2020-03-23       27        Business
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Title : Artisan sourdough bread, one baker’s passion for tradition and the local food economy
Description : This isn’t your typical bakery in the back of a coffee shop or cafe. It’s a residential garage in the middle of suburbia where they bake hundreds of loaves of sourdough every day of the week. This is Proof Bread and it’s one of the most unique bakeries in America. It’s 4 am on a Monday morning and Jonathan Przybyl wakes up because Harriet can’t wait any longer. Harriet is Jon’s starter, a fermented combination of flour and water and microbes that fuels the bakery. The lights in the garage flicker on, Jon fires up the ovens, dusts the table with flour, and it’s time to get to work. Cottage laws allow for these home bakeries to exist legally without issue in Arizona. While this may surprise some, it’s a vital component to the local economy and a small baker’s ability to cover their expenses. What was once a 2 car garage with a single fluorescent light has been significantly upgraded and expanded with industrial ovens, commercial planetary mixers, an automatic dough divider, and two walk-in refrigerators. Yet Jon doesn’t want to give off the wrong impression. None of his gadgetry is pristine or glamorous. In fact, almost everything in the bakery was handbuilt or salvaged from junkyards. The massive Hobart mixer was a broken heap of motionless metal until they rewired the control box and finally got the hook to spin. The divider was a neglected restaurant appliance at auction until Jon raised his hand to buy it. And the fridge is essentially an insulated coset with a rigged thermostat and AC unit to hyper-refrigerate a tiny cramped space. If you expected the latest in high-tech smart ovens and touchscreen digital displays, you might want to look elsewhere. Proof prefers to stick to their artisan roots and keep things pure and simple. In the beginning, Jon and Amanda did everything by hand without a machine in sight. The dream was just about perfecting the dough and perfecting the craft. While Jon misses some of those handmade elements, it’s not practical nor cost-effective when the product you’re selling is bread. Even for higher-priced loaves, you need to be selling hundreds to sustain a business. He took ownership of the bakery a few years ago after the previous owner moved out of state. At the time, Jon was just a loyal customer and knew next to nothing about baking sourdough but he knew he had a passion to keep the local business alive. Recipes failed, sourdough burnt, money was lost, and lessons were learned. But persistence pays off and years later, Proof Bread is a thriving staple at the community farmer’s markets, serving multiple areas across the city. When you watch Jon bake, it’s like watching a delicate ballet of art and science behind a 400F oven. Ferment too long and your starter will turn to soup. Don’t wait long enough though and you’ll bake a flat pancake instead of an artisan loaf. Precision to the exact weight and temperature of ingredients is paramount. Better not get off schedule, because your starter isn’t going to wait around and will continue rising over your bins. It can be only a matter of seconds between ideal perfection and just acceptable. And so every step is written down to the finest detail for consistent replication batch after batch after batch. It’s an artisan process inspired by ancient tradition. Bread has been essential for centuries but it hasn’t always been soft, white, and fluffy. Our ancestors ate gigantic loaves burnt to a black crisp in woodfire ovens. They’d spend days milling and mixing by hand. And if the wheat crop failed, they’d rely on less desirable grains like rye. Baking bread was an arduous task but essential to human life. When you bake bread in this older style, it produces a healthier, more nutritionally complete meal. Instead of white flour with only starchy carbohydrates from the wheat endosperm, you get the whole grain full of fat and protein as well. The longer fermentation time of sourdough starter from wild yeast also helps break down the gluten into a more digestible form. Today, bread is often demonized, but many of those modern criticisms come from the more recent ways in which we bake bread. 100 years ago things changed. The industrialization of baking added ingredients we don’t need, skipped steps that are essential, and made bread cheaper at the expense of quality and nutrition. When you cut costs above all else, you make a more affordable loaf but you can ruin everything that was good about it. Most people don’t even consider that bread would take longer than a single day to make. We’re all familiar with the common baker’s yeast you buy at the store. With a pre-packaged yeast, you can quickly leaven bread dough in a matter of hours and enjoy fresh bread that same day. This isn’t that. Jon’s sourdough ferments for days before it’s finally baked off. Not a single loaf at Proof is baked in less than 24 hours yet Jon bakes more bread in a day than most people bake in an entire year. It’s a worthwhile effort that’s often overlooked for the sake of speed and convenience. As the dough is stretched and folded throughout the day it continues to rise in a process called proofing. The yeast ferments within the dough creating bubbles that produce the airy texture in bread we all love. You’re also strengthening the