Sunday, January 30, 2011

Salad bar beef, pigaerator pork, and faith-based farming (Part One)

Last week, I attended an event in which sustainable farmer Joel Salatin gave two talks about farming, each followed by a Q and A. He was introduced by author, Michael Pollan, who also moderated the discussion period. Joel describes himself as a Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer. Somehow, as a graduate student at Berkeley, I haven’t run into too many people who would fall into that category. So I was especially intrigued to hear what Joel had to say.

“Holy Cows & Hog Heaven”

Those of you who have read The Omnivore’s Dilemma know Joel Salatin as the hero of the story. His Virginia farm, Polyface Farms, is the archetypal biodynamic integrated farm. It is the polar opposite of an industrial factory farm. The animals are well-treated not just because they are living creatures worthy of respect but also (and perhaps more so) because they make the farm work. The cows, pigs, chickens, etc. all perform valuable functions that allow the farm to become a closed loop. The inputs required in one part of the farm are actually outputs from another. The animals’ natural behaviors are utilized for farm functions, such as rooting pigs aerating compost to make fertilizer (hence the name, pigaerators) or hungry cows mowing tall grasses to allow for new growth. In contrast, an industrial cattle farm has to truck in feed from elsewhere and somehow dispose of animal waste, which is too contaminated to be sold as fertilizer. Because these CAFOs don’t actually grow anything, they can’t generate their own feed and couldn’t use the fertilizer even if it weren’t toxic. On an industrial pig operation, the natural behaviors of the pigs are seen as bad habits that have to modified by, say, chopping off their tails.

Michael Pollan introduced Joel by telling his tale of their meeting and about the time he spent working at Polyface Farm. Pollan was initially surprised to learn that Salatin considers himself a grass farmer despite raising a variety of animals. Grass, it turns out, is the keystone species that allows the farm to run. Because the grass is fed by the sun, as Pollan pointed out, the grass-fed, biodynamic system really is a free lunch. In an especially insightful moment, Pollan closed by saying, “People always say, ‘oh that Joel Salatin, The Omnivore’s Dilemma really made him’. But actually, Joel Salatin made The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”

Pollan is right, of course. Polyface farm was the spark of hope at the end of a sad, sad story. And so, with that feeling of hope suddenly buzzing around the room, Joel began.

“The Shear Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer”

If you were to look up “colorful” in the dictionary, as it pertains to personality, there would likely be a picture of Joel Salatin. Despite his suit and tie, once he launched into his first talk – a narrated slide show of Polyface Farm – the audience couldn’t stop laughing. His boisterousness and hilarious analogies made a lecture about farming anything but dry. When talking about his chickens, he showed a picture of them happily waddling around outside pecking at grubs. He also described his homemade mildly electrified portable pens that allow the chickens to move around outside while also being protected. Many times, he pointed out innovations that have allowed the farm to become more productive on small tracts of land without diminishing the welfare of the animals. From Joel’s perspective, farming in America suffers not from a lack of talent or ability but from “a constipation of imagination”.

In addition to his innovations, Salatin also described some of the trials and tribulations of his style of farming. At one point, he showed pictures of baby turkeys, called poults, that he raises on the farm. Apparently, from birth, poults devote their energy to coming up with ever more creative ways of getting themselves killed. Through trial and error, Joel learned that you have to mix poults and chicks, in a 5 chick to 1 poult ratio, in order for there to be enough chicks to police the poults. To show them what is water and what is sawdust, and to dissuade the poults from trying to eat bugs on the other side of the electrified fence. Apparently, turkeys are not born with much common sense.

There is no way I could really do this part of the event justice. Without the slides and Joel’s colorful commentary, you just won’t get the full experience. However, on the Polyface Farm website, there are several videos of Joel’s son, Daniel, describing the farm’s practices. Polyface is a third generation farm, and the whole family is involved. In fact, Joel says it’s a goal of his farming methodology to make farms a safe and enjoyable place for children. Joel Salatin has written many books on sustainable farming, available on the Polyface website. In fact, the headings in this post are all titles of Joel's books.

You can also find many videos on YouTube (search for Joel Salatin or Polyface Farms) including this TEDx talk from a couple of years ago. Joel is a little less polished in this video, but you get a sense of his personality, commitment, and ultimate motivation.

