Friday, October 26, 2012

Los Angeles Food Procurement Policy

Lots of big changes are on the horizons for the food systems of Los Angeles. On Wednesday, at the celebration of the Second Annual Food Day, the city announced a Comprehensive Food Procurement Policy that offered a serious commitment to building a sustainable regional food system. 

LA is ahead of the game and, I hope, will be leading the way, with ripple effects throughout the country. Maybe Madison can use this LA plan as a template and work to bring even more systemic change to food in our own city? 

Read the full press release below, and let me know what it makes you think about possibilities for your own city!

For more on LA's Good Food Procurement, click here, or sign the Good Food Pledge, here.

City of Los Angeles 

October 24, 2012 

Peter Sanders 


Mayor and City Council Adopt Good Food Purchasing Pledge to Increase City Purchase of Local, Sustainable, Fair and Healthy Food 

LOS ANGELES – Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa and Los Angeles City Council today adopted The Good Food Purchasing Pledge, a food purchasing policy designed to increase the purchase of locally grown, sustainable food, while promoting healthy eating habits, workers’ rights, and animal welfare. By issuing an Executive Directive in support of the policy, Los Angeles implements one of the most comprehensive city food procurement policies in the country. 

“Healthy food makes healthy communities,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “By issuing this Executive Directive to all City departments to adopt the Good Food Purchasing Pledge and its accompanying guidelines, we incentivize other municipalities and institutions to follow our lead, encouraging sustainably produced food, healthy eating habits, respect for workers’ rights and support for the local business economy.” 

 The Good Food Purchasing Pledge is a commitment from food service institutions to improve our region’s food system through the adoption and implementation of Good Food Purchasing Guidelines. The Guidelines include: environmentally sustainable food production, local sourcing, fair labor practices, animal welfare, and nutrition. The system is the first in the nation to take into account labor practices as part of its guidelines. 

“The City of Los Angeles will be the first to adopt this type of program which promotes and rewards progress across multiple food-value systems,” said Councilmember Paul Koretz, who brought the motion to the City Council. "This ground-breaking policy has consequences from farm to fork. By simply guiding the City's purchasing power, we can make tremendous strides toward a more sustainable, more humane, and more worker-friendly food system." 

While other cities around the country have adopted a variety of local, sustainable, or health and nutrition policies, none have adopted a policy that has all included all five categories represented in the Good Food Purchasing Pledge. 

“The Good Food Purchasing Pledge is like establishing LEED Certification for City food providers,” LA Food Policy Council Chair and Mayor Villaraigosa’s Senior Advisor on Food Policy Paula Daniels said. “It is designed to allow easy entry for compliance so as not to be a strain on budgetary resources while allowing institutions to express support for these values.”

In order to gauge program participation and growth, the Good Food Purchasing Pledge has a unique metric-based system of award points with escalating levels of compliance, rewarding progress with a rating of one to five stars. To develop the guidelines, the LA Food Policy Council, founded by the Mayor’s Office, thoroughly examined best practices nationally and vetted the document with nearly 100 experts in various fields. The guidelines were developed by taking into account the viewpoints of stakeholders from all aspects of the food system including farm owners, food distributors, public health departments, food chain workers, restaurants and other large institutional food purchasers, to name a few. 

The Los Angeles regional foodshed, which spans the 200 mile and 10 county region around the City, is the largest producer of fruits, vegetables and nuts in the nation. Most produce grown in the Los Angeles regional foodshed is exported outside of the LA region, often at an economic loss to our local small and mid-sized farmers. At the same time, only about half of Los Angeles County residents eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day and the region also faces an obesity epidemic that costs the county an estimated $4 billion annually. 

 "We are seeing a continued worsening of the obesity epidemic in Los Angeles County, an epidemic that exacts a tremendous human toll in chronic illness," Dr. Paul Simon, Director of the Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said. “I applaud the City of Los Angeles and the Food Policy Council for their leadership in promoting healthy and sustainable food purchasing practices." 

 “This policy is a leading example of using market signals to encourage the right kind of food production in a holistic way,” Dana Gunders, Project Scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council said. “It will sustain local farming, preserve the quality of the City’s surrounding environment, ensure better treatment of animals and get more healthy food to the people.” 

The announcement came during a celebration in City Hall marking the second annual National Food Day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bill and Lou: Oxen for Lunch

A few days ago, NPR's food blog The Salt shared a fascinating story, "Despite Protest, College Plans To Slaughter, Serve Farm's Beloved Oxen." It told the tale of two oxen, Bill and Lou, who have worked at Green Mountain College, on the campus's Cerridwen Farm, for the last ten years. But now, because Lou has an injured leg, the two oxen are to be retired (Bill will retire too, because oxen work as a team).

 Although a nearby animal sanctuary, Vine, has offered to take the oxen and let them live for free in the sanctuary space, Green Mountain College has declined the offer and plans to slaughter the oxen and serve their meat in the form of hamburgers in the college cafeteria.

Because so many of Green Mountain's students love Bill and Lou, and consider them to be campus mascots, there has been a significant outcry from those who believe it cruel and unnecessary for the college to kill these gentle animals.

But the Cerridwen Farm workers who advocate the slaughter think that it's important to see the animals as part of a sustainable farm venture, and not just as pets. They do not want to deny the cycle of life and death, and believe eating these animals will preclude having to support consumption of meat that most likely would come from factory farms. (See the bottom of my post for the full response from the Farm staff).