dough by developing the gluten so the bread holds its shape during the bake. Every step is intentional, methodical, and precise but it’s all necessary. While the longer baking schedule may not be the most lucrative way to run a business, Jon says it’s the right way. His passion for quality covers everything from the recipe and process to the equipment and ingredients. Whenever possible, he’s sourcing local ingredients from other businesses in the community. The flour, for example, is a custom blend of 6 different kinds of wheat from a local mill Hayden Flour Mills. Jon used to buy flour from a traditional restaurant supply store but the quality and consistency just weren’t there. Instead of low cost and mass production, he’s focused on staying local. As supply chains have been interrupted and food shortages spread across the country, Jon’s been able to bake and sell more bread because of his reliance on the local economy. It’s part of the Proof identity and why farmer’s markets are at the heart of the business. Of course, he loves when people buy his bread but he’s equally passionate about teaching others to bake for themselves. He says something has been lost over the years in the way we source and provide food for one another. We’re less connected with where our food comes from and that’s something we need to find again. Jon encourages everyone to shop local and bake bread at home. Even if it isn’t artisan sourdough, you can still start somewhere. Get the basics: flour, water, salt, and yeast and with a little time and love, you can rediscover a wholesome and delicious food that humanity has cherished for generations. It’s the final batch of loaves for the day and Jon pulls them from the oven. A couple didn’t quite get dark enough so back in they go to fire for a few more minutes. Jon remarks that many customers prefer a lighter bread, afraid that dark means burnt, but he says real bread has a proper crust and more flavor. That’s the bread he likes and says that if they’re willing, everyone can fall in love with real bread again.
Post Date : 05/09/2020
Title : Grow food anywhere without soil and 95% less water
Description : Aeroponics and hydroponics aren’t new but they’re frequently overlooked aside from the hardcore horticulture and agriculture experts. Farming, gardening, and growing food are often viewed through the traditional perspective of dirt, manure, composting, weeding, and watering. Many people don’t even consider the thought of growing their own food and opt instead for the “convenience” of going to the grocery store. As supply chains are interrupted, store shelves are emptied, and we analyze the effects of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides on our food, the notion of food autonomy becomes far more attractive. While we may want the benefits of harvesting from our own gardens, that idea can feel more fantasy than reality especially in areas where traditional methods make gardening unfeasible. But forget everything you think you know about growing food. You don’t need soil. You don’t need a lot of land. You don’t need a lot of water. And it doesn’t require a lot of work. That’s the power of aeroponics and the Tower Garden. Discover all the benefits of a home Tower Garden To truly understand the advantages of vertical farming we filmed with Troy Albright at True Garden, a commercial grow facility in Mesa, AZ. Troy is a licensed pharmacist but saw the potential of providing better food choices for his patients. By growing food vertically in Tower Gardens, he’s able to provide fresh produce to a community in a food desert without using any pesticides or herbicides. Zero Soil When we look at nature, it may seem counterintuitive but plants don’t actually need soil to grow. Soil acts as a suspension medium for the plant roots to absorb essential minerals and nutrients for growth but they don’t actually need the soil itself. If you can distill those minerals and nutrients into a water soluble format, you can grow as much as you want without needing a single speck of dirt. That’s the science of aeroponics and hydroponics. Plants don’t need soil. They need what’s in the soil. Tim Blank – Founder and CTO of the Tower Garden Company Easy assembly The tower is made from food-grade plastic components and sets up in roughly 15-30 minutes. As it’s assembled, a tube forms in the center than leads up from the reservoir at the bottom to the shower cap at the top. The only moving component is a pump that sits in the reservoir and automatically pumps water up to the top of the tower. At that point, gravity takes over and the water rains back down through the tower nourishing the plant roots along the way. 95% less water In traditional agriculture, when you water your plants, some of that water runs off and never hits the plants roots, and a lot of water is lost to evaporation. In a grow tower the water is constantly reused and you avoid all that waste. The water goes up and falls back down, over and over and over again. This significantly reduces the amount of water needed to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. NASA has been testing this stuff for decades. 