On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that genetically engineered (GE) wheat–which was planted in trials that ended in 2001 and has not been approved for sale–was found in eastern Oregon. While the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) says the GE wheat is safe to eat, countries like Japan have already halted imports fearing contamination. This has happened before, with rice after traces of unapproved GE strains were found in the 2006 harvest. Read more
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Berkeley’s beloved school gardening and cooking program, where public school children plant peas, cook kale, and chase chickens–all while discovering connections to nature, science, language, math, health, nutrition and other life lessons–is in dire straits due to pending federal funding cuts. Read more
For the last few years, we’ve seen dozens of apps, Web stores, and online delivery services aiming to serve a single mission: Making local, responsibly-produced food more accessible and convenient. From farmers’ market finders to sustainability ratings, technology has proven to be a vast, unchartered playing ground for practical answers in the growing good food-aware consumer base. But the challenges–depending on the areas of distribution–are almost as diverse as the offerings that can be brought by these tools. Tackling one city at a time, the San Francisco-based company Good Eggs is placing its eggs on its software model for its newest target: Brooklyn. Read more
Five years ago, Slow Foods’ “Most Endangered Foods” list included the Marshall Strawberry. The fruit, known as the finest eating strawberry in America by the James Beard Foundation, is a deep, dark, red, with an exceptionally bold flavor. After World War II, the Marshall was devastated by viruses and has been left out of conventional supermarket supply chains due to its soil specifications and the delicate handling it requires. Read more
In the spring of 2010, 60 people met in downtown Detroit to talk about a new idea. Three years later, the concept honed in that Detroit hotel conference room is now a national organization supporting some 80 corps members in 12 states around the country. Last month the service members, fellows, staff and board of FoodCorps returned to Detroit. Read more
It’s not surprising news: Our food system is not working for us or our planet.
But college students across the country are taking a stand. Through the creation of student run, sustainably sourced food ventures these young people are creating a food system that is good for their bodies, communities, and the planet. Read more
The concept of supporting local food systems is almost a given at this point for those of us who work in the food world. We either already understand or can easily grasp that buying locally-grown fruits, vegetables, and other food products as close to the source as possible helps put more dollars into local farmers’ hands. It’s a given that local food is fresher and often tastes better than food that has been shipped hundreds, or even thousands, of miles (if you can find out where your food comes from in the first place). It’s a given that food hubs and other local food-processing and distribution infrastructure facilities give local producers a way to streamline costs, add local jobs, and can contribute to a region’s food justice and food sovereignty. It’s a given that buying local food can be part of a larger strategy to help preserve farmland from development. Read more
The rise in consumer interest in local, sustainably raised meat has meant a world of difference for local ranchers and the restaurants and retailers that source from such operations. Many restaurants in the Bay Area, for example, proudly promote the farms and ranches they work with, and entire butcher shops have sprung up dedicated to the task of selling locally raised beef, pork, chicken, and more. Yet this is only half the story. Getting locally raised meats from the farm or ranch to the butcher shop or restaurant is a complicated logistical undertaking. Read more
The Illinois Local Food Farms Jobs Council is developing plans for a comprehensive financial infrastructure to grow local food economies. The Council—a community-led coordinating body authorized by state law—finds that solving the food-system-funding challenge may mean reinventing the century-old Farm Credit System (FCS).
FCS is a nationwide network of 85 customer-owned cooperatives. Created by Congress to serve all of agriculture, FCS is America’s largest agricultural lender, booking nearly $192 billion in loans and earning more than $4 billion in profits in 2012.
Its lenders take pride in being able to close loans in a matter of minutes for relatively low risk borrowers who are beneficiaries of federal subsidy programs. No wonder Farm Credit affiliates are well-known within agribusiness circles and an enigma in the local food marketplace. Read more
No place has more serious food systems challenges than Detroit; more than half of Detroit residents lack access to healthy, fresh food and consequently many suffer from food-related health issues.
Yet, Detroit is also an epicenter of the good food movement with hundreds of neighborhood and school gardens, farmers’ markets and farm stands, and energetic urban farmers sprouting up around the city. Read more