Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Best Thing You Will See April 18, 2015

Food Activism-The Example of The Long Island Community Agricultural Network

Photo by Bob Brinkmann
As a lead in to the Long Island Food Conference that will be held at Hofstra University on Saturday, April 25th, I will be focusing on food issues on the blog this week. To register for the conference, please see this site.

Today's focus is on food activism via the example of the Long Island Community Agricultural Network (LI-CAN). This group formed with intellectual and muscle support from the proprietors of Fox Hollow Farm, Larry Foglia and Heather Forest.

LI-CAN formed in part due to the desire to recreate agricultural landscapes in suburban communities of Long Island-particularly in some of the poorest areas where there were problems with access to clean and healthy food. Their mission states that:

LI-CAN’s mission is to increase public awareness and knowledge of the art and science of sustainable agriculture and of its connection to individual, community and global health, well-being and food security. These goals will be implemented through community gardens, educational outreach workshops and communications, and facilitation of equitable community access to agricultural resources such as mentors, land, tools, seeds, and soil amendments.
The group has two gardens they manage: Gateway Park Community Garden and Cliff Soergel Memorial Garden. 

But what makes LI-Can so interesting to me is that they will work with schools and churches in developing their own community gardens--thereby diffusing the idea of gardening throughout Long Island.

What kind of food activism is happening in your community around gardens and food? You can learn more about food activism by attending the upcoming Long Island Food Conference at Hofstra University.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Best Thing You Will See April 17, 2015

Slow Food


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As a lead in to the Long Island Food Conference that will be held at Hofstra University on Saturday, April 25th, I will be focusing on food issues on the blog this week. To register for the conference, please see this site.

The slow food movement started in Italy in the 1980’s as a distinct reaction to American style fast food that was invading Europe at the time. Many were concerned that with the advent of McDonalds in places like Rome and Paris that Europe would lose its local culinary traditions.

Slow food events often allow members to try different
types of products from local vendors.
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Those involved with slow food focus on local food traditions that support the environment. It is different from other types of food organizations in that it doesn't always take a stand on vegetarianism, organic products, or most farming practices. Instead, the focus is on the culture of food, clean and healthy food, and local food traditions. You can read about the international movement here.

Since its formation, the slow food movement has taken off and there are chapters of the organization all over the world. You can find your local chapter in the United States hereLocal chapters have meetings, organize food events, and focus on food issues in their communities. It is a great way to get involved in the food and environmental movement.

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In addition, local slow food chapters often partner with other organizations to promote better food and farming policy in their region. There are also national and international scale meetings where members of local chapters can meet with national partners.

For example, my local chapter, Slow Food North Shore, recently organized the second annual Long Island Film Feast which featured short films on food issues of importance on Long Island as well as food and drink samplings from a number of local food providers.  

Slow Food North Shore will be at the Long Island Food Conference. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Best Thing You Will See April 16, 2015

The CSA's Around Us

As a lead in to the Long Island Food Conference that will be held at Hofstra University on Saturday, April 25th, I will be focusing on food issues on the blog this week. To register for the conference, please see this site.

One of the fastest growing sectors of the agricultural market is community sponsored agriculture or CSA. A CSA farm is a farm that runs by subscription. Each subscriber pays a membership fee which gives them access to a share of food throughout the year. Farmers and subscribers share the benefits and risks that are part of the natural process of agriculture.

CSA farms typically produce fruits and vegetables. Subscribers typically pick up their share once or twice a week and it usually more than enough vegetables and fruits for the week. Indeed, there is often more than one subscriber can use and often subscribers split a subscription. Some CSA farms also provide honey, meat, cheese, fish, or other agricultural products.

The benefits of membership with a CSA farm go far beyond the food that is produced. By joining a CSA, one joins a community of people with an interest in clean, healthy, and local food. The farms often offer classes and apprenticeships for those wishing to learn more about farming. They also provide spaces for concerts and community meetings. 

CSA farms often become the center of community activity around food or the environment in the region.

Local Harvest runs a national Website that lists where you can find a CSA farm in your neighborhood. The numbers of CSA farms is growing every year and there is likely a farm near you. Check out Local Harvest's site here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Food Not Bombs

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As a lead in to the Long Island Food Conference that will be held at Hofstra University on Saturday, April 25th, I will be focusing on food issues on the blog this week. To register for the conference, please see this site.

Today, I wanted to introduce you to Food Not Bombs.

Food Not Bombs is an international movement that focuses on feeding the hungry. They point out that in most parts of the world there is more spent on military spending than on providing food for the poor. You can read about the movement here on their Website.

The Long Island Chapter of Food Not Bombs is one of the most active ones in the world. It is run by a true Long Island hero, Jon Stepanian, who works tirelessly to keep the organization going and to keep the word out in the community about the importance of the food and poverty issues on Long Island.

While Long Island is a very wealthy area, there is extreme poverty. The cost of living on the island is one of the highest in the United States. Those working for low wages have a hard time making ends meet.

Food not bombs provides free food and other goods, such as clothing, school supplies, and toys, regularly in several areas of Long Island. They provide food that people can take and prepare on their own and they also provide cooked vegan meals. Most of the food is donated by grocery stores as part of the excess waste.

Indeed, the food waste issue is one that Food Not Bombs points out regularly in their community education work. We waste tremendous amount of food every day around the world while many have a hard time purchasing clean and healthy food.

To learn more about Food Not Bombs Long Island Chapter, see their Website or attend the Food Conference on the 25th at Hofstra University.