Monday, April 19, 2010

Inspired by: watching your garden grow

Love this video project by a fellow-Phoenician, Mathew Moore. This artist/farmer took time-lapse photos of different vegetables from seed to harvest. Watch broccoli, kale and squash seeds burst out of the soil and grow into gorgeous plants--to watch is to know what each broccoli head at the grocery store must go through before hardest. It is breathtaking to watch as the squash plant appears to breathe and move throughout each day following the sun. Bay Area based writer and urban farmer Jason Mark writes about this "ballet of biology" here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Garden for the Environment CSA gets a shout out!

The GFE weekly veggie box gets a shout out in SF Foodie and Urban Dirt! And read my gushing ode to this project here. Four months after we passed this project along to the next generation of Awesome Farmers, the garden is looking better than ever and a beautiful box gets donated to the Larkin Street Youth Services Center each week.

As the SF Foodie article points out that one box per week won't save the world, but it is progress. Progress is every person who tastes something memorable out of that box and is moved to eat more fresh vegetables. Progress is every person who helped put the box together contributing to something bigger than themselves--it is the long line of volunteers who planned, planted, tended, harvested, delivered, and prepared the produce that is donated each week.

It is amazing, this started with a just a handful of people, with a whole lot of doubt, and grew into something bigger than we imagined.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Report from a special 18 reasons event: A Diet for A Hot Planet

Food & climate change -- you don't hear much about how these two issues intersect -- Anna Lappé's new book A Diet for a Hot Planet will change this. Last Friday night, I attended a thoughtfully crafted, cozy meet and greet with Lappé' at 18 Reasons. With walls adorned in food art (in this case a wall painting made of curry inundating the room with smells and invoking food memories in us all) Lappé told great stories of..
  • why she started this book: despite the fact that agriculture is second only to transportation in generating potent global warming gasses, no major news outlets were reporting on this key issue.
  • infiltrating corporate food conferences to learn about the greenwashing skills of big food marketers
  • her public speaking debut at Bioneers in front of thousands of people, side by side with her mom, Francis Lappé Moore
I first came across Anna Lappé when I picked up a great cookbook called Grub. Lappé and her co-author Bryant Terry breathe new life into the cookbook genre creating not just a list of delicious vegetarian recipes but a guide to food activism resources and a party planner too. They embrace both the personal and the political of this new food movement.

Lappe continues this trend with a Hot Planet -- as she states on her website: "I plunge into the heart of this era’s newest food fight with a simple message: if we are serious about addressing climate change, we have to talk about food." I look forward to cracking open this book and seeing what she has to say.

A great event to be sure and I can't suggest going to 18 reasons enough. Yes, I will admit, I have balked at the $10 fee for many of their events, but pick one that features a little free food and it will be better than the six pack of microbrews you would've bought instead. 18 reasons, coordinated by the talented Rachel Cole, is a special place--a model to be shared in every city. Turn a quaint gallery space (big enough for one, long dining table) into a gathering spot around food/art/and community. Have cookbook swaps, author events, food classes, potlucks and feature farmer nights. Do it!

A Don't Miss Author Event 04/13!

If you're interested in the intersection food and climate change - go to the Commonwealth Club tomorrow night! Hear the mother and daughter Lappé duo talk, with my favorite, Raj Patel, as moderator. It is sure to be a great night, as my recent visit to 18 reasons was last Friday at the meet and greet for Lappé's new book - A Diet for a Hot Planet.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The price of cheap food = modern day slavery

No, I'm not exaggerating. I just finished watching a documentary called Immokalee
(from a free documentary site worth visiting) about the modern slave conditions of tomato pickers in southeastern Florida.

A couple of years ago, I began to hear the story of Immokalee from places like Grist, the NYT Magazine, and Raj Patel, but I didn't dig deeper to learn the real story: large corporate buyers for restaurant chains like Taco Bell are paying slave wages for their tomatoes.

The domino effect of cheap fast food quickly translates into poor living conditions and poor health of the primarily Latino, Mayan, and Haitian day laborers. Perhaps this story is all too familiar--cheap corporate labor leading to cheap consumer prices-- but what is different is that it's happening right here in the US. What is different about this story is that there is an organization called the Coalition of Immokalee Workers fighting against these conditions - an organization that has been a force for over 10 years.

So what are these slave labor conditions? (Quoted from the CIW website)
  • "Florida tomato pickers earn an average of 45 cents per 32-lb. bucket of tomatoes, a rate that has not risen significantly since 1978. At today’s piece rate, workers have to pick over 2 ½ tons of tomatoes just to earn the equivalent of Florida minimum wage for a 10-hour workday.
  • As a result of intentional exclusion from key New Deal labor reform measures, farmworkers do not have the right to overtime pay, nor the right to organize and collectively bargain with their employers.
  • In the most extreme conditions, farmworkers are held against their will and forced to work for little or no pay, facing conditions that meet the stringent legal standards for prosecution under modern-day slavery statutes."
In honor of the 04/18 Farmworker Freedom March, organized by the Coalition of Immokalee, I will dig up some more information on this story. For now, you can put images to these words here.