90% less space By going up instead of out you also save on space, Instead of needing acres and acres of land, you can grow the same amount of crops in 10% of the space. This makes sense mathematically but it’s still staggering how much more you grow with vertical farming. One residential tower can easily grow enough to feed two people. A Tower Garden takes up about 2-3 sq. ft. That’s roughly the size of a lamp or end-table. Put it on your balcony, patio, backyard, or the corner of a room. Even if you live in a tiny apartment or condo, you can still grow your own food. 3x faster growth Because the plant roots are suspended in air and directly exposed to oxygen, this hyper-accelerates growth. What would typically take months can instead be grown in weeks. This means plants will grow bigger, faster. Indoors It just so happens that plants love the same temperatures as humans and most of us keep our homes relatively comfortable. This is the perfect conditions for plant growth. Of course sunlight is not as prevalent indoors but with LED grow lights, plants can thrive all-year-long in a controlled environment. Outdoors Of course you can also grow outdoors when the season allows. This makes the Tower Garden an easy addition to conventional gardens or for new growers just starting out. Either way the automated watering system makes gardening simple and fun and relatively easy. Grow year-round With both indoor and outdoor gardening options you really can grow all year long. Freezing winters and scorching summers can easily be avoided by moving the tower from one area to another. Because all the plants are contained on the tower, you can do this anytime you want without the typical hassle of transplanting. Seed to seedling Each port on the tower is meant for a seedling. These can be sprouted from seed or purchased from seedling providers like True Garden. The common grow medium used is rockwool but Troy favors coco coir instead. It’s an organic byproduct from coconut husks that can absorb 10x it’s weight in water. Either way, both rockwool and coco coir offer a soiless grow medium for seeds to flourish. Harvesting These are living plants and you can harvest portions of them while they continue to grow. You don’t remove the whole head of lettuce. Instead you leave the roots in tact and only take what you need. This allows the plant to grow back over and over again. It’s not a single harvest. It’s tower to table every day. One head of lettuce can last months before it should be regrown. Nutritional density If you’re worried some nutritional value might be lost in aeroponics, you shouldn’t be worried. Studies have compared the nutritional differences between aeroponic systems and traditional organic farming and there is very little difference between the two methods. In fact, you’re probably getting more nutritional value by growing it yourself instead of shipping produce across the country and without using pesticides and herbicides. Commercial The 9ft. towers can be used commercially for urban farms in what would otherwise be food deserts. As cities expand and take over farmland, traditionally agriculture continues to struggle to meet demand. Thankfully with an aeroponic system you can grow practically anywhere. This makes growing and buying local produce a lot more accessible and affordable. Residential The residential towers come in at 5ft.-6ft for a smaller-scale grow option. These are really made for any living arrangement and lifestyle. Growing is automated aside from some weekly and monthly maintenance for a very low-impact form of gardening. Imagine sitting down to a dinner of pasta and salad where the salad was picked minutes ago and the sauce was made using fresher than fresh tomatoes and basil. It’s the perfect combination of quality and convenience. The minerals Instead of relying on nutrients from manure and decomposing material, the plants feed on a water-based blend of essential minerals: Mineral Blend A Total Nitrogen (N) – 2.0%• Calcium (Ca) – 1.0%• Chelated Iron (Fe) – 0.05%Derived from: Calcium Nitrate, Iron Sodium EDTA Mineral Blend B• Available Phosphate (P2O5) – 1.0%• Soluble Potash (K2O) – 3.0%• Magnesium (Mg) – 0.5%• Sulfur (S) – 3.0%• Boron (B) – 0.01%• Copper (Cu) – 0.001%• Manganese (Mn) – 0.01%• Molybdenum (Mo) – 0.0005%• Zinc (Zn) – 0.005%Derived from: Potassium Nitrate, Potassium Sulfate, Magnesium Sulfate, Boric Acid, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium  Molybdate, Zinc Sulfate, Phosphoric Acid What can you grow? • Leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, cabbage, and kale • Herbs like basil, thyme, rosemary, dill, chives, oregano, parsley, cilantro, stevia, and mint• Celery• Broccoli• Brussel Sprouts• Cauliflower• Beans• Cucumber• Snap peas• Scallions (Green Onion)• Tomatoes• Peppers• Strawberries• Eggplant• Cantaloupe• Pumpkin• Watermelon• Squash• Zucchini What can’t you grow? • Root vegetables such as carrots, beets, turnips• Tubers like potatoes and yams• Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and other brush plants• Tree plants like apples, oranges, peaches, figs, etc No weeds Maybe best of all, there is zero weeding with a Tower Garden. Without soil there’s nothing for the weeds to grow in. This means super healthy plants and no extra work for you. For more information Visit:
Post Date : 05/05/2020
Title : Recycle your food waste into organic fertilizer with worm composting
