For years people and organizations from Frances Moore Lappé to Slow Food have sought to repair and restore our broken food system, making noticeable but still negligible progress. Surely more people today are aware that there’s a problem, and admitting that is the first step, as they say.
“Soup Kitchens”—their focus is food, but they can be about community connection. Did you know that the word “companion” comes from the Latin words meaning “bread” and “together”? By welcoming everyone and fostering a space for sharing and companionship, soup kitchens can be places for restoring not only the body but the community as a whole. They can be gathering tables, hence how The Gathering Table soup kitchen in Cashiers, North Carolina got its name.
The Gathering Table serves anywhere from 50-120, as-local-as-can-be, mostly organic, veggie-packed meals every Thursday night at the Cashiers Valley Community Center.
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.
The latest round of tests by federal scientists, quietly published in February, has documented startlingly high percentages of supermarket meat containing antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to a new Environmental Working Group analysis.
EWG’s analysis of data buried in the federal government’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System has found that store-bought meat tested in 2011 contained antibiotic-resistant bacteria in 81 percent of raw ground turkey, 69 percent of raw pork chops, 55 percent of raw ground beef and 39 percent of raw chicken parts.
For the last 30-plus years, the South Bronx has been described as an example of abject and persistent poverty, where no one chooses to live but instead gets trapped. We’re rarely held up as an example of anything good–never mind great–but as a long time resident and activist I know better. I know that my community is resilient and vibrant; full of warriors who have put out the fires when we were burning and have rebuilt it so that my community is on the cusp of blossoming. But honey do we still have a long way to go!
One of the many issues that is still very relevant to the South Bronx is access to good, local and affordable food. My community has been branded a “food desert,” and the approach to dealing with the lack of fresh food has typically been charity and social service intervention.
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.
In a time when off-shoring and outsourcing are household words discussed around dinner tables by struggling families, smart investments in local economies are essential. Yes, these sorts of investments can be made by socially responsible businesses or proactive public sector agencies. But they can also be made by entrepreneurial nonprofit organizations like DC Central Kitchen.
When the economy bottomed out, we knew we needed to generate more of our revenue and reduce our reliance on private foundations whose portfolios had been battered in the market crash. We also knew that the unemployed, at-risk men and women we trained for culinary careers as part of our hunger-fighting mission were going to face a tougher time than ever finding work.
We decided to go ‘all-in’ on the idea of social enterprise, and successfully bid on a multi-million dollar food service contract with the District of Columbia’s public school system. Not only were we charged with making more meals, but with finding a way to break new ground in the healthy school food movement.
Can an apple a day really keep the doctor away? As it turns out, there’s more truth than myth to this sage saying. Not only are apples a low calorie food with tons of vitamin C, they also contain phytonutrients, which prevents neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinsonism. Though the wonders of apples as preventative health may not be common knowledge, we can all get behind the idea that everyone needs to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables to live a healthy, long life that involves fewer doctor visits. Doctors and farmers both think so, and they’re teaming up to help make this a reality.
When might it be punishable to report a criminal activity? When it takes place inside a poultry warehouse, slaughterhouse, or on a cattle feedlot. That’s the upshot of a new wave of so-called “ag-gag” bills passed in state legislatures around the nation, the latest of which, AB 343, was introduced in California last month.
“Ag gag” laws have been put forth by the meat industry to criminalize the reporting of animal cruelty by anyone — journalists, activists, or whistleblowers. They are intended to prohibit the release of videotapes or photographs that document what happens inside factory farms and meat processing facilities, often with the threat of jail time. The real goal of these laws is to “chill” a person’s resolve to make public any illegal behavior such as beating or torturing captive animals, often using the police to seize their materials.
Jack Jones (who asked that his real name not be used) takes care of a small organic pear orchard for a farmer south of the San Francisco Bay Area. This spring, as the trees have begun to blossom, he’s been spraying them with a small amount of the antibiotic tetracycline to prevent a disease called fire blight.
Last year, when the perfect storm of warm, wet air first brought the bacteria to the farm, he tried removing infected branches and getting rid of cover crops, which were providing nitrogen that fed the disease. But to no avail—the disease had established itself in the trunks.