Food fights: Locavores, conventional food fans battle over benefits
Stern, who cooks at Fraiche in Evanston, said he chooses local foods largely for taste, higher nutrient values, environmentalism and a connection with the person who grew them. That philosophy — to try to source food from a within a 100- to 300-mile radius — is fueling “eat local” initiatives across the country. These include Green City Market’s annual “Locavore Challenge,” where hundreds of Chicago-area residents are expected to follow a mostly local diet from Wednesday to Sept. 22. While such efforts might seem innocuous, a growing chorus of writers, politicians and bloggers is challenging the locavore movement, painting it as naive and elitist at best and dangerous to the livelihood of conventional commodity farmers at worst. Chicago Tribune story.
Tom Reardon of Michigan State University Speaks Out: Wither Local?
I have found that the average (I mean average) Chinese, Italian or French person I know talks, thinks and knows as much about produce as the “industry practitioners and experts” as one finds in PMA meetings and so on. (I love PMA so I am not “dissing” them, I am just saying the obvious for anyone who spends time in the great food culture countries.) I think that these countries “have it right” in terms of local foods — they think “FOOD REGIONS.” Third, however, it seems to me that over time the “buy local” movement will simply wither on the vine. Not that I want it to (this letter is odd because when I am in any place, including Michigan or China, I obsessively buy the local specialties, frequent farmers markets, etc.) … but … modern packaging and shipping methods are … more and more… making it possible to keep a product, even a delicate one, fresh even if shipped, and allow harvesting when the product is ripe. Tom Reardon’s letter to the Perishable Pundit.
Mobile-slaughter session heads to Nevada
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Safety Inspection Service will host a red meat mobile-slaughter unit information session on Sept. 9 as part of its “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” campaign. “This information session will educate small producers and processors on establishing mobile slaughter units and how to ensure the safety of the products so that they can receive the USDA federal mark of inspection,” said FSIS Administrator Al Almanza in a news release. MeatingPlace story
Students learn ABCs of farm-to-market
Colorado College, a private four-year institution near downtown Colorado Springs, has it all: the students, the farm and the future leaders. A student garden along Fountain Creek produces fruits, vegetables and eggs for the dining halls and the catering department at the college. Having such an ultra-local supplier makes an impression with the other students, who are returning to campus this week to start the fall semester. “The kitchen posts where the food comes from,” said Jillian Gold, one of three summer interns. “The students will come out of the dining hall, and they’ll often say something to us about it.” Ag Journal Online story.
Field of Greens: The Growth in Farmers Markets
As farmers markets go, it isn’t impressive: One little stall in the lobby of an office building. It’s not impressive, unless you consider where these vegetables were grown. The roof. “It’s a 40,000 square foot rooftop farm, it’s about an acre,” said Ben Flanner of Brooklyn Grange. “And we’re growing 50, 60, 70 different varieties of vegetables.” Flanner and four friends are running a commercial farm, seven stories off the ground, surrounded by a to-die-for view of the New York City skyline. The soil, a million pounds of it, had to be raised a sack at a time by crane. CBSNews story.
From Eating Occasion to Store Shelf
Shopping for promotions, not for occasions, is what food retailers have trained shoppers to do. This is how, week after week, consumers come home from their pantry-stocking trips, feeling righteous about their savings on promoted items and, yet, still have no idea what they’re going to have for dinner. Occasion-based shopper marketing is all about starting with everyday cultural understandings of food that drive what shoppers think when they enter a food retail environment. It’s about making sure that good shopper marketing for food and beverage never forgets to connect directly with the joy of eating. Hartman Group release. White paper: Uncovering the Missing Link in Shopper Marketing.
Seattle’s New Urban Agriculture Codes Take Shape
Seattle has been quickly working to improve the urban farming landscape in the city. This year was declared the “year of urban agriculture” by new Mayor Mike McGinn. And on August 16, the Seattle City Council approved new legislation that allows urban farmers (meaning anyone) to grow and sell food in all zones and on private property. Also, to please the more garden-variety backyard farmers, the city is increasing the number of allowed domestic fowl from three to eight — a much requested change. Grist article.
Cleveland is recognizing that its vacant land is not a source of shame, but a resource to tap. It is one of the only cities in the country to have approved an urban garden zoning overlay, a response to local food advocates who wanted to protect community gardens from being destroyed by developers. And last year advocates won a hard-fought battle for an ordinance allowing city residents to raise chickens, bees, and even cows and goats in their backyards. At the top levels, the mayor and other city officials have agreed to identify policies that make land use central to their green economic agenda. Utne Reader story.
Urban Farms vs. Urban Zoning
She was wrong. In fact, the process of getting a license turned out to be so convoluted, and so expensive, that for now she’s given up trying to do it. At a time when it seems everyone wants to bring the farm back to the city, and urban food projects are all the rage, Hahn’s story is a study in just how great a challenge this can be. Her adversary is not an anti-vegetable city official or a NIMBY neighbor—all that’s stopping Hahn is a few bland paragraphs in the zoning code. Terrain story.
Central Carolina Community College building doubles as lab
A modern kitchen gives culinary students space to learn about healthy living through organic and local foods, while sustainable agriculture students learn to grow “green” crops and livestock at a time when small farms pay a high economic cost. The sustainable agriculture program enrolled roughly 65 students this year, who will work on the five-acre farm and in the greenhouse. Chapel Hill News story.
Land Access Forum for Beginning Farmers
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia County and the Greenhorns, a non-profit organization supporting the young farmers of America, are partnering to hold a Land Access Forum for beginning farmers in the Hudson Valley. Details on the Greenhorns website.
AND if You Have Time
Poles attempt to make world’s longest pizza
In a country renowned for its hearty cuisine a new record of culinary excess may have been set. In the southern Polish city of Kraków, a team of would-be record breakers have attempted to make the longest pizza in the world. Currently, the longest pizza ever recorded measures 407 meters, but the Polish team is aiming for 1,000 meters. Click here to see a video of their attempt. BBC News video (Ad precedes video)