Despite its reputation as a Mecca of farmers markets and foodie culture, San Francisco is also home to quite a few people who lack access to good, whole food. In the low-income Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, for instance, residents have an 8- to 14-year decreased life expectancy compared to their neighbors in other parts of the city. This is due in large part to diet-related illnesses like diabetes, congestive heart failure, hypertension and other types of heart disease. In addition, nearly 42 percent of adults in San Francisco are overweight or obese, and only one-third of those adults eat three or more servings of fruit and vegetables each day.
This piece originally ran in Edible Brooklyn.
Matt Jefferson was surprised last summer when a refugee-intern from Burkina Faso, whom we’ll call Anna, asked if she might have some overgrown kale and mustard leaves.
They are tough and bitter when they get so big, explains Jefferson, manager for the Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm, and normally go straight to the compost. But in Anna’s homeland, she’d learned to add them to soup, and here they went into her pot with peanuts, rice and dried fish power, a delicious mix of techniques she learned in Africa and ingredients she grows in Brooklyn.
Last weekend, nearly 200 participants inhabited the Manhattan workshop space General Assembly for a weekend-long marathon of hacking solutions to the dilemmas facing dining today. Called Hack//Dining NYC, the event was the latest in the series of hackathons hosted by Food+Tech Connect, founded by Danielle Gould. Previous hackathons have focused on Meat (Hack / Meat) or the Farm Bill (Farm Bill Hackathon). Through these and other events, Food+Tech Connect has garnered a following from both the tech and food communities eager to find more advanced ways to address today’s food system challenges.
Whether its canned goods or pantry items, most people leave food behind when they move. As one whose family ran a moving company, Adam Lowry saw pounds of food go to waste. Until one day, he had an idea.
“We figured we’d just ask people,” recalls the founder and executive director of Move for Hunger, a hunger relief organization that works with relocation. “In the first month we collected 300 pounds of food.”
If farmers are known for their independent streak, four women in Yolo County, California are challenging the assumption that going at it alone is always better. Starting this summer they will join forces to offer customers premium pastured meats through the new Capay Valley Meat Co-op.
The women, who all farm about a mile from one another with their husbands, will use the co-op to buy supplies in bulk and carpool their animals to the slaughterhouse. Alexis Robertson from Skyelark Ranch, Rachel de Rosa from Casa Rosa Farm, Lisa Leonard from Windancer Ranch and Katy Vigil from Creekside Ranch will take turns selling at markets so that they can spend more time on their farms with their families. It’s a model that if successful could have major benefits for other small-scale livestock growers.
This weekend, at a high profile “hackathon” in New York City, tech blog Food+Tech Connect and design thinking service Studio Industries will lead a 48-hour event designed to “re-engineer the future of food.”
Sponsored by Google, Chipotle, and Applegate Farms, the event is part of a growing trend of software engineers, food entrepreneurs, and angel investors that believe a properly “disruptive” information technology can revolutionize how food is produced, valued, and experienced. To promote the event, the organizers have solicited short editorials from selected food innovators to answer the question: “How might we use technology and design to hack a better future for dining?”
Here are the food news stories that caught our eye this week. Have a great weekend!
1. ‘Superweeds’ Choke Farms in Iowa (The Des Moines Register)
Imagine an ad campaign for organic food as ubiquitous as “Got Milk?,” “Pork. The Other White Meat,” and “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner.” That’s the idea behind a proposed federal program that would collect money from organic producers and put it in a single pot for promotion and industry research for the whole organics sector.
Stefan Senders of Wide Awake Bakery, just outside of Ithaca, New York, is reacquainting people with local flours. The bakery uses locally grown and ground flour in its breads, and Stefan helps professional and home bakers learn to use these unusual ingredients.
When I was in high school, a science teacher took questions from the room about what factors contributed to the demise of grass lawns. When someone raised a hand and said, “weeds,” she let out a shrill laugh and wrote on the chalkboard: “Weeds = Plants Where People Don’t Want Them.” Years later, attending an edible foraging tour of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with “Wildman” Steve Brill, I asked our guide why hedge mustard isn’t harvested wild like ramps in the spring. He didn’t so much as laugh, but let out a frustrated exclamation: “Because people don’t think of it as food.”