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.
Marcy Coburn might just have landed her dream job. After two years at the helm of Oakland, California’s Food Craft Institute (FCI), and a year running its affiliated sustainable food event, the Eat Real Festival, Coburn will begin next month as the executive director of Center for Urban Education About Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), the educational nonprofit organization that runs San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.
Amy Kleinman had never had a job with lasting appeal. Most recently, Kleinman, 28 and living with Asperger syndrome, taught at a day care center. “I was having a lot of trouble there,” says Kleinman. “Not with the kids—I loved the babies. I was having problems with the adults.”
Then, three years ago, Kleinman got a job at Cleveland Crops, an urban farm and nonprofit dedicated to community development and food security.
Filmmakers Christine Anthony and Owen Masterson say that their new documentary Terra Firma isn’t another movie about “messed up vets.” In a story that is more about healing than politics, the directors of Grow! follow three female soldiers as they overcome post-traumatic stress disorder by planting seeds and raising food.
The ubiquity of “best before” dates may soon be history. European history, that is.
Under current European Union (EU) law, all packaged foods must have a “best before” date. That could change soon, though, thanks to a recent proposal that would enable European nations to exempt certain shelf-stable foods from date labeling.
“An agrarian mind begins with the love of the fields and ramifies in good farming, good cooking, and good eating.” –Wendell Berry
Cindy Daniel and her husband Doug Lipton have taken Berry’s words to heart and created the Healdsburg Shed in Sonoma County, California, a “modern grange,” as they put it, and market for all the things a sustainably-minded farmer, gardener, cook or eater would need.
Here’s some food news that caught our eye this week:
1. Roll Back of Healthier School Meal Standards Advances in Congress (Various)
Yesterday, members of the House Appropriations Committee approved the FY2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which will move to the House floor for a vote next month. House Republicans shot down an amendment that would have removed a provision in the bill to let schools opt out of implementing healthier federal nutrition standards for school meals. The waiver will allow school districts who have lost money for six months to receive a one-year exemption from serving more fruits, vegetables, healthy whole grains, and low-fat milk to their students. Currently, 91 percent of school districts have upgraded their meal programs to adhere to the revamped guidelines; some schools have even gotten creative by adding salad bars to their cafeterias. Yesterday, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack argued that the waiver program simply “isn’t going to work,” as it will be both expensive and impractical to determine which schools are struggling financially to implement the standards.
Thinking back to barely a year ago, Oscar Vasquez says things have changed on the Oxnard, California farm where he works picking strawberries. For so long, he felt as though he was treated like little more than a cog in the fruit production machine—necessary to his employer, but also very replaceable.
But now, since his farm adopted a new approach to working with its employees, he feels better about going to work each day. Vasquez and his coworkers care more about the quality of the produce they’re picking and, he adds through a translator, “A lot of workers are staying for the whole season, which is a sign that they feel good about the farm.”
Is it possible to “unsell” bad food choices in favor of selling more healthful and environmentally friendly ones? That was the topic of a recent panel at the Sustainable Food Institute at Cooking for Solutions, sponsored by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, earlier this month.
“Consumer demand is not static. It’s constructed. And it can be shifted,” said author and sustainable food advocate Anna Lappé, who spoke on the panel. She noted that thoughtful messaging campaigns in media are apt to go viral–specifically short videos–which are proving to be a way to do just that.
Jeff Emtman opens the door of his freezer and one-by-one removes the contents. He pulls out several pounds of Brussels sprouts, loaves of artisan bread, cinnamon rolls, three-plus pounds of locally made chocolate. And there’s more.
Emtman, a Seattle resident deeply concerned about food waste, acquired his bittersweet collection in dumpsters located on FallingFruit.org, a long underground source for dumpster divers or “freegans” who dine on out-dated, over-stocked or overripe food tossed out by stores, restaurants, and bakeries. Now, the map is no longer a buried treasure.