Friday, May 22, 2009

Sugar Stacks

As a Registered Dietitian, it is some times difficult to explain to people exactly what they are eating. I am a fan of visual models, having used tubes of fat, a 51b fat model and containers to show what exactly is a whole grain.

The Sugar Stacks site is helpful to see exactly how many sugar grams are in foods and beverages. There are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate, so you can see how quickly the calories add up. There are 4 grams per cube (so 16 kilocalories per cube).

At the site you can check out the sugar in cookies, sauces, desserts, snacks, smoothies and more.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pressing the reset button

One of my favorite Good Food Fighters and dear friend Andy Sarjahani has been making enormous steps for sustainability at Virginia Tech and nationwide. Andy knows the power of civil disobedience and the values, tradition, and principles of our agrarian past.

Andy's post "Pressing the 'reset' button" on the Farms and Fields Project at Virginia Tech is worth reposting here (he knows I have a secret crush on Ben & Tommy). Plus, the cartoon is priceless.

Pressing the "reset" button

Below this post are two quotes from two of our forefathers that speak volumes about the value we once placed on agriculture. Of course, this was a much different time in our nation and planet’s history but they do beg some critical thinking.

As a TIME magazine cover story recently suggested, perhaps it may be time for a “Reset” in American culture. Our economy relies on seemingly incessant expansion – or what Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson would refer to as an “extractive economy”. How do we restore our economy, ensure jobs, nourish eaters (this includes humans, plants, animals, bacteria, fungi, insects) all while attempting to avoid the excess and extraction that has landed us in our current predicament?

Following the lead of Woody Tasch and his concept of “Slow Money” , I would argue that we must shift our focus and begin investing as if “food, farms, and fertility mattered”. Of course, I am no economist and cannot provide specific examples but the goal of this post is to suggest that there may be a better way. Many minds that are much brighter, more experienced, and articulate than myself have been working tirelessly to pave the path for a new train of thought here in the 21st century. We must restore the dignity to agriculture and one way to begin this process is investment in a food system that is socially, economically, and ecologically sound.

How do you invest? The first step would be to ask questions about your food – where did it come from? How did it get here? How was it produced? As you ask these questions, think about what you are okay with and what you are not okay with. If you aren’t okay with it, ask yourself why and then start using your own two hands to make it better (of course only if you want to).

“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independant, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to it’s liberty and interests by the most lasting bands”

- Thomas Jefferson

“Finally, there seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war as the Romans did in plundering their conquered neighbours. This is robbery. The second by commerce which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture the only honest way; wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle wrought by the hand of God in his favour, as a reward for his innocent life, and virtuous industry.”

- Benjamin Franklin, Positions to be Examined, April 4, 1769

Monday, May 18, 2009

Urban Chickens

I am doing a project on Urban Chickens. In particular ordinances, zoning laws and health impacts. Here is a fun video from Missoula regarding their chicken liberalization. It has been a year and a half since they passed their law, and there have been few complaints or problems. Many have said that it actually brought neighbors closer together by sharing eggs and bringing children by to see the hens. Imagine that.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fresh the movie at Harvard

FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Among several main characters, FRESH features urban farmer and activist, Will Allen, the recipient of MacArthur's 2008 Genius Award; sustainable farmer and entrepreneur, Joel Salatin, made famous by Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma; and supermarket owner, David Ball, challenging our Wal-Mart dominated economy.

You can watch the trailer

And find screening dates and ticket info here:

Date: May 28th
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Harvard Northwest Building, 52 Oxford Street, Room B-103, Cambridge, MA 0213

Panel to follow screening:
Theresa McCulla (Moderator), Manager, Harvard’s Food Literacy Project
Joel Salatin, Founder, Polyface Farms
Will Allen, Founder, Growing Power
Henrietta Davis, Cambridge City Council
Michael Leviton, Chef, Lumiere Restaurant
Ana Joanes, Director & Producer of FRESH

Sustainable Agriculture Chat on Twitter Sunday night, 8-10pm ET

From Paula at Civil Eats.

Sunday, there will be a new sustainable agriculture chat on Twitter. The focus of the two hour-long chat will be education and the messaging around sustainability. We will begin at 8pm ET and last until 10pm. All are welcome to join the chat, just please announce yourself at the beginning by telling everyone your name and affiliations, and use the #sustagchat tag on your tweets in order to create a searchable dialog. Nicole de Beaufort is this week’s moderator, and for the sake of transparency, no one had paid for her to perform this service. She comes by her own desire to discuss these issues. You are welcome to send questions to the moderator, @sustagchat. But here is how the chat will proceed, including questions to get you thinking about the topic written by Nicole:


Q1. What are some of the things we do to feed people in this country that are “unacceptable but accepted”? This in relation to Michael Glantz talking about feeding starving kids in Haiti salted clay. He also said we don’t need technology to fix things. We need “a social invention.” An example: organic. or “looking at nature as a bank.” What ideas can we generate from this notion?

Q2. Why is aquaculture not a regular part of the public discussion of agriculture? Can aquaculture and agriculture co-exist in our minds under the sustainable agriculture heading? How can sustag and sustaqua work together to help each other succeed?

