Category Archives: Educate

Food Revolution Day

Food Revolution Day is the Jamie Oliver Foundation and Jamie Oliver Food Foundation’s first-ever global day of action. It is a chance for people who love food to come together to share information, talents and resources; to pass on their knowledge and highlight the world’s food issues. It’s about connecting the community through events at schools, restaurants, local businesses, dinner parties and farmers’ markets. The Foundations want to inspire change in people’s food habits and to promote the mission for better food and education for everyone.

Dinner and Some Ed is an effort to raise awareness (and to enjoy!) local sustainable food by hosting a meal and showing a TED or TEDx video on food and farming. “Dinner” is a relative term- this can also be done as a brunch, lunch, picnic, or potluck. The key is just to have a computer or a mobile device where you can watch the talks while enjoying delicious, sustainable food.

Dinner and Some Ed came out of a project called Tedibles at TEDActive in Palm Springs, CA, in 2012. It is an effort to bring sustainable food to the extended TED community (meaning anyone who’s ever watched a TED talk).

Food Revolution Day on May 19th is the perfect time to host your first dinner and to join the global movement. Continue reading

Dinner and Some Ed

Dinner and Some Ed is a new Glynwood Institute initiative that aims to raise awareness, and enjoyment, of local, sustainable food.  People are encouraged to host a meal made from local, sustainable food and show a few videos, with a highlight being TEDTalks both on TED.com and the TEDx Channel.  What makes Dinner and Some Ed different is the TEDTalk can serve as the catalyst for conversation, leading to the sharing of ideas and knowledge.

The first Dinner and Some Ed party was held on Earth Day, you can read about it here.

Change Food is a nonprofit whose mission is to connect and transform the food we eat, the people who produce it, and the world in which it is grown. To read and learn more, visit The Guide to Good Food blog. 

Food Day, Time to Eat Real!

The first, and definitely not the last, Food Day will be October 24, 2011. Food Day aims to bring people from all walks of life, students, teachers, parents, health professionals, community organizers, chefs, local officials, and eaters, together to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable humane way.Eat Well Guide and Food Day

Events will be taking place across the country in schools, city halls, farmers markets, and state capitols.  Join thousands of Americans for a conversation about eating real.  To find an event near you, click here.  If there are no events taking place near where you live, why not host one?  There is still time to sign-up and organize an event. You can screen a movie, host a talk, harvest vegetables for a food bank, have a pot-luck, have a cooking demonstration, whatever you want, as long as it revolves around good food!

Still not convinced?  Read the Food Day priorities, if that doesn’t do it I’ll buy you a big mac.*

Why Eat Real?

  • Reduce diet-related diseases by promoting safe, healthy foods
  • Support sustainable farms and limit subsidies to big agribusiness
  • Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
  • Protect the environment and animals by reforming factory farms
  • Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
  • Support fair conditions to food and farm workers

* Statement made to emphasize point, my conscious won’t actually allow me to buy you a big mac.

Change Food is a nonprofit whose mission is to connect and transform the food we eat, the people who produce it, and the world in which it is grown. To read and learn more, visit The Guide to Good Food blog. 

Feeding Hope: Living Democracy

In honor of the Small Planet Fund’s 10th Anniversary and the book Diet for a Small Planet’s 40th Anniversary, Frances Moore Lappe´and Anna Lappe´are celebrating by hosting an exciting event free to the public.  Come out for an evening of conversation with Vandana Shiva and  Frances Moore Lappé, the  fearless and tireless advocates for food as a human right, restoring the earth, and building peace through living democracy.

The Small Planet Fund was started in 2001 to fund groups around the world focusing on hunger, poverty, and environmental devastation. Every year the Small Planet Fund supports core grantees and makes emergency grants.  With the support of donors around the country they have raised and given away more than $800,000.

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011, 7:00-9:00pm

Cooper Union’s Great Hall
7 East 7th Street (at Third Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

Pre-registration is strongly recommended, to sign-up click here

Change Food is a nonprofit whose mission is to connect and transform the food we eat, the people who produce it, and the world in which it is grown. To read and learn more, visit The Guide to Good Food blog. 

Major in sustainable food, Minor in fresh, healthy and delicious

At Guide to Good Food we are all about sharing knowledge,  we aim to provide you with everything you need to know in order to eat fresh, healthy sustainable food.  For those of you who have contemplated taking a step beyond enlightened eaters to sustainable food leaders but aren’t sure where to start, we got you covered.  We found a ton of universities and colleges across the country offering everything from Minors in Sustainable Agriculture to certificates in Organic Agriculture, from Bachelors in Eco-gastronomy to Masters in Sustainable Food Systems.  If you’re short on time, there are some universities that offer classes online. If you prefer dirt over books, there’s a six-months apprenticeship where you can learn hands-on how to farm organically.  This list is by no means exhaustive, but it gives a pretty good idea of what is out there.

