Taste the Waste
November 7, 2010, 1:01 pm
Filed under: 5/5, Bread, Food, Production, Recycling | Tags: , , , , ,

We throw away 50 % of the food that is produced. Yes, fifty percent! 500.000 tons of bread is thrown away yearly in Germany. Since bread has the same heating value as wood, we could spare one nuclear power plant if industry would make use of that fact. The food, that is thrown away in Europe, would be enough to feed the world’s starving population not only once, no, twice! For the production of the ‘trash bread’, an area of 200.000 hectar would be needed and as much greenhouse gases blown in the atmosphere as 300.000 cars would emit. A reduction of the trash to only half of its amount would mean a 10 % reduction of greenhouse gases – as if every second car would be erased from our streets. (Source: http://tastethewaste.com/media/file/ARD_Frisch_auf_den_Muell_PM.pdf)

Valentin Thurn’s recent documentary ‘Frisch auf den Müll- Die globale Lebensmittelverschwendung’ was shown Oct. 20 th 2010 on the German public TV channel Das Erste (at 11:30 pm – what kind of screening time is that for such a relevant interesting topic??). Anyway, thanks to the internet and livestreaming, you can watch the video in three parts on Youtube, unfortunately, it is only in German, but they are also going to screen English versions under the title ‘Taste the Waste’ internationally, if I understood right.

The movie has its own website in English and German, where you can find articles and more information and can also take action by spreading the word and uploading own articles and experiences.


October 29, 2010, 7:26 am
Filed under: Design, Food, Production, Theories | Tags: , , , , , ,

Fuji Eco Park Village, Japan, by Cecilia Macaulay

Last night, I attended a lecture about Permaculture at the Hub Helsinki. My mind is blasted. Jerome Osentowski, director of the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute, was speaker of the night. It got me really interested in learning more about Permaculture, which is a whole philosophy including social, economical, technological, cultural, educational, political and spiritual aspects. Basically, it is a concept about a self-sustained life, independent from governments and states, in accord with nature. The term comes from the two words ‘permanent’ and ‘agriculture’, and “aims to design human settlements and agricultural systems that mimic nature”, Osentowski presented in his lecture. Three basic ethics lead Permaculture: care for the earth, care for the people, and sharing the surplus. From the website www.permacultureprinciples.com, you can find very nice and clear descriptions of the principles, presented in the permaculture flower diagram, which are explained more nearly when clicking on them. Those Ecovillages are like small Utopian realities with a holistic philosophy, that I agree with in many aspects. I would only be careful with a too large body of rules and regulations that need to be followed.

In the discussion after the lecture, the question was raised whether is was possible to use only vegan fertilizers, forgoing animal manures, since Osentowski is making use of the rabbits’ and chicken’s dirt for the plants. I was wondering what could be wrong with using animal excrement, and found an answer of sorts in the internet: Using animal manures would support the meat and dairy industries. But if one raises the animals himself and does not make use of any other products but their dirt? Food philosophy at its best, source of discussion and thoughts; I am seriously troubled.

Here an interesting article about Masanobu Fukuoka’s, a Japanese farmer, philosophy, whose agricultural approach is recommended on the Permaculture website. Another interesting aspect are the alternative economic models proposed and encouraged, such as volunteer work, trading without money, and concepts such as WWOOFing (which I plan on doing next year – I hope to find answers to all my questions!).

No garden, no balcony, no terrace? Start windowfarming!

Just came back from the Hub which is hosting a three-day-workshop about windowfarming, a vertical growing-system for growing greens in your own urban dwelling. The project was started by artists Britta Riley and Rebecca Bray in February, 2009 through an artist’s residency in New York. The idea came out of the simple will to grow own vegetables in Britta’s Brooklyn flat, which does not, like most urban housing, have access to dirt. Since then, it has found an incredible fast-growing worldwide acclaim. The internet and social media has allowed the project to be developped further by all sorts of people with different backgrounds around the globe, building the system themselves and sharing their experiences on the open source community blog of the project, http://our.windowfarms.org/. And here the link to the “official” website of the project.

Detail of a bottle with some beautiful greens

Windowfarms installation in New York

The system has also been installed in Finland in a bigger scale (81 bottles) during the Pixelache festival 2010 by Mikko Laajola, Andrew Paterson and Niko Punin with the help of many volunteers in Helsinki’s contemporary art museum Kiasma. One third of the materials went to the Hub Helsinki, so that the windowfarming could be continued in a semi-public location in the city.

