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Category Archives: Food Philosophizing

What Happens Next?

Well, this is my last mandatory post for the DIY Food blog. I’ve had a lot of great experiences meeting interesting people, animals and foods. I didn’t realize when I got into this that by choosing to report on slow/sustainable food I was picking one of the most up-and-coming movements  in Philadelphia culture. When it comes to generating content and meeting deadlines, that’s as close as you get to a blogging-goldmine.

Here’s my top 5 posts of the semester:

1. The Crunchy Cookie That Could: Gilda Doganiero from Gilda’s Biscotti

2. Brandon McAllister on Philly’s Battle of the Homebrew Shops Contest

3. Food & Faith: A Hazon CSA in South Jersey

4. Food & Art: Foodie Comics Spice Up Food Storytelling

5. The Salem City Community Garden: Where Rural Meets Urban

As for the future of this blog, I may continue to post and loosen up the tone a little bit. Or, I may start an entirely different blog and loosen up the content a little bit. Either way, there will be loosening and there will be bloggening. I hope.

Worse than drinking alone at a wine festival…

…is not drinking, alone, at a wine festival. But that’s what I get for being cheap.

The sight of big white tents on the side of 322 on Saturday afternoon reminded me that there was one thing worth celebrating all across the state: enough alcohol to make New Jersey forget that it was in New Jersey this weekend.

This wasn’t your average kegger—I had arrived at the Heritage Vineyards Wine & Beer Festival, one of the countless wine/beer festivals in the state this particular autumn weekend. A$15 wristband was your ticket to your heart’s content of beer and wine tasting, and guests under 21 were completely free to enjoy the craft vendors, food, and live music. I was allowed into the event for free, notebook-in-hand, for the express purpose of wandering around. (I recommend buying a wristband instead)

A little research on Heritage Vineyards yields astounding results: the party literally does not seem to stop. The place hosts wine tastings and live music on the weekends of the weather-friendly months, a “Summer Happy Hour” on Thursdays, apple picking and hayrides, even a “Run the Vineyards Fall Trail 5K” run in October. With ample room and ample nature, Heritage Vineyards would be wasting itself if it hadn’t decided to squeeze every last drop out of those huge funny-looking wine grapes that embody the Vineyard’s ambiance.

Heritage Vineyards slapped its Wine & Beer Fest on the calendar right at the beginning of autumn perhaps as a signal to the parents of South Jersey, a proclamation of desperate relief that autumn has arrived and another summer’s worth of Six Flags, Dorney Parks, and Wildwoods is finally in the past. The Festival demographic really is something of a reverse-amusement park, with children (who can content themselves on apple cider) sitting in the sun baffled at their parents’ enjoyment while adults form wine-sampling queues as hopelessly tangled as rollercoaster lines.

Any casual Google search for “stuff to do in South Jersey” will yield wine-related results, which leads me to pose this question to the audience: What makes the Jersey wine culture different from that of other states’?

Here are some of the answers I’ve found yet so far:

  • Much of South Jersey is located in the Outer Coastal Plain American Viticultural Area, as designated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.  These appellations serve to divvy up regions by the characteristics of their wine production–including a region’s soil type, weather conditions, and thriving grape varieties.
  • South Jersey viticulture has been hoppin’ for centuries, and Jersey wine was even some of the first good wine to come out of the colonies.
  • A particularly ambitious doctor by the name of Thomas Welch thought New Jersey the perfect place to start up his “unfermented wine” company. But where in the luscious Garden State was he to go? Why not Vineland?

Share what you know and make the list longer!

Finding the Individuals Behind the Ingredients

Today in America, technology can isolate you, entertainment can jade you, and food can kill you.

These three elements of culture fit together nicely. Technology can bring us digitally closer to the people we like and virtually “blocked/hidden” from the people we don’t.  Entertainment has become so self-aware and trying that “so bad it’s good” is often the best we can hope for.  And much of this applies to food as well: we have enough of a selection as to “block” foods we don’t like with pseudo-foods that we do, and the “so bad (for you) it’s good” rule is a cornerstone of American eating.

We can’t romanticize the past in order to explain what’s wrong with the present, but a fast-paced culture with fast food, fast communication and fast distractions forgets that our bodies don’t evolve with our culture.

We evolved to be social, active animals that eat things that come out of the ground or  things that walk on it.  We evolved to understand and work with our food. The urges to hunt, gather and grow are what lead us to become social beings in the first place. Even agriculture itself may have come as a result of the longing for that powerful social lubricant we know as alcohol. 

DIY Food is an attempt to collect the stories behind South Jersey area “slow food” and to find the individuals behind the ingredients.  So if you want to rediscover the long-lost humanity in food, to find a new food-related hobby, or to learn how to slow your food down, please read, comment, message, and suggest!