Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Forgotten Fruits: Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana)

Ah, the mangosteen, the sweet sweet mangosteen (no relation to the mango). The Queen of fruits. This fruit is described as sweet and tangy, citrusy with peach flavor and texture. I've had it (canned), it's pretty delicious and definitely different. You can obtain canned mangosteen at many asian supermarkets nearby. It may even be possible to find fresh mangosteen in some asian markets but i've never seen it. In New York fresh fruits have gone for $45 a pound in some produce stores. It is very rare to find fresh mangosteen. So if you can ever get your hands on it, try it!.

Until recently it was completely unavailable in the States. It is a very tropical fruit and there were many restrictions on fruit imports from southeast asia where the mangosteen is native to. In 2006 Puerto Rico began sending mangosteen to some specialty food places in the US and in 2007 the ban on fruits without special preparation was removed allowing mangosteen and all its forms to be allowed into the states.

There is a legend that says that Queen Victoria had offered a reward to anyone that could bring the fruit back to her as the fruit itself had many legends behind it.

Because it is ultra tropical, it is nearly impossible to grow in the states. In it's native home, the tree can grow from 25 to 80 feet tall. What can be done though is to grow it in a greenhouse in Southern California. The mangosteen will surely die if it even spends a single night anywhere below 40 degrees F. Here in Pomona it's common to see nights down in the 30's in the winter. But with a green house some good design using passive radiant heating techniques could probably solve this problem.

There are also other types of mangosteen. The most popular is the purple mangosteen but there is also the lemon mangosteen, which is more citrusy in flavor and almost looks like a lemon (it's yellow) and also the button mangosteen. The lemon mangosteen is from South America instead of from asia and is described as a lemony cotton candy. The button mangosteen is described as having an almost tangerine like flavor. There are actually more types of mangosteens but it's hard to find much information on them. These two mangosteens can survive in temperatures down to 35 degrees, so i'll grow them in containers and at nights i'll bring them inside in the winter.

I have very young plants of both the lemon mangosteen and button mangosteen. I'm being very careful with these two as I've already accidently killed my jackfruit due to over watering. The button mangosteen is doing well, but the lemon mangosteen is going much slower, and I accidently burned part of one leaf. I'll need to make a small greenhouse out of the plastic bottles i've been collecting.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Building Architecture and how it helps us understand who is running things.

Neuschwanstein's castle
Originally uploaded by ingirogiro
Food for thought (something I saw on the discovery channel a few years back):

In the western world, during the Medieval era (and in some places into the modern era like Germany), the largest buildings were castles. The people who built these castles were kings who were the ultimate rulers.

In the late Middle ages and into the early Modern Era, in many places such as Spain and Italy, the largest buildings were religious buildings (churches) in these places and at these times the greatest rulers of the land were religious leaders. Think Spanish Inquisition, The Pope and the history of the Church of England.

Now, look around, and see what the largest buildings are, they are owned by large corporations. Essentially these are the people in charge. "Corporation" tends to carry a negative connotation, but not all corporations are bad, like not all kings are bad and not all religious figures are bad.

I bet a thousand years ago, the concept of the corporation was completely inconceivable. I don't think anyone had written about these powerful businesses before they had existed. Authors like Jules Verne probably had no idea.

So I wonder what would be the next type of big shots of the world.

Just thought it was something interesting to share.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Downtown to Fill Emptry Tree Wells: Fruit Street Trees a Possibility?

Street oranges
Originally uploaded by Phil Jackman
This image is of orange trees lining the streets of Seville, Spain.
In other parts of the world Fruit trees lining streets is a common thing. It is also beginning to gain some movement in Berkeley and apparently Boston.

There are also sites like fallenfruit.org that maps fruit trees that hang over private properties into public space which make the fruits available for the public. There is a map for our neighbor Claremont on this site as well.

In the states, this public urban foraging is gaining some footage. It allows people within the community the opportunity to harvest locally grown public food which helps the environment in many ways including the reduction of fuel for shipping.

Let's not forget what Pomona means and the historical relevance of the city. Pomona is the Goddess of Fruit, Pomona was once a great agricultural town and I believe that bringing some of that history back would be great for the city. Ontario has been planting small grape orchards in corporate parks because of the history of Ontario. It helps to distinguish Ontario from other parts of the country and give it some character based on its history. It can be seen along Haven in North Ontario on the West side of the street. There are even some residential complexes with some grape orchards in the area. I think it makes sense for Pomona to bring some of the history back along with the Fox theater and allow Pomona to develop its own character. It'll also put is one step ahead of all the other cities of Los Angeles.

