A failing dairy industry. Streams polluted by animal manure. Consolidated food retail, inadequate slaughter facilities for small- and medium-size producers, the list goes on. Where am I? New Zealand. Yep. Before I stepped foot on the soil, I was cautioned that I should not believe the “cleaner, greener” moniker. I’m not sure if it was heartening to blow up the myth and realize we are all suffering from industrialization of the food system, or just depressing that problems in the food system are dispersed so far and wide. Read More >
A better title for this post might be “More Bubbles, Less PowerPoint,” because that was my greatest takeaway from the conference I attended in Minneapolis and Red Wing, Minnesota, in late November/early December. To that point—
Bing! As I hurried to catch the elevator, Melvin held the door and greeted me with an electric smile. His bright yellow African-print shirt was a welcome contrast to the rain in Minneapolis. I didn’t know we were both headed to the Convening of Food Network leaders’ meeting on the second floor. He was blessing colorful packages of blowing bubbles, the kind I used to buy for my sons’ birthday parties, to use at the start of the event. Read More >
“How should we structure our council?” That’s a question frequently uttered by people working with food policy councils (FPCs) And, as with so many questions out there, there is not a clear and easy answer. Decisions like this depends on many factors such as the mission and goals for the group, who is involved, what resources are available, policy objectives and the culture of the group. Deciding the structure will be one of several decisions you make in the process of organizing. Your structure might also be influenced by your relationship with government. By clarifying the mission and goals for the council, you attract members to get involved. Having a clear structure helps members understand their role of the council in making decisions about food policy. Read More >
I am one of many who called Sid Mintz a friend. After reading volumes of tributes and accolades since his death, it’s clear to me that this is not an exclusive club. In my naiveté, I didn’t realize the depths of his contributions to the world until he died, so I won’t pretend that I have anything to offer about Sid’s scholarship that has not already been said.
I tried to be a good student. I read what he told me to read but not much beyond that. I met Sid 10 years ago because of my position at the Center for a Livable Future (Thanks, Polly, Bob and Shawn). I became Sid’s friend because we enjoyed hanging out. For whatever mysterious reasons, Sid chose me (and the three fabulous males I live with) to share dinners, laughs and emails.
I had the foresight to save many of the emails we exchanged over the years. Here are a few that reflect what I consider Quintessential Sid. Read More >
People trickled in, greeted each other, and introduced themselves. Conversation peppered the room. By the time we started the meeting, all chairs were taken and the room was full of energy that happens when a group of dedicated, creative and passionate people come together.
All this took place last week in the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council (PFPC), located at the Penn State Center Pittsburgh in the Energy Innovation Center, a newly renovated former trade school, now a LEED-certified green energy and sustainability teaching institution. The Council hosted Mark Winne and myself for two days. Read More >
I read the headline “It takes more than a produce aisle to refresh a food desert” with part amusement and part exhaustion. I knew there would be an onslaught of articles bemoaning the wasted resources being spent on financing food retail in underserved neighborhoods.
Then I read the news story that followed the headline, and I also read the original scholarly article that provided fodder for the article. I encourage anyone who reads a provocative Read More >
More than ever, grocery shopping requires high-caliber strategy. Traversing today’s supermarkets with the goal of healthy eating—on a budget—is indeed an act involving shrewd calculations and Machiavellian decision-making. It means you must ignore the vast quantities of food that are made attractive with sales and flashy marketing, to say nothing of how tasty they are (and how much your children beg you to buy them). All in pursuit of “healthy eating.” With the average market containing close to 50,000 foods to choose from, it is no wonder people are exhausted.
In our recently published paper, we asked low-income families about how they ate, cooked and shopped for their families, and how they thought that supermarkets could make it easier for them to make healthier food choices. Read More >
Last weekend I had the pleasure of escaping the snow-ridden Mid Atlantic to travel to Athens, Georgia for the Georgia Organics conference. I was contacted months ago to come speak to them about what it means to “eat for the future” – the title of the program I run and an apt title for my presentation. After a 3-hour drive during Atlanta’s Friday rush hour, I arrived in Athens in time to enjoy the evening expo and reception. I had attended the Future Harvest conference (the Mid Atlantic’s sustainable agriculture association) a few weeks ago, where they reached registration capacity at 200. I was unprepared for the crowd at Georgia Organics. 1,300 people had registered to participate – apparently they experience exponential growth every year!
I had well over 100 people come hear me speak – a humbling experience since I am still very much a novice in this field. I was reminded by kind woman early on that I was in the South and I needed to sloooooow down my speech. Not an easy task for a Midwestern like me. I was able to stay for most of Nicolette Hahn Niman’s talk on her book entitled Righteous Pork Chop before I returned to the airport and alas, back to snowy Baltimore.
Thank you, Georgia Organics, for inviting me, and inspiring me that this renewed interest in how we grow the food we eat is not just a fad. The diversity of the participants, the excellent questions, and the sheer number of people attending bodes well for the future of agriculture (irene). Eating for our future means supporting sustainable methods of farming to create a thriving market place for farmers and provide a greater share of the nutritious food for us all.