Tuesday, January 19, 2016

It's the methane folks

Often we think about food waste in terms of the people who could be fed with what we don't eat. "There are starving children in (insert country depending on your generation)!
The statistic given in the linked article is that we waste about 1200 calories per person per day. If you add in the amount we overeat (the majority of us sustaining overweight or obese bodies) you have to include that we could support a whole country of another 300 million people.
Of course, some of these wasted calories cannot be recovered or distributed. What they do is contribute to methane released from our landfills, which impacts climate and consequently agriculture around the world.
Here's a story about a new government initiative to encourage food recovery by religious congregations: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/01/18/463109192/thou-shalt-not-toss-food-enlisting-religious-groups-to-fight-waste

Friday, January 15, 2016


It's the International Year of Pulses. http://www.fao.org/pulses-2016/en/ I get excited about beans anyway, so imagine what this is doing to me!
Thanks to the Slow Foods e-news I just learned that the American Pulse Association has a great website. http://pulsepledge.com/
But I must say that taking the pulse of local grocery stores yesterday was disappointing. I wanted some decent red beans, preferably Rancho Gordo's. (I recommend liking RG's page on Facebook for the latest news and recipes.) All I could find at Oliver's and Sonoma Market and Whole Foods was kidney beans. So unimaginative. So I'm going to make red beans and rice with Santa Maria Pinquitos from RG, and plan a trip to Napa soon to get a better selection at the source. Sangre de Toros, here I come.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What's Thanksgiving week without a few recipes?

Martha Stewart has 80 pie recipes on her site. Well, I have nothing against pie, but I think it's a great time to give thanks for the foods of the Americas. Rancho Gordo thinks so, too.

And from one of my favorite seed companies, Nichols Garden Nursery, here are a menu and links to recipes.

One of my Sunshine squash grown from Nichols' seeds is going on the chopping block today. What else could provide both a delicious side and a dessert?

And a late addition - some better cranberry recipes from NPR.

Friday, November 20, 2015

International Food Workers Week

begins this Sunday, November 22.

As we give thanks for the bounty on our tables and the people gathered there, let us remember with respect those who harvest, process and serve our food week in and week out. And let's recommit ourselves to justice for all food system workers.

Some Story Corps clips co-produced by Real Food Media took me to this organization's site.

But there are loads more resources!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Food system work; the workers' perspective

I had thought it might be fun to post some recipes or the like on US Food Day, today, as a festive wrap-up to this blogging novena. But I've been ignoring a central issue, the state of workers in our food system. I've collected quite a few links. Here they are, along with a few comments.

Here in Sonoma County, the social equity team of the Food System Alliance had intended to work with the Health Dept in promoting, reflecting on and following up with a wellness survey of farmworkers. But as these bureaucratic things go, the project took forever. A summary of research done almost two years ago was finally posted this week.
Perhaps because of the scale of most agriculture here, or perhaps because of the skills needed in some aspects of viticulture, we have a permanent farm labor force. But most are struggling to support families on under $30000 per year, when the cost of living well for a family of four is usually estimated in the $50,000+ range. And housing costs are escalating, with pressure on rents from the many who can't afford to buy and the recent relocation of people displaced by fire in Lake County.
There are many links from the press release above, but this one may be the clearest presentaion of the key findings.

When I attended a brainstorming session for the Generation Food Project http://generationfoodproject.org/ in late September, I sat next to a woman who is a leader in the Fight for $15.  http://fightfor15.org/  A single mother employed by McDonald's in Richmond, CA, she works an additional job to put food on the table, but with a low income and little time to cook realizes she is not providing better, healthful choices for her family. All she - and thousands of others - want is $15/hour and a union.

I listened to a bit of the James Beard Foundation conference this week and learned about ROC United. There are 10 million restaurant workers in this country, and those eligible for tips have an hourly wage at about the level of the general minimum wage when I was in college - and oh dear, I am going to have to say it - roughly 50 years ago. You can read about ROC's work here:
http://rocunited.org/ You can also get an app which will let you know which restaurants are doing right by their employees. And if your haunts aren't, there is coaching available to help you let them know that you value such practices as paid sick days and internal advancement opportunities as well as fair pay.

Finally (whew!) we need a stronger movement for domestic fair trade. It's not enough with the coffee, tea and chocolate! If you scroll down in this newsletter you can read all about work afoot in the northeastern US.
The Domestic Fair Trade Association has lots of information on their website about the marriage of international fair trade and the organic movement in "promoting health, justice and sustainability."

Friday, October 23, 2015

This article on BuzzFeed recounts the saga of a Monsanto funded scientist's (turned podcast personality) attempts to bolster the reputation of GMOs in a humorous (?) way, and a journalist's attempts to tell the story.  http://www.buzzfeed.com/brookeborel/when-scientists-email-monsanto

It's a fascinating read, but what it tells me is nothing about GMOs, but a lot about the need to provide more public funding for agricultural research (rather than leaving ag scientists dependent on industry money). There also is a hint in the article that if ag scientists are going to accept corporate funds, they need to have professional ethical guidelines and stick to them.

It bugs me that GMO critics dwell on the middle class (privileged) issue of personal health, not looking at the environmental impacts and the global injustices tied to them. Nevermind that they don't document their sources in their campaigns. It bugs me that we can't seem to have any unbiased research into areas where GE practices push the envelope just a bit on traditional plant breeding (gene transfers at the family level, for example, rather than limited to the species or in some cases genus level) in ways that would benefit the world's hungry.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

USDA Farm to School Program

It's nothing earth shaking or radical, but it's definitely a success moving in the right direction. There have only been 223 grants awarded in the first three years of the program, but more than 42,000 schools around the country are enrolled in some aspect of it. And it's not just enriching school lunch anymore, but will also be improving summer meal programs and supporting efforts on reservations to return to the traditional diets of those indigenous to that place.

It's about more fresh, local food. It's about knowing where your food comes from and how it's grown. It's about nutrition education. And now for first peoples it's about cultural values around food, too.

More info here: