Food, glorious (local) food

Both the soundtrack to “Oliver!” and the local foods movement make me happy.  People are joining community-supported farms and trying to avoid food shipped in from far away. Even the Harvest Co-op, after struggling for years, is healthier. Today’s NYTimes business section leads with this story.   

After being largely ignored for years by Washington, advocates of organic and locally grown food have found a receptive ear in the White House, which has vowed to encourage a more nutritious and sustainable food supply.

The Globe had a story yesterday about how local farms are expanding and adding new crops in response.

These days, homegrown produce in Massachusetts means a lot more than cranberries and McIntosh apples. Flourishing ethnic crops and immigrant farmers have helped fuel a larger trend that increased the number of farms in the state by 27 percent from 2002 to 2007, surging to a level not seen since the 1960s, according to a census released last month by the US Department of Agriculture.

Big changes. When Harvest Co-op was started by BU students in the 1970s, you couldn’t buy whole wheat bread in the grocery store, no less tofu, Celestial Seasons tea or organic anything. You had to go to hippy-run restaurants like Ithaca’s Moosewood or BU’s Hedge School to get vegetarian food. 

But, as soon as someone figured out they could profit from it, natural foods went corporate. The FDA’s willingness to let companies use health claims in marketing helped drive the shift. Now, we’re left with two Whole Foods stores flanking the Harvest Co-op in Cambridge.

 For some people, links between the environment, local business and healthy eating are easy to see. For the rest, awareness of agribusiness and food safety arrived on a plate of nasty spinach, tomatoes or Nabs.  

 For more on this, see Nutrition Action. This newsletter comes from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the folks who let you know that most of your take-out food has off-the-charts levels of fat and salt.  

 You can find ways to join this effort all over New England. Start with the state’s Mass Grown site. Here are a few others:   

 The Harvest Co-op , which also has a store in JP, hosts deliveries from local CSA farms. In Cambridge, the nearby parking lot turns into a summer/fall farmer’s market mid-day Mondays.

  In fact, I’m just going to steal their links.

 Clear Conscience Cafe (C3Cafe) In front of the Cambridge Co-op Store, it’s a LEED-certified cafe serving local and organic food and drinks

Equal Exchange Fair Trade Coffee and other products. Where Harvest’s Coffee comes from!

Red Tomato; Reinventing local food systems  

The best cheese from Vermont Family Farms (and a co-op)!

Red Fire Farms CSA

Sustainable Food News

 The Times also has a story today about whether organic food equals better health.

Finally, a disclosure – I was a lentil-slinger at Hedge School briefly and later at UMass’s Earthfoods — one of several token carnivores.

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