“Everything I Want to Do is Illegal”

After the first talk, Michael Pollan moderated a Q and A. The first question was, given that this method of farming is better for all involved, why aren’t there thousands of ecology-based farms. Salatin explained that his type of farming requires a lot of knowledge that, while teachable, is non-trivial to learn. We also need to make sustainable farming more economically viable – thereby making it easier to survive without incorporating industrial practices – by not subsidizing the competition. He pointed out that farming will have to change at some point, because the resources on which it relies are becoming quickly depleted. For example, he stated that the cost of diesel fuel could rise to $8 per gallon, and it would only affect his expenditures by 5%. In contrast, industrial farms that rely on fuel to power the mechanical devices required to maintain such expansive farms, use petroleum-based fertilizer and pesticide, and transport farm inputs and outputs are very strongly affected by changes in fuel price. Lastly, a lot of government regulations were written with large farms in mind. That means a lot of the things Joel Salatin does, or would like to do, are not strictly legal. In fact, Joel wrote a book on the subject entitled, “Everything I Want to Do is Illegal”, describing his difficulties maintaining a sustainable farm that is compliant with the law. Laws are evolving, but we all need to be aware and involved with the legislative process to protect farms like Polyface.

Additional questions focused on the ability of individuals to farm and the ability of sustainable farming to feed a growing population. According to Joel, a farm that includes cows and pigs would require tens of acres to maintain, but with only small animals like chickens and rabbits, virtually any amount of space could work. His innovations, which utilize vertical space, make these microfarms feasible. As for feeding the world, Salatin made the common argument of the sustainable food movement: hunger is not a production problem, but rather, a distribution problem. At many food lectures and discussions, I’ve heard the statistic that we actually produce enough calories to feed the entire world. And yet, we have almost a billion people going hungry. Hunger is a problem even in the developed world including in the Unites States. It turns out that people don’t starve to death because there isn’t enough food in the world; they die because they are too poor to buy food or cannot otherwise gain access to healthy food.

Food grown in the US through Green Revolution technologies (the method of chemical-intensive, industrial-scale farming), which creates vast quantities of calories in the form of corn, soy, and other grains, is mainly used as animal feed in CAFOs and for biodiesel fuel. The rest, being industrial grade, is not directly edible by people and is instead processed into food additives such as corn syrup and soy lecithin. The documentaries King Corn and Food Inc., which features Joel and Polyface Farm, go into the details of the industrial food system and how we can have a society with a surplus of cheap calories, hunger and malnutrition, and an obesity epidemic all at once.

Joel pointed out that, of the food that can be eaten directly – fruits and vegetables, for example - 50% of food spoils instead of being eaten. Within poor countries and communities, this is usually caused by a lack of infrastructure or stability in the distribution process. Rules we have made about consistency and safety also lead to a lot of food being thrown out within wealthy communities.

Joel also stressed that we need more people to become interested in farming as a hobby or a profession; we need to make this work a noble and respected effort again. If all the households in the US raised only enough backyard chickens to eat their own food scraps, the chickens would produce enough eggs to shut down the commercial egg industry. And think how much food wouldn’t end up petrified in landfills! In 1956, he stated, 50% of produce consumed in America came from backyard gardens. Whereas presently, there are twice as many people serving jail time as there are farming and 35 million acres of grassy lawns rather than food-generating farms and gardens. We could feed a lot more people if we prioritized growing edible food for direct human consumption, better utilized our land for food growth, and promoted gardening and farming as useful and important ventures for all people.

“You Can Farm”

Listening to Joel’s philosophy and experiences made me want to go out and start a farm. In reality, it’s not something everyone can do on the scale of Polyface Farm. And it’s a good thing that we have doctors and scientists and people working hard to innovate and create in areas other than farming. However, I do think we ought to have more respect for the people who feed us. Just like teachers, these are people who rarely get recognized, but without whom, our society would cease to function. In addition, we can all do a little, and together, make a huge change. Anyone with a bit of dirt can make something grow up out of it. And every little sprout is a sign of change, respect, and revolution.

In part 2, I recount Joel’s second talk: how faith has influences and guides his farming practice.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Community supported awesome.

Back in November, I discussed my motivations for joining a CSA – community supported agriculture – program and that I had just signed up for a 4-week trial membership with Eatwell Farm. Now that I’ve received all four boxes, on an every other week basis, I am ready to report back.

The Eatwell Farm CSA is fantastic! We get a large box full of fruits and vegetables. There is enough variety to make lots of different dishes either by combining veggies or just on their own. I have tried several new vegetables that, frankly, I would have been afraid to pick up before. Things like arugula, salad turnips, and watermelon daikon have all earned an unexpected and happy place in my kitchen. Persimmons appeared in my first two boxes, and they are just about the sweetest fruits I have ever tasted!

