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COMFOOD mega recap: mid-Oct to mid-Nov

November 14, 2011
by Kasi Boyd

News from the past month: 10/17/11 to 11/13/11.  ENJOY!  Also, see Conferences announced on COMFOOD and elsewhere.  (Note: only news and resources are included in this recap.  To read all the conversation, subscribe to COMFOOD directly.)

News bites are in the categories below:

  • Funding Opportunities
  • Tools, Resources & Classes
  • Research
  • Policy
  • Misc. News

Be sure to click Read more… below.


The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the US Department of Agriculture announce grants to support: (1) the development of Community Food Projects with a one-time infusion of federal dollars to make such projects self-sustaining; (2) Planning Projects to assess the food security needs and plan long-term solutions to help ensure food security in communities; and (3) a project that provides Training and Capacity Building on a nationwide basis to entities interested in developing new Community Food Projects or assisting current grantees and others to effectively operate their food security projects. Deadline: November 17, 2011.

Southern SARE Producer Grant Program CFP.  For any producer or producer organization in the Southern region, re: beneficial insect habitat, alternative crops/livestock, organic agriculture, sustainable marketing products, sustainable grazing systems, soil organic matter, building/protection/management increasing sustainability of existing farming practices, appropriate technology and agroforestry/water quality. Deadline: November 15, 2011.

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).  For beginning farmers and ranchers in the United States and its territories.  For programs in training, education, outreach, and technical assistance initiatives with entering, establishing, building and managing successful farm and ranch enterprises.  Deadline: November 22, 2011.

NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant. For Farmers and ranchers in the North Central Region: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Proposals should show how farmers and ranchers plan to use their own innovative ideas to explore sustainable agriculture options and how they will share project results. New this year, there are three types of competitive grants: individual grants, partner grants for two farmers/ranchers from separate operations who are working together, and group grants for three or more farmers/ranchers from separate operations who are working together. Deadline: December 2, 2011.

The Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Scholarships recognize students (kindergarten through graduate school) who are driving awareness and mobilizing youth to be catalysts for innovative models and solutions to eliminate hunger in America. Selected students receive a $5,000 scholarship and a matching $5,000 grant for their hunger-related charity. In addition, each national scholarship recipient is recognized at the annual Sodexo Foundation Dinner in Washington, DC. Deadline: December 5, 2011.

Share Our Strength is offering mini-grants for non-profits to run Shopping Matters for Adults and/or Shopping Matters for WIC Parents tours. Participants in these tours learn shopping skills like buying fruits and vegetables on a budget, comparing unit prices, reading food labels, and buying whole grains.  The rolling deadline began September 19, 2011 and continues through March 31, 2012.  If you have questions about whether or not your organization is eligible, please email Claire Sadeghzadeh from Share Our Strength.


Webinars: Planning for Food and Agriculture: Taking a Systems Approach. Organized by the American Farmland Trust.  State and regional planning (November 15, 2pm ET): from engaging diverse stakeholders, to gathering good data, and how these agencies are ensuring implementation. County and community-based planning (December 13, 2 pm ET): representatives from the Iowa Corridor Food and Agriculture Coalition, King County, Washington, and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.

Webinar: Social Justice Organizing in a Community Food Centre. November 16th from 12-1pm EST, tune in to hear Jen Danch, Mark Woodnutt, and Nadia Edwards discuss the evolution, program components, impact and philosophy of the Community Action Program. This webinar is aimed at individuals and organizations interested in integrated social justice programming and community organizing into their roster of programs.

Slow Food USA launched a tumblr site aimed at the Super Committee.  They’re collecting videos, written messages, and pictures from everyday food and farming superheroes about how they are changing the food system one action at a time.  This is part of a campaign asking the Super Committee to adopt deficit reduction measures that reform subsidies, protect nutrition funding, and support programs for sustainable food and farming programs.

Food+Tech Connect posted a compilation of Farm Bill visuals, including some from EWG, LSU, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, IATP and Parent Earth.  More to come, I’m sure.

The Planet Earth Foundation and Community Food Security Coalition launched 3 short Farm Bill Videos for parents.  The “Parents Stand Up For Food” campaign is meant to give families (and anyone) a quick look at how the Farm Bill affects us and how it influences what foods end up on our plates.

