Monday, March 31, 2008

No-to-GMO: It's Not Just for California Anymore

Residents in Montville, Maine passed the nation's first binding resolution (outside of California, that is) to ban the planting of genetically modified crops. Check out the news here.

Friday, March 28, 2008

More Howdini How-To's

How To Tell If Packaged Food Is Organic:
Confused about what all those organic labels really mean?
I break it down for you.

How To Buy Eco-Friendly Local Foods:
Tips for reducing the distance from seed-to-plate.


Take a look at this trailer for the video from our friends at Nourish. My favorite line from one of the teens interviewed: "Fast food? At first it's really good... and then later, it's really gross."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Grow Together: Gaining Ground

an arts workshop at the grow together conference

Imagine a packed-to-the-rafters auditorium of 1,000 community gardeners from all five New York City boroughs, of all ages, from dozens of different countries gathered to celebrate another year of growing food, community, and hope.

It was definitely intimidating, but I was excited to share the message that I believe that everyone gathered for the annual NYC GrowTogether conference are the among the planet's climate change heroes.

All across the country, community gardens are popping up everywhere, like those sprouting throughout NYC. To find out about community gardens near you or get your own hands in the dirt, check out the American Community Gardening Association. And if you're in NYC, visit GreenThumb and tell 'em I sent you!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Mollie Katzen on The Practical Guide

Mollie Katzen celebrates vegetables in this new Practical Guide posted today. All those shots of her strolling through her backyard garden to clip herbs did make me long for the green space my Brooklyn brownstone apartment can't really offer, but for now, I'll just have to live vicariously through folks like Mollie and friends like these.

talking about the history of hunger on wumb

My mom was out jogging a few mornings ago when she heard someone on the radio talking about genetically modified foods. She said it took her a few more strides before she realized it was her daughter! The woman who interviewed me for this program was one of my favorite interviewees. She asked me questions that got me really thinking.
Take a listen here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sleepless in Seattle

I'm in Seattle where I'm giving a talk tomorrow for the thirtieth anniversary of Seattle Tilth.

I was going to begin my remarks by saying that we’ve moved beyond the debate about whether global warming is real. But then I was looking over my speech tonight when I noticed my op-ed in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer had already been posted online.

And, by 11:14pm, seven comments had been submitted to "sound off."

I’ll just share one—you’ll get the idea: “Please stop this nonsense. Climate change has happened every few decades foe 6,000 years. I am so sick of the Godless left with their huge egos thinking they are to blame for climate change. Get real people and start worrying about things that have real consequences.”

I guess we still have our work cut out for us.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

In defense of food - and dietitians

My friend, Melinda Hemmelgarn, has this great column in The Columbia Tribune--a dietitian's take on Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food.

Platter Chatter

The folks at Sustainable Table asked me a couple of questions for their Platter Chatter blog. Here are my answers. More can be found on their blog.

What’s your definition of local?

I like non-rigid definitions of local. For me, local is the spirit of the food, more than an exact number of feet from my kitchen to the field where the food was grown. With that said, I try to support the farmers in what sociologist Jack Kloppenburg calls my local food shed. I shop at farmers markets when I can and look for tri-state food in the supermarket.

The real spirit of “local” doesn’t mean just measuring your food miles, especially for those items that my community can’t grow locally. For instance, my morning cup of coffee may not be “local,” but when I buy fair-trade certified coffee I know that my food dollar supported communities and didn’t just line the pockets of a CEO.

What’s your definition of sustainable?

I used to have a chip on my shoulder about the word “sustainable.” Most people on this planet don’t want to sustain where they are. They’re struggling; they want change, not the status quo. But I’ve come to see that the term sustainable can be aspirational, too. It doesn’t mean resigning ourselves to what is; it means working toward a vision of a world in which the values of fairness, community, and environmental stewardship are all respected. In this way, I think of sustainability as a process not a place. It’s not easy to achieve, but is a powerful goal to reach toward.

Sustainability takes on special meaning in an era of global warming. Sustainability is no longer optional; the fate of our planet depends on it. And food will play a huge role in either helping us move toward sustainability and lower greenhouse gas emissions, or by making our crisis worse. [You can learn more about the connection between our food system and climate change at this special primer page I’ve created with Sustainable Table.]

When you think of local, sustainable, and community, how would you rank the three (from most important to least) and why?

I often hear a version of this question, when I’m speaking to audiences and they ask: “Okay, so which is it: should we choose organic or local?”

In an ideal word, we wouldn’t have to make this choice. In an ideal world, our elected officials wouldn’t sanction the use on our nation’s farmland of man-made chemicals that are known endocrine disrupters, neurotoxins, or carcinogens.

But, well, we don’t live in an ideal world.

Given that reality, when posed with the hypothetical local-vs-organic head-to-head, I encourage people to choose local food from family farms. Those farms may not be organic now, but they may soon transition, particularly with customer support and encouragement.

But I can guarantee you that if those farms disappear–as many thousands do every year–we’ll lose that farmland forever, and never have a chance to have local or organic food at all.

What’s one thing people can do to be more local and sustainable?

There is so much we can do, I hate to boil it down to one thing, so I’ll cheat and give you two ideas: one that’s really specific and one that’s big picture!

First, if you don’t already, go to your local farmers market or become a member of a community support agriculture farm. (This site has lots of resources to make these choices). This is one of your best ways to connect with farm-fresh food and get to know the people behind your local food system.

The second suggestion is much more vague and really quite simple: Follow your passion. There is so much work that needs to be done on the path toward sustainability. Whether it’s starting community gardens, working with schools to bring in healthy foods, fighting for farmer-friendly policy, educating yourself about genetically modified foods, learning about the connections between the food system and climate change, or simply cooking more, whatever specific act you choose to do, you will be aligning yourself with the millions across the globe walking on the path of sustainability.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Little Honesty about Honest Tea

With Coca-Cola's announcement on February 5th that it's acquiring a 40% stake in Honest Tea, another up-and-coming company up-and-came.

But you wouldn't have noticed by looking at Honest Tea's label: not much on that end changed.
In fact, it's harder and harder to perceive which of your favorite brands are now sub-brands of the Big Guys.

In Grub, I include a graphic inspired by the work of pioneering food researcher, Phil Howard, of Michigan State University. He's been tracking the consolidation of the food system, particularly in the organic sector, for years. On his site, you'll find eye-opening graphics, like this one:

Read Black and Green!

Take a look at the great new blog from some of my heroes of all heroes: Bryant Terry, Adrienne Maree Brown, Omar Freilla, Latham Thomas, and others.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Another Practical: Creating Food Literate Kids

You can check out a new Practical Guide this week. Like many of them, this one is close to my heart: teaching kids to be savvy food marketing consumers. Check it out and let me know what you think!