Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Oberlin College Green House

Check out this great short video at the NY Times. I really like what the student says about blending idealism and pragmatism.
"We are not trying to bring America back to its agrarian past, but we care about these issues, we act, and we move fast." Paraphrasing but you get the kernel.
See it at Oberlin Green House

Monday, May 26, 2008

Bill Moyers on the Farm Bill

Watch a short video podcast of Bill Moyers' view of the current Farm Bill. He expresses the ambivalence that many of us feels towards this irrational, corrupt, and unsustainable piece of legislation that nevertheless is tied to the welfare of many poor families through the funding of nutrition assistance and school lunch programs. Someone is going to have some political 'cojones' one day to clean up this mess. Obama leadership maybe?

Watch it at Bill Moyer's Journal.

While you are there why not see the Exposé segment on BPA in clear hard plastics, and the heroic work of the EPA in protecting us from corporate greed (tee hee hee, that's a joke).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blog Review of all Farmer's Market in the Bay Area

A great blog about Farmer's Markets all around the bay area.

Local Honey

Here is a very local source of sweetness. Mint Hill Apiary has its bee hives in the Castro. They sell honey and beeswax candles at Bi-Rite Market and at the Alemany Farmer's Market on Saturdays. On the websites there is even an offer to show you the hives if you contact them to make arrangements.
Mint Hill Apiary.

While I am on the subject, I might as well make a plug for the San Francisco Beekeepers Association. They meet at the Randall Museum on Corona Heights, on the second Wednesday of each month.
Maybe you want to try your hand at gathering your own sweetness. For more information SF Beekeepers.

Your Food Choices and the Environment

This from our contributor Oliver Hickman

A recent report by Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews (funded by the EPA and NSF) published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology (and available on the American Chemical Society's website) investigates the impact of dietary choices on the environment. The report finds that while eating locally can reduce the environmental impact of your food, the choices of what you eat can have a greater impact.

According to the report shifting your diet away from red meat one day a week can reduce the environmental impact of your food consumption as much as eating all your food locally does.

While the report finds that eating locally has a comparatively smaller impact than the choices of what you buy and eat, due to its scope focusing on dietary choices alone, it is important to remember that reducing the environmental impact of the transport of your food is just one of many reasons to eat locally. Eating locally encourages locally, family and minority owned agriculture and businesses, dissuades monoculture, returns the community involvement in the food supply, reduces packaging, provides tastier, healthier and fresher produce, reminds us of the seasonality of food and gives a direct feedback loop to the food producers, each of which is reason enough to eat locally.

The report may be found on-line at the ACS website at:
The ACS also has a summary and discussion of the report at:

An interview with Christopher Webber may be heard on Science Friday's website:

This one graphic pretty much sums up the report:

Thanks Oliver.

Through the Looking Glass Farm Bill

It is a testament to the Alice in Wonderland nature of the Farm Bill that I find myself agreeing with the Bush administration for the first time. This bill deserves a presidential veto. The promise of reform into which the democratically led congress entered the reworking of the bill has long given way to special interest, back door dealings. Subsidies for racehorse breeders?

There are many things in the way of crafting a truly rational farm bill. The most profound obstacle is the inaccessibility of information on the bill. How is the ordinary voter to judge if the bill works towards developing a logical system of food production that serves all Americans? And what about a system that does not despoil the land, leaving a food crisis legacy to future generations?

Special interests live within the obscurity of federal policy. They count on our inability to devote time, energy, and resources to become informed. The more convoluted the legislation becomes the more riders can be attached. Otherwise, which congressperson would have the face to attach a multi-million dollar subsidy to horse racing to the bill?

On top of the obscurity is the fact that most Americans still picture an archetypical farmer – pitch fork in hand and clad in a denim overall – anytime we mention food production in the United States. The ugly truth is that the farm bill is not for farmers, it is instead corporate welfare at its boldest. Picture a bigwig in a finely cut suit carrying a laptop and knowing nothing about soil conservation the next time you hear about the farm bill.

The biggest truth is that farm state legislators count on the misguided support of most uninformed Americans because in our hearts we know we must protect farmers. After all, the farmer was one of the key builders of our nation. Farming is core to what it means to be American. It is time to see that the nature of food production has changed, to take our Grant Wood glasses off, and understand that the farm bill is mostly about shoving excess calories down American gullets.
Once we swallow this truth we can begin to fight our representatives to get a rational farm policy that does honor the remaining steward-farmers of our country.

