Sunday, April 30, 2006

Home! (for now)

Finally. Thanks again, Sustainable Table and Heifer, for helping make the tour possible.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Grub Party Mav-Style

Spent the night throwing a Grub party for guests at Maverick Farms. Started by old friends who took over the family farm, Maverick is making a go of organic farming in rural North Carolina. Like most of the small farmers we've met, their income comes from a range of direct-to-consumer stuff, like their CSA, selling to area restaurants, and monthly farm dinners. For the Grub party we hosted, the Mav Team made a delectable sorrel soup, watercress salad with quinoa and lentil cold salads, too. For dessert we were served up blueberry tart and apple pie. Country living never tasted so good. After the Grub dinner guests left and the reading was over, we stayed up late watching this classic projected onto the wall of the farmhouse.

Mav-ers Alice Brooke Wilson and Sara Safransky before the guests arrive.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Thanks Malaprops!

Asheville was rocking tonight and I had a great time at Malaprop's, another amazing indie on our tour. Emily Jackson from the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project told us about all the great work they're doing locally and we headed out to dinner here.

Planting Taters & Visiting Bees

Spent the morning on the farm planting potatoes and visiting Leo's bees. Did you know that the widespread use of pesticides has killed off most wild bees in the U.S.? Now, every year for the California almond harvest farmers rent bees from around the country to pollinate their fields? (Leo tells me this while I stand by trying to act mellow as he adds a couple of stacks to his crew of them.) Leo has friends who spend their years following harvests with their bees--the insect world's migrant workers--stacked high in the back of their trucks. (Pictured at left: Mav-er Leo Gaev and Added-Value's Ian Marvy (on loan from Brooklyn) lug potatoes.)

The group effort.

Leo in his bee suit.

Valle Crucis, North Carolina

I've landed in paradise.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Calling All Filmmakers

Got a great film on food change? Arts Engine wants to know. The folks who bring you the MediaRights Film Festival are seeking submissions for Media That Matters: Good Food, a nationwide project that will empower and educate young people about food and the environment. Good Food will bring a unique collection of short, inspiring films by youth and independent filmmakers to middle-school, high-school and college students around the country. Through web streaming, classroom, community and campus screenings, national broadcasts and DVD distribution, young people will be engaged by food and environmental issues and inspired to take action for a sustainable future in their own communities. Submissions open now.

So You Want to Try Your Hand at Farming?

Meeting more amazing folks at the conference, like the founder of this organization that will place any of desiring to get your hands in the dirt with farms who need you.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sticking Her Neck Out - Denise O'Brien for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture

Had a meeting today with my new hero, Denise O'Brien. An organic farmer for thirty years, she's running for Sec of Ag in Iowa. Her state has the dubious claim-to-fame of being one of the country's most polluted--90 percent of which comes from ag. Every year, water contaminated with E. coli, nitrogen, and phosphorus from Iowa industrial farms run-off the land into the waterways, the Mississippi and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico. If she wins, she'll promote sustainable ag in the state and work on behalf of small family farmers. If you have a few bucks and want to support a critical political campaign this season, consider supporting Denise--whether you live in Iowa, or not. She is one of those rare candidates willing to step out and speak up on behalf of all of us. For the next forty days she and her homegrown campaign team (her daughter moved home to help on the campaign), will pull out all the stops. I, for one, will support her any way I can. --Anna

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Asheville: Food and Society Conference

Spending the week in Asheville with the Kellogg Food and Society Conference (part of my work for this). I realize pretty quickly that most of the people I write about in Grub are here, so I get to have nights like last one, when I had dinner here with people doing amazing work like Joani, Ryan, Jim, Mark, and Lilach. Later, we put on our two-stepping shoes here. --Anna

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Happy Earth Day! Grub, Bellingham Style

Inspired by the folks in Columbia Missouri who put on the True/False film festival (housed in the super-cool art-house cinema our friend Holly helped to start), Michael Falter and Susan Tive put together a program of docs that rivals the big-name festivals (you know, like Sundance). They brought me up to give a talk after The Real Dirt on Farmer John. (A must see, about a farmer whose nearly losing-it-all story is as heart-wrenching as his revival as one of the most successful CSA farmers I've heard of). After I finished wiping my eyes, I pulled it together (slightly) and then joined everyone for the after-movie all-local food and wine tasting organized by Sustainable Connections. Altogether a hectic day, leaving Portland before the sun rose, heading up to Bellingham, and then going to bed just before it rose (again), but I somehow squeezed in a cat-nap in a cottage within eyeshot of Bellingham's beautiful bay and a night cap at a quintessentially Seattle dive bar with an old college buddy. --Anna

My angel schlepper Margot, me, and Susan Tive (festival organizer)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Home! (for Bryant)

Bryant heads home, and I head up from Portland to Bellingham, Washington. Whose claim-to-fame so far for me is that I bought this board game from there off eBay.

