In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day this Thursday, March 8th, Corbin Hill Food Project would like to pay tribute to the immense contributions of women in food and agriculture. While women across the world have long been part of global struggles to gain equal rights and address injustices embedded in patriarchal systems, this past year alone has seen increased visibility in movements that center on women’s rights and justice, such as #MeToo. We begin this week by highlighting the work of women family farmers and the disparities they face. The contribution of women farmers to food security, nutritional diversity, and agricultural diversity is unparalleled.
Most of the world’s food, about 80%, is produced by family farmers, residing mainly in the Global South. Although family farms occupy about 70-80% of farmland, about 72% of those family farmers own less than one hectare of land. Furthermore, family farms are getting smaller and land ownership by small farmers is becoming more precarious as farmers are being displaced from their lands (or worse) as a result of agricultural policies, corporate land grabbing, and agribusiness expansion. These findings demonstrate a set of contradictions - while small family farmers play the most crucial role in food security, they are often the most vulnerable people who experience hunger and economic pressures, among many other obstacles. In particular, women family farmers, who are the backbone of agriculture and make up a significant part of the agricultural labor force in the Global South and Europe, face unique barriers based on gender inequality and discrimination.
These obstacles include having less access to land, credit and loans, and agricultural tools and equipment. In addition, women only account for 2% of land ownership worldwide and even when the property is registered jointly, men still have more power and decision making over land than women.
Given the struggles that family farmers face in a global context, the need for land redistribution and agrarian reform is paramount. Transnational agrarian movements such as La Via Campesina, which formed in 1993 to provide a voice for the global peasant movement, advocate for agricultural policies that center on the poor, and achieve sovereignty for land, seeds, and food systems. One of the main priorities of La Via Campesina is to prioritize women leadership to amplify their voices, which are often marginalized. Women farmers in La Via Campesina are spearheading agroecological practices, organizing seeds exchanges, advocating for peasants rights, while running households and performing other unpaid labor.
Corbin Hill Food Project honors women farmers and upholds their immense contribution to feeding the world. Without land justice, there can be no food justice. As mentioned in one of the June newsletters, Corbin Hill is committed to furthering land justice through the transference of the Corbin Hill Road Farm to the Community. If you would like to know more about this process or how to get involved, email Erica at email@example.com.
Beans really are magical. Not only are they cheap and delicious, there are countless ways to prepare them and numerous health benefits. This week, you will be receiving either dried black or pinto beans. Dried beans have better texture and flavor than canned beans. If you are new to dried beans, check out the following steps!
Step 1. Soak, Soak, Soak
Put your beans in a pot and cover them in a few inches of water. Throw the whole thing in the fridge overnight. Forgot to soak your beans? Don't stress out. You can also quick soak beans and get a similar effect. Just put those beans in a pot, cover them with water, bring them up to a boil, and then cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let them sit for at least a half an hour in the hot water, drain them, and go from there.
Step 2. Simmer
When dinner time is rolling around, grab those beans from the fridge, drain them, and transfer them to another pot, then cover them in a few inches of water (the exact amount isn’t important). Bring them to a simmer, avoiding a boil (which will make them fall apart). Salt the liquid very, very lightly here. We don’t want to go overboard.
Step 3. Add Aromatics
Now, it’s time to get our aromatics involved. We’re talking onions, shallots, garlic, and chiles. Or maybe some fresh herbs like rosemary, sage, bay leaves, and thyme. This is where the flavor really starts to build. Salt the liquid again (lightly) after about an hour of simmering.
Step 4. Let 'Em Hang Out
After another 30 minutes to an hour, once your beans are tender (read: edible), turn off the heat, and season the cooking liquid to taste. This is where you salt heavily and add any acidic ingredients, like tomatoes or lemon juice. When you're tasting for seasoning, you want to taste the broth rather than the beans themselves—it will take a little bit for the flavor of the broth to make its way into those little guys, which is why it's important to let them hang out in their cooking liquid for a half an hour before eating them. If you're planning on packing them up and storing them for later use, let them cool completely in their cooking liquid beforehand.
Step 5. Eat or Save them for Later
It’s time to eat those beans. Or not. You can save cooked, dried beans too. They're perfect to pull out for chili, salads, or a nice side for chicken or fish. Throw them in a Tupperware in the fridge for dinner every night that week, or freeze them for future use. They’ll be fine. Beans freeze very well. And whatever you do, don't throw out that cooking liquid! It's seasoned, delicious, and starchy, perfect for adding body to soups, stews, braises, and even pasta sauces.
Steps adapted from Bon Appetit
1 pound dried pinto or black beans
3 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 small hot pepper, chopped, optional (jalapeno or serrano)
1 pound ground beef, at least 80% lean (can use turkey meat or even go meatless)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chili powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Optional Garnishes: sour cream, guacamole, chopped fresh cilantro, shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese, tortilla chips, sliced green onions, shredded lettuce, sliced ripe olives, or diced fresh tomatoes
1. Rinse and sort the beans, picking out any malformed beans or small stones. Combine the beans and water in crockpot; cover and cook on HIGH for 3 hours or until beans are tender (this step can be done quickly on the stovetop as well).
2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and bell pepper and cook until softened; transfer to the slow cooker.
3. Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook until no longer pink, turning and stirring frequently. Drain thoroughly and transfer to the slow cooker.
4. Add the tomatoes and chili powder to the beef and beans; stir to blend. Taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed.
5. Reduce the slow cooker heat setting to LOW; cover and cook for 3 to 4 hours longer. Top chili servings with your favorite optional garnishes. Makes 6 to 8 servings. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers for a future meal. Or double the batch and freeze half.
Recipe adapted from The Spruce
Cook Time: 7 hrs