Toad, not Mr. Toad, just plain Toad, lives in all his grumpy, gigantic, glory, at Sandstone Gallery. He’s one of artist Leo Olson’s wrought iron creations. With help from his humans, he hops around the gallery whenever displays are updated, currently crouching on the floor near Cararra marble carvings by William Crain.
That juxtaposition points up one of Sandstone Gallery’s great strengths: the diversity of its artists.
Since the gallery’s opening as an artist’s co-op for the ArtWalk on Oct. 6, 2000, painters, wood carvers, etchers, photographers, stone carvers, jewelers, potters, glass workers and woodworkers have all shown their creations. Styles range from very traditional, to western, to impressionism, to abstract; from colorful flights of fancy to black and white.
The Sandstone Gallery’s location at 2913 Second Ave. N. was chosen originally for the amount of space in relationship to the rent as well as for its next-door neighbor, the Artspace Café, now out of business. In a short time, it became obvious that the new gallery was a bit off the beaten track, but the members refused to be discouraged. They got busy doing what every creative person loathes: marketing and promotion.
These days, press releases go consistently to the local papers and magazines as well as the broadcast media, along with paid ads and a telephone yellow pages listing.
The co-op format at Sandstone provides the artists with a place to display and sell their work at a reasonable cost. Retail galleries take a 50 percent to 60 percent commission. Sandstone members pay themselves back just 15 percent to defray rent and marketing costs. The nonprofit mode allows artists of varying levels of skill and experience to sell their work. Retail galleries not only often cater to a certain type of art, they also require a certain price point. Sandstone artists price their own works.
To keep things lively, both featured members and guest artists change every two to three months, and co-op members are required to rotate at least a third of their work for every ArtWalk.
A list of those who’ve been either a co-op member or guest artist reads like a who’s who of artists in Montana: Ben Steele, Leo Olson, Lyndon Pomeroy, Michiko Carlson, Phil Bell, Cliff Potts, Jean Albus and many, many more.
Creative persons love what they do, however tortured and driven the process may be.
“A quiet country scene is the subject of most of my paintings and oil is my medium of choice,” says Sue Hammersmark, a 15-year member. “There’s something about the way you apply paint to the canvas ... .”
Julie Pederson Atkins, a former co-op member, works with pencil on paper. “It’s a matter of caressing the paper,” she told Magic City Magazine in 2010. “I baby it. Paper isn’t just a surface to me. Right from the beginning I want it to be transformed.”
Lana Bittner gave up her day job to concentrate on art. She now works in watercolor with ink alcohol.
“The theme of my work is contemporary art for the modern world,” she says. She left her job at a local bank in 2001 and joined Sandstone gallery in 2004. “This is my passion, and it’s definitely more fun than banking.” A current featured artist, she sold three pieces at the October ArtWalk.
Andres Anderson, who has specialized in airplanes for m much of his career, quotes from Robert Henri: “When we look at anything, we see beyond the objects we draw. We should draw with this spiritual sight. The value of a work of art depends from the flight the observer takes from it.”
One word describes Sandstone Gallery: Comfortable. Or maybe two words: comfortable and fun.
For every ArtWalk, Sandstone offers heavy hors d’oeuvres and beverages, a potluck of goodies that lures in many browsers. The artists are also there to discuss their techniques and inspiration with patrons as well. Visitors range in age from preschool to octogenarian, and all questions receive a kind and respectful answer. It’s an ongoing, nonthreatening soiree.
Musicians lend another dimension to the evening. Just as dusk settled in during this October’s ArtWalk, the Dixieland combo, the Second Avenue Stompers, with photographer John Havener on the tuba, entertained on the sidewalk. Patrons flowed around the musicians into the gallery, circulated, picked artists’ brains and purchased everything from a greeting card to a painting.
But, alas, poor Toad remains homeless. Could that be why he looks so glum? Why not come in and give him a pat on his rusty head at: Sandstone Gallery, 2913 Second Ave. N. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, telephone 256-5837.
Last Updated on Thursday, 30 October 2014 10:16
Recently Billings was treated to a debate between the two men running for the lone Montana U.S. House of Representatives seat. Ryan Zinke (R) and John Lewis (D) spent the evening making sure a 30-second commercial could not be the focus of anything they might say. Too late, ad men from D.C. had the ads in the can before the debate was even announced. Accuracy and clarity are not their hallmarks.
To make matters worse the people asking the questions did not know enough to ask good follow up questions. For example, both candidates support the building of the XL pipeline to obtain American energy independence.
A great follow-up question would have been, “Sirs, North American oil from Canada and the Bakken will be delivered to refineries in Port Arthur, Texas, owned by the Royal Saudi and Royal Dutch families. They will turn the crude oil into diesel fuel to be delivered to South and Central American countries. How does that reduce our dependence on the world energy market?”
But alas, the response from both, “I will put America first,” went unchallenged.
All six candidates for the two federal open seats were invited to address a germane question each week. On week one, four of the candidates determined not to answer because A) The question was too difficult B) It was their bowling night C) It is none of your business what or if they think D) Their handlers will not let them answer questions embarrassing to their donors E) All of the above.
All answers that were received are printed here with minor edits for clarity.
