweetest grapes I've ever tasted, as flavorful as apple cider. From the top of the vista I can see the sparkling blue Mediterranean in one direction and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada in the other. Scampering down the rocky road I heard myself say out loud, "I'm so happy right now it ought to be illegal!" It surprised me to say it but I thought about it and it was true, I was very happy. Writing in my journal last night I came to a realization: that my moments of most greatest happiness almost always come from interactions with people I love or from intense experiences outdoors. So often being outside brings me a moment of overwhelming joy or emotion. It's exciting to realize that. Now what to do with the knowledge?



Unfortunately for turkeys, it's almost Thanksgiving. I see Bush did his usual "pardoning of the turkey" ceremony - a chance to pose for photos, make jokes, and look ridiculous. How did such a farce get started - pardoning one turkey while a gazillion are being plucked and butchered? A distraction from the ugly reality, cooked up by corporate meat-packers no doubt. Or schmoozing politicians, wanting to make their president look charitable and kind. Hah!

For a riveting description of the real lives of turkeys, read this:

Jim Mason's description of working in a turkey breeder farm

Jim describes his illustrious job (lasted one day) that involved artificially inseminating a building full of turkeys, work performed by a staff of ill-paid and surly laborers. You can imagine the tender loving care applied to the males, and the delicate handling of the females. Read it and see.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


I went to interview a farming family a couple of weeks ago for our new book in progress.

The family is struggling to get a financial toehold using humane and sustainable practices. They sell their organic vegetables and the meat from their pastured livestock to the local community.
The dad told me about a job he had a few years back, before the family got rolling with their organic farm. He said he had worked on a turkey farm. He went on to say that, in summer, it was quite common for a whole building of turkeys to die during a heat wave.

"What happened to the dead ones?" I asked him.

"Oh, same thing that happens to all dead poultry and poultry parts, all the feathers, scraps of skin, bone, sick animals, everything."

"What's that?" I pressed, not sure I wanted to hear the answer.

"All the carcasses and waste get melted down in a big vat, into a thick, sticky oily soup."

"Oh....and what happens to the soup?"

"Well," he continued, "it's used to make lifestock feed. See, the corn or soybeans for the feed are ground up into a dry powder. They need the melted waste to bind the powder together, so it will form pellets. Look at the feed in a Tyson plant, or any big livestock operation. It's pellets. Greasy pellets. Or pick up a handful of dogfood. It'll leave a greasy feel in your hand. The melted livestock waste is used to bind dogfood and catfood too."

I know he's right about livestock feed being pellets. I've seen the pellets on the factory farms Sara Kate and I toured for our book Veggie Revolution (

Tyson pellets that pour out of the automated feeders for broiler chickens are yellow-gold. I asked a Tyson farmer what they were made of, he said he didn't know.

But anyway, the real point of this story was to say that the farmer told me that one day one of the pipes carrying the melted swill out of the vat clogged up. He was appointed to get in the goop waist-deep and unplug the pipe. He said it clung to him like glue. When he got out, they couldn't clean it off of him. Wound up having to scrub him down with gasoline.

So....the chickens and the pigs and the cattle and all the animals that provide the meat at our standard supermarkets, those animals are all eating that glop with every bite. So if we eat it...then...

As I got ready to leave the farm family's lovely acreage, I was patting their little collie and I mentioned that my dog recently died of cancer. The farmer said, "Is that surprising? Think what the dog's been eating." Whoa. That was a totally new thought. Waste soup.

So I guess my conclusion here is, folks who want to eat meat will be making a healthier choice if they eat pastured meat, or organic meat. You can find out who your local providers of such meat are if you check out Or shop at a natural food store such as Whole Foods Market or Earth Fare.

Gasoline. Yuck.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Hello everyone!

I bought a new hat last night, and with it came a jaunty sense of adventure. It is a very European hat. I could be Maria Luz, a Spanish anarchist, or Lujka, a Polish university student, or Sara Kate, an American weirdo. Who knows! We have all been immensely enjoying the amount we blend in here. In contrast to Mexico, when I speak Spanish here, no one does a double take. Well, sometimes they ask me if I'm from Guatemala. But usually they just accept that I am both white and bilingual. I can't describe what an immense relief it is not to feel like a freak all the time. I can walk around in the streets without feeling hunted.

