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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fresh Food is Local Food, and Local Food is Best

Lately I’ve noticed a lot of farmer’s markets dotting my area. So, I decided to check them out. It seems they all congregate Thursday, amassing their myriad of fruits and vegetables, some even showing off animal products. I’ll be the first to admit that going to the supermarket is practically a spiritual experience for me. The bright lights guiding you down the endless aisles of staple American food and their quintessential international counterparts. Visiting the farmer’s market almost felt as if I was switching my place of worship. I guiltily trolled the stalls, very aware of the misshapen and dirty produce stacked amateurishly. The vendors proudly displayed their local farm’s sign or announced their family’s name upon plaques and knowledgeably manned their station dressed in attire that would better suit the garden.
There’s something about these foods.  Knowing they came from the sweat of someone you can see, or someone who lives nearby puts an entirely new definition to homegrown. I have my own garden at home, but it’s always a roll of the dice. Will they get enough water or sun? Will the cutworms attack this year, or will the seeds be dug out by chipmunks? So many ‘what ifs’ and yet these hardworking people have bountiful baskets of the fruits of their labor. Unlike at the conventional supermarket, where I have an ingrained path to and from all my required sustenance, I wandered the markets without any goal in mind other than to appreciate the local food.
It just wouldn’t be right to leave these venues empty handed. At least that’s what I told myself.  At the end of the day I came away with heirloom tomatoes, carrots and eggs. Since then I have eaten the prizes quite contentedly. As with the products of my own garden, there is nothing like something fresh and locally grown, off the vine and out of the ground mere hours before you purchase it. Trust me when I say, you can taste the freshness of the farmer’s market. Try something and you’ll see the supermarket’s worldly collection simply cannot compare to the quality and flavor of local food.  The best aspect of a farmer’s market is that by buying local you support your neighbors and your hometown economy. I would urge anyone, foodies and non-foodies to invest in the wonders of the farmer’s market and enjoy its succulent reward.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Fantastic Planet Earth

I write fiction. That’s my bread and butter. Ever since I was young I told stories. Such wild exaggerations of the truth that it became obvious to my parents I had a knack for storytelling. My dad even encouraged me to become a writer or else I would get in trouble for all my fibs.  And after I discovered the attraction of fantasy stories, I was hooked. I think it goes without saying speculative, science-fiction and fantasy writers are drawn to the ability to create new and incredible worlds. At least that’s why I write. Beyond the roster of new people one can birth, the pure escapism of constructing the details of a civilization and its surrounding environment is addictive. For the longest time I felt the universe’s greatest sights were locked inside the brains of writers. Then I saw Planet Earth.
Land and water have been filmed countless times before. But Planet Earth separates their series into segments that honor each habitat with the detail-oriented attention they deserve. In each venue, predator and prey shine harmoniously, neither ever stealing the spotlight as the array of animals transitions gracefully with the changing arenas.  The mysticism of a solitary snow leopard or the raw power of the migrating wildebeest, the focal creatures in each installment show the delicate balance every corner of our world supports.
From the great plains through forests and into the mountains, these locations can be found nearly everywhere and yet, despite their obvious differences, they encapsulate the likeness of unlike locations. There exists a circle of life (as my favorite, nature-oriented childhood film would say) that is demonstrated in this program as an essential cog in the cohesive functioning of our planet. This becomes clear in the desserts episode which proves that even in an arid, unrelenting environment, life can thrive. Planet Earth reminds viewers, there is always more we can learn and the wonders in shallow seas and worlds of ice reinforce the need to question ones surroundings and explore. A meager three percent of the water on Earth is freshwater, and its titular show brilliant depicts the amazing home this precious recourse provides to an ever-growing populace.
Many of Planet Earth’s locations can be visited, and some play the role as home for our human brethren, but there are a few locations that remain out of reach. Delving into caves and deep water, these exclusive shots invite viewers to witness the least explored depths of our planet and the intricate formations that house spectacular creatures. The sheer awesome expanse of these subterranean habitats stirs a primal need for answers, and Planet Earth delivers. Ultimately, the most intriguing installment of Planet Earth is the jungle. Few people have ever seen the elusive animals captured on film for this episode, never mind taking the time to study its unparalleled foliage. The dancing bird of paradise becomes an instant salesman for the series, seducing viewers and mates alike.
Planet Earth enlists sweeping aerial views and time-lapse photography used to show the grand scale of diversity and transformation our world performs day-to-day in breathtaking fashion. These majestic views pair beautifully with the entrancing tone of Sigourney Weaver’s voice who narrates the series with elegance. Discovery and the BBC orchestrated a fantastical perspective on planet Earth never before attempted by wildlife filmmakers. Their five year journey produces proof that sometimes storybooks are not the only place where fantasy lives.