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The Watsonville Files: Everyone is trapped in a vicious cycle of failed immigration and farm policy

by: citisven

Fri Nov 25, 2011 at 13:12:32 PM PST

( - promoted by JayinPortland)

Little girl coasting by There are tens of thousands of children and young people in America who came to the United States as babies of parents who worked in the fields, or on construction sites, or in hotels or restaurants. These kids have grown up as Americans, they are culturally American, and they have American dreams, but they have no future. In the thirty years that I've worked on farms and ranches around California and Oregon I've gotten to know some of them well. I listen to the radio and read the news and I understand the complexity and frustrations of the immigration situation as well as most, and I'm probably more familiar with the intestinal workings of immigration enforcement better than many, but I think that it is cruel, unworkable, and actually insane to talk about deporting these young "aliens" back to countries they barely know. My wish is that we Americans summon up the integrity for an honest debate what a real and comprehensive immigration policy should be, and my dream is that we welcome these kids in before we have a huge toxic permanent underclass that brings out the worst in everybody.

- California organic farmer

By now you're probably familiar with the story of SF Kossacks' Farmworker Reality Tour a couple of Sundays ago to Watsonville, CA, organized by Dr. Ann L√≥pez, founder of the Center for Farmworker Families and author of The Farmworkers' Journey. Inspired by Jill (we were all bummed she couldn't make it) and organized by navajo, it was Glen the Plumber, remembrance,  BentLiberal, catilinus, Norm, Meteor Blades and myself who made the journey to the heart of one of California's major agricultural centers to visit four different homes and "challenge us to better understand the conditions of Mexican farmworkers in Northern California by sharing in their lives, food, and living quarters."

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Not Vegan cooking for non vegans #45 Day after Thanksgiving Leftover thread

by: LeeN

Fri Nov 25, 2011 at 04:42:29 AM PST

Slight departure. This Thanksgiving was co hosted at a friends and there was only one vegan dish. A soup made by my friend.

What are people doing with leftovers?

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

The Perfect Storm of Food

by: Eddie C

Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 13:41:18 PM PST

( - promoted by Jill Richardson)

Export prices for major grains were up 70% last month versus February 2010.

After droughts in eastern Europe and floods in Australia, today's news that Food Prices Reach New Record & Could Push Higher is a warning of bad news yet to come.

While higher food prices mean many people in the developed world will face larger bills at the supermarket, it could also push the number of chronically hungry people over the 1 billion mark, meaning roughly one-seventh of the world's population could lack food security.

January was a record month when the FAO food price index had had increased by 3.4 percent from the prior month and in February World food prices rose another 2.2 percent. This is the "highest level since the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) began monitoring prices in 1990."

Then there is the possibility that rising oil prices may drive food prices even higher. Some are claiming that the gasoline price spikes should be temporary and calm down as things settle in Libya but there is evidence that the unrest in the Middle East is a preview of things to come.

Dramatic increases in oil prices, forecast for between now and 2020, render coming oil shocks a danger to American diets. Shell oil company believes that traumatic energy events could begin as early as 2015. Adding to the concern, recent unrest in Egypt underscores the international energy network's exposure to areas of the world set for tremendous change and unforeseen supply disruptions.

On the home front, to make it A Perfect Storm there was President Bill Clinton's recent warning too much ethanol could spark food riots and Congress trying their hardest to make matters worse.

The FAO report is the latest troubling analysis to land at the feet of U.S. policymakers as they consider the possibility of deep and misguided cuts to U.S. food assistance by Congress in the coming weeks. The World Bank estimates that the spike in food prices since June has placed 44 million people into extreme poverty. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting U.S. food prices will increase 4 percent this year, squeezing already tight family budgets.

Four percent for the year? World Food prices went up 3.4 percent in January and 2.2 in February but the U.S.D.A. is predicting four percent for the entire year in American supermarkets?  

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

"Charity often about imposed solutions, solidarity a partnership of equals"

by: NourishingthePlanet

Thu Dec 30, 2010 at 08:42:15 AM PST

GardenAfrica, a non-profit organization in southern Africa that helps families and communities establish organic gardens in small private plots, schools, hospitals and other public areas, prefers that its work be described as solidarity rather than charity.  
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Climate Smart Seaweed Farming

by: NourishingthePlanet

Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 12:28:42 PM PST

At the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico, in December, the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Jacques Diouf, emphasized the need to promote what he called "climate smart" agriculture for food security and climate change adaptation. "By climate smart," he said, "we mean agriculture that sustainably increases productivity and resilience to environmental pressures, while at the same time reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or removes them from the atmosphere, because we cannot ignore the fact that agriculture is itself a large emitter of greenhouse gases."
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Four ways to make soup from Thanksgiving leftovers

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 16:36:36 PM PST

cross-posted at Bleeding Heartland

My family rarely has trouble finishing off the Thanksgiving turkey within a couple of days. We like sandwiches so much I've never had to experiment with turkey tetrazzini or other ways to use up the bird.

