Session One: Setting the Table

The Earth Knows My Name: Food, Culture and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic Americans by Patricia Klindienst

As we lose our connection to the soil, we no longer understand the relationship between food and a sense of belonging to a place and a people. In The Earth Knows My Name, Klindienst offers a lyrical exploration of how the making of gardens and the growing of food help ethnic and immigrant Americans maintain and transmit their cultural heritage while they put roots down in American soil.

Bye, Bye Miss American Pie: America’s Food Culture” An article by Amy Weiss-Meyer and Teresa Yan for the Harvard Political Review’s Food Issue, March 20, 2012

 

Big Ideas: Linking Food, Culture, Health, and the Environment

With a global food crisis, rising environmental concerns, and America’s children facing epidemic levels of diet-related diseases, how can educators positively engage students in understanding the connections among these topics? Big Ideas: Linking Food, Culture, Health, and the Environment, written by the Center for Ecoliteracy with a foreword by bestselling author Michael Pollan, provides a conceptual framework for integrated learning in these important areas in K–12 classrooms.

Session Two: A Growing Concern

The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table by Tracie McMillan

In 2009, author Tracie McMillan went to work undercover in our nation’s food system alongside America’s working poor, living and eating off her wages, to examine how we eat. McMillan worked on industrial farms in California, in a Walmart produce section outside Detroit, and at an Applebee’s kitchen in New York City. Her narrative brings readers along to grueling work places, introduces them to her coworkers, and takes them home to her kitchen, to see what kind of food she (and her coworkers) can afford to buy and prepare. McMillan also weaves in the story of how we got here, digging deep into labor, economics, politics, and social science to reveal new and surprising truths about how America’s food is grown, sold, and prepared—and what it would take to change the system.

The Dust Bowl by Ken Burns

THE DUST BOWL is a documentary by Ken Burns that chronicles the worst human-made ecological disaster in American history, in which the frenzied wheat boom of the “Great Plow-Up,” followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s nearly swept away the breadbasket of the nation. Vivid interviews with twenty-six survivors of those hard times, combined with dramatic photographs and seldom seen movie footage, bring to life stories of incredible human suffering and equally incredible human perseverance.

 

Meat and dairy labels

The Environmental Working Group provides a helpful list of confusing food labels and explains the meaning of each.  The list includes terms: cage-free, humane certifications, farmed fish, free-range, grass-fed, hormone-free/no extra hormones, lean/extra lean, natural, no nitrates/nitrites, organic, pasture-raised, processed meats, rBFH-free, saturate fat, sodium nitrate/nitrite-free, and wild-caught/wild fish.

On Eating Animals, an interview with Jonathan Safran Foer

In this 30 minute RSA interview, award-winning novelist Jonathan Safran Foer challenges us to face some uncomfortable facts about our eating habits, and probes some of our fundamental instincts about right and wrong.

Session Three: Farming for the Future

To find out more about what makes certain plants desirable to us, visit the PBS interactive website, The Botany of Desire, which is based upon the 2002 book of the same name by Michael Pollan: http://www.pbs.org/thebotanyofdesire/

 

Learn more about CSAs. For a good article about CSAs in the Willamette Valley, see http://edibleportland.com/past-issues/spring-2012. To find a CSA in your area, visit www.localharvest.org/csa.

 

Feed the soil. If you garden, consider sheet mulching to cover up weeds and build up soil nutrients, instead of tilling up existing grass. Permaculture designer and teacher Toby Hemenway has an excellent tutorial on his website, Pattern Literacy: http://tinyurl.com/d2ldjv4

 

StrongerTogether.coop. Find articles about your food and where it comes from, recipes and a whole lot more at www.strongertogether.coop.

FoodCorps

FoodCorps is a nationwide team of leaders that connects kids to real food and helps them grow up healthy. They place motivated  leaders in limited-resource communities for a year of public service. Working under the direction of local partner organizations, they implement a three-ingredient recipe for healthy kids:Teach kids about what healthy food is and where it comes from; Build and tend school gardens; and Bring high-quality local food into public school cafeterias.

 

Gorge Grown (Video and article are both interesting.)

The citizen-driven group, Gorge Grown, works with educating the community with the knowledge and the tools to grow and eat healthy, seasonal, and local foods.

Foraging for weeds! 

Tama Matsuoka Wong is a professional forager and the principal of MeadowsandMore.  Tama works with schools, conservation groups and private individuals to assess, steward and restore natural landscape.

 

Apples (RAFT) 

The Grassfoots Apple conservationists, organized by the Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT) Alliance works with the “apple culture” of America and endangered varieties of apples.

 

Session Four: You Are What You Eat

For more information about the precautionary principle, read Carolyn Raffensperger’s article “A Precautionary Tale” on the Center for Ecoliteracy’s website: www.ecoliteracy.org/essays/ precautionary-tale.

 

Sustainable Table

Find more info on food additives at http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/additives/

 

Know Your Milk: Does It Have Artificial Hormones?”

