“What’s On Your Plate” – University of Vermont Unveils 11-Minute Video on the Complexities of the Food System
Last week was the University of Vermont (UVM) Food Systems Summit, where UVM combined their Breakthrough Leaders Program, Food Solutions New England, and a public conference called The Necessary [r]Evolution in Sustainable Food Systems. Jam-packed. It was great to see the contrast of the emerging (mostly young) leaders in food systems with the more seasoned stakeholders in Food Solutions New England, who are actually also new and emerging in creating a cohesive coalition across state borders. A lot of work to be done!
At the public conference, the UVM team premiered their fabulous 11-minute video, What’s On Your Plate, summarizing the complexities in our food system and how Vermont views their place in the movement. I think they did a great job trying to capture just how wicked this crazy industry is. Check it out.
Anyone in the industry knows the sustainable food movement is vast. Hundreds of thousands of organizations, initiatives, businesses, nonprofits and individuals all play a part. There’s no way to follow everything going on at any given time.
Luckily, three new resources have popped up in the past year that are helping to organize the mass influx of information:
Part of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF-KYF) initiative, the Food Compass is comprised of two main components: 1) a map of all the projects the USDA KYF-KYF has funded in the US, and 2) an 80-page PDF document that summarizes much of the online content with links to view videos, etc. Oran Hesterman, CEO of the Fair Food Network, says the Food Compass highlights the many projects “that have potential to help shape our food system into one that is more economically viable for small and mid-size farmers and more ecologically sound for us all.”
The new Food Compass is visually quite pretty, although the info architecture is still pretty basic. Nonetheless, it’s a great first step for the USDA to share more of its valuable information through handy, easy-to-use tools.
Seedstock is a quality news blog that focuses on food systems startups, entrepreneurship, technology, urban agriculture, news and research. To me, what sets them apart is that they are (viable) business-minded and care about the accuracy of their writing.
For their coverage of FarmsReach‘s new direction, it was the first time in all our interviews that they actually checked the facts with other stakeholders working directly and indirectly with us, and they had us verify they understood the important details. So many sustainable ag articles in national pubs, even in The New York Times, have gotten many basic facts wrong about how the industry works. Seedstock’s attention to detail is a refreshing change. Subscribe to their weekly news digest. ps Its founder’s family has been farming and studying agriculture at Cornell since the early 1800s.
Slick and controversial, AGree is “a bold new initiative designed to tackle long-term agricultural, food and rural policy issues.” It’s funded by some large foundations: Ford Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and The Walton Family Foundation.
As Marion Nestle advises, “let’s wish the AGree leaders luck and give them a chance to see what they can do.” For me, I think they’re a valuable news compiler across many sources – mainly re: policy but sometimes outside of that. You can subscribe to the news feed from their Issues page.
Each month, CFJC hosts a conference call for all those working on policy: regarding Farm Bill 2012 as well as other regional initiatives. To join or get more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 12 Ventura County Mothers Taking Action (MTA) leaders graduated, will be facilitating discussion sessions with community members on healthy eating and active living
- Working on state and national level on food policy reform
- For anyone wishing to join CFJC, please follow up with Christina at email@example.com
SD Hunger Action Coalition Updates
- City passed progressive urban ag law
- Residents can have up to two goats, chickens in their back yard
- Farmers markets on public and private property
- Farm stands on commercially zoned areas
- Sales at community garden sites
Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB) Updates
- Rally February 29th in protest of CalWorks cuts governor Brown is proposing
- Expecting about 200 CalWorks parents storming the Capitol
- If you are interested in getting involved, get in touch with Ecaterina Burton at firstname.lastname@example.org
Public Health Institute (PHI) Updates
- On March 6th, Health Committees are doing a joint hearing on prevention and public health in CA
- PHI providing tech assistance to organizers
- PHI wants to highlight local innovative project addressing chronic disease and access to healthy food. If anyone has such a project that has been a success, email Armando email@example.com or Matthew at firstname.lastname@example.org
– Tiffany: Roots of Change has partnered with a statewide consortium working on the “double up bucks” program in 14 counties
– Sadie: Local contact for the Fresh Fund Program in San Diego is Anchi Mei of International Rescue Commission. This program is phasing out.