Some leftovers, like mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables, aren't appealing cold and don't reheat particularly well. I can't stand wasting good food, so after the jump you'll find some soup recipes incorporating Thanksgiving leftovers.

The first two ideas assume you are roasting a turkey this Thursday. The second two would work equally well for vegetarians and omnivores.

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What plant is a "supermarket on a trunk"?

by: NourishingthePlanet

Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 14:48:33 PM PDT

Moringa: The Giving Tree

Referred to as a "supermarket on a trunk," moringa is potentially one of the planet's most valuable plants. Serving not only as a reliable source of diverse foods, moringa also provides lamp oil, wood, paper, liquid fuel, skin treatments, and the means to help purify water. But despite its multiple uses, and well-earned nickname, the tree is relatively unknown to most people in the United States.

Referred to as a "supermarket on a trunk," moringa is potentially one of the planet's most valuable plants.

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Vegan cooking for non vegans # 11 Uncle Sidney's Kosher Pickles

by: LeeN

Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 05:19:01 AM PDT

I come by pickling righteously. My Grandmother (an entrepreneur like me)started pickling in her basement, when my Grandfather broke his arm (not good if you are a painter) She had a captive audience for her pickles, as South St was teeming with other immigrants who loved pickles. The business grew out of a push cart and moved into a factory. All the male children went into the business. My Uncles were pretty standard for Jewish males of that period. Except Uncle Sidney. First to go to college. A painter,a pianist.
A communist
Family history has Uncle Sidney trying to organize and unionize the workers. True or not true, I can only imagine him being a round peg in the Shupak male clan of square holes.
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Food and Beyond: The Big Picture

by: Jill Richardson

Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 16:42:59 PM PDT

I just want to say a little bit about the big issues that I'm following at the moment. I'm doing a better job with some than others because it's impossible to be fully committed to everything all at once. In short: Global Hunger, School Lunch, Free Trade, Competition Reform, the Farm Bill, Food Safety, Sewage Sludge, the Light Brown Apple Moth, Farmworker Rights, Industry Influence & PR, Farm Internships, and Seafood (particularly in the Gulf).

Please let me know: What should be on this list that I'm missing? Also, as I hope everyone is aware, everyone is encouraged to post on this blog. If there's a topic you are passionate about, PLEASE dig in and start writing about it.

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Innovation of the Week: Handling Pests with Care Instead of Chemicals

by: NourishingthePlanet

Wed Aug 11, 2010 at 07:20:39 AM PDT

Cross posted from Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet.

Between the years of 1975 - 1976, the Cambodian farmer, Name Name, like most farmers in the country during that time, grew vegetables and rice to feed the soldiers of the Lon Nol regime.

Using his bare hands, Name mixed the chemicals DDT, Folidol, Phostrin and Kontrin in order to keep the pests away from his crops. As a result, he suffered from strange and uncomfortable physical symptoms. Sometimes he was unable to move or feel his hands and lower arms, and he experienced pain in his lungs and heart. His short term memory was also affected. All of these symptoms often persisted for up to six months after exposure to the chemicals.

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Learning about Food in a Brooklyn High School

by: DennisP

Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 08:37:03 AM PST

How about a high school class that takes students from the inner city, most of them from poor families,  to the butcher shop to show them where the meat comes from, and to farms to show them where their food is grown? And has them run large gardens to grow food for themselves and their families?  

They also read articles by writers like Michael Pollan and Wendell Berry and watch documentaries like Food, Inc.  The teacher has them work at a farmers' market and do volunteer work with the food-challenged.

This class is run out of the Automotive High School in Brooklyn and is one of the most popular classes offered. Perhaps because the teacher also takes them to a farm where they get to make apple cider and apple pies, feed the pigs, and sweep up cow manure. In short the students learn that their food doesn't just come from packages in the supermarket and from McDonalds and Burger King.  

This sounds like a really neat course that I wish had been offered decades ago when I was in high school. If I had taken it, I might have chosen to go into farming myself.

Chek it out in the NYTimes at

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Public School Lunches in New York City Tabloid Today

by: Eddie C

Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 09:12:17 AM PST

( - promoted by JayinPortland)

Listed in one Daily News link this morning as School lunches get a big, fat "F" on health today's story Survey: School lunches, full of processed foods, still get failing health;

The health-crazed Bloomberg administration often touts how it has overhauled school lunches and slashed calories - but critics charge the standard cafeteria fare is still far from healthy.

The photo in today's paper that is captioned as looking "more like McDonald's than Whole Foods" actually makes McDonald's look good.

That is actually a New York City school lunch recently served at PS 42.

In a city that once portrayed installing Snapple dispensers as a health conscious move for the children of New York City, there are often stories about Bloomberg improving lunch programs but...

