Friday, August 14, 2009

Weekly Food Roundup - Sugartree, Organics and the Food Revolution

*Weekly Food Roundup is a weekly recap of local, national and global food issues as they play out online, in print and in our everyday lives. Check back every Friday for new installments.*

Food donations this week from the college farm were especially productive, with 142 lbs. of tomatoes and 94 ears of sweetcorn handed out at Sugartree on Wednesday. Yesterday, Monte Anderson took over another 126 lbs. of tomatoes to the food bank for a total of 268 lbs. of tomatoes donated for the week. The hot weather and abundant sunshine we've had these past few days are surely to thank for the productive tomato harvest, and we're grateful for some "typical" summer weather in what has heretofore been an unseasonably cool summer.

As far as quantifying the amount of food we're able to harvest from the farm, we've decided to switch from basic vegetable counts to a weight measurement. We feel like, after a year or so, a pounds-of-food tally will be a more tangible representation.

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A recent study published by the U.K. Food Standards Agency (FSA) takes to task the argument of conventional versus organic vegetables, and ultimately decides that organically grown vegetables are no more-healthful than their "conventional" veggie siblings, grown with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The report has caused a fire-storm in the food and policy blogosphere and continues to create blog fodder this week. (For some background, Paula Crossfield, managing editor of the respected food blog Civil Eats, writes about how she thinks the report is flawed here and here, and the Washington Post wunderkind-cum-food columnist Ezra Klein disagrees with her here). The argument carries on, some three weeks later, with the food editor of Grist.org, another revered food policy blog, Tom Philpott challenging Klein to a friendly e-debate on the issue. Here is Philpott's first address, followed by Klein's response, Philpott's rebuttal, which delves into the issue of soil quality, and now Klein's most recent response. It's a lot of back-and-forth, but how else do debates get resolved? (Not that that will happen anytime soon.)

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Will Allen of Growing Power farms in Milwaukee and Chicago (whom we've written about here) is featured in a Grist interview here, in which he waxes poetic about the Good Food Revolution growing around the country, the success of his Growing Power alumni and the issue of youth involvement in the food movement.

Allen is a figurehead in the good-food sector, and his message carries with it a lot of clout about the importance of good food access and education.

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Earlier this week, U.S.D.A chief Tom Vilsack declared the week of August 23-29 National Community Gardening Week. Vilsack has taken interest recently with backyard and community gardening, most notably in his People's Garden project at the USDA headquarters in D.C., and we applaud this designation. While it's true that every week or month of the year is declared in the name of whateverelse these days (see: National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, Hair Loss Awareness Month and International Left Handers Day, all of which fall in August), the designation no-doubt helps to raise awareness for the benefits of community gardening. That it's coming from the U.S.D.A. is another big plus for the movement.

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1 comment:

Kaitlyn Baker said...

How do you plan to celebrate National Community Gardening Week? I'm thinking a garden tea party is in order--am I invited?