Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ishibashi Farm Stand Is Open!!!!!!

I am so happy to report that Tom T. Ishibashi and his family (including his wonderful niece Karen) have re-opened their stand at the Torrance Airport (at 24955 Crenshaw Boulevard)!

They have their first of the season strawberries and some beautiful poppies, with other flowers soon to debut once the weather warms up a bit.

I was lucky enough to spend 1/2 an hour chatting with him and catching up. He is one of the featured farmers in my book on the history of farming in the South Bay and Torrance and he reminded me that this year marks the 60th year that the Ishibashi family has been farming on this stretch of land. How lucky we are to have had them all these years and to still have Tom here!

Stop by and visit and buy your first of the season berries, they are good and only going to get better!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

White House Vegetable Garden By Summer?

(Photo Courtesy Eat The View Website)

Well, after the depressing news the last few days about California's budget and the cutback of water for California's farmers, LA Farm Girl is very happy to hear this piece of news from CBS news. It seems that an adviser to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says that there should be a vegetable garden planted on the White House lawn by this summer! Great news and I am sure the Eat The View people are so happy too!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

NY Times Story About The Severity of California Drought and What It Means To Our Farmers

Just when I think that things can't get any harder or worse for California farmers, I am horrified to be wrong. Our severe drought is causing more hardship for them including severe restrictions on water use.

This NY Times article talks about both the economic hardships and the hardships the drought has brought to the Central Valley, especially the town of Mendota which now has a 35 percent unemployment rate (and no, that's not a typo)!!! As the mayor says in the article, "People are saying, ‘Are you a third world country?’"

Other grim facts the article points out: "Last year, during the second year of the drought, more than 100,000 acres of the 4.7 million in the valley were left unplanted, and experts predict that number could soar to nearly 850,000 acres this year. All of which could mean shorter supplies and higher prices in produce aisles — California is the nation’s biggest producer of tomatoes, almonds, avocados, grapes, artichokes, onions, lettuce, olives and dozens of other crops"

We are still the number one agricultural state so this affects all us, truly sad what's happening in our state.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

California Revamps State Agriculture Committee

As the nation's number one agricultural producer and exporter, California's agricultural policy has always influenced what goes on in the rest of the country. Recent changes to the old California Senate Agriculture Committee will see if this trend continues as the state works to become a leader in creating a sustainable farm system.

On January 13, 2009, the California Senate Agriculture Committee was renamed the Committee on Food and Agriculture. And its leaders announced that it will no longer focus solely on grower and food producer issues, but also on larger consumer-focused issues including sustainability, food safety and farm animal welfare.

The reorganized committee represents a new vision that recognizes the need to protect natural resources at the same time it has to feed a growing population. It also brings a new focus on agriculture's role in developing sustainable communities that support healthy lives and healthy communities.

The biggest change that this committee brings is the recognition that consumers have thus far not been given a voice in Sacramento. For too long, only producers and those in the industry dominated the state's agricultural policy.

The Committee is led by Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez who outlines the new committee's agenda on its new web site. "It was my goal, when reorganizing the Food and Agriculture Committee, to create the first ever forum where consumers and policy makers can discuss the fundamental topics of food safety, sustainable farming, animal welfare, and food security,” he wrote.

One change addressing the food security issue will be the inclusion of urban legislators on the committee, which has historically been made up of rural members. This is in response to the recognition that most urban residents need increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

As part of the goal to include consumer input, over the next year, the Food and Agriculture Committee will be holding a series of public hearings across the state and are seeking public input as they prepare for these hearings.

That's why they have created a new web site that provides both information on the committee’s change but also encourages public input on policy issues ahead of the public hearings. Those interested can sign up for email newsletters and updates on upcoming hearings, or post on the message board.

(Originally published on Care2, (Originally published on Care2, )

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bringing The Farm To The Hospital

One of the things in life that I find most ironic is the unhealthy food that is served in hospitals and at other medical facilities.

Think about it. In spite of the fact that fresh food has natural disease fighting nutrients that help speed healing and prevent illness, hospital food is not known for being a model of healthy eating. On the contrary, it has the reputation of being mostly non-edible and features all of the things that most doctors caution against: foods with enormous quantities of fat, sugar, and sodium, and many even have fast food restaurants right on site.

The good news is that in recent years many hospitals are using creative solutions to provide nutritional food to their patients and staff while promoting healthy, economically viable, and environmentally sustainable food systems.

The most common way they are doing this is by partnering with local farmers to improve the quality of food in these institutions. These partnerships, known as farm to hospital programs, not only bring healthier food, but also help small and local farmers by providing them with increased economic opportunities.

A leader in this trend is the Center for Food and Justice (CFJ) at Occidental College in Los Angeles. They have been working to promote the farm to hospital model and implement pilot farm to hospital programs throughout Southern California.

CFJ notes that the farm to hospital approach goes beyond buying local fruits and vegetables and includes other sustainable and health-promoting food purchasing options like organic food, sustainably raised meats, produce and dairy products, and antibiotic free meat and dairy products.

Also spearheading this movement is the nonprofit Health Care Without Harm, a coalition of hospitals and health care systems, medical professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labor unions, environmental and environmental health organizations. They started the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge to get hospitals to serve more local fruits and vegetables, hormone-free milk, and meat raised without antibiotics or hormones. So far, over 160 facilities nationwide have taken the pledge.

The pledge also asks health care institutions to go beyond local and healthy food purchasing and adopt practices for food waste, food packaging, and buying fair trade products. Both organizations indicate that farmers’ markets on hospital grounds are an important component of farm to hospital programs. Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland was the first healthcare facility to house a farmers’ market on its grounds. Started in 2003, it now has 10 markets at its California facilities.

Other hospitals throughout the country that have implemented similar programs include Allen Memorial Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa, and Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

If you work at a healthcare facility or are concerned about the food served at your local hospital, contact the food services director or the health education department to see about making a positive and healthful change in your community. You can use these models to show them the effectiveness of Farm to Hospital programs.

(Originally published on Care2,

Monday, February 9, 2009

Message From Evan Kleiman

Well, I have been so busy this past week or so with both personal things and work things, I thought I'd at least stop to post this link to a video from KCRW Good Food host Evan Kleiman.

She is thanking everyone for their support, and reminding us all how we can continue to support KCRW and its great programs, like her show.

Check it out for yourself here:

I am hoping to get back on track with blogging tomorrow!