Here’s a quick list of all the foods we have received from Eatwell Farm:
  • Rosemary, parsley, cilantro, sage, oregano, dill
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Kabucha squash
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Leeks
  • Chard
  • Apples
  • Persimmons
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Lemons
  • Mandarin/navel oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Bitter greens (escarole and frisee)
  • Romanesco cauliflower (we met this guy a while back!)
  • Mustard greens
  • Turnips
  • Arugula
  • Lettuce
  • Bok Choy
  • Tokyo salad turnips
  • Cabbage
  • Potatoes
  • Tatsoi
  • Watermelon daikon
  • Celeriac
  • Kohlrabi
Along with all the yummy food, Eatwell provides a little pamphlet with each box. It lists all the foods in the box along with descriptions of the flavors you can expect and how best to use each food. Sometimes there are even recipes, and there are often pictures and stories about the farm. The pamphlets are super useful, especially for those initial “what the heck is that thing” moments when I first peek in the box. They also make me feel more connected to the farm and more confident that I am doing the right thing being a part of their CSA program.

One of the main reasons I picked this particular farm was that they offer eggs. We get a half dozen with each box. They are brown and sometimes spotted, and they have the biggest brightest yolks I have ever seen. My husband cooks them sunnyside up, and what a sun! We used to put two eggs over half a toasted English muffin, but now each egg needs it’s own. These eggs are delicious, and knowing the chickens are happy makes me happy too.

Picking up my box has been pretty easy. The boxes and coolers at my pick up location are within an enclosed patio with street parking available right in front of the house. I could take the whole box and then bring it back the following week, but instead I bring a couple of reusable bags and transfer the food from box to bag. The boxes are available for pick up from 1pm – 8pm so I can always work it into my Thursday schedule. I pick up every other week, and so far, it hasn’t posed a problem.

One of my favorite things about working with Eatwell Farm is their communication. They have a slick and informative website including a regularly-updated blog about the farm, food, and recipes, and they have separate postings listing what foods you can expect in each box. That makes planning meals ahead of time really easy. Another thing I really appreciate is their email reminder system. I get a message the day before I am due to receive a box. Given that I pick up every other week, this is a very useful feature! I never have to worry that I mixed up my Thursdays. I also got an email with renewal details when I was down to my last box. I rely on email for the majority of my communication, and knowing that Eatwell Farm can fit into that lifestyle makes the whole process stress-free.

At this point, you may be wondering if there have been any drawbacks. Well, yes, but none so important as to make me reconsider my decision to join. All of the food comes a little dirtier than it would be in the grocery store. This is not generally a problem for me – this food does come up out of the ground after all – but the spinach has arrived simply smothered in mud. It takes forever to clean, and I simply don’t like spinach enough to make the effort worthwhile. Last time I picked up my box, I simply tossed the spinach into the trade box and took some salad turnips instead. Yum! Another drawback is having to pick up the box in Berkeley. It’s close to my work so it hasn’t been a big problem. However, a drop off in Fremont would certainly be more convenient. It’s not really Eatwell’s fault, of course. Someone has to volunteer to be a drop off location.

Now that my trial subscription is up, I am signing up for a full 12-box subscription that should carry me through until the farm stand opens again in the summer. Actually, Eatwell throws in a 13th box for free and offers some lavender products as a special treat for subscribing. The price with a half dozen eggs comes out to $29 per box, a few dollars cheaper than the trial membership price. It’s hard to compare this price with what we would pay at a grocery store since there is so little overlap in foods. It seems like a fair price to me though, and we are very happy with our decision. Thank you Eatwell Farm!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Commercial break.

When I first saw the new Domino’s pizza commercials about their ingredient sources, I rolled my eyes. The third or fourth time, I decided I ought to look into their claims. I mean, I’m a journalist now, right? Someone has to keep after these companies and make sure that, at the very least, they are saying things that are true.

As I sat down in front of my computer to begin the investigation, I had my skeptic’s hat placed firmly on my head. I expected to see a list of some farms that really do provide ingredients to Domino’s. Given the growing consumer interest in sustainable farming, I expected the farms discussed on the site to be small and family owned, organic, or maybe near a Domino’s facility. But my skeptic’s hat reminded me to dig a bit further, to ask questions like: What percentage of Domino’s ingredients are from these sustainable farms? And how sustainable are they?

