Portal:Food and agriculture

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The Food and agriculture Portal

Man working in a rice field.
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism and assimilated by the organism's cells in an effort to produce energy, maintain life, and/or stimulate growth. Historically, people secured food through two methods: hunting and gathering, and agriculture.

Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the development of civilization. In the developed world, industrial agriculture based on large-scale monoculture has become the dominant system of modern farming, although there is growing support for sustainable agriculture (e.g. permaculture or organic agriculture).

Sustainable agriculture is the practice of farming using principles of ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It has been defined as "an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will last over the long term: satisfy human food and fiber needs; make the most efficient use of non-renewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls; sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.”

Related portal: Permaculture
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Home made jelly on the window sill.
When I first thought of making jelly, I didn't realize that it was a definite challenge and art. When I visited with Eppel Beard, she made it look so easy. She gave no hint that it might be hard to make a perfect clear jelly with the colors vivid and beautiful that when taken from the jar would hold its shape. But when I tried to make jelly on my own for the first time, I chose a fruit low in pectin, put too much sugar in it and didn't cook it long enough. It turned out like syrup. I tried again and cooked it too long. When it hardened it made a very good candy. Soon I found my mistakes and tried again and it turned out all right.

Like most people, I had thought that it wouldn't be very hard to make jelly because I reasoned, all I'd have to do was follow the recipe on the box of pectin. But Eppel said the real challenge is to make jelly like women did before the age of packaged products and commercial pectin, when they depended on the natural pectin and acid in the fruit.

Some fruits have enough pectin and acid to jell naturally, while others don't. Also as the fruit ripens it loses its pectin and acid. A good method to assure success is to mix unripened fruit which has lots of natural pectin for jelling with ripe fruit for the color and flavor. Some good combinations are crab apple with grape, currant with raspberry, gooseberry with raspberry, tart apple with plum and tart apple with quince.

It is best to limit the amount of jelly made at one time, using not more than six quarts of berries or eight pounds of fruit like apples or grapes. Two pounds of fruit, when cooked, make about one pint of juice and when the sugar is added, it yields about one and one-half pints of jelly.

Recent winners of the $25,000 Economic Fuel award. Wild Chick Farm pecks ahead on local sustainable chicken raising.
Recent winners of the $25,000 Economic Fuel award. Wild Chick Farm pecks ahead on local sustainable chicken raising. Read more or check our book
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