By Adrienne Cohen

Lia will be back on Friday, with some new fall recipes, but today, I’ll offer you a little nourishment for the mind, at least as important as the other kind.

Food Forward

“Across the country, a vanguard of food rebels–farmers, chefs, fishermen, teachers, scientists, and entrepreneurs–are creating inspired, but practical solutions that are nourishing us and the planet. These are stories America needs to hear.”

That’s from a promotional announcement of a PBS Show called Food Forward. If you haven’t heard about it, KERA-Channel 13 is airing segments at 8 a.m. Saturday mornings in our area, and it is definitely worth 30 minutes of your time.
Last Saturday’s show, titled Food (Justice) For All, focuses on Dallas’s Paul Quinn College, with its football field turned farm, an Aquaponics system under greenhouse cover and egg-laying chickens – all making a difference to the students and to the community in the South Dallas location previously known only for being a food desert. Watch the Video if you missed the show.
The show also chronicles refugees from the Congo who are learning self-sufficiency and working toward independence by farming plots of land in downtown Houston, through a program there called Plant It Forward.
A third story features migrant workers in California’s Salinas Valley, participating in a program designed to assure them a future as independent food producers.
These are laudable efforts, and illustrate the diversity and breadth of food news across the country, and the “rebels” who are making good things happen in an effort to right what is wrong with the industrial food system.
Check local PBS programming for future episodes.

Filling the nation’s stomachs is a huge task

It cannot be accomplished solely by local family farms and backyard gardens, no matter how appealing that picture might be. To believe otherwise is deceptive and counterproductive at its worst; at best, it represents an idealized vision of a former age that never really existed.
Truth be told, when family farms were the “big business” of the country, many people went hungry.
Another pervasive myth is that all agri-business is evil business; associated is the notion that nutrition would be better and food-borne illness would be eradicated if all edibles came from small producers or local suppliers. Again, the truth is that contamination and spoilage will contribute to illness and disease, no matter where or how the food is produced.
The problems of food, of human hunger, of proper nutrition and of effective food delivery to those who need it – those problems are huge, and they are worthy of consideration by the best minds we can muster nationally and globally. Locally, we can all do our parts as well to lobby for good food, the kind of food that contributes to strong bodies and healthy minds, the type of nutrition that science and common sense agree on, at prices that all can afford.

A Good Read and Some Good Advice

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D, Ohio) has a new book on the market: The Real Food Revolution. It’s a good one, in my opinion. Not only does it detail some of our current problems in a factual, non-political manner, but it also offers practical suggestions for getting involved and working on solutions. Ryan, who acknowledges a love (perhaps a less than healthy one) for chicken wings and ice cream, does not demand a strident approach, nor does he advocate taking sides. What he does, clearly, is to make a case for changing a system that is not succeeding in feeding the population economically and well. In addition, he advocates returning to “real food,” the kind that can be grown by anyone, prepared with care, and consumed around the family dinner table.
Ryan’s suggestions are based largely on the need to teach children about food – where it comes from, how it grows, how to prepare it, how much is too much, which foods are good for people and what not so good, and the ways to savor good food, using it for social benefit and to promote healthy habits. This is the kind of common sense approach that we can all agree on. Right?
Ryan, because he is a six-term congressman currently seeking another term in Washington, also supplies plenty of information on policy matters, regulation, oversight and control, farm subsidy legislation, and other consumer and regulatory issues. On these and other subjects, he lists resources and points the way for those who are interested in more information, or for “getting involved.”
He also notes that his book “is a political book, a community organizing book, a call to action.” But, you do not have to get involved on his terms. Ryan notes that he is “driven by results and realities, not fixed ideologies.” He adds that “there are few issues that can bring us together more than a new approach to how we subsidize, grow, distribute, and prepare our food.”
Now, I can get behind that concept; how about you?

Note: As you may have noticed, a revamp of the Green Phoenix Farms website is underway. Hopefully, you will like it. We hope to give you lots of food for thought, as well as all the best information we can provide about Aquaponics. But, please leave your comments. Ask questions, send ideas; tell us what works for you and what isn’t working so well. You can be sure we’ll be listening.