As it turns out, my skeptic’s hat was unnecessary. I didn’t have to concern myself with digging deeper into information that had been polished and shined to reflect only the best parts of the Domino’s Pizza ingredient chain. I didn’t have to, because Domino’s Pizza didn’t provide me any information at all.

Behind the Pizza – The most infuriating website I have yet encountered!

Here is a screen capture of the first page you see at Domino's Pizza's Behind The Pizza website:

Luckily for you, I can’t “screen capture” the chirping birds and other happy farm sounds that loop over and over as background music. You can click on any of the ingredients on this map to get more “information” on how the ingredients get from farm to pizza. By clicking through the site, you can get points that will get you Domino’s Pizza coupons. Oh boy!

Since animal welfare and the environmental impacts of modern CAFOs are major concerns for me, I started with the ingredients that come from animals. Here is the page that would supposedly inform me as to the supply chain from pig to pizza:

As with all of the ingredient pages, the farm here has a quaint little farmhouse. Sometimes the house has a few chickens in the yard; this one has a cute dog. They all show the farm animals grazing happily in spacious pens with multiple crops growing all around. Because that’s what most farms are like, right? Also, note the fine print in the top right corner. This animated farm is not to scale, and there are not actually Domino’s Pizza restaurants on the farms. Duh.

You’ll notice that the farmhouse is labeled “Step 1”, and the pepperoni-making facility is “Step 2”. So the information I’m looking for – the treatment of the pigs, their diet and lifestyle, the typical size of the farm, names of the farms Domino’s actually works with – should be provided in Step 1. What it actually says when you click on Step 1 is this:

Wow, Domino’s. I had no idea that the first step on the pepperoni chain was a farm where livestock are raised! And that’s it – all the information Domino’s provides before the pig become pork.

And on his farm, he had some cows.

After my frustrating experience on the pepperoni page, I moved on to the mozzarella page:

Again with the happy house. And we’ve added some cows with plenty of room to graze on what appears to be green grass growing right up out of the ground. Let’s see what Domino’s has to teach us about dairy cows.

So… Domino’s uses cheese. And cheese comes from COWS! Wow, thanks Domino’s, for educating me! The truly striking thing about this blurb is the line about “herds” that “grow as large as 10,000”. This makes me envision herds of, say, wild buffalo roaming the prairie, growing large when times are plentiful. In reality, there are as many as 10,000 dairy cows confined on factory farms, and Domino’s is bragging about this.

I spent a bit more time looking through the website, but I’ll admit I couldn’t get through the whole thing. I read through pepperoni, mozzarella, feta, tomatoes, and mushrooms. I was able to find only two named farms during this inquiry: F and S Farms in Hollister, California – the farm featured in the commercial – and Monterey Mushrooms, a company that controls the entire production line, from seed to distribution, of mushrooms from farms all over America. I looked these farms up online, and from what I could tell, they are typical conventional monoculture farms, although Monterey Mushroom does offer some organic mushrooms.

From farm to pizza; from fallacy to facts.

Unlike the happy, animated farm on Behind the Pizza, most pigs in this country live in factory farms in which they are confined in tiny cages and treated terribly. In The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan visits Joel Salatin’s integrated, biodynamic Polyface Farms. As he watches the pigs happily rooting around, he is struck by the contrast with factory-farmed pigs. In this excerpt (p. 218), Pollan describes some disturbing practices that are the status quo in factory pig farming:

“I couldn’t look at their spiraled tails, which cruised above the earthy mass like conning towers on submarines, without thinking about the fate of pigtails in industrial pig production. Simply put, there are no pigtails in industrial pig production. Farmers ‘dock’, or snip off, the tails at birth, a practice that makes a certain twisted sense if you follow the logic of industrial efficiency on a hog farm. Piglets in these CAFOs are weaned from their mothers ten days after birth (compared with thirteen weeks in nature) because they gain weight faster on their drug-fortified feed than on sow’s milk. But this premature weaning leaves the pigs with a lifelong craving to suck and chew, a need they gratify in confinement by biting the tail of the animal in front of them. A normal pig would fight off his molester, but a demoralized pig has stopped caring. ‘Learned helplessness’ is the psychological term, and it’s not uncommon in CAFOs, where tens of thousands of hogs spend their entire lives ignorant of earth or straw or sunshine, crowded together between a metal roof standing on metal slats suspended over a septic tank. It’s not surprising that an animal as intelligent as a pig would get depressed under these circumstances, and a depressed pig will allow his tail to be chewed to the point of infection. Since treating sick pigs is not economically efficient, these underperforming production units are typically clubbed to death on the spot.

