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Courtney Rubin (2 posts)
As the only Dutch-certified journeyman miller in America, the only woman member of the Netherlands' professional corn millers guild, and the sole miller of a 251-year-old Dutch windmill in Holland, Michigan, Alisa Crawford is a singular presence in her field. Crawford uses the mill to grind flour, which involves scrambling up the windmill's staircase with 50-pound bags of wheat, which is fed into the mill to be processed.
"I don't need a gym membership," she says. "This work uses all my strength." It also dovetails with her love of historic craft, which was first ignited during a trip to Colonial Williamsburg at age 13. Enchanted by the visit, Crawford landed a job in her native Michigan at a historical reenactment village, which used a water-powered mill to produce flour. At 17 she apprenticed with the miller; by 19 she was running the mill herself.
In 2006 Crawford began more in-depth study: Enlisting a local Dutch professor to teach her the language, she made five trips to the Netherlands to learn the art of Dutch milling—and in the years since, Crawford's connection to that specialized corner of the past has only deepened. As she says, "History is so much more interesting when you live it."
In the past few decades, overfishing—coupled with climate change and pollution—has crushed our oceans' delicate ecosystems. In 2010 the United Nations estimated that 85 percent of the world's fish were overexploited or being fished at maximum levels. Which raises the question: What's a sushi lover to do?
She could start by heading to Portland, Oregon, where Kristofor Lofgren, 30, is pioneering a guilt-free way to indulge in omega-3s. At Lofgren's acclaimed restaurant, Bamboo Sushi, you won't find overfished sushi-roll staples like bluefin tuna or unagi—but you might find sustainably caught Tasmanian ocean trout, horse mackerel, or even cod sperm. An inventive "Bamboo charcuterie plate" features "blood sausage" made from local Pacific albacore tuna. Lofgren's meticulous sourcing from only healthy populations has earned his restaurant the first Marine Stewardship Council certification in the United States.
In his view, sustainability is more than a gimmick."Fish caught with care, in a more artisanal fashion"—e.g., using low-tech traditional methods like rods or a small net—"taste better," he says. "In a massive net, all the fish are struggling and stressed-out," conditions that raise the fishes' cortisol levels, which can make their meat tougher. Lofgren's hope is to lure customers with his sushi, then hook them through education. To that end, he's offering a whole shark on the menu—for adoption (the price: a $4,000 minimum donation to the University of Miami's marine conservation program, after which the restaurant will fly you to Florida to personally tag your toothy pet). "Being sustainable doesn't just mean sticking to seafood that's caught ethically and not overfished," Lofgren says. "Our goal is to turn our customers into ambassadors."