Canada has implemented cost containment of prescription drugs while guaranteeing reasonable profits to the pharmaceuticals through a process much like what our Public Service Commission does for energy costs. Canadian citizens have safe pharmaceuticals and enjoy triple digit savings compared to what American citizens have to pay. It would appear that implementing the Canadian system would save taxpayers massive amounts in the Medicaid and Medicare systems as well as personal/family health care costs. Would you favor implementing a cost containment system for prescription drugs in the United States or would you not favor such a system. Please explain.
Amanda Curtis (D): “As Senator, I will fight directing the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical manufacturers to reduce the costs seniors pay for prescriptions. Pharmaceutical corporations should not be making billions off of our seniors. That’s why I support the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act.”
Mike Fellows (L): “We will continue to have high cost drugs in the United States, because we are in a sense subsidizing the rest of the world. Having a Public Service-type Commission determining how much drug will cost won’t work.
“With the FDA process, getting a new drug on the market can take anywhere from 10 to 12 years, at a cost of over 800 million dollars. Drug patients only last for 18 years, before we see those generic drugs on the market produced by the competition. Streamlining the process will help. We could also legalize obtaining drugs across the border in Canada.”
American citizens and institutions seem to be under constant cyber attack. The attacks of last Christmas season on Target stores claimed billions of dollars and volumes of personal information sold on the black market. It was reported that the attacks came from criminal organizations in the Ukraine and Russia.
The recent attacks against JP Morgan are also thought to come from Russian criminals and, according to Reuters and the New York Daily News, in collaboration with the Russian government (in retaliation for U.S. sanctions imposed for Russian involvement in the Ukrainian civil war).
If proof is found implicating foreign government involvement in cyber attacks on U.S. citizens and financial institutions, or proof is found implicating foreign criminal elements but extradition is not forth coming, what should the response of the U.S. government be?
Roger Roots (L): “Call me skeptical of claims that the federal government needs more power to protect Americans from ‘cyber attacks.’ The CIA and the defense establishment have been pushing this line for years. Newt Gingrich and Richard Clark (among many others) have even falsely claimed that the power grid can be shut down or that nuclear plants can be hacked by cyber terrorists. Of course such systems are off-line and not connected to the internet. It is propaganda aimed at controlling and censoring the internet.”
Steve Daines (R): Montanans have seen firsthand how many federal websites, such as the Obamacare website Healthcare.gov, often make it too easy for hackers to obtain Personal Identifiable Information. That’s why I’ve fought to secure increased accountability on all federal websites and introduced legislation to address the serious security risks that exist specifically with Healthcare.gov.
“As a member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and as someone with more than a decade of high-tech experience, I know the risks of foreign cyber-attacks firsthand. Cyber breaches pose serious threats, and those responsible must be held accountable. I’m committed to finding solutions that protect Montanans’ civil liberties and privacy.”
Mike Fellows (L): “Companies need better security to stop these attacks on our information. U.S. sanctions on Russia don’t work and diplomatic solutions aren’t working either. Better investment in the educational development of computer security systems will help to stop these attacks. If our U.S. foreign policies are being used to foster these attacks, then we should be looking at policy as well.”
Ryan Zinke (R): “We live in an era of modern warfare, the likes of which has never been seen before. There are few aspects of our lives that are untouched by technology. We depend on the internet to conduct businesses, power our electrical grid, and even maintain our economy. Should our energy grid or other technological infrastructure components be attacked, it poses a major threat to the security of the United States.
“Should evidence of cyber attacks be uncovered, the response of the U.S. government should be to take a firm approach with the perpetrators of cyber attacks, while also focusing on developing cyber counterattack measures and aggressively pursuing offensive techniques to address cyber security threats. However, while pursuing these methods, there needs to be oversight and accountability that protect and promote information security for individuals.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 16 October 2014 12:54
A cattle drive and parade kick off the Northern International Livestock Exposition at 2 p.m. Saturday. The cattle drive, which goes from downtown to MetraPark, encompasses 75 head of cattle, a trail boss, outriders, chuckwagon and bunk wagon followed by a motor-less parade.
NILE itself begins on Tuesday, Oct. 14. Among the highlights:
Lou Taubert Cattle Drive
A part of the NILE’s mission is to respect our western traditions and heritage. The idea of a western parade and cattle drive was born from the desire to share with our modern culture our agricultural roots. The event will encompass a cattle drive assembled by the Yellowstone County Museum, which will also serve as the grand marshal.
The proposed route will go west down First Avenue North and back on Second Avenue North, then continue out to MetraPark.
Elite ranch rodeos from across the region sanction with the NILE. All rodeos are guaranteed a spot for one team to compete in the NILE Ranch Rodeo Finals (with the exception of the Wyoming State Fair Ranch Rodeo Finals that will fill two teams slots).
Again this year, the NILE has sanctioned with the WRCA, which will allow the first place team to compete in the Ranch Rodeo World Finals in Amarillo, Texas.
This year’s NILE Ranch Rodeo Finals will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m. in the Rimrock Auto Arena.
Cat-Griz Shoot Out
Date: Oct 16
Time: 07:30 p.m.
Location: Rimrock Auto Arena
The biggest sports rivalry in the state of Montana will take on the toughest bulls and broncs at this year’s NILE ProRodeo Cat/Griz Rodeo Shoot Out. In a unique competitive style, the rodeo teams from each school will draft Pro-Rodeo Contestants to compete for their school earning points throughout the night.
