Tag Archives: local food

Biking for fresh, local food

Last week's CSA loot- it was pretty funny trying to bike home with my bag that full!

Hello everyone!

I hope your summers are going well. ‘Tis the season for fresh zucchini and sweet tomatoes… so you know mine is. 🙂

Anyway, this September 11,  hundreds of Madison and Dane County residents, Sam, and I will bike 62 miles to raise money for the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition, a group that brings  fresh, organic food from local farms to low income families in the community.

I am really excited both for the cause and the ride (read: the food breaks). MACSAC does wonderful things in the name of creating a sustainable, local food system in Dane County… and that’s an issue I’m really excited to support.

Here are some links to learn more about it or bike yourself.

Finally, participants are urged to fundraise for the coalition, so if you support the cause, you should check out the links below and pitch in whatever you can. We’ll really appreciate it!

**If you want to donate to our ride, I would encourage you to check out this page!

Thanks!

Jenny (and Sam)

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Review- Nathan Winters Ch. 3

A while back, a friendly eco-tweeter shared this on twitter:

Since I consider myself an organic farming advocate, it was mere minutes before I had this chapter sitting in my Inbox. Then, I looked into Nathan Winters’ website and twitter a little more, and found out that he’s a little more than “some random eco-tweeter.” You can read his bio here, but long story short, Winters set out in May 2009 to bike from Maine to Washington (yes, Washington state) in order to explore “complex food movements” and to get to know his fellow Americans. And he did it. (*Insert expressions of awe and jealousy here*)

Deciding at that point to save this for a day when I could give it the attention it needed, I filed the chapter under “Blog” on my computer, and there it sat… for about a month.

I’ll get into the specifics in a minute, but let’s just say I’m happy to have reopened it! Somebody find this guy a publisher!!

As I write this now, I’m trying to decide what it is about this chapter that I really like the most.

Perhaps it was the uncanny connection I have with Winters’ story. The chapter is about his stop at an organic dairy and produce farm in rural Maine, near a town near Skowhegan. Curiously, I’ve been in Skowhegan on my days off while working at Ol’ Ways Farm in nearby Solon, and his description of this family brought back fond memories of my time with “my” farmers, Scott and Gemma.

People in Maine are pretty awesome, it seems.

His description of the farmer’s gentle control of the cows while bringing them in to the barn or the way that everything stops (including eating) until milking chores are done were so familiar, careful, and respectful of the skill and dedication it takes to be a farmer – something that makes you wonder how many other qualities of farmers us city folks take for granted or are completely oblivious to. Winters depicted, as best you can in words, the beauty of Maine in the summer and feelings of inferiority to these people with such an unfamiliar but vitally important profession. Additionally, I saw eye to eye on his feelings of slight stupidity….  all those questions you have for farmers, but when they come out they just sound idiotic because they’re so obvious. Ohh righttt, bulls are required for making more calves! …etc, etc, until soon you feel like your entire education is useless when it comes to hands-on progress. But that’s a whole different matter.

So that part was definitely fun- the way in which his alienation with the daily goings-on at Dairyland Organic were juxtaposed to the description of the all-knowing (or close to it), gentle, rugged, and wise farmers.

Aside from the Maine-connection, I am also excited about this chapter because of the way Winters explains his experience as it relates to the larger political and social situation in the United States. He links his brief experience on the farm with some difficult topics and makes it not only enjoyable to read, but also important to read.

Winters painted the ironic picture of this family who is so dedicated to the organic and local so-called, “trendy” food choices, and yet can’t afford to buy those products (that they don’t grow themselves) for their own home.

Here is a quote from his host, Sarah, that particularly struck me:

“The reality of the situation is this: If everyone here in Skowhegan wanted to buy from us at the farmer’s market there wouldn’t be enough food to go around. We need to get more people to farm. Farming is extremely empowering. There haven’t been very many generations of Americans who have put their hands in the soil. In order to change our food system, we need to get to a point where one in three people are growing food. Not one in a thousand. We cannot get away from industrial agriculture until more people are growing food on a small scale. If people are concerned with where their food comes from, they should not only support their local farmers but they should simply grow their own food.”’

