Thursday, June 4, 2009


When movements cross the great oceans, urban gardening (see RUAF)is a prime example, the reason for the activity is often lost in the rush to get on board. When the Bay Area by example promotes the development of local agriculture it is in the name of community building, a noble enterprise. Locavores, Greens, and health food enthusiasts, support the movement for their own reasons. But I am forced to ask myself if this expenditure of time, energy, and resources in the planting of these seeds is a truly meaningful exercise in the practice of urban living.

My understanding of human development, the growth of cities, and the creation of the enormous infrastructure to support them, was a way and means to broaden the scope of human creativity and allow the aggregation of numbers to increase peoples' collective wealth. Now that we have the great cities up and running it is a foolish enterprise to act as if we can turn back the clock and replant the groves on which they were built.

An enormous opportunity exists for new agriculture and it is reflected in the USDA policy directive re. small scale farms. All of the stake holders in the concept of urban gardening could achieve their common objectives in the support of these small scale farms while reserving precious urban space for more appropriate uses; say housing!

If eating, feeding, and responsible consumption practices are an issue then it occurs to me that what urban residents need to know is contained within their own turf. Short of dumpster diving, (a perfect reflection of the fact that we have too much food, not a scarcity), smart urban residents could use some serious lessons in how to get the most out of their locally available food supply.

Foraging, the practice of hunting and securing foods from the wild is being reconsidered in an urban context. Great fun if you have the time. Simpler is the idea that the vast storehouse of food, your neighborhood market, contains within it some of the most nutritious, affordable, and sustainable items for consumption on a regular basis and they are yours for the finding.

So drift down the canned fish aisle of your favorite market and pause at the canned salmon section. You will note more than one variety, at least red and pink and a great disparity in price. Red is scarcer, contains more oil, and therefore costs more. There is little nutritional difference. The reason that pink salmon is cheaper is that it is the most abundant, counting for more catch than all of the other varieties of salmon combined. It is also smaller and therefore less prized as a game fish. This is thought to be the primary reason it is held in poor esteem. Lets take advantage of others foolishness. Cans vary in size and the best bargain is the larger, up to 15oz. You will find many brands, generic, and popular like Bumble Bee. The only thing to look for on the label is that it is wild caught, Alaskan, and has no additives. I keep a two dollar maximum price point and have no trouble finding it on sale for much less. If you are worried about the state of the salmon consider the following report.

We now have in hand a wild caught, highly nutritious food, the proceeds of the sale of which flow back to native Americans, and is sustainable. Works for me. I am not going to write recipes here but will link to a beautiful site that you will enjoy. First a word on the can. Open one end partially and drain. Open the other end and invert and slip the can off of the tower of salmon. You can now see the back bone which you can remove by breaking away the adjoining chunks. You will see other obvious bones. Remove them and place the remaining fish in a bowl. Scruntch around with your hand breaking the pieces and feeling for bones that are trying to hide. You are now ready to enjoy this link and its recipes.


  1. Although I typically indulge myself with the vacu-bagged salmon, because there are no slow muscles or bones in it at all, Will has pointed out an astonishing truth. You can go to Dean and Deluca and pay 32 bucks a pound for wild salmon, or you can eat that farmed and fatty anti-biotic riddled monster crap, or you can, for some freaky reason, buy awfully good fish that doesn't spoil on the cheap, right above the sardines.

    A real salmon cake is serious stuff.

  2. Virginia AsciollaJune 7, 2009 at 12:41 PM

    Maybe it will take this recession to have individuals concerned with sustainability focus on the regular folk, and not the whole foods crowd. Maybe this time a difference will be made. Speaking of timing, as I read this blog one of my favorite movies about sustainability (and many other things) came on. "The Freshman"

  3. You cabn sqish the bones w/ a fork or fingers and use WITH the salmon increasing the calcium content. Thanks!

  4. Thanks for posting this. I like what you say about urban foraging, and the information about the salmon is terrific. And what a fabulous recipe book!

    I take issue, however, with the dismissal of urban gardening. Although I've never done it, I imagine the benefits to be much more than the production of food. And as to the wasting of urban space that could be developed, you could say the same about urban parks, though without them the quality of life would be greatly reduced.

    Let's get together and make a smorgasbord of canned salmon recipes some day!