Tagged: Sustainable Agriculture


A Term to Get Used To :: Agro-Ecology

There's many a reason I'm a fan of New York Times writer Mark Bittman, but the latest results from his op-ed article earlier this week on something I hope more of us starting thinking about: "agro-ecology."  Huh?  The term sits right in the same bucket as "sustainable" and "organic" and it's hinged on the notion that smaller, sustainable farming practices can actually feed the world.  Shocking as it sounds...and much needed rift from our industrial food industry.
Just this week, the United Nation's representative, Olivier de Schutter, presented a report entitled "Agro-ecology and the Right to Food." He urged that "Agriculture should be fundamentally redirected towards modes of production that are more environmentally sustainable and socially just." He went on to say that agro-ecology supports "small farmers who must be able to farm in ways that are less expensive and more productive.  But it benefits all of us, because it decelerates global warming and ecological destruction."

Reconstructing our food system in such a manner is indeed doable and groundbreaking farmers across the country and the globe are making a serious case.  Joel Salatin of the Polyface Farms in Swoope, Virigina is one of the most notable examples of this.  The documentary film Food Inc. featured his innovative grass-based farming methods to provide animals and the land the best possible treatment (I love the roving “egg-mobile” pictured above).  Check out more on the farm here.  I’m hoping to take my first trip down there in April when I’m next home visiting my family…so stay tuned for a full report!
Agro-ecology’s an interesting notion ponder - and to start taking part in by supporting your local farmers market or joining a CSA (community supported agriculture).  Small steps will add up over time and start making a more significant dent in moving away from big agriculture, industrial farming and food that’s not as nutritious or ethically-produced as it should be.
Thanks Mark for shedding a little more light on this.  Hope you all get to hit the farmers market on this sunny weekend!


Recap :: The Future of Food

With the wedding of Prince William two Fridays ago, we've heard quite a bit about English royalty in the past few weeks, or the past few months if you're a die hard US Weekly reader.  But just last week, it was Prince Charles who visited the US - he gave the keynote speech at The Future of Food conference at Georgetown University.  With over 700 strong in attendance, sustainable farming and agro-environmental activists, policy makers, media, farmers and students gathered to discuss the future of our food system.  Interesting that British royalty would be talking about the US food system, but Prince Charles is an active spokesman for furthering sustainable agriculture across the globe.  Among other speakers, Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) who's also a small farmer, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Fast Food Nation author, Eric Schlosser spoke about how small-scale farming and more organic/sustainable farming practices are, despite naysayers and big Ag lobbyists, realistic and feasible to feed our country and the world.

Another step in a complicated, but critical movement - as Senator Tester said, "it's just common sense."  Listen to excerpts from various speeches here on the Washington Post's website. 

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Brook Park Chickens :: Support City Chicken Coops

Calling all supporters of sustainable, local food practices and anyone who loves a perfect farm fresh egg.  Just Food, a nonprofit that unites local farmers to city neighborhoods in NYC, has launched a new city-wide project to support urban chicken keepers and the growth of chicken coops.  Raising chickens in Manhattan and the outer boroughs? Yup.  The chickens provide fresh, local eggs, aerated soil, fertilizer for gardens and they're quirky educational tools to inform city kids about urban agriculture and fresh, healthy food.  

My good friend and talented photographer Lily Kesselman heard the call for chicken keepers and jumped on the bandwagon.  Her coop in the Bronx, Brook Park Chickens, is set to come to life this weekend with 15 chickens being delivered on Monday.  And I'll be there in full support - to help build the coop (I admit my craftsmanship skills are less than stellar), and to sponsor one of the chickens. We'll be meeting my adopted chicken, Jefferson, next week!  If you'd like to support Just Food's campaign or Lily's own Brook Park Coop, read more here.  Why support chickens of all things?? Because a) when was the last time you gave a little to charity?  b) you're supporting local food and urban farming and c) chickens and city coops are just plain cool!   

photo via :: Brook Park Chickens

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