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Mt Yasur is the most accessible live volcano in the world, with eruptions every five to ten minutes. As the waves of the Indian Ocean gently lap at your feet and the beach's slowly cooling sands, the sun’s last rays of the day paint the sky with a beautiful range of colours and tones. There is a unique vibe about the Bocas del Toro archipelago in far west Panama, the true gateway to the country for overlanders from Costa Rice.
Siva Afi, or fire-knife dancing, is one of the most exhilarating aspects of Samoan festivities.
Two cheetahs standing ready and vigilant in the rays of another remarkable day at the Selous Game Reserve, the largest ‘unscathed’ game reserve in Tanzania and a UNESCO-recognised World Heritage Site.
Two 16th-century monuments of the Durbar Square of Patan on the occasion of Krishna Janmashtami (the birth anniversary of Krishna), when thousands of pilgrims and devotees pay homage at a temple. Deniz borulce is the local name of a plant that grows naturally (in springtime) on the shores of Betce in the western part of our destination. The preparation is easy: heat the olive oil and fry the onions with garlic till they get glossy.
A good place to try this dish is the Elaki Restaurant, which is housed in a historical building. Llapingachos (ya-peen-ga-chos) are patties made from mashed yuca and stuffed with a small bit of cheese and onion.
Majado is a typical breakfast food made from mashed plantains, onions and cheese, and served with a fried egg and peanut sauce. The dish is mostly baked, although many chefs and cooks in Moldova choose to prepare the dish by other means, such as frying. Another popular dish is ghivech, a Moldavian-style stew made from grilled vegetables: zucchini, carrot, parsley, onion, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. Pour a slow stream of cornmeal into the hot water while stirring vigorously to prevent lumps.
The Eastern Cape of South Africa is home to the Xhosa people, who are known for making and eating what is known as nqush. As a seasonal cuisine, Catalan cooking reflects both the availability of local produce and Catalan traditions.
We would like to introduce you to our typical vegetable dish: roasted peppers, eggplants and onions over Catalan toast. Place the vegetables directly over the fire and grill, turning until the vegetables are tender or the skins blacken. Remove the vegetables from the grill, wrap them in newspapers, slip them into a plastic bag and let them cool for about one hour. Pare away and discard all the seeds and stems, and then cut the vegetables lengthways into thin strips. When the fire has turned into hot ashes, place four slices of bread over the grill until they are toasted. Koko (porridge) is prepared from corn or millet flour and eaten with koose (fried bean balls).
Pumpkin (or zucca in Italian) and porcini mushrooms are classic late-autumn foods in all of central Italy, especially in Tuscany, where mushroom foraging is a common pastime. Once the wine has evaporated, start adding the hot broth slowly, waiting for it to evaporate before adding more. Saute the cleaned and chopped mushrooms in another saucepan with the remaining butter, along with the garlic and a pinch of salt.
When the rice is fully cooked and has absorbed all of the liquid, add the mushrooms (with the garlic removed) and stir to create a homogeneous texture. Food grown in local urban settings can reduce the negative impact of conventional agriculture on natural resources and contribute to the restoration of habitats for local flora and fauna. While it is perfectly acceptable to ask how green, how healthy, how prosperous or how popular a city is, the concept of a sustainable urban food cycle is not yet officially established on most city agendas. We began to realize that the diverse ways in which food can be grown in an urban setting can not only reduce the negative impact of conventional agriculture on natural resources, but can also contribute to the restoration of habitats for local flora and fauna, if maintained according to the principles of organic farming.
War, natural disaster, or a failed economy can cut off cities from their food supplies, leaving local communities without food or water. Transportation of food into cities accounts for some 30 percent of the emissions of most cities.
Kids who learn to grow vegetables at school will be happy to eat them and to focus less on junk food.
Neighborhood initiatives such as community gardens not only provide healthy food, but also strengthen community solidarity. In many contexts, local food production, together with local hospitality, provides a sound basis for sustainable tourism.
We have taken the time to meet and argue about the goals of our work in growing food in and around our city. Introduce new technologies that are economically and environmentally sustainable for the urban environment. The above goals are admirable, representing a concerted community effort to make the local food cycle sustainable, healthy and secure; that can surely not be faulted.
