It’s not easy being green. Ron Rutherford has been toiling for a year now, trying to sustain a community garden in a vacant lot. Heaped with junk, strewn with hypodermic needles, the dusty plot in Sacramento’s Oak Park was a mess in the autumn of 2012 when he bumped into a couple of neighbors clearing trash there. The neighbors saw blight; Rutherford, a resident of public housing, saw a shot at cheap produce. So they got the lot owner’s permission and on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, they did a communal planting. After a week or two, though, it became clear why so many still view urban agriculture as an oxymoron. (For full story, click on link below).
Shawn Coburn farms land that holds senior water rights to the giant Central Valley Project, rights that usually assure him water. Not this year. He already has decided to let his pomegranates die, abandon alfalfa and cut his tomato crop by half. He may not plant any row crops if the state water board follows through on its intention to slash deliveries to "protect human health and safety" from the effects of drought. Coburn, 45, says his ranch near Dos Palos (Merced County) is no water-guzzler. He uses buried irrigation. Computers tell him how much moisture his plants lose each day. (For full story, click on link below)
New York Times' food and food policy opinion writer, Mark Bittman, reflects on why abundance doesn’t mean health. In the process he refers to ROC’s work with farmers markets to improve healthy food access for families receiving federal nutrition benefits.
On January 8, 2014, the growing food movement achieved an important milestone. The California Food Policy Council (CAFPC) released its first report to evaluate California's legislative record related to food and farms. It is the first state-policy-focused analysis of legislative votes in the nation. This action in California is sure to be followed by similar action throughout the nation. The timing is excellent because I believe 2014 will see even more progress in the intensifying struggle over the future of our nation's food and farms. More...
Why is the CAFPC report a milestone for the growing food movement? Because federal policy is stuck in a morass; witness the Farm Bill gridlock. Thus, local will be where the action takes place. Here’s proof: The LA Food Policy Council’s procurement policy encourages public agencies to buy healthy, sustainably produced food. Next on LA’s agenda is legal protection for street vendors that sell fruits and vegetables. Michael R. Dimock’s Civil Eats post offers further shining examples from around the state, lauds the CAFPC’s progress, and sets the stage for the next chapter in food movement reform.
Veteran business reporter Marc Lifsher covered the CAFPC launch in his weekly Capitol Business Beat column for the LA Times, noting the 19-member coalition’s entry into the ‘rough and tumble world of Sacramento politics.’ Lifsher described the CAFPC as a coalition of organic farmers, nutritionists and environmental justice activists.
Our report launch caught the attention of respected journalist Clare Leschin-Hoar, who has covered a myriad of food and ag topics ranging from food safety, to sustainable seafood, to drought impact for national outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Scientific American and Eating Well Magazine. In her January 13th story, she names names of policy makers who voted for progressive food policy – and those who didn’t. She also queried JuliAnna Arnett of Community Health Improvement Partners and the San Diego Childhood Obesity Initiative on bringing together north and south on hot button issues like labor and water.
The California Food Policy Council’s 2013 Report on CA Legislation Related to Food & Farming was greeted with its fair share of media fanfare. A front-page article ran in the San Francisco Chronicle on January 8th, the day of our Sacramento Press Conference, which was attended by CAFPC members, supporters, Assembly Members Roger Dickinson and Phil Ting. Reporter Stacy Finz framed our work as focused on passing progressive legislation to fix CA’s food and farming challenges. Might this be the start of a trend toward more front-page food & farming coverage in 2014?
Chef Brenda Ruiz of Sacramento and Y. Armando Nieto of Oakland spoke their truths about food justice for California’s Latino communities in this Univision19 news feature covering our press conference. The Univision network reaches a Spanish language audience that, according to Wikipedia, has reached viewership parity with the US’s five major English-language television networks. Reporters from Capitol Television News, Capital Public Radio and CBS13 also interviewed CAFPC members and honored guests. Hear the CAFPC roar!
The federal government trimmed its estimate of the 2013 almond crop in California by 7.5 percent.