Up for grabs will be prize money offered by the NILE garnered from $1 of every paid ticket. After the dust settles the winning school will receives 60 percent of the prize money while the other school will receive 40 percent.
The money will be awarded to each college in the form of Scholarships to be given to collegiate rodeo athletes.
Date: Oct 14-18
Time: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
These vendors showcase authentic western art or jewelry, saddles, tack, and western wear as well as livestock equipment, feed and supplements, and cattle genetic based companies.
Don’t forget that it’s the only place to get NILE merchandise. It all unfolds at MetraPark in Billings.
In 2013, The NILE Stock Show and Rodeo saw:
• Over 1,000 head of livestock on the grounds.
• Total five-day attendance: 40,000 people.
• Visitors were from 38 states, and 85 percent were from Montana.
• Visitors came from several Canadian Provinces and other countries.
Date: Oct 17-18
Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: Ford Super Duty Arena (Montana Pavilion)
The 2014 Horse Extravaganza is a two-day horse showcase Spectators will have the opportunity to view a wide range of equine demonstrations, Stallion Row and peruse the equine based trade show booths and exhibits.
• NILE Raffle Filly
• Stallion Row- a breed showcase of horses
•The Newest in Equine Equipment and Tack
• Horse-shoeing Demonstrations
If it’s related to horses, the Horse Haven trade show should have it.
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 October 2014 10:57
EDITOR’S NOTE: Here are hunting outlook reports for antelope, elk and deer in this section of Montana. The reports are from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Things are looking up for Montana antelope with populations continuing to recover from previous years’ winter mortality and reduced recruitment in central and Eastern Montana.
This year, there are even a few more special licenses available reflecting that reduced but improving status.
Successful antelope license applicants may recognize increased fawn production in many areas as populations respond to generally favorable weather and habitat conditions in 2014.
Montana’s antelope archery season will close Oct. 10 and the general rifle season for antelope will run Oct. 11-Nov. 9.
For more information on antelope hunting in Montana, visit FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov, click “Hunting” then click Hunting Guide.
Antelope numbers throughout south central Montana are stable to increasing from the past couple of years. Fawn production increased dramatically in the spring of 2014 and should result in hunters seeing more antelope than last year. In areas impacted by bluetongue in 2008, population numbers remain below average, but are increasing.
With elk populations continuing to be strong across most of Montana these are good times for elk hunters.
In some areas of Western Montana, where populations have declined, wildlife biologists have recently observed increased recruitment of calves.
In many hunting districts, however, because access to private lands can be difficult, which can affect hunting success given landownership patterns and distribution of elk.
Montana’s general, five-week long, elk hunting season opens Oct. 25.
Even if you didn’t draw a special permit this year, remember Montana offers numerous opportunities to hunt for elk with just a general hunting license.
Elk numbers along the Beartooth Face and in the Crazy Mountains, Big Snowy Mountains, Bull Mountains and southeastern Belt Mountains are at all-time highs, though most are restricted to private land where access is difficult. Harvest will likely be slightly higher than last year.
Mule deer numbers have experienced recent declines in many areas of Montana but should be improving with favorable weather and habitat conditions in 2014.
Recent seasonal insect-related disease outbreaks have reduced white-tailed deer populations in parts of eastern, central and west-central Montana. Other areas have stable populations with favorable weather and habitat conditions in 2014 enhancing recruitment levels across the state.
Bottom line, deer hunters in Montana will find improving populations but a mix of hunting opportunities when the general season opens Oct. 25.
Mule deer numbers throughout south central Montana are stable or up slightly from last year, though they remain 30 to 40 percent below the long-term average. Harvest likely will be similar to last year.
White-tailed deer numbers are quite low at lower elevations and north of the Yellowstone River, at least partially because of last summer’s outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, commonly known as EHD. Numbers closer to the mountains, where the bugs that spread the disease are not present, remain reasonably strong.
Whitetail buck harvest opportunities likely will be similar to last year, while antlerless harvest will decline due to significant reductions in B-tag numbers.
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 September 2014 10:51
The 1,200 volunteers who teach Hunter Education remind all hunters there are four basic rules of gun safety.
1. Always point the muzzle of your gun in a safe direction.
2. Always treat every gun as if it were loaded.
3. Always be sure of your target and beyond.
4. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
Hunting is a safe activity. It is up to each hunter to make responsible decisions to keep it that way.
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 September 2014 10:50
The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee recommends the use of bear spray and urges hunters to learn other bear-aware safety measures.
• Carry bear spray and know how to use it.
• Hunt with a partner, leave detailed plans with someone and check-in periodically.
• Pay attention to fresh bear sign. Look for bear tracks, scat, and concentrations of natural foods.
• Use caution when hunting areas that have evidence of bear activity or areas with scavenging birds such as magpies, ravens, or crows.
Most grizzly bears will leave an area if they sense human presence. Hunters who observe a grizzly bear or suspect a bear is nearby should leave the area. If you do encounter a grizzly, stay calm, don’t run, and assess the situation by trying to determine if the bear is actually aware of you. Is it, for instance, threatening or fleeing? Always keep the bear in sight as you back away, and leave the area.
When to use bear spray
• Bear spray should be used as a deterrent only in an aggressive or attacking confrontation with a bear.