At the HABITAT III global meeting in October, 2016, one of the main focuses will be on how to provide healthy food and clean water for a rapidly increasing world population, most of which will be concentrated in urban settings. This leads me to question the wisdom of the title of this piece, even though I chose it myself. From sips of Ecuador's typical drink, canelazo, and glimpses of the country's highest volcanoes to colorful native market towns, historic haciendas and equator-straddling National Parks, the small South American country of Ecuador is a holiday adventure. In the Andes, the most frequently visited national park is Cotopaxi with its magnificent, cone-shaped volcano, the tallest active volcano in the world. Having taken my Acetazolamide pills the previous two days to avoid the possibility of altitude sickness, I flew into Quito from Miami in January with an open mind as to the sort of landscape or temperatures to expect when visiting the world's second highest capital (after La Paz, Bolivia). San Francisco de Quito (its official name) occupies a spectacular location, nestled in a narrow valley framed on both sides by the dramatic volcanic peaks of the Andes Mountains marching north and south like a spine to the country. The Spanish colonial heart of Quito is worthy of several days exploration to discover why it was selected in 1978 as the first city for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage status. It is a delight to stroll the narrow cobbled streets and investigate colorful craft shops and impressive modern art galleries, though a hat and sunblock are a necessity against the intense ultra-violet rays at this sunny high altitude. Among the 40 inexpensive or free museums in Quito's Historic Quarter, a visit to the must-see pre-Inca and Inca collections of the Banco Central Museum reveals a wealth of impressively-displayed artefacts and stories. Ecuador has no marked seasons because it straddles the Earth's equator, after which the country is named. This small country, only 0.17% of the planet's surface, holds first place in the world for number of species per area. There are 14 ethnic groups in Ecuador each of which retain their distinctive heritage, traditions, dress, language and handicrafts. Quito, Ecuador's capital, and the city of Cuenca to the south have well-preserved Spanish colonial city cores named as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites. Above right: The weathered landscape of El Cajas National Park supports 250 small lakes and ponds making it an important water source for people, birds, animals and plants in a harsh environment.
I put my exploration of Ecuador's Highlands in the expert hands of Metropolitan Touring, whose itinerary planners and guides have been helping visitors experience the essence of its home country since 1953. Backstrap weaving expert, Rafael Cotacachi, demonstrates his techniques at the Mindala Center for indigenous arts and crafts. After one more night in Quito, Florencia and I drove south along the Pan American Highway to spend a few days exploring the Avenue of the Volcanoes, a 325 kilometer-long valley between Quito and Riobamba. However, being inclined toward a significantly higher comfort level, we continued on in search of some restored Spanish hacienda properties, a legacy of centuries of colonial prosperity and elegant living.
Overlooking Cotopaxi, the meticulously-restored Hacienda San Agustin de Callo is one of the finest historic accommodations along the Avenue of the Volcanoes.
A highlight among highlights of my Highlands exploration was a visit to an indigenous llama commune, a community success story that in a few short years has dramatically benefited women and children (see photo caption below). Starting with 30 llamas a few years ago, Commune Palacio Real is a community self-reliance success story with 80 indi-genous families now owning and caring for seven llamas per family. During much of our time together, Gustavo played host around his home city of Cuenca, named by National Geographic Traveler magazine in 2008 as having one of the most beautiful historic centers in the world.

Cuenca's Hotel Santa Lucia offers a slice of mid-nineteenth century Spanish colonial lifestyle with first class rooms and exceptional dining in the central courtyard. Cuenca is also home to the Panama hat which I was surprised to learn is an Ecuadorian invention for which this southern region remains the largest producer in the world.
In Cuenca, Panama hat maker, Homero Ortega & Hijos offers exceptional educational tours, Monday to Saturday, where you may learn about the history and manufacture of the distinctive headgear whose prices range from $30 to $1,000 apiece depending on the fineness of the weave and the originality of the design for both men and women.
Finely-woven Panama hats are a specialty of the Cuenca area, worn by local natives and exported throughout the world. Our final stop an hour out of Cuenca before descending to the coast and Guayaquil was El Cajas National Park, a minimum 10,000 feet in altitude.
I found Ecuador's Highlands exhilarating and full of surprises, but the time had come to head for the humid tropical coast city of Guayaquil and then on to the Galapagos Islands by plane, 600 miles offshore.
Metropolitan Touring is an Ecuador-based tour operator that offers many set tours and customized itineraries throughout the Mainland.
Altitude sickness pills are generally taken for two days before arriving at high altitude and three days after arrival. The fresh produce industry faces many food safety challenges as the number of outbreaks associated with consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables has increased in recent years.
The JIFSAN Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Program is based on the Train-the-Trainer concept.
GAP includes the basic environmental, human health, and sanitary operational practices that are necessary for the production of safe, wholesome fruits and vegetables.
