On the Hill

Senate, House Bills Aim to Improve Access to Local Foods
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, have reintroduced Senate and House versions of the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act, legislation that aims to increase access to healthier foods for consumers in underserved communities by expanding economic opportunities for local and regional farmers. The bill would provide funding to help farmers process and sell their food locally, which incentivizes schools and low-income residents to purchase it.

Senate, House Bills Aim to Cut SNAP
Sen John Thune, R-S.D., and Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., introduced legislation last week that would cut $30 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next 10 years, including the elimination of categorical eligibility, employment and training programs, and state performance bonuses. The bill would also curtail funding for SNAP-ED, a program that provides grants to states for nutrition education and obesity prevention programs.

Retired Marine Officer Offers Support for Healthy School Snacks
In a letter to the editor published by The Washington Post on Sunday, retired Marine general officer Ronald Beckwith offered support for USDA’s recent efforts to update nutrition standards for “competitive foods” sold in school vending machines and cafeteria snack lines. Major General Beckwith, a member of the executive advisory council for Mission: Readiness, noted that “obesity is now the leading medical disqualifier for military service, with one in four young Americans too overweight to serve.”

Upcoming Events 

The Long-Term Economics of Obesity Prevention Policies
April 24, 2013
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
430 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.

The briefing will present the findings of the Campaign to End Obesity’s The Long-Term Returns of Obesity Prevention Programs. Among the featured speakers will be Jim Marks, Senior Vice President and Director, Health Group, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. To RSVP, emailjessa@obesitycampaign.org.


Fixing Our Food Problem By MARK BITTMAN

January 1, 2013, 7:52 pm79 Comments

Fixing Our Food Problem

Mark Bittman

Nothing affects public health in the United States more than food. Gun violence kills tens of thousands of Americans a year. Heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes kill more than a million people a year — nearly half of all deaths — and diet is a root cause of many of those diseases.

And the root of that dangerous diet is our system of hyper-industrial agriculture, the kind that uses 10 times as much energy as it produces.

We must figure out a way to un-invent this food system. It’s been a major contributor to climate change, spawned the obesity crisis, poisoned countless volumes of land and water, wasted energy, tortured billions of animals… I could go on. The point is that “sustainability” is not only possible but essential: only by saving the earth can we save ourselves, and vice versa.

How do we do that?

This seems like a good day to step back a bit and suggest something that’s sometimes difficult to accept.


We can only dismantle this system little by little, and slowly. Change takes time. Often — usually — that time exceeds the life span of its pioneers. And when it comes to sustainable food for billions, we’re the pioneers of a food movement that’s just beginning to take shape. The abolition movement began at least a century before the Civil War, 200 years before the civil rights movement. The struggle to gain the right to vote for women in the United States was active for 75 years before an amendment was passed. The gay rights struggle has made tremendous strides over the last 40 years, but equal treatment under the law is hardly established.

Well-cared-for animals will necessarily be more expensive, which means we’ll eat fewer of them; that’s a win-win. 

Activists who took on these issues had in common a clear series of demands and a sense that the work was ongoing. They had a large and ever-growing public following and a willingness to sacrifice time, energy and even life for the benefit not only of contemporaries but for subsequent generations.

They were also aware that there is no success without a willingness to fail; that failure is a part of progress. A single defeat was seen as a temporary setback. The same vision should be applied to every issue the nascent food movement is tackling.

Yet before we can assess our progress, we must state our goals. There is no consensus behind a program for achieving sustainable production of food that promotes rather than attacks health. We can’t ask for “better food for all”; we must be specific. In the very near term, for example, we must fight to protect and improve programs that make food available to lower-income Americans. We must also support the increasingly assertive battles of workers in food-related industries; nothing reflects our moral core more accurately than the abuses we overlook in the names of convenience and economy.

Beyond that, I believe that the two issues that will have the greatest reverberations in agriculture, health and the environment are reducing the consumption of sugar-laden beverages and improving the living conditions of livestock.

About the first I have written plenty, and can summarize: when we begin treating sugar-sweetened beverages as we do tobacco, we will make a huge stride in improving our diet.

The second is even more powerful, and progress was made in that arena in 2012 as one food company after another resolved to (eventually) reject pork produced with gestation crates. So over the next few years, some animals will be treated somewhat better. This is absolutely, unquestionably thanks to public pressure, which should now set its sights higher and insist that all animals grown for food production be treated not just better but well.

Well-cared-for animals will necessarily be more expensive, which means we’ll eat fewer of them; that’s a win-win. They’ll use fewer antibiotics, they’ll be produced by more farmers in more places, and they’ll eat less commodity grain, which will both reduce environmental damage and allow for more land to be used for high-quality human food like fruits and vegetables.

Allies may argue that I miss the mark with either or both of these, and that’s fine: it’s a discussion. The point is that no major food issue will be resolved in the next 10 years. As pioneers, we must build upon incremental progress and not be disheartened, because often there isn’t quick resolution for complex issues.

