Starting with an Washington Post op-ed piece in November of 2014, 4 writers, journalists, and scientists began to frame an argument, that began by asserting that, “…we have no food policy – no plan or agreed-upon principles – for managing American agriculture or the food system as a whole.”
The authors are Mark Bittman, Food Writer and a Fellow at Union of Concerned Scientists; Michael Pollan,journalist and food activist; Ricardo Salvador, an expert in sustainable agriculture practices, is a senior scientist and director of the UCS Food & Environment Program; and Olivier De Schutter, a Belgian legal scholar specialising in economic and social rights, served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food from 2008 to 2014. The op-ed piece, “How a national food policy could save millions of American lives,” can be read here. A key observation made early in the piece:
“…When hundreds of thousands of annual deaths are preventable – as the deaths from the chronic diseases linked to the modern American way of eating surely are – preventing those needless deaths is a national priority.”
That was back in 2014. In October of 2015, the authors expanded their argument for a National Food Policy in an article published on Medium, entitled “Why We Need a National Food Policy.” Your can read that article here. Although this writing is more than a few months old, the issues are more relevant than ever.
With fewer than fifty days until the presidential election, Friends of Evanston Farmers Markets thinks that it is important to consider anew the issues that were birthed back in the 1970s, when
under President Nixon, there were fundamental changes in agricultural policies. To produce cheap food, the industrialization of food with its accompanying subsidies became a reality leading to a dependence on fossil fuels and monoculture farming. This significant change moved us from supporting small, environmentally friendly farms. As explained by these forward thinking authors, the change has resulted in a heavy price to our health and that of the environment.
The underlying goals that Messrs. Bittmann, et al articulate are anything but controversial:
These goals may be benign and seemingly obvious, But the country is no closer to them than when they were first proposed two years ago.
Bittmann, Pollan, Salvador, and De Schutter next penned “A National Food Policy for the 21st Century,” essentially a memo to the next president.
Their thesis is that our new president has an opportunity to greatly affect the wellbeing of our environment and the health of the nation by revisiting the underpinnings of our food system. They clearly explain that even suggesting that we currently have a coordinated food system is wishful thinking. Read that capstone to their effort by clicking here.
In an election year where the only thing we’ve heard about food is that one of the candidates prefers McDonalds (and other fast food), it seems important that the public continue pushing for a coordinated policy. On their own, politicians have done little to undo the harm of our current piecemeal food policy landscape.
In forty-one years, the Downtown Evanston Farmer’s Market has changed in many ways. Location, of course. And size–in the past several years, the market has grown by nearly a third!
The most notable change has been the variety off offerings at the market, growing from exclusively produce and flowers to today’s mix of farmers, ranchers, artisans, and vendors of prepared food meant to be eaten right at the market.
There are many opinions about the market’s evolution, and the City of Evanston needs your help to determine if the market has changed in the right ways, and how it should continue to change. Their goal is to offer the best value, both for the families who visit the market AND the vendors who come from all around the midwest to offer their goods for sale.
Please follow this link and spend a few minutes filling out a survey that will provide insight about the feelings of the Market’s most loyal customers. Again, click here to take this important survey.
Our Friends president and chief experimental cook had an epiphany the other day, and she shared it with us.
Irresistible piles of asparagus at the market made me remember cold winter days when I could dip into the asparagus stash in the freezer and make our favorite soup -A Simple Asparagus Soup (101 Cookbooks). (Editor’s note: You can enjoy her favorite soup too! Click here for the recipe.) With asparagus blanched, we plugged in the Food Saver machine to discover it had no life. A little Google time and we uncovered this neat trick to remove air from bags.
I’ll share that video in a moment, but the notion of properly storing “excess” food to give you more time to consume it sort of veered our discussion into a truly significant food issue: food waste.
But first, the video:
Having recently thrown out some soup bones and other bits for stock-making that were heavily freezer-burned when life got too hectic, you can bet I’m going to use this tip for better storage!
Proper freezer storage is the least of my problems, though, and maybe yours as well. As a seller at the market, I often witness cases of market “lust,” where the urge to pick up some of every tantalizing product leaves the shopper with more product than they can hope to use in a week.
Even without the seductive allure of market goodies, we Americans tend to waste a lot of food. We visited http://www.worldfooddayusa.org/food_waste_the_facts and discovered:
There are some worldwide statistics that are equally disheartening, but let’s stick close to home. Friends wants to do its share by digging up more facts, finding useful websites and providing strategies and recipes to help us all reduce the amount of food we waste. That’s a task that’ll take more than one post to cover properly, but by the time we’re done, we should all be putting more of our market purchases into our stomachs and less into landfills.
Since we started this post talking about proper storage techniques, let’s move on in that vein. We found the website of a Minnesota non-profit, Eureka Recycling, that is bursting with information. Click right here to visit a pages devoted to proper storage techniques.
They’ve got a ton of ’em, sorted by product. To tantalize you, I thought that this green onion suggestion would be perfect, as everybody’s got alliums at the market already. They have a few tips for green onions, but this one is not so obvious, but useful for a lot of products that tend to spoil quickly:
Store in the fridge wrapped in a damp towel or upright in a glass of water just to cover the white parts.
So in essence, treat your scallions like a living plant and they’ll stay better, longer!
