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9 Ways to Support Your Local Food Community
Supporting local food systems has an array of benefits: it can strengthen local economies and communities, aid local small-scale farmers, preserve open spaces, benefit the environment and help ensure community farms will still be there tomorrow—just to name a few. Food Tank highlights 9 ideas to support local food systems.
1. Choose restaurants that source foods locally and support workers. Eating locally doesn't have to stop when you leave your kitchen. Many chefs source at least some, if not all, of their ingredients locally. Try Sustainable Table's Eat Well Guide or the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United's Diners' Guide to Ethical Eating. Alternately, go directly to restaurant websites and online menus, or call to speak with an employee to learn which of the restaurants in your neighborhood source foods from local farmers.
2. Embrace biodiversity. Find out which foods are your region's specialties and try those rarer varieties. Instead of factory-farmed Broad Breasted White turkeys, for instance, find a heritage breed unique to your area and discover a wonderful array of new flavors. Choosing local varieties is not only good for the local food system, but also helps preserve genetic diversity. Slow Food's Ark of Taste can help you discover what types of foods are unique to where you live.
3. Look for local brands in stores, using resources like the Eat Well Guide. Buying locally produced items from grocery stores, sometimes in lieu of the farmers market, can ensure that local products stay on the shelves—and may lead to grocers stocking even more options. If you don't want to offend your farmer, make sure to emphasize that you still love the farm's products, and will continue your support by purchasing his or her wares at your neighborhood food stores.
4. Make suggestions. If your local supermarkets don't stock locally-sourced foods, ask. Tell your friends to ask, too. Store owners want to provide customers with in-demand products, and respond well to consumer suggestions. If there is enough call for local products, owners will be more likely to bring these items into stores.
5. Plan your menus around what's being harvested. Even if everything you buy isn't produced in your community, you still contribute to the local food system by building seasonal foods into your recipes. In colder months, swap the heat-loving basil in pesto for a winter green like kale or beet greens. Switch the peppers, zucchini and tomatoes in your summertime pasta primavera for broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts in fall.
6. Preserve. If you live somewhere with cold winters, you may not have many local produce options for a good portion of the year. Make eating locally easier during these less bountiful months by buying up products you love while they're in season and preserving them—pickling, canning, drying, jellying and freezing are a few common methods.
7. Sign up for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to receive a share of fresh produce from a local farm, usually on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. To join, customers pay a farmer for shares at the beginning of the season. This is extremely helpful for producers, as farms incur many of the costs associated with farming before the season even begins—like buying and planting seeds, or paying workers to prepare the land. Additionally, by joining a CSA, you share in the inherent risks of the agricultural season, helping to guarantee farmers the necessary financial support each growing season.
8. Try the less popular crops that are necessary for healthy soil and a successful farm. Dan Barber, renowned chef and author, explains in the The New York Times that by “celebrating the All-Stars of the farmers market—asparagus, heirloom tomatoes, emmer wheat—farm-to-table advocates are often guilty of ignoring a whole class of humbler crops that are required to produce the most delicious food." Rotating in the more modest beans and mustard seed creates the fertile soil required for high-demand crops. When unable to sell these less popular foods, farmers must dedicate the crops to alternative purposes, such as animal feeds, and lose profits. Talk to farmers and learn which supporting crops their land needs, then incorporate these different foods into your diet.
9. Volunteer. Many small-scale farms can use a little extra help with a variety of tasks around the property. Volunteering at a local farm can enable you to learn more about your local agriculturalist and the work they do every day, while building lasting relationships and giving back to your local food system. There are international organizations—such as Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)—that facilitate volunteering on sustainable farms, as well as social activism organizations—such as DoSomething—that provide volunteering opportunities. Alternatively, speak to the farmers at your local market to find an outfit in need of assistance.
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By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.