Monday, May 26, 2008

Good News: Locavore Movement Helping Revive Family Farms

An interesting and hopeful article appears in the May 20, online edition of Business Week.

It discusses the fact that the trend toward eating locally has led to both an increase in the number of farmers' markets in the U.S., (The U.S. Agriculture Dept. indicating the number of markets reached 4,692 in 2006, its most recent year of data, up 50% from five years earlier. Sales from those markets reached $1 billion,), but also an actual increase in the number of small farms.

According to the article: "After declining for more than a century, the number of small farms has increased 20% in the past six years, to 1.2 million, according to the Agriculture Dept."

As somebody who has been writing about farming for the past decade, I can't say how exciting and encouraging it is to see statistics that indicate small farms are on the increase.

Unfortunately, the good news is tempered with more of the same sad news, the large food retailers are also now "cashing in" on the local movement, much as they have done with the organic market. However, I guess to see the positive side to even this trend is to recognize that many consumers who would not normally have access to any locally grown fresh produce now do.

Lastly, the article points out that local produce is now starting to show up in all kinds of unexpected places aside from schools, like cafeterias of companies such as Target, Oracle, and DreamWorks.

My goal is to see more farm-to-school and farm-to-hospital programs and am doing my own small part to help make that happen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Big News: Book Has On Sale Date!

While I am still recovering from my wonderful trip to San Francisco, I was very excited when I got home to receive word that a tentative date for my book to go on sale has been selected.

Ready? It's Monday, September 8. It sure does make it seem real now! So, being technologically impaired, I couldn't figure out how to turn the PDF of the cover into a photo so dorky me just took a photo of it and I am posting it here, (clicking on it makes it bigger but it does look way lame)!

It's titled: Farming in Torrance and the South Bay and is being published by Arcadia Publishing.

I am going to be posting stories about our wonderful farmers and history here in the weeks ahead.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

LA Farm Girl Taking in San Francisco Ag.

Just a quick post to let you all know that I am alive and well visiting San Francisco for my birthday this week.

I wasn't able to visit the awesome Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market since I missed it, but I did visit the Ferry Building that offers plenty of locally grown fruits and vegetables from farms mostly in Marin County across the bay.

These include Capay Organic Farm that offers fresh produce at the farm, the Ferry Building Marketplace, and via home or office delivery,

The photo of the sign here is from them and of course there's a photo of the Ferry Building from the Hyatt Regency across the street. If you haven't visited since its been renovated, make sure you see it, There's also a McEvoy Olive stand, Cowboy Creamery Artisan Cheese Store, Hog Island Oyster Company and Scharffen Berger Chocolate Company.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Ask Congress to Cut Subsidies to Big Agriculture

I received this from the great local group, Hunger Action Los Angeles, a group that focuses on providing sufficient, affordable, healthy food to all, and thought I 'd pass it on here verbatim since they can say it best. It's about the seemingly endless struggle to pass the "2007" Farm Bill and how there's an opportunity to help family farmers and address the worldwide food shortage all at once:

"Congress has once again passed a two-week extension to the 2002 Farm Bill so they can continue working on the “2007” Farm Bill.

The main issue now are billions of dollars in ag subsidies. President Bush has weighed in, with suggestions that he would veto a bill that didn’t cut the huge payments to U.S. farms.

'Americans are concerned about rising food prices,' President Bush said. 'Unfortunately, Congress is considering a massive, bloated farm bill that would do little to solve the problem. The bill Congress is now considering would fail to eliminate subsidy payments to multimillionaire farmers.

'America’s farm economy is thriving, the value of farmland is skyrocketing, and this is the right time to reform our nation’s farm policies by reducing unnecessary subsidies. It’s not the time to ask American families who are already paying more in the check-out line to pay more in subsidies for wealthy farmers.'

Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard (1-202-224-3121) and ask to speak to any of our California representatives below. If you’re not in their district, remind the person you talk to on the phone that this is a national issue:

Rep Maxine Waters (South LA): Rep Henry Waxman (West LA): Rep Brad Sherman (San Fernando Valley)
Rep Howard Berman: Rep Joe Baca (San Bernardino): Rep George Miller: Rep Dennis Cardoza

“Thank you for passing $10 billion in nutrition increases in the Farm Bill. This is desperately needed as food stamps only average $3 a day in benefits and food prices are rising.”

“Please support the effort to reduce the huge ag subsidies. This will allow farmers in poor countries to be able to look forward to getting realistic prices so that they can expand their own production and feed their own people."

(Currently the subsidies allow the US to sell its products cheaper overseas and put local farmers out of business.)"

Me talking again, let's see if we can make a difference by getting involved!!