The USDA Farm to School website has been updated to include an extensive list of resources related to Farm to School and school gardening. The resources are organized by topic area and include such topics as: Farm to Childcare, Food Safety, Nutrition and Agriculture Education, Procurement, Resources for Farmers, School Gardens, Training for Foodservice Staff, and much more.

A Nebraska Farm to School toolkit was launched by The Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition.  It’s designed to walk school food service personnel, food producers, distributors and others through the process of local foods procurement including information on local food sources, the definition of “local” and seasonal.

FOODFIRST BOOKS releases Food Movements Unite!: Strategies to Transform Our Food Systems, a significant and timely collection of key voices from the swelling global movement for alternative agri-food systems.  This volume offers a broad and unifying perspective on the conjunction of crises (inequality, food, energy, climate) and pathways toward just and sustainable ways of living with the earth, anchored in the principle of agricultural multi-functionality.

NYC mayor’s office launches the NYC Food website – created to help New Yorkers find information about New York City programs, resources, and policies relating to healthy eating, food systems, and food businesses. NYC Food is overseen and managed by the Office of the Food Policy Coordinator in the Mayor’s Office.

Guide to constructing an aquaponics system.  And a global online community (3000 so far) has formed.

Real Food Real Jobs: A new sustainable food initiative and website for food service workers was created by UNITE HERE, the largest worker organization representing food service workers.

The TEDxFruitvale: Harvesting Change videos have been posted on YouTube. Below are links to each talk or performance in the order it was presented on October 14, 2011; full bios of the speakers are available here.

A TEDxDirigo talk on growing your own food.  From TEDx in Portland, Maine.

Growing Power urban farming course in WI:  Commercial Urban Agriculture Program. The course is a series of five, three–day weekend seminars, January through May (participants are expected to attend and participate in all five, three-day sessions).

Drake University introduces a professional program on community food system development.  It’s to provide local leaders with the knowledge and skills to develop and maintain effective community based food systems. The program begins December 9, 2011.

Elfin Permaculture’s Annual Permaculture Design Course Online resumes, beginning Jan. 9, 2012. The course benefits from experience gleaned during a decade and a half of Elfin Permaculture online courses, and about 30 years of permaculture teaching by the lead instructor, Dan Hemenway.

A blogger’s compiled list of food films, unfortunately without links.


USDA: Direct and Intermediated Marketing of Local Foods in the United States. Uses nationally representative data on the marketing of local foods to assess the relative scale of local food marketing channels.

The New York Academy of Medicine shared results of their initial data-gathering re: platforms of various Farm Bill organizations.  Note that this is an informal comparison they developed to inform their own thinking.

AGree posted their report: Transforming Food and Ag Policy Challenges & Opportunities: Trends in the U.S. & Abroad Affecting the Food & Ag System.  “AGree seeks to inform discussion and stimulate debate about future directions for policy. Our publications are intended to lay the groundwork for common understanding of the complex issues and policies related to the food and agriculture system across diverse audiences and to encourage new approaches to food and agriculture policy.”  Marion Nestle’s thoughts about AGree. And, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s write-up.

Food & Water Watch and the Public Health Institute released a white paper challenging the common assumption that government subsidies is a primary factor in increasing rates of obesity.  They find that there is little to no academic research that supports the belief that crop subsidies make junk food cheaper and more plentiful, leading to higher rates of obesity.

The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition released a white paper presenting a Food Pyramid that considers nutrition as well as the environment.  The Food Pyramid is in a “double version”, positioning foods not only following the criteria nutritional science has long recommended on the basis of their positive impact on health, but also in terms of their impact on the environment.  (page 58-59 contain the pyramid graphics.)

What fish is on your plate? Probably not the one you ordered. Consumer Reports investigators bought 190 pieces of seafood from retailers and restaurants in the tri-state New York area and sent them out for DNA analysis. The results confirmed what other recent studies have shown: More than 20 percent of the fish bought were different species, incompletely labeled or mislabeled


USDA pushes veggies, but subsidizes meat. The Washington Post reports that the USDA’s nutrition guidelines are seriously out of step with food subsidies. The government recommends people eat fruits and veggies as nearly half their daily intake, and protein as less than a quarter — but they subsidize meat in totally different proportions.