Even in the historic district there are some community members that have taken the initiative to plant some fruiting trees along the street, and their fruit is always harvested by passersby, it never goes to waste and almost never hits the ground.

According to MetroPomona, on July 9th. There is going to be a meeting with the Vehicle Parking District to discuss the three-way partnership developed with the VPD, Public Works Department and the DPOA, to fill the emptry tree wells in the Downtown Area.

With a Farmers market in Downtown, plenty of people living in Downtown (who do not have yards to grow their own food in) and this evolving shift in Urban Planning to provide more publicly available food. It only makes sense for Pomona to consider planting some Street Fruit Trees.

Some other sites that promote Urban Foraging are

Here is also a June 9th 2009 article published by the New York Times about Urban Foraging.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Finals week.

Nini in Her Study
Originally uploaded by knit_purr
Here I am studying (just kidding, we all know I'm semi-anonymous). We all also know what finals week means. It means my blog is down for the week. I'll be back once it's over. I always come back.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Forgotten Fruits: Goji Berry (Wolfberry)

This berry isn't totally forgotten, it has recently found a new following in health circles, but it is still unavailable as a fresh fruit. It is sometimes labeled as the Himalayan or Nepal Goji Berry to some exoticism to the berry but it is most likely actually just from China, like Citrus.

The botanical name is Lycium barbarum. As you can see, the "Lycium" is indicative of the name "Wolfberry" However it is probably a misunderstanding. (Lycos is latin for wolf but lycii and goji are Chinese terms)

It's gain in popularity is due to its high level of antioxidants. It is labeled as a superfruit like the acai berry (but note that oranges and strawberries are also "superfruits"). They are available in stores such as whole foods and asian markets as dried fruits. They have consistencies like that of raisins. Here in the States people will eat them by themselves or mixed in foods akin to foods with raisins or dried cranberries. Most Goji berries are grown in the Ningxia Hui region of north central China. In August there are Goji berry festivals that coincide with the harvesting of the fruits.

In China they are typically cooked usually in soups. In fact Lisa often makes soup with Goji Berries as an ingredient. These soups are generally used as tonics and are supposed to make you healthier.

They aren't readily available fresh because they are not shipped well. Only in regions where they are grown can one find them fresh at a store or farmer's market.

You can actually find the plants for sale. I recently purchased one and I will probably get fruits some time next year. The plants are used for erosion control in semiarid regions of China and are also being used to reverse the effects of desertification.

When I get my first harvest of Goji Berries I would be more than happy to do some trading with my fellow victory gardeners.

Oh, and the first time I had ever heard of the term Goji berries was from the first video made of the fellow below. (this is the second video made of him but you can see some of the exotification of the fruit however false it may be.) I had always known them as Wolfberries before.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pomona's Old Pacific Electric Rail Lines

Believe it or not, there used to be a fairly extensive network of rail lines in Southern California. The removal of all the streetcars is known as the "Great American Streetcar Scandal" also the "General Motors Streetcar Conspiracy" in which the streetcar systems were replaced with buses illegally by General Motors, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California, Phillips Petroleum, Mack and the Federal Engineering Corporation. Those gave rise to the Car Culture of the U.S.

It is often said that driving is a privilege, but in southern California it seems like driving is a necessity, (especially considering there are exemptions made for people with revoked licenses to be able to drive to and from work, and the lack of an efficient mass transit system in places like Orange County).

It is unclear if Pomona's rail system suffered from the same fate or if it was a victim of the Great Depression.

However, the Pacific Electric lines that ran through the city were indeed some of the "World's Wonderland Lines" as the slogan for PE goes.

The first rails in the city were put in only twelve years after the city was founded in 1875. There were Five lines in the early lines Four of which were HORSE DRAWN and the last one was a small scale steam engine.

By 1907 Pacific Electric had purchased all the lines and began installing 8 more lines up through 1910:
Garey from 4th to walnut,
Walnut St. to Park
West Holt
East Holt
West Second
South Garey and E. 5th
South Gary and Franklin
Ganesha Park

By 1924 after WWI, PE applied to abandon the lines and the rails were removed in 1925.

Could you imagine what it'd be like if we had rails in Pomona today? It's unlikely to ever happen. I always hear that cost is a big issue. But is it really?

I have a personal agenda againt cars which I don't expect everyone else to have. But I'm telling you life would be so much easier if one didn't have to care for an automobile that needs constant upkeep. Plus if we had a rail system and you car broke down, you wouldn't have to rent a car.

I always wonder what it would have been like to live back in that time and to be riding electric rail street cars around town. Probably pretty awesome.

for more info on Pomona Rails click Here