How to use bear spray
• Each person should carry a can of bear spray.
• If a bear is moving toward you from a distance of 30-60 feet direct the spray downward toward the front of the bear with a slight side to side motion so that the bear spray billows up and creates a wide cloud that acts as a barrier between you and the bear.
• If the bear is within 30 feet spray continuously at the front of the bear until it breaks off its charge.
• Spray additional bursts if the bear continues toward you. Sometimes just the noise of the spray and the appearance of the spray cloud is enough to deter a bear from continuing its charge.
• Spray additional bursts if the bear makes additional charges.
• A full canister of bear spray is essential for bear encounters.
• The expiration date on the spray should be checked annually.
Selecting a bear spray
Purchase products that are clearly labeled “for deterring attacks by bears,” and that are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency.
No deterrent is 100 percent effective, but compared to all others, including firearms, bear spray has demonstrated success in a variety of situations in fending off threatening and attacking bears and preventing injury to the person and animal involved.
For more on living with bears and being bear aware, see the FWP home page at fwp.mt.gov; then click Be Bear Aware.
For information, go to the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee website.
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 September 2014 10:49
For the 2014 hunting season, about 1,230 landowners have enrolled about 7.4 million acres in Montana’s Block Management Program.
The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks program provides hunters with public hunting access to private land, and isolated public land, free of charge, while assisting landowners in managing hunting activities.
Information about specific Block Management Area opportunities is available at all FWP offices and on the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov.
Hunting Guides and most BMA maps also will be available on the FWP website. Click “Block Management.”
Again this year, FWP will publish one statewide Block Management Hunting Access Guide that will list information for all seven FWP administrative regions.
While many BMAs do not require reservations, some do. Hunters can use the Hunting Access Guides to determine how permission is obtained for individual BMAs. While some BMA reservations may be made this season beginning Aug. 22, others won’t open reservation lists until later in this fall.
Montana’s millions of acres of private land offer some good hunting opportunities—the only catch is gaining the landowner’s permission to hunt.
It is Montana law that hunters obtain landowner permission to hunt on all private land.
Here are a few things to keep in mind that will greatly improve results when attempting to secure hunting access to private land.
• Show courtesy to the landowner and make hunting arrangements by calling or visiting at times convenient to the landowner.
• Plan ahead and secure permission well in advance of the actual hunting date.
• Provide complete information about yourself and your hunting companions, including vehicle descriptions and license numbers.
• Explain what type of hunting you wish to do, and be sure to ask any questions which can help clarify the conditions of access.
• Follow the landowner’s instructions, and bring with you only the companions for whom you obtained landowner permission.
• Be sure to thank the landowner after your hunt.
Hunters and landowners can learn more by investing some time on Montana’s Hunter-Landowner Stewardship Project, an information program for anyone interested in promoting responsible hunter behavior and good hunter and landowner relationships in Montana.
Visit FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov, then click the “For Hunters” tab.
For more information on hunting access in Montana, check out the “Hunter Access” pages on FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov.
Here’s a rundown on the current status of Montana’s top upland game birds.
• Gray (Hungarian) Partridge: While no formal surveys are conducted for huns in Montana, various observations along with weather and habitat conditions suggest huns will be average to below average again this season. Observations in Regions 4, 6, and 7 suggest average numbers. Observations from Region 5 suggest numbers will be below average and lower than last year.
• Mountain Grouse: Observations in western Montana suggest average to slightly above average numbers of all species. Preliminary information from Region 5 suggests overall blue grouse and ruffed grouse numbers will likely remain below the long term average.
• Pheasants: Montana is experiencing a large decline in CRP acreage along the northern tier of the state, which may have an impact on hunting experiences in Regions 4 and 6. In this area, spring “crow counts”— where wildlife biologists travel specific routes to count and record the “crowing calls” of cock pheasants to determine population trends—were 42 percent above the long term average. Region 7 reported that populations will vary between fair to near the long-term average in good habitat. In northwestern Montana, weather in Region 1 resulted in below average numbers on the Ninepipe Wildlife Management Area. Region 3 reported average numbers for southwestern Montana. In Region 5, pheasant crow counts varied but were below the long-term average. Overall, Region 5 expects the 2014 season will be similar to last year’s season.
• Sharp-tailed grouse: Region 6 reported fair to average numbers in good habitat. Lek surveys and other observations in Region 6 indicate sharp-tail numbers will be near the long term average across the region. General observations from Region 5 suggest below average numbers. Region 7 reported that sharp-tail populations will be near the long-term average where habitat conditions are good.
• Chukar: Region 5 reports that chukar numbers remain below average but may have some potential for improvement this year.
Montana’s young hunters are the focus of a special weekend youth waterfowl and pheasant hunting season Sept. 27–28. Legally licensed hunters age 12 through 15 will be able to hunt ducks, mergansers, geese, coots and ring-necked pheasants statewide on these two days.
In addition, youngsters 11 years of age who will reach age 12 by Jan. 16, 2015 may participate in this hunt with the proper licenses. A non-hunting adult at least 18 years of age must accompany the young hunters in the field.
The bag limit, shooting hours, hunter safety requirements and all other regulations of the regular pheasant and waterfowl seasons apply.
There is an exception to the youth waterfowl season at the Canyon Ferry WMA near Helena—shooting hours will extend from one-half hour before sunrise to noon Sept. 27 and 28.
