Friday, June 12, 2009

Food Chain: June 2009 News from Slow Food USA

Child Nutrition Act and School Lunch:
The conversation about school lunch continues to heat up on capitol hill and in the blogosphere:
Senator Harkin (D-IA) is taking charge. He introduced the "Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act" that seeks to establish uniform standards for all food sold at school;
Harkin and Senator Chambliss held a Farm to School hearing on May 15;
On the Slow Food USA blog, Debbie Lehmann peeks inside our country's school cafeterias. The short story is that it ain't pretty. Many school cafeterias are forced to operate like fast food businesses, because fast food is what kids want to buy.
Food Industry Exposed
FOOD, Inc., a new film about the corporate control of our food supply, opens in theaters on June 12 in San Francisco, West LA and NYC, with more cities throughout the summer. We urge you to head out to see this movie. Send your friends, send your neighbors to learn the hidden truths about how this handful of large corporations are putting profit ahead of consumer health Read more on our blog and check out the schedule for a theater near you.

Harvest Awards Nominations:
There is still time to submit nominations for Glynwood's Harvest Awards due July 20. The awards honor individuals, organizations and businesses across the U.S. that demonstrate innovation and leadership in support of regional agriculture and sustainable food systems. To view the award categories and/or submit a nomination, visit Glynwood's Harvest Awards web site.

Ark of Taste Nominations:
Become one of many chapters to champion a local food product. The Slow Food USA Ark of Taste Committee will convene this September to review Ark nominations, so now's the time to start thinking about nominating a food that you want to champion. Is there a unique food of importance in your community that is threatened by industrial standardization? The Ark of Taste web site is where you can find more information and download the Ark nomination form. You can also contact Jenny Trotter, Slow Food USA's biodiversity program director, to discuss the process and secure a sample nomination form.The Hatcher Mango (pictured) was nominated by Slow Food Miami and boarded to the Ark of Taste in 2008. Photo by Noell Ramos.

Terra Madre Relief Fund Recipient Rebuilds:
The Midwest floods from the last two seasons ruined countless acres of crops, feed, equipment and infrastructure, and for some – livestock. To help a few of those producers, Slow Food USA reinitiated efforts at generating financial support through the Terra Madre Relief Fund (TMRF). Andrew and Melissa Dunham, from Grinnell Heritage Farm provided us with this overview of their operation and efforts to make their fields less susceptible to flooding.
Grinnell Heritage Farm is a diversified family farm. Andrew is a fifth-generation Iowa farmer working the 80-acre parcel originally purchased by his great-great-grandfather, Levi P. Grinnell, and the intention is to leave the farm to the next generation.

Andrew became interested in organic agriculture as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and in late 2006 moved to Grinnell to help transition the farm to organic production. Ten acres are currently devoted to growing more than 40 vegetable crops for retail and CSA shares, and the remainder of the farm is rotationally grazed pasture and hay. On the business side, Grinnell Heritage Farm has 100 CSA shareholders, attends four weekly farmers markets in central Iowa, and sells to numerous local institutions. They also cooperate with Local Foods Connection and Cultivating Community, local groups that aim to provide disadvantaged families with fresh, nutritious, local produce.

Andrew and Melissa attended Terra Madre in 2008 and are the treasurer and secretary of the newly formed Slow Food Grinnell chapter. The 2008 flooding took a devastating toll on their very flat vegetable fields. The Terra Madre relief funds will help greatly with field tile repair bills. Thanks to these repairs, heavy rains this spring have left no standing water in these fields. The tile has now been diverted into an irrigation pond to alleviate downstream flooding issues as well.

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