Activism Lunch Date with Julia Turshen

Are you an activist? How does it feel to identify that way? These are questions I pondered during this week's Lunch Agenda interview with Julia Turshen. 

Julia's 2017 bestseller Feed the Resistance is a bridge, for people who have followed her accessible recipes to walk alongside her into activism. For people who come to the food movement because of their love for the pleasure side of food--cooking, tasting--and are navigating where they fit into the “issues”. 

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 Julia Turshen. Photo by  Gentl & Hyers .

Julia Turshen. Photo by Gentl & Hyers.

When asked about the label "activist", Julia quoted her mom's favorite saying: “'I don’t care what you call me, as long as you call me'. The term activist is a term I hold in high regard, and absolutely revere and have respect for. I don’t always willingly assign that label to myself but I will absolutely accept it.”

Julia suggested these actions for all of us to take:

  • Join a CSA this spring to invest in a farmer and fill your kitchen all growing season long! Julia did her homework and found these two great farms owned by people of color: 

Three Part Harmony Farm in DC

Five Seeds Farm in Baltimore

  • Draw on the 400-and-growing women included in the Equity at the Table database when choosing photographers for your project, speakers for your conference, or chefs for your restaurant.
  • "Whether you’re a cookbook author or an editor — or just someone who buys a cookbook as a gift now and then — there’s something we can all do to shift cookbook publishing in a more equitable direction," says Julia in the article she discussed in our interview, where she talked with Samin Nosrat about code-switching. Check out her list of 19 things we can all do to address racial disparities that afflict the cookbook industry and move us toward a more equitable place.

Julia asks, "Are you taking action, and is your action consistent?" If you haven't already, pick up Julia's book, Feed the Resistance, and pre-order Now and Againher leftovers-themed one coming out this Fall!

Today's Kiko's Food News headlines:

Annie’s launches regenerative agriculture products

Cannabis sales may surpass soda by 2030

What do the major changes at Whole Foods mean for food entrepreneurs?

Trump to allow drug testing for food stamp users

Partnership for a Healthier America Summit

LISTEN TO TODAY'S LUNCH AGENDA EPISODE

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Food Policy Class, Lesson 1

 Ona (left) in a DC Council hearing alongside Ward 5 Councilmember (and Food Policy sparkplug!) Mary Cheh

Ona (left) in a DC Council hearing alongside Ward 5 Councilmember (and Food Policy sparkplug!) Mary Cheh

If you tuned into Lunch Agenda today, I hope you came away with this message: local government NEEDS to hear from you--about food policy ideas or whatever's on your mind.

Today I recorded the first Food Policy Class, aimed at leaving you with hard skills after you tune in. Our teacher was my bright and helpful friend Ona Balkus, legislative council to DC Councilmember Mary Cheh. Ona guided us on how to effectively advocate with DC government, including a primer on the budget cycle just in time for you to get involved this spring. Here's how:

Now that you're ready to testify, what other tips did Ona share on today's show?

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Ona's sound bite: Is it worth testifying?

A: "You know more than you think you do. If you're listening to this podcast, and you've already listened to previous of Kirsten's podcast, you already know more about food policy than many of the Councilmembers....These agencies have a LOT going on, they're working on a lot that's not food, and food can often get lost in that conversation."

Also, re: DC statehood: "We just crossed the 700,000 mark for residents in the district, which makes us more populous than two states: Vermont and Wyoming. Yet they have two senators and at least one member in the house, and we have no voting members in congress."

Ona's action item:

"Wherever you are, take one step further in being active with local government. In this time and age, local government is a place where we can make real change, and move forward on progressive change."

Kiko's Food News headlines:

Adaptogens and neuro-nutrition

Pepsi dips its toes into the sparkling water market

AccelerateHER Business Plan Competition for woman entrepreneuses

Other links we discussed:

DC Greens Budget Advocacy Workshop on March 19--Sign up!

 

LISTEN TO TODAY'S LUNCH AGENDA EPISODE

Food at School: Part 3

I'm trying something new today, to make it easier to make your food decisions matter. At the top of each Lunch Agenda episode blog, I'll explain how to take an action recommended by a guest on the show! 

This week we closed out the Food at School series with three powerful young "Lunch Ladies": Christie St. Pierre and Morgan Maloney from Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, and Kelsey Weisgerber from Mundo Verde in DC--bring on the hairnets!

When it came time for action items, Morgan invited listeners to "Just plant a seed. Now that we're coming into springtime, we all have this opportunity to take our food into our own hands, whether you're planting a single seed in a tiny pot hanging out your window, or a bucket in your front yard that you filled with soil." Wanna try?

Now that you're ready to plant, what else happened on today's show?

