Sodium is also particularly thorny because it’s costly and difficult to remove from certain foods without consumers turning up their noses.
There’s a chance that the FDA could address sodium as part of its nutrition facts overhaul, but the agency is likely to unveil a separate policy that targets sodium with the aim of reducing sodium intake — similar to the logic used in reducing trans fat consumption.
How will multinational conglomerates make money if they have to take HEALTH into account? Damn.
Real Food Challenge — Who we are (by RealFoodNow)
Real Food Challenge's goal “is to shift $1 billion of existing university food budgets away from industrial farms and junk food and towards local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound and humane food sources—what we call “real food”—by 2020.”
When a system is as destructive and self-destructive as this one, real power and change occur only when that system is made irrelevant. It comes down to this: three times a day, we are given a choice about what food we eat. Three times a day, we have the chance to either resist or support this system. We must also remember that change doesn’t come only from boycotting a broken system, but by actively supporting a new system: one that reflects the true cost of food.
Rising Up From Under the Tracks
In the 1950s and 60s, the underside of the elevated train tracks that stretch from East 111th to 116th Street along Park Avenue in East Harlem was home to a thriving center for food, commerce, and culture called La Marqueta. In those days, over 500 vendors of mostly Puerto Rican descent could be found selling food, music, clothing, and all other sorts of goods. According to The New York Times, “merchants presided over stalls selling, among other things, rabbits, tube socks and Tito Puente records,” and according to the Center for An Urban Future, customers flocked from all over “to buy avocadoes, guavas, cassava, and tamarind,” items that were rare around the city at the time.
The market saw great decline beginning in the 1970s, and over the years, all but one of the original five buildings were destroyed or shuttered, while the last building struggled to fill its stalls with an adequate number of vendors.
In 2011, a glimmer of hope returned to the market, as the New York City Council and the New York Economic Development Corporation began work to modernize La Marqueta, converting underutilized spaces on the property into fully-equipped commercial kitchens and added retail space.
In order to put the new kitchen space to use, the operations of the successful social enterprise Hot Bread Kitchen were moved in, and the company was chosen to lead a food business incubation program called HBK Incubates.
At the Fall Forum on Growing Good Food Jobs in New York City in October, Beatriz Mieses, the Training Director for Hot Bread Kitchen, explained that the company’s trainees, most of whom are foreign-born or low income women, are trained in baking, as well as in leadership skills, business development, and English, and that they are paid for their training. Now, with the addition of the incubation program, Hot Bread Kitchen has the capacity to offer low-cost shared kitchen space for up to 40 food start-ups or expanding food businesses, and all types of food are welcome, not just bread. As of the presentation in October, there were 38 businesses participating in the incubation program, each of which stay in the program between 1 and 4 years. Graduates of the trainee program can launch their own businesses through the incubation program, and everyone involved can utilize the market space to sell what they produce.
I stopped by La Marqueta after the event and sampled some delicious bread and coffee from Hot Bread Kitchen’s cafe stall. Activity at the other stalls was a little sleepy on a weekday morning, the outdoor spaces sat empty, and it was evident that there is still renovation work being done, but the kitchens and training space in the back were busy, there were signs for upcoming events all over, and there was clearly a celebration of diversity and local culture. Things are looking up once again.
Photos taken October, 2013.
For more information on Hot Bread Kitchen and La Marqueta, check out these great videos:
Sources and Further Reading:
La Marqueta (NYC Economic Development Corporation)
HBK Incubates (NYC Economic Development Corporation)
Hope Amid the Plantains (New York Times, 2009)
A High Line for Harlem (report by the Center for an Urban Future, 2010)
La Marqueta Mile (alternate proposal for La Marqueta by Harlem Community Development Corporation, 2010)
Richmond Food Not Bombs, our local autonomous chapter of the global anti-militarist, anti-capitalist food access organization, is beginning their rotational hosting schedule on December 1st.
RSVP here for the first cooking session at the first new site, 1202 North 22nd Street in Church Hill. The serving will take place as usual at 4pm at the corner of Main and Belvidere Streets in Monroe Park. Everyone is welcome.