– LA Food Policy Council (Susan Haymer): LAFPC is exploring which farmers markets to target with “double up bucks”. In early stages of committee hearing.
- Keep an eye out for a sign-on letter to CBSA and State Board of Ag to support Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Act
Missed the news lately? Below are the top news bits and resources shared on COMFOOD since mid-November. For the full conversation and inbox load, all you have to do is subscribe to COMFOOD directly.
FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES & INFO
The Food Family Farming Foundation launched the Healthy Breakfast 4 Kids Grant Program. Application deadline March 31.2012. 117 $2500 equipment grants will be given to rural high needs schools for the purpose of implementing universal breakfast in the classroom programs.
EAT4Health funding will build and leverage the strengths of grassroots organizations alongside the expertise of DC-based national organizations to foster a more informed, inclusive, and powerful advocacy process for food and farm policies that serve the goals of good health, environmental sustainability, and economic justice for all. Grantees will receive three annual grants in total of $100,000/year to use to work with a DC-area national advocacy organization of their choice.
The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation featured a “Food Financing 101” series covering The Reinvestment Fund, the Opportunity Finance Network, and Brightseed Strategies in depth to discuss the need for financing healthy food businesses and the impact of those businesses on local economies.
POLICY / ACTIONS
Occupy Our Food Supply is bringing together the Occupy, sustainable farming, food justice, buy local, slow food, and environmental movements for a global day of action on February 27, 2012. Spearheaded by the Rainforest Action Network.
Learn more about the CA legislation to require labeling of genetically-modified foods up to voters in November. This initiative, if passed by a majority of California voters in November 2012, will require foods sold in California retail outlets that contain genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled, just like other nutritional facts. Building a broad and diversified coalition will be essential to winning.
Write your reps and spread the word about the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act endorsed by over 220 orgs across the country. This food bill would provide critical support to local and organic farmers, while making healthy, local sustainable food more widely available and accessible around the country. Read another piece written by EWG.
TOOLS & BEST PRACTICES
20 infographics from the Farm Bill Hackathon in one slideshow.
Video: Fish-to-School programs in Alaska are expanding. Fishermen joined students at a local elementary school and middle school for a “We Love Our Fishermen” event to share a fish lunch and to talk about fishing methods and what it means to be a fishermen.
Here are the “rules”:
- only add national conferences
- keep them in order of date
- add only food-related conferences that will be relevant to those in the Food Movement
- do not add events or conferences that are promotional/marketing/selling something
- fill out all fields
Duncan Hilchey of New Leaf Agricultural Publishing & Consulting compiled an impressive list of Webinars and Distance Learning Programs for Food System and Agricultural Development Professionals in North America.
Most are free, but a few require registration or payment as noted below. New Leaf plans to create an online annotated keyword searchable archive of online educational programs (available free at AgDevONLINE). If anyone is interested in helping with this project or has students who can volunteer, contact Duncan.
FREE ONLINE PROGRAMS
- State and regional planning
- County and community-based planning
- Planning for Agriculture in New York: A Toolkit for Towns and Counties
- Making the Most of Planning for Agriculture
- Helping a “New Generation” Succeed in Farming
- Slicing and Dicing Our Way to New Jobs and Economic Opportunities
- Exploring Alternate Ways to Protect Farmland
- When Local Food Is Illegal: Keeping Zoning Farm- Friendly
- Buy Local First: How to Keep Public Food Dollars in Your Community
- Farm to Campus: The Successes and Challenges of Sourcing Local and Sustainable Food
- Special note: this is a recording of a webinar, but unclear how permanent it is on this website.
- Planning and Community Health Research Center
- Healthy Communities Webinar Series
- Webinar 2: Planning for Food Access and the Regional Food Systems
Took two months off for the winter… More COMFOOD updates, news and Farm Bill info will be posted soon!
