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Archive for 'Farming & Agriculture'

Nourishment comes in various forms. The physical body is nourished with food and drink. The soul, however, is a bit more complex as nourishment means different things to different people. Religion feeds this part of the being for many. For others, it’s doing something that makes them feel like a better person. For me, it is being surrounded by people who love me unconditionally or sitting in a room full of people who care deeply about the same things I do. What is that you ask? Food. Nutritious, accessible, healthy-for-you and healthy-for-the-planet food.

This was my second year attending the Edible Institute (“EI” and to see the conversation on Twitter #edi2012). Last year’s conference made quite an impression on me leaving 2012 with some seriously huge shoes to fill. If you are not familiar with Edible, they are beautiful magazines filled with everything food-related local to that area, or as they say,  Award Winning Magazines That Celebrate Local Foods, Season by Season. There are almost 70 Edible magazines and publishers flew in from all over the United States and Canada this past Wednesday to attend a publishers’ conference. Saturday morning Edible Institute ignited bringing publishers together with filmmakers, food writers, farmers, activists,  fisherman, ranchers, winemakers, bloggers, and yours truly. I can tell you that the 2012 EI did not disappoint. The notion that one person can make a difference thoroughly resonated. It penetrated my self-doubt and reminded me that what I do matters and does make a difference.

 

Nikki Henderson, photo by Fran Colin

“Life is just a series of breakdowns and breakthroughs. Not everyone will breakthrough, but everyone should have the choice.” – Nikki Henderson

I knew very little about Nikki Henderson when she walked up to the podium to deliver her keynote speech, other than the fact that she looked stunning in her fitted, cafe-au-lait colored knit dress and short, tight dreadlocks. Her bio told me that she was the Executive Director of People’s Grocery in Oakland, CA and a champion for food justice for the poor. Henderson told her food story which encompassed her time in her mama’s womb, her mother’s decision to breastfeed, seeing kale for the first time at 23, and learning what really worked for the impoverished and underfed people of Oakland. She’s wise beyond her years, funny, eloquent, and oh so passionate about what she stands for. The captivating oration was an all-around yummy way to launch a 2-day food movement conference.

Highlight: Henderson’s reminder that “food justice has to be for everyone who doesn’t have someone to fight for them.” That may mean the farmer on the other side of the political aisle who doesn’t have a voice (yes, the one who votes for the other guy) . She ended her speech by asking, “Who do you have to be to help the movement?” It was a profound and rather humbling moment. Not sure what my answer is…I’ll have to get back to you on that one.
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In 2008, which was a year of supposed food crisis, we grew enough food to feed 11 billion people.

- Michael Pollan

It took Marija Jacimovic and Benoit Detalle, 3 weeks to whip up this 2-minute, stop-motion video based on Michael Pollan’s iconic Food Rules. These two artists entered a competition put on by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts Short Film Competition and are one of the 5 finalists. We love the creative use of food and have already voted for the video!

Watch and vote today by clicking on this link: Film Competition. The winner will be posted on March 12th.

“Food Rules” by Michael Pollan – RSA/Nominet Trust competition from Marija Jacimovic on Vimeo.


On my last trip to Indonesia, I ate papaya every day for two weeks straight. This tropical fruit is typically served after dinner as it is not only sweet but also aids in digestion. The papaya is peeled and de-seeded, chopped into bite-sized chunks, and displayed with lime wedges and dainty forks. I can tell you that not once did I tire of this luscious and delectable treat.

Today, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) sent out a press release announcing that the Government of Japan will now allow commercial import of genetically modified papaya to Japan. The approved variety is called Rainbow papaya and it is grown in the state of Hawaii. Below, the USDA explains how and why Rainbow papaya was created:
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473
schools

300,000
students

1,200,000
pounds of antibiotic-free chicken

There is a big announcement from the windy city this week and this time it relates to school lunches. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced that on November 1st, they would begin serving antibiotic-free (ABF) chicken too all 300,000+ students i their 473 schools. The deal with main food service provider, Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality, will bring 1.2 million pounds of locally grown ABF chicken to Chicago schools.
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Seeing Michael Pollan speak was on my list of things to do. When it was announced he was coming to Santa Barbara, I marked it on my calendar. But somehow, I got busy. Let’s see, there was a birthday party to plan and a book club dinner to prepare for. By the time I looked up, it was Thursday evening and the event was sold out.  If you know me well, you may have heard this sentence come out of my mouth, “things just tend to work out.” Thursday was a prime example of my life philosophy. I decided to take a chance and go down the Granada Theater early to see if anyone was selling a ticket. The end result? I got a FREE orchestra ticket from the director at my daughter’s school after they had a last minute cancellation.  The bonus? The parking attendant was no longer at the kiosk, so I got free parking too.

