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Cooking with Your Kids

As a little girl, I loved sitting on the kitchen counter while my mom cooked. While I kicked my feet against the cabinets, she taught me how to peel an onion efficiently and how to crack an egg and use my index fingers to get all the white out before tossing the shells into the compost bin. And I still vividly recall the excitement I felt over the beautiful, golden, sesame seed-studded  loaves of braided challah we baked in my second grade class at the Woodstock Children’s Center–they were like some kind of miracle. Childhood is such an important, impressionable time of life when the vast majority of our lifelong habits are formed, or at least pointed in the direction in which they’ll head. That’s why my husband and I want to introduce our son, Will, to growing and cooking food alongside us. Read more

Mother Takes on Monsanto, Wins Global Prize

Hats off to this mother of three who got fed up and took charge. Thirteen years ago, Sofía Gatica’s newborn died of kidney failure after being exposed to pesticides in the womb. After the despair came anger, then a fierce determination to protect the children in her community and beyond.

Today, she’s one of six grassroots leaders from around the world receiving the Goldman Environmental Prize, in recognition of her courageous—and successful—efforts. Read more

Changing Roles in the Local Food Economy

The DIY craze has shacked up with the local food movement to produce some inspiring examples of entrepreneurialism: Mason jar magic made by suburban fruit salvagers powered by pedals; workshops on wild-crafting, axe-making, rooftop bees and city-living chickens; lecture series that focus on the how-to rather than just why, when and where; and more.

But we can’t just take pictures of these ingenious innovators for the glossies and call our work finished. We have so much creativity (and cabbage) fermenting at the intersection of craft, food, and agriculture–now we need to connect the dots. Read more

The Gutsy Food Sovereignty Movement

It is a basic tenet that a community’s food supply should be healthy and accessible for everyone. But the truth is that local communities have very little control over what they eat. Corporate producers dominate the American food system by providing cheap and plentiful food. While this may seem to be a good thing, the food and the processes used don’t necessarily guarantee the nutrition or health they purport to provide. Read more

A Sunday Supper Club, Cooking Up Lunches for the Week

For the urban office worker, buying your lunch every day can be a drag. It leaves your palate uninspired, your wallet empty, and your butt growing slowly across your desk chair. It can leave you with a permanent distaste for turkey sandwiches and a fear of deli lines.

Christine Johnson and Joanna Helferich—a public health director and a corporate lawyer respectively—came up with a solution for their lunch blahs.  For the past five years the two college friends have been getting together on Sunday evening and cooking their lunches for the entire week. Read more

In the Lower Ninth Ward, Rebuilding a Community Starting with the Soil

Community is at the center of the good food revolution, and the Lower Ninth Ward section of New Orleans is home to one of the more extreme examples. Five years after Hurricane Katrina broke the levees–flooding the neighborhood and forcing its residents to decamp elsewhere–the area, largely frozen in time, has become home to a thriving community of urban farmers aiming to improve the quality of life of its residents. Read more

The Revolution Will Be Baked

Four Worlds Bakery is a small business stemming the tide of a bad economy with sustainable practices–and good bread. This winter when I moved from New York City to Philadelphia, I found out quickly about this hot spot for baked goodness. A new Philly friend raved about Michael Dolich, the owner and head baker, as I bit into one of his delicious almond croissants at a local coffee joint. Her enthusiasm matched with the buttery magic in my mouth inspired me to investigate this West Philadelphia community staple. Read more

A Farm Grows in an Empty Lot in Brooklyn

When Brooklyn homeowner and Hunter College urban studies professor Tom Angotti thought about how he could make a difference in his community, he decided to start with his overgrown corner plot. Little did he know he’d be at the helm of a volunteer movement that’s working to make a difference in the way we think about food, community, and what it takes to democratically run a major project comprised of individuals holding various opinions on urban agriculture. Read more

Emperors Need Mentors, Too: A Review of My Empire of Dirt

Manny Howard’s new book, My Empire of Dirt, is haunted by the living ghost of Wendell Berry.  First there’s the epigraph by Berry in which he instructs us on how to “use land well,” and it includes knowing and loving the land, and using the right tools. (To paraphrase a master, poorly.)

Then, early on in Howard’s recounting of a season spent trying to turn his south Brooklyn backyard into a homestead, the voice of Wendell Berry comes to him, offering further wisdom. Only problem is, Howard confesses in the epilogue that “On the Farm, Wendell Berry girded me.  Not that I had ever read a word he’d written until I was back at my desk, trying to make sense of the year.” Huh? Read more

Prairie Crossing: Midwestern Development Making Farming Possible from the Ground Up

As cities across the country struggle with suburban sprawl, disappearing farmland, and a dwindling population of regional farmers, one community in Chicago’s northern suburbs is doing things a little differently.

Prairie Crossing is one of those rare examples of energy efficient construction, neighborhood-oriented development, good land stewardship, and farming advocacy that is leading the way for a new kind of development. Under the visionary guidance of George and Vicky Ranney, the 677 acre property in Grayslake, Illinois was transformed from depleted corn and soybean fields back to a diverse and thriving ecosystem of native wetland and prairie habitat, 100 acres of certified organic farmland, and low density single-family housing. Add to that a coordinated regional effort to stem the tide of suburban overdevelopment and loss of farmland, and you have a nationally recognized development model that not only demonstrates environmental conservation but actually increases farmland and farmers. Read more