For more information about rBGH, check out “Know Your Milk: Does It Have Artificial Hormones?” by Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Good Food on a Tight Budget  

The Environmental Working Group’s “Good Food on a Tight Budget” booklet offers tips, lists, recipes and easy-to use-tools for tracking food prices and planning for the weekly menu.

The Story of Bottled Water 

The Story of Bottled Water, released on March 22, 2010 (World Water Day) employs the Story of Stuff style to tell the story of manufactured demand—how you get Americans to buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week when it already flows from the tap. Over five minutes, the film explores the bottled water industry’s attacks on tap water and its use of seductive, environmental-themed advertising to cover up the mountains of plastic waste it produces.

 

Session Five: Towards a Just Food System

Address the Excess — A Recipe for Cutting Food Waste

According to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans are tossing up to 40 percent of the food supply each year, along with all the resources used to produce food that never gets eaten. In this 14 and half minute TEDxManhattan Talk, NRDC’s executive director Peter Lehner explores the low-tech, tried-and-true solutions proven to reduce food waste and save money for consumers and businesses alike.

 

Nourishing the Planet blog (a project of the Worldwatch Institute):

The Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project assesses the state of agricultural innovations. Their emphasis is on sustainability, diversity, ecosystem health, and productivity. The project’s goal it to both inform global efforts to eradicate hunger and raise the profile of these efforts.

Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not 

The more people we have on the planet means the more mouths we have to feed. By 2075, the United Nation’s mid-range projection for global population growth predicts that human amounts will be at about 9.5 billion people. Because of the use of poor practices in harvesting, storage and transportation, along with market and consumer wastage, around half of all food never reaches people. The Global Food Report goes over where current food waste is happening throughout the world and makes recommendations for better practices.

The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Wal-Mart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table by Tracie McMillan

In 2009, author Tracie McMillan went to work undercover in our nation’s food system alongside America’s working poor, living and eating off her wages, to examine how we eat. McMillan worked on industrial farms in California, in a Wal-Mart produce section outside Detroit, and at an Applebee’s kitchen in New York City. Her narrative brings readers along to grueling work places, introduces them to her coworkers, and takes them home to her kitchen, to see what kind of food she (and her coworkers) can afford to buy and prepare. McMillan also weaves in the story of how we got here, digging deep into labor, economics, politics, and social science to reveal new and surprising truths about how America’s food is grown, sold, and prepared—and what it would take to change the system.

The Good Food Toolkit: A Food Sustainability and Justice Evaluation for Faith Communities 

The Good Food Toolkit helps us to be more aware of the environmental effects of our food.  The use of this kit will assist congregations in adapting policies and practices that better promote “good food.”  Included in this kit are a “food audit”, planning tools, and teaching tools.  This toolkit will provide insight by highlighting the strengths and weakness of the current food policies and practices used by you and your congregation.  It will also help congregations develop and implement a personalized action plan.

 

The Good Food Revolution by Will Allen. Published by Gotham, 2012.

The Good Food Revolution tells the story of MacArthur “Genius Award” recipient Will Allen, who went from a professional career in sports to supporting one of the country’s most prominent urban farms that now feeds a community and produces food for thousands of people.

 

Food Chain Workers Alliance

Food Chain Workers Alliance is a coalition of worker-based organizations that organized to improve wages and working conditions for all workers along the food chain. The organizations’ members plant, harvest, process, pack, transport, prepare, serve, and sell the food we all eat.

 

Session Six: Cultivating Change

Slow down and enjoy your food. Attend a Slow Food event or organize your own. Check out www.slowfoodusa.org for more information.

 

Project for Public Spaces. Find more placemaking resources at www.pps.org.

 

Japanese Farm Food by Nancy Singleton Hachisu

American born and raised, Nancy Singleton Hachisu lives with her husband and teenage sons on a rural Japanese farm, where they eat what they grow. Not just a cookbook, Japanese Farm Food is a book about love, community, and life in rural Japan.

EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think to Create the World We Want by Frances Moore Lappé

In EcoMind, Frances Moore Lappé—a giant of the environmental movement—confronts accepted wisdom of environmentalism. Drawing on the latest research from anthropology to neuroscience and her own field experience, she argues that the biggest challenge to human survival isn’t our fossil fuel dependency, melting glaciers, or other calamities. Rather, it’s our faulty way of thinking about these environmental crises that robs us of power. Lappé dismantles seven common “thought traps”—from limits to growth to the failings of democracy— that belie what we now know about nature, including our own, and offers contrasting “thought leaps” that reveal our hidden power.

Food & Water Watch 

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainably produced. The values of independence, democracy, human rights, and sustainability help the organization work toward their vision of a world where all people have access to enough affordable, healthy, and wholesome food and clean water to meet their basic needs.

 

Blogs for food activists

Blogs are a good medium for sharing with and learning from each other. These five blogs goes over current issues in sustainable agriculture in the United States: the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Blog, the Seedstock Blog, City Farmer News, the Environmental Working Group Blog, and Civil Eats.