Food Activists Win Brower Youth Awards

The Brower Youth Awards is an annual national award recognizing six young people for their outstanding activism and achievements in the field of environmental advocacy. This year, it was truly inspiring to hear about two remarkable young people who have made sustainable food a priority in their work. Continue reading Food Activists Win Brower Youth Awards

Students Dig In at Yale’s Sustainable Farm

During our recent East Coast tour, we stopped at Yale’s organic farm in New Haven, Connecticut where we found students hard at work building, digging and weeding in the sunshine. As more and more young people rediscover farming, Yale’s program has proven to be one of the best in the country.

The Yale Sustainable Food Project was founded in 2001 by Alice Waters and members of the Yale faculty, and the Project now operates a one-acre organic farm in New Have, where more than 300 varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers are produced. Over 850 students take a course related to food and agriculture, and the university also offers a sustainable dining program.

During our visit, we met with Yale Sustainable Food Project Director Melina Shannon-DiPietro who told us about the explosion of interest in organic farming among students at Yale and across the country.

Slate: Organic vs. Conventional? Too Complex…

A full week has passed since the UK Food Standards Agency released the controversial report concluding that organic and conventional foods are nutritionally equal, and the debate finally started tapering off. It had been at least 48 hours since anything about the study had come through my RSS reader, and I had begun to think (somewhat hopefully) that the story would simply fade away, until I came across this Slate article by author and TSU professor James McWilliams. Continue reading Slate: Organic vs. Conventional? Too Complex…

Saving Native Seeds in the Southwest

Monday was one of the busiest days of the Southwest Tour so far. In the morning, we met water specialist and law professor Robert Glennon and spoke to him about water scarcity and agriculture in the region. In the afternoon, we spent some time at the seed bank run by Native Seeds / SEARCH. Continue reading Saving Native Seeds in the Southwest

SAME Café in Denver: Making Good Food Accessible To All

In many ways we saved the best for last with the final video shoot of the Southwest Tour, visiting SAME Caféin Denver, and leaving inspired and with full bellies. SAME is an acronym for “So All May Eat,” and it refers to the pay-what-you-can system of the restaurant. Continue reading SAME Café in Denver: Making Good Food Accessible To All

Organic vs. Local in Portland, Maine

While in Portland, I got a chance to talk with Maine native Alex Steed (who is also a member of our Board of Advisers) about the food culture in the area. Alex explained that “local” actually trumps “organic” in the region, because people want to support their neighbors and the producers in their area, and because so much great food is produced in Maine. Continue reading Organic vs. Local in Portland, Maine

Flip Clip: Fascinating Facts About Bees

During our recent visit to Zia Queenbee Company, I learned some fascinating facts about bees from co-owner Melanie Kirby and dodged some close calls with bees who were very interested in my camera equipment! Luckily, Melanie decked me out in a special white head net so I could get close to the hives. Here are some things we learned during our visit: Continue reading Flip Clip: Fascinating Facts About Bees

Fish Food: Chicago’s Appetite for Aquaponics

he February issue of Mindful Metropolis, a Chicago magazine about green living, is on newsstands, and it features an article I wrote about several organic aquaponics farms that are planned for the city

In aquaponics, the plants are fertilized with nutrients and bacteria from fish water, and the plant roots filter the water so that it can be circulated back into the fish tanks, creating a symbiotic loop between fish and plants. Growing Power actually has several urban farms in Chicago that are managed by Allen’s daughter Erika, but none of them incorporate aquaponics technology. In fact, no commercial aquaponics operations exist in Chicago, because Chicago law doesn’t currently allow it, but several key players would like to see that change.

“There’s nothing on the books in terms of the zoning as far as fish are concerned, but because they’re living beings they’re considered livestock,” says 46th Ward Alderman Helen Shiller. “Well, obviously we have to separate that.”

Shiller hopes to convert the former Salvation Army building at the corner of Broadway and Sunnyside Avenue in Uptown into a multi-use building that would house aquaponics fish tanks and grow beds, an educational center, a community kitchen, and an on-site market. But she needs to address zoning issues in order for that to become a reality.

Allen caught a break with the Growing Power property, because it was already zoned for agricultural use when he bought it. “He’s the last farmer in Milwaukee,” Shiller says. “You could probably not do what he’s doing anywhere else in a city without having the same problems that we’re having.” Shiller recently raised the aquaponics issue with the Chicago Departments of Zoning and Community Development, and she hopes to see the livestock designation change within the next year. “More and more of our colleagues are saying, ‘We really want to do that, so as soon as you figure it out we’re going to do it,’” she says.