Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fresh Film

I received an e-mail about the release of the newest documentary on the food system in the U.S., "Fresh". Since press releases are thoughtfully crafted, and I haven't seen the film yet, I will just use their language.
FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Among several main characters, FRESH features urban farmer and activist, Will Allen, the recipient of MacArthur's 2008 Genius Award; sustainable farmer and entrepreneur, Joel Salatin, made famous by Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma; and supermarket owner, David Ball, challenging our Wal-Mart dominated economy.

If you're in the Boston area there is a screening Thursday May 28th at 7 p.m. Harvard will host the screening at: Harvard Northwest Building, 52 Oxford Street, Room B-103, Cambridge, MA 02138

The screening at Harvard will also include a truly amazing panel. So even if the film is a dud (which I highly doubt!) it's worth going just to hear the panel. Following the screening you can experience the awesomeness of the follow local food gurus:
Theresa McCulla (Moderator), Manager, Harvard’s Food Literacy Project
Joel Salatin, Founder, Polyface Farms
Will Allen, Founder, Growing Power
Henrietta Davis, Cambridge City Council
Michael Leviton, Chef, Lumiere Restaurant
Ana Joanes, Director & Producer of FRESH

You can purchase tickets ($15) and find other screenings at the film's website:

If you go, I would love to hear your feedback, thoughts, critiques, inspirations, etc. about Fresh.

Cross posted at Only An Almond Bean and Culinate.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

It's Farmer's Market Season In Boston

Mark your calendars! The farmer's markets are opening this week. You no longer have to buy your produce at a grocery store. You can shake hands with the farmer who grows your rocket and ask him or her how the growing season is going.

If you live or work in downtown Boston, the largest Mass Farmers Market opens on Tuesday May 19th in Copely Square. It starts at 11 a.m. and runs until 6 p.m. every Tuesday and Friday from May 19th through November 24th.

If Back Bay isn't your T stop don't disparage. Mass Farmers Market, a local non-profit, runs over 180 markets across the state include the following in Boston:

City Hall market in Boston, which begins May 27th and runs on Mondays and Wednesdays

Davis Square farmers market in Somerville, which begins May 27th and runs on Wednesdays

Central Square market in Cambridge, which begins June 1st and runs on Mondays

Framingham Village Green market, which begins June 11th and runs on Thursdays.

And really, the opening of the markets means returning to local, seasonal food. A winter diet of root vegetables, Florida citrus, and greenhouse veggies is over! The earth is coming to life again after the winter and you can taste it in the food. Especially the food that is grown locally.

If you are new to the whole eat local, eat sustainably thing there a number of tools out there to help you select rhubarb in May/June and not watermelon. One of our members, Maggie Gosselin, developed the Local Foods Wheel with some of her friends from California. This is a great tool to use with children because it is tactile and filled with beautiful pictures. Although there isn't a New England wheel yet, the New York wheel is a good substitute. You can order a Local Foods Wheel from Chelsea Green.

If you just need a quick reference, the Sustainable Table is a great web site. Their eat seasonal page allows you to select your state and the month and it gives you a pretty comprehensive list of what is coming off the fields in your area.

So here is to spring! Let's welcome the farmers back to Boston and hit those markets in full force!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rebuilding the Food System

(Cross Posted on Only an Almond Bean and my Culinate Blog.

Well, I finished my first year of graduate school! It's been a fantastic 9 months. Although statistics got a bit hairy at times, it was a great first year. As we all know, lot of learning goes on outside the classroom as well. Recently I attended the American Planning Association's national conference in Minneapolis. It was fantastic!

The whole planning field is all new to me, but the more I learn the more I believe that urban planners will play a key role in improving the food system and food environment in the U.S. Planners work in areas critical to improving our food including transportation, community development, environmental impact, and zoning. Each of these areas can contribute to a more sustainable, safe, and healthy food system.

The conference included a number of sessions on improving the food environment and urban agriculture. Although many of the food-focused planners were primarily interested in food production in the urban setting, I see a lot of potential for linking rural and urban communities more fluidly through regional food systems. There is no way that cities will be able to produce all the food they need to sustain themselves even with SPIN farming, roof-top gardens, and greenhouses heated via aquaculture.

Of course there is still plenty to be done in the urban setting. So if you live in a city and want to get involved here are some things you can do:

- Develop a regional food policy council

- Make sure that food is in your city's comprehensive plan (I didn't even know such a thing existed until I attended the conference!)

- Review zoning rules for livestock

- Review zoning rules for community gardens

- Tear out your lawn and put in a vegetable garden. Jac Smit, has a great article title "Eat Half Your Law" if you want more information.

- Ask the city to line the streets with fruit bearing trees

- Ask the city to put a garden on city hall property. The White House is doing, so should you!

- Push your legislators for 10% of the food to be grown within the city

- Make sure that grocery stores can easily accessing economic incentives developed by the city to open stores in under served areas

- Work with the corner markets in your neighborhood to bring in fresh produce and low-fat dairy products

Looking at cities through the context of food, food security, and sustainability should help planners build healthier cities, healthier farms and rural communities, and reduce negative environmental externalities associated with the food we eat.

For more information check out these sites:
Agricultural Urbanism
The American Planning Association's Police Guide on Community and Regional Food Planning
Victory Gardens 2008+
American Farmland Trust
Public Health Law and Policy
National Policy and Legal Analysis Netowrk to Prevent Childhood Obesity (NPLAN)
Interdisciplinary Consortium on Urban Planning and Public Health (ICUPPH)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Formaggio Kitchen Cheese Cave Tour

Please join Slow Food Tufts this coming Saturday, May 9 at 4pm for a tour and cheese tasting at Formaggio Kitchen. We will be led by Kurt Gurdal, the owner and cheesemaster, who will tell us about the first
cheese cave in New England (theirs!) and their aging process.  The store has literally hundreds of varieties of cheeses from all over the world, and this is a great opportunity to learn about and try some of them.

The tour and tasting will be $10 per person (cash, please).  Friends and family are welcome to join; if you plan to attend, please RSVP to Jessica by Friday, May 8 and include the number of people you'll bring.  For directions please click here.