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 September 2014 10:47
COLD SPRING, Ky. – Ernest L. Flynn of Billings and Frederica Haymaker of Los Angeles, were selected by Disabled American Veterans to receive the 2014 George H. Seal Memorial Trophy for extraordinary volunteerism.
The awards were presented by DAV National Commander Joseph Johnston at the organization’s 93rd National Convention Aug. 10-13 in Las Vegas.
“This year’s Seal award recipients are dedicated volunteers,” said Commander Johnston. “They represent the finest DAV has to offer in serving veterans.
“Volunteerism is one of the most important components of our mission and serves injured and ill veterans and their families,” said Johnston. “And DAV has more volunteers than any other veterans service organization. From our hospital volunteers to our Transportation Network drivers, to our Local Veterans Assistance Program; we reach out to deliver assistance to the veterans who need us.”
The prestigious awards honor the best of thousands of remarkable volunteers who serve in the Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service Program. The awards are conferred in memory of George H. Seal, who was DAV’s Director of Membership and Voluntary Services and the leading organizer and administrator of DAV volunteer programs.
“Our 2014 Seal Trophy winners show what volunteers can mean to our veterans,” said Johnston. They are there to honor the promises made to the men and women who have served and sacrificed for our freedom.”
DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose; fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served.
DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit organization with 1.2 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at www.dav.org
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 15:15
St. Vincent Healthcare has announced that its Clinical Pastoral Education Program has received accreditation by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education Inc. of Decatur, Ga., as a Satellite Program Center.
SV CPE is a satellite of Tri-Cities Chaplaincy in Richland, Wash. The program supervisor of SV CPE is the Rev. Wes McIntyre of Tri-Cities Chaplaincy. The Rev. Terry Hollister is coordinator of ministry formation and CPE at St. Vincent Healthcare.
SV CPE was granted provisional accreditation in December 2013 and offered its first unit of CPE from February through June 2014. In late April, 2014 the Rev. Beverly Hartz, Accreditation Committee chairwoman, made a site visit to evaluate the program’s compliance with ACPE Accreditation Standards. Based on her findings and upon her recommendation, the ACPE Accreditation Commission took action to approve SV CPE as an accredited Satellite Program Center at its May meeting.
SV CPE plans to continue offering CPE units in future. An extended unit will be held from October 2014 through May 2015. Eight students will be participating in that unit.
Two of those students will make use of videoconferencing technology as they participate remotely from the two other SCL Heath affiliate hospitals in Montana; Holy Rosary Healthcare, Miles City and St. James Healthcare, Butte. Plans are in progress for a 12-week summer intensive unit, to begin in late May or early June, 2015.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 15:14
Billings Clinic’s second ExpressCare retail clinic opened for business in March. Located near the pharmacy in the Billings Heights Albertsons store at 607 Main St., the clinic offers patients quick access to primary care in convenient locations for minor medical issues provided by Billings Clinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 15:12
The people who shaped modern food have consistently selected against nutritional value, writes Jo Robinson in her fascinating book, “Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health.” We all know we’re supposed to add vegetables to our diet, she argues, but given the state of modern vegetables, that’s not usually enough. The vegetables you consume should be as nutrient-dense as possible, and as a general rule, the most nutrient dense foods are usually the strongest flavored and least domesticated.
“Early farmers favored plants that were relatively low in fiber and high in sugar, starch and oil,” she writes. These seed savers chose the least bitter specimens to replant, at the expense of their and our health. “It is now known that many of the most beneficial phytonutrients have a bitter, sour or astringent taste,” Robinson writes.
Phytonutrients are biologically active, plant-derived compounds associated with positive health effects, even if they don’t taste too like doughnuts.
If bitter is indeed better, perhaps it’s time we rethink our relationship to this difficult flavor. It’s a shift that might not be as hard as one might think. The first time I tried beer, for example, I thought it was horrible, largely thanks to the bitterness. But as my body began to associate the flavor of beer with getting hammered and hanging out with similarly inebriated coeds, those same bitter beer flavors began to invoke feelings of expectation, comfort and delight.
Something analogous can happen with dietary bitter greens, thanks to a whole-body understanding of how good they will make your body feel. For some, this flavor becomes like the burn from a set of pushups, a la “no pain, no gain.” For others, like my sweetheart, who I’ll call Shorty, bitter is truly sweet. She eats radicchio like some people eat potato chips, dipping the leaves into an oily dressing as she goes. It’s half olive oil, with the other half equal parts soy sauce, balsamic and cider vinegars.
Shorty is the exception. Americans consume more servings of iceberg lettuce per week than all other fresh vegetables combined (not including potatoes), Robinson notes. Iceberg is the poster child for modern agriculture’s nutrient drain. It’s about as bland and non-bitter as water, and nearly as pale as the ice formation it’s named after.
“The most intensely colored salad greens have the most phytonutrients,” Robinson writes. “The most nutritious greens in the supermarket are not green at all but red, purple, or reddish brown. These particular hues come from phytonutrients called anthocyanins ... . Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants that show great promise in fighting cancer, lowering blood pressure, slowing age-related memory loss, and even reducing the negative effects of eating high-sugar and high-fat foods.”
