April 2012

Potluck News 
from the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group

1.) HOT OFF THE VIRTUAL PRESS! NSAC April 23rd (that's today) Farm Bill update! 

"We are both pleased and disappointed with how the local food bill compares to the Senate’s draft Farm Bill, which makes some steps in the right direction but also missed the mark on vital funding needs as well as no-cost policy tweaks with enormous prospective impact for our economy." Express your opinion to your legislator!


2.) Greenhorns, a community of more than 5,000 young farmers and activists, is celebrated in a new book of essays: Greenhorns: 50 Dispatches from the New Farmers' Movement (Storey), edited by three of the group's leading members. Funny, sad, serious, and light-hearted, these essays touch on everything from financing and machinery to family, community building, and social change.

3.) The Farmers Market Advocacy Toolkit created by the Farmers Market Coalition is a guide to communicating about farmers markets to legislative leaders. Focus is on the Farmers Market Promotion Program, but the toolkit may also be useful in communicating about programs like WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs, SNAP/EBT, and other issues important to the success of farmers markets.

4.) April federal food and agriculture policy updates from NSAC  

USDA has announced new funding that aims to provide fresh, healthy food for children in schools across America, and to bolster and sustain local farmers and ranchers. $3.5 million in grant funding will be available to help local school districts organize and implement Farm to School programs.

In its annual report to Congress on the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program, USDA’s National Organic Program said there was an increase of more than 20% in program usage between 2010 and 2011.  According to the Organic Trade Association’s annual survey, the sector grew by 8% in 2010 and is expected to show stronger growth in 2011.

5.) How does the FDA allow manufacturers to put non-food stuff in our food? Learn the truth about six common food ingredients in this article from huffingtonpost.com: 6 Ingredients You May Not Want in Your Food. Guess where artificial raspberry flavor comes from?

6.) In this video made by Rhode Island college students they learn the problem of food deserts is more complicated than they thought. Then they apply their design skills to changing food culture in low income communities. Learn more about recent research debunking conventional wisdom on food deserts in this New York Times article.

7.) Food Book Fair — a model concept in connecting food culture and everyday people — May 4-6 in New York City. This event brings together food publications from around the world alongside a dynamic set of events celebrating food writing, reading, and activism. More details in this grist.org article.

8.) Study implicates US food industry as cause of Mexican obesity epidemic. The study, "Exporting obesity: US farm and trade policy and the transformation of the Mexican consumer food environment" was co-authored by the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy. Read/download their summary of the report here.

9.) The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm: The Cultivator's Guide to Small-Scale Organic Herb Production by Peg Schafer (Chelsea Green). Detailed information on growing and harvesting organic Chinese medicinal herbs, complete with medicinal and culinary uses. Vegetable and CSA farmers will find this book of great interest for adding value-added crops to their repertoire, and beginner growers looking to incorporate medicinals into their gardens will find this an invaluable guide to understanding where herbal medicine comes from.
10.) Contradictions in the Anti-Hunger Movement by Andy Fisher (March 6, 2012) spotlights the largest anti-hunger organizations and their largest corporate donors, and asks why the movement isn't more active in addressing the root causes of hunger: low wages and high housing costs. Could it be that having Walmart executives on their board of directors stifles public policy advocacy?
11.) Farm-to-Baby.com — several farms just outside New York City provide fresh vegetables to be made into food for babies through this website-based entrepreneurial venture delivering baby food daily in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Subscribers to the service may return used glass jars when the next order is delivered.

12.) NESAWG announces new steering committee members 
Thank you to the many people in our region who expressed interest in joining NESAWG's steering committee. Our 2012 new committee members are Gary Bloss (PA), Doris Huang (PA), Arthur Lerner (CT), Qiana Mickie (NY), and Mari Pierce-Quinonez (MA). Continuing on the steering committee for another term are Billie Best (MA), Kathy Lawrence (NY) and Michael Rozyne (MA). Learn more about all of them here.

Looking for work? Check out our Jobs listings!


                       Pre-Conference Sessions:
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Map of the Month: Farm Loss, 2007-2012

Each red dot on this Census of Agriculture map represents 20 farms that are no more, and each blue dot represents 20 new farms. In just five years, the US experienced a net loss of 90,000 farms. (Download as a PDF to magnify.)


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