Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Count Your Blessings

and thank God for them.

One of my blessings this year is that I have been so busy thinking and writing and talking about food issues - but that means I don't get to my blog as often as I would like. I just finished a little paper for the ENEJ - Episcopal Network for Economic Justice - on food, health, environment and the poor, and I have some more work to do for our food system working group.

I hope to do some writing here over the holiday. I've got notes on scraps of paper and oodles of electronic bookmarks to follow-up - even a few photos I could post - perhaps I can get to them on days off from paid work.

And I'm taking a jar of cranberry chutney with me - a 6000 mile condiment!

May your condiments be many and those at your table happy and thankful.

Gleaned Clean

An AP article, November 23, from Platteville, Colorado, was picked up by the NY Times, which is where I spotted it. A farm family opened up their 600 acres north of Denver. People were invited to glean potatoes, carrots and leeks.

40,000 people showed up.

Seems to me this reflects the increasing hunger in our land, especially hunger for fresh produce, as incomes decline and jobs are lost.

I noticed early this fall that on the west county bulletin board here there were only one or two offers of free fruit and produce. Last year there were so many. Either people are learning to dry or can themselves, or they are getting their surplus to food banks, or they are inviting programs that serve the hungry to glean. Or maybe the folks who took their surplus last year remembered and called them up at the right time. Whatever. The need is greater, and connections to get the surplus to those who can benefit seem stronger. No need to offer up those apples or potatoes anonymously. And beware what happens when you do!

I wonder if the Millers in Colorado will try an open invitation again...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

fall foods

Martha Rose Shulman steals her recipes from the same people as I do.


This is a particularly tasty, wholesome and inexpensive one. I've already made it once with squash from my garden. But it's even better, Martha Rose, with a splash of sherry, dollop of sour cream or full fat yogurt, and/or a little grated fresh ginger as garnish.

Now if I could only remember where I stole it from originally...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Some US hunger stats

Here is part of an article from Religion News Service:

(emphasis mine - think about it!)

Feds say hunger rose in 2007
Food insecurity in America continued to rise last year, and participation in the food stamp program is approaching record highs, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday (Nov. 17). In 2007, 11.1 percent of U.S. households reported food insecurity -- what used to be labeled as “hunger” -- up from 10.9 percent in 2006.
About 4 percent of households were severely food insecure, meaning one or more adults had to adjust their eating habits because the household lacked resources for food. The food stamp program now has more than 30 million people enrolled, an increase of 9.5 percent from 2006, and half of all babies receive supplemental nutrition from the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, according to the report.
“Even before this year's severe economic downturn, more households were struggling to put food on the table,” said the Rev. David Beckmann, president of the anti-hunger group Bread for the World. “As the crisis continues, federal nutrition programs are working overtime to keep up with the need.” .... Ashley Gipson

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The world and I are crazy

I have been spending far too much time doing other things lately. Two days after I got back from Iowa I headed to Berkeley for a day for science and theology connections. I've been cooking and preserving with the last of the garden's summer produce, and with the Massachusetts cranberries my family sent. (Food miles: bad; cultural foods: very good) this week I have been focused on getting things ready for the Celebrating Creation table at our diocesan convention. And I'm not sure I'm going to make deadline on a paper about food system for the Episcopal economic justice network. In between all those things there is work for the cluster congregations and for the communication department at world headquarters - things for which I actually get paid!

But if I'm crazy, it seems the world is no less so. The food news item which keeps catching my attention is that MacDonald's profits are going up, and fast food outlets are the only restaurants making money. It's all about cheap food. Cheap, calorie dense, nutrient low food. As we spiral downward into recession, will the American diet get even worse? What will be the tipping point to get people to spend more time and less money on food?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Organic Cats of Iowa

I have much to report - some factoids, some observations, some reflections - from the Lutheran Sunday Scientist Symposium on Food and Faith. But before I do much blogging, I need to write my article for Episcopal Life Media.

My attempts at photos weren't great. On the tour of small organic farms Saturday afternoon my best results were photos of farm cats. You can't have a small scale dairy - goats or cows - without cats - and everywhere there were adolescent cats. My favorite was this one, who stayed in the same position for minutes on end at Small Potatoes Farm as Jim Hartmann talked about which vegetables had made it through the first frost and which varieties of garlic were being planted - and as cats blissed out in the unseasonable warm sunshine.