Taking Robinson’s telltale signs to their logical conclusion, one might expect radicchio, with its dark purple leaves, to be among the most nutritious greens of all. And indeed they are, just a few steps behind radicchio’s wild cousin, the dandelion, which contains an even richer supply of nutrients - just make sure any gathered specimens haven’t been fortified by neighborhood dogs, or with added fertilizers or pesticides. Endive and escarole are also in the same family, as is chicory, their wild progenitor.
If you’re not a bittervore like Shorty, or aren’t the type to make peace with the bitter side of your sustenance, there are some easy ways to soften, obscure, and even put the bitter flavors to work.
Adding chopped dandelion greens or radicchio to a salad of paler, milder leaves like lettuce can add depth to the salad’s flavor, as the mellow leaves dilute the pain. If such a salad is still too bitter for your taste, consider a sweet or creamy dressing, like honey mustard, or even ranch. “Fat is one of the best antidotes to bitterness,” Robinson writes.
Indeed, what isn’t fat the best antidote for?
At the same time, cover-ups like fat and sweet, while making bitter greens palatable, are crutches. They turn eating your greens into a constant uphill battle in which some form of assistance is always required. Embracing the bitter side makes a lot more sense. As you get used to these flavors you’ll be able to distinguish one plant’s subtle flavors from another’s, along with differences in texture, acidity and juiciness. You’ll find variety among the shades of bitter.
Another worthy approach to consuming bitter greens is to combine them with other bitter foods, which can create a bouquet of bitter flavors. This works best with bitter foods that also have redeeming characteristics to counter their inherent bitterness. Walnuts, for example, are astringent, but have a compensating oiliness. Grapefruit’s bitter flavors are balanced with tartness and sweet.
Here’s a salad recipe that blends bitter red and green leaves with grapefruit and walnuts. It’s a bright, unexpected gathering of components, with each one’s bitter side adding to a smooth, bitter bouquet.
Ingredients for four servings:
2 heads radicchio
About the same amount of other greens, such as dandelion, endive, escarole, lettuce or
Two or three pink grapefruits
½ cup chopped onion (red, of course)
1 cup walnuts
½ cup olive oil
coarse salt and pepper
optional: smoked or baked salmon, fried scallops, bacon or other protein; perhaps a soft goat
On low heat, dry roast the walnuts in a heavy pan, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until they brown. When the nuts cool, crush them.
Peel the grapefruits and separate the fruit from the membrane. Do this over a plate that catches all the juice that drips. Give the fruit a little squeeze so more juice comes out. You want about half a cup for the dressing.
Wash, dry, and chop the radicchio and other leaves, about as finely as coleslaw. Mix with the onions, grapefruit pieces, walnuts and optional animal proteins. Whisk together the olive oil and grapefruit juice, and dress the salad.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 15:11
Although at first glance, a book about the development of a fully vertically and horizontally integrated cartel controlling the raising, slaughter and marketing of poultry, pork and beef may seem dry, “The Meat Racket” author Chris Leonard tells a compelling story.
He follows the rise of the Tyson family in the creation of the meat cartel in a balanced and non-inflammatory manner.
Leonard concludes that the handful of companies that now control the production and marketing of all meats can set prices at will.
The disappearance of free markets in agriculture mirrors the disappearance of free and open markets in much of the rest of our economic lives. What Leonard chronicles in the rise of the Tyson family is the banality of evil when it aligns itself to our own petty self-interests. Meat is now produced in a system based on exploitation of everything it touches – the animals, the environment, the contract growers, the plant workers, and ultimately the consumers themselves.
My awakening to the growing threat to the competitive markets for beef came in 1987 when Benny Bunting, a disaffected contract poultry grower from North Carolina, addressed the annual meeting of the Northern Plains Resource Council. He concluded with this warning: “Do not allow yourself to become a serf on your own land.”
“The Meat Racket” is a kind of requiem for the three decades of work and passion that I and many other staff and leaders of WORC have devoted to prevent the “chickenization” of the hog and cattle industries. We organized, we studied the complexity of the issues, and we came to the simple, elegant conclusion — rule — to save the integrity of the hog and cattle markets from what happened to the chicken market: forward delivery contracts for slaughter-ready beef and hogs must be publicly bid.
It received serious consideration by a number of academics and from U.S. Department of Agriculture leadership. In the end, it was not that the giants were too large and powerful for us to confront but rather that their minions, the “orcs” you might say, were so numerous and pernicious.
After a long battle on many fronts, the rule has never been implemented. Instead, the vertically integrated contract meat production system has become even more entrenched.
Leonard ends his book with the dismal assessment that now that the vertical and horizontal integration of the poultry, hog, and cattle feeding industries is complete, it is not possible to restore the ideal of independent farmers selling their livestock in open competitive markets. For us ranchers and farmers this suggests we accept the fact that we will be nothing but the serfs of our corporate overlords. For consumers, it means higher prices, lower quality, and more safety issues will be our new normal.
However, even though meat, as a commodity, is firmly in the hands of the meatpacking “racket,” they still do not control the market for local, natural, or organic meat. The opportunity for niche producers and for consumers interested in local consumption is viable and growing. The local market network may remain a fraction of the size of the commodity market, but it offers an opportunity for farmers and consumers to collaborate in quality food. That is scant reassurance, however, for most western ranchers because we simply do not have enough local consumers for all of the beef and lamb that we can raise.
