Monday, May 10, 2010

Urban Foraging

(It looks like Meredith is going to win this challenge hands-down.)

I am super grumpy today, but I wanted to share this completely brilliant idea I had. I don't know why no one's thought of it before. Okay, probably someone has, but I am claiming credit.

Access to fresh local produce in low-income urban communities is a huge problem. In communities where food access is limited to convenience foods like soda, chips, and fast food, we see much higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. We can't forget that the new face of hunger is obesity. This is an epidemic.

So here's my thought: Cities spend considerable resources every year on landscaping (especially Rochester, the "Flower City"). They plant trees along sidewalks and other plants in parks, playgrounds, city building grounds, and even on highway medians. Why not plant edible perennials in these areas? We could feed bring fresh produce to thousands by offering the opportunity to forage on public land.

Planting apple trees along the sidewalk would not consume any more resources than the merely ornamental trees regularly planted. The same goes for other landscaping throughout the city. This tiny change in city policy could make a huge difference without expending any extra resources.

I just so happened to sit next to the mayor of Rochester at an interfaith function last month. I may need to give him ring. What do ya'll think?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Farmers Markets

The time for farmers markets is nearly upon us. In about a month, my three favorite markets will be opening for the season! I typically visit at least one of the following every week:

Brighton Farmers Market

South Wedge Farmers Market

Monroe Village Farmers' Market

Where will you get in-season, local food this summer?

Monday, May 3, 2010

To Pasteurize or Not to Pasteurize?

Here is an article from Sustainable Food highlighting the controversy over raw milk. The article doesn't really come down on either side of the battle lines. I'm not sure where I fall on the argument either. I don't buy raw milk, but I've tried it once or twice. I haven't heard any arguments for raw milk that make me feel compelled to regularly risk the potential pathogens lurking within. However, I'm in no rush to make the sale of raw milk illegal. We allow raw chicken to be sold and let consumers make their own decisions about how to deal with the (much more significant) health risks it involves. I'm not sure why milk should be any different. What do you think?

What's the Problem with GMOs?

I just stumbled upon the blog, "A Month Without Monsanto," by April Davila, and I highly recommend checking it out. April took on the challenge of going a month without using any products that could be traced back to agricultural giant, Monsanto. The blog is fascinating and a remarkable example of how consolidated modern agriculture has become.

She does a great job of illustrating the struggles of trying to avoid Monsanto products and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but maybe we need to ask why we should avoid them at all? Are we in the local food movement just a bunch of traditionalist Luddites? Are we missing the potential in what could be the next greatest human innovation? I don't think so. Here are just a few reasons why GMOs seem dangerous to me:

  • There is virtually no research on their long term health effects in humans (though they've been shown to cause organ failure in other mammals).

  • The increase in the use of GMOs has caused an increase in seed prices for farmers.

  • Because Monsanto owns the genes it alters, farmers can no longer save seed from season to season. This pushes family farms out of business and leaves us with corporately owned factory farms.

  • Genetic modification (and the ownership of genes concentrated in the hands of one company) creates a monoculture that is extremely susceptible to disease and pests.

These are only a handful of the numerous reasons to avoid GMOs, and Monsanto products in particular. April's blog demonstrates, though, as Monsanto's power grows, it will become harder and harder to do so.

Image courtesy of Jamblichus's Weblog

Sunday, May 2, 2010

May Blogging

Super cute 11-year-old fellow blogger, Meredith, over at Merry Merry Quite Contrary, and I are working on a blog challenge this month. We each post at least once a day, every day, or else we owe the other some candy. I'm already down one bag of candy, since I forgot May started yesterday! Leave some suggestions for posts you'd like to read in the comments! I have a feeling she's going to need to see a dentist by the end of the month...