NYT writer: seasonality? bah humbug!


A ridiculous and myopic piece from a writer in the NYT this week is attached to this post at bottom. Her argument is that seasonal and local are out of touch and at odds with good eating and for her Manhattan restaurant. Notwithstanding the lack of awareness of the value in supporting farmers in order to increase production in one’s region, the use of terms like “forces of snobbery” without backing it up with evidence of it instead show that she is herself employing that very idea. Farmers markets and the producers in them have made her “brand” even possible which she ignores in this piece.

Add to that her lack of awareness about the extension of seasonality of producer through innovative farming techniques by small-scaled producers and supportive agricultural advocates indicates that her ignorance is massive. On top of those now extended seasons, our past generations canned and stored food throughout the non-growing season to keep it available and those techniques are not only still available to us but better and easier than ever to employ; instead she believes we should instead wait for our food to come via truck from far away simply because that is the modern world and a “beautiful thing.” As for the ‘post-seasonal”world she likes to live in, how about talking about the chemicals and processes needed to pick food thousands of miles away to have on shelves in the Midwest?

I’d like to see swift rebuke from the community to this person, and some education offered to her to teach her how items like regionally produced winter tomatoes are largely available in every area, how citrus can be and is grown outside of Florida and California, how garlic, grapes, oils and more are possible in many other areas too and how farmers markets are the main engine behind increasing production and access to healthy and tasty food that is competitively priced and often incentivized. THAT work is creating the “demand”that she asks for and relies on for her own location-based business. Lastly, let me also offer my opinion that the NYT has recently become the paper of hysterical food nonsense which does not do The Gray Lady credit.  How about cutting down on the hyperbole about local food and instead report on the actual data of our field made up of small businesses and public policy all designed to increase healthy living for all.

Amanda Cohen, the Dirt Candy chef and owner, satisfies a craving and proves that even tomatoes don’t have to be eaten in season to taste good.

Search for new Executive Director-CFSC

Over the summer, Community Food Security Coalition’s Founder and Executive Director for 17 years, Andy Fisher resigned his position. We expect Andy to continue his early groundbreaking food security work and will honor his and other leaders many years in the food security movement at our November conference “Honoring Our Roots, Growing The Movement” in Oakland CA.

We are also beginning our search for a new Executive Director and have a link to the job description. Please send the link to those colleagues that you feel could lead CFSC into its next iteration. The CFSC Transition and Search Committee has worked extensively on the job description and requirements, but if you have any questions, feel free to email me directly (I serve as a Board member) or find me or any board member at the Oakland conference to talk in more detail.
Job Posting

Goats-Ambassadors of Agriculture

LA goat story

Michael Pollan explains food chains

A great video to embed on your market websites or in your email newsletters. Simply explained for many audiences.

Subway map of food culture

Well this is interesting. Using a subway system, it shows chefs (and one or two activists) who are changing food at the present time and have influenced this current crop (Julia Child, Ruth Reichl). I can believe that this will stir some debate-for example, I know that the one New Orleans chef mentioned here John Besh is probably deserved, but I would say that Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewlski do too for Cochon, Herbsaint and Butcher. And if you are trying to get at the heart of it the local/simple ingredient movement in my city, then Jamie Shannon and/or Susan Spicer need to be mentioned. I am also not sure why Joel Salatin and Will Allen are the only 2 growers that I noticed in here.

Map on Huffington Post

Measuring success in community gardens

A speaker at the Nashville Food Summit: “Community gardens are more about the community then the gardening.” I agree that has been true in recent years but is that the future?
And then this morning saw this on the comfood listserve:

Community Gardens Win the Food Wars
Millions of pounds of fresh food and produce were raised during the World War II years—as much as 40% of all vegetables consumed nationally.

5,285,000 Victory Gardens in the United States

According to The War Garden Victorious, Indianapolis “estimated the value of its war-garden crop in 1918 at $1,473,165. Denver placed its yield at $2,500,000 and Los Angeles at $1,000,000. Washington, District of Columbia reached $1,396,5000.” Thanks to propaganda (“your garden is a munitions plant”) there were 5,285,000 victory gardens in 1918. The City of Rochester, New York alone had more than 15,000. The “estimated value of our war-garden crops for 1918 (was) $525,000,000! A half billion dollars!”

Important history for us to know and to use as an impetus for today. Speaking of today:

Thanks to the research efforts of Farming Concrete, we know the value and weight of produce created by 67 of the 500 community gardens in NYC:

* 67 gardens comprise 1,200 plots
* 1,200 gardeners (give or take) raised 39,518 plants
* 39,518 plants produced 87,690 lbs of food
* 87,690 lbs of food  worth $214,060

But here is the statistic that really caught my eye. All this work, all this fresh food was produced on just 1.7 acres of land, or 71,950 square feet. The parking lots at suburban malls are bigger than that!

Check out Farming Concrete for their excellent resources to measure the benefits of urban gardens; the toolkit is very similar to the Farmers Market Metrics we are creating at the Farmers Market Coalition.