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Lunar New Year has begun, and we have officially entered the Year of the Ox (and made a much-needed exit from the Year of the Rat).
Lunar New Year is a significant holiday in many cultures across Asia — such as in China, Vietnam, South Korea, and Malaysia — and marks the first new moon of the lunar calendar. The celebration lasts up to 16 days with food, festivities, family, and fortune at the center of it all.
In-person festivities will be limited this year, but that won’t stop us from enjoying some food to ring in the new year. Here are three Intentionalist suggestions on where you should eat to celebrate the Year of the Ox:
I grew up making dumplings with my family — my mother preparing pork, shrimp, tofu, egg, and spinach, all seasoned by soy sauce and sugar, and enlisting my little brother and I to help wrap while my father was stationed by the stove as “the boiler,” watching to make sure the pot had boiled three times.
As a very anxious and socially awkward young person, I often felt like I didn’t belong anywhere — not in school and not in my family. Concentrating on pressing the dumpling skin together over the filling, I got to a humming place where my body and mind worked in concert with each other, each finger moving surely into the next motion.
As a young adult living far from biological family, the thing I missed the most was the family tradition of making food together. I experimented with creating my own traditions for birthdays and other holidays with makeshift kin. I started to host an annual dumpling-making party around my birthday, close to the Lunar New Year. A way to take stock of the community I had gathered or maintained over the past year. An invitation to build in the new year by inviting newer friends to make food with me.
I was born in 1991 on the first day of Lunar New Year in Nagoya, Japan to a Chinese mother and a white American father. My brother, my dad, and I moved to the States when I was 5 and my mom followed a couple years later. Throughout elementary school, we would go back to China to stay with my mom’s family every other summer. We’d spend the whole school break there, almost three months at a time, and come back just in time for school to start in the fall. One year in early elementary school, we landed on the first official day of school, so I started school a day late. The, at the time, 14-hour time difference meant that I was so sleepy that first day back that I fell asleep during class. I’m grateful that my teacher was understanding.
Vietnam is the world’s second largest coffee-producing country, a fact largely unknown to most consumers, though that is changing for those who visit Hello Em Viet Coffee & Roastery. Hello Em is Seattle’s first Vietnamese coffee roastery. Co-owners Yenvy Pham and Nghia Bui carefully oversee every part of the process from sourcing and importing beans from Kon Tum and Buôn Ma Thuột to roasting in house on a Neuhaus Neotec air roaster. The roasted beans make up their signature coffees: the anh roast, a single origin robusta, and em roast, an arabica blend of coffees from Vietnam, Oaxaca, and Ethiopia.
Winter is here. The long, dark days. The cold wind. The wet and freezing rain. And since this is 2020, we can probably add quite a bit of snow to that list. But just beneath the blanket of gray is a golden thread of sunshine — a Seattle cook, born and bred right in this city, hopes to bring a little warmth to the hearts and hearths of this beleaguered town. Veronica Very, the owner of Black’Butta Co., has always cooked but not in any official capacity before the pandemic. She was (and still is) a writer, the wife and business partner of visual artist Hiawatha D., and the founder of Women of Wonder, “a sacred space for Black women and girls.” But the pandemic forced her to get creative about her next business move.
The farm stand hadn’t even opened for business yet, but the socially distant line for Tilth Alliance’s new farm stand was already starting to stretch down the organization’s driveway on the sunny afternoon of June 25.
The nonprofit organic gardening and urban ecology organization is located at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands in partnership with Friends of Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands. Tucked away in a leafy residential area on South Cloverdale Street, this is the city’s largest urban farm. Tilth Alliance officially launched the new farm stand in this outdoor space on June 18. The farm stand is open every Thursday from 2–7 p.m. and is yet another one of Tilth Alliance’s efforts to support South King County residents.
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee said in a press conference on May 28 that the state will be instituting additional protections for agricultural workers, and that his office is looking into the possibility of creating a relief fund for undocumented workers who do not have access to unemployment benefits, despite paying taxes.
The last time Michelle Timson visited the Othello Safeway was when the novel coronavirus pandemic first broke out.
“I won’t go to the Othello Safeway. It’s way too crowded. There’s no social distancing at all being enforced from what I have seen from the one time that I went,” Timson said.
But the lack of social distancing was just the rotting cherry on top of a fermenting sundae for Timson. Like many of her fellow Othellians, the South Seattle resident had had enough of the store, which many in the neighborhood have complained about for years, citing everything from rotting produce, expired packaged food and rat sightings to an overworked, understaffed employee base and an unsafe parking lot. Because of this, Timson and more than 1,500 others have signed a petition started by local activist and 37th District legislative candidate Chukundi Salisbury calling for better store conditions.
Medical experts and nutritionists alike emphasize that eating the right foods is essential to staying healthy during this pandemic: more fruits and vegetables, fewer fried foods. You know the drill. This is especially true for anyone with underlying health issues, and medications that suppress or compromise our immune systems, including asthma, diabetes, heart conditions, HIV/AIDS, obesity and smoking — as well as people over 65. How many seniors do we know that have at least one of the above conditions?
Food deserts and poverty, not to mention lack of will power, often keep us from eating healthy. So, in this week’s list of community restaurants open for take-out and/or delivery, I’m going to emphasize healthy eating. Every menu has some healthy options that are still delicious ways to support community businesses and get out of making dinner at the end of another tough week.
It’s sunny, and beginning to get warm on an afternoon in early May, when people start to line up outside the White Center Food Bank. Clad in masks, they patiently wait an adequate distance from each other to choose food the National Guard is helping food bank workers distribute.
This outdoor model is the latest iteration of food service the food bank has tried, Associate Executive Director Carmen Smith said. So far, it’s also the most successful, she said. Usually, the food bank operates in a grocery store model, which allows patrons the freedom to choose their own items, and mitigate the stigma associated with needing to use a food bank. But once the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the state, Smith and her fellow food bank employees found that the inside of the food bank was just too small to allow for safe social distancing practices. Having volunteers shop for the patrons’ food was also a no-go, because it’s just too hard to shop for someone else, Smith said.