Train-the-Trainer ProgramThe GAP Train-the-Trainer Program is a five-day in-country training course for extension specialists or their equivalent and other individuals from the country with management, education, and outreach responsibilities on fresh produce food safety. A typical program includes lectures, presentations, problem analysis, farm and production facility visits and evaluation. Typical Program ContentEach time the program is offered, updates to presentations are made and new case studies of special relevance to the host country are developed if required. The 15-minute trek to the crater increases the prospects of a shortened life, but that’s why thousands make it. This church, built before the 18th-century expulsion of Dominican monks Its geographical location, is distinguished by its red decor, made with ochre. Given the breathtaking beauty of the caves, they have always been an ideal site for rites associated with the divine. Although a traditional pre-war ritual that was used to psych up Samoan warrior, it is today a demonstration of agility. Then add the marsh samphire and cook it (depending on your preference of al dente or more cooked) in a wok or saucepan with the lid on for 20-25 minutes. The head chef prepares dishes from Ottoman times using organic vegetables grown in the garden. It consists mostly of salt and cornmeal and is often served on a daily basis, including special occasions. Mamaliga is largely present only in the cultures of Moldova; however, as with any other delicious food, the recipe has spread throughout the surrounding regions and can be found in very different guises throughout the world. This is a type of samp (maize kernels) and beans made in a three-legged cast-iron pot over a fire. It is cheap and mainly eaten by people living in rural areas, although urbanites are also fond of it. It matters not if the restaurant is high quality or just a local eatery; kuru fasulye can be found. Koose is normally eaten for breakfast, although some people eat it for lunch, when it can be supplemented with mansa and bread. These two earthy ingredients then make their way into many seasonal recipes, as they are both very versatile and can be prepared in many different ways. Moreover, although we had originally entered the world of local food production through the portal of biodiversity, we soon discovered the many other ways into this arena, which many hope will take center stage in the global conversation about sustainable urbanism, to take place in Quito, Equador, in October 2016 (HABITAT III).
Nutrition experts have tested this out and as a result many of them are joining the urban food- growing coalition. This works best when bolstered with local arts, crafts, and music, and of course the local scenery and landscape. All the stakeholders agreed on the goals, while each one contributes to achieving different aspects of them. However, if sustainability is really the goal, then what we are doing barely scratches the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Before or after a trip to the country's iconically-familiar Galapagos Islands, you won't regret assigning equal time to explore the historic, nature-rich Highlands, defined and refined by the volcanic Andes Mountains. Conquistadors made it the centerpiece of artistic achievement in the New World with cathedrals, monasteries, palaces and plazas among the architectural and artistic treasures in good repair today.
Even the locals can be seen with parasols or holding newspapers over their heads during the most intense sunlight periods. These speak to thousands of years of peaceful coexistence between indigenous tribes, equality of the sexes and sophisticated living among an estimated two to three million Highlanders before the militaristic Inca marched north from Peru. However, it has four distinct climatic zones: the Andean Highlands, the coastal tropical plain, the Amazon basin and the Galapagos Islands.
Visitors may find a colorful Indian market for every day of the week, mainly in the Highlands.
There are also three UNESCO Natural Heritage Sites, two in the Galapagos and one in the Central Andes region. With my personal guide, Florencia Chavez, we drove north along the Pan American Highway through fertile farmlands and lush landscapes -- amazing to see such agricultural productivity at a 10,000 foot elevation -- to spend a morning around the indigenous market town of Otavalo, famous for its fine bright-colored textiles exported worldwide and for its bustling vegetable and fruit markets.
Mother and expert chef, Lucila, as well as father Rafael, a lifelong weaver, made our visit truly a family affair as well as an educational affair. Either side, massive stand-alone volcanoes provide amazing contrast to the green equatorial lushness of the rest of the landscape.
Commune Palacio Real welcomes visitors with an education center and traditional foods eatery, where the ladies talk about the importance of llamas to Indian culture and give guided walks (with llamas) along property trails. The third largest city in Ecuador, its climate is one of eternal spring, a Spanish colonial gem with a dynamic reputation as a cultural capital and host to both modern and traditional art festivals. There used to be 30 companies in the area producing them, now there are 12, but the fashion continues to create a demand for a dazzling array of designs for men and women worldwide and for local Indians who invented and continue to wear such hats as part of their daily attire. The 70,000-acre park has a particular appeal to hikers and trekkers especially during the dry season between August and January, as well as to those with a fascination for unusual plants and birds.