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Awesome Cookbook, Nourishing Traditions

by: Brad Wilson

Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 09:16:38 AM PST

Weston A. Price Foundation

Have you folks seen Sally Fallon's awesome cookbook, Nourishing Traditions.  She's with the Weston A. Price Foundation, which is listed on the promotional page for the film, "Fresh," here:

The book has recipes and the margins are filled with fascinating food facts and quizzes.  The front has a powerful summary of research based nutritional information.

This group has done a great job of demonstrating shared interests between the food movement and farmers.  (See Joel Salatin's endorsement of Sally Fallon's work here  Their research data emphasizes nutritionally dense foods.  They're great at overcoming corporate myths for vegetable transfats and hydrogenated oils and against saturated fats from eggs, dairy/milk, pork, and poultry, which they show to be crucial to our health.  They're leading in the fight for raw milk and against soy.  Got Silk?  Oooops.  You better check out what the Weston A. Price foundation has found out about it.  (Have yo seen the bumper sticker:  Babies need milk, not beans!)

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The Grand Rounds Blog and Food as Health Care

by: Eddie C

Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 10:48:39 AM PST

As a regular reader of The Health Care Blog occasionally I read about but have rarely gone to a weekly series called Grand Rounds. It is sort of like a participatory Sample Platter that seems to be frequented by health care professionals. As an old fan of the medical drama "ER" I recognize "Grand Rounds" as the teaching technique where seasoned veteran doctors make the rounds with young residents and interns in tow.  

Have you ever heard of this series where a different blogger takes turns hosting and summarizing the best submissions for the week?

Grand Rounds was originally established by Emergency Medicine physician, Nicholas Genes in September, 2003. His concept was to highlight and capture the best medical blog posts in one place each week. The rotating nature of the hosts for Grand Rounds promotes community awareness of new bloggers, and encourages cross linkage to more content.

Grand Rounds is the oldest and most popular medical blog "carnival" on the Internet. Under the stewardship of Drs. Jones and Genes, we anticipate that Grand Rounds will remain a pillar of the health blogging community, enjoyed by healthcare professionals and patients alike.

This week's topic is "Can Food Be Health Care?" The reason I'm pointing this out is after looking at a preview of what will appear on Tuesday, very interesting stories about nutrition hosted by a fairly popular author and television personality Dr. John La Puma, something seems to be missing. Is this television audience aware of food issues beyond healthy recipes? Where are the food politics?

If you would like to be heard on this topic, submissions of your writings for Tuesday's Grand Rounds will be accepted until 3 p.m. PST today. Instructions for submissions can be found right below the Michael Pollan video in this link. It could attract some new readers of La Vida Locavore and change some hearts and minds. More impotently, since this blog really is a traveling medicine show, La Vida Locavore could host Grand Rounds on a future date.    

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Food Drama: Organizers, Writers, Actors, Cooks, Board Members Wanted

by: Brad Wilson

Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 08:52:54 AM PST

Corn Farming and the Human Spirit    

"Wanted:  recipe for Haitian mud biscuits"

I gave a brief panel presentation on the dramatic topic:  "Corn Farming and the World Food Crisis" at a conference of the Community Food Security Coalition in Des Moines Iowa last October.  I started with a bit of drama of my own.  I offered corn "safety nets" to audience members.  I offered two choices, one with a larger farm program "Crop Acreage Base,"  but a smaller "Program Payment Yield," and one that reverses the two.  These were soon rejected by my audience, as they got sort of, well, "hammered."  

I further introduced myself by explaining that I was working on a dramatized version of my presentation which I'm calling "Corn Farming and the Human Spirit."  For 15 years I have categorized my writings on farm and food issues into a series of unfinished, poorly edited, unpublished books, under the series title:  Hog Farming and the Human Spirit:  My Sequel to Moby Dick.  In these writings I seek, often unsuccessfully, as readers at La Vida Locavore can see, to incarnate a "yes" of renewal beyond what I interpret to be Melville's great "no" of renewal.  The "Corn Farming" drama is the latest volume in this larger work.  It is built around a wonkish PowerPoint presentation, starkly contrasted with a dramatic interpretation of my family's history as told through farm bill history (cf. my farm folk song and poetry pamphleteering and other materials in HFHS), and also a series of skits on topics from farm and food history (ie. NFO's dramatic throwing of a huge pile thousands?] of Sears Catalogs in response to the 1962 CED report, which I've mentioned here, or mud biscuits from Haiti [does anyone know the recipe?).  That's how I'm starting to build it.  I believe this work could become a presentation with a series of simple skits, or, with adequate assistance, a powerful play and/or film.

Later last fall I was able to see the artsy farm film, The Real Dirt on Farmer John, at CSPS, a small art and drama venue on the 3rd Street cultural corridor in Cedar Rapids Iowa.  After the show I went out with John and a local playwright who puts on a one man show about Grant Wood.  (Wood was a leading 20th century Iowa regionalist, and the painter of American Gothic).  The film and these conversations inspired me to realistically visualize a production Corn Farming and the Human Spirit at venues like CSPS.  Such a vision is probably not possible, however, without significant and holistic help.

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