Our haircuts help. The European Fashion Mullet is rampant here: I have not seen so many mullets since the Wal-Mart on Eastway. It is the new hip thing here, to have a massive mullet and bangs. Fortunately, Nicci got a haircut before we left with bangs and a shaggy part in the back... it is just weird enough to pass as a pseudo-mullet. And since my hair now stands straight up, I look just weird enough to fit in as well. Yesterday the two of us were walking around and people actually asked US directions - twice! And one time we actually knew. I've never felt better about my Spanish abilities or my ability to fit in in a foreign culture.

We're taking a break from farming this week. Our last few days on the farm we actually got a paying job working on a construction site, believe it or not. Rory and James were working with a construction team to restore a crumbling farmhouse so its owners could apply for a certain permit by a certain date, and had only 10 days to finish. So we got paid 25 Euros a day each to whitewash our brains out, but also to have the unique experience of being women on an all-male construction crew. It's really changed my perspective on manual labor. When I pass people doing construction work now, I notice what they're doing and whether I could do it and what it would be like to do it. It's hard to accept that some of it I really couldn't do, physically. But a lot of it I can, and it's powerful to feel that capable.

It was also interesting that all of us workers spoke English, being from Britain, and our supervisor spoke Spanish and had to use a translator to give us directions. It was a confusing inversion of most construction sites in the US, for sure!

Since then, we've been on the go. Our last night with on the farm we spent in the tiny nearby hil town where Rory and Felix live during the week, home to 800 people. We wanted to buy them a thank-you for being so kind to us, and decided on a nice bottle of wine. So we set out, asking directions to "el centro," which turned out to be 3 stores. One of these sold wine. So we chose the nicest bottle they had, and also 3 loaves of bread and 6 eggs. The women toted this up and said, "That'll be 3.10." "Plus the bottle of wine?" I asked, confused. "No, no, with everything!" she beamed. Befuddled, we paid, and stumbled out in the street and examined our purchase. According to the receipt, the bottle of wine had cost 80 cents. Uhh.. what? We decided it must have been a bottle of cooking wine. So we went across the street and tried again. This one cost 3 Euros. The woman explained to us that that's the most any wine costs here. They produce so much wine that it's as cheap as water. So, our fine thank you gift turned out to be cheaper than a bottle of soda. Great. Oh well, Rory thought it was funny anyway.

Since then, we've been in Granada and Sevilla, having a taste of the cosmopolitan life. And when I say cosmopolitan, what I mean is that our "hotel" is actually an extra room off the courtyard of someone's house. The senora is very accomodating to us, but likes to tell her husband what to do. "Could we have an extra blanket?" I asked. "Pepe!" she barked. "Pepe, get them an extra blanket. A big blanket!" Pepe got us two.

This afternoon we're going to go to either a 10th century Muslim palace, or an art museum. Or we might just wander around in the labyrinth of tiny streets and alleyways until we're totally lost and bewildered, and then sit in our hotel room and eat beets and olive oil in bed. That's what we did yesterday.


Sara Kate

Monday, November 07, 2005


Hello friends!

I hate to send a group message, but contact with the outside world turns out to be quite precious. Somehow I never imagined that we would be somewhere this remote. Fortunately, everything has gone more smoothly than we possibly could have hoped for... but it has still resulted in us being in the middle of nowhere for the past 10 days. I just used a flush toilet for the first time in quite a while!!

Basically, I got into Malaga, a town in Andalucia, southern Spain, at 10:00 at night last Wednesday. I got a taxi to the hostel where Nicci was waiting for me on the front porch. We had a joyful reunion, went inside and woke up Catherine and sat around talking about how stinky we were. Just like old times!! The next day we got a bus to Ronda, a little town up in the mountains. The scenery is unbelievable. First we drove down the Costa del Sol, the Mediterranean coast, with sparking blue waters and seaside resorts. Then we curved up into chalky limestone mountains scattered with goats and tufty heather and pinsapo trees... it was incredibly remote, like northern Scotland but polka-dotted only occasionally with tiny hamlets of whitewashed buildings with red roofs, like Italian hill towns.