Tail docking is the USDA’s recommended solution to the porcine ‘vice’ of tail chewing. Using a pair of pliers and no anesthetic, most – but not quite all – of the tail is snipped off. Why leave the little stump? Because the whole point of the exercise is not to remove the object of tail biting so much as to render it even more sensitive. Now a bite to the tail is so painful that even the most demoralized pig will struggle to resist it. Horrible as it is to contemplate, it’s not hard to see how the road to such a hog hell is paved with the logic of industrial efficiency.”

It’s no wonder Domino’s didn’t provide details on the pig-to-pepperoni process. Farm Sanctuary has pictures from factory farms including from industrial pig operations. I don’t know from which farm these photographs were taken, but they do portray the pig farming practices that I have come to learn are quite typical of our pig farms. The pictures aren’t terribly graphic, but they did make me really, really sad and illustrate why the animated farm on Behind the Pizza is so very wrong.

According to Behind the Pizza, Domino’s says that most of it’s cheese comes from dairies in California. According to the Factory Farm Map put together by Food and Water Watch, the average number of dairy cows on factory farms in CA is about 1500, and there are over 1.6 million dairy cows on factory farms in California.

Here are some more facts about these factory farms, as reported by Food and Water Watch:

• The nearly 240,000 dairy cows on factory-farm dairies in Merced County, California produce ten times more waste than the sewage from the Atlanta metro area.

• The 155,000 dairy cows on factory-farmed dairies in Kings County, California produce twice as much untreated manure as the sewage from the New York City metro area.

• The 163,000 dairy cows on factory-farm dairies in Stanislaus County, California produce six times more waste than the sewage output from the Philadelphia metro area.

• The more than 464,000 dairy cows on factory-farm dairies in Tulare County, California produce five times more waste than the sewage from the New York City metro area.

From the information on Behind the Pizza, this is the type of farm that Domino’s must be sourcing from. I can’t say for sure, though, because they don’t provide any specific information on which dairy farms they use. In fact, Step 2 on the mozzarella page is a game in which you milk the cows. Of course, Domino’s does point out that they don’t milk cows by hand. Otherwise, eight gallons of milk per day per cow would be pretty tough to do.

It is really insulting that Domino’s, knowing there is increased interest in food sourcing, thinks this website would satisfy anyone. What bothers me the most, though, is that there really are awful practices going on within factory farms that affect not only the welfare of the animals but also the environment and the people who are exposed to tainted drinking water and the constant stench of manure. These are real and serious problems, and it is abhorrent that Domino’s dresses up the factory farming system with animated cows, quaint farmhouses, and even little lakes with sailboats in them – as opposed to the shit-filled lagoons surrounding beef CAFOs. Shame on them.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fifteen-minute fish

Every week, we cook one dinner that includes some kind of seafood. I used to be intimidated by shrimp and fish, but they turned out to be very easy to cook! Here is the recipe for our 15-minute fish. It’s super easy and can be eaten straight out of the oven with a couple of sides, used in fish tacos, or even as a topping on salad. This recipe makes four servings of fish.

  • 1-1.5lb fish fillets (fresh or thawed)
  • 1T olive oil
  • Spices
You can use pretty much any type of fish. We generally use salmon, cod, tilapia, or mahi mahi. Since this a blog about ethical eating, I will point out that the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program gives great recommendations on the types of fish that are most (and least) environmentally-friendly. You can download and print pocket guides to take to the store or even download their iPhone app!

As for seasonings, anything goes really. Here are a few we have tried:
  • The Spice Hunter Cajun Creole seasoning (liberally applied), a dash of cayenne pepper, and dash of kosher salt.
  • Several sprigs of fresh dill from our CSA box placed on and around the fish, sea salt, ground pepper
  • Mrs. Dash seasonings

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. If you have a wonderful amazing Silpat baking mat, lay it in a cookie sheet or other large, flat, oven-safe sheet pan. Otherwise, line a cookie sheet with foil and apply some cooking spray.

2. Rinse the fillets. Then, pat them dry with paper towel.

3. Arrange the fillets on the baking sheet. If they have the skin on, lay them skin down. Drizzle olive oil on the fillets. Using a basting brush or your fingers, spread the oil evenly over each fillet.

4. Apply seasoning.

5. Bake for 12 minutes. Test for doneness: the fish should flake easily with a fork and/or have an internal temperature of ~140°. If the fish is not done, continue cooking, checking for doneness every 2-3 minutes.

