Sustainable Food Blogs

The New York Times has a roundup of 10 blogs on sustainable eating. We already link to some of them, like Eating Liberally, The Ethicurean and La Vida Locavore, in our blogroll. Take a look at them and the others, and if you have a food blog you like to read, please let us know.

If you support this farm through your farmers market purchases or CSA membership and have your own blog, let us know about that, too. We’ve begun a list of member blogs in the column on the right.

Upper Meadows Picked For Pollinator Study

Wasp on Goldenrod

Wasp on Goldenrod

When you buy from Upper Meadows Farm at our farmers markets or take a share in our CSA, you know that you are supporting sustainable agriculture, biodiversity–and a really great-tasting meal. But did you know that you are also supporting important scientific research?

Over the next two years, a doctoral candidate in ecology and evolution at Rutgers University will be coming to Upper Meadows Farm to study the wild bee pollinators here. She–and many others–believe that these native pollinators could hold the key to a more sustainable approach to crop pollination.

Industrial farming in America has become heavily dependent on just one bee species, the domesticated honeybee (Apis mellifera) for crop pollination. But honeybees have been dying off in great numbers in recent years, a phenomena that has come to be known as colony collapse disorder.

Native pollinators make better sense, and we take great advantage of them here on the farm. But we also take great care of them by growing a wide variety of flowering crops and preserving their habitats–two things that have gone by the wayside in industrial farming.

So when you come to Upper Meadows on volunteer days to plant, weed or pick, keep an eye out for a young woman waving a net. And give her a round of applause for doing such important research.

Greening Sysco

Before last summer, I probably wouldn’t have put the words Sysco and sustainability in the same sentence. Sysco, the sprawling food-service distributor with trucks criss-crossing the country, seemed the antithesis of a business managed with an environmental consciousness. But I began to question my assumptions a bit when I attended a conference on food waste and heard how Sysco was taking the excess out of its food-service operation at Montclair State University. I can’t find my notes on the talk now, but I remember being appalled at the waste and impressed by how much Sysco had cut out after its revamp.

Now an article in the April issue of Saveur is making me think even more about Sysco and sustainability. The writer looks at the company’s efforts to add local suppliers and implement a truck routing system that cut 10 million miles off its trips last year. And when she tells CEO Richard Schnieders he sounds a lot like Michael Pollan, he responds, “I think Michael is 90% right.”

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not going to give up cooking local food at home any time soon. But given the size of Sysco’s presence in American food, I’d much rather have it cutting its carbon footprint than not. And I hope it will continue after Schnieders retires later this year.

The Saveur article, alas, is not online. But Sysco has produced a report on its sustainability efforts, and you can read it here.

May The Farm Be With You

Virginia, who coordinates the Verona CSA, lives in a Star Wars-obsessed household; if you join, you may see Darth Vader at pickup.  But a funny thing happened when she went searching on YouTube for a video to teach the rest of us how to post them: She found that the “Force” had even found its way to organic farming.

This very clever film is on a par with The Meatrix, which was also produced by the aptly named Free Range Studios. In both cases humble foods take on the role of the blockbuster giants to get very  pointed messages across about the differences between how food is produced and the perception of how it is produced. I have gotten outraged calls from other farmers who are inflamed about “You organic guys”smearing “real” farmers.

The simple truth is that many family-owned farms make every effort to produce food responsibly. The faceless corporate giants that produce most of the food and the agri-chemical-industrial complex that is driving research to keep them in business are not interested in finding sustainable solutions to provide abundant and healthy food. Profit is the motive and concessions have been made for the sake of profit. Peanuts anyone?? Milk from China?? Pet food?? Know your farmer and visit the farm. Join a CSA and participate in your food. Celebrate the food value and social value of being a part of this process rather than staying apart from it.  In 2009 Upper Meadows CSA shares cost between 77 cents and 95 cents per vegetable portion. You can eat fresh, local, organic food, join a great community and not break the bank.

May the farm be with you.

100,000 Americans for a sustainable USDA

food_dem_nowFood Democracy Now!, an advocacy group that includes farmers, writers, chefs, and lovers of good, sustainable food, is trying to raise support for that very thing in the new administration. The group has collected more than 85,000 signatures on a petition to change the factory food ways of the United States Department of Agriculture, but needs 15,000 more to make its goal. What is that goal? To get advocates for sustainability in the USDA as undersecretaries to its new head, Tom Vilsack, and to change the way America produces its food. Here’s part of its mission, in its own words:

We seek to transform today’s system by advancing best practices in food production, animal husbandry, conservation of natural resources, renewable energy and soil preservation. Through these efforts we hope to stimulate local food systems, promote rural economic development, encourage a new generation of farmers and respond to the growing public demand for wholesome, fairly-produced food. We will also support candidates who advance this vision and who embrace common sense policies that respect our nation’s air, water, soil, livestock, food workers, consumers and family farmers.

The group’s declaration has been signed by Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, Alice Waters, Dan Barber and Rick Bayless, among others. To learn about its picks for undersecretaries–a group Food Democracy calls “The Sustainable Dozen”–and to add your name to the petition, click here. And tell a friend.

What’s Your Vision Of An Organic Future?

Organic Valley has launched a Web site,, to let consumers share why they believe in healthy, sustainable food. The Wisconsin-based dairy cooperative is letting people post photos, videos, essays and even music to celebrate organic food. The site is open for submissions through March 31, after which it will randomly select five participants to win a year of free Organic Valley Half & Half. There are a lot of posts on the site already, including this ode to cows.