From Marion Nestle’s remarkable blog Food Politics, three articles not to miss out on this weekend: “Three exceptionally thoughtful and interesting pieces by people who have been writing about food and food systems for a long time”….
Huge gratitude to the National Family Farm Coalition, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, WhyHunger, FarmAid, the HEAL Food Alliance and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy for putting together these policy recommendations responding to the $2 trillion Senate stimulus bill.
These coalitions are concerned that the stimulus bill “and other existing proposals have too few protections for working families, too many corporate bailouts, and limited language on supporting food producers and food workers through this crisis.”
Their message to congress emphasiezs that “farmers, ranchers, and fishermen need (to name a few) emergency payments, debt relief, access to zero interest credit, and support to adapt their markets and distribution, and that these short-term provisions should be linked to systemic reforms. Farm, fish and food workers should also receive a range of protections including unemployment assistance, paid sick leave and access to healthcare.”
The policy recommendations are organized by three headers: (1) ENSURE A FAIR LIVELIHOOD FOR FARMERS, RANCHERS, FISHERMEN AND ALL FARM, FISH AND FOOD WORKERS, (2) BOLSTER LOCAL & REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS POISED TO FEED COMMUNITIES, and (3) ENACT SYSTEMIC REFORM TO BUILD RESILIENCE FOR ALL FOOD PRODUCERS, WORKERS AND EATERS.
SHARE THESE RECOMMENDATIONS WITH YOUR CONGRESS MEMBERS AND NETWORKS! Copy & paste below:
Dear ____________, Thank you for your hard work during this crisis. While some of the proposed measures in the existing stimulus packages will help to boost the economy and provide some aid to households and industries, they fall short with respect to protections for food producers and workers. Several leading organizations, including NAMA, the National Family Farm Coalition, WhyHunger, FarmAid, the HEAL Food Alliance and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy came together to address the issues that producers and workers are currently facing. Attached are policy recommendations for a stimulus package to support the food system. They include measures to:
Protect the livelihoods of food producers and workers
Bolster local & regional food systems that are poised to feed communities, and
Create systemic changes that build resilience of food producers, workers and eaters
Thanks for your consideration and please let me know if you have any questions. Sincerely, ___________________
ReGroup.Farm is the tale and reality of a group of Boomers, Gen X-er’s and Millennials found themselves on a farm in the Midwest. They recognized that something very interesting was happening in society at large, that in spite of all the division and decay of rural towns, that these phenomena can be reversed. In fact this process has already begun via the “food movement”.
There is a recognition that people come together over food. Whether it’s family, friends or community, food tends to bring us together for a pretty good time. Exploring this movement, asking questions and improving the food system is the core of ReGroup.Farm.
Click HERE to read more about ReGroup Farm and their mission for the future!
Elise Wach from the Indie Farmer wrote an article published last week that explores the necessary trajectory of the future of farming. At a time when industrial agricultural systems are depleting our soil and placing quantity of produce and profit before quality and ecological health, this discussion is crucial. She also addresses the myths and misunderstandings attached to the local and organic food and farming movement.
“Ecological and local food movements – and the farmers supporting them – are not trying to be elitist. They are trying to survive. In our current socioeconomic system, which ‘externalises’ the social and ecological costs of production, farmers tend to have two main choices – quality or quantity. They either produce for luxury niche markets (e.g. organic salad leaves, fancy preserves and veg boxes) or produce as much as possible through increasing their farm size (a strategy largely influenced by land area-based subsidies) and using industrial practices that destroy the soil, wildlife and water.”
It’s a fantastic article that gets to the core of the problems in the current global food system, saying:
“It is clear that the existing food and farming system is not serving the public interest. It is also clear that efforts to change our food system through existing socioeconomic models have not worked. The problem isn’t organic. It’s capitalism.”
To read the full article by Indie Farmer, click HERE
No secret that we can’t be exactly unbiased talking about the latest Our Land episode, but as a blogger who has essentially no film-making skills and had no part in the making of this video, I have to say that it’s kind of the bomb-diggity. Episode Six, “Building a Regional Food System,” which follows the Cook family of Maine. The Cooks are responsible for the first large organic potato operation in Aroostiuck County, the phenomenally innovative and inspiring Crown of Maine Co-op, and Northern Girl— a value added processing plant that provides rural farmers with access to institutional buyers across New England. The story and its footage is as poignant and hopeful as you’d like to start off your day, but the video goes so far beyond your typical feel-good foodie youtube piece and into the nitty-gritty challenges of what it actually takes to create resilient regional food systems.
My grandfather likes to tell a story about a family gathering during my early childhood. It’s somebody’s birthday, and my extended family is gathered around a long table in the dim mid-afternoon light of a Baltimore tavern. The waitress comes to the table to take our orders. The adults ask for straightforward fare: hamburgers, club sandwiches, caesar salads. Then the waitress turns to four-year-old me and asks what I’d like. “And you, in your piping voice, say: the rack of lamb, please!” He chortles. “That waitress could hardly believe her ears!”
Growing up, I thought people ate beef because they couldn’t find any lamb. Why else, I figured, would someone choose a boring steak over the heat-crisped exterior, rosy interior—tender and juicy and with a flavor actually particular—of a lamb chop?
My parents weren’t from Greece or Lebanon or anywhere else known for its affinity for sheep meat, but somehow they had discovered lamb, and so we ate lamb. We ordered it at restaurants. We served it to guests. It wasn’t a mundane meal for us, still a treat, but not an unusual one.
As it turns out, this is not the typical American relationship with lamb. (more…)
Or, well, almost. As you may remember, two summers ago, the Greenhorns loaded a schooner with 10 tons– $70,000 worth of cargo– and sailed it from Maine to Boston to sell at markets in the city. And then, the NEWSAG conference held a “FoodBarge Hack” lunch at their annual conference. The Portland Press Herald said of the project, “It’s art. It’s protest. It’s celebration. And, who knows? It may even be a practical way to get cargo to market.”
It looks like Maine’s Department of Transportation might actually agree. As BDN Maine reports, “The National Governor’s Association submitted its members’ wish lists to the Trump administration last week. The overall list isn’t being made public, but the Maine Department of Transportation is releasing its proposal: almost half a billion dollars for improving the state’s roads and bridges and to jump-start a project that would revive a long-dormant coastal barge route, from Maine to New York City.” They’re calling it the “New England Marine Highway.”
Though the Greenhorns would like to see a less fossil-fuel dependent model than tug-boat-pulled barges, we’re glad to see people thinking more creatively about viable ways to move goods from agricultural areas to regional markets. Put a sail on that barge— or, oh we don’t know, a solar panel, a hydrokinetic turbine, or some draft power— and we’re all for it!
“But for my entire life, my own country has apathetically accepted an American model of farming and food retailing, mostly through a belief that it was the way of progress and the natural course of economic development. As a result, America’s future is the default for us all.
It is a future in which farming and food have changed and are changing radically — in my view, for the worse. Thus I look at the future with a skeptical eye. We have all become such suckers for a bargain that we take the low prices of our foodstuffs for granted and are somehow unable to connect these bargain-basement prices to our children’s inability to find meaningful work at a decently paid job.”
– James Rebanks in the New York Times op-eds last week explaining why the stakes are so high, but missing all the reasons to hope… (This is the part where we say, YOU, Greenhorns! From your draft-powered farms to your new resilient corporative models, there are a lot of new energy in rural America. And, thank you!)