Wednesday, March 27, 2013

You Can Take Control of the Food System Right Now

Food corporations aren't in business to help us eat healthier - they're in business to make money, since they are ultimately accountable to their shareholders. So when big food reassures us that they care about what's in our best interests - namely reducing lifestyle diseases like obesity and diabetes that stem from over-consumption of their products - that's really only a partial truth. It's a truth only in the sense that they care about how our interests will affect whether or not we purchase their products.  The idea that big food has any moral obligation to care about whether or not we get sick from their products is false, regardless of how their advertising might spin it. (Remember this ad by coke?  That's what I'm talking about.) And even that supposed "truth" that we as consumers are powerful enough to sway product development with our concerns could be considered a stretch.  Really, psychology is king in this industry, trumping public opinion and moral outrage, and the only thing we can do about it is to eat critically and move toward greater government regulation.

I was recently sent this article by a colleague that explains what I mean.  The article is long, but I'm glad I read the whole thing because it really gets into the nuts and bolts of how the food industry operates.  The fact that big food tries to create and optimize products for maximum addictiveness isn't all that surprising, but it does speak to the need for each of us as individuals to take control of our own health by making informed food choices, and to push for greater government oversight in order to regulate the production and marketing of these products.  Again, the industry isn't interested in pleasing the consumer; it's interested in pleasing its shareholders by selling product.  If the best way to sell product is to placate consumers with hollow reassurances while at the same time marketing them highly addictive and nutritionally poor goods, so be it.  There is no ethical compass here. In this system, the vast complexity of a human being is reduced to a set of psychological impulses.  If a company can capitalize on those impulses to make more money, all the better for them, but not necessarily all the better for you.

The point is, it's not about big food being good or evil.  Morally corrupt or not, they're looking after their best interests, and so should you.  It's easy to slip into eating unhealthy foods because we perceive them to be cheaper, tastier, and more convenient than their healthful wholesome cousins (I've fallen into that trap more than I'd like to admit) but when you're about to go for that prepared meal or snack because you think it's less expensive and less time consuming than making a real meal, consider whether or not that perception is really true, or if it's just the result of effective corporate marketing.  More and more I'm finding that I can make meals that are easily prepared and more delicious and satisfying than anything processed, despite what any food commercials tell me. There are thousands of variations on the sandwich, for instance, many of which are very quick and easy to make with local healthy ingredients, and are much cheaper and more delicious than fast food versions of the sandwich like burgers.  And if I really have no time for a full meal, or are just bored with the meal options I've been preparing for myself, I'll go the snack route, but not in the conventional chips and cookies way.  A combination of fruit, nuts, veggies, and cheeses makes a great on the go snack, and if you focus more heavily on the fruits and veggies it can be very affordable.

Regardless of your approach, buying locally produced food and preparing your meals yourself is a great way to feel empowered about your place in the food system.  On a larger scale, that empowerment means communities can work more effectively together to make lasting changes in government policy at all levels of the system, which translates into a better standard of living for everyone.  But it all starts with how we as individuals respond to the current food system, and who we choose to support with the one thing that big food cares about the most.  Money talks - how will you spend your opinion?

Have a great afternoon,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Stop the Biotech Rider!

The biotech, or "Monsanto" rider is back!  Originally in legislation last summer, this industry-driven rider would not only allow, but require the Secretary of Agriculture to grant a temporary permit for the planting or cultivation of a genetically engineered crop, even if a federal court has ordered the planting be halted until an Environmental Impact Statement is completed. This means that biotech companies would be able to temporarily override a federal court ruling, effectively placing them in a position of greater power than the court itself. All they have to do is ask.

If passed, this provision will undermine the fundamental safeguards of our judicial system, and will negatively effect farmers, the environment, and public health across America. The rider will give the biotech industry a way to circumvent federal court orders and serves to give the industry assurances that aren't needed.

Tell your Senators to demand that Appropriations Chairwoman Mikulski pull this dangerous and unconstitutional rider, and support Senator Tester's amendment  (#74), co-sponsored by Senators Boxer (D-CA), Gillibrand (D-NY), and Leahy (D-VT), that would strike the rider from the Continuing Resolution.