Portland: Book Reading and Good Eats

Had a fun reading at the annex of the Powells independent bookstore empire at their Books for Home and Garden store and a great after-dinner at Fife, whose owner/chef gets the Grub message and forages locally for almost all of his ingrediens. Heading out to Bellingham at the crack of dawn... --Anna

Friday, April 21, 2006

Your Chicken Just Made Silver Medallion

From Congress: China added to the list of countries eligible to export processed poultry to the U.S. The final rule will allow export from China of processed poultry products made from poultry raised in the U.S. and slaughtered in other countries eligible to be re-imported back, which would make your chicken wings Silver Medallion frequent fliers in no time. --Anna

Seattle: Grist/Worldchanging/Grub On the Town

Thanks to everyone who turned out to Elliot Bay Book Co. tonight. If you're ever in Seattle you must check out this cozy, labrynthine bookstore and its downstairs cafe and booksignings. After, we headed to The Hideout (loved the walls of art & $3.50 Fat Tires) with folks from Grist and WorldChanging where we discussed the real meaning of growth, why "Eli Danger Hoffman" is the best name ever, and the trouble with the trendiness of eco-consumption. --Anna

Bryant and some of the WorldChanging peeps.

Seattle: Grub Party Meets Ballard

Had a lovely night out in Ballard, a funky neighborhood on the Northern end of Seattle, to help celebrate and raise money for Sustainable Ballard, a local, volunteer-run group working on everything from transportation to food and health. Area farmers provided nettles, yummy eggs, and other tasty treats and chefs (including Seattle Art Museum's) even took a page from Bryant's recipes to make some Grub-inspired meals. Got into a great discussion with these women about the power of media and even pawned off a book on the bartender.--Anna

Some of the Sustainable Ballard crew.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Santa Cruz: Surf's Up

According to surf lore, when the waves were good local storeowners would drape "surf's up" signs in their shop windows and head out to catch a few. So, this isn't really about Grub, but got up at 6:00 to get my first surf lesson at Cowell's before hopping on a flight to Seattle

Matthew Lappe (my little brother and surfer hotshot) with Cowell's behind us.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Santa Cruz: Educating for Sustainable Living

So, yeah, Santa Cruz has the rep of being hippie central, and maybe a little flakey, but the students we met last night were some of the brightest, most engaged I've met in a long time. We had a particularly delicious meal with the sun breaking through after days of rain and with all organic all local foods, including a freshly made desert with just-picked kiwis. Got a tour of the working farm where our tour coordinator had studied last year as an apprentice. If you're looking to get your hands dirty and learn from the organic masters, this is your place.--Anna

Local foods dinner with the PICA and Education for Sustainable Living Program students at UCSC.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

San Francisco: The Delicious Revolution

Alice Waters has been a hero of each of ours for a long time. Known most for her must-book-months-in-advance culinary treasure, Chez Panisse, she also is the force behind one of the most effective school garden projects, The Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, where more than 4,000 visitors now pass every year. It was wonderful to have her introduce us today at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market where Bryant demoed a couple of recipes from Grub.--Anna
Here I am playing Vanna to Bryant's Pat Sajak.

Berkeley: Grub Party Inspiration

Met this cool woman at the Berkeley Farmers Market who decided to throw her own Grub parties and memorialize them in her own book... see pics below.--Anna

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Marin: A Dinner with Farmers and Friends

We got to dine with some of our heroes tonight, including UC Berkeley professor Ignacio Chapelo, Jerry Mander (of Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television fame), and Deborah Koons Garcia, creator of The Future of Food. The event included a celebration of the work of Marin Organic, which among other cool projects in the county, gleans organic produce from area farmers and delivers it to public schools. In just a few years, they've upped it to 40,000 pounds annually. --Anna

Bryant, Deborah, and me.
The amazing food was prepared by Ali Ghiorse (picture here), a genius in the kitchen.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Oakland: Diesel and the Old School

When I was a kid, Diesel Books in Oakland was a bowling alley. It boasted 89 lanes. Once inside, you'd see lanes numbered, 82 to 89. Now, it's a gorgeous independent bookstore (we're only hitting indies on the tour). We had a great reading, got an impromptu poetry reading from Mike Molina that rocked. Got to see lots of old friends. Including my old high school buddy Zac Unger. --Anna

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Chicago: What's In My Latte?

Food and Water Watch wants to know. Met some of the organizers of this new advocacy group and learned about their latest campaign against Starbucks.

Audrey Hill from Food and Water Watch and me at the BioETHICS conference.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Chicago: The Other Bio Conference

Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, 20,000 biotech execs and their wanna-bes gathered for the annual BIO convention. I applied for a press pass a few months ago. Although they gave me one last year (on assignment for the same magazine), this year the communications officer for BIO told me that the magazine's editorial line wasn't relevant to their conference. You can read about my run-in with the BIO communications team at last year's conference in Grub. It might help you get why they'd reject a request this time around.