The event was billed, An Evening with Michael Pollan in Conversation with Renee Montagne.  The newly remodeled Granada stage featured two oversized, tan leather chairs and a coffee table filled with a mound of whole fruits and vegetables (although from my vantage point, they looked fake). Michael walked onstage with Renee, he in an slim-profile olive suit, her in a black dress ensemble. Renee announced that this would be a casual event; she would ask questions first and then there would be an audience Q&A at the end. The theater has a strict policy against the use of cell phones during any show, so I was forced to take notes on my program in the dark. I did my best to get exact quotes, but some may be slightly off (since I couldn’t read all my own handwriting).
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I keep seeing articles claiming that many organics are a waste of money. Even health guru Dr. Mercola (whom I tend to agree with on most issues) wrote an article on it. The advice is to buy conventional (non-organic) for the EWG’s Clean 15 list or for fruits & veggies with thick skins/those you peel to save money. What this advice says is that the rate of pesticides found on produce should be the ONLY determining factor when deciding between organic and non-organic. While pesticide levels are extremely important, it is concerning that people may automatically choose conventional for the “cleaner” foods. The writers, many of whom are nutritionists, are failing to point out the OTHER reasons why organic makes sense.

Contemplating between organic and conventional?  Here are 6 OTHER reasons why organics make sense:

ONE:  More Vitamins & Minerals – There is evidence suggesting that conventionally grown produce may be less healthy than it once was due to the “dilution effect.” Why? Produce is grown with fertilizer for desirable traits (firmness, color, increased size, etc.) instead of optimal vitamin & mineral content. Essentially, produce is larger with more “dry matter,” but doesn’t proportionately contain as many nutrients. You have to eat more to get the same amount of nutrients.
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I attended the SOL Food Festival last year with my hubby and daughter. One of the big draws was Iron Chef, Cat Cora, doing a food demo on the main stage. When we arrived at the park across from the Saturday Santa Barbara Farmers Market we were greeted by a full-feathered, free-roaming turkey (looking suspiciously like the pied piper with his entourage of about 20 kids following his every move). To the right was the ostrich pen which housed 4 baby ostriches. Not a site to be missed. Behind them, the coolest geometrically shaped chicken coop I’ve ever seen.

Born from the minds of two incredible women, Alison Hensley and Heather Hartley, the festival pays homage to real food – that which is Sustainable, Organic and Local (hence then name SOL) and this year is the second annual event. One of our missions at Be Food Smart is to educate people about food. This is also the mission of the SOL Food Festival which is why I’ve been attending their planning meetings for the past few months. If you are in driving distance of Santa Barbara, support this great cause and join us.

SOL Food Festival

Saturday, October 1, 2011
10am -6pm
Plaza de Vera Cruz Park & Cota Street (between Anacapa & Santa Barbara Streets)

Why YOU should attend:

Mamas & Papas
Bring the kiddos so they can check out the farm equipment, see animals galore, practice their cooking skills and dance to the music. The best part? No need to fight over buying junk food and cotton candy at the food court.

Single Gals & Gents

Beer & Wine Garden, hunky farmers and hottie hippie chicks. Need I say more?

Foodies
Farmers, food demos and a chance to socialize with the who’s who of Santa Barbara’s sustainable food world.

Average Joes & Janes
This is your chance to get involved and change the way you eat. Find out what amazing local resources are available in your backyard. Between the 3 stages, countless demos, fabulous exhibitors and great tasting, good-for-you food, you’re bound to go home with new skills and knowledge you can actually use.

The Joel Salatin Wannabes
Pick up tips on composting, building a chicken coop, biodynamic gardening, and soil management. It’s time to get some dirt under those nails!

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