Archive | Farming

Harvesting from the Earth

Posted on 10 April 2009 by Cork Graham

Many of you have written me after watching cooking show after cooking show, asking:

It all goes back to my understanding of conservation, and real conservation goes back to
the origins of stewardship of the land. Originally  just a king or landowner, or  a
farmer or rancher who the conservationists who worked or had someone work with the land and reaped
the rewards of that labor.

Nowadays, we pay agencies and corporations to do that work for us. For many of us now,
conservation really means preservation, practicing catch-release. For others like me, the
cycle of life, building water collection sites, clearing out pollutants and fencing it off
from cattle, planting feed plots for deer and then harvesting from those endeavors is
most rewarding: not only on a societal plane, but also environmentally for all other
game and non-game animals, birds and fish that benefit.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a very important place for catch-release programs,
especially in areas with no restocking programs that are close enough to urban
populations that non-stocking or catch-keep practices would wipe out an in a week. It’s just that we can’t forget how we got here and what works best, where, and when…

As for the cooking shows, I’m a firm believer in what I heard Master Chef, hunter, and
entrepreneur Marco Pierre White
comment on cooking game. He was walking with
Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations and showed how to cook a rabbit with a filling
of grass taken from the land where the rabbit had been shot: match the game and fish to the land.

For us here in Northern California, that’s wine and grapes, and blackberries and hops and
madrone and alder. Take a steelhead from the river and cut a few of the many stands of
alder (be sure to remove the bark or you’ll get sick) from the waterway which you’d
taken the trout, add a sugar and salt brine and you’ve got the makings for an amazing
smoked steelhead.

Take a Chardonnay from the Napa, Sonoma or Russian River Valley, match it with garlic, and a
turkey taken from the same vineyards that produced those wine grapes and you’ve got the
makings for a heavenly “Turkey Scallopini”! Or, as we just did in our latest episode with a
Russian River Valley 2007 Chardonnay from Peters Vineyards and bottled by Papapietro
Perry Winery
, a steelhead poached in wine and served with a phenomenal wine-butter

The more that I can re-instill that pride of gathering and preparation that used to be so
prevalent all over the world, before children began thinking that their burgers, chicken
patties and fish sticks magically came from a machine that made food from cellophane
wrappings, I’ll do it!

Our friend and fellow outdoorsman John Putnam at Gauge Wines let us in on what’s
happening up in the Mendocino area. There’s an organic foods movement that has been
rising in strength, starting in Northern California, with such culinary luminaries and
Thomas Keller at The French Laundry and land shephards Don and Sally Schmitt at
The Filo Apple Farm
: The Philo Apple Farm prides itself on not even making produce deliveries
further than a tank of gas away out of respect for local grown food freshness.

With more activity like that, our populations will eat more healthily and the land will benefit
through that enlightened husbandry—and what better way to make sure that our following
generations will have a great place to live than to bring back that understanding that all
our ancestors automatically received from day-to-day life on family farms and ranches!

Well, amazingly realistic photo-imaged, inflatable decoys from Cherokee Sports just came in and so we’re off to Lakeport at the north end of Clearlake to match them with the Decoy Sled for our next Remington Arms turkey production!

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