In Ronda we were supposed to have to ride an ass-buster bus to a tiny village of 800 people called Jubrique, but fortunately our farmers picked us up in their land rover and drove us to the farm about an hour away. Our farmers - ha! They’re great. We were so scared they were going to be creepy weirdos but they’re not. James is a young guy from East London who has lived here for 3 years, Rory is an Irishman from Dublin who has lived here for 23 years and is raising his 6 year old son Felix after being abandoned by his exwife who left him for a crazy Spaniard. James is very chatty and likes to swig the ol' Cruzcampo, but has taught us to identify wild mushrooms, herbs, and fruits, not to mention how to brandish long-handled scythes and whitewash a building. Rory is very quiet and softspoken but very, very kind and interested in hearing about our lives. Felix is a crazy little kid with a very interesting upbringing. He went around for 2 days with soot smeared all over his face before Rory finally made him wash it off using rainwater collecting in a rusty wheelbarrow. He's going to be the hearty type. As are we.

The farm!!! I wish you could see it. It is like Heidi times a Mexican rancho meets Laura Ingalls Wilder. An 1800s farmhouse set in the hillside, white stucco and terra cotta... the hillsides are so steep they have to be terraced so you can climb up and down. You drive about 45 minutes on a dirt track to get there. One solar panel which works occasioanlly... other than that we cook over the fireplace, drink and wash with water pumped out of a spring on the hillside. Our kitchen looks like a kitchen in one of those educational houses you go to in 3rd grade to learn "this is how the pioneers lived!" A rough hewn table, hand jarred olives on the table. The farm was abandoned for 15 years, and then Rory was putting it back together but now he has to live in Jubrique so Felix can go to school, so it is falling apart again. So basically we are being paid to live there and keep it from falling apart.

As it turns out, Rory and James are working on a building project at the coast right now so we are on our own. James stayed with us for the first few days to teach us how to survive, and now Rory comes down to check on us and bring us provisions every few days, but other than that we are on our own. Our day goes something like this: wake up. crawl out of sleeping bag. Build fire, put on water for tea and breakfast. Wash up while water is heating. Eat breakfast while heating more water for dishes. Wash dishes. Go to work: slash briars off the hillside, unearth broken fences, fix abandoned vegetable beds. Restoke the fire, reheat leftovers for lunch, drink tea and rest. Back to work: whitewash the house, haul dead logs off the hillside, chop firewood, harvest wild fruit. There are apples, figs, kiwis, grapes, chestnuts, olives, carrots, persimmons, and all kinds of herbs growing untamed. The persimmons are as big as half my fist!! The sink, which is outside, is overgrown with a mad tangle of kiwi vines.

Anyway, at 6-ish we stop working, restoke the fire again, put supper on to cook. As it gets dark we sit outside and watch the sun setting against the opposite hillside and listen to the constant jangling of goat bells. They belong to Jose, our nearest neighbor, who grows hashish and comes by occasionally selling pails of goat milk, which is fine to buy but you have to boil it first so you don’t get Maltese fever. So then we eat, and then is the nicest part of the day, sitting around the fire drinking wine and laughing like maniacs. It feels so good to be with Catherine and Nicci!! It feels like we were never apart.

So this is what we have done every day pretty much, except last Sunday, our ‘day off’in which we climbed up a huge mountain and got lost in the pinsapo forest, but we could see out across the Mediterranean all the way to Gibraltar and we could even see the distant shadow of Africa across the water. And on the weekends it’s slightly different because the guys all come down.

