15 minutes with CSA members: Harold Butler and Anne Galvin

Anne Galvin and Harold Butler moved to Red Hook 18 months ago to be closer to the water and in a more relaxed neighborhood.

“We found that living in Red Hook affords us more space to hoard a rag-tag selection of dogs. Now that we’re here it’s hard to imagine wanting to be anywhere else,” Anne says.

Although, on occasion she does leave in order to study community development, popular culture and organized crime in Kingston, Jamaica. Why does she get to do such cool stuff? Because she’s an assistant professor of anthropology at St. John’s University.

Meanwhile Harold teaches public high school and is the owner/roaster at Brownstone Beans. And when he’s not teaching or working, he’s riding, driving, and being on or near the water.

It’s a wonder they have time to cook with their CSA shares!

What was the food culture in your house growing up?

Anne: We had lots of red meat because my grandfather owned cattle and a meat-packing plant in Upstate New York.  There was always a compromise between my mother’s German Jewish cuisine and my father’s Irish-American love of overcooked meat and potatoes.  Plus we always had a backyard vegetable garden.

Harold: It was soul food- pork chops, collard greens, rice and gravy, corn bread, peas and carrots

One food you won’t you eat?

Anne: Rabbit- They are too cute and furry.

Harold: Chitterlings. Large pig intestines are not my idea of a delicacy! Anyone that knows anything about anatomy would know why that’s the case.

Favorite vegetable?

Anne: Artichokes!

Harold: Broccoli.

Favorite food experience?

Anne: When I’m in Jamaica and people cook for me.  There is no greater expression of friendship than spending time grating ingredients for potato pudding or slicing veggies to go into escoveitch fish!

Harold: Eating beef in Brazil was an eye opening experience because it was so good all on its own.

What do you value about food or eating?

Anne: I value the way I feel when I prepare food for people I care about.  I definitely got that from my mother.

Harold: That I’m fortunate enough to have food to eat.

Favorite appliance?

The coffeemaker is the unanimous answer in our household!

Favorite food book or memoir:

Anne: Sweetness and Power by Sidney Mintz.  He connects the development of European empire in the Americas to the desire for wealth, luxury, and sweetness that created the sugar trade.

Harold: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

Most disastrous kitchen or garden experiment:

Anne: When I was first out on my own after college, I decided I was going to make this incredibly difficult German cake called Egal for my then boyfriend’s birthday.  My mother always made it and it was a delicious combination of butter, coffee, and almonds.  She warned me about how difficult it was to execute, but I was undeterred.  Both layers of cake put together came out as thick as one normal layer and the frosting ended up curdling when the hot coffee was added.  It was a flat, gritty, mess!

Harold: Failing at frying chicken.  I tried to cook it like mom did, but ended up burning it to a crisp!

Why are you involved in CSAs?

Anne: The combination of fresh food and social justice is irresistible.

Harold: I believe in the urban farming model. There’s too much under utilized space in the city and too many under served communities lacking access to fresh produce.

What’s the best lunch option near you?

Anne: I love the food at Home/Made. Especially that incredible whole grain bread!  Ooh and the mussels!

Harold: It’s a toss up between Home/Made and Fort Defiance depending on my mood. Laid back or lively?

What inspires you?

Anne: People’s creativity and perseverance.  I love seeing people make something out of nothing.

Harold: Making my parents proud and trying to get my students into college.

Your opinion: Does talking to plants help them grow?

Anne: Nope.  But if it helps you have a better day, then go for it!

Harold: Yes.  If you’re willing to talk to plants then you’re probably taking steps to keep them around so you can continue talking to them.

Do you sing to them?

Anne: Only to the ones that are close to the shower.

Harold: No. (Anne disagrees: He sings to everyone and everything).

Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Anne: “Keep swinging until the bell rings.”

Harold: “Handle your business”

Tell us one thing about yourself that would surprise us.

Anne: Anthropologist raised by poet.

Harold: I speak German.


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