Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Grow yer own dang food
(part 1)

January 30, 2006

Image of sprouting bread courtesy of Cygalle Shapiro

Back in the eighties, as a student at the University California at Santa Cruz, I lived in a vegetarian commune with a bunch of hippies. As hippies, we produced our own sprouts, yoghurt and salsa fresca for the entire commune, approximately thirty people. I had all but forgotten this part of my life until recently, when my Food Atelier students at the Design Academy Eindhoven started working on ways to grow their own food. The work of two enthusiastic students got my wings flapping enough for me to dare revisit my past. These are the images from the first trials, theirs and mine.

After initial attempts at growing mung sprouts in bread (see above), Cygalle Shapiro is successfully growing a ready-made ’salad on salad’.

Images courtesy Cygalle Shapiro

images top to bottom: sprouts in bread, salad on salad, sprouting experiments courtesy of Cygalle Shapiro, copyright Cygalle Shapiro 2005 - 2006. Contact culiblog for further information.

Liora Rosin is growing sprouts in labneh, a fresh yoghurt cheese, commonly made at home. For Rosin it is important that the seeds are grown within the labneh in order to transmit the flavour of the sprouted seed into the delicately tangy cheese.

images top to bottom: home sprouting installation, soaking, lactic fermentation sill; courtesy of Liora Rosin, copyright Liora Rosin 2005 - 2006

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all had a designated windowsill for lactic fermentation?

Having resolved to practice what I preach in 2006, I am also working on growing sprouts on labneh and find that the experiments coördinate nicely with my developing a good recipe for yoghurt ravioli.

This is a cute disaster of basil seeds rotting into overly dry labneh. Seeds that become gelatinous when they are moistened (e.g., basil, buckwheat, watercress) are poor candidates for immediate immersion on or in the yoghurt medium.

images top to bottom: sprout collection 2x, basil on labneh, playing with mistakes, pretending sampler, curd seed brittle; Debra Solomon

The results of an unsuccessful attempt at growing woody spice seeds (dill, coriander, cumin, kummel) in yoghurt medium with the intention of flavouring the labneh were not especially delicious, although visually exciting. The linen and the seeds texture the labneh beautifully and I look forward to spin a few successful recipes from these experiments soon.

Here are other urban gardening solutions, mostly rooftop gardening related:

technorati tags: , , , , , food-related design, agricultural diversification

debra at 11:52 | | post to


  1. I loved that ready made salad!

    Comment by Isil — January 30, 2006 @ 14:37

  2. Isn’t it cool, Cygalle really made it beautiful!

    Comment by Debra Solomon — January 30, 2006 @ 14:49

  3. I love it! Your very own edible chia pet.

    Comment by Elise — January 30, 2006 @ 19:34

  4. Wonderful sequence! Next chapter: the lunch growing in an old pair of gardening socks I found underneath your bed following your last visit. (Just kidding: there’s not nearly enough early spring growth to make a whole meal).

    Comment by john thackara — January 31, 2006 @ 8:27

  5. I miss my socks…

    Comment by Debra — February 1, 2006 @ 7:05

  6. Food, hobby, and design. This is awesome.

    Comment by Matt — February 1, 2006 @ 16:48

  7. This is a fascinating post.Makes me want to start experimenting with growing and sprouting things too.
    I love the tales of gardening on your plot and observations about gender and crops/ gender and chefs.

    Comment by deccanheffalump — February 4, 2006 @ 13:06

  8. Thank you very much. I’m enjoying your blog very much right now.

    Comment by Debra — February 5, 2006 @ 23:27

  9. Hi, Debra,
    I think that was about 17 hippies thereabouts. That was a long time ago. Let me help you remember, Heliotrope, orangey red, and teal wall.

    bye now.

    Comment by Jimmy — November 4, 2007 @ 10:35

  10. I could and do look at your site daily and never get tired.

    Comment by jeff Pool — February 9, 2010 @ 17:56

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