Five Groups Working to Help New Farmers Access Land

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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.” Read More

Not Your Grandfather’s Disease: Youth Change the Conversation About Type 2 Diabetes

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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.” Read More

‘Food Detective’ Class Gets Seattle Kids Eating Better

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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!” Read More

No-Kill Caviar: Can it Save an Endangered Species?

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You don’t have to see a sturgeon in person to get a sense of just how monstrous and oddly majestic these ancient fish can be. But that’s exactly where Angela Köhler found herself a few years back–face to face with a giant, 30-year-old, 10-foot-long sturgeon that was being harvested for caviar.

The marine biologist and eco-toxicologist was in Iran for a conference, and she joined a tour visiting a sturgeon farm and caviar facility at the edge of the Caspian Sea.

“They brought in a huge female wild catch. They anesthetized it by a blow on the head, cut it open, and there were 7-8 kilos of caviar inside. They said, ‘this caviar is too mature to sell,’ so they discarded the whole fish, the caviar, everything,” Köhler recalls. Read More

Building a Restaurant After Genocide: Josh Ruxin’s ‘A Thousand Hills to Heaven’

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In the 35 years I’ve been working in restaurants, I have seen more than enough to scare a person out of the business.  I’ve seen fires, near-fires, and explosive fire suppression systems. I’ve taken coworkers’ thumbs to the hospital for them on two separate occasions. And I’ve seen a guy slip while cleaning an oven’s exhaust hood and dunk his foot in a deep fryer, causing his nylon sock to melt into his skin.

These are the kinds of stories any American cook can tell. And, after reading Josh Ruxin’s book, A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda, they mean nothing. Read More

Gardening Behind Bars: San Quentin’s First Harvest

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Eric Davis remembers the first time he saw the flower garden at San Quentin prison. “It [was] the only green thing in the yard,” he recalls.

Last fall, the Insight Garden Program (IGP) and Oakland community gardening nonprofit Planting Justice added a little more green. An organic vegetable garden joined the flowers that were planted in 2003. And this month, the vegetable garden will have its first harvest. Read More