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Posts Tagged ‘healthy’

At the Guardian, teacher Steve Ritz tells Matthew Jenkin about how he began growing food in a troubled South Bronx school.

“The Green Bronx Machine was an accidental success. I wound up working at a very troubled high school in New York’s South Bronx district. It had a very low graduation rate and the bulk of my kids were special educational needs, English language learners, in foster care or homeless. It was dysfunctional to say the least.

“Someone sent me a box of daffodil bulbs one day and I hid them behind a radiator – I didn’t know what they were and figured they may cause problems in class. A while later … we looked behind the radiator and there were all these flowers. The steam from the radiator forced the bulbs to grow.

“That was when I realised that collectively and collaboratively we could grow something greater. We started taking over abandoned lots and doing landscape gardening, really just to beautify our neighbourhood. … We then moved on to growing food indoors in vertical planters around the school.

“By building an ‘edible wall’ to grow fresh vegetables in our science classroom, I gave the kids a reason to come to school. …

“Remarkably the plants grew. The kids really believe that they are responsible for them and attendance has increased from 43% to 93%. Students come to school to take care of their plants – they want to see them succeed. Along the way, the kids succeed, too.” More here.

Photo: Progressive Photos  
Steve Ritz gets students involved in the natural world. Attendance has more than doubled.

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I love the idea of making use of perfectly good food that otherwise would be thrown out. Despite initial skepticism from the neighborhood where the Daily Table grocery was to open, customers are really grateful for the access and the low prices.

Taryn Luna the Boston Globe quotes the founder: ” ‘Our job at Daily Table is to provide healthy meals that are no more expensive than what people are already buying,’ said Doug Rauch, the founder of Daily Table and former president of Trader Joe’s. ‘We’re trying to reach a segment of the population that is hard to reach. It’s the working poor who are out buying food, but who can’t afford the food they should be eating.’ …

“Rauch has built relationships with suppliers to divert garbage-bound products to his shelves. He’s careful to point out that it doesn’t mean the food is ‘bad,’ expired, or unsafe to eat.

“A vendor at Haymarket, for example, donated a couple hundred pounds of summer squash he intended to throw away after the food didn’t sell. Daily Table expects to sell it for 59 cents a pound. Rauch said he has also purchased vegetables that grocery stores reject because of blemishes or other cosmetic problems that don’t affect the quality of the product.”

The Globe’s Yvonne Abraham visited after the opening: “They can’t keep the cucumber-pear-mint smoothies and salisbury steak on the shelves at Daily Table. The food emporium in Dorchester’s Four Corners has been slammed in its first week, with 300 customers a day, and three times more locals than expected signing up for free memberships.

“Everybody who works at the store — the managers wheeling out food, the white-coated kitchen staff making carrot soup behind the big picture window, the cashiers in bright T-shirts — looks exhausted, and happy.”

From the Daily Table website: “Daily Table is a not-for-profit retail store that offers our community a variety of tasty, convenient and affordable foods that will help you feel and be your best; food that will keep you moving forward, not hold you back.  We provide both ‘grab-n-go’ ready to eat meals, and a selection of produce, bread, dairy and grocery items all at prices that will put a smile on your face, and designed to fit within every budget.  Many of our items are prepared fresh daily in our own kitchen onsite. …

“There are plans to open additional stores in both the greater Boston area and additional cities across the country.

“Working together we can help reduce both the effects of poor eating habits caused by challenging economics, and the impact that wasted food and its precious resources has on our environment.”

More here.

Photo: Daily Table
Opening day in Dorchester, June 4, 2015.

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Erik’s running buddy passed along a BBC story suggesting that cutting back on meat could have value for the planet.

Interestingly, that was the premise of Frances Moore Lappé‘s 1971 bestseller, Diet for a Small Planet, which my sister got me interested in when she was a vegetarian.

At the BBC, environment analyst Roger Harrabin notes research that confirms some of Lappé’s predictions.

“Research from Cambridge and Aberdeen universities estimates greenhouse gases from food production will go up 80% if meat and dairy consumption continues to rise at its current rate. That will make it harder to meet global targets on limiting emissions.

“The study urges eating two portions of red meat and seven of poultry per week. However that call comes as the world’s cities are seeing a boom in burger restaurants. …

“If [the trend] continues, more and more forest land or fields currently used for arable crops will be converted for use by livestock as the world’s farmers battle to keep up with demand.

