Let’s do this

candy striped figs

While our family and friends have been braving the dark after the storm, we have been thinking of them and sending all we can: thoughts, prayers, donations to the Red Cross. We carry forward, we send our love. Press on, east coasters.

Meanwhile, this week I have received a handful of emails from people asking me about my opinion on California’s Proposition 37. This is strange and flattering because I am not an expert on anything relevant, and it is surprising because I can’t believe anyone would question my stance on this one. It makes me think that maybe it’s not obvious to folks exactly what is at stake here – I feel worried that all the money being pumped into muddying the waters might actually be working. In case anyone out there still wonders where I stand on this one, let me quote Dave Murphy: “California is ground zero in the effort to reclaim our food and our planet from out of control corporations that want to deny us the right to know what’s in our food.” 

I am all for reclaiming our food, and our planet. I am a yes on 37. Or more accurately I am a YES, YES, YES. 

figsPart of the reason we strive to avoid all processed food here at home is a deep and abiding concern over chemicals, additives, and strangely formulated who-knows-whats like high fructose corn syrup and so on. We avoid eating most soy on the assumption that it is modified, along with many sugars, corn-based-anything, “vegetable” oils, and more (more than your weight per year, on average, actually ). We shop the farmer’s markets. When we can we get food from our garden, or from our neighbors backyards (see roasted fig recipe, below). 

But still. GMO strangeness can also be found in fruits, vegetables, fish and meat – Chinese scientists have even introduced human genes into cows in an attempt to have them produce milk “similar to human breast milk”. And despite some pretty scary findings in France and elsewhere, GMOs have never been tested for safety by US regulatory agencies. As Suzanne Wuerthele, an EPA toxicologist, stated it: “We are confronted with the most powerful technology the world has ever known, and it is being rapidly deployed with almost no thought whatsoever to its consequences.”

Even Dr. Oz has come out in favor of labeling GMOs.


So who is against Prop. 37? Well, Monsanto for one, to the tune of a million bucks a day. Mark Bittman’s October 23rd opinion piece clearly tells the story of who’s buying the opposition to Prop 37, and the scary sources of their motivation and their money.

Michael Pollan wondered recently – and thoughtfully – about whether there was a “food movement” worthy of the name. To him then, and to all of us, I say: let’s do this.

Come on California: Yes on 37. We have a right to know what is in our food. Let’s not give that right away.


A few things to read and think about, if you’re so inclined:

Michael Pollan’s call to action Vote for the Dinner Party  in The New York Times Magazine

Dave Murphy’s thoughtful and well-contextualized What Will You Do For The Revolution? 

An interesting examination of Prop 37, based on Nobel-prize winning economics

Robyn O’Brien at MomsRising on why Prop. 37 might be of particular interest to parents

In California or not, you can get involved in making sure we know what is in our food! Just Label It is a great place to start.

roasted brown figs

Roasted Figs
We are still getting figs here, though I realize for some they are but a distant late-summer memory. If yours are gone, save this one for next year – it will be worth the wait.

The other day I was playing with the boys in the driveway, and a neighbor I barely know gave me a bag of figs from a tree in his back yard. “Did you know,” he said, “that this whole neighborhood used to be filled with fruit trees?” I didn’t know. “Before it was Silicon Valley, it was just a valley. And there were lots of orchards.” And probably not a lot of GMOs, I laughed. And he just sighed.

Remember those strawberries that we roasted, and then put onto chicken and into those incredible Australian ice blocks? Yes? This is another (equally addictive) super highly versatile roasted fruit. Also, my guys are still iffy on straight up raw figs. But they will eat these roasted ones by the pan full. Maple syrup carries a lot of weight around here, and  there is also something wonderful that happens with the texture of the figs in roasting. Their time in a hot oven enhances their jamminess, of course, as roasting does. But with figs, this also means that the squishy-seedy-figginess of the insides becomes less prominent – and for my kids, less offensive. This is also a good place for any slightly under-ripe figs you might have, the ones not quite soft and sweet enough to squish raw onto your toast or slice into your oatmeal. (Because other people do that, right? Someone?)

2 pints figs, gently cleaned and quartered (or halved, depending on size)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix maple syrup, vinegar and salt in a bowl, then add the fig pieces and toss gently until all pieces are coated. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until the fruit is tender and the sauce has thickened and caramelized.

Keep in a jar in the refrigerator, and eat on oatmeal, yogurt, toast … Or stand by the stove and eat them all straight from the pan. Whatever works for you. Just do it :) 

2 thoughts on “Let’s do this

  1. Go, California! I am toting around a petition to put a GMO labeling law on Washington’s ballot next year, although if you guys pass it that will hopefully be the end of the story. And yes to slicing figs into oatmeal, but squishing them onto toast? Totally weird. ;-) I’m going to roast a tray next time–and now I’m wondering why I’ve never made a roasted fig jam. Next summer!

    • I am optimistic that CA will pass this one. I really hope that all the ads coming out against it aren’t having an impact – the amount of money being spent by big ag is shocking (or maybe not so shocking). Let’s keep our fingers crossed that you can put your petition up on the shelf! (And make fig jam instead?)

      By the way – I’ll bet a roasted fig jam would be awesome! I have no doubt you would come up with something great. I made a “sticky fig jam” this summer using this recipe http://yearofhealthierliving.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/day-215-sticky-fig-jam/ and that was nice too …

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