Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy Anniversary

It's the 20th for Loaves and Fishes, the Wednesday evening community meal at St. Barnabas' Church in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles. The need for the meal has grown a lot since I lived in L.A. and cooked once a month. Some of the folks with whom I worked are still cooking. There are a few pics here:

Twelve years ago today I celebrated my 25th ordination anniversary at Loaves and Fishes. It seemed the right thing for a deacon to do. Today I'm challenged with just where to put my energies in working on food-related issues.

Episcopal Church's message to the G20 ag summit

I am pasting in here our Presiding Bishop's letter to Secretary Vilsack on the eve of the G20 ag ministers' summit.

I'm extremely disappointed that there is a lack of specificity about what kind of agricultural research should be funded. Nowhere does she mention that research in sustainable agriculture is a value.

This,perhaps is the answer to my question - did the materials I put together for last week's executive council meeting actually get on the agenda? Is anybody listening?

There are some good points, here, of course - it's just that this very key one is missing.

The Honorable Tom Vilsack
United States Secretary of Agriculture
Washington, DC 20560

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

As Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, I write in advance of this week’s meeting of the G20 agricultural ministers to urge consideration of the needs of people in developing countries most affected by food insecurity. The Episcopal Church is a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, most of whose 80 million members live in developing countries. This letter comes to you today as other leaders of Anglican and Episcopal churches around the world are writing to their own agricultural ministers to share this call, with a particular concern about the impact of high food prices on small-scale and subsistence farmers, many of whom are women.

The focus on food at this year’s G20 represents an important recognition by the world’s leaders that rising food prices present a potential crisis for areas of the world most affected by hunger and malnutrition, especially Africa and South and Southeast Asia . With my fellow Anglican leaders, I am particularly encouraged by the growing global consensus for reducing food prices through increased agricultural spending, research and development in agricultural productivity, and the easing of trade barriers. Moreover, as an American, I am particularly heartened by the President’s Feed the Future initiative, a recognition that food security holds an important key in eradicating global poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

To build on these commitments and respond with agility to the looming crisis of rising food prices, I urge the G20 leaders to consider four new steps.

First, enhanced global support for small-scale and subsistence farmers would provide an important investment in those who produce approximately 80 percent of the food supply in developing countries, the majority of whom are women. Such support should include financial investment in training; expanded access to credit, including loan subsidies and guarantees; improved access to global markets; and the development of new measures to help farmers mitigate risk and improve small-scale crop storage. Additionally, world leaders should pledge to work to improve land tenure for women in all countries, and to promote women’s participation in national decision-making about agriculture, rural development, and resource management.

Second, it is crucial for G20 leaders to support the calls from agricultural ministers in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world for increased investment in agricultural research, better dissemination of research information among farmers in developing countries, international investment in agricultural insurance markets in poor countries, and the development of better farm infrastructure – particularly irrigation – in poor countries. It is also critical that industrialized countries reform their agricultural subsidy structure, a goal for which The Episcopal Church and many other faith communities worked during the last Farm Bill reauthorization and will continue to work in the upcoming renewal of the legislation.

Third, G20 leaders should seek to incorporate food security measures into wider strategies for reducing global poverty and achieving the MDGs, as the United States has begun to do through the Feed the Future initiative. An important component of this, which has yet to receive adequate consideration in the United States , is halting global warming and accompanying climate change. Climate significantly affects agricultural productivity, rainfall patterns, drought, and crop yields. A comprehensive strategy for addressing food security as part of the fight against global poverty must include serious efforts to reduce the carbon emissions that cause climate change.

Finally, and most fundamentally, it is crucial that world leaders keep the promises they have made already in the area of food and hunger policy. In 2009, the world’s eight richest nations signed the Aquila Food Security Initiative, pledging to achieve clear targets for increased spending on agriculture. Thus far, these pledges have not been fulfilled, though a blueprint for the United States contribution has been set forth by President Obama through the Feed the Future initiative but has not yet been funded. I am mindful of the budget shortfalls presently faced by the United States and most of the world’s industrialized countries. Increasing investment in food security, however, will strengthen the entire global economy and ultimately lead to billions of dollars in savings for the United States and other industrialized countries. Investment in food security truly is investment in the future.

Thank you for your consideration of these important issues. Know that my prayers are with you and all who undertake the costly work of public service, and that I remain

Sincerely yours,

The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Anglican Advocacy toward G20

Anglican leaders press G20 ministers over food crisis
By ACNS staff, June 20, 2011

[ACNS] Anglican church leaders have written to G20 agriculture ministers to press for measures to combat high food prices ahead of their meeting next week.
Control of the speculation in commodity trading that has pushed up food prices for the poorest people in the world, and more support for women farmers who form the majority of subsistence farmers, are some of the measures that archbishops from G20 countries have urged their agriculture ministers to support.

