Five For Fridays – Apr 24, 2009

by TwinToddlersDad on April 23, 2009

in Five For Fridays

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In honor of the Earth Day (April 22) this week’s Five for Fridays is dedicated to news articles related to food sustainability. Enjoy and do let me know what you think.

More interesting ideas from Michael Pollan

Maybe the fact that I am currently reading Pollan’s highly acclaimed “The Omnivores Dilemma” got me interested in this post by him on The Huffington Post, written to coincide with the Earth Day. Think Global Eat Local seems to be his prescription for reducing the amount of fossil fuel it takes to grow our food these days. Turns out, the Agriculture sector is second to Transportation when it comes to fossil fuel consumption. When so many people are talking about electric, hybrid or flex fuel cars, it surprises me a little that we don’t really hear much about reducing our dependence on oil in the agriculture sector. Pollan advocates a decentralized food supply system where consumers would buy locally grown food directly from a farm or an year-around indoor farmers’ market. He proposes a flexible system of government regulations based on scale and marketplace. He suggests encouraging hospitals and universities that receive federal grants to supply their cafeterias with locally grown fresh produce. These are big ideas – nothing wrong with that – it would also be good to think “small” at the consumer level so we can create a true demand for sustainability. What do you think?

An organic garden on the White House lawn

Last month Michelle Obama joined 23 fifth graders to start the work on a 1,100 square foot vegetable garden at the White House. This post by Crunchy Domestic Goddess provides some interesting details like the fact that the entire Obama family, including the President, will work on the garden pulling weeds every so often! It will have a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs. It will utilize organic seedlings, White House compost and natural pest control methods. The idea is to inspire everybody to consider growing a little bit of their own food in their own backyards. And looks like the momentum is building – some 43 million US households plan to grow their veggies and fruits this year, up 19% from 2008, according to the National Gardening Association. If you are interested, they have a very good articles and resources for starting your own garden. Check it out!

The economics of a home garden

This article in the Wall Street Journal provides a glimpse of the Dollars and Sense of a home vegetable garden. The National Gardening Association estimates that for an average family, about $70 worth of seeds and supplies each year can yield $600 worth of vegetables. That’s one huge return on investment! What people forget though is the start-up cost of setting up a garden (on a raised bed if needed) and tools, which could cost you over $100. Not to mention the back-breaking work each day watering, pulling weeds and fighting pests. It is not for everybody, but if you enjoy working outdoors then surely you can save some cash. It sure trumps mowing the lawn each weekend, which does not give you any real financial return.

One problem people may face is that most Homeowners Associations have rules that regulate what you can and cannot do in your own backyard. So be sure to check with them before you decide to take the plunge!

9 leaders who are making a difference for food sustainability

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is honoring farmers, business leaders and thought leaders through the Growing Green Awards to recognize their efforts for food sustainability:

  1. Will Allen, Growing Power, Milwaukee, WI – sustainable aquaculture and organic vegetable production
  2. Judith Redmond, Full Belly Farm, Guinda, CA – 250 acre organic farm
  3. Joel Salatin, Polyface Farm, Swoope, VA – Pasture based “beyond organic” grass-fed beef, poultry, sustainable lumber
  4. Fedele Bauccio, Bon Appetit Management Co., Palo Alto, CA – Low carbon diet initiative
  5. Michael Rozyne, Red Tomato, Canton, MA – non-profit marketing and distribution for small farms and co-ops
  6. Thaleon Tremain, Pachamama Coffee Coop, Davis, CA – Certified fair-trade coffee from 150,000 farmers in South America, Central America and Africa
  7. Ann Cooper, Berkeley Unified School District, Berkeley, CA – Prchasing and menu changes to promote sustainable and healthy food, founder of Lunch Lessons LLC
  8. James Harvie, Institute for a Sustainable Future, Duluth, MN – Healthy food in healthcare for hospitals, Healthcare without Harm
  9. Sibella Kraus, SAGE, Berkely, CA – sustainable agriculture education

Behind each of these leaders, is a great story. Check out these links and get inspired!

