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.

Fashion at farmers markets

The blue-smocked Bill Cunningham, aka the fashion eye of NYC, has turned his gaze to the farmers markets scene (finally). The village “mahket” style of dress was on display for Cunningham this past Saturday at Union Square in Manhattan. He also captures dog interactions, wisteria-wearing women, and pigeon style in his own charming manner.

His street fashion commentary in his weekly video is both avant-garde and anachronistic (meant fondly of course) and worth following even if you don’t focus on clothes.

Thanks to Farmers Market Coalition for sharing this on Facebook on Sunday.

Growing gardens

I am fascinated by the evolving role of urban ag in the community food system movement. It certainly has changed since its splashy beginnings in the 1980s and 1990s but what this story in the Sunday’s NYT points out is what I have also noticed: the belief that a large number of urban citizens want to grow their own food – and grow it every year – is not proven. I think the successful versions found anywhere are to scale and appropriate for the climate and demographic nearby. This might mean gardeners have a fallow season or maybe even a full year to recover and plan for the next planting or use their land for fruit trees. Here in New Orleans, we have a year-round growing culture with the most brutal weather in the summer: therefore, the idea of cover crops and soil solarization should be encouraged during June-September which gives people time to think and prepare for the fall planting.

The article quotes John Ameroso, who they interestingly call the “Johnny Appleseed of NY gardens” as someone who has that evolving view, he:

espouses more of what he calls an “urban agriculture” model: a food garden with a dedicated farmers’ market or a C.S.A. These amenities make stakeholders out of neighbors who may not like dirt under their nails and rural farmers who drive in every weekend.

“The urban-agriculture ones are flourishing,” he said. “There’s a lot of excitement. They’re active eight days a week.” But “community gardens, as such, where people come in to take care of their own boxes — those are not flourishing.”

It’s almost a cliché to point out that this new green model seems to have attracted tillers with a different skin tone. “Back then,” Mr. Ameroso said of his earlier career, “when we worked in Bronx or Bed-Stuy, it was mostly communities of color. Now when we talk about the urban agriculture stuff, it’s white people in their 30s.”

Production is the purpose of commercial agriculture and even for a community garden, it should be the goal. That production could be for a single home, or for donation or for income, but in every case a plan to produce food or plants should be required each year for every community garden space.

NYT growing growers


Here is a link to the excellent 5 Boroughs work to outline inclusive evaluation and strategic planning for projects.

dirt adds value

What a great column in the New York Times today. Every time I think we have covered the gamut of what info we need to gather to show how local food systems are working, another imaginative and appropriately scaled data collection point comes along.

In particular, the amount of dirt that farmers and markets are returning to the food system on our just picked products. Dirt that humans used to consume more of (and now in the author’s theory) need in order to reduce the autoimmune issues we have given ourselves from too many antibiotics and scrubbed clean food choices.

Having just consumed handfuls of organic berries, figs and tomatoes straight from the garden this week, I join that chorus.


The obesity problem as a mathematical question

“The (obesity) epidemic was caused by the overproduction of food in the United States.”


WIC’s Fresh Produce Program Cut 30 Percent – NYTimes.com

Education is part of almost every market’s mission. Explain to your vendors and shoppers that when food assistance programs include regionally sourced food and farmers, it benefits everyone. HOWEVER, do remember those of you that are 50(c)3 organizations, you must not use your organization’s resources to lobby for legislation.
From the IRS website:
… may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.

For those of you NOT 501(c) 3 organizations, a letter writing campaign might be in order!

WIC's Fresh Produce Program Cut 30 Percent – NYTimes.com.