“We like to think of local today being where organic was 15 years ago”

 By Mary Ellen Shoup

BrightFarms is poised to bring its local greenhouse model to a nationwide audience with 15 hydroponic greenhouses to be built in the next three to five years as demand for locally-grown produce outweighs organic, shared BrightFarms VP of marketing and innovation, Abby Prior.

link to story

Advertisements

Louisiana Update # 8: The natural cost

 

14079492_10153806953867060_6009672677636791922_n.jpg

The flood leaves a watermark stain on the tree’s leaves as U.S. Geological Survey surveyor Scott Hedgecock works to survey the water levels along the Tangipahoa River along Highway 190 just west of Robert, Louisiana. (Photo by Ted Jackson NOLA.com )

Climate change is not entirely accepted, even by those for whom it should be obvious possibly because it is not entirely understood.  People don’t feel its effects as they move in comfort from their air-conditioned personal vehicle to living amid a span of concrete around their glass-enclosed home away from coasts or forests, getting most of their information through a thumbnail headline or from friends who work and live in the very same setting. In other words, industrialized countries.

Another culprit may be the environmental work done in the 1970s and 1980s, which often used unfamiliar phrases that lacked relevancy such as global warming (or even the term used at the beginning of this post, climate change) and focused mostly on national policy changes or in shaming users of resources without compelling evidence of the effect of that reduction. Environmentalists were seen as “do-gooders” who meant well but lacked realistic goals (this was actual feedback from focus groups at an organization I worked at in the 1980s.)

The strong pushback showed the fallacy of engaging ordinary citizens using lofty or scientific terms and  led to many turning to food as an organizing tool. After all, what could be better as an impetus to understanding and sharing the repair of the natural world but food?

Yet in the roll call of environmentalists circa 2016, food system organizers are usually in the middle of the pack. Most can certainly outline the issues involved with food production that both imperil and reboot Mother Nature, but are rarely working directly on those issues in concert with environmental organizations. Farmers markets have done an admirable job on promoting entrepreneurial activity and improving access, but efforts to highlight the stewardship of the natural world by market farmers has fallen a little behind.

I hear our great writer Wendell Berry exhorting us to remember the farmers:

“Good farmers, who take seriously their duties as stewards of Creation and of their land’s inheritors, contribute to the welfare of society in more ways than society usually acknowledges, or even knows. These farmers produce valuable goods, of course; but they also conserve soil, they conserve water, they conserve wildlife, they conserve open space, they conserve scenery.”

The  “eyes to acres” ratio suggested by Berry and Wes Jackson needs to be included in regional planning theory and in the metrics that assess our work. Within the framework of disaster, the acknowledgment of the need for that ratio could mean”deputizing” farmers to supply immediate indicators of the level of destruction.

Disasters point out the fragility of a place and at the same time remind us of the strength of human ties and the resolve of communities. Following that line of thinking, deeper knowledge of local and regional systems would help knit everyone more closely together, allow for rescue and recovery to happen faster even as it is offering a narrative with more relevancy to those in far-off but similarly sized food systems.  If the watershed or the regional system for food production were one such way to describe the need among those participating in food initiatives, assistance could be met one farm, one family or even one small town at a time.

Continue reading

New Orleans Localvore Market

Not a farmers market, but it has the same values of local sourcing, direct sales/education between producers and shoppers, educational activities and fun as the longtime farmers markets in the city. These folks have spread the gospel of sourcing locally with this and with their Eat Local Challenge each June. A great sister project to the Crescent City Farmers Markets, with which they work closely.

Localvore Market in New Orleans, held during Eat Local Challenge Month

Locavore (sic) Market in New Orleans, held during this neighborhood’s Eat Local Challenge Month

Vegan Soul Kitchen

Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American CuisineVegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine by Bryant Terry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really like this book. the author put some very nice healthy recipes and paired them with songs, art and history. The idea of approaching a meal as a way to create an entire mood is a great one for a cookbook. His activism is front and center- he has an impressive resume founding and supporting food activism projects.
A worthy book for an individual chef or for any food project that uses seasonal items to educate about healthy alternatives for preparing Southern/African-American cultural recipes. I use this cookbook as much as any in my kitchen.

View all my reviews