Kathleen Alcalá

The Clueless Eater

Who Are My Heroes?

June 4, 2012

Tags: Joel Salatin, Bainbridge Island, sustainable farming, young farmers, Abundantly Green, Michael Pollan

Joel Salatin on Bainbridge Island
A chilly June day brought us an unexpected visit from farming guru Joel Salatin. Marilyn, co-owner of the CSA Abundantly Green, sent me an invitation to hear Salatin at the Day Road Farm on Bainbridge Island, just up the road from my house. It seemed to be only for farmers, but I signed up anyway. Maybe I know the secret handshake by now. (more…)

March

March 12, 2012

Tags: Bainbridge Island, food forest, Seattle, permaculture, sustainable, Abundantly Green

A greenhouse at Islandwood on Bainbridge Island.
As the winter season wanes, we miss the foods that are in such abundance in the late summer. We ate the last of our frozen green beans, but still have a few potatoes from Abundantly Green, and our homemade saur kraut. I made hamentashen dough with duck eggs for Purim. Pinto beans are boiling (more…)

Mid-Winter Food

February 6, 2012

Tags: eating locally, Bainbridge island, sustainable food, local food, Abundantly Green, vegetables

Garnet yams from Abundantly Green
On January 1, we visited friends who live west of the Hood Canal Bridge. In their sunny bowl of a valley, vegetables were still growing under cold frames, and they sent us home with two week’s worth of salads and greens.

Three weeks later, several inches of snow covered western Washington, stranding us all (more…)

Abundantly Green

March 3, 2011

Tags: local food, sustainability, Bainbridge Island, Washington, food, agriculture, Helen and Scott Nearing, Sweetlife Farm, Holt Ranch, CSA, Abundantly Green

I continued my questions by driving out to see my friends Marilyn Holt and Cliff Wind, who inherited a farm from Marilyn’s father. About four years ago Holt Ranch became a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture farm, which means that individual families pay at the beginning of each season to receive a share (more…)

Sweet Life

February 16, 2011

Tags: local food, sustainability, Bainbridge Island, Washington, food, agriculture, Helen and Scott Nearing, Sweetlife Farm, Holt Ranch, CSA, Abundantly Green

Sweet Life
Bainbridge Island curls like a fist of rock around Eagle Harbor on the western edge of Puget Sound, thirty-five minutes from downtown Seattle by ferry. Over half the working population commutes to Seattle every day on a Jumbo Mark II, either the Tacoma or the Wenatchee. The ferries resemble floating airports, they are so large and stable, each capable of carrying 2,500 passengers and 200 vehicles at a time.
I have joked that, if we were completely cut off from the mainland, Bainbridge Island, with its population of about 25,000, could live off of locally made white wine and goat cheese for quite awhile. Every April the farmer’s market reopens, and we have our choice of – goat cheese, honey, and a few vegetables. The truth is, our growing season is short, and there are just some things that won’t grow here in quantity. The soil is bad, and the local gardening guru, Ann Lovejoy, recommends buying good soil and dumping it directly on top, rather than attempting to work it into the rocky hardpan that dominates the terrain.
As a result, most of our produce is still purchased through the locally owned Town & Country Market, and a Safeway store. Once, Bainbridge was famous for its strawberries, but a blight, along with the forced internment of Japanese American farmers during World War II, ended their production. By the fall, a greater variety is available, but as Americans, we are used to having seasonal products year-round: lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, avocadoes, citrus fruits, things that grow in limited quantities or not at all in our cool, wet climate. “There are no seasons in the American supermarket,” according to the movie, Food, Inc. (2008). (more…)
With Cowichan Elder Hyamiciate, Della (Rice) Sylvester at the The Living Breath of wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ Indigenous Foods and Ecological Knowledge Symposium

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Selected Works

Creative nonfiction, memoir, environmental sustainability.
Combining memoir, historical records, and a blueprint for sustainability, The Deepest Roots shows us how an island population can mature into responsible food stewards and reminds us that innovation, adaptation, diversity, and common sense will help us make wise decisions about our future. And along the way, we learn how food is intertwined with our present but offers a path to a better understanding of the future.
Creative Nonfiction
Essays on Family and Writing

The Desert Remembers My Name makes an important contribution to discussions of ethnicity, identity, and the literature of place.”
Bloomsbury Review
Fiction
"...a mesmerizing tale... the author explores the fascinating confusions and contradictions plaguing a culture precariously poised between tradition and modernization."
Booklist
"She never forgot the power of storytelling as testimony."
The Utne Reader
"Kathleen Alcalá's Spirits of the Ordinary is an enthralling book..."
–Paul Yamazaki, City Lights Books

"This book entered my dreams."
–Alberto Rios
Short Fiction
"Thoroughly satisfying."
The New York Times Book Review

"By turns touching, entertaining, and surprising, and uniquely her own."
Publishers Weekly

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