Ratatouille Time and CNG

By Hippo (a hippopotamus) and Al (a bird)

“I’ve got eggplant coming out of my ears!” I exclaimed.

“That’s not saying much,” replied Al. “Your ears are tiny.”

Well, we bought a lot of eggplant (It’s ratatouille time) and other things, too. Several humans wondered how we would eat so much food.

Truth is, a hippo needs about 80 pounds of food per day, so what we picked up on Saturday morning is a mere snack. Sometimes hippos can’t get enough food. We can last a few weeks by storing food in our bellies, but we take it when it’s available. It is available now.

We also learned about “Certified Naturally Grown (CNG).” It’s a farm certification something like organic only better. Like organic, there are no GMOs or synthetic chemicals, but CNG is for community farms selling in community markets. If you buy organic food from a supermarket, you are, almost for sure, getting food that has been grown in a huge corporate conglomerate and shipped cross country or even across the ocean. No so with CNG.

Vintage Prairie Farm is one such farm at the Brookfield Farmers Market.

“They have lots of eggplant for your ratatouille, Hippo,” said Al. “And here’s what it says on their website: ‘The Farm is operated by the principles of biodiversity, ecological balance, compost fertilization, all-natural pest control, sustainability, and healthy soil life.’ Also, if you visit Chicago, you might also find their food on menus in restaurants – RPM Seafood for one.

And then we found out that Happy Day Farmhaus at Tosa Farmers Market – we told you about their lovely flowers and other things last week – they are also certified CNG. If you go to the CNG website, you can find out all sorts of things about farms – how many acres are used, what is grown, if there is any “conventional” acreage, whether they till and use compost and how deeply they compost, and anything else a rational hippo would care to know. Al and I discovered that we have also been shopping at two other CNG farms – Morning Star Family Farm (Tosa Farmers Market) and LarryVille Gardens (Milwaukee Winter Market, Whitefish Bay and Fox Point farmers markets, plus The Source, a local farm store collective.

“You can find the CNG farms and beekeepers near you,” said Al, “on the website.”

And now, well, we’re off to make our ratatouille.