Description : You probably end up throwing away a lot of food after some meals. It’s okay, most of us wish we were better about food waste but it often seems unavoidable. We live in a society of surplus where many of us have more than enough for over 3 meals a day. Food donations are great but what about those leftover scraps on your plate or the food items that spoil quickly? Apple cores, banana peels, moldy bread, coffee grounds, tea bags, eggshells, old pasta, strawberry stems, leftover rice, bad broccoli, spoiled cauliflower… all that food waste ends up in the garbage and eventually the landfill where it rots and serves no purpose other than wasting more food. It’s an unfortunate side effect of all our abundance that so much just goes wasted. 35% of all food grown in the U.S. is eventually wasted. It’s not consumed. Zach Brooks But if we look to nature, we find a simple solution that helps solve our food waste problem AND helps us grow better food, faster. Vermicomposting is the natural process of using worms to aid in the composting process. This happens all the time in nature but you can set up a similar small-scale ecosystem right in your house with a worm bin. Worm Bins Worm bins are great because they don’t smell, they’re completely silent, they don’t take up a lot of space, they’re very low maintenance, and all you need to do is add your garbage food scraps from time to time. You put your food and paper waste in, add a little bit of water, and the worms do the rest. Over time the food and paper decomposes, the worms eat the decomposing material and as a result, the worms produce a powerful organic fertilizer in the form of worm castings, which is basically just a nice way of saying worm poop. It’s the easiest pet animal you could imagine and it’ll help you grow amazing fruits and vegetables in your garden. The Composting Process Traditional compost is a combination of “greens” and “browns.” Greens are anything you eat: fruits, vegetables, and grains. Browns are anything that was a tree: paper, leaves, cardboard, and twigs. Greens provide nitrogen and browns provide carbon. After the composting process, you’re left with a highly active organic soil that you can use for gardening. Vermicompost takes that to the next level by using the exact same foundation of compost: “greens and browns” but also adds the benefit of worms. When those worms are added to the composting process, they help consume the decomposing material and poop out a ton of nutrients that plants love. Those worm castings are a super fertilizer that will help your plants grow bigger, stronger and faster. Types of Worms There are 3,000-4,000 varieties of worms but there are a limited number of worms that operate at the compost level. Genetically worms will live in 3 different layers of soil. You have worms at the top composting level, at the deeper root level, and the deep burrowing worms like earthworms. The most common composting worms that most people are familiar with are Red Wigglers, European Nightcrawlers, and African Nightcrawlers. Red Wigglers tend to be the composting worms of choice because they survive well between 30-90 degrees Fahrenheit. African nightcrawlers do well in the summer but easily die in the winter and European nightcrawlers do great in the winter but get too hot in the summer. Red wigglers find that nice balance that works well in a lot of regions. Some like to say Red Wigglers are the “Cadillac” of worms. Given the right conditions, worms will stay in your worm bin indefinitely. They won’t escape or wander off and you never have to add worms. Worms in a worm bin will continue to repopulate themselves and they won’t overpopulate. Once they fill up their space, they’ll sit at a population threshold until they’re given more room to expand. Benefits of Worm Castings Worm castings are nature’s super fertilizer. They’ll give your fruit and vegetable plants a healthy dose of nutrients that foster growth. As opposed to chemical fertilizers that sink into the ground pass plant roots, worm castings stay at that root level. They’re completely organic and you only need about a 5% mix of worm castings in your compost and soil. Worm castings also send signals to your plants that bugs are present. The plants respond by growing bigger and stronger with their natural insect defenses. This natural response will help repel all those nasty critters you don’t want munching on your leafy greens. While it won’t fight off a full-blown infestation, it will help keep your plants safe and healthy from minor bug attacks. If you’ve seen worm castings sold in stores, you might be tempted to purchase a bag. Things like “Worm Gold” look cool with their deep black color but that color actually means those castings have gone anaerobic. Active compost and castings are aerobic and should be purchased locally or even better yet, made yourself in a worm bin. Urban Recycling While we want our waste recycled, we know many cities are inadequate at meeting the demand required by modern living. Just because items go in the blue bin, doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t end up in a landfill. All too often junk mail, cardboard, and food scraps don’t get properly recycled back into the supply chain. There’s no good way of knowing what happens to that waste after it leaves your plate or doorstep. If you want to ensure that the byproducts of your day-to-day living are being recycled appropriately, take on the responsibility yourself to do something about it. Amazon boxes, paper bills, leftover dinner, and half-eaten snacks can be easily recycled in a worm bin. Instead of rotting in the landfill producing large amounts of methane, vermicomposting produces zero greenhouse