Farm apprentices at UC Santa Cruz, picture from UC Santa Cruz website

Universities and Colleges with sustainable food and agriculture programs

Continue reading

Genetic Engineering

fieldAs part of the Guide to Good Food series, I’ll be explaining different issues involved with both industrial and sustainable food and farming. Today we’re going to talk about genetic engineering.

A gene is a small section of DNA in the nucleus of a cell that carries specific instructions which determine how a plant or animal grows, develops, looks and lives. Genetic engineering is the process of transferring specific traits, or genes, from one plant or animal to another. The resulting organism is called transgenic or a GMO (genetically modified organism). Seventy percent of processed foods on American grocery shelves have genetically modified ingredients.

This process of transferring genes is different from traditional cross breeding, which can only be done with members of the same species (such as different breeds of cattle). Cross breeding has been done over the centuries to strengthen breeds by focusing on specific traits such as the ability to survive outdoors in cold or produce more offspring. It is done through mating or artificial insemination, not through gene manipulation.

With genetic engineering, genes can be transferred not just across species but from one species to another – that is, among plants and animals that are unable to breed. For example, genes from an animal can be inserted into a plant, as when genes from a flounder were inserted into tomato plants to try to make them resistant to frost. In Taiwan, scientists have successfully inserted jellyfish genes into pigs to make them glow in the dark. (Who knows why.)

There are many concerns about genetically engineered crops and animals, including the fact that inadequate testing has been done to determine the effects on humans and the environment.

GE Crops
According to the Economic Research Service at the USDA, in 2008 over 90 percent of soybeans, more than 55 percent of corn, and over 60 percent of cotton grown in the United States was from genetically engineered (GE) seeds. Most GE crops were created to withstand pesticide or herbicide application, allowing farmers to heavily spray their fields and kill pests, but not the GE plants.

While those in favor of GE crops claim they require less pesticide use, weeds can develop resistance to the pesticides, leading farmers to spray more. This can lead to more pesticide residues on the food you eat. Increased pesticide use also increases profits for the biggest agribusinesses that sell not only GE seed but the pesticides used on them as well. It also increases water and air pollution as well as costs for the farmer.

Continue reading

Hormones

Dairy cowAt various points during this series, I’ll post about issues surrounding food and agriculture to offer a more complete picture of the problems (and solutions) related to our current food system. Today, we’re going to talk about hormones.

We all have hormones – humans and all other animals. These chemicals are produced naturally in our bodies and circulate through our bloodstream to regulate and balance the work of our cells and organs. As far back as the 1930s, researchers noticed that cows injected with material from cow pituitary glands (a hormone-secreting organ) produced more milk. They also realized then that estrogen helped cattle and poultry grow faster. In the 1950s, a synthetic estrogen called DES was used to fatten cattle and chickens, then was phased out in the 1970s because it was found to cause cancer.

Today in the United States, cattle and dairy cows are still administered hormones to make them grow faster or produce more milk. In 2007, 34.3 million heads of cattle and 758,100 calves were slaughtered for beef in the United States, with approximately two-thirds having been regularly administered hormones either through an ear implant or in their feed. In addition, about one third of all dairy cows are routinely injected with rBGH, a genetically engineered hormone used to make cows produce more milk. Although the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) state that these hormones are safe, there are continuing questions, growing concern and controversy about the routine use of added hormones in food animals.

There are six hormones administered to beef cattle (as well as sheep), three natural (estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone) and three synthetic (zeranol, trenbolone acetate, and melengestrol acetate). According to the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures Relating to Public Health (SCVPH), when the naturally occurring hormones are given to cattle, their hormone levels increase 7 to 20 times. The SCVPH questioned whether hormone residues in meat from these animals can disrupt the hormone balance in humans, and concluded that “no acceptable daily intake could be established for any of these hormones.” They also concluded that people who eat meat with added hormones are at greater risk for certain cancers and some types of hormonal imbalances. As a result, the use of hormones to promote growth of farm animals has been prohibited by the European nations for more than two decades. Not so, however, in the United States.

Up to one third of all dairy cows in the U.S. are injected with a genetically engineered hormone called rBGH, or recombinant bovine growth hormone (also known as rBST or recombinant bovine somatotropin). (Some estimates have the figure down to about 17% now, in the face of widespread consumer protests.) rBGH is injected into dairy cows to make them produce more milk. The artificial hormone also makes cows more prone to illness, such as mastitis, a very painful udder infection that can lead to pus getting into milk, This increased risk of illness can lead to increased antibiotic use on cows treated with rBGH, resulting in more antibiotic residues in the milk we drink and dairy products we consume, potentially contributing to an increase of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

rBGH was approved in the United States in 1993, but has been controversial ever since farmers started using it. The European Union, Japan, Australia and Canada have all outlawed its use.

Continue reading

Sustainable vs Industrial

hog-cafoIn the past two weeks, we’ve talked about sustainable and organic food, as well as industrial agriculture and factory farming in our Guide to Good Food. This week, we’re going to compare sustainable with industrial so you can see a side-by-side difference.