Q3. How can sustainable agriculture address access and social equity? At the Sustainable Seas Institute conference this week in Monterey, Thomas Keller said Americans “tend to want the very best, and spend the very least for it.” Does this hurt those who have the very least but also want the very best?

FREE FOR ALL: Q’s on your mind, requests, helpful links, people2follow

My questions:

How to connect the dots of a sustainable food system with economic, ecologic and human healthy questions?

How to make 'soil' 'worms' 'farms' glamorous, hip, trendy, cool?

Keeping the momentum of the movement focused on food democracy for all. Increased funding for sust ag/peer reviewed research?

Options for city dweller and arid regions that can't grow food to gain access and not be dependent on fast/convenience food?

Co-opting of 'local' and 'sustainable' by industry. The conglomeration of food industry and their power in policy. How to break?

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Thanks to Marisol Pierce-Quinonez for bringing this one to my attention. VeggieTrader is the new Craigslist for the sustainable foodie locavore. Tagged as "Your place to trade, buy or sell local homegrown produces" is the latest attempt to connect fresh, farm and garden produce with the community.

How it works:

1. Join the Community (it is free!)
2. Browse or post listings
3. Close the deal

It's not that easy. As always there are issues when buying and selling produce. Questions about licenses, taxes, crossing state lines, and pesticides are answered via the informative website. It is notable that posting meat, eggs, dairy products, or any illegal items is prohibited and a violation of the Terms of Use.

What a great revolution for home growers, new food markets and community endeavors. Unfortunately there were no postings in the Boston area. The site started in San Francisco. Hopefully it catches on, since I don't have space for a home garden yet! Happy trading!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Jeff Stier on Jon Stewart

UPDATED June 5, 2009** The video was tagged due to Viacom's copyright. Thanks to Melinda for pointing that out. She also thinks it would be wise for me to clarify that the ACSH is a front group for the industry, if you couldn't tell from the video. Thus, my sarcasm.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
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Jeff Stier is the Associate Director of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). He is responsible for external affairs, including media and government relations, policy, legal affairs and development. ACSH is a not-for-profit, public health, consumer advocacy organization dedicated to promoting sound science in public health.

I think he deserves a round of applause.

Farmers Market season is back

Thank goodness. I don't know if it's me, but produce in the grocery store seems scary. This is likely attributed to the information I receive in my classes. Is ignorance truly bliss? Neigh. Regardless, there is something endearing of purchasing vibrant colored produce at an outdoor market in the community. Getting to meet farmers, neighbors and artisans is a perk. Fresh produce that was picked fairly close by is the prize. Can't wait to pull out my Moosewood Cookbooks and start eating more seasonal foods from my favorite food group: VEGGIES!I love the Moosewood collection. Very simple instructions and ingredients and mostly vegetarian.

Here is the press release for the Massachusetts farmers market season kick-off:
Winter is over and Farmers Markets are back!
We know you’ve missed us, but don’t despair, the wait is over! The Federation of Mass Farmers Markets is pleased to announce the opening of our local farmers markets. In just a few days – on Tuesday, May 19th – the Copley Square market in Boston will open for the season. The Copley Square market is one of our largest and runs from 11:00am to 6:00pm every Tuesday and Friday from May 19th through November 24th. Buy your fresh veggies, local meats, artisan breads, jams, delicious sandwiches, and fruits of all kinds here. It’s so much more vibrant than the produce aisle at the supermarket.

If you don’t live near Back Bay you still have plenty of other options. Other markets run by Mass Farmers Markets include:

* City Hall market in Boston, which begins May 27th and runs on Mondays and Wednesdays
* Davis Square farmers market in Somerville, which begins May 27th and runs on Wednesdays
* Central Square market in Cambridge, which begins June 1st and runs on Mondays
* Framingham Village Green market, which begins June 11th and runs on Thursdays.

Visit for a complete list of the 180-plus farmers markets opening across the state over the next few months.

Once the markets are open you can look forward to fresh produce local to your area. Great finds in May include arugula, mesclun mix, and chard. You’ll also see tender asparagus, tangy garlic scapes, fava beans, and maybe fiddleheads if you’re lucky. Radishes, rhubarb, strawberries, and peas will follow as May blends into June. And don’t forget: cheese, baked goods, preserves, locally raised meat, and other goodies are always available and locally made by our vendors.

So, stop by the market closest to you. You'll help support local farmers, learn about your community, and get a fantastic meal in the process.

About Mass Farmers Markets

Mass Farmers Markets is a non-profit organization that harnesses the power of farmers markets to create healthy communities across the state. MFM is the only organization working state-wide to facilitate relationships between farmers and consumers of all income levels in order to improve the livelihood of farmers and increase access to fresh, local food. For more information, visit

What's wrong with this picture?!

My friend, Ryan McGillicuddy a Conservation Ecologist at Inland Fisheries brought this to my attention.

The following figure can be found on page 13 of Water in Texas By Andrew Sansom, Emily R Armitano, Tom Wassenich: