Monday, September 22, 2008

sow the seeds: support local agriculture longer, more often

I recently read about how Minnesota's own Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy launched "Sow the Seeds," a fund to support sustainable food systems. According to the website, STS "fosters sustainable food systems in the Upper Midwest," and, it appears one of the main ways they do this is through grants and other tools to help small farms produce good food, longer.

From the website:

Imagine serving lush local tomatoes at your next Thanksgiving dinner. How about locally grown strawberries on Memorial Day? Sow the Seeds (STS) wants to make these dreams a reality by helping area farmers develop a longer growing season, and, in the process, create a more vibrant and diverse local food system.

STS is launching the "Local Longer" campaign to help make the local produce season longer for farmers and for shoppers who love local food. By enabling farmers to plant earlier in the Spring and harvest later in the Fall, season extension can help farm businesses grow and the supply of locally grown fruits and vegetables expand.

Friday, September 19, 2008

from animal, vegetable, miracle: agricultural plant diversity

Headed to the grocery store today? Read this beforehand:

[from page 49 of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle] According to Indian crop ecologist Vandana Shiva, humans have eaten some 80,000 plant species in our history. After recent precipitous changes, three-quarters of all human food now comes from just eight species, with the field quickly narrowing down to genetically modified corn, soy, and canola.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

diets are not sustainable

Finally, a short, compelling article from the NY Times outlining the current shift from fad, deprivation-style diets to sensible, seasonal meals - that are also enjoyable. Imagine that!

Here's a gem:

The market research firm NPD Group gets a glimpse of national eating habits through the food diaries it has collected from 5,000 consumers since 1980. The percentage of those consumers who are on a diet is lower than at any time since information on dieting was first collected in 1985. At the peak in 1990, 39 percent of the women and 29 percent of the men were dieting. Today, that number has dropped to 26 percent of women and 16 percent of men.

And another:

[...] there are other indicators of a shift in eating habits. In May, the market research firm Information Resources reported that 53 percent of consumers say they are cooking from scratch more than they did just six months ago, in part, no doubt, because of the rising cost of prepared foods.

Sales of organic foods have surged, and the number of farmers’ markets has more than doubled since the mid-1990s.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

fast food promotions for hospitals are not sustainable

While walking down the street the other day, I noticed a shameless promotion painted on the window of a national fast food franchise, which is located right next to a major children's hospital.

Yes, the sign says: "Ask about our clinic and hospital discounts." Enough said.

Monday, September 8, 2008

a sustainable state fair?

As Minnesotans well know, our state fair just came and went, signaling the end of summer and the beginning of autumn (exciting!). While strolling through the fairgrounds with family, I snapped a few photos of things that represented, even in a subtle way, some of the more sustainable habits of fair organizers and fair-goers.

The two main concert stages (Heritage Square and International Bazaar) are sponsored by local breweries. Heritage Square (my favorite) is supported by Schell's beer, the second oldest family-owned brewery in the US, and Summit sponsors the other stage. There's also the infamous "Leinie Lodge" stage, sponsored by the seemingly local Leinenkugels company in Chippewa Falls, WI, but most people don't know that the beer is actually owned by SAB-Miller (South African Brewing), a multinational beer juggernaut.

I was pleased to learn that the hot dogs hidden within the classic Pronto Pup (the original corn dog) are proudly made by a small sausage company from Wisconsin. Sadly I don't remember the name of the company.

The always busy grilled corn-on-the-cob stand now features a large compost bin sponsored by Eureka Recycling. This is quite significant, as the stand sells thousands of cobs per day, which likely adds up to hundreds of pounds of compostable waste. Most people I saw eating corn put their chewed cobs in the huge, butter soaked bin.

Lastly, many of the cheese curd stands feature cheese from Wisconsin and Minnesota. Have you ever seen a sight more beatiful than a crispy, golden, freshly fried curd?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

animal, vegetable, miracle cont'd: book review

As you may have read in a previous post, I'm in the midst of reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. I just discovered that an energy blogger friend of mine, Maria Surma Manka, wrote a detailed review of the book as a post on the Green Options blog. Enjoy.