Chicago: Ethics and Biotechnology? An Odd Pair??

Spent the weekend with folks from the BioETHICS conference in Chicago. They put together an amazing array of informational workshops and discussions exploring the ethics of ag biotechnology. I learned a lot from the farmers present, many of whom had been biotech farmers who were now outspoken critics. Among them was one farmer who discovered widespread health problems with his livestock after starting them on GMO feed. --Anna

New York City: Grub Launched

Thanks to everyone who turned out for our standing room only crowd on Thursday night. And joined us at La Quinta and kept us dancing until 3 a.m. at Sutra. (You rock, Arielle!) We even sold out all our books. Next stop, Chicago! Head out to LGA in T-minus seven minutes. --Anna

Some of the crew striking a pose at La Quinta.

Lovely ladies, Elizabeth Johnson and Latham Thomas, (and me) at Sutra.

That's Bryant and me at the end of the long and happy night.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Fake News

Check out the just-released report from our friends at the Center for Media and Democracy about how much of our news isn't really news at all.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Grub Launches Today - Maceo from De La Soul Helps Us Celebrate

Join us tonight at our book launch! 6:30pm at Coliseum Books (11 W 42nd Street)

And join us for our after-after party (10pm on...) at Sutra , with our friend DJ Reborn and the great Maceo from the legendary De La Soul for Sutra's weekly Thursday Ubiquita party.

16 First Ave.
Cross Street: Between East 1st Street and East 2nd Street
Directions: F, V at 2nd Ave.

Grim News on Obesity from NYC

Today's New York Times had some sobering news about obesity here: rates of obesity in this city are more than double the national average.

Grossing Out the Family (Almost)

I try not to make a habit of this, but I seriously grossed out my family tonight. As we checked out menus at a SoHo restaurant, I mentioned the latest stomach-turning news about our industrial food system: rampant arsenic residues in chicken. In independent tests by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, more than half the chicken tested carried detectable arsenic, a carcinogen which also may be linked to heart disease, diabetes, and other seroius illnesses. Arsenic in our chicken?! Bet you didn't even know it was used in chicken feed. Well, I didn't either until I started working on Grub. It turns out, arsenic is still widely used in feed on industrial farms in the U.S. to kill parasites and promote growth. (Although, this public outcry will hopefully put pressure on the industry to change, like public outcry did in Europe where the practice is banned). So what's a chicken eater to do? Choose organic-certified. Luckily for my family, the restaurant where we were eating serves only organic meat, so my brother could order the chicken ceasar salad, in arsenic-free peace. --Anna

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ann Arbor: Growing Hope in Michigan

I'm downing some erva mate at the local Ann Arbor food coop between events while Bryant is doing a cooking demo and hanging out with the young people that make up Growing Hope, a local group that uses community gardening for community empowerment. Despite the grey, bone-chilling weather, Ann Arbor has been an inspiring start to our trip. Last night, we met folks who are opening a community-based, organic supermarket in the heart of Detroit -- where there is little in the way of real food -- and folks helping to start an organic farming apprenticeship program at the Michigan State University in East Lansing. --Anna

Bryant and me @ our first book signing... Shaman Drum Books in Ann Arbor.
Bryant and the kids of Growing Hope with a delicious green cabbage salad.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

French fries be gone! A revolution in school food?

When the CDC stated if we don't change the way we feed our children, kids born today may be the first in the cuontry to die at a younger age than their parents, many people woke up to our food crisis. Woke up, yes, but most of the food we feed to our kids is still high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar time bombs. And while the CDC makes pronouncements like these, the USDA--the agency responsible for school food--continues to feed American kids junk food. (Come to think of it, why doesn't the CDC or the HHS run school food? The USDA's real mandate is finding a market for US ag products... and those kids are a pretty captive market).

But a movement across the country is working to change that. I spent today with four hundred of them. Their radical proposition? Offer food that makes kids well, instead of makes them sick. As Ann Cooper, head of school food in Berkeley, California, pointed out in a rousing talk that made me wake up from an otherwise bleary-eyed 9am blur: We spend billions on treateing obesity-related illnesses, at the same time we waste billions on feeding kids the very food that will make them overweight.

Most inspiring moment: When Dr. Roberta Sonnino from Rome said that 68% of all schools in Italy serve some organic foods and that they have a federal mandate (Finance Law 488) that explicity encourages public institutions like schools and hospitals to serve organic foods. Imagine that!

Best food moment: Eating lunch. It was delicious and prepared by the school food department in New York City.

Favorite quote of the day: "There are risks and costs to any program of action," said JFK. "But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction."

Working with kids? Have kids in school? Just plain care about what kids eat? Visit the Baum Forum's resource guide online to get involved in the school food revolution. --Anna

Big Thanks!

As we set out on our multi-city tour, we want to give big thanks to our generous supporters: Heifer International and Sustainable Table. We couldn't do it without them.