Monday, September 28, 2009

Hungry world...

Recently, MSN money online published a series of pictures selected from the 2005 photographic book "Hungry Planet" by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Alusio.  A quick search found a Time magazine series with even more of these photos, really worth taking a look at. The book has an intro by Marion Nestle and essays by plenty of well-known writers and thinkers. 

The photos compare a week's worth of food for different families from all over the world, at every level of economic development.  The differences are astounding, and speak volumes to our national and global food crises.  

Especially notable are the statistics below the photos that tell the viewer how much each family spends on the amount of food pictured. But as a whole, this group of photos delivers some pretty bad news about where developed nations are, and where developing nations are headed, with regard to industrialized eating habits and health outcomes.

On a happier note, the USDA has rolled out its new "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" initiative. Watch Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack make the announcement on Youtube.  (I'd rather watch Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan make announcements though, no offense to Secretary Vilsack.)

Secretary Merrigan has launched the "Know Your Farmer" website, which is a monumental step in the right direction.  The website is clean, well-designed, and user-friendly, with links to different categories of resources and tools -- for rural community development, conservation, organic conversion and community nutrition programs, among others.  

It's a clearinghouse of information on grants and loans available to farmers and food entrepreneurs, and is also attempting to also foster a dialogue and virtual social space for people interested in continuing the conversation.

To that end, Deputy Secretary Merrigan will be hosting a Facebook chat this Thursday, October 1 from 3:45 - 4:15.  You can submit a question in advance, though the USDA's press release doesn't make it clear exactly how. It says that more details are available here, but that just seems like the link to the webchat. Anyway, you can become a fan of USDA on Facebook and leave comments or join in the discussion there.

We're excited to participate in this new national conversation! Slowly and steadily, we can affect positive change in our world.

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