Plants Are Dope Link Roundup 10/25/19

While Roth may not have been familiar with the weeping fig, anyone who grew up in the ’70s or ’80s would immediately recognize this plant. During those decades, the weeping fig, often called a ficus plant, experienced an initial wave of popularity that landed it in rumpus rooms and dentist offices around the country. For a time, it seemed that everyone — or at least everyone’s parents — had a weeping fig in their home, and for that reason, it is a plant that continues to elicit nostalgia.

1) I want a weeping fig, 2) I want to be writing and publishing articles like “How the Weeping Fig Became the ‘It’ Plant of the Gardening World (Again)” by Todd Plummer in the Los Angeles Times.

Environmental Art by Tim Pugh
Environmental Art by Tim Pugh

I am involved in the ongoing practice of constructing sculptures and sketching out drawings that make use of natural materials and a wide range of mixed media.  The sculptures are made in a variety of outdoor habitats and landscapes that include beaches, woodlands and riversides.  Materials such as leaves, pebbles and branches are arranged into two and three dimensional shapes, patterns and forms. 

This quote is an excerpt from the artist statement of Tim Pugh. How cool and inspiring is his art?!

During the early 19th century, most Americans subsisted on a diet of pork, whiskey, and coffee. It was hell on the bowels, and to many Christian fundamentalists, hell on the soul, too. They believed that constipation was God’s punishment for eating meat. The diet was also blamed for fueling lust and laziness. To rid America of these vices, religious zealots spearheaded the country’s first vegetarian movement. In 1863, one member of this group, Dr. James Jackson, invented Granula, America’s first ready-to-eat, grain-based breakfast product. Better known as cereal, Jackson’s rock-hard breakfast bricks offered consumers a sin-free meat alternative that aimed to clear both conscience and bowels.

While Jackson’s innovation didn’t appeal to the masses, it did catch the attention of Dr. John Kellogg. A renowned surgeon and health guru, Kellogg had famously transformed the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan into one of America’s hottest retreats. Socialites from the Rockefellers to the Roosevelts flocked to “The San” to receive Kellogg’s unorthodox treatments. But shock-therapy sessions and machine-powered enemas weren’t the only items on the agenda. Kellogg also stressed such newfangled ideas as exercise and proper nutrition. It wasn’t long before he started serving bran biscuits similar to those of Dr. Jackson—only now with the Kellogg name on them. To avoid a lawsuit, he changed the name of the cereal by one letter, dubbing it “Granola.”

This 2013 deep dive into cereal written by Ian Lender for Mental Floss is fascinating: “How Cereal Transformed American Culture.”

“What should we do?” I asked. “Let’s make a memory.” Paula lit up. She knew just the place. We walked a few blocks away and dipped into a grocery store. “Why are we stopping here?” I asked. She spread her arms, ta-da style. “This is where you want to be,” she said.

I thought it was a prank. But then I saw a pile of tomates de arbol — tree tomatoes — and my curiosity was piqued. I passed the dragonfruit and picked up a waxy green thing. “What’s this?” I asked. Now she thought I was the one pranking her. “That,” she said calmly, “is an avocado, mi amigo.” I turned it in my hand, studied its conspicuous lack of reptilian rind, and looked back at her. “No, seriously. What is it?” She laughed. Grocery-store laughs are pretty much the best kind. Top ten, easy. There’s something intoxicating about a burst of laughter piercing what is otherwise a space for errands and drudgery. Was being an adult in a foreign grocery store the grown-up version of being a kid in a candy store? The citrus tang of lulos! Feijoas! Borojos! Carambolas! Moras! Nísperos! Maracuyas! Guanabanas! Zapotes! Uchuvas! Pivas! Ciruelas! Chontoduras! I learned more in that grocery store than I did the next day at the Museum of Gold.

I enjoyed this essay by Richard Morgan for New York titled, “The Best Way to Tour a City is Through Its Grocery Store.” I am itching to travel!

Planting trees has been touted by some scientists as one of the best ways to combat climate change. While it’s not a panacea, planting trees is good for everything from providing habitat to mitigating air quality to capturing and storing carbon emissions.

Big ups to Madeleine Gregory for landing “Hot to Plant Tree and Save the World” in Vice. The article provides step-by-step instructions on planting trees.

Three years ago, the [Boston Medical Center] launched a rooftop farm to grow fresh produce for the pantry. The farm has produced 6,000 pounds of food a year, with 3,500 pounds slated for the pantry. The rest of its produce goes to the hospital’s cafeteria, patients, a teaching kitchen and an in-house portable farmers market.

How wonderful that the Boston Medical Center grows some of their own food. Read the full article by Lindsay Campbell in Modern Farmer. It’s never made sense to me that hospitals would serve anything other than fresh, plant-based food. I remember visiting my grandma in the hospital and watching her eat Jell-O and chocolate chip cookies then drinking chocolate milk.

Biena is part of a constellation of American food companies, including Banza and The Good Bean, that has sprung up around the humble chickpea in recent years, ready to fully integrate a global staple food into the country’s diets. Now there are chips made with chickpea flour and vegan butter emulsified with the liquid waste of hummus manufacturing. There’s dessert hummus, which might be one of the more difficult sells in the garbanzo-food family tree. Beyond the grocery store, there are viral chickpea recipes to prepare at home, and maybe even some chickpea brine behind the bar at your favorite cocktail spot. (The substance, commonly called aquafaba, can be used to create a fizz without the threat of salmonella borne by a raw egg white.)

In March, Amanda Mull wrote “In the Future, Everything Will Be Made of Chickpeas” for The Atlantic, but I’m only reading it now. I adore chickpeas, but always feel guilty when I buy them canned and don’t use aquafaba (the liquid they sit in). Do you have any aquafaba-containing recipes to share? Tips on how to store aquafaba, or how long it lasts? Leave a comment!

I don’t buy many chickpea products besides hummus, but I’m pretty curious about roasted chickpeas. I wonder how easy they are to make…

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