LISTEN TO TODAY'S LUNCH AGENDA EPISODE

 

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Christie's sound bite: 

"I knew we had made it when the kids came in and said, 'This salad bar is lit!'".

Kelsey's sound bite:

"We're transitioning to a new full-scale kitchen, with a hood system...the tilt skillet's the dream. As a 30-year old lunch lady I didn't think that would be my golden excitement piece, but here we are."

Link discussed in today's interview:

Mundo Verde's community dinners will be announced here

Info about Fairfax County Schools salad bars

Kiko's Food News headlines:

Trump’s proposed budget replaces SNAP funding with “Harvest Boxes”

An Olympic Challenge: Eat All the Korean Food That Visitors Won’t

AccelerateHER Competition for Woman Food Businesses

 

LISTEN TO TODAY'S LUNCH AGENDA EPISODE

Podcast: Breaking Bread at the Capital Area Food Bank

Can you believe today is November 1st, and just like that, the season of giving is upon us? Maybe it's because the election is shining light on the struggles many Americans face every day, or maybe it's because bringing a little girl into the world fills the well with limitless love to share....but I hope you all are, like me, thinking about who you can give to before year end, if you're able.

 CAFB's food assistance partners learning all the best reseeding techniques in our Urban Demonstration Garden

CAFB's food assistance partners learning all the best reseeding techniques in our Urban Demonstration Garden

One idea: the Capital Area Food Bank, which I have to admit I miss thinking about daily now that I'm on maternity leave! Speaking of, if you have 25 minutes, I invite you to have a listen to an interview I gave last month about the food bank's work for a new podcast, Breaking Bread--a few listening options are here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-breaking-bread-podcast/id1168322074?mt=2


https://soundcloud.com/user-767355871


http://tunein.com/radio/The-Breaking-Bread-Podcast-p922253/

If you've ever been curious to learn more about the CAFB, here it is through my eyes. As always, welcome questions or feedback :-) 

Here's to health and sharing!

Kitchen Dreaming

What happens when you get two optimistic home chefs into a newly owned house with an outdated kitchen? Nick and Kiko's first renovation!

When we moved into our Bloomingdale rowhouse in 2014, we knew there were some fish to fry before we could build the kitchen of our dreams; 2015 was mostly occupied with getting hitched. But with that joy behind us, we moved on to the next one, feeling so lucky that we could create a space to anchor our home our way, and hopefully grow a family in. 

So we began meetings with fellow Crispus Attucks neighbor Charles Warren of Teas Warren Architects. This being a first renovation for both Nick and I, we were open to his (and let's be honest, our parents') wisdom, based on the following sure-fire goals:

  • Bring the outside inside, and re-orient the kitchen to open up towards the greenery of the park out our back door, through knocking down a structural wall and installing big old casement windows. This is the wall we would lose:
  • Re-orient how we move into and out of our house, with most of that happening through the back of the house. This would involve creating a mudroom-like portion of our new kitchen, and some kind of bike shed for the back yard so we could stop hauling them in and out to commute to work every day.
  • Replacing EVERYTHING from the old kitchen--from the appliances, to the cabinets, floors and countertops, it all had to go. Literally the only thing we kept was the garbage disposal. 
  • Replace our big black "disco bathroom" and its unnecessary bath with a smaller powder room.
  • Open up the pathway between the kitchen and dining room to let that great light flow from the park towards the front of the house.
 On the Georgetown canal, around the time we moved out of our ground floor and began camping upstairs.

On the Georgetown canal, around the time we moved out of our ground floor and began camping upstairs.

We chose to work with Something Different as our contractor, based on a recommendation from our neighbor down the block, and navigated through the contract negotiations as we learned about concepts like "allowances" and "punch lists."  

 

We were told four months, but did add a couple elements like a skylight on our roof, so six months later, we are able to move into our new kitchen!

 Carrera marble countertops all around, and we chose the two pendant lights from Design Within Reach. We did our cabinets (white uppers and grey below) from Ikea, which was pretty easy but not the cheapest due to the slick modern finish we chose (and how many cabinets we have--packrats!)

Carrera marble countertops all around, and we chose the two pendant lights from Design Within Reach. We did our cabinets (white uppers and grey below) from Ikea, which was pretty easy but not the cheapest due to the slick modern finish we chose (and how many cabinets we have--packrats!)

 Our project manager Noe, who was a cabinet maker in Guatemala, banged out our mudroom from scratch. Might I add he had a baby mid-way through our project, and was back about two days later? Intense. We're still waiting on the baskets for the right column compartments. 

Our project manager Noe, who was a cabinet maker in Guatemala, banged out our mudroom from scratch. Might I add he had a baby mid-way through our project, and was back about two days later? Intense. We're still waiting on the baskets for the right column compartments. 

 Here's our little breakfast nook--the seats open up to what I think will be toy storage one of these days. Still debating whether to get cushions made to go on these seats....thoughts welcome?

