Saturday, November 17, 2007

A new blog at Farm Fresh Rhode Island

If anyone is still following – it sure has been awhile! – venture with me to a new blog. More focused on Rhode Island farms and food. Much, much less comment spam. [Farm Fresh Rhode Island blog]

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Four Seasons will be in hiatus mode for the next week or so while we devote our lives to searching Google Scholar. So many journal articles, so little time. But we'll try to spread the joy with some links sifted from our e-mail and web procrastination...

Agricultural empowerment and food security in impoverished areas of Kenya. It's part of Jeffrey Sachs' ambitious plans at the UN Millennium Project discussed in yesterday's NY Times. There was also a great write-up on the project in last November's NY Times Magazine.

With oil prices climbing, is local ag the hot stock to own? James Kunstler gives the A to Z on our coming energy conundrum and places some bets in an adaptation from his new book, The Long Emergency.

The energy cost issue is given a look in yesterday's notes from Farm Policy. Keith also delineates the latest talk about increased farm subsidies for enviro stewardship, though it seems there may be more politicking to it than follow-through. Show me the money.

It's finally that time of year. Time for the Feast of the First Asparagus. But even if you don't appreciate the after-smell of asparagus, there's some really nifty stuff going on at Gettin' the Right Eats.

'Tis also the season for rhubarb. And a hotel in Scotland sure knows how to celebrate the occasion. The plant is gorgeous.

In a followup to a post on Kraft's family of "organic" brands, there's a great article out there by Phil Howard from 2003. "Consolidation in Food and Agriculture: Implications for Farmers and Consumers" has a nifty web of the major corporate mamas and papas of organic brands. Jen of life begins @ thirty also noted that Green Digit has its own little black book.

It's not noted in those articles, but I find it very twisted that Dean owns Horizon, Silk, and most of the "regional" milk brands in the country.

If you haven't discovered Google Maps' satellite photos, it's the time waster you've been waiting for. There are probably some pretty impressive farmland views-from-above waiting to be discussed. Don't know how often they'll be updating the photos, but it would be neat to see seasonal change. (via kottke)

And there are some great local food /sustainable agriculture events going on in the Northeast over the next month...

Saturday, April 02, 2005

All together now: mapping local foodsheds

The Neighborhood Project is using data from craigslist housing postings to generate neighborhood lines in San Francisco. A script builds a map that color-codes the street address of the house in a listing with the neighborhood as defined by the poster. The results are here and pretty nifty. Neighborhood dynamics are notoriously social constructed. Areas often shift in identity in response to demographics changes (i.e. et voila, presenting Greenwich Village's long lost cousin, the East Village) and real estate marketing strategies (i.e. whatever Columbia touches magically becomes Morningside Heights instead of Harlem). Anyway, the map offers an interesting glimpse of how SFers self-identify. (via fab via craigblog)

Sure, it's great to look at how community is performed in our post-modern world, you say, but how does it relate to food? Outside of the Neighborhood Project's neighborhood focus, it's a really great example of leveraging distributed computing to better organize the otherwise overwhelmingly information of the web. The map depends of the collective work of thousands of people who each put up a housing listing, though they contributed without any extra effort (or intention, for that matter).

Now think of a website like Local Harvest that has listings from hundreds of small farmers across the US, or even the world. If those farmers posted what they were growing and when it was in season on the site, local foodsheds could be easily mapped. A local foodshed is marked by by the flow of a food item from where it is grown to its point of consumption and varies by the season. Sure, the information is out there as text across many different webpages, but the visuals of a map that makes it more compelling. From the Wisconsin Foodshed Research Project:
How might alternatives to our existing food system be organized at the local and community levels? How much food can a given region provide? Can local food systems meet nutritional needs and provide food security for everyone?
People living in the same foodshed can become a community for change that can collectively support and sustain the producers most local to it, as well as cultivate new producers to match demand. Bostonian to Providencian: "Wow, look! We're in the same foodshed for organic carrots in March. Let's work with a regional farm to start a buying co-op or winter CSA!" There are oodles of possibilities.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Hump-day et ceteras