In general, the biggest differences between sustainable and industrial farms are the size of the operation (industrial farms are much bigger), the amount of pollution/effect on the environment (sustainable farms do not pollute the environment and they replace the resources they take), and the quality of food you get (small local sustainable farms provide fresher foods that not only taste better, they’re better for you).

To break it down and give you more specifics, I’ve done a comparison of the two types of farming so you can see how different these practices can be.

Health
Industrial farming: Industrial crops contain more nitrates and are often heavily sprayed with pesticides. Unsanitary conditions on factory farms and in industrial slaughterhouses cause high levels of meat contamination, which can cause food poisoning. In the U.S., food borne illness sickens 76 million people, causes 325,000 hospitalizations and kills approximately 5,000 people a year.

Sustainable farming: Food is grown with minimal or no use of pesticides or other dangerous chemicals. It can be healthier and more nutritious than industrially-raised food. Organic foods have been found to contain higher levels of antioxidants, which help fight certain types of cancer. Some types of organic crops contain more vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorous.

Antibiotics and Hormones
Industrial farming: Low doses of antibiotics are given daily to animals to ward off illness and disease that can develop from unsanitary and overcrowded conditions. This contributes to problems with antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans. Both antibiotics and hormones are used to make animals grow faster.

Sustainable farming: Antibiotics are only given if the animal is sick, and hormones are never given to the animals.

Environment
Industrial farming: Responsible for massive topsoil erosion, depletion and pollution of underground water supplies, and the reduction of genetic diversity. Industrial farms also pollute our air, surface water and soil with animal waste, hazardous gases, toxic chemicals and harmful pathogens.

Sustainable farming: Protects the natural environment, with farms managed in a responsible way, maintaining the fertility of the land and preserving resources for future generations. Sustainable farms use waste as fertilizer and don’t raise more animals than their land can handle.

Continue reading

Factory Farming and Industrial Agriculture

cows21Last week we talked about sustainable and organic, and the difference between the two. This week, we’re going to delve into the real issue – factory farming and industrial agriculture. The differences between sustainable and organic aren’t as big when you compare them to industrial food production.

Factory farming and industrial agriculture are unsustainable systems that produce large volumes of food but have little to no regard for the environment, animal welfare, soil and water quality, food safety, worker rights, farmers or local communities. The focus is on maximizing profit and efficiency – but at great cost.

The terms factory farming and industrial agriculture are used interchangeably, though factory farming is generally used to explain industrial animal production and industrial agriculture tends to describe or include intensive crop production.

What is a factory farm?

A factory farm is a large industrial operation that raises many animals (usually cows, pigs, chickens or turkeys) in overcrowded, confined conditions. Some animals are raised indoors in metal sheds, where they never see sunlight and often live on concrete slats, their feet never touching the earth. Other animals (cows mainly) are raised outdoors on large feedlots, huge tracts of barren land, where they stand in mud and their own feces, with no grass or trees nearby. These animals are not permitted to carry out their natural behaviors, like rooting, pecking and grazing.

Continue reading

What are sustainable and organic?

vegetable-farm

Exactly what are sustainable farming and/or sustainable food, and what is organic agriculture? Those are questions I hear quite often. A general concept of organic has been seeping into the mainstream, but many people are still confused by both terms. And to make it even more confusing, organic can be sustainable and sustainable can be organic, but they don’t have to be. What?

To start with, sustainable farming is more of a concept or a philosophy than a literal definition. With sustainable farming, food is raised that’s healthy for consumers, does not harm the environment, is humane for workers, respects animals, provides a fair wage to the farmer, and supports and enhances rural communities. At Sustainable Table, we also believe that sustainable food should be grown as close to home as possible.

Yes, that is a bit of a mouthful – a shorter answer would be to say that sustainable farming provides food that’s healthy for consumers, farmers, the environment, animals, and local communities.

The challenge with sustainable is that there isn’t a government approved label or certification system, so you need to educate yourself and ask questions before you buy. Also, there is no standard for what’s healthy for consumers or humane for workers. There is no chart saying when the environment begins to be harmed, and so on. That means that each of us has to learn as much as we can about the issues and decide what we think is best. We’re not here to tell you what to do – we’re here to give you information, encouragement and perhaps advice; but it’s up to you to decide what you think is best for yourself.

Since 2002, organic food has been regulated by the government. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines organic agriculture as “an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.”

Another mouthful. To put it more simply, with organic farming
• most synthetic (and petroleum derived) pesticides and fertilizers are prohibited;
• all antibiotics, genetic engineering, irradiation and sewage sludge are prohibited;
• all organically produced animals must have access to outdoors and be fed organic feed; and
• all processed products labeled organic must have 95% organic ingredients.

They look rather similar, don’t they? But there are differences…. Let’s do a comparison.

Continue reading