How true and simple, yet challenging, is this statement? Is it challenging? (I hope I soon find out.)

I could go on and on about this piece that I read from Winters. But,

a. I don’t want to give away the whole thing and,

b. I’ll do it no justice and,

c. bottom line: get to know a farmer!

I can’t wait to read the rest of his stories and I hope that I can do something so valuable in my lifetime. I can’t wait to see what he does with this knowledge he’s gained.

Well done, Nathan!

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The Green List

You’ve seen it before.

“101 things you can do to be green in 2010” and, “10 ways to Green your life” and… many, many (many) others.

But you haven’t seen it from me!

Don’t worry though, I know that you can’t “green” your life in 10 steps. In fact, I love environmental things and talk/think about them all day long and I STILL don’t live a 100% “green” life … whatever that means.

So I’m just here to tell you a few tips I’ve learned along the way to just do what you can to help.

Before I begin, there are two lessons I’ve learned that you must always remember and that underscore this whole idea:

1. You can’t do it all. No one person is going to save the world or have zero impact. That is actually one thing I really like about environmentalists (or just people who care, if you don’t like that term), is that they must rely on others and believe in good intentions of all people.

In other words, since we can’t do it all by ourselves, we must rely on the progress of others to believe that any change can happen!

Anyway, what you can do is pick one area that you really advocate for and adhere to. I have become passionate about food issues, but others focus on transportation, corporate responsibility, building, renewable energy, fisheries, forests, the list is endless! There really is something for everyone out there!

2. Be willing to make the initial sacrifice. At first, some of these things might seem like a big deal, but I promise your life will often be better off for it in the end. Maybe you’ll save money, be more active, feel good about yourself, get your name out there, feel healthier, or have something to share with your grandchildren. Who knows, all I’m sayin’ is pick something new and give it a try.

Got an idea for me? Share it in the comments! I’d love to know how you “green” your life. (… Although that term grosses me out. I have to think of a new one.)

Anyway, here I go. Oh, also: don’t feel like you have to read the whole thing. Maybe pick your “area” and just read that.

Continue reading

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I had an article published!

It’s about the meat we eat. I think it’s really important – but you probably already know that about me if you read this blog.

Enjoy (and sorry for my long absence. I’m coming back… soon… with a vengeance!)

-Jenny

Make your meals meatless

Reducing the amount of meat in our diets can help our health and the environment.

By Jenny Lynes

The Green Room

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Published: Thursday, February 18, 2010

Updated: Thursday, February 18, 2010

“Help stop violence?”

“Not today,” you said.

Gruesome images of upside-down, bloody, feces-stained cows litter animal rights and environmental literature. They’re on the pamphlets you’ve rejected on State Street, too.

It’s disconcerting to read studies about the negative effects of red meat and belching cows ruining the atmosphere, to be sure. Still, surprisingly little of it actually translates to a change when we’re standing in the lunch line. The answer to why most of us don’t oblige and cut down? Simple: Meat tastes good.

Though I won’t deny an occasional urge for my favorite sausage-filled breakfast sandwich, I’m proud of the changes I’ve made in cutting out meat to improve my health and help out the environment. So what did it take?

For me, it wasn’t until I left my urban home to work on a small family farm in Maine and asked the farmer what he thought about “industrial meat” that I realized how simple the choice really is. “I would never eat that shit,” he said. That pretty much settled it.

Don’t get me wrong––the farmer and I shared plenty of eggs (fresh from the coup) and bacon (formerly known as Napoleon the pig). But as I learned more about the implications of mass-produced, machinelike treatment of animals, I learned that most of the meat I’d been eating away from the farm was a product of a disgusting, unethical and dangerous industry that wreaks havoc on our land, water, air and health. Did you know that the chickens to be served at KFC are fed and raised in a manner that they reach physical maturity in just over one month? Count me out.

Let’s put animals aside, though, and first consider the implications for our own bodies. There was a time when eating meat was considered a treat. Now, it’s not unheard of to have it in three meals a day. Need protein, you say? Americans currently consume around 110 grams of it a day, which is roughly double the government’s recommended intake. In fact, new research has shown that high consumption of red and processed meat increases the risk of death from cancer and heart disease, as much as 50 percent among women. This type of diet also increases our chances for diabetes, and the rates have sharply increased since 1980 to prove it. Don’t worry too much though, there’s still time to prevent it simply by replacing some meat eating with plant-based foods.

