Ashley, a junior at Life Learning Academy (LLA), a Treasure Island-based charter high school, has recently experienced a change of heart.
“I got garden class and I was like, ‘gross!’ But once I took this class I was like, ‘it’s so cool,’” she says from behind a row of spring plant starts. Ashley is excited and a little nervous; it’s her class’ first day selling at the Schoolyard to Market stand in the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco. Nonetheless, she’s eager to share her experience. “We eat everything in the garden at school–we just snack. Greens, mint, strawberries. I had no idea there were so many types of vegetables.” Read More
Some consumers may be surprised to hear that the organic beer they have been drinking isn’t necessarily made with organic hops. While not the major ingredient of the four components of beer—along with malt, yeast and water—hops are nonetheless crucial in creating it. By placing hops on the National List of “Allowed and Prohibited Substances” in 2007, the USDA approved the use of conventional hops in beer labeled organic, provided that the producer can prove that the organic version is unavailable. But this allowance is about to change. Beginning in 2013, all beer labeled organic must be made with organic hops. Read More
The produce lobby is livid that consumers might be concerned about pesticides. They are taking their fury out on the USDA for its annual report on pesticide use (via The Washington Post):
In a recent letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, 18 produce trade associations complained that the data have “been subject to misinterpretation by activists, which publicize their distorted findings through national media outlets in a way that is misleading for consumers and can be highly detrimental to the growers of these commodities.” Read More
First let’s get one persistent canard out of the way. Yes, the tomato is technically a fruit, not a vegetable, but for purposes of economics the USDA classifies it as a vegetable, and as such it is the second most popular vegetable in the nation after that other burger staple, lettuce. This is surprising in only one respect: A vast majority of the tomatoes consumed in the U.S. every year ($5 billion worth), are devoid of the flavor and nutritive value they once had.
Sure, that plant your neighbor gave you that’s just beginning to enjoy the summer heat will produce lots of delicious, succulent tomatoes come August or September. But in his new book, Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed our Most Alluring Fruit, two-time James Beard Award-winning journalist Barry Estabrook tells us why the modern factory-farmed tomato in most grocery stores is a poster child for nearly everything that is wrong with industrial agriculture. Read More
Helene York is both an educator and coach for Bon Appétit Management Company, the socially responsible food service company that operates more than 400 on-site cafés for universities, corporate employers, and museums in 31 states. She is also the director of the Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation, whose mission is to educate chefs and consumers about how their food choices affect the global environment and to catalyze changes in the supply chain. Read More
San Francisco has La Cocina‘s incubator kitchen, and street eats, underground food folk, and pop-up restaurant types work out of places like La Victoria Bakery, while thriving food enterprises such as Blue Chair Fruit have found a home in the kitchen that houses Grace Street Catering in Oakland. Read More
The life of a farmer is hardly mundane. There is constant work, little time off, and yet the seemingly homebody, non-lucrative career choice certainly isn’t short on hustle and bustle. As someone who is by no means a farmer, more a macro-gardener who tries to make some extra income from our one-acre excess, I am doubly impressed with Lynda Hopkins’ The Wisdom of the Radish. Her ability to balance life’s components makes her head first dive into the hardships of organic farming particularly triumphant especially since she has written a book to prove it. Read More
The documentary film Forks Over Knives starts in the middle of a health crisis. In a video montage, statistics on heart disease, obesity rates, prescription drug use, and the cost of healthcare are interspersed with sound bites from the likes of Bill Maher, who declares, “the answer is spinach!” While the tone is dark, Maher’s prelude stands for the hope within this film. Forks Over Knives compels us to consider that spinach is in fact an antidote to our disease of affluence. Read More
For most of us working in food policy, it’s hard to remember a time when food outbreaks of bugs like E. coli didn’t happen pretty much weekly. But reading the new book Poisoned by Jeff Benedict made me realize that bacteria-contaminated hamburgers are a relatively recent phenomenon; a striking reminder of how our food system has gone very, very wrong. Read More
Would you change the way you eat if it kept you from getting cancer or stopped the disease in its tracks? Could you see yourself adding more sustainable, fresh local foods to your diet every day if it might prolong your life? Cancer researcher Dr. William Li, of the Angiogenesis Foundation, thinks you can.
Li’s work revolves around looking at the way that our blood vessels–every person has around 60,000–deliver oxygen and nutrients to the all our body’s organs, but can also feed cancers and grow tumors in the body. To prove his theory about the preventative powers of healthy food, his Angiogenesis Foundation has kicked off an Eat to Defeat campaign, that has a goal of signing up one million volunteers who are willing to increase their intake of healthy foods, and to become a part of his research. Read More