An association between tobacco and cancer was discovered more 200 years ago. The surgeon general’s report that identified smoking as a public health issue appeared in 1964. The food movement has not yet reached its 1964; there’s isn’t even a general acknowledgment of a problem in need of fixing.

So, in 2013, let’s call for energy, action — and patience.

A version

making and baking memories

I'm writing to let you know about the '2013 Makes-Me-Wanna SHOUT! Baking Challenge' where we're making and baking memories.  
The 2013 baking challenge will be a pie contest.  It's also the 3rd year I've produced the baking challenge with the good help of friends, family, and my co-presenter Eatonville Restaurant which will feature the winning dessert.  
Take a moment to check it out on Indiegogo and also share it with your friends.  All the tools are there.  Get perks, make a contribution, or simply follow updates.  If enough of us get behind it, we can make the '2013 Makes-Me-Wanna SHOUT! Baking Challenge' happen.

The contest is building community around food.  It's a boost for the bakers when people of all ages and experiences are enjoying their home baked goodies.  An even bigger boost for a home baker to win the $500, blue ribbon and other prizes. 

The MMWShout! Baking Challenge is also a boost for organizations like Martha's Table who receive a portion of ticket sales from the semifinals fundraising event. 

Growth has raised the contest to a new level.  To promote and produce the 3rd challenge, the contest is now attracting sponsors like King Arthur Flour and WUSA9's J.C. Hayward (media).  But more is required.
 Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions. 
And if you know a home baker who might be a winner?  Share the shoutbakingchallenge.com website link.  Online entry form is live.  Entries are due February 4, 2013.  12 contestants will be selected for the March 23 semifinals at Martha's Table. 
Have a great weekend.  And thank you for your support.


From Full Plate Ventures: Farm to Freezer UPDATE

Seven weeks ago we launched Farm to Freezer: Preserving  donated fresh local food to nourish the hungry.  With 67 volunteers, we have prepared more than 500 lbs. of tomato sauce, diced zucchini, green beans, snap peas, and roasted eggplant for the freezer. These vegetables are incorporated into healthy meals that Bethesda Cares’ serves to the hungry every day.

We wash, dice, blanch, and bag together– work that is both satisfying and fun! Meet new people and learn more about sustainable agriculture and food systems, hunger in our community, and how to prevent food waste. We cannot do this without volunteers, so please  join Bethesda Cares Meet-UP site and then sign up for a specific prep. day. We welcome teens 13-15 with an adult, older teens, and adults; SSL credit available. We also welcome groups–sign up with your colleagues, friends, or extended family. Contact me if you’d like to sign up as a group. As a thank-you, volunteers get to take home some fresh, organic vegetables and artesian bread.

Our star intern Josh Sennett returns to Tufts at the end of the month. He’s been a huge help in launching this project and we will miss him. We seek an intern to continue growing this innovative start-up project on Saturdays with some evening blogging. You can view the job description and apply herePlease share with your networks.

Many thanks to our growing list of supporters including our partner churches, Spiral Path Farm, Bethesda Fresh Farm Market, Whole Foods, Honest Tea, Zipcar and Central Farm Markets. You can view our Farm to Freezer website and read my recent blog post to learn more about this project and how it touches many in our community.

Cheryl Kollin  Full Plate Ventures, LLC.Cheryl@fullplateventures.com

240.491.1958 Follow me on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/fullplateventure


RE: Nick’s Organic Farm / Brickyard Educational Farm, Montgomery Cty, MD

In 6 days, Montgomery County, MD, is set to take over a 32 year old organic seed farm (Nick’s Organic Farm) and a children’s educational center (Brickyard Educational Farm) to develop the County’s 501st and 502nd soccer field. This piece of land has not only been the impetus for the first organic certification legislation on the East Coast, but also has a history of forward thinking, and environmentally sustainable farming practices that many farmers have modeled their farms after. It is also one of the only farms in the entire country that is able to grow GMO-free, organic, heirloom corn seeds because of it’s geographic isolation from other farmland (it exists in a suburban community outside of DC).

The educational center that was started on the farm this year has seen overwhelming support, and in it’s first 6 months, has served over 1500 students. It is unique in that it is within 10 miles of over 65 public schools. Instead of soccer fields, we envision this 20 acres being used for organic seed saving, farm-based education for children, as well as a 9 acre-farm incubator program for beginning farmers. If you agree that this would be a better use of a 20 acre plot in suburbia that has been farmed organically for 32 years, please sign onto our coalition letter. Send me your organization’s name, your name, and your title, and your logo, and we will add you to the letter. A rough draft of the letter and the organizations who have signed on already is attached.

Thank you for your work towards a sustainable food future!

