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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Contradictions in the Anti-Hunger Movement

Originally published on Civil Eats.

The National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference in Washington last week brought to light some of the fundamental internal contradictions of the anti-hunger movement. Specifically, the movement’s financial reliance on corporations with poverty-causing labor practices, as well as their reluctance to advocate on the politically-charged root causes of hunger. 

Hosted by Feeding America and the Food Research Action Center, with funding from Walmart, Bank of America and the AARP Foundation, this year’s event featured, for the second year in a row, a prominent representative from Walmart as a plenary speaker. Tres Bailey, Walmart’s Senior Manager of Agriculture and Food, listed off the accomplishments the company has made in its first year of its $2 billion commitment to supporting anti-hunger efforts: 250 million pounds of food donated to food banks; $67 million in grants made; with another $13 million of nutrition education grants in the works.

This sounds impressive until one considers what Mr. Bailey did not mention: the fact that the average Walmart worker, of which there are 1.4 million in the US,...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In New Orleans, an Actor Turns Grocer

Originally published in the New York Times.

Had Emeril’s Delmonico been open for lunch, Wendell Pierce would probably have ordered the duck confit leg, served with a creamy barley risotto, roasted beets and snap peas. Instead, Mr. Pierce, a star of the HBO series “Treme,” ended up a few blocks away at Houston’s, where — given his perennial dieting — he made do with clam chowder and steamed spinach.

It was hardly a quintessential New Orleans meal. And Mr. Pierce, who grew up here, apologized for taking an out-of-town reporter to a chain restaurant in a city known for its culinary traditions. “You would love the Bon Ton,” he crooned in his deep baritone, referring to the historic Cajun joint that is famous for its Rum Ramsey cocktail. “And you would love Olivier’s. They have a 100-year-old rabbit recipe from Mr. Olivier. It is so good.” 

Food has always been important to the portly actor, who first drew national acclaim in the role of Detective Bunk Moreland on another HBO series, “The Wire,” and now plays the trombonist Antoine Batiste on “Treme,” which is filming episodes in New Orleans for broadcast next fall.

His mother raised him on a diet of bayou classics like okra with shrimp, and he has been a gustatory adventurer ever since, seeking out dishes like...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food: USDA launches new online tool

By Rose Hayden-Smith; Originally posted on her Victory Grower Blog.

In 2009, under the leadership of Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, the USDA launched its Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative with an eye toward supporting local and regional agriculture. The list of the initiative's goals is lengthy and includes promoting locally and regionally produced and processed foods, expanding access to affordable and fresh food and demonstrating the explicit connections between food, agriculture, communities and the environment. 

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food is a USDA-wide effort.  It is not a new department, but rather, an effort that seeks to more effectively connect existing USDA departments and work to strengthen local and regional food systems.

We know that demand for local and regional foods is strong. Per USDA statistics, the number of farmers markets has more than tripled in the past 15 years and there are now more than 7,175 around the country. The community supported agriculture (CSA) model has grown from 2 operations in 1986 to more than 4,000 today.  Farm-to-school programs have experienced...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Kimberly Seals Allers Selected as Expert for Federal Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign

 NEW YORK— Kimberly Seals Allers, multi-media journalist, breastfeeding advocate and author of The Mocha Manual series of books for mothers of color, has been named a commentator and blogger for Break Time for Nursing Mothers, a national campaign to increase awareness of a federal law to support breastfeeding working mothers.

The 2010 “Affordable Care Act” requires employers to provide reasonable break time for nursing mothers to express breast milk. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contracted with the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) to enhance the outreach and coordination of effective messages to mothers. After a rigorous selection process, Seals Allers is one of two experts that USBC has contracted with to write a series of commentaries and lead other engagement efforts to create awareness of this federal provision.

"I am thrilled to be a part of this important effort to make more working mothers aware of their options and resources when it comes to breastfeeding,” says Seals Allers, a leader in the black breastfeeding blogosphere. She has been a passionate voice working to create awareness of the importance of breastfeeding in communities of color through her books, online commentaries, speeches and other outreach.

"The more mothers and families we can reach with the Break Time for Nursing Mothers campaign, the more opportunities we can have to...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Beyonce's choice a Black breastfeeding moment

First published on Mocha Manual and Lifetime Moms.

Dear white women,

I know the breastfeeding world is all abuzz over reports that Beyonce breastfed her beautifully brown Blue Ivy in public last week and that we consider this a victory for all nursing moms everywhere, but I need to claim this moment for African American women. And I need to ask you to step aside or better yet, step behind us in support, while we relish this extremely significant time.

You see as you may have heard, black women have had historically low breastfeeding initiation and duration rates for over 40 years. And while we had made some solid gains in initiation, when it comes to the gold standard of nutrition, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, we have a lot of work to do. But when it comes to the power of celebrity breastfeeding role models, to normalize breastfeeding, add the lifestyle cache and make it trendy like has happened among white women, we have very few. The fabulous Laila Ali comes to mind. But not many others.