To decide whether such medication is a good idea for any individual, check this excellent information. She specializes in researching vacations throughout the world, suitable for people over 50 and for women of all ages. Prevention of microbiological and chemical contamination is a key factor in the delivery of safe fruits and vegetables to consumers, since there is no kill step or remedial treatments that effectively remove contamination once it has occurred. While controlling every source of microbial contamination during production and handling is impossible, there are many strategies that can be implemented to reduce the risk. Those regulations are detailed in the The Produce Rule, the Preventive Controls Rule and the Foreign Supplier Verification Act. The course is presented by a teaching team of US government representatives, academic, and industry faculty.
A key component of the program is the industry visits, which allow the participants to evaluate their local practices and make recommendations for improvement under the guidance of the teaching team. Following are the major topics that are included in GAP programs however the list can be modified to suit the needs of the audience.
Although the dish is typically presented without an accompanying garnish, many people also choose to add their own personal touch by adding small decorations or preparing the dish so that it comes in a certain form or shape. We have taken the best of all the different civilisations that occupied Catalonia during the past centuries (Greeks, Romans, Arabs, French etc.) and turned Catalan cuisine into a healthy, rich and wide-ranging expression of the Mediterranean diet. The special characteristic of these roasted vegetables is their smoky flavour – the Catalan word escalivar means to roast over ashes. The dried white beans are usually cooked in a light tomato sauce with onions and, frequently, green peppers. I remember the first time I had the classic tortellacci alla zucca (pumpkin-stuffed tortellini) in Ferrara, where the dish originated.

We began to seek out and to convene the many stakeholders in and around the city who deal with local food, who are involved either in growing it, supplying it, consuming it, cooking it, or educating children and adults about its importance.
The Quito meeting, twenty years on from HABITAT II, will try to serve up the magic formula for sustainable urbanism, and urban food production will be on the agenda for the first time.
It has also become apparent that food growing has the potential to generate cross-boundary collaboration as well, and Israeli and Palestinian communities are beginning to meet and learn best practices from each other. As an avid follower of the Food for Cities contributions, I am aware that what is happening in our city is no different from other parts of the world. We have to think of ways to make cities all over the world vie with each other over the question of where more local food is being produced and consumed. Not wanting to waste a moment of my time exploring Ecuador's Highlands, I was not prepared to take the risk that I might be one of those people.
From the windows of my 14th floor room at the Hilton Colon Quito and from its 17th floor breakfast room on the opposite side, snow-sprinkled mountains are countable everywhere while smaller smoothly-weathered hills within the cityscape itself speak of an ancient volcanic heritage just as eloquently. To meet some of the friendly, polite residents of Quito, stop for a snack in a pocket-sized local eatery, and introduce yourself to a glass of canelazo, a delicious hot drink of the Andes consisting of cinnamon tea, fruit juices, and alcohol made from sugar cane. The invaders expected instant absorption of earlier civilizations into their own artistic, architectural and religious practices as well as strict use of the Inca Quechua language, the most widely spoken native language to this day. There are 25,000 species of plants (all of North America has only 17,000), and 3,800 species of vertebrates including mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish. Twenty-six National Parks, Biological Reserves and Wildlife Reserves are located throughout the country.
With Elena, dressed in her traditional costume, we even toured the large edible garden behind the center where organic food crops and herbal medicine plants are given equal importance. Just 1.5 hours from the capital, Cotopaxi National Park is a vast landscape of snow-capped volcanoes, wild horse herds and bird-watching lagoons. Built on the site of an Inca palace, Migñon takes particular pride in having exposed the walls that illustrate the distinctive rock architecture of the Inca.
Another inspiring project around the town of Guamote is Inti Sisa, a non-profit educational foundation that, among other things, trains locals as homestay hosts and as guides for horseback rides, hiking and trekking in the area.
We bid farewell as friends while she handed me over to Gustavo Jimenez, a former veterinarian, now guiding with Metropolitan Touring for the past decade.
Many international people live here, and it has seven universities as well as plenty of Spanish language schools, many of which cater to the older student.
Upset, they reported that the $500 each Panama hats they had purchased with him in Cuenca had been stolen in a European airport. In common with many arid areas, this older, more eroded part of the Andes appears stark and lifeless until you pay close attention.
No need to think about those altitude sickness pills until my next high altitude adventure. Metropolitan Touring is a respected champion of the region's natural and cultural heritage, spear-heading, among many other things, recycling and coastal cleaning initiatives in the Galápagos Islands and always striving to leave a positive environmental footprint in the communities it works with.
Domestic and international industries share common concerns during production, post-harvest handling, and distribution of fresh produce.