The moves have come amidst mounting concern over the price spikes and food insecurity that have left 900 million people around the world hungry. French President Nicholas Sarkozy has put food on the agenda for the G20 meeting in November, and next week's agriculture ministers meeting will seek an agreement on the way forward.

Ahead of the meeting letters to G20 agriculture ministers have been sent by archbishops Phillip Aspinall of Australia, Fred Hiltz of Canada, Paul Kim of Korea, Thabo Makgoba of Southern Africa, Barry Morgan of Wales, and Moderator Purely Lyngdoh of North India.

Welcoming the emerging consensus on the need for global action to reduce food price volatility and increase security, they call for a package of measures including:

· More support for small farmers – most of whom are women who produce 60 to 80 percent of food in the poorest countries;
· More investment in agriculture, especially research and development;
· Measures to stop speculation in food commodities;
· Better training, access to credit and markets, and insurance schemes for small farmers;
· Backing for recommendations that have come from agriculture ministers in developing countries;
· G20 countries to keep the promises of the 2009 Aquila Food Security Initiative to achieve clear targets for higher spending on agriculture: Canada being the one country that has a record of meeting the goal.

Advocacy on the global food crisis is being coordinated by the Anglican Alliance for Development, Relief and Advocacy. The Alliance brings together the work of the Anglican family of churches worldwide. It grew from a decision taken by the Lambeth Conference in 2008 and started its formal operations in January this year. The decision on food advocacy came at its inaugural consultation meeting in Nairobi in April.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

LAUSD changes

I hate to confess it, but I do watch the occasional reality show, including Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. So many tears shed over unhealthful eating!

You don't have to wait 'til the end of season two, or even watch it all, to learn that LAUSD will no longer offer flavored milk as of July 1.

This short article on NPR's site also notes that breaded foods, like chicken nuggets and corn dogs, are on the way out, in favor of vegetarian entrees. Woo-hoo!!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Kosher redux

Jewish piety and humor and the food movement come together in this nine minute video.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Milk in science and culture

There's a fascinating article in the current Natural History magazine about lactase persistence. It's a story of independent evolution in different human populations, in Europe and in Africa, of the ability of adults to digest milk. It shows how we evolve with our food supply, and how those changes spread through populations. Lactase persistence seems to have developed between 7000 and 9000 years ago, depending on the locale.

It's also an account of the racism involved in speaking of "lactose intolerance" and indeed, in finding ways to speak about varying traits that are not disparaging of peoples not like us.

The article is not posted on the magazine's site, but if you google <"Follow the Drinking Gourd" natural history> you may be able to find it. I'm not linking to it because it's unclear to me who or what holds the copyright.

Plating the American Diet

I'm exploring, the web site for the place setting graphic which replaces the food pyramid. Certainly this is an improvement visually, and it's good that "meat" is now "protein" and there's encouragement for drinking water. But the new scheme also has its critics. If you care about the environmental impact of what you eat, you will need to tack on those values to guide your food choices, like seasonal, local and sustainably harvested seafood. If you care about the glycemic index, then you will also need to modify these guidelines accordingly. (For example, choose fruit, not juice, and limit the flour in your diet.) And if you believe that humans should not eat grains (that is, that our digestive systems have not evolved in 12,000 years) or that adults should not drink milk, then you aren't going to be happy with the plate and its accompanying glass. But for a quick reminder it's, well, a graphic graphic.

Nosing around on the site, I found some items of interest.

There is a resource list for vegetarians. This seems significant to me, particularly for children and young people who decide not to eat animals without knowing much about nutrition.
Though why do I think it's only young people that don't have basic nutritional information?

The ten tip series
seems pretty helpful - and perhaps refrigerator postable. I'm happy to see the increased emphasis on watching sodium in foods.

Looking at the personalized eating plan calculator, the results seem to be pretty much what they were with mypyramid. You plug in age, weight and activity level and choose whether you want to maintain your weight or lose slowly. Then you get a list of daily and weekly choices from the different groups. So while myplate is a more useful visual, the detail is there for those who want to design their own eating plan specifics.

If you follow the trails and links at choosemyplate you will also find your way to the background information, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. The appendices may be the best part of this document. I just printed out two of them, one on adapting the guidelines to a vegetarian diet (Actually, the only difference is that this tells me how to distribute my protein choices among non-meat items. You'd think it would be a little heavier on the whole grains and dark, leafy greens.) - the other a list of high potassium foods. I wish the trails were a little more clearly marked, though, as having closed that window, I can't seem to figure out how I got there.