And certainly nowhere of the A-list nature of your breastfeeding celebrity roster which includes: Angelina Jolie (on...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Local foods, the traditional ways

Valerie Segrest understands better than most that our diets don’t evolve in a vacuum. Like our health, the food choices we make on a daily basis are rooted profoundly in our the communities where we live and the values of our culture.

Segrest, a member of Washington’s Muckleshoot tribe, is working to reconnect her community with the dwindling food traditions that were once such a huge part of their identity as a people, and their health. Through the Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project, Segrest, a nutritionist by training, is working to re-educate her people on their food roots; she also recognizes that the community faces a new set of challenges and opportunities in the modern context. “People tired of being so sick,” she recently told Indian Country Today, “We’re sick of heart disease and diabetes. We know that diabetes was nonexistent in our communities 100 years ago, because we ate these foods. I think it’s just this consciousness that people are becoming more and more passionate about.”

There’s more to be passionate about than just eating healthier foods, though....

Friday, February 24, 2012

Francis Thicke named Organic Farmer of the Year

IATP Food and Community Fellow Francis Thicke and his wife, Susan, of Radiance Dairy, Fairfield, IA, were honored today as the 2012 MOSES Organic Farmer of the Year at the 2012 Organic Farming Conference. The MOSES Organic Farmer of the Year Award is given annually to an organic farmer practicing outstanding land stewardship, innovation, and outreach.

According to the announcement in the Organic Broadcaster:

Francis recommends farmers "listen to your inner agronomist, not be so tied to preconceived notions, and be more fluid" in making management decisions. This is how the Thicke dairy herd is managed, with young stock and production animals given feeds and living conditions that respect their needs and natural behaviors. Using the tools that nature provides and remaining open and responsive to their livestock's subtle messages, the Thickes have a productive and profitable dairy operation, supported by a constantly improving land base.

Read the full announcement on the MOSES website and visit the Thicke farm by watching a recent video produced by the Perennial Plate.

Friday, February 17, 2012

New Roads to New Markets: Patty Cantrell does TEDx Manhattan

As TEDx talks spring up around the country, inspired by the original conference on "ideas worth spreading," IATP's Food and Community Fellows past and present keep showing up with great ideas of their own.

Patty Cantrell is a journalist, community organizer and consultant at Michigan-based Regional Food Solutions,  not to mention a 2008 Food and Community Fellow, and she recently offered her unique perspective at TEDx Manhattan.

Her talk, entitled "New Roads to New Markets" is drawing praise from around the web, including some fantastic local coverage in Southwest Michigan, for its passionate, articulate account of the new direction food is taking local economies across the country.

Many Americans, she says, are "washed out" of our massive, too-centralized superhighway of a food system...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

For the Love of Food

By Andrea King Collier

Originally published on the Williams Sonoma Blog.

I cooked with my folks when I was little –cookies, breads, etc. but it wasn’t until I got out on my own that I fell in love with cooking. I got invited to a dinner with a group of women who were older than me. The food was amazing, but the conversation about cooking changed my life.  I was resistant to becoming a person who cooks. I wanted to be out changing the world, writing books and telling stories. I said as much, and well that was like throwing the gauntlet down. They talked about all their experiences in the kitchen and the joy they got from being “food artists.” They weren’t chefs. They were everyday women who saw the beauty in preparing food.

When someone dies, people cook food and bring it. It says “I love you. I care about you. We are bonded.” When someone who really knows what they are doing makes a cake, they channel love, creativity and art. When somebody is sick with a cold, you roll up your sleeves and make a chicken soup, that seems to have a healing power.  I had never looked at cooking in that way before I heard these women talk about the art of cooking, and the power of the cook.

I was so excited and rushed home to start my love affair with cooking. It didn’t take long...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Growing food sovereignty in the desert

What's growing in the literal "food desert" in the Paso del Norte region of southern New Mexico and El Paso, Texas? A whole lot more than pecans for export and childhood obesity, if the folks at La Semilla Food Center have anything to do with it. Last month Tracie McMillan caught up with La Semilla Farm Fresh Director and IATP Food and Community Fellow Rebecca Wiggins-Reinhard for a Q and A on Grist. Here's an excerpt:

Q. Colonias are known for lacking things like roads and water lines. What does that mean for food?

A. There are very small grocery stores and little corner stores, but they don’t always have the healthiest or the freshest food available and that’s really part of our work — to pilot market stands in the community to increase access to that fresh food. There’s no organic food, there’s very little choice. Most of these colonias are in very rural areas, and you have to have a car or know someone who can give you a ride. We did a [community food] survey with our youth in 2009, and everyone said they go to Las Cruces or El Paso [to buy groceries]; it’s 20-30 miles, and there’...

Meet the Fellows

Brahm Ahmadi

Brahm Ahmadi, CEO of People’s Community Market, is a social entrepreneur redesigning food retail to better engage, serve and support food desert communities.

Ideas in focus

Cultivating Leadership and Equity in the Food Movement

April 2013

The IATP Food and Community Fellows Program is coming to an end, but it's springtime for our work growing equity in the food system and cultivating diverse leadership in the movement.

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