Faces and Visions of the Food Movement: Karen Washington, ‘Queen of Urban Gardening’

In the early 1990s, after years of working as a physical therapist, Karen Washington noticed that many of her patients were steadily gaining weight and struggling with diabetes. She realized the people seeking treatment shared something else in common—a lack of fresh produce in their diets. The connection hit home when Washington saw her own son experience the same ailments she heard from her patients. The lifelong New Yorker and dedicated mother vowed to do better for her family and her community. Read more

‘Hanna Ranch’: The Eco-Rancher Against the World

Hanna Ranch spans across thousands of acres of prairie just south of Colorado Springs, nestled between Fountain Creek and Interstate 25 as both wind their way south. Listen closely and you might hear a meadowlark whistle over the roar of the crowd at the nearby racetrack as the wind whips through the buffalo grass dotting the plains.

The ranch, like most of rural Colorado’s agriculture industry, lies at a crossroads between the man-made and the natural. Hanna Ranch, a documentary produced by Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser and which debuted earlier this year, chronicles one family’s struggle to preserve their namesake ranch under the strain of a rapidly expanding suburbia. Read more

Faces and Visions of the Food Movement: Saru Jayaraman

Since 2009, the federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour. Low-wage workers are actually worse off now than they were in 1968, when the minimum wage reached a peak of $8.56 an hour in inflation-adjusted dollars. Yet as sobering as these statistics are, they don’t capture the complete story. Workers who don’t receive tips are guaranteed $7.25 an hour, yet tipped workers only earn a measly hourly wage of $2.13. Even more staggering, a recent study found that 41 percent of New York City’s restaurant workers are food insecure, and tipped workers are 30 percent more likely to struggle to put food on the table than those who earn tips. Read more

Why Grocery Store Workers Are Making Less While Big Chains Clean Up

Have you ever bought groceries from a checker with the sniffles? If so, you’re probably not alone. In fact, most food retail employees can’t afford to miss work when they’re under the weather. Many don’t have medical coverage and few can cover lost wages when taking unexpected time off.

Janifer Suber, a clerk at Vons–a Los Angeles-based division of Safeway, Inc. with over 300 stores nationwide–says employees at her store often take matters into their own hands when a co-worker is sick. She recalls one instance when an employee had a stomach virus that had gotten so bad she missed several days of work, but only after co-workers had pooled their money to cover the co-pay for the doctor’s visit and the lost paycheck. Read more

The Farmer’s Lawyer: Rachel Armstrong

A lawyer and a farmer walk into a field…

While this scenario may sound like the intro to a bad joke, Rachel Armstrong wants you to imagine a world where lawyers and farmers aren’t such strange bedfellows. In an agricultural sector that rarely goes out of its way to support small and mid-size farmers, attorneys can be strong allies by helping food producers navigate the legal system. These kinds of relationships, Armstrong says, can create the foundation for a healthy network of viable farm businesses for the long-term. Read more

All the News That’s Fit to Eat: Soda Ban Revival, Mad Cow, and Climate Change

Here’s some food news that caught our eye this week:

1. NYC Asks Top Court to Revive Bloomberg’s Big-Soda Ban (Bloomberg News)

The New York City Department of Health has brought a case to the state’s Court of Appeals in an attempt to revive former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s rule to ban large sodas in the city. Citing the need to curb the growing obesity epidemic, the Department approved the measure in 2012 to restrict the sale of sugary beverages like soda in containers over 16 ounces. Read more

‘The Soil Will Save Us’: A Manifesto for Restoring Our Relationship with the Land

What if we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and grow enough food to feed our ballooning population using resources we already have? Kristin Ohlson, author of The Soil Will Save Us, thinks we can do just that. And like a growing number of scientists, farmers, and good food advocates, she believes that in order to fix the problems in the sky, we need to put our eyes and ears to the ground. Read more