Kathleen Alcalá

The Clueless Eater

Another Trip Around the Sun

December 28, 2016

Tags: environment, sustainable, new administration, food, Taking Things for Granted, Joel Sackett, The Deepest Roots

Another trip around the sun. I have spent the last two weeks contemplating what to write in a year-end blog post. Like many of you, I was more than surprised, I was shocked at the election of - I have avoided even writing it - Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States. While I have always been actively engaged in politics, I only contributed to (more…)

The Deepest Roots is Launched!

October 31, 2016

Tags: Deepest Roots, book launch, dia de los muertos, food, history, Mexico

Altar for dia de los muertos - in memory
The Deepest Roots is launched!

In spite of a major windstorm, fifty or sixty people turned out to the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art to celebrate the release of The Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island.

The celebration included luscious food locally sourced from our farmers, including Butler Green (more…)

Ten Things

October 2, 2016

Tags: food, sustainable, Bainbridge Island, PNBA, clueless, eater, land, pie, book, Washington

Pie judging at the Harvest Fair
The launch for "The Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island" is scheduled for October 13, 7:30 pm, at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. I am very happy to be able to present the book to the general public.

Yesterday, I was able to present it to (more…)

Decolonize Your Diet

October 19, 2015

Tags: food, sustainability, health, indigenous diets, cookbooks

Squash growing in my garden.
Luz and Catriona's story started in sorrow. Luz, who had been a vegetarian for fifteen years and considered herself very healthy, was diagnosed with breast cancer. As Luz endured surgery and follow-up treatment, Catriona struggled to find food that her partner would eat, and that would enhance healing. Their research showed that Latinas have (more…)

Utopia, or Dystopia?

September 21, 2015

Tags: food sovereignty, Nogales, NAFTA, Teresa Leal, Octavia Butler, utopia, dystopia, food, refugees

Teresa Leal, indigenous activist
"God is change." At least that is what Lauren Olamena, the main character in "The Parable of the Sower," by Octavia Butler, believes. My students are reading books about dystopias, or very imperfect worlds and societies, right now. Each of these books makes me reconsider the world we live in. It is a dystopia (more…)

Walking the Food Forest

April 22, 2013

Tags: Food Forest, Bainbridge Island, sustainability, food, Friends of the Farms, land use, Todmorden, Beacon Hill Food Forest

The philosophy behind a food forest is that of abundance, rather than scarcity.
Last week, I took a sunny day to walk land designated for a Food Forest on Bainbridge Island. What is a food forest? It is land on which edible plants will grow using the fewest artificial resources, while attracting and supporting insects, animals, and people to enhance its well-being.

I first heard of the idea from (more…)

There Is No Free Meatball

March 3, 2013

Tags: Sustainability, beef, IKEA, furniture, local, food, organic, the clueless eater, high cholesterol

Meatballs and furniture? What were you thinking? It’s true, there is no evidence that horsemeat got into the meatballs in the United States, but only because there is a system in place. Queasy factor aside, horses are given high amounts of drugs that are not good for people. Most cattle are, too, unless (more…)

Winter Dreams

January 16, 2013

Tags: sustainable eating, Bainbridge Island, winter food, food, citrus, muktuk, California, Ometepe, oranges, berries, grapefruit

My winter dreams
I’m pretty sure my broccoli plants are dead now. After two mild winters, I thought I would plant some late in the season to see if I could get it to overwinter and provide an early spring crop. We are now in our second week of freezing temperatures. We managed to eat a (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…)

The Clueless Eater

January 11, 2011

Tags: local food, sustainability, Bainbridge Island, Washington, food, agriculture

In the spring of 2010, I began a series of essays based on the question, “Why did you become farmers?” asked of two couples I had known from their previous, book-related lives. The answers were both interesting and surprising to me.

Along with biographical questions, I found myself asking somewhat apocalyptic questions such as “If there were a food shortage, is there some way I could earn food from you?” and “Can this island support its own population?” (more…)

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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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