One of the most eloquent accounts of how we got into the quagmire of farm subsidies was written by Michael Pollan in The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Let us just say it is covered in corn syrup but is not that sweet.

What could we do to the farm bill in order to make it a vehicle for sustainable agriculture and rural revitalization? Read the recommendations of the Center for Rural Affairs. http://www.cfra.org/policy/2007

Here is a flavor of what we are up against http://www.usda.gov/documents/07finalfbp.pdf the full text of the proposal and through the library of congress’ Thomas System http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/thomas
This stuff is great if you are suffering from insomnia.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Renewing America's Food Traditions, on NPR

The author of the book, Renewing America's Food Traditions, Paul Nabhan, has a talk with Andrea Seabrook of NPR. In his newly published book Nabhan argues that in order to maintain our diverse food traditions, we must create local markets for such regional specialties as grass fed bison and Tennessee fainting goat (yes, it seems that they keel over if you startle them). The book is a wonderful mixture of recipes and essays on endangered food ways. Each chapter covers a different region relabeled (instead of the Southwest, the areas is referred to as the Chile Pepper Nation, for example)
Click Here to listen

While you are on NPR why not check out the Kitchen Sister's great audio archive of food ways stories,
Hidden Kitchens

Friday, May 9, 2008

Searchable Database of Food Systems Related Books and Films

Here is a tool to arm yourself with information. A professor from Michigan has created a searchable list of current books and films related to food systems. I will also include the link in the bibliography section. Click here.

Bike Ride for Good Local Food

This is pure genius. A bike ride about alternative food systems in the city! What could be more wholesome? The San Francisco Bike Coalition and the documentarian producing the upcoming film, 'Looking for Good Food,' are jointly sponsoring a bike tour of relevant sites in the city. There will be guest speakers along the way. The ride will last approximately 2 hours and end at the Alemany Farmer's Market. Riders will meet at Mission and 16th Street. The Coalition requests that you RSVP. For more information, and to see a short clip of the film visit Looking for Good Food website or The Bike Coalition ride page.

The website for the film also has many interesting links.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Old Duboce Farmer's Market

Looking for a new banner image in the historical photo collection of our local library I was surprised to find pictures labeled, "Farmer's Market, Duboce and Market Street." The images seem to show the market was located at the foot of the mint hill - just where the Safeway is now. Not a great trade off. Please post a comment if you know anything about this market.

Photos from the historical photo collection, San Francisco Public Library

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Victory Gardens 2008+

If that weedy patch of what seems unusable ground seems just too intimidating to start cultivating, there are some folks in the city that will hold your hand to get you started. No border or window box is too small that it can't be put to use growing food. In the spirit of small-scale, urban agriculture that flourished during WWII, Victory Garden 2008+ aims at increasing backyard food production with as low an impact on the environment as possible. VG2008+ walks the walk too. For a time they were giving away garden starter kits and they delivered them by cargo tricycle. This coming summer they are planning to develop edible gardens at our City Hall. The ground breaking is scheduled for July 1, and they are looking for volunteers to join in.

If you are already growing food at home, fill out their garden registry. VG2008+ is compiling a data base of food gardens in the city to help estimate the amount of food produced here.

They have a great website, VG2008+ . Check out the home made knee pads. There is also a link to an article on the potential of urban agriculture.

Avedano's Holly Park Market

Come check out a recent, and wonderful, new addition to our local foodscape. Avedano's Market on Cortland Avenue, in Bernal Heights, specializes in sustainably produced meats, locally produced organic produce, and specialized pantry items. They make amazing sandwiches. And on Sundays, if you are carnivorously inclined, they have the most addicting pork tacos north of the Rio Grande. To walk into Avedano's is to treat your nose, toungue and eyes, and will give you hope that we can reclaim a diverse food pallet right in a neighborhood market. Please ask questions. The staff is well informed and friendly, and knowing your food is what this place is about.

While new to many of us, Avedano's is also an attempt to revive the tradition of a neighborhood based, family operated store. It is in the site of Cicero's Meats, a neighborhood butchers that had served Bernal Heights since 1901 until just of few years ago.

Check out their website at Avedano's Holly Park Market

P.S. They have a fun selection of small-market sodas, Like Moxie Cola