A Brief But Very British Food Journey
I had predicted that being a doting grandpa would have its limits, so I decided to also use this trip to catch up on the British food system. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing more exciting than holding your grandchild in your arms for the first time, it’s just that I knew that the UK’s local food movement had advanced considerably beyond fish ‘n chips, and I needed a fresh look. So wrangling invitations to speak to groups in Oxford, Cardiff, and London, I carved out a few days in between diaper changing to catch a glimpse of their progress. Their food system challenges and opportunities are not unlike those in U.S. communities: interest in local food is zooming, farmers’ markets (UK’s first wasn’t opened until 1998), “box schemes” (similar to CSAs) are exploding, and institutional demand for healthy food (schools a la Jamie Oliver) is strong. The supply and distribution networks, however, aren’t up to snuff. A food hub that aggregates supply and facilitates distribution may be just the ticket. Mark Winnie writes Closing the Food Gap.
Creating distribution networks for locally grown, raised foods
Packing, driving, distributing. Food is the sexy part of the local farm system, all those luscious tomatoes and juicy berries. But without a fast, efficient way to get the goods from farm to buyer, there’s little chance of growing a true local-foods economy. That’s why Illinois, spurred in part by the Local Food, Farms and Jobs Act signed by Gov. Pat Quinn last year, has seen a surge of interest in creating distribution networks for locally grown and raised foods. Chicago Business story.
Five new business ideas for urban gardening
More than half of humanity now lives in cities, according to the United Nations Population Fund. This rapid and ongoing change presents a raft of new challenges, many of which create opportunities for resourceful entrepreneurs. Here are five concepts that target consumers’ increasing interest in growing their own food in the city: reel gardening, the wiki garden, click and grow, window farms and OOOOBY. Springwise story.
Local-foods movement gaining ground, but can it go mainstream?
Agriculture is Illinois’ largest industry, generating more than $9 billion a year from commodities like corn, soybeans and hogs and another $13.4 billion in food processing, which happens to be the state’s largest manufacturing activity. So why does 96% of the food eaten in Illinois come from elsewhere? That’s the question at the core of legislation signed by Gov. Pat Quinn last year. The Local Food, Farms and Jobs Act is basically a stimulus package aimed at increasing the amount of local food bought and consumed in Illinois. Chicago Business story.
Local Food Dishes Out Economic Opportunity in Puerto Rico
Public markets have recently exploded in popularity in the United States, and their myriad benefits are increasingly well documented. South of the mainland, Puerto Rico is just beginning to develop a market system that supports local farmers, but their long-standing food distribution centers offer important lessons for the continental US, particularly with regards to school lunches–a very hot topic these days. First, let’s explore the Mercado Urbano in San Juan, located on a grassy public plaza along the ocean. There, forty vendors sell a carefully managed product mix of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, value-added products, coffee and rum. The market is unique in that all of the vendors have loans with the Economic Development Bank, who approached the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture with the idea of creating a farmers market. The bank hoped that a market would provide their debtors with an opportunity to sell directly to customers who would provide enough revenue to build their businesses and put them in a better position to pay back their loans. Projects for Public Spaces blog.
Cities Grapple with Rise of Urban Agriculture
Urban agriculture is growing. And its not just city-dwellers frequenting farmer’s markets for their vegetables, eggs and honey – more of them are interested in growing or cultivating it themselves. That’s leaving officials scrambling for ways to regulate the new farmer that’s cropping up in American cities, farmers like Jana Thompson. Thompson grew up on farms. Seven years ago she moved to Pittsburgh. Although she had a garden she missed having a connection to nature. So, first came the bees. 70,000 of them, in open-bottomed hive boxes on her roof. Then came the chickens – three Salmon Bantams. Next, she wants to raise rabbits for meat. Ohio River Radio story.
5 Lessons from the Wonders of Food Science
Chefs, food fans and entrepreneurs alike are increasingly turning to the wonders of food science to produce truly wonderful, awe-inspiring creations. From elBulli pioneer Ferran Adrià’s recent profile on 60 Minutes to Minibar founder and elBulli disciple José Andrés’ James Beard award, culinary laboratories are gaining mainstream attention. In this week’s edition, we offer five concrete conclusions for food manufacturers, marketers and branders on the rise of technoemotional cuisine. Hartman Group research.
The Little Roof That Could
Urban farming has been widely practiced nationwide and internationally as a tool for greening neighborhoods and educating populations about food and health, but the creation of a commercially-viable rooftop farm has yet to be realized. Brooklyn Grange aims to build on decades of rooftop farming best practices and establish a one acre farm that operates as a sustainable small business. The farm will sell fresh, organic and affordable food to the local community, contributing to the health and economic development of the neighborhood.
Green Living story.
Thoughts on Pollan’s food-movement essay
Pollan posits the existence of a social movement geared to transforming the food system. He emphasizes that it’s loose, internally conflicted, and nascent — but all the same, “one of the most interesting social movements to emerge in the last few years.” People have been talking about the “food movement” for a while, but I don’t think anyone has articulated its existence so clearly and in such an important publication. Tom Philpott writes in Grist.
UNEP report on sustainable consumption and production
International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management of the United Nations Environment Programme has published a new report entitled Towards sustainable production and use of resources: Assessing the environmental impacts of consumption and production: Priority Products and Materials. The report looks at the impacts of different economic activities on the environment and its key findings are as follows: Agriculture and food consumption are identified as one of the most important drivers of environmental pressures, especially habitat change, climate change, water use and toxic emissions. Report (5.5 MB PDF).
AND if You Have Time
Hidden truths of crop circles
When I first noticed the 72m diameter crop circle on the Tuesday after the spring bank holiday my initial reaction was one of “I hope no one notices and perhaps it will go away”. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Our 623ha farm lies in the shadow of a spectacular Iron Age hill fort in Salisbury – an English Heritage site known as Old Sarum. Within 24 hours of its discovery the circle was photographed by a passer-by on the ramparts who posted it on a website for crop circle enthusiasts, and so it all began. Leading the vanguard was a party from Holland who drove straight over to view what they described as the “first circle of the 2010 season”. Farmers Weekly Interactive (UK) story.