Americans spend about $147 billion annually on preventable illnesses related to food choices: obesity, salmonella outbreaks, diabetes and heart complications. This, paired with astounding hormone influxes and antibiotic resistance thanks to the manner in which it is produced, results in a big headache for the health sector. All the while, the meat industry is encouraged to expand because of better sales than ever before.

While there are scary implications of mass-produced mystery meat (read: McDonald’s), it’s not that all meat is bad for you. But, we must consider if we want to support such practices and realize that we often do so at the expense of putting something healthier into our bodies.
Onto the environment. Since pigs, for one, produce about four times the amount of waste a human does, you can only imagine what happens with literally millions of pounds of feces created daily––it leaves the feedlots with a one-way ticket into our streams and rivers, polluting our air on its way. On top of this pollution, the industry contributes huge amounts of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, worsening global warming.

However, these are preventable problems. According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week, the effect would be the same as taking more than a half-million cars off U.S. roads. While I have determined that the quality of industrial meat is unsatisfactory for my preferences, I realize that is personal. One thing that isn’t: our responsibility to be informed and choose to take steps to help preserve the resources on this planet for those who will come after us.

My overall-wearing, milking, chicken-feeding days have ended, and I’ve resumed my Madison residence for now, but I remain happy and confident with my decision to give up meat unless I know where and how it was raised.

While I don’t believe everyone has to take this step, I do think the message is clear––we need to change the way we eat. I propose that we all eat much, much less meat than we tend to currently. My challenge for Madison is to include it once every other day for now––but I think you’ll see, as I did, that a life with meat as a treat is surprisingly pleasing.

Jenny Lynes is a contributor to The Green Room. Please send all responses to opinion@dailycardinal.com

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Rainy day in Madison

That’s ok though, I have lots of work to do!

Yesterday in Food class we discussed more about Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, in preparation for his arrival in Madison this Thursday! My classmates commented that they wish Pollan would focus more on the need for political revolution regarding food issues instead of focusing solely on individual habits. While I understand this criticism (which is in line with Julie Guthman’s critique of Pollan, among others), I appreciate Pollan’s “everyone has a place” attitude and find his encouragement and careful explanations adequate. Well, better than adequate. In fact, I highly recommend the book!

One thing he says that I loved was,

“In the eye of the cook or the gardener or the farmer who grew it, this food reveals itself for what it is: no mere thing but a web of relationships among a great many living beings, some of them human, some not, but each of them dependent on the other, and all of them ultimately rooted in soil and nourished by sunlight. I’m thinking of the relationship between the plants and the soil, between the grower and the plants and animals he or she tends, between the cook and the growers who supply the ingredients, and between the cook and the people who will soon come to the table to enjoy the meal. It is a large community to nourish and be nourished by.” (page 201)

ahhhhh….

Anyway, after you all read the book, I’d love to have a discussion on the “eat less, pay more” aspect of his idea. Where does this fit into a college life/budget? Are those who can afford cable TV and cell phones required to pay extra for sustainable/local/organic foods? Is it a preference in flavor/nutrition/image? Does anyone else out there have an internal and emotional BATTLE every time they go to the grocery store?!

Next, I (fittingly) had lab for ecology class at the F.H. King Student Farm where our teacher introduced the “food situation” to students who weren’t up to date, discussed the benefits of growing your own food, and taught us the various beneficial qualities of certain weeds! (Did you know that eating dandelion root detoxifies your liver?… just make sure no one has been spraying it with RoundUp first!) It was a lovely day and I very much enjoyed the conversation (and munching on fresh grapes), even though I knew most of the information. It’s so exciting to see people excited about this. Our TA asked, What did you have from lunch and do you know where the ingredients came from? (Do you?)

But then, the BEST NEWS OF ALL, was that I was pleasantly surprised when I got home from lab to receive an email explaining that Michael Pollan will be doing a meet and greet with Environmental Studies students on Friday morning! Anyone thinking what I’m thinking? Guest blogger anyone? (I wish.)

