Why hasn’t food security become a major rallying point for feminism and social justice movements in the United States?
Could you eat on a budget of just $1.40 per meal?
On 1 November, one in seven people living in the US woke up to a dramatically changed food budget, courtesy of the expiration of an aid extension in the Relief Act of 2009. People relying on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) found that they would be receiving much less per month, with the possibility of even deeper cuts in the future depending on Congressional wrangling. Cuts ranged from $11 USD to $36 USD, depending on family size, which may not sound significant to those with stable incomes living in a state of food security, but could mean the world to low-income people.
Intriguing that behaviour rewarded in a man should be punished and viewed as a negative when a woman engages in it, no?
Krissi Biasiello, the Masterchef contender everyone loved to hate, has finally been booted from the Fox reality drama, walking away from the dream of $250,000 in prize money and her own cookbook—and many fans are surprised she made it as far as she did. Aside from not necessarily having the strongest cooking skills, Biasiello became famous for her vicious attitude on screen, with her abrasive personality jarring many viewers as well as fellow contestants.
A highly personalized example of creative practices that people are trying in the new “sharing economy,” dinner co-ops may save you time and money, while providing you and your family with a variety of culinary options.
Forget Celebrity Wife Swap. This is down and dirty neighbor-to-neighbor swapping that brings you into the most intimate recesses of your neighbors’ personal lives: the dinner co-op. Two, three, four or more families get together and form an exclusive club, each cooking and delivering one giant meal per week that will feed everyone. In exchange, each family gets several weeknights off from cooking, finding their evening meals delivered fresh at their doorsteps. Meal sharing clubs can take endless other forms, as well: a 2010 New York Times article profiled one in which each family cooked and portioned out one large batch per week, then brought the freezer-friendly meals to one participant’s apartment to get three frozen meals in return.
“we feel an urgent need to change how we measure what a successful food system looks like.”
Danielle Nierenberg, co-founder of Food Tank, has more street credibility than your average environmental activist. She recently spent two full years on the road, visiting and examining sustainable agricultural practices in 35 countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America. She became intimately familiar with food systems around the world, and penned op-eds for publications like the New York Times and USA Today as dispatches from the field. She has decided to apply her expertise to helping professionals and policymakers throughout the global food system learn from each other.
“It was typical for us to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week. All of us were expected to do so…. there was this expectation to be out there whether you were sick or not.”
By Mariya Strauss
Meet Norma Flores Lopez, director of the Children in the Fields campaign of the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs, or AFOP, whose job it is to advocate for children who harvest and package the food Americans buy. Food prices here stay cheap because of the labor these children provide, and yet, as Flores Lopez describes, the kids themselves must pay a heavy cost to keep those prices low. Flores Lopez, who grew up in a family of migrant farmworkers from South Texas, spoke with me about her advocacy on behalf of farmworker kids. She tells here the story of her personal journey as a child farmworker, and the work that lies ahead to help make these kids safer and to make their lives better.
‘But,’ I cried to my Jewish friends, ‘what do you mean latkes are a seasonal food? How can you live without them in your life every day?!’
When I was but a wee thing, one of my all-time favourite foods was the latke—or, as I knew it then, the potato pancake. My father would make them for me on weekends when I pleaded with him, and on sunny days we would crowd ‘round the giant utility spool in the side yard we’d set up as a table for latke festivities. The potato pancake represented, for me, the pinnacle of food deliciousness, featuring not only the potato, which is one of nature’s finest foods, but also frying, which enhances almost every food imaginable. The sour cream and applesauce on top (yes, we were a two topping family) were just icing on the already deliriously delightful cake.
“When I look at the fossil fuel crisis, when I look at the climate crisis, when I look at the economic crisis, I see opportunities to live better. So I am not afraid of it.”
by Mariya Strauss
Homesteaders, aspiring homesteaders, and mildly alternative-minded folks love Shannon Hayes. Her encouraging, prodding farmer’s voice has become a companion for those seeking an alternative to consumer culture. Her 2010 book Radical Homemakers was a runaway hit among thoughtful readers still trying to piece together a future out of the shards of the smashed economy. Summoning her family’s success at subsistence agrarian living alongside real-life homesteading stories, Radical Homemakers said, You can have everything you desire. Just make it yourself or get together with your neighbors to make it.
But, as my interview with her demonstrates, there are more reasons to love Hayes’ direct, positive message in these challenging times. Her new book, Long Way on a Little, generously ladles out useful, doable advice on how to make locally sourced, grassfed meat the basis of a family diet on precious few dollars per month. Oh, and there are recipes. Dozens and dozens of amazing meat recipes that I plan to try throughout this Northern Hemisphere winter. (I may have to skip the candlemaking technique that requires Tinkertoys to make a rotating wick-dipping rack.) To wit, readers, meet Shannon Hayes, the farmer-writer from Schoharie County, New York.
Noyo Food Forest is working to show that there’s a place for everyone on urban farms, but everyone hasn’t gotten that message yet.
Walking onto the site of the Noyo Food Forest on the brink of spring, you’re struck by the amount of activity going on; beds exploding with vegetables, volunteers building up compost and weeding, starts bursting out of their flats in the greenhouse. Founded in 2006 by Katrina Aschenbrenner, Kim Morgan, and Susan Lightfoot, the Noyo Food Forest aims to ‘cultivate a healthy local food system by providing opportunities for education, social enterprise, and community involvement.’ The primary production farm is located along the eastern border of Fort Bragg, a small town on California’s north coast, right next to the high school.
As a pathway to food independence, urban farms have huge potential… but also some potential flaws.
An urban farming revival is sweeping across the United States, sparking a flood of conversation, and sometimes conflict, among communities large and small. Some regard urban farming as the hope of the future, while others target it as an elitist pastime of hipsters. While many agree that the food system in the United States is broken, there’s difficulty when it comes to making a consensus about the nature of the breakage, and how best to fix it. Urban farming is one possible approach, if it can be done well.
What’s clear from the farmworker shortage is that if there’s any area where tough, no-tolerance legislation is needed, it’s not in immigration – it’s in working conditions for farm labourers.
Crops are rotting on the vine in the United States, thanks to a shortage of workers to pick them, resulting in substantial losses for farmers and their communities at the same time that people in the United States are going hungry, and relying on government assistance for nutritional needs, more and more. The food system in the United States has become far more complex than a simple farm to table progression, but worker shortages do raise a serious potential threat to bringing in the harvest and tie in with larger political issues. In an agricultural system built on exploitation, tough immigration laws are getting rid of one of the easiest groups of people to exploit: undocumented immigrants who have everything to lose if they attempt to report labour violations, assert their rights, or, apparently, go to work in the fields.
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