Archive for the ‘farms’ Category

If E.T. is kind of a farmer, Drew Barrymore is me, asking how much for a pound of onions.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (the school at the top of my list for future ag-econ studies) wrote up this little piece on “food tiers” describing in easily understandable terms the various sources of foodstuffs in terms of the relationship of consumer to producer. Tier Zero is me and my balcony tomatoes; Tier One is me chatting up the onion farmer while he weighs my onions at the farmer’s market; Tier Two is me ordering my veggies each week from South Mountain Creamery; Tier 3 is me shopping at Whole Foods, or choosing the organic line of Giant’s products via my Peapod shopping; Tier 4 is the food my shelf whose origins I cannot account for, or the ingredients in other food I’ve purchased that come from anonymous fields of corn or soy, or out-of-season fruit from Panama or Chile. It’s an interesting (and quick to read article) who’s main point is that, as Tier 1 values gain ground among consumers, Tier 2 is a key focus of the action, and both Tiers 1 and 3 will play vital roles in making a Tier 2 experience more widely and effectively available.

What “tier” is your most typical shopping experience?


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It’s a good thing I’m reading these two books simultaneously.

I’m (according to Kindle) 41% of the way through Paul Roberts’ The End of Food.  It’s a long book, and thus far Paul has walked me through human history from our first meals of nuts and bark to our current astonishing dichotomy of feast and famine where there are as many overweight/obese people as there are starving people in the world;  where industrial agricultural yields have soared, but the vital sources of those yields – water, stable weather patterns, and fertile soil – are being lost at alarming rates; where food is a booming global business, but markets are artificially created, manipulated and propped by government and corporate policies that put more food into the mouths of the fat and more money into the hands of shareholders, while hungry people and farmers starve. (more…)

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Lentil tacos from Dave du Jour food truck in San Diego

While editing and picking favorite honeymoon pictures, I also caught up on my blog reading (adult onset ADD). Lots of things to make me happy are going on in the world, and I wanted to share a few with you. Who knows what bright ideas might spark the next step in our dream of abundant healthy food?

“Urban edges” can be small-scale farms for city dwellers! Outside of San Francisco, nonprofit Sustainable Agriculture Education, directed by Sibella Kraus, has partnered with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to create an 18-acre Agricultural Park where several small-scale farmers lease land and farm – feeding their own small communities or selling food back to markets. The site also serves as an educational center where school children can visit and learn more about where healthy food comes from. Kraus is working on developing such sites in other cities. I would love to see UDC’s new Urban Sustainability program try something like this! What would you grow, if you could run your own small farm?

One of my favorite sustainable food writers, Katherine Gustufson, writes that craft beer is ideologically merging with the sustainable food movement. Craft brewers (defined by the Brewer’s Association as those who brew fewer than 2 million barrels per year) are transforming the American beer landscape. I already knew microbrewers were fighting a battle against archaic distribution laws that favor the mass producers like Budwiser and Michelob – and have been mulling over a post on that subject for a while now, particularly since the Monkey and I have started playing around with simple home brewing lately. Brewers are taking the sustainable food link a step farther by including a Farm-to-Table pavilion alongside the Craft Brewing pavilion at the September 2010 Great American Beer Festival (let’s add that I now know where I want to take vacation next year). It makes sense: craft brewing is, like sustainable farming, an attempt to bring authenticity, quality and community back to the table. Do you love any microbrews? Watch for a post from me soon on my personal craft beer addictions.

Food trucks are becoming a fun link in the chain of replacing cookie-cutter, artery-clogging, earth-burning fast food with real food made by people who care about the food they serve. DC is getting its share with the Fojol Brothers, Sauca, and Curbside Cupcakes (reviews of DC area food trucks on Yelp, for interested locals). While in San Diego, my life was saved by a well-timed food truck outside the Ballast Point Brewery Tasting Room, and I ate two amazing lentil tacos. This Grist.org article highlights food trucks across the country, notably those deliberately serving up grass-fed/organic/local/seasonal goodies. I’d love to see food trucks put Micky D’s outta business! Do you have a local food truck that you love?

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FRESH! was the first film screened by my newborn Food Films Club.

Produced and directed by Ana Joanes, FRESH! highlights inspiring players in the food movement – folks who are key because they’re successfully challenging the status quo and making significant differences on a local level. The message of the film is that these efforts can be supported and replicated by everyone who cares about the safety and wholesomeness of the food we, as a society, have to eat.


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(Reposted from The Improvised Life)

Joaquin Baldwin‘s beautiful little animated film is a reminder of how the creative process often works – in completely unexpected ways. We also love Baldwin’s story about how the film came to be:

This film was inspired while driving back from a trip to Palm Springs, when my partner said that it must take them forever to plant and grow so many windmills. I wrote down the title The Windmill Farmer for an idea to explore later, and about a year later I started developing it into a character and story. This film took 4 months to complete from the first boards until the final mix.”

You never know where a simple idea might lead…

(Watching with the sound off is a completely different experience, which we recommend.)

Via The Improvised Life, Via BoingBoing

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For the remainder of the 2010 Blogathon, Saturday’s posts will be photos only. I hope you love these as much as I do. Photography makes my heart happy.

Gratis: bike repair and French street music

The form and texture of nature is endlessly varied

Forests of plants and frontiers of fruit


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Sometimes when you learn a new word, you suddenly see that word everywhere, as if the universe converged to congratulate you for learning it. I’ve had a similar convergence around the issues of sustainable food. It isn’t really that the word appears everywhere – it was always there, you just never noticed before.

Much like the book I stumbled across in a box of books donated to the school where I work. Until recently I’d have never noticed it. But given what I’ve been learning, I could not possibly have missed it: The Town That Food Saved: How One Rural Community Found Vitality in Local Food. Moreover, it was an advance copy – the uncorrected paperback versions publishers send out to book stores and reviewers in advance of the book’s publication. Turns out my little read only came out last month, so my review here is even timely!


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