There’s no better way to celebrate the beginning of spring than to stock up on seeds and get ready to break new ground. Gardening always keeps you guessing, because you never know from one season to the next what might delight you, and what might disappoint you. Inevitably, some seeds sprout and thrive while others rot, wither, or fall victim to fungus or critters. That’s life.
Sustainable food and farming advocates have long been pushing us to learn more about our food, from decoding nutrition labels at the supermarket to shaking hands with the growers at the farmers’ market. We’ve uncovered some surprising truths, like the fact that milling grains can strip away much of their nutritional value, or that our country’s meat supply is in the hands of just four companies. Yet even as more and more Americans are beginning to ask tough questions about our food system, Nicole Cotroneo Jolly realized we often skip over the basics. Simply put, how does food become, well, food?
Genetically engineered (or GMO) corn that was developed to kill insect pests has been causing resistance in some of those very insects for several years. But the issue has not received as much attention as it should. A new research paper in the prestigious journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), may change this by providing additional cause for concern.
First it was produce. Then the local food movement expanded to take on meat. Now it’s all about grains.
Nothing proves this point more than the packed room I found myself in last Sunday morning. At the point in the week when most people are unfurling their copy of the New York Times, or making their second leisurely café au lait, I filed in to the back of the dining area at Oliveto, a high-end Italian restaurant in Oakland, to join around 100 people gathered to discuss local grains.
Since it was published in 2010, Tartine Bread has become the bible for DIY bakers. Written by Chad Robertson, owner of the acclaimed San Francisco bakery Tartine, it is a hefty yet appealingly light-hearted ode to old-fashioned, country-style loaves. Now, Robertson has taken the craft of bread making to another level with Tartine Book No. 3: Modern, Ancient, Classic, Whole.
It’s a tough time for aspiring small farmers. On top of start up capital, they need land, which is next to impossible to find at a reasonable price. This situation has only been made worse since the 2008 economic crisis by a surge of investor interest in farmland. On top of wealthy individuals, large hedge funds, pension funds, and university endowments have all gotten in on the act, treating land, “like gold, with yield.”
Most young people consider diabetes a “grandfather’s disease,” inherited at birth. They don’t always know that there are two very different forms of the disease, and that type 2 diabetes is preventable. This lack of awareness has staggering implications—between 2000 and 2008, rates of diabetes and prediabetes among Americans ages 12 to 19 shot from 9 percent to 23 percent.
That’s where the The Bigger Picture comes in. Youth Speaks, a San Francisco based arts nonprofit that empowers teenagers through poetry, teamed up with the University of San Francisco’s Center for Vulnerable Populations in 2010 to launch a project that encourages young people to “raise their voice and change the conversation around type 2 diabetes.”
Two months ago, Seattle-area 4th grader Michael Kenny came home from school with a burning desire to make vegetarian chili. His mom Liz nearly fell out of her seat. She knew her son was not fond of peppers—and he’d never shown much interest in cooking before. “They sent all the students home with a recipe, and when he came home he wanted to make it right away,” Liz says. “And most of the ingredients were vegetables!”
What if your national dietary guidelines advised you to cook and enjoy fresh, whole foods, and serve them with friends and family while thinking critically about advertising? Hard to imagine, isn’t it?
On February 8, Rancho Feed Corporation issued a recall on more than 8.7 million pounds of meat that had been processed in its facility over the last year. No illnesses have been reported, but the Petaluma, California-based slaughterhouse allegedly defied the law and circumvented U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspections, slaughtering and selling meat from diseased cows.