We can't allow the biotech industry to subvert our judicial and political system. Thank you for taking time from your busy day to make this important call!

Find your Senator's number here


You can also call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202)224-3121 and ask for your Senator's Office, or send a letter telling your Senator to support the Tester amendment by filling out the online letter here. Learn more about the biotech rider and the Tester amendment on the Beyond Pesticides website here.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Connecticut CSA Fairs

CT NOFA hosted three CSA Fairs in the first week of March! If you missed them, that's okay! You can still learn about the farms here on our blog.  The farms below participated in our CSA Fairs and there are additional CSAs on our CSA Page.
Winter Conference CSA Fair:

Massaro Community Farm
Woodbridge, CTAdditional Drop Off in New Haven
40-50 vegetable crops in total, all certified organic ).*A fruit option is available at additional cost from a nearby farm; fruit is ecologically grown; includes blueberries, peaches, melons, apples and pears. *

The Hickories
Ridgefield, CT
Certified Organic fruit and vegetables - grown on our farm . Add on shares (bread, meat, milk, cheese) available from participating farms. 

Holcomb Farm
West Granby, CT
Additional Drop Off in Hartford
Mixed vegetables - The On-Farm CSA Share and Box Share both include a large variety of roots including: carrots, beets, baby new potatoes, storage potatoes, parsnips, turnips, salad radishes, watermelon radishes, hakurei turnips etc, salad greens including lettuce mix, arugula, spinach, and mustard greens, cooking greens including kale, chard, collard greens, mustard greens, asian greens, and fruiting crops including tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, watermelons, summer quash and winter squash. On Farm Share also includes PYO crops including strawberries, raspebrris, peas, cherry tomatoes, hot peppers, cut flowers, herbs, tomatillos, husk cherries and more. Box Shares do not include PYO crops.

Hartford Area Farm

Holcomb Farm also participated in this Fair.

Serafina Says Farm
Canton, Hartford and Simsbury
Addtional Drop Off at Billings Forge Farmers Market
New Farm! CSA offers organically grown vegetables, including many heirloom varieties, with a focus on greens and root crops, plus tomatoes, peppers, herbs, cabbage, broccoli, sweet potato, onions, squashes, cucumbers, etc. In addition to vegetables, sprouts and microgreens are also included. Plus, six Farm to Table health and wellness classes are offered over the season focused on eating for anti-aging and longevity, to break addictions, weight loss, etc.

Highland Art Farm
Bloomfield & Glastonbury
Vegetables, meat,dairy, bread, granola, coffee

New London Area CSA Fair
Hunts Brook Farm
Quaker Hill, CTAdditional Pick-Up: Terra Firma Farm in Stonington
We grow a wide variety of vegetables and herbs including many types of greens, carrots , beets, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, beans, peppers, eggplant, radishes, turnips, melons, garlic, basil, pick your own rasberries at the farm, pawpaws in the fall and more!

New Mercies Farm
Lyme, CT
Pick Up at Farmer's Market @Ashlawn Farm Coffee on Saturdays in Old Lyme Farmers Market @Spring Glenn on Tues in Hamden

Heirloom Vegetables-incl. asparagas, mesclun, broccoli raab, kale, chard, bok choy, arugula, french string beans, sweet corn, potatoes, carrots, jerusalem artichokes, summer squash, winter squash, beets, eggplant, sweet peppers, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, edamame, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, rutabaga, turnips, radish, chinese cabbage, cauliflower, radicchio, escarole, head lettuce, celery, cucumbers, onions, leeks, melons, peas, parsnips, water melon. Flowers Eggs strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, Persimons, Cherry, Peach, Plum, Pear, Apple

The Wooly Pig
Madison, CT
CSA Pick Up: Bitta Blue Farm in Killingworth Dudley Farm Market in Guilford Potential downtown New Haven pickup TBD.
Organically fed, pasture raised poultry.

FRESH New London
CSA Pick UP: Fiddleheads New London, Lawrence and Memorial Hospital, Eugene O'Neil Theater Company
Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Green Peppers, Summer Squash, Parsley  Beets, Carrot, Russian Kale, Green Onions, Basil, Green Beans.