We’re all dirty as sin. I have 65 scratches on my right hand alone from the stupid brambles, and most of them are deeply encrusted with black dirt, as is my face. This morning Rory came to drop off a load of fresh veggies from James’ parents garden, and he proposed that we come down to Estepona, a town on the coast where he and James are building, for the day. We got ready in 2 seconds flat, throwing on our "fancy clothes" but I forgot to wash my hands and I think they may offend people. I think I probably smell offensive as well... Also, we cut my hair again a while ago. But we did it by firelight, so the result is that I now look like a rat with a buzz. Awesome. At least there is no one to see it except the goats.

So that is a hysterical recounting of events. It sounds idyllic and amazing but it has been really difficult. Physically, yes, but also emotionally, because it’s such a different lifestyle and I really want to like it but I can’t force myself to if I don’t. At first it was so novel it was easy to like. Then we hit a slump where we were exhausted and filthy and confused and we hated it. Then we pulled out of the slump and now we are feeling really good. All the things that are difficult at home just aren’t here. I don’t eat crappy junk food because there isn’t any to be had. I don’t sit around slothfully indoors at a computer because there isn’t one. I’m active and outdoors all day long and it feels good. We come in feeling tired and well used, but not as torn down as on the Appalachian Trail. Of course there are also bad moments that are vexing and trying but not nearly as much as I thought they would be. Actually, the only really difficult thing is being SO isolated... it would be a day’s walk to the nearest town, and our phone doesn’t work at all, really. If we need something, we are out of luck.

Adios to all
Sara Kate

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Sara Kate and I flew to Philadelphia last week to go to a booksellers' convention in Atlantic City NJ - to promote our new book Veggie Revolution. We went on Air Tran, which doesn't provide lunch. Sara Kate said she'd make some lunch to take with us. It was good! She made some rice noodles to start with. In our local supermarket, they're on the "ethnic foods" aisle. The long, dried noodles are laid out in a circle and come in a flat package, labeled "rice sticks." We can also get them at an Asian food market a few blocks away. To cook them, you just drop them in boiling water and I think they re-hydrate right away. You can turn the heat off right then. When done, they are either whitish, like very very thin spaghetti, or more often they are completely translucent, like the rice paper wrapped around spring rolls.

Then Sara Kate sauteed some chopped or minced garlic (maybe 3 cloves) and a small piece of ginger root in a little olive oil. When they began to brown, she added some frozen spinach, maybe three cups of frozen spinach. Of course that shrunk down when she sauteed it, just enought to soften it a bit. Then she took the saute off the burner to cool. She put the drained and cooled rice noodles into an old yogurt or margarine tub, and the saute into another one. Sprinkled tamari over the noodles. Put lids on both containers, and secured both lids with masking tape. She packed a couple of little plastic bowls (old pesto containers) and plastic spoons, plus a plastic fork and plastic knife to dish it out, and we were all set. When it came time to eat on the plane - it was really, really good. I don't like flying that much. So it was nice to have a little feast to look forward to.

Friday, October 14, 2005


I'm already pretending it's Christmastime, despite the 80-degree weather outside. These spicy cookies go great with a cup of tea! Iced tea, that is.

1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine:
- 1/2 c. canola oil
- 1/2 c. white or brown sugar
- 1/2 c. molasses
- 1 T. hot water

2. Stir in and mix well:
- 1 3/4 c. flour
- 2 t. ginger
- 2 t. cinnamon
- 1 t. baking soda
- 1/4 t. salt

3. Bake on a greased cookie tray for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes about 20 cookies.

- Sara Kate


I don't know how to make good white-flour biscuits. But this recipe for whole-wheat biscuits is so good. They taste sort of nutty. I made some two nights ago, and today I'm still eating them cold right out of the frige.

Stir together:
2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt or no salt

1/3 cup oil (we use canola or olive)
2/3 cup milk (we use soy milk)

Stir until everything is evenly moist. Squeeze the batter 6 or 7 times. Okay, knead it. Pinch off roughly-shaped pieces the size of ping-pong balls and place them on a baking tray 1 inch apart, at least. Bake at 425 degrees until the peaks get dark brown, about 15 minutes. Makes about 12 biscuits. As much as I love white biscuits, these are better, and a whole lot easier to make.