But is it all over for us ranchers? It will be if we give up trying to restore free, public, and competitive markets for cattle and sheep. I am not ready to give up and I know many who feel the same as I. If you are interested in food, and concerned about how your food is raised and where it is sourced, you should read The Meat Racket. Then you should join us in the fight to restore free, public, and competitive markets for all agricultural commodities.
Gilles Stockton is a rancher from Grass Range and a member of the Western Organization of Resource Councils, a regional network of conservationists and family farmers and ranchers based in Billings.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 September 2014 13:04
MISSOULA – A decision on whether wolverines should be considered “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act took 14 years. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided the animals are not imperiled, citing uncertainty about the ecology of the wolverine.
Wolverines are found mainly in areas that receive deep, late-season snow in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington. Kylie Paul, who has been researching wolverines for several years at Defenders of Wildlife, said wolverines are clearly at risk of extinction - and climate change is part of the problem.
“If we’re not willing to protect a species that has only 250 to 300 individuals,” she said, “one of the rarest mammals in the Lower 48, how imperiled does a species have to get to get federal protection?”
While there may be up to 300 animals, Paul said their reproduction rates are low and it’s estimated that only a few dozen females are able to reproduce each year. Wolverines do survive in higher numbers in Canada.
Paul said wolverines have declined not just because of changing snowpack levels and timing but also because of trapping, loud winter recreation and habitat degradation.
“They’re just this amazing, tenacious animal,” she said. “This native species that we have - it will be on its way out within our lifetime. They need to be able to withstand these issues that face them, now and in the future.”
Wildlife organizations including Defenders requested ESA listing for wolverines in 2000. Fish and Wildlife proposed listing the species as “threatened” last year, mainly because of climate change, but reversed that stance last week.
Details of the decision are at fws.gov.
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 August 2014 15:26
Since Meatless Monday first became a thing, in 2003, it’s become a popular New Year’s resolution to skip meat for one day a week. The amount of food - and the land required to grow it - that’s used to produce meat could feed vegetables to a lot more people, with less greenhouse gas production and other environmental fallout.
As this idea has become ingrained in the mainstream understanding of where meat comes from, many have concluded, sadly, that they should cut back on meat.
I’m fortunate to be able to shoot enough deer each year that I can avoid many of the ethical issues related to industrial meat production (hunting has its own set of issues). I eat a ton of wild game without compunction, but I sympathize with the purchasers of feedlot meat who want to reduce their consumption.
While some meat eaters aren’t ready to make this step, others are ready to take it a notch past a mere Meatless Monday. Both groups could do well to consider the ancient Chinese secret of mixing their meat with tofu, which effectively cuts meat consumption in half for a given meal.
For some, Meatless Monday could flow into Bacon Tofu Tuesday, while those taking baby steps could try half-meat Monday.
Meat lovers often look down on tofu as a bland substitute for their protein of choice. Indeed, protein content notwithstanding, they are nothing alike. You can’t just swap tofu for meat and expect no one to notice.
That much was clear to me when, as a young vegetarian, my dad tried to make me eat bean curd, as he called it, so I wouldn’t become malnourished. Bean curd’s culinary virtues, as he explained them, were based on its ability to absorb the flavors around it. While by itself tofu may taste like a more succulent version of chalk, if you cook it with yummy ingredients it will taste similarly yummy.
Alas, when those accompanying ingredients are plant-based, as is the case with vegetarian tofu dishes, it’s a laughable meat substitute. But when the accompanying ingredients are pork-based, another side of tofu emerges. While Swiss chard-flavored tofu might not satisfy a carnivorous hunger, bacon-greased bean curd is a proven winner.
My local Chinese restaurant does spectacular things with pork and tofu. The Jackie Chan special, for example, combines slices of pork belly with dried tofu and mustard greens, while the “Chinese-style” twice-cooked pork is half tofu - and nobody complains. The kitchen also cranks out a great version of the Szechuan comfort food mapo tofu, in which ground pork and chunks of tofu are cooked together with tongue-numbing Szechuan pink peppercorns (not related to black pepper), in a black bean chili sauce. In China, Mapo Tofu is so popular there are restaurants that serve nothing else.
Tofu and pork are cooked together in the cuisines of other Asian countries as well, including Korea and Japan, each of which has its own version of mapo tofu, as well as Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam.
In the U.S., where tofu is still largely considered a meat substitute, rather than having an identity of its own, the combination of pork and tofu is often considered an oxymoron.
But I love everything about this counterintuitive pairing, from the flavor to the sentiment behind it. Nothing screams “tofu is not a meat substitute!” more than mixing it with bacon.
While a poor meat substitute, it’s a great meat extender. Adding a brick’s worth of tofu slices allows you to use meat than you would have, without feeling deprived.
One of the easiest ways to experience porky tofu is to fry it with bacon, in oyster sauce. Firm tofu is best for this. Start by frying the tofu, in a little oil, and when it’s nearly done to your liking add the bacon, chopped in inch-squares. Stir gently so as not to break the tofu chunks. When the bacon is nearly done, add minced garlic. Stir it around for a second, then add a few tablespoons of oyster sauce, along with some white wine or water if the pan is dry. Serve with rice. Vegetables can be added to this dish as well, at different points, depending on how long they take to cook. I like to keep it simple with just one vegetable, like broccoli, or kale.