Here's our little breakfast nook--the seats open up to what I think will be toy storage one of these days. Still debating whether to get cushions made to go on these seats....thoughts welcome?

 And the view looking into the kitchen from the dining room. We're pretty stoked about our Forbo "click" linoleum floors--very soft with their cork underside, and hide dirt like nobody's business.

And the view looking into the kitchen from the dining room. We're pretty stoked about our Forbo "click" linoleum floors--very soft with their cork underside, and hide dirt like nobody's business.

 We redid the tiles in the entryway of our front door with marble hexagons. Now when someone opens the front door, they can see all the way to the park.

We redid the tiles in the entryway of our front door with marble hexagons. Now when someone opens the front door, they can see all the way to the park.

 The new Canadian cedar bike shed was constructed from a kit--notice our new deck on the second floor above the kitchen.

The new Canadian cedar bike shed was constructed from a kit--notice our new deck on the second floor above the kitchen.

 Yes, the kitchen is pretty white--I think that's how we Bourne women like it. So we've been adding the Renzbo "collector's touch", like with our hodgepodge fridge back in action (chose this Fisher & Paykel model because it's magnetic.)

Yes, the kitchen is pretty white--I think that's how we Bourne women like it. So we've been adding the Renzbo "collector's touch", like with our hodgepodge fridge back in action (chose this Fisher & Paykel model because it's magnetic.)

 No kitchen is complete without a little fishy friend--we named Mochi in honor of the rice paddy puddles from which we learned his ancestor hail.

No kitchen is complete without a little fishy friend--we named Mochi in honor of the rice paddy puddles from which we learned his ancestor hail.

Spring is really here, and we celebrated last night by cooking my buddy Samin Nosrat's Persian Kuku--a frittata stuffed with chard, dill, cilantro and leeks. Like a champ she of course uses the chard stems and leek greens. Here's the dramatic flip moment--success! Delish, and next time we'll try adding mozzarella.

 Write here...

Write here...

Feeling Good About Food Waste

Enough with the dismal stats about how much food is wasted at each point on the food chain--the unharvested crop that's tilled under, the unsold merchandise at the grocery store, the leftovers uneaten at restaurants, the food that rots in many of our fridges. 

Today I'm proud to share some good news about food waste, via work that's been done right under our noses for decades--at food banks! The two hundred food banks across the US don't get as much buzz as a great ugly fruit campaign, or the new grocery stores selling food that would otherwise go bad. But get a load of how the food bank I work for, which serves 530,000+ people across DC, Maryland and Virginia, tackles waste every day: 

  • Of the 42 million pounds of food the Capital Area Food Bank distributed last year, 33 million was food that would have otherwise gone to landfills. Food banks are inherently food waste fighters.
  • When grocery stores buy more than they can sell, food banks come in to pick up that excess food, sort it, pack it up by category, and get it into the hands of non-profits and neighbors who need it. The Capital Area Food Bank's trucks make on average 100 pickups at grocery stores every week! 

My job is to spread awareness about how the Capital Area Food Bank is working to improve access to healthy food in the Washington metro area, so last week I hosted a group of young professional women who work in the food sector. As I explained while awkwardly walking backwards in giving a tour of our facility (check out one of their insta-shares above!), food banks connect the food waste issue with our food insecurity problem through their very existence. From their inception in the late 70's and early 80's, food banks have focused on collecting and redistributing excess food from the community to feed the hungry. The CAFB works aggressively to collect nutritious excess food from retailers, restaurants, gleaners, farms, and others.

Despite the fact that grocery stores are getting increasingly smart in managing their inventory (more good news!), and therefore have less to donate, in the past year the CAFB has increased the amount of excess food donated by retailers by 50 percent.  Most of that was driven by an increase in new retail donors coupled with more frequency in pickups.  Another factor was an increase in meat donations that was made possible by collaborating with retailers to improve our pickup process.  We had to upgrade our own meat sorting capability to make sure that we were able to distribute the higher volume, and set up special meat shopping days so our partner non-profits knew it was available.

Going forward, we will continue to work with retailers and others to make it easier for them to set aside excess food for the benefit of the community.  We are currently meeting with retailers to begin a dialogue about the kind of food most desired--which is NOT sheet cakes, or snacks made of corn.  Only once we have reduced the amount of soda and candies in our inventory that come in via retail donations, will we be able to use our facility to store the kind of food we are committed to distributing: fresh fruits and vegetables, and shelf stable food that is low in sugar and salt, and high in protein and fiber.

  My coworkers and I squeezing into a produce truck to celebrate Giant's recent donation of 10,000 apples

My coworkers and I squeezing into a produce truck to celebrate Giant's recent donation of 10,000 apples