“Deforestation will increase carbon emissions, and increased livestock production will raise methane levels and wider fertiliser use will further accelerate climate change. The lead researcher, Bojana Bajzelj from the University of Cambridge, said: ‘There are basic laws of biophysics that we cannot evade.’

“The average efficiency of livestock converting plant feed to meat is less than 3%, and as we eat more meat, more arable cultivation is turned over to producing feedstock for animals that provide meat for humans.” Read more here. And consider going in for mushroom burgers.

I only ever made the eggplant casserole Diet for a Small Planet, but it sure was yummy.

Photo: CiteLighter-Cards
In 1971, Frances Moore Lappé wrote that raising animals for food takes resources better used elsewhere. It can also put too much methane into the atmosphere.

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It’s not always easy for low-income people to get access to food that is healthful, and once children get accustomed to salty, fatty, sugary snacks, junk food becomes comfort food and stores see little demand for better items. But if children know what would taste good and be good for them, they are on the road to better nutrition.

That is why the folks fighting childhood obesity are enlisting the support of several hip-hop artists that young people admire.

Winnie Hu at the NY Times writes, “Adrian Harris, known as Easy A.D. to his fans, has rapped about street life in the South Bronx as a member of the Cold Crush Brothers, a group that is among the pioneers of hip-hop.

“Now Mr. Harris also raps about broccoli.

“ ‘If you think you eat healthy, say ‘”me,” ‘ Mr. Harris called out over a pounding bass that shook the gym at the Future Leaders Institute, a charter school in Harlem, on a recent morning. A photo of a cart laden with fruits and vegetables filled a screen behind him. ‘Boys and girls,’ he added, ‘there are no Doritos on that cart.’

“Mr. Harris, calling himself a ‘health M.C.,’ aims to reach children who might otherwise tune out nutrition lessons. His vegetable rap is part of a growing public health campaign that has enlisted hip-hop artists such as Doug E. Fresh, Chuck D and DMC of Run-DMC to work alongside doctors and nutritionists in fighting obesity and related illnesses in poor communities. The campaign is being rolled out this year in 18 cities.” More here.

Photo: Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
Adrian Harris, also known as Easy A.D., made a pitch for healthy eating recently at the Future Leaders Institute in Harlem.
 

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There’s a new think tank at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, one that’s focused on food access.

Food access, food “deserts,” and sustainable agriculture are big issues these days, and Food Sol founder Rachel Greenberger believes that addressing the challenges must involve bringing together all the stakeholders, even agribusiness.

Greenberger refers to her strategy as the “uncommon table,” writes Kathleen Pierce in the Boston Globe. “Located at Babson’s Social Innovation Lab, the company seeks to identify how so-called food deserts — geographical areas without access to a grocery store or fresh food — are formed, and how to make healthy food sustainable for all. …

“Greenberger, a 33-year-old Babson MBA graduate who studied food-system dynamics and consumer behavior in the sustainable food movement, came up with the concept for a company similar to a think tank, but centered on action. By creating a digital map to pinpoint food-related issues, Food Sol intends to highlight pressing topics such as food deserts and fair trade, linking experts in the field with would-be entrepreneurs to ignite working relationships. …

“Food Sol intends to foster ‘a way into thinking about innovation in the food-supply chain, whether it’s creating more cooperatives or building agribusiness in Fall River,’ says Cheryl Kiser [executive director of Babson’s innovation lab]. ‘We are a laboratory where people can come and engage in conversation.’ ”

The theory is that companies will pay to engage in a food think tank like this. In fact, Kiser hopes to involve Cargill Inc., Monsanto Co. , PepsiCo , the Coca-Cola Co., and more. Read more here.

The mention of entrepreneurs who might address food issues is reminding me of two young women who recently launched shipping-container grocery stores in food deserts. Read about that in this NY Times article.

“Carrie Ferrence, 33, and Jacqueline Gjurgevich, 32, were in business school at Bainbridge Graduate Institute in Washington State when they noticed that many local neighborhoods were ‘food deserts,’ without easy access to fresh local produce and other grocery staples.

“Their answer was StockBox Grocers, a company that repurposes old shipping containers as small grocery stores. The company won $12,500 in a local business plan competition and raised more than $20,000 online in a Kickstarter campaign to finance its first store, which opened in the Delridge neighborhood of Seattle in September.”

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