I’m not often mistaken for a Chinese chef, but the results were impressive when I followed Marc Matsumoto’s Mapo Tofu recipe that I found on the PBS Fresh Bites blog (www.pbs.org/food/fresh-tastes/mapo-tofu). Matsumoto also discusses the meaning of the dish’s name, which translates into something like Pockmark-Faced Lady’s Tofu. Not the most appetizing name, but boy does it hit the spot. My pork-averse wife ate more than I did.
If you can get your hands on sprouted tofu, you should give it a try. Even raw, it tastes considerably better than succulent chalk, and has more nutrients than unsprouted tofu.
Sprouted tofu is typically sold in firm bricks, rather than the soft variety that’s best for Mapo Tofu. But with bacon and oyster sauce, firm sprouted tofu works great. And there is something deeply satisfying, on a semantic level, about eating sprouted tofu with bacon. It’s like eating something that doesn’t make any sense and shouldn’t exist, like braised perpetual motion. This, and the amazing flavor of pork and tofu, can make cutting back on meat feel more like a gift than a sacrifice.
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 August 2014 15:24
Australian blues musician Harper’s newest album isn’t a Harper album in the strict sense.
Called “Bare Bones,” it’s a collaborative album with fellow Detroit-based bluesman Motor City Josh. What also makes the album unusual is it finds the two artists stepping away from their accustomed plugged in, full band sound on an album that features just Peter Harper’s harmonica playing, Josh Ford’s acoustic guitar and vocals from each artist.
Harper likes the way the album came out.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Harper said of the project during a recent phone interview. “I grew up listening to blues, and I guess over time I’ve changed slightly in my style of writing. But it’s always there, that bluesy kind of feel. So it was nice to get right back to the beginning again.”
For Harper, blues came into his life not long after, at age 11, he moved with his parents from their native of England, to Perth, Australia. In that Western city down under, the budding musician discovered a thriving scene for blues, folk and other forms of roots music.
Harper (who uses only his last name professionally) was still in his mid-teens when he first started playing music professionally. From the start, he focused on writing original music, and he found a receptive audience down under, releasing six albums before his 2005 album, “Down to the Rhythm,” became his first album to be released in the United States.
By that time, Harper had established his presence in the states, He first came over to tour in 1996 and returned multiple times in the years that followed. After landing his first U.S. deal with Blind Pig Records he moved to Ann Arbor, Mich.
Along the way, Harper’s songwriting expanded well beyond its original blues direction. His three albums on Blind Pig – “Down to the Rhythm,” “Day by Day” (2007) and “Stand Together” (2010) – had songs that touched on edgy rock, classic soul, funk and rhythm and blues and even Southern-tinged acoustic rock.
The diversity was a product of Harper’s desire to find his own sound and branch beyond the structures and styles common in blues and other forms of roots music.
But an unforeseen chance to collaborate with Ford at a fundraiser for a food bank in Flint, Mich., in December 2012 sent Harper back for an initial encounter with his early blues roots.
“They (organizers of the fund-raiser) were expecting us to bring our whole bands, but we couldn’t get that together,” Harper said.
So Ford suggested the two team up for an acoustic set instead – an idea Harper immediately seconded.
“We did that and we really liked each other’s playing,” Harper said. “It was funny, after that we went ‘Well, we should do something together.’”
The stripped back guitar-harmonic-vocal approach to the album works wonderfully because Harper and Ford wrote songs with strong melodies, solid playing (Harper’s harmonica is especially impressive) and lyrics that have something to say – whether it’s a good humored tune like “Pot Hole BBQ” (about the quality of Detroit’s potholes) or more serious commentary as in “Hydrogenated Food” or “Just Too Big to Fail.”
Harper and Ford did some touring earlier this year, but Harper is now out doing a headlining show.
Ostensibly, Harper and his band are touring behind his most recent album, a 2012 concert disc, “Live at The Blues Hall of Fame.”
“I’ve always wanted to do a live one. People were always asking for a live CD,” Harper said. “Unfortunately, at the time I was signed to Blind Pig Records, and they didn’t want to do one. They wanted to keep the studio ones going. So when I finished my deal with them – and I love them, by the way; we were not parting as enemies. I really respect Blind Pig. I think they’ve been awesome for me. So as soon as I finished my contract with them, I just went out, and it timed perfectly because we had the hall of fame thing. I thought that’s a great place to be able to record something really special. And that was a great way to have a live CD, just the fact that it was a special time in my career. So it worked out perfect.”
As the title of the live album suggests, Harper recently was inducted into the Canadian Blues Hall of Fame. He enjoys a strong following in Canada, and Florida has also become a touring stronghold for Harper. He said he makes sure that he has something new to offer in his live show - even if he has played a certain city recently.
“I like to change my shows,” Harper said. “I don’t want to be one of those bands that you see, and then 10 years later, you’re still saying and playing the same things. So I always like to keep it fresh. And I think it’s good for the players, too. You can get too comfortable with stuff, and then it looks like you’re just going through the motions. So it’s always good to change things up. And at the moment, I’m trying to write a new CD. So there will be new songs as well coming in. I usually road test them and see how the audience reacts before I’ll stick them on an album. So it’s nice to do that as well.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 07 August 2014 11:48