Eating out? Pick a restaurant with an eye for food sustainability

Can a restaurant source its food ingredients from local producers, serve seasonal cuisine and still be in business? The answer is a big yes. I have not tried one yet, but I came across this online restaurant finder on LocalHarvest where you can search for a restaurant by zip code or state. I was disappointed to find only 6 restaurant in my state of Florida, and none in the city I live. Could be that their database needs updating; I sure hope that there will be more restaurants in this area soon who will support the core ideas of food sustainability by serving locally grown fresh, organic food. Have you been to one in your area? Drop a comment about the restaurant and your experience.

Enjoy your weekend!

Image source: Woodleywonderworks on Flickr
©2009 Littlestomaks.com

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  • Tommy’s Mommy

    I was pleased to find one of our favorite restaurants in Milwaukee on LocalHarvest. As you know we are not vegetarians, but we love Beans and Barley downtown. It’s a great cafe’ and the food is really terrific — it’s always crowded.

  • Tommy’s Mommy

    I was pleased to find one of our favorite restaurants in Milwaukee on LocalHarvest. As you know we are not vegetarians, but we love Beans and Barley downtown. It’s a great cafe’ and the food is really terrific — it’s always crowded.

  • http://herbalwater.typepad.com/ Ayala Laufer-Cahana M.D.

    Thanks for another interesting post! I really enjoyed it.

    I’m very interested to know how many “beginner” home farmers save money on their vegetable garden. I never made the calculation, but I think my experience is much more like William Alexander’s, the author of the $64 Tomato.

    Anyway, I think that like the MasterCard Priceless ads–seeing your vegetables grow is PRICELESS. Suggesting that growing food is easy, fool proof or necessarily cost effective may lead to disappointment. I admire farmers that do it well, because I don’t find it’s easy at all, but well worth it nevertheless.

  • http://herbalwater.typepad.com/ Ayala Laufer-Cahana M.D.

    Thanks for another interesting post! I really enjoyed it.

    I’m very interested to know how many “beginner” home farmers save money on their vegetable garden. I never made the calculation, but I think my experience is much more like William Alexander’s, the author of the $64 Tomato.

    Anyway, I think that like the MasterCard Priceless ads–seeing your vegetables grow is PRICELESS. Suggesting that growing food is easy, fool proof or necessarily cost effective may lead to disappointment. I admire farmers that do it well, because I don’t find it’s easy at all, but well worth it nevertheless.

  • Susan Gardner

    I am also currently reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”. I also read and really enjoyed “In Defense of Food” by Pollan which seems to be a follow up book – I guess I just read them in the wrong order. It is unbelievable how much high fructose corn syrup is in our foods – I am so glad that these books and others are bringing it to light. We also make a much bigger effort to eat locally and in season, although it is tough to do during Winter in Massachusetts!

  • Susan Gardner

    I am also currently reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”. I also read and really enjoyed “In Defense of Food” by Pollan which seems to be a follow up book – I guess I just read them in the wrong order. It is unbelievable how much high fructose corn syrup is in our foods – I am so glad that these books and others are bringing it to light. We also make a much bigger effort to eat locally and in season, although it is tough to do during Winter in Massachusetts!

  • http://blog.nonanitasnook.com Nona Nita

    Even if growing my own tomatoes will cost more, I like the idea that I am going to use heirloom seeds that have not been hybridized. I will be able to keep the seeds from my produce to grow more next year. Not only will I get tomatoes like they used to taste when I was a kid, but saving the seeds from the tomatoes to use next year will be a great lesson in the cycle of life for my grandchild. Hooray to the Obamas for being great role models! Hooray to you for a great blog!

  • http://blog.nonanitasnook.com Nona Nita

    Even if growing my own tomatoes will cost more, I like the idea that I am going to use heirloom seeds that have not been hybridized. I will be able to keep the seeds from my produce to grow more next year. Not only will I get tomatoes like they used to taste when I was a kid, but saving the seeds from the tomatoes to use next year will be a great lesson in the cycle of life for my grandchild. Hooray to the Obamas for being great role models! Hooray to you for a great blog!

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