Childhood Obesity: Turning the Ship Around

Three days ago I met Tae-Young Nam. He’s a recent University of Wisconsin grad, who studied pre-medicine in college, and spent last year serving in Chicago public schools as a teaching assistant with City Year. He’s headed off this coming week to Anthony, New Mexico to become a FoodCorps service member. He’ll be teaching kids about healthy food, building and tending school gardens with them, and collaborating with school food staff to get high quality local food onto school lunch trays. Read more

Book Review: “Bet The Farm” by Frederick Kaufman

Gloucester: But shall I live in hope?

Lady Anne: All men, I hope, live so.

Richard III, Shakespeare

Frederick Kaufman, journalist, professor, and author of A Short History of the American Stomach, set out to find out why, in an era when we produce so much food (more than twice what we need to feed everyone), people all over the world go hungry. It would seem to be the most basic of questions, and yet… Read more

Making a Career in School Gardens

When I was in undergrad in the Northeast, around 15 years ago, a degree in “Food Studies” was unheard of.  A campus farm or edible garden was something reserved for agriculture schools or off-campus hippie/granola enclaves. However, the past 5  years have shown a proliferation of opportunities to get trained as farmers, gardeners, food policy makers, and food law practitioners.

On a recent site visit to Portland, Oregon, I met with FoodCorps service site supervisor Caitlin Blethen and her service member Jessica Polledri. Caitlin told me about her local program that trains school garden coordinators. This signaled to me a similar kind of sea change. It indicated that there is a desire out there to be trained in this work, and that there is a (slowly) growing market of jobs being created to do this work. I’ll let Jessica—a graduate of the program– take it from here: Read more

FoodCorps: Now Recruiting!

FoodCorps is growing—expanding the number of states we’ll be working in next year and expanding the number of service members who are creating community and creating change. We created FoodCorps with two goals in mind: Addressing a public health crisis and providing a training opportunity for all of growing interest in careers in food and agriculture. Becoming a FoodCorps service member is a way to launch your career in food and farming while helping kids get healthy.

Rachel is one of 50 future food systems leaders who started their terms of service this past August as the first ever class of FoodCorps service members. So far this year, these service members have reached over 20,000 children in 10 states. They are addressing the nation’s painful and costly childhood obesity epidemic using our three recipe ingredient for change: Hands-on nutrition education, growing and tending school gardens, and getting healthy local food onto school cafeteria trays. Read more

Take the $5 Challenge (It’s Hard! It’s Easy!)

Earlier this summer, as I was hauling a bag of farmers market produce home 15 blocks and up four flights of stairs, sweating bullets, cursing my choice to buy a melon (they’re heavy!), I stopped mid-step.

“Does it really have to be this hard?” I asked myself.

My story is particular to me, of course, but all over the country there are people trying to put food on the table and asking themselves “does it really have to be this hard?” Read more

FoodCorps Members Get Their Hands Dirty

At a compost bin that doubles as a podium, urban farming hero Will Allen faced the inaugural class of 50 FoodCorps service members—sitting together in Milwaukee but about to spin out to ten states around the country–giving them advice for the year of service they have ahead of them.

“There’s a lot of skill and knowledge existing in the communities you’re going into. You’ll bring stuff, and you’ll learn stuff. It’s a two-way street,” he said. “That’s how real sustainability works.” Read more

Organic in Cuba: Something from Nothing

There’s a scene in Terry Gilliam’s 1991 movie “The Fisher King” in which a man plucks the discarded wire cage from a champagne bottle off a pile of garbage bags as he walks down a New York City street with a woman he is trying to impress.  He fiddles with the wire in his hands as they walk, eventually holding up what looks like a delicate and beautiful little metal chair, fit for a dollhouse. “You can find some pretty amazing things in the trash,” he says to her.  She is smitten.

That transformation of a piece of trash into a thing of beauty transfixed me then, and still does.  When I traveled to Cuba a few weeks ago, on a food sovereignty study trip with Food First, I had the opportunity to be transfixed again and again. Read more

A Sunday Supper Club, Cooking Up Lunches for the Week

For the urban office worker, buying your lunch every day can be a drag. It leaves your palate uninspired, your wallet empty, and your butt growing slowly across your desk chair. It can leave you with a permanent distaste for turkey sandwiches and a fear of deli lines.

Christine Johnson and Joanna Helferich—a public health director and a corporate lawyer respectively—came up with a solution for their lunch blahs.  For the past five years the two college friends have been getting together on Sunday evening and cooking their lunches for the entire week. Read more