Here is a link to the Facebook-event, taking place tomorrow and the day after (24./24.08.2010, starting from 6 pm-8 pm). It is not too late to participate yet! Tomorrow, the planning and material retrievement will be discussed and adjusted to Finnish conditions, and on Wednesday, we will build a windowfarm to the Hub! This project is a beautiful example of how open source, collaboration, participatory design, social media, and a simple and great idea can make the world a better place.

I am really thrilled about this, since I am famous for my rather black thumb, but still always wanted to grow something at home. Never really had the possibility because of the lack of a garden or a balcony. In Finnish conditions, this system even gives the possibility to grow food all year through, and, by adding a light system like the Kiasma-crew did, even throughout the dark Finnish winter. Anxious to learn more by trying it out!

Cob oven workshop scheduled!

Good news to all bread, pizza, and oven enthusiasts! Something similar to what you can see on this picture might soon be standing in the middle of Helsinki!

The cob oven-building workshop is finally scheduled and will take place during the first week of August, divided into two phases: the design/ planning phase, and the actual building phase. In between, we will organize and retrieve the materials needed together.
The design phase will be a relaxed meeting at the Hub in the city centre on Wednesday, 4th of August, at 5 pm. Feel free to bring any info ma…terial, photos or stories on oven building with you! We will most probably be joined by some professional oven builders who will share their knowledge, all other information can be retrieved from the Internet. You can bring your own laptop if at hand, otherwise, there are some computers at the Hub we may use. We plan to get all building materials for free, e.g. sand and bricks from construction sites, and clay from nature in the Helsinki area.

The building phase will take place on the weekend of the same week, 7th and 8th of August, at the container square in Kalasatama, starting from 1 pm until later at night. Sunday night, we will celebrate the successful building with drinks and grilling. At the same time, we can start to plan events that involve the use of the oven. Because it needs to dry out for about 2 weeks, we cannot inaugurate it immediately, but keep your second weekend after the building free!

There is no limit of participants for the planning workshop, so welcome to the Hub! To sign up for the building part, please send an email to: saviuunihelsinkiin@gmail.com, even if you registered for it on Public School. At the building site there can be max. 10 participants at the same time.

Dates & places:

1) Planning workshop: 04.08.2010, 5 pm @ Hub Helsinki, Aleksanterinkatu 16-18, 00320 Helsinki
2) Building workshop: 07.+ 08.08.2010, 1 pm – open end @ Kalasatama’s Konttiaukio/ Container square, 00580 Helsinki

Things to bring along:

– water!
– working clothes
– sun protection (sun lotion/hat/etc.)
– energy and enthusiasm :)

Sign up quickly so you can participate! If the workshop is already full, you are still welcome to join us, to watch, discuss, take pictures, film, or just hang out! Any help or interest is welcome!

Contact & registration:


Katharina, Salla & Tanja
Public School Helsinki & Hub Helsinki

Baking workshop @ Avikainen
June 9, 2010, 6:51 pm
Filed under: Bread, Food, Helsinki, Making of, Production, Workshop | Tags: , , , , , ,

Today, the first workshop of the “5” event series took place, at Avikainen bakery in Kallio, Helsinki. The small family bakery produces daily fresh bread since 1955. The sourdough root they are using now is about 50 years old! My friends and fellow students Iina from Finland, Valeria from Russia, Jens and Jakob from Germany, and David and Giovanna from Mexico watched and kneaded the rye sourdough that Jenni Avikainen had already prepared for us. We made about a dozen of reikäleipä, ten of those are hanging now on my curtain pole to dry and wait to be used in one of the upcoming events. Reikäleipä used to be stored like that over the winter. Its taste gets stronger and stronger with time, and its consistency harder and harder to chew on. I am exited to try it!

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A big thanks again to Jenni and her mum, Jani, the half-German-half-Finnish who used to work in the bakery and told interesting stories, and the baking students for your participation and interest!

Finnish bread series 1): Ruislimppu
June 3, 2010, 12:30 pm
Filed under: Bread, Good to know, Production, Recipes | Tags: , , ,

As promised, here comes the first recipe for a sourdough bread. Chronologically, I should maybe start with a recipe for the first unleavened flat bread in Finland, rieska, but I have not found a satisfying recipe yet (or my methods were completely wrong, but they were quite hard). And since I have already posted a recipe for the starter, you might find a use for it now.

First, the starter needs to be activated, to be ready for baking. There are three steps with falling temperatures – 1.) 6-8 hrs, 26-28 °C, e.g. bathroom, 2.) 6-8 hrs, 22-26 °C, e.g. living room, 3.) 3-4 hrs, 18-22°C, e.g. hallway. I usually just feed the dough once or twice and let it go for a few hours. Still, I got good results. A sourdough is a bit like a pet, you really have to take care of it, as good as you can. It should smell flourlike and sour, and produce bubbles, then it is ready for baking.


