The proof is in the soil

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What has perhaps shocked me the most about advocating to educate the public on the basics of our food system is how many people take an adversarial stance.

Some people like the images of lovely farmland and they have no interest in looking any closer. In fact, they don’t want to get into the details – get their hands dirty, so to speak.

They seem to think by saying, oh, we love farms, hooray for farms, they are supporting the future of farmland.

And the impression I get is that I am challenging them by saying there is more to it than that.

Most people don’t like to have their thinking challenged, I get that, but given how we were all brainwashed into believing food grows in supermarkets, I think it is time to reconsider.

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Beets me! . . . Making vegetables accessible doesn’t always make them understandable

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It’s easy for us to agree that bringing farm fresh organic vegetables to people who might not otherwise have access is a good thing. But, what about showing them what to do with the vegetables?

I can look at a bin of vegetables and know A) What I like and don’t enjoy; B) What looks appealing in terms of texture, freshness, color, etc.; C) What I am in the mood to make and how each item might fit in.

We might be missing the obvious though in not taking into account that those who have little or no experience with fresh produce could look at items at a farmers market and have anxiety. They might think they will make a fool of themselves due to ignorance. Or, they might just not want to be bothered changing their ways.

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Next stop: a movement for simplified food?

Delicious farm-fresh food, much of which is prepared ahead of time with garlic and/or olive oil.

Delicious farm-fresh food, much of which is prepared ahead of time with garlic and/or olive oil.

Okay, so it’s great to get food straight from a farm but maybe it’s time to start from scratch – and not prepare so much ahead of time so everyone can enjoy it. After all, some of us have food allergies and food sensitivities.

When I was registering for the recent UVM food systems summit,  I was asked if I have any food allergies. I responded that I cannot eat garlic or olive oil. No problem, I was told, they would accommodate me at the lunch service they were providing.

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Food systems summit raises my spirits

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I attended the University of Vermont food systems summit this week hoping to be inspired, to meet new people, expand my network and connect with meaningful discourse on ways forward with our food system.

That is just what happened, too.

The best was saved for last though. At the final panel discussion, the keynote speakers came up with an answer to “how can we change things for the better” that I think hit the nail on the head.

Innovate, they basically said. Don’t worry about fighting big Agri-business, squelching Monsanto or McDonalds. Instead, come up with something that is creative and positive and bests them.

Right on.

I don’t know about you, but I’m kinda tired of hearing about all the ills with our food system. (And there was some of that at the summit, too.) That doesn’t inspire me. And, for the most part, I think the only ones who really listen are members of the choir.

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Instead of another food movement, can we please have a societal revolution?

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Fairfield County, Connecticut was faced with the issue of biodiversity and the importance of nourishing the soil a little over a year ago – when a forest regeneration project, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, gained attention.

There were no fancy celebrity chefs or other notables touting the merits of soil health.

At that time, the people making the most noise were those who were more concerned with aesthetics than the long-term health of the forests. And they certainly weren’t connecting forest health to the food chain or clean water.

I wrote a series of stories about the forest regeneration project for local newspapers and explained why some coarse woody material (including tree stumps and fallen trees) was left on the ground in the forests – hint: it was to return nutrients to the soil and keep animals from grazing on seedlings.

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Food System Superhero! Here to save the world’s food supply (Super Soilman, part 1)

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Superheroes of film and comic book lore are constantly being called upon to save the world through acts of daring deeds and spectacular special effects – not to mention the occasional “BAM” and “SMACK.”And, if one of them were challenged to save the food system they would definitely have what it takes.

I think many of the superheroes of action acclaim possess the character traits to take on the task of healthy food domination in the world. Let’s see, there’s integrity, determination, bravery and following your heart instead of the crowd. In other words, they are from another planet.

I can see it now…

Imagine your screen is getting all blurry and wavy….

We need a name for our food system superhero. Hmm. Let’s call him Super Soilman.

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Food for All – a story of how food began

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Food has gotten so complicated but I really don’t think that is how it was intended. Let’s take a look at how food might have begun…

Long ago, Mother Nature decided to give a big gift to the humans that inhabited her land and shores. And she would call it FOOD.

With this food, she thought, people could have healthy fuel to learn and build and create ways to help one another.

So, she decided that it needed to be really healthy. And tasty, so that people would want to eat it.

With a magic spell, she loaded the soil beneath people’s feet with nutrients. She made the air fresh and determined it would be a good way to spread pollen and seeds and staples the humans would need to keep their food supply going.

The water was pure and would provide a home for fish and insects and seaweed and other life.

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Do you know what is in your Girl Scout Cookies?

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Happy 4th Blog Birthday to ME . . . why are we here?

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Today, my blog turns 4 years old. And, like some children this age, today it is in the mood to muse a bit about the question of why we are here. No, not here on this earth – here on the Internet.

Why do we login and communicate or seek? When do we cross lines and blur conscience?

Should the Internet be a dumping ground for when we need to vent or should we be seeking something more meaningful and positive?

As you may have read on a recent posting I have taken up cross stitch again after many years absence. And one of the things I did was join a Facebook group for people who cross stitch.

But, talking about designs and thread and stitching is not all the members do in the group. There are also a lot of rambling posts about personal issues. And I mean REALLY personal issues. Things I would certainly think about before confiding to even my closest friends. And it would definitely only be in private.

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Are GMOs breeding a monoculture food system?

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I find myself wondering if one day the history books will talk about what was once known as biodiversity in our food system. And its chronology would include the role that GMOs played in putting an end to nature’s ally and bringing about monoculture crops.

A monoculture is an area with a single type of crop or planting.

People spend a lot of time debating and debunking theories about health hazards of food that has been genetically engineered. There is a lot of information out there – much of it a bit, shall we say, fuzzy in its perspective.

But, one thing that I question is why there is so little talk about the way widespread use of a single type of seed for a type of crop (say, one type of tomato or corn) will create a monoculture for that crop. And what that means.

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