Huntsbrook Farm in Quaker Hill

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The GMO Labeling Movement Continues across the Country

Connecticut has new proposed GMO labeling legislation for this legislative session.  The GMO labeling bill was introduced by Diana Urban and Phil Miller.  The 2012 Connecticut labeling bill was dropped because of concerns that biotech companies could sue the state government, but the language of the bill is being altered this year to sidestep this obstacle.  The bill has ten co-sponsors in the Connecticut House of Representatives.  You can see the co-sponsors and the text of the bill at the state government's page for HB 6519.

There is a public hearing this Friday March 15th at 10:30 am at the Legislative Office Building, 300 Capitol Avenue, Hartford in front of the Public Health Committee.  GMO Free CT is asking supporters of the bill to come, even if only for a short period of time (they have buttons for you to wear!)  According to GMO Free CT: "Please come whenever you can, even if it is only during your lunch break. We will have Right To Know GMO pins for everyone to wear. We need your support. Our Legislators must see that their constituents want the right to know what is in our food."  You can testify in person or send a written testimony to  GMO Free CT can also give you the handouts you need if you want to set up a meeting with your legislator to talk about your support for the bill.  You can also write your legislator to let them know your about your support - GMO Free CT has a step by step how-to for you to find your legislator and write them.

In Vermont the  House Agriculture Committee approved a GMO labeling bill on March 1. The bill calls for foods made with GE or containing genetically engineered ingredients to bear special labels. A bill was approved by the committee last year, but too late in the legislative session for it to be voted on. 

All this comes in the midst of an exciting (though long awaited) announcement from Whole Foods that all products in its North American stores that contain genetically engineered ingredients will be labeled by 2018.  Whole Foods' decision is responding to a growing demand for products without GMOs.  According to this Connecticut Post article, Products that get a "Non-GMO" verification" label saw a sale spike between 15 and 30 percent.  Whole Food's labeling will be even more exhaustive than much of the proposed legislation because it will require labeling for meats and dairy products.

It's important to keep contacting our legislators and voicing this support.  You can also write a letter to the editor to your local newspaper - why not share with your community your support?

- Kristiane

Monday, March 11, 2013

CT NOFA's 31st Annual Winter Conference

We certainly hope you were able to join us for our Winter Conference last Saturday at Wilton High School in Wilton, CT.  We had nearly 800 participants this year, including vendors and presenters. We also were delighted to be joined by State Senator Toni Boucher and State Representative Gail Lavielle!
Welcome to the Winter Conference!
This year we had over 50 workshops - on everything from worm compost to GMO activism to growing garlic to making salsa.

With over 60 vendors there was something for everyone! Here is Swift Farms from Mansfield, CT!
Here, From Farm to Market, LLC displays garden gifts and supplies.

Lunch was provided by Fairfield County Restaurants including: Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant,  the Dressing Room in Westport, LeFarm in Westport, The Schoolhouse at Cannondale in Wilton, Sugar and Olives in Norwalk, The Elm Restaurant in New Canaan, Wave Hill Breads Bakery in Norwalk and the Cake Box and Swoon in Ridgefield.  
Volunteers stand at the enticing dessert table!
Ken Coulson from Gatsby's Green Light performs for conference attendees at lunch.
Demonstrating use of a trike for farmers.
Some of our vendors were our member farmers sharing their delicious, Connecticut Grown products.  Here is Northfardy Farm in Northford, CT!
Executive Director Bill Duesing introduces the keynote speaker.
Full house for the keynote presentation!
Dr. David W. Wolfe discusses the consequences of climate change and how farmers and gardeners can mitigate and adapt at the same time.  View the keynote presentation slides here!

We hope you enjoyed the Winter Conference - if you want to view more pictures visit our facebook! If you wanted to learn more about specific topics at the Winter Conference, check back to our website for upcoming gardening workshops (there is one at Common Ground High School in New Haven this coming Saturday) and farm workshops (like the greenhouse workshop on March 21 at the Yale Farm in New Haven!)

Happy we're-only-a-week-away-from-spring!