Sara Shor

Sara Shor  Brickyard Educational Farm

Organizations that have already signed on: Rodale Institute, Audubon Naturalist Society, Green America, DC Farm to School, Growing Power, growingSoul, Slow Food DC, Sierra Club, Maryland and Montgomery County Chapter, Maryland No Child Left Inside Coalition, Environment Maryland, Maryland Public Interest Research Group, Maryland Coastal Bays Program,

Coalition Letter Text:

Dear Governor O’Malley and decision makers,

We wish to bring a timely issue to your attention that would help Maryland lead the nation on farm education, farmer training, farm-to-school programs, and a sustainable and environmentally sensitive farming future. We are aware of your work on the “No Child Left Inside” initiative and your support of the Jane Lawton Farm to School law. We also know of your commitment to strengthen agriculture in Maryland, while leading on environmental issues that improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

Brickyard Educational Farm provides a foundation for each of those pillars in its mission by connecting children with the food, land, and water that sustain them. The Farm brings together farm education programs for children and training programs for beginning farmers, and integrates sustainable, organic, and environmentally responsible farming practices. The farm-to-school field trips offer lessons that fulfill Maryland state curriculum requirements, including the new “No Child Left Inside” environmental literacy requirements. In addition, Brickyard Educational Farm is working with community stakeholders to bring significant quantities of fresh produce from the farm directly to public school cafeterias, as outlined in Maryland’s Jane Lawton Farm to School Act.

Brickyard Educational Farm will also house a farm incubator program by providing landless beginning farmers with land close to an urban center, shared equipment, shared labor, a built-in market, the opportunity to run their own farming operation, and experienced farmer mentors. Upon completion of the program, Brickyard Educational Farm hopes to work with existing local land-link agencies that match aspiring farmers with affordable farmland.

The last component addresses food security through a seed-saving and production operation, managed organically on this land for the past 32 years.  This effort preserves genetic diversity and helps save from extinction the unique, locally adapted varieties that may be needed to counter constantly evolving pests, diseases and climate change. Over the last three decades using this land as his base, organic farmer Nick Maravell has been very involved in promoting sustainable farming in Maryland and in the nation, and he is often asked to testify in Congress for his environmentally responsible practices. He helped found many organizations such as Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, the Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association, and the Maryland Small Farm Cooperative. In 2011, the USDA Secretary Vilsack appointed Mr. Maravell to a five-year term on the National Organic Standards Board, recognizing how Mr. Maravell’s valuable experience could contribute to regulating policy for the $30 billion a year organic industry.

Unfortunately, Maryland is at risk of losing Brickyard Educational Farm on August 16th, 2012. This 20 acre farm, located on public school land, is slated to be leased for private gated pay-for-play soccer fields and parking lots.

With the average age of a farmer being 57 years old, we need more programs like Brickyard Educational Farm to stimulate interest in agriculture and to train the next generation.  Maryland has a large agricultural economy, is one of the most environmentally responsible states, and is leading the nation in education. We are weeks away from losing what would be a nationally renowned program that would put Maryland at the forefront of environmental, outdoor, agricultural education through training programs and farm-to-school curriculum.

There are no other programs or farms in the nation that we know of that integrate all of the elements described above. Please do what you can to save this valuable asset so Maryland can become a national model in this growing movement to revitalize local food and farming in America.

Farm to Freezer in Montgomery County, MD

The Farm to Freezer project is now up and running. In our first two prep days we’ve produced 185 lbs. of tomato sauce and vegetables for the freezer. This project preserves fresh local food to nourish the hungry. This week we will be adding roasted eggplant to our roster of tomato sauce, snap peas, and zucchini for the freezer. We welcome adults, older teens, and teens 13-15 accompanied by an adult. Mont. Co. SSL credit is available. Come prep with a friendly crew and learn something new! To volunteer, sign up on: Bethesda Cares MEET UP: http://www.meetup.com/Bethesda-Cares-Community-Outreach-Program-for-the-Homeless/ To read more about this program and who it benefits, and how you can help, visit: Farm to Freezer Blog website http://farmtofreezer.wordpress.com/ To see our events as they unfold: Follow us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Farm2Freezer Best, Cheryl Cheryl Kollin Full Plate Ventures, LLC. Cheryl@fullplateventures.com 240.491.1958 Follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fullplateventure

Farm Bill info from Community Food Security Coalition

June 12, 2012
Tell the House to Support Local Food! 
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Lucas (R-OK) is expected to release the Chairman’s Mark early next week.CFSC members had important wins in the Senate’s Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act and the House Agriculture Committee should include them in their bill:

  • Community Food Projects Program – Doubling mandatory funding to $10 million per year
  • Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program – Expanding Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) to include developing food hubs and doubling funding to $20 million in mandatory funding per year for five years
  • Hunger-Free Community Incentive Grants – A new local fruit and vegetable incentive grant program to increase purchases by SNAP customers at farmers markets and other healthy food retailers with mandatory funding totaling $100 million over five years
  • Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program – Mandatory funding maintained at $20 million per year
  • EBT Technology – Technology pilot provisions and language permitting SNAP program participant to use their benefits at CSAs.

Call now!
Call your Representative right now and ask them to renew and strengthen these programs by matching Senate funding levels in the House version of the Farm Bill!

It’s easy to call. You can get your Representative’s name and direct number by going to Congress.org and typing in your zip code. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard, provide your Representative’s name and be directly connected to their office: (202) 225-3121.

Questions? Please contact CFSC Policy Office: 202-481-6933.
Thank you for your help!
Community Food Security Coalition