Support a Full and Fair Farm Bill
Stimulus funds that were allocated toward the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) during the recession ran out on November 1st. The cuts are projected to save the U.S. government $5 billion next year, but they are also reducing food budgets for over 47 million people who use the program, over two-thirds of whom are children, the elderly, or the disabled. As if that isn’t a big enough challenge, there is a high potential that cuts will increase once the new farm bill passes. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is pushing for cuts of up to $40 billion, while the Democrat-controlled Senate is aiming for a $4 billion cut. The bill is currently stalled until final details are agreed upon.
Cuts to the SNAP program not only make it harder for people in need to put food on the table, they also impact the economy. According to the Fair Food Network, “Every $1 of SNAP benefits creates $1.84 in economic activity.” Stores in low-income neighborhoods feel the worst of the pain, as the New York Times illustrated in an article earlier this month:
The cuts are also hurting stores in poor neighborhoods. The average food stamps household receives $272 a month, which then passes into the local economy.
At a Food Lion in Charleston where as many as 75 percent of the shoppers use food stamps, managers were bracing for lower receipts as the month wore on.
At a Met Foodmarket in the Bronx, where 80 percent of the 7,000 weekly customers use food stamps, overall food sales have already dropped by as much as 10 percent.
For more examples of how the cuts hurt individuals and communities, PBS aired the video below earlier this week showing some of the impacts:
If you’re like me, you are probably asking what you can do to help. Besides getting in touch with your elected officials or volunteering with local food justice organizations, one of the best ways to get involved seems to be to read and sign on as a supporter of the Statement for a Full and Fair Farm Bill, created by the Community Food & Justice Coalition and their “Getting Our Act Together (GOAT) on the Farm Bill” collaboration project. There is a lot of work to be done though, so I urge everyone to get involved and spread the word.
Photo above from The New York Times.
- Cut in Food Stamps Forces Hard Choices on Poor (NY Times)
- Tweet from @FairFoodNetwork, November 26, 2013
- Statement for a Full and Fair Farm Bill (Community Food & Justice Coalition)
Farm Bill infographic (Community Food & Justice Coalition)
Cut in food stamps will hit retailers (L.A. Times)
America’s New Hunger Crisis (MSNBC)
The incredible Julie Guthman provided a much-needed reminder to check your privilege at the door when coming to “the food movement.”
"In a place where appealing (or even just tolerable) options are few and far between, it is unsurprising that food can be used as leverage. A particularly ugly example of this was revealed last month, when correctional officers at York County Prison in York, Pennsylvania were caught challenging prisoners to fight each other and passively succumb to physical blows from the officers in exchange for lounge food and coffee. “Lounge food” is food from the prison staff’s cafeteria. David Wright, the prisoner who provided a written statement about the experience, fought another prisoner and then allowed an officer to spray “pepper-foam” in his face—all for a little bit of higher-quality food."
European countries have already restricted “non-therapeutic” antibiotic use and instead promoted animal health with better hygiene and improved living conditions.It’s literally as simple as that, but hey, maybe we’ll survive the next superbug that’s resistant to all antibiotics?
"According to William Friedland, the agri-food complex plays a major role in controlling the linkages between farmers and consumers. Transnational agri-food conglomerates (TNACs) are the main force in the integration of the modern agri-food system, and transnational organizations, such as the WTO, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are reinforcing this. To illustrate this point, TNACs, such as Cargill and ConAgra, are doing business by transcending national borders in all areas of agricultural production, including grain processing, mixed feeds, meats, dairy products, canned fruits, cereals, and condensed drinks; they are also entering the agricultural production materials industry, such as seeds, fertilizers, and agricultural chemicals. They have realized higher profits through the economies of scale in food processing, and intensified their specialization of production to increase their control on a global scale. For example, as Jim Prokopanco of Cargill said, “Cargill produces phosphate fertilizer in Tampa, Florida. We use that fertilizer in the U.S. and Argentina to grow our soybeans. Soybeans are then processed into meal and oil. The meal is shipped to Thailand to feed chickens, which are processed, cooked and packaged so they can be sent back to supermarkets in Japan and also to Europe."