emissions. It’s a practical and sustainable solution to a common problem that we all face. With a worm bin, food waste can be handled by individuals right at home. You can take what would normally end up in the trash and feed it to your worms instead. They’ll eat up all that decomposing garbage and in return, you’ll get an active compost full of nutrient-rich worm castings. Put that compost in your garden, on your trees, and on your plants and the cycle begins all over again. It takes you one step closer to zero waste and gets you thinking about what you’re buying, consuming, and throwing away. If nothing else, it’s good to be mindful of those things as much as possible. Everything out here is based on rotting garbage. Everything is decomposing, but if you do it right in your home bin, your bin won’t smell. Zach Brooks How to Build a Worm Bin Building a bin is incredibly simple. Get a large plastic bucket, box or bin. These are affordably purchased at any home improvement store. Cover the bottom with damp shredded cardboard. This acts as a bedding for the worms and creates a nice habitat for them. Add a 1″ layer of compost. This can be storebought or homemade. Use whatever is easiest for you to get your hands on. Optional: Add some manure if you want to increase the active bacteria and nutrients in your mix. Add a 1″ layer of damp mulch. This can be dry leaves, shredded cardboard, shredded newspaper, wood chips, or any other easily accessible “brown.” Add the worms! Buy some Red Wigglers or other composting worm and add them to the bin. They’ll find their way to the bottom of the bin on their own. Before you add any food, let the bin sit for a week or two as the worms adjust to their new habitat. It’s good to shine a bright light on the bin for the first 24-48 hours so the worms know to stay under the soil. They’re photosensitive and they’ll hide from the bright light just like they hide from the sun. After a week or two, go ahead and add your first layer of “greens.” Cover a third of the bin with 1″ of your extra food scraps: apple cores, banana peels, coffee grounds, tea bags, etc Cover that layer with another 1″ layer of “browns.” Shredded junk mail, shredded cardboard, dried leaves, all work great. You want to make sure the bin stays moist so add water as needed. The mix shouldn’t be soupy or dripping but it should feel damp to the touch. Expect to be adding 2-3 cups of water per week depending on your climate. Each week you can cover another third of the bin with more greens and browns. After 6-8 weeks you’ll be ready to harvest your first batch of worm castings. At this point, it’ll just look like dirt and you can remove a third of the bin and add it to your garden. Don’t worry if you get some worms during harvest, they can survive in most gardens and the worms in the bin will repopulate themselves. That’s it. Continue feeding your worms weekly and harvesting their castings for your garden. Vegetables, fruits, flowers, bushes, and trees – all plants love the benefits of worm castings! Worms in a worm bin can be managed as actively or as passively as you want… At the heart of it they’re bugs, and bugs are hard to kill. Zach Brooks Warnings Here are a few things to keep in mind for your worm bin at home. • Citrus and tomatoes can be very acidic and if you add too many, it can throw off the pH of your bin. Only add these scraps in moderation and this is a good reason to only “feed” your bin in thirds. If an area becomes too acidic, the worms can retreat to a safer part of the bin until those orange peels and tomato bits decompose to a more tolerable level. • Avoid meats and dairy. While worms can eat beef, poultry, cheese, and fish, these food items take a long time to decompose and they will likely smell up your bin, attracting other creatures like rats. You want to make sure none of those foods end up in your worm bin or you’ll be dealing with more problems than you want. • Onions are fine in a worm bin but they smell like onions so if you don’t like the smell of onions, keep them out of the bin. Coffee grounds, tea bags, and other fragrant items are a good way to keep your bin smelling fresh. • Too dry: for the first few weeks of having my bin I was using a spray bottle to add moisture for the worms. I would spray daily and thought this was enough to keep the bin hydrated. I quickly realized my mistake when the soil became dusty and dry and I wasn’t seeing any worm activity. A spray bottle is great for frequent touch-ups but that light mist doesn’t actually get the bin saturated with water. • Too wet: After my mistake of letting the worms dry out, I proceeded to pour cups of water into the bin at any sign of dryness. This turned out to be a mistake as well. The topsoil of the bin looked good but when I dug down into the mess it was worm soup! The worms were practically drowning in all that water and the smell was awful. The bin doesn’t drain so the only way for the water to escape is through evaporation and while I live in a dry climate, I was adding far too much water. • Airflow. Worms breathe and need oxygen just like people so don’t clamp a lid on your bin or suffocate your worms with packed layers of food and paper. Keep things in your bin loose and breathable so you have good airflow from top to bottom. If your bin starts to smell, it’s probably because it’s not getting...
Post Date : 03/01/2020

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