About this time last year, I took note of sustainable agriculture tours that provided great learning and getaway experiences. Want to go a step further, and actually get your hands dirty? Turns out there are lots of opportunities all over the world to exchange your labor for meals, sleeping quarters, and a great hands-on education in organic farming.
Article: Earth Week action: join a crop mob
Got plans for Earth Day? No doubt there’s a celebration or two nearby… if you’re not sure about what’s going on your area, check out the Earth Day Network’s events search. You’ll likely find events featuring educational demonstrations, product and service displays, or even activism opportunities.
But what about a chance to get your hands dirty… you know, with earth.
If you’ve ever eaten eggs that comes straight from the farm (especially one that allows its chickens to range somewhat freely), you know that nothing from the grocery store comes close in terms of flavor. Master Composter Tom Shelley and farmer Christianne White, of Ithaca, New York, are trying out a new model for getting local residents hooked on such eggs while lightening their environment footprints: exchanging compostable “trash” for a regular supply of such eggs.
You may take access to fresh, organic produce for granted: if there’s a nearby farmers’ market or high-end grocery store, you likely have you pick of fruits and vegetables grown by organic standards. However, if you live in a food desert, or have a tight budget, such items likely strike you as luxuries. Farmers and food activists around the US not only recognize the presence of regions where fresh food is scarce; they’re also building organizations and even working farms to address unequal access to high-quality produce in these neighborhoods and communities. Here are a handful of groups not only growing produce, but also working to ensure it gets to those suffering from food poverty.
Industrial hemp may be one of the most versatile and environmentally benign crops out there, but because of its relationship to marijuana, the cultivation of this crop has been banned in the United States since the late thirties. Last week, a group of farmers, along with David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, staged a protest in front of the Drug Enforcement Agency in Washington, DC, and were promptly arrested for planting hemp seeds on the agency’s front lawn.
Article: Fight climate change: eat more meat
Huh? Isn’t meat production one of the major causes of global warming? Well, yes… but according to Lisa Hamilton, author of Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness, eating meat raised under the right conditions can actually help mitigate climate change.
Article: Spices that kill
Killer spices: Rosemary, Mint, and Thyme
If you like to cook, or just enjoy a good meal, than you’re probably a fan of spices such as rosemary, thyme, clove, and mint. Turns out these seasonings can be deadly… to bugs. A group of Canadian scientists are researching the insecticidal value of these spices, and that could be good news for farmers looking to meet growing demand for organic fruits and vegetables.
If you’ve already seen the documentary FOOD, INC., you know that film reiterates the argument that the industrialization of our food supply resulted largely from the rise of fast food: the business model requires a large supply of cheap, consistent meat and produce. If you haven’t seen the film, it turns out you may be able to do so for free… and that fast food Tex-Mex chain Chipotle will pay for your ticket.
You likely associate food policy with the federal government, but on July 8th, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom demonstrated what local governments can do to promote local, sustainable, and healthy food initiatives. Speaking at the West Oakland Woods Urban Garden (one of several farms operated by City Slicker Farms), Newsom outlined new policies aimed at “…form[ing] a comprehensive and strategic approach to addressing pressing needs in all sectors of the food system.”
Got a big trip planned to the beach, mountains, or lake this summer? Maybe not: with our current economic doldrums, you may well have cut back on summer travel plans. If you’re looking for activities closer to home this year that won’t cost big bucks, it just so happens that summer is also the season for sustainable farm tours… and there’s likely one near you coming up. Here are just a few upcoming events that will allow you to see more sustainable agriculture in action, as well as provide you with an education on where your food comes from…