SF Chronicle: Shut out of shocking new farm scheme. Leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are attempting a breathtaking end-run around the democratic process. They are hatching their own farm bill in private and plan by Nov. 1 take it to the new deficit Super Committee to be enacted whole, without votes in their own committees or in Congress.  Mark Bittman’s take in NYTimes Opinion.  And, Grist’s follow-up.

Californians Urge Healthy Food and Jobs Focus in Fast Tracked Farm Bill. More than 60 public health, nutrition, food, farm and environmental groups representing hundreds of thousands of California citizens are urging Gov. Jerry Brown and the state’s congressional delegation to support healthy food reforms as the Congressional super committee crafts a new five-year farm bill.

The Who Fishes Matters campaign reached an important milestone last month when fisheries policy makers voted to move the Fleet Diversity Amendment.  (See the petition.) Their focus is on the importance of our local, community based fisheries to our local food system, our marine environment, our local economies and our communities.


Mother Jones: Foodies, Get Thee to Occupy Wall Street.  The Occupy Wallstreet protests grew out of anger at the outsized power of banks. But other economic sectors are similarly concentrated, and have a comparable grip on public policy. Namely: the food industry.

Huffington Post: What Occupy Wall Street Has To Do With Food.  Since the news last week that Ben & Jerry’s was supporting the Occupy Wall Street protesters, more and more reports about the role of food in the protests have been surfacing.  And another HuffPo post about Occupy Food from Eric Holt-Gimenez.

WorldWatch CityWatch: Occupy Movement Identifies Food Movement Common Inspiration and Options.  It’s just the platform needed to promote public discussion on such matters. Those with a taste for action as well as talk might think of developing local food-based platforms, portals and places where such matters can be discussed around the table over a meal.

Grist: America uses more corn for fuel than for food. Only 20 percent of all the gazillions of ears of corn the United States grows make it into a person’s mouth as corn. The rest goes to feed animals (which do make it into people’s mouth as beef and other meats) and to brew corn ethanol. In one year, we used more than 5 billion bushels of corn for ethanol, which we don’t even use that much of.

Howard G. Buffett, President of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, gives an impressive & informative World Food Prize Keynote Address covering lessons learned in Africa and important strategies for soil, seed, technology, and solving global hunger. on protecting farmland:  How to save small farms: By protecting farmland from development, land trusts are making small-scale agriculture more viable.

NYTimes: Young Farmers Find Huge Obstacles to Getting Started. Data from the Agriculture Department [support the] warning that only 22 percent of beginning farmers turn a profit their first year.

A middle school got a school garden in less than 2 weeks. Some things are easier than we realize.

NY Schoolchildren Use High Tunnels to Grow Veggies in an Urban Neighborhood.  With the help of Cornell faculty members, children in six New York state schools are or will be growing their own vegetables in high tunnels, unheated and arched plastic greenhouses that help gardeners extend the growing season.

Students challenge campuses to ditch junk food. Students at 216 campuses in 46 states and five countries are asking their campuses for healthier and sustainable foods.

An article looking at the myths about genetic modification from Greenpeace’s point of view. This article is a rejoinder to that piece, and a contribution to the ongoing debate about whether there is any safe way to genetically modify our food.

The James Beard Foundation honored 10 “visionaries responsible for creating a healthier, safer, and more sustainable food world,” at a dinner ceremony on Wednesday night in NYC. Amongst the recipients of the JBF Leadership Awards were Alice Waters, and Michelle Obama – in recognition of her Let’s Move! campaign addressing childhood obesity in the United Sates.

Interview with Jane Sung E Bai of Slow Food USA. After 25 years of racial and economic justice and immigrant rights organizing, she embraced food justice when she enrolled her daughter in a daycare that serves low-income children. Dismayed by the Board of Education-provided meals, Sung E made a commitment to prepare her daughter’s breakfast and lunch everyday and to work towards improving access to nutritious food for working people. Along with being the executive director of a community-based organization for almost 12 years, Sung E has held teaching appointments in higher education, been a certified advocate for domestic violence survivors and trainer for grassroots organizers, and served on various leadership bodies of local and national organizations.


Compiled responses re: farm bike delivery
Farms with bike delivery:

Producers with bike delivery:

Bike Delivery Services working with CSAs and food producers:

Real Time Farms article re: farm bike delivery.

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