Here’s another great idea we found in several places:make a “use it up” spot in your refrigerator. Those almost-wilting greens, that last bit of cheese…it can be easier to use them up if they are more visible! Create a reminder box to collect the things that need eating up soon, so you and others in your household know what to reach for to make a meal or find a snack.
This space will become your source for making fantastic rice bowls, omelettes and perhaps even a “Use-it-up” egg salad. Vikki tried it out, and cleaned out some market eggs, radishes, asparagus and herbs. It came out pretty delicious, she said. Here it is:We’ll keep hunting for the best advice on combating the scourge of food waste and we hope it’ll lead to less waste of food AND money for anyone willing to make the effort.
Great chefs elevate the quality of whatever product they use to produce their menus, but when the produce and meats are impeccably fresh and grown by caring, committed farmers, the results can be extraordinary.
Friends held its recent Fête at Found and, indeed, the guests were delighted by the delicious creativity on display. And now we all have another opportunity to experience the creations of Evanston’s top chefs matched with marvelous market vendors. It’s the TRUCK-TO-TABLE event held by the city.
Tickets are pretty reasonable. You can purchase them at the market, or you can obtain tickets by clicking here. One great thing about this very kid-friendly event is that kids age 9 and younger receive 3 free tickets with a paying adult!
Here’s the latest list of participants, followed by the city’s description of the event:
Chef Eric Mansavage
|1st Orchard||Tomato Fresh Kitchen
Chef Tania Merlos-Ruiz
Chef Brian Huston
|Green Acres Farm||The Stained Glass
Owner Kevin O’Malley
|K&K Farm||Gotta B Crepes
Ryan & Kathia Jones
|Kinnikinnick Farm||Campagnola/Union Pizzeria
Chef Vince DiBattista
|Lake Breeze Organics||Bistro Bordeaux / Crepe St. Germaine Cafe
Executive Chef: Gene Merriman
Owner: Pascal Berthoumieux
Chef Woody (John) Linton
|Nichols Farm||Chef’s Station
Chef Elio Romero
|Seedling Orchard||Hoosier Mama Pie Company
Chef Paula Haney
Join market customers and community members for the annual Evanston Harvest Celebration which gets cooking once more AT THE MARKET on Saturday, September 24th.
The Market presents another truck-to-table lunch to tantalize your taste buds and celebrate the bounty of Fall: an expanded roster of top local chefs will partner with prominent Midwest sustainable growers to deliver a truly unique culinary event. Chefs join producers in their tents presenting dishes featuring local products.
Join us for this fantastic Evanston celebration! Do your shopping, then enjoy a one-of-a-kind lunch – all to benefit the continued success of Evanston’s great Farmers Market!
For the 2nd year, this family event will be held right at the Downtown Evanston Farmers Market, 1800 Maple Avenue, on Saturday, September 24, 11:00-1:00 pm.
The Evanston Harvest Celebration benefits both the Downtown Evanston Farmers Market and Friends of Evanston Farmers Markets, a non-profit organization that educates the public about the benefits of eating fresh, locally grown foods, advocating greater access to healthy food for all community members, regardless of means.
Funds raised at the event will be used to continue Friends’ support educational projects, the Friends’ LINK matching program, (which enables families who otherwise couldn’t afford the market to buy fresh produce, eggs and cheese), and The Spud Club, an in-market kid’s educational program.
The market’s neighbor, the Hilton Garden Inn, is supporting our celebration with much-needed supplies for the many chefs’ tables. Our thanks to them!
Thank you for your support, and we look forward to seeing you!
You can count on the Evanston Farmers Market Manager, Myra Gorman, to be in step with the latest rules and regulations for best practices at the market. But here’s a case where Myra is just following what has been in our ordinance since 2011.
This season you’ll notice more signs at the farmer stands informing consumers specifically where the produce is coming from. AND THAT’S A GOOD THING. When the Farmers Market Ordinance was rewritten in 2010, Friends did our homework and discovered that a best practice for markets allowed, actually encouraged, cooperative selling. This just means that farmers can grow and sell cooperatively with just one of the farmers bringing the produce to the market. Why do this? There are many reasons but the primary one is to protect small farms. Also, many farmers grow wonderful food but can’t make it to markets-they’re too small to afford the time and fees required. Sometimes, one farmer, just miles away can grow a product better. Most farms can’t produce all things.
And research is informing us that small farms are worth protecting. The Institute for Food and Development Policy (www.foodfirst.org) has reviewed many studies that conclude small farms are more productive. The trick here is in the understanding of how yields are measured. Usually we hear about how many bushels per acre are produced. But that definition suits large, monoculture farms, those with just one crop. But, in practice, small farms will have many crops in an acre. Which brings us to why that’s better for the environment. The large monoculture farms control the weeds that would occupy the bare ground between rows with pesticides and herbicides. Small farms use crop mixtures to prevent weed growth. These small farms are more likely to rotate crops and to use cover crops to nourish their family-owned land. A better comparison of small and large monoculture farms is total output-the sum of everything grown. Check out foodfirst’s report at this link.
SO, WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO WELCOME FARMERS TO EVANSTON ON SATURDAY, MAY 7, KNOWING THAT YOU ARE SUPPORTING A BEST PRACTICES MARKET, HEALTHY FOOD, AND A HEALTHIER ENVIRONMENT!