Trainees then teach growers and handlers the concepts and best practices currently available to reduce microbial food safety risks. The Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, published by FDA in 1998, is the foundation of GAP. JIFSAN collaborates with the respective Alliances to update its programs in a timely manner so that the latest information always is made available to its training program audiences. The GAP recommendations are globally applicable and independent of location or agricultural and industrial circumstances. Many people also choose to add their own ingredients, of which butter and sour cream top the list, as well as brinza (salty sheep’s cheese).
The rice pilaf is cooked separately, but can be mixed and eaten together with the beans or served separately. The Jerusalem Bioregion Center, working through the Jerusalem Green Fund, had begun to address the issue of community-based urban and peri-urban agriculture after realizing that conventional agriculture constitutes one of the greatest threats to biodiversity, given the way it fills up extensive areas with monoculture crops and encourages the use of pesticides to destroy insects and other threats to the crops. The role of convening the stakeholders in the Food for Jerusalem forum was undertaken by the Jerusalem Bioregion Center, which works throughout the region, regardless of municipal or geopolitical boundaries. In the Global North, it is the environmentalists who are preaching urban food-growing and developing all kinds of technologies to grow food horizontally on roofs, vertically on walls, to mention only a few of our antics. This is going to be a long and difficult haul, but of course it must be noted that the process has already effectively begun, as is evidenced by the increasing number of local food-growing initiatives in and around cities today. The geographic constraints of two parallel mountain ranges have determined that Quito's population growth spurt in recent decades makes the city a long skinny transit, stretching more than 30 miles. In a massive building frenzy that spanned only 75 years of Inca occupation (1460 to 1534) throughout the Ecuadorian Highlands, they left a significant visible legacy, including wide stone highways, before their rule was extinguished by the equally-domineering Spanish. As a small child, Rafael learned to dye sheep wool different colors and to do backstrap weaving which today he demonstrates with the expertise and ease of a lifetime.
There are no two rooms alike, and there are enough activity programs to make the hacienda a home-base for several days. International volunteers are encouraged to assist with a wide variety of training programs and to help run an efficient visitor hostel with both private en suite rooms ($14) and dormitory accommodation ($10).
As I journeyed further south down the center of Ecuador, I quickly discovered that Gustavo is on fire with enthusiasm for his part of Ecuador with full and entertaining knowledge of its history and culture. Only because international workers associated with the building of the Panama Canal bought hats from Ecuadorians who brought them to Panama for sale.
An integrated approach is required for training workers, who must understand their role in reducing food-borne illness.
The use of these practices, when widely disseminated and implemented, improves the safety of fresh produce being exported to the US as well as that consumed in the host country. It covers agricultural and post-harvest water uses, manure and bio-solids, worker health and hygiene, field and facility sanitation, transportation, and traceback. Conventional agriculture poses a threat to consumer health, since a lot of the pesticides that farmers apply are absorbed into the crops and then constitute part of the meals we eat.
In the Global South, dire poverty, and lack of fresh water mean that local food-growing could be the difference between surviving and starving. It is now up to all of us to help the process to accelerate and to prove the efficacy of a thriving local food cycle in strengthening urban resilience.
Metropolitan Touring can arrange for a variety of hacienda stays, each one distinctive and family-owned. Founded by a Belgian teacher in the 1990s, Inti Sisa serves 155 small communities, 85% of which are indigenous.
We spent some hours exploring the massive archaeological site of Ingapirca, the most northerly fortress and religious center remaining from Inca times.
An electronic copy of the PowerPoint presentations is provided to each of the course participants which they may modify to suit their specific training needs. Genetic engineering of crops is another troubling aspect of large-scale conventional agriculture. In fact, both are right, since the environmentalists are aware of the impact of the global food market on emissions, whereas people in survival mode do what they must.
Standing atop this mountaintop site with sweeping views of valleys below, Ingapirca (meaning Wall of the Inca) clearly illustrates the sheer power of this short-lived occupation force, complete with stone highways to quickly dispatch orders and soldiers to strategic points in the northern empire. Naturally the answer was Panama, and the name stuck even though Panama has never produced them. Local people usually have their hats cleaned, re-bleached and re-blocked twice a year at a cost of $12.50 each time.
The course includes a module on Effective Training to assist in developing the best program to fit available teaching resources, audience needs and cultural and political circumstances. While it is true that the jury is still out on genetic engineering, it is undoubtedly not proven to be beneficial.
Still, these are the systems that currently provide the enormous amount of food needed to feed the world.

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