I’m preparing some questions to ask and I’ll have my camera at hand!

But that was yesterday.

Today is rainy and I have a lot of schoolwork to catch up on before I continue to get more throughout the week. I realized that my money situation is at an all-time low, so I’m also doing some research into personal financial management for college student (I have a feeling that my new budget will leave less room for more expensive co-op shopping? We’ll see.) I have dreams of farming in Peru or traveling elsewhere next year, but none of this will be possible unless I figure out issues of loan deferment, getting my savings back up, and managing my expenses more carefully!

Lots to do.

I hope everyone is having a good Tuesday,

Jenny

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Madison, Wisconsin

Hello!

So, my boyfriend tells me that I need to keep blogging to make something of this space.

While I love writing, I live in constant fear of boring my readers! But I suppose I’ll give more of a daily life take on my blog for a while and see how it goes. But seriously, ANY feedback would be helpful. I really want to make this space an outlet for good writing, worthwhile ideas, funny stories and sharing of opinions. But I guess that’s tough to do with no new posts! Anyway, and ideas would be great.

MOVING ON.

As the title suggests, I am now moved into Madison for my LAST year of college. I’m torn between being really excited of all the things I’m about to learn this year and also being incredibly over this town and wanting to move onto bigger and better things and more hands-on learning. One day at a time I guess.

Here’s some stuff that’s goin on:

1. I’m taking a really cool class called Food, Culture and Society. It examines “the social relations surrounding the production, distribution, preparation, and consumption of food.” As you can imagine, this class addresses many of my current interests and I feel honored to learn and contribute. On Wednesdays the class gathers to prepare and eat a meal together. It’s just great. I’m excited to share what I learn with you! We’re currently reading Pollan’s “In Defense of Food” in time for him to visit Madison later this month!

I really admire him. I actually wish I was him. What a cool job!

2. I’m also going to be learning a lot more about the scientific aspects of climate change and ecology. This information and these classes are currently quite over my head, but I think translating them into English to be able to post here might be good for me. Currently the processes of oxidation in soil profiles and the presence of infrared rays in layers of the atmosphere are a bit over my head. One day at a time Jenny, one day at a time.

3. Even though I don’t know how I’ll find time, I’m trying to muster up my courage to go into the office for one of Madison’s two student newspapers, The Badger Herald, to apply to write for them. I feel overwhelmed at the thought of doing this on top of trying to succeed (and more importantly, learn) this year while having a life outside of school (read: blogging!). But, I know having published clips will help in job searching next year and I would like to dust off my journalistic abilities. I’m making myself do it THIS WEEK.

There, now I have to.

4. I’ve committed myself to buying local foods since being inIMG_0728 Madison and have reaped the benefits of WONDERFUL Wisconsin cheeses, tomatoes (red, yellow, cherry, grape, striped, green… you never know what you’re gonna get), cucumbers, zucchini-galore, onions, potatoes, fresh jams, artisan breads, spinach, YOU NAME IT! Madison has such an amazing local foods culture that I never knew existed. What a pleasant surprise! I’m excited to make my mom’s veggie-enchilada recipe with all seasonal veggies (to freeze for the dreary winter months) hopefully tomorrow in addition to gathering the ingredients to make a few types of pesto to share with the food class on Wednesday. Yum.

In efforts to stay healthy to get through this year and accomplish all that I want to, I think spending a few extra dollars on these foods are worth it. Hopefully I won’t be biting my tongue in January when I run out of money (don’t worry, I’m applying for jobs)!IMG_0709

5. Socially, I’ve had a blast catching up with old friends, reminiscing about the good memories of my trips to Scottsdale, AZ, the Colorado Rockies and New Orleans, and sitting on the dock in Madison “doing homework” (see left). And, I’m looking forward to a trip to DC next weekend!

6. I’m kicking around the idea of doing the Peace Corps next year or sometime soon. Any thoughts on this?

Ok well, I should go for now. I’m trying to get all my work done tonight so I can enjoy the day on my roommate’s family’s boat tomorrow and soak up the sun while I still can.

Hope you are all well!

-Jenny

PS oh, also. I finally have my own apartment (meaning finally settling in after attending 4 schools!) and I love my roomies 🙂

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