I think this is a particularly interesting case study that highlights the complexity of meat-eating in our modern world (to read previous posts on this topic, see: On the Complexity of Meat Substitutes and A Simple Argument for (Quasi-)Vegetarianism).

Reading the comments on the original Salt post is especially fascinating, because it pits vegans and animal rights activists against environmentalists and the major representatives of today's "real food movement". In some ways, it seems like all of these groups would have some fundamental goals in common. But when it comes to actual conversations about animals' lives, little agreement can be found.

What do you all think? Should Bill and Lou be served as hamburger meat? On the broader issue, how do we balance animal ethics with environmental ethics?

"At Cerridwen Farm, Green Mountain College’s working farm operation, we seek to teach and model small-scale farm production that is ecologically, economically and socially sustainable. We work to maintain high ethical standards for treatment of the land, people and animals. We have draft animals on the farm because they do important work which would otherwise be performed by equipment that consumes diesel fuel. We are currently engaged in many promising projects to demonstrate how small family farms, managed sustainably, can survive and thrive in an agricultural landscape dominated by industrial farms.

Bill and Lou came to us nearly ten years ago as malnourished and neglected animals. At GMC they received considerate and humane care.

This was a decision many months in the making, with members of our community carefully weighing alternatives. On complex ethical matters, thoughtful and well-informed people may reasonably disagree. Here is a bit of background on the complexities and the decision-making process:

  • This past year, Lou sustained a recurring injury to his left rear hock that made it difficult for him to work. After attempting several remedies and giving him a prolonged rest without any improvement, it was the professional opinion of the farm staff and consulting veterinarians that he was no longer capable of working. Farm staff searched for a replacement animal to pair with Bill, but single oxen are difficult to find and it is uncertain that Bill would accept a new teammate.
  • Our Farm Crew works with the farm managers to implement plans for overall livestock management, including sale and slaughter decisions. In particularly complex situations, College faculty experts in philosophy, policy, ethics and animal husbandry are consulted, and students from a variety of disciplines are often involved in these discussions. Many of the decisions about livestock on the college farm are rooted in classroom and campus-wide dialogue, representing a variety of perspectives.
  • Our process was open and transparent. We delayed making any decision over the summer and held an open community forum on October 4 to discuss the ethics of sending draft animals to slaughter, and Bill and Lou’s case specifically. Our commitment to providing these challenging discussions within the college community is all too rare in higher education.
  • While many of our students are vegan or vegetarian, many also eat meat, and we strive to meet the dietary preferences of all students. Bill and Lou, when processed for meat, will yield over one ton of beef. If this meat doesn’t come from our animals, it likely will come from a factory farm setting which carries with it a significant amount of ecological impact. For example, the American agricultural system uses approximately 5 million gallons of water to produce the same amount of beef (not to mention greenhouse gas production, soil erosion, and water pollution).
Those who know Lou and Bill best—our farm staff and students—are uncomfortable with the potential ramifications of sending the animals to a sanctuary. Bill and Lou are large animals, weighing over a ton. A transition to a new setting will be difficult for them, and only postpones the fact that someone else, in the not-too-distant future, will need to decide that it is kinder to kill them than to have them continue in increasing discomfort. If sent to a sanctuary, Bill and Lou would continue to consume resources at a significant rate. As a sustainable farm, we can’t just consider the responsible stewardship of the resources within our boundaries, but of all the earth's resources"

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Halloween Costume Help: Sriracha Label

As another Halloween rolls around, I've noticed increased activity around my Sriracha Halloween post, in which I showed off the Sriracha and Chili Garlic costumes I made for us last fall.

So, I thought it would be helpful if I shared a little more about how I drew the shirts with white puff paint, and if I shared a black-and-white version of the Sriracha label.

First up, another photo of the costumes:

And now a black and white version of the label, which you can download:
Here it is as a downloadable PDF version and the JPG version

A few methods for transferring this image to fabric:
  • Print it out on iron-on transfer paper, iron it on to your fabric, and then go over the image with a white paint pen or white fabric paint
  • Enlarge the image on your computer, place fabric over your monitor or laptop screen so that the image shines through the fabric, trace the image lightly with a fabric-marking pen (making sure the ink doesn't bleed through onto your screen), and then go over the image with white fabric paint
  • Print the image, blown up as large as you like, onto regular paper. Cut out the various pieces of the image, and free-hand copy the pieces of the image onto the fabric, in the appropriate placement, with white fabric paint, referring to the image to maintain proportions
Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Jam Love

Just as the leaves began to turn yellow here in Madison, a taste of summer landed on my doorstep: Two beautiful jars of homemade jam from my college roommate, sent from Florida with love.

Cantaloupe Peach and Strawberry Peach, jewel-like and beautiful in their glass jars:

I broke into the first jar as soon as it came, licking the sweetness straight from the spoon, feeling so grateful for friends who know just the kind of treat that keeps me smiling.

Since then, I've been slathering the jam on everything.

From my morning granola:

To toast:

And everything in between--I've stirred it into my oatmeal, scooped it my into yogurt, eaten it on top of brownies for dessert, and have licked it right off my fingers.

I can't wait to open the second jar...

Thanks, SF, for this delicious gift, and for keeping me buoyed.