500 g sourdough starter

500 g rye flour

1 tablespoon salt

250 ml warm water

Turn on the oven on 50°C. Mix all ingredients. It will be sticky! If needed, add more water or flour. It depends on the consistency of the sourdough starter how the dough behaves. Knead the dough a little, not too much, since rye flour does not contain a lot of gluten that would need to be activated. Form a loaf in a shape you like, spray water on the surface, and put it in the warm oven. Turn off the oven after 20 min., but let the light burn. Let the bread rest for about 2-3 hrs.  Wet the surface every now and then. When the bread grew remarkably and the surface breaks open, it can be taken out. Put the oven on maximum temperature (mostly 250°C) and bake the bread for about 60-70 min. After 10 min., lower the heat to about 220°, after 20 more to about 200°. When bread was baked in old ovens, heat would naturally drop down. Spray the surface a last time with water 20 min. before taking it out to get a nice crust. The bread is ready when it produces a hollow sound when you knock on its bottom side. Wrap it in a clean kitchen towel and let it cool down for at least 3-4 hrs. It will taste even better the next day!

Sources: http://www.der-sauerteig.com/; Suomen Maakunta Leivät, J. Kolmonen (1986, Patakolmonen Ky, Helsinki); and some of my own experience :)

Next week, there will be a short baking workshop in the only remaining traditional family bakery of Helsinki. I might do some corrections after! ;)

Guide to free farming

Many people live in cities. We all have to eat. Most of the time, we do not meet the animals and plants that we consume, they come all neatly packed from the supermarket. If we only knew what was edible, we could easily find many foodstuffs from the urban environment or on fieldtrips in the many forests in and around the city.

French design studio 5.5 designers proposed a quite funny project, ‘the guide to free farming’. The research project shows radical solutions to produce food, energy and resources. It was presented in the form of a book that aimed to restore a close relation between consumers and the natural environment, creating
a shorter link to guide people who live in cities to take on the role of farmers in their urban environment. It is about farming in the city and encourages readers to discover the unsuspecting resources hidden in our towns. The book includes recipes like street flower salad and grilled rat, along with instruction guides to, for instance, plucking a pigeon or a starling just as we once plucked chickens, tips for collecting dandelion greens, snails and honey, as well as guides to mushroom picking and uses for expired food is also included. (Source: http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/8/view/8369/55-designers-guide-to-free-farming-project.html)

In Helsinki, the Herbologies/Foraging Networks explore “the cultural traditions and knowledge of herbs, edible & medicinal plants, within the contemporary context of online networks, open information-sharing”. There will be a midsummer expedition to rural Kurzeme, Western Latvia. The SERDE Interdisciplinary Art Group will lead fieldwork to learn about the cultural heritage of Balts using wild plants, and create documents for the younger ‘digital native’ generation. Check out more here.

Sourdough bread
May 20, 2010, 5:32 pm
Filed under: Bread, Good to know, Production, Recipes | Tags: , , ,

Not many people bake bread themselves or have ever tried doing it before. Bread is very easy to make though, and once you start, you can get quite obsessed with it (I am!). To leaven the bread, you can either use yeast or a sourdough starter – I prefer the sourdough, since it gives the bread a special taste and a juicier crumb. If you want to use rye flour (which is quite common for Finnish bread, the good old “ruisleipä”), yeast is not even suitable for making the dough rise, because rye does not contain enough gluten. Plus, most people usually already have everything you need to start a sourdough in their cupboard, so you do not even depend on open shops to buy yeast. The only two ingredients are: water & flour. Nothing else.

This is how it goes:

Mix a handful of flour (rye, spelt, or wheat, it does not need to be an exact amount) with as much handwarm water to achieve a texture similar to that of pancake or waffle dough. Cover the dough with a dishtowel and let it rest at a warm place (e.g. by a radiator with a plate underneath). Every 12 hours, whip the dough thorougly and put it back where it was. Now, you need to feed the dough for 4-5 days in a row; once a day, add a handful of new flour and warm water to mixture. With time, the dough will start to throw bubbles and smell sour, but don’t be afraid, that is a very good sign! Your very own individual sourdough is ready to use!

— a recipe for your first sourdough bread is coming soon! Stay tuned!

Source: http://www.der-sauerteig.com/ (Sorry, in German only)

Something is growing…
May 19, 2010, 6:03 am
Filed under: Food, Production | Tags: ,