I've been pretty busy with work lately. Here are some of the fruits of my productive procrastination:

A slideshow of the lifecycle of coffee bushes at a Costa Rican coffee plantation in the Tarrazu River Valley

Not enough farmers to keep up with the demand for farmers' markets, says USDA radio (mp3 audio)

An anecdotal look at Bette Midler's financial rescue of NYC community gardens and her continued engagement in greening the city through the New York Restoration Project

Spring has sprung: there were fiddleheads at Delicious Orchards yesterday, and apparently they've hit NYC too

Invasive fungi and aphids have shaped wine as we know it

An Earth Dinner on Earth Day, with 50 creativity cards to spark conservation and contemplation. The cards get at our connection with the food we eat in a playful way

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Et cetera: Bread, GMOs, and the French

Bread is without a doubt our Achilles heal, and so our ears perked up when The Fresh Loaf mentioned the new math that a new bakery in Oregon is doing:
Local Pinot Noir + Local Wheat = Salem Sourdough
Chef Frank Stitt of Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, AL talked on Sunday with NPR's All Things Considered about fresh ingredients, farmers' markets, food as community-building, and the art of Southern cuisine

Yesterday, US Farm Policy discussed the latest on GMOs, focusing on a recent debate in Missouri over pharmaceutical rice and Syngenta's admission of releasing unapproved biotech corn into the wild. Resource Insights also recently made mention of the related USDA coverup, via sustainablog)

If you're looking for an interesting read on GMOs, check out Molecular Invasion by Critical Art Ensemble. It's a worthwhile manifesto that navigates between unaffected academics and radical activism in its tone. The authors argue for less corporate hush-hush and anti-biotech fear-mongering, and instead for more research transparency and public involvement. Their goal is informed debate and a populace that can differentiate between cases of unwarranted GMO fears and unjustifiable GMO risks. A good read, available online in PDF, though my eyes preferred its paper form. Also check out CAE's "Free Range Grain" project

Josh Friedland of The Food Section interviews four French food bloggers in an attempt to demystify American's latest intrigue with the Franco-food lifestyle. A few of the recurring themes are portion size, discipline, processed foods, exercise, being picky about freshness, and that we're not all so different

Meanwhile, On Healthy Living dispenses advice on seasonal eating

A victory garden in Texas to reduce our dependence on foreign oil

A blog to keep an eye on: Sustainable Table

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Local Food Forum in Providence, RI - April 13-16

There's a lot up Farm Fresh Rhode Island's sleeve:
  • Local Food Forum at Brown University in Providence on April 13-16. Strategies for improved community food security in southern New England. Featuring Anna Lappé, co-author of Hope's Edge and co-founder of the Small Planet Institute, and workshops on everything from local wine to farm-to-school programs to grassfed beef. It's free and open to the public.
  • Monday Market opens June 20 next to the central bus station in downtown Providence and promises to make local foods accessible to the thousands of commuters and government workers who pass by every day. This farmers' market is going to become a destination!
PS- A happy, hopefully pastel-less holiday to everyone celebrating!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Child Nutrition Act gets at obesity and small farms

Piggybacking on US Food Policy's coverage of childhood obesity and the on-going federal budget debates that have legislators looking at other farm-related programs to cut instead of subsidies...

When Congress passed the Child Nutrition Act in 2004, it passed a Farm to Cafeteria program under the name "Access to Local Foods and School Gardens" (Section 122). According to the Community Food Security Coalition, the program would provide seed grant funds to schools to facilitate the purchase of locally grown food for school meals:
Section 122 authorizes a grant program for schools to receive funds of up to $100,000 to assist with the start-up costs of a farm to school project. These competitive, one-time grants will allow schools to purchase adequate equipment to store and prepare fresh foods, develop vendor relationships with nearby farmers, plan seasonal menus and promotional materials, and develop experiential nutrition education related to agriculture.
Sounds exactly like what we should be encouraging in our schools.

It's estimated that about $5 million would be needed to get it off the ground, but Congress has yet to fund the program. Here are the obligatory links about how to contact your senators and representative.