This time, we decided to use our 15-minute fish for tacos. In addition to the fish, we added shredded cabbage tossed with honey and red wine vinegar and some sliced avocado to our whole-wheat tortillas. As a side dish, we put together some beans and rice. I microwaved some frozen organic brown rice from Trader Joe’s, mixed it in a saucepan with pinto beans, diced green chilies, salsa, and a little pepper, and set it on low heat to warm through while the fish cooked. Altogether a quick and delicious meal!

Fifteen-minute fish tacos:
1 – 1.5lb baked 15-minute fish
4 cups shredded cabbage
3T honey
1T red wine vinegar
Ground pepper
8 taco-sized (small) tortillas
2 avocado

Stovetop beans and rice:
1 pkg frozen brown rice, heated
1 can pinto beans
2T diced green chilies
2-3T chunky salsa
Ground pepper to taste

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Consider me stimulated.

Attending the Food Movements Unite and Conscientious Carnivore panel discussions and our class Q&A with Michael Pollan, exposed me to many different aspects of the sustainable food movement.

Although I found each of these experiences enlightening and motivating, there were several ways in which the three conversations did not overlap. Exporting our food system to the developing world, global poverty and hunger, and global trade as a form of imperialism were discussed at length at Food Movements Unite but nowhere else. Food access for the poor and urban deserts within the U.S. weren’t addressed at the Conscientious Carnivore, and the lifestyle they advocated requires a large meat freezer, a decent kitchen, and other conditions that seem best suited for people living comfortably. Both Michael Pollan and the panelists at Food Movements Unite stressed the importance of changing policy, but Pollan was less dismissive of personal choice as a mechanism for change, and the Conscientious Carnivore was all about personal choice.

The topic of collaboration was a unifying theme of these events, and yet, no one seemed to have an obvious plan as to how to organize the many disparate groups involved in the larger food movement. In fact, I don’t think the organizers of the two panel discussions even knew about each other. I learned about these events in completely different ways.

The Conscientious Carnivore was not only the first event I’d ever attended at the Commonwealth Club; it was the first time I’d ever even heard of the organization! Later, I found out that both Raj Patel and Michael Pollan had participated in events there within the past year unbeknownst to me.

Since I began this blog a year ago, I have researched many aspects of the food movement, and I continue to stumble upon completely new (to me) organizations even within the Bay Area. How can the sustainable food movement as a whole affect change when different groups seem so disconnected? How can we mobilize people without a cohesive network for action and advocacy?

On the last day of our class, after Michael Pollan had taken off, we asked our students what they thought of the course and what they had learned. Several students said that this was their favorite college course and expressed concern as to how they would continue to participate in changing the food system. They are now where I was a year ago – impassioned, but stumbling around trying to find a way to make a difference. These students need a guide, a way to figure out where they can help and how.

In pondering these issues, I envisioned a website that would link all sectors of the food movement. The goal would be to educate people about the inter-related issues within the sustainable food movement and to create a database of all of the organizations, websites, and blogs that are invested in each area. As more people discover the damaging effects of our current food system and global trade policies, there should be a place for them to identify areas and organizations in which they can contribute.

I put together this food movement map as a starting point. Someday, I would want this to be interactive, with each topic linking to a wiki-style entry covering the main interests and challenges in that specific area and links to the relevant organizations and/or blogs (shown here using the gradient background).

I’d love to get some feedback on this. Are there any food sustainability issues I have left out? Anyone know how hard it would be to create an interactive version? This is just a first step, of course. I know there are many more organizations working in these areas, and it would to take a lot of research (not to mention web development skills) to actual put together a complete and informative website. It's exciting to think about though!

For now, here are links to the organizations I did include:

Health and education:
Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard
Food News
Marion Nestle’s Food Politics

Policy, law, and networking:
Comfood (listserve hosted by the Community Food Security Coalition)
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Food Democracy Now
US Working Group on the Food Crisis
Sustainable Food Jobs
Oakland Food Policy Council

Food First
Share the World’s Resources
People’s Grocery
Hayes Valley Urban Farm in SF
Oakland Local

Alternative food systems:
Buy Fresh Buy Local
Local Foods Wheel
Edible Communities
Animal Welfare Approved
Organic Consumers Association
Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture
Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association
Eat Wild
Offal Good
Oliveto Community Journal
American Community Gardening Association
Slow Food
Berkeley Student Food Collective

Sustainable and ethical farming systems:
Compassion in World Farming
Community Alliance with Family Farmers
Seafood Watch
La Via Campesina – International Peasant Movement
The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems