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The best food in the world

November 6, 2018

Undoubtedly, the great success story in my life this year was my balcony. I mean, it still looks like this in November:

My paradise.

On a modest scale it produces the best food in the world. I ate THE tastiest tomato, the most aromatic hazelnuts and the absolutely most delicious aubergine paste of my life earlier this year. I am drinking the best mint tea I ever had in my life, as we speak.

Why? Because of the emotional connection I have to these foods. I grew them myself. Or I collected them on my <10 meter value chain, literally on my doorstep. I would never have thought that it makes such a difference. People, I am a natural scientist with a PhD in agriculture. I always had a rational explanation for the processes of nature, and I still have. But then the first green shoots of your tomato plant show up in the dark soil and you get excited. When the aubergine blooms, you are in awe. And when you take the first sip of your lavender tea, collected on site, it’s yours. The abundance and beaty of nature on my own little balcony have seriously enrichened my life this year. I reconnected, as simple as it is.

Aubergine bloom.

Reconnect – this is the single most important advice I can currently give to people asking me how they can change the world in the face of climate change and all the other adversities we constantly hear about. I received it from a Caribbean poet talking about sea level rise threatening his island. When people ask him what to do about it, he says: Reconnect! Reconnect to nature, to mother Earth, to whatever you call it. One square meter, a vegetable bed, a single tree is enough. Start paying attention again, start observing, caring. Speaking for myself, this automatically leads to more mindful decisions in other areas of life. Starting with food, you realize how much you can grow yourself and don’t need to buy. Then you expand it to other articles, then to your entire life style. In my case it has led to the realization that I don’t ever want to fly in a plane for private purposes any more. Even less in Europe. For business, I still must, but I hope that changes soon.

Reconnect, reduce, reuse, recycle people, and we might have a chance.

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Reducing commercial pepper consumption.

i wanna, i do

October 13, 2018

i wanna be a sustainable land use nutrition agronimist,

a tree and climate finance futurist

at the intersection of the land, the business, the people, the sky,

don’t ask me why

i feel so strongly about it

but i do

for you.

.

i wanna explain photosynthesis to bankers, how trees make wood

the carbon, the soils, the mineral oils

how it all connects, how it should

so they can decide if they could

to put the money where the good

is, if they should

care.

.

i dare you to think about this: not later but now

the if when why and how

because wow,

the best time to plant a tree was ten years ago, not now.

.

we can do a lot, it’s not too late

when was the last time you ate

a thing you knew how it landed on your plate

a cocoa puff let’s say

that was shipped all the way

and back

around the world

to be placed in a bowl and nurture your soul (on Monday morning when you need it more)

but rob someone else’s —- goals.

.

these are the thin cocktail glass illusions of our progress

but i digress.

i wanna,

i do

for you.

Sustainability lessons from a gardener: seeds and the universe

October 12, 2018

One way to see the world in a grain of sand, as William Blake says in his famous poem, is to become a gardener.

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Sunflower seeds.

I see a blooming meadow in a sunflower seed, happy people looking at the brown-yelloy faces, picking some for their loved ones.

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What will it be? A soup, a pizza topping, a snack, a paradise?

I see a gazpacho in a tomato seed, a summer party on my balcony with friends enjoying home made food and marvelling at how much you can grow on 10 square meters. I see someone picking out a lost seed from the gazpacho bowl and starting their own tomato plant.

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The universe.

I see an entire universe of possibilities in the mixed flower seeds from my balcony and nearby streets of Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin. What if everyone started gardening, just a little bit? On their balconies or around city trees would be enough. What if people started growing their own food, just a little bit, and buying just a tiny bit less from the supermarkets and value chains of the world? What if every kid knew what a sun kissed tomato tasted like? By the way, that’s why I hated tomatos for so long: I only knew the industrially grown ones, available in stores year round. What if all of us discovered a universe at our doorstep and therefore started traveling less?

I don’t mean all of this as a joke. I mean it in a deeply philosphical way. It is proven scientifically that any grain of sand, any pebble, contains millions of years of geological history of this planet. But do we see it? Can we really see the Universe in a grain of sand, even as we slog through traffic? Can we really hold infinity in our hands, even as we drop off the kids to violin practice? (Adam Frank has a whole series on NPR called Cosmos and Culture, in case you want to read more: https://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/ )

I think we can. Gardening helps. To reconnect, to pause, to see the beauty in the moment and the universe in a tomato seed.

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These seeds will produce flowers that are beautiful and taste like honey and radish.

For the poetry lovers, I close with the first lines of Auguries of Innocence, written 1803 by William Blake. Please read the whole thing, for example here. Buddhists have known this for much longer of course, but they had less talent for english language poetry.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower 
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour.

A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage.

A dove-house fill’d with doves and pigeons
Shudders hell thro’ all its regions.
A dog starv’d at his master’s gate
Predicts the ruin of the state.

Work news

October 2, 2018
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Recently in Kenya.

Whohoo, people, I’m in the “news”! My co-working space made me member of the month. The benefits are so far limited to all-you-can drink coffee, but who knows what will come out of this. Read the nice little blog here: https://www.officeclub.com/blog/officeclub/member-of-the-month-katalin-solymosi/

The BIG news is really though that I finally managed to say it to my boss: I want to work less. Boom. I’ve been saying it to myself for a long time, then started telling friends and coworkers. But I was hesitant to take the official step and I don’t even know why. Money is not the issue. I also didn’t expect push back (there wasn’t any). Maybe it was because it feels a little bit like admitting, that I am dispensable.

Who isn’t dispensable of course. In a theoretical way we all know. On the one hand, career newbies often get told: make yourself indispensable! But once you manage your own projects and teams, you realize that being indispensable drives you to insanity eventually, or at least to a very unhealthy work-life balance. Because once you are “indispensable”, noone else can take care of it except you. Which is bad if you want to be offline for a while or go on vacation for three weeks in a row. That’s when you need to be replacable by a great team who knows shit. This at least is my conclusion and I am grateful to have a wonderful team of colleagues who know shit and who enable me to work less 🙂

From January 2019 I will work 32 hours a week and can’t wait to spend the rest of the time on essential things. I will let you know how it goes.

Padlizsán

September 30, 2018
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Bokron lóg a sötét.

Épp a konyhában ülök és próbálom felidézni, vagy legalább is utánozni az általam Erdélyből ismert vinettakrém ízét. Múltkor a sütőben sütöttem meg a padlizsánt és hiányoltam az eredeti égett padlizsánhély ízt a végső termékben.

Dragomán György itten elmagyarázza, hogyan kell vaslapon sütni a sötétet.

Ti hogyan csináljátok? Mivel nincs gázrezsóm, most az elektromoson próbálom serpenyőben sütögetni. Egyenlőre ég, de nem puhul.

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Vason sül a sötét.

Ettől eltekintve gyönyörű! Gyerekként utáltam, most pedig főleg a színe és fazonja miatt imádom. Az egyik legszebb lilaság, azért is, mert a saját erkélyemen termett az idén. Az égett illata hihetetlen őszies, kicsit a gesztenyére emlékeztet.