Last night, Kitchen Table Talks hosted a “thought-provoking and stimulating exploration of the context, implications, actions, and promise of Occupy for the food movement.”
- First 6 minutes: Poetry reading from “Tiny”, founder of Poor Magazine.
- Following 6 minutes: Speaker introductions.
- Following 60 minutes: Panel discussion and Q&A, moderated by Eric Cohen of Shoe Shine Wine.
The sold-out event took place in San Francisco and included:
Raj Patel, thought leader, writer, academic, and activist who has worked for the World Bank and WTO, and now protests against both. Raj is currently a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for African Studies and a fellow at The Institute for Food and Development Policy, also known as Food First. In addition to numerous scholarly publications, he regularly writes for The Guardian, and for many mainstream publications. He is the author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System and The Value of Nothing, is a New York Times bestseller.
Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety, is a public interest attorney, activist, and author. He has been involved in public interest legal activity in numerous areas of technology, human health and the environment for nearly 25 years. He is author of Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food and editor of the highly-acclaimed Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture. His articles on law, technology, social, and psychological issues have also appeared in numerous law reviews, technology journals, popular magazines, and newspapers across the country, and he has been featured in numerous documentaries including the film The Future of Food. In 1994, the Utne Reader named Kimbrell as one of the world’s leading 100 visionaries. In 2007, he was named one of the 50 people most likely to save the planet by The Guardian-U.K.
Sarah Treuhaft, Associate Director, Policylink. Sarah collaborates with local and national partners on research and action projects and authors policy briefs and reports to advance Policylink’s social equity mission. Sarah has worked on food policy and was a member of the team that successfully advocated for the creation of a national Healthy Food Financing Initiative. Her most recent publication is America’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model, co-authored with Angela Glover Blackwell and Manuel Pastor. Sarah was a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, West Africa.
Last week was the Food+ Tech Connect Farm Bill Hackathon, sponsored by the Grace Foundation, Oxfam America and Glynwood Institute. Dozens of hacker/designers and policy folks came together in person and virtually for one day to craft various infographics around the farm bill and other issues in our food system.
Four winners emerged from the day with graphics and apps that can now be used to teach about the Farm Bill and related concerns:
- First prize: Farm Bill of Health, a series of clean, simple visualizations about the difference in support for fruit and vegetable crops versus commodities in the bill, based on data from Environmental Working Group.
- Second prize: a tool to promote Meatless Mondays by allowing people to find, share and submit recipes, places and feedback about their participation.
- Third prize: work in progress looking at the international implications of the Farm Bill and the idea that crop subsidies in the U.S. drive further hunger and poverty in foreign nations.
- Fourth prize: ongoing work mapping the Congressional Districts of the Agricultural Committee members.
Cotton vs Carrots is Food + Tech Connect’s “infographic of the week”. The graphic compares the money given in subsidies to eight cotton farms in California to that spent on the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program supplying snacks to elementary schools in the state. By shifting those cotton subsidies from cotton to fruit, 320 additional low-income schools could be served.
Here are a few articles you may find of interest about the Secret Farm Bill:
- Environmental Working Group‘s take:
1. Secrecy makes for bad politics, bad PR and bad policy
2. The subsidy lobby is in disarray
3. Fear secrecy, not open debate
4. Restart the 2012 farm bill
5. Where there’s a deal there’s a way
- National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition‘s detailed review of the still-secret bill:
What happened: The Basic Outline (categorized by different titles in the omnibus)
- Center for Rural Affairs’ Chuck Hassebrook provides a very quick and to-the-point analysis of the bill:
“The recent proposal for a farm bill was written for inclusion in larger budget-cutting legislation. When that stalled, the farm bill stalled. That is fitting. This farm bill is not worthy of advancing. … Here is the bottom line. If one corporation farmed your entire state, the federal government would pay 60 percent of its crop insurance premiums on every acre in every year – the better the year, the bigger the subsidy.”
Thanks for the news, Kari!