What makes flour "whole" and why does that matter for our health? Kiko talks with Heinz Thomet, a Maryland farmer who grows and mills wheat, rye and other grains. We also hear from David Killilea, PhD about the research he's leading in Oakland on the nutritional content of flour sold at supermarkets.Read More
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:
Share your perspective at one of DC Council's budget hearings this spring! The schedule is here--don't we all have an opinion on our city's roads, parks, water system, trash pickup, schools, and so many other topics?
Ona promises us that local government is LISTENING: "See if there's a food policy council in your area and engage with them. Go talk to your elected official...Very quickly you can become the person they call when they have a food policy question."
- Speak up! I testified for the first time last week at the OSSE oversight hearing (here's my testimony in case you're curious); Councilmember and Committee Chair David Grosso was definitely listening. I was also the only person to talk about the Healthy Students Amendment Act and Good Food Purchasing Program--so in the very least, I reminded him that we food advocates are paying attention!
- OR, you can start hyper-local: figure out who your Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) is, talk to them about something in your neighborhood.
Now that you're ready to testify, what other tips did Ona share on today's show?
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:
Other links we discussed:
DC Greens Budget Advocacy Workshop on March 19--Sign up!
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?
- Morgan says an easy seed to grow in this climate is a radish--if you plant it now, you can eat it before May.
- If you live in Washington and want to be inundated by useful tips about growing food at home, whether you're a beginner or expert, go to Rooting DC this weekend!
- Consider ordering seeds from Baker Creek's amazing selection, or even the schmancy new company just launched by Dan Barber of Blue Hill Stone Barns :-)
Now that you're ready to plant, what else happened on today's show?
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:
Kiko's Food News headlines:
Kids forge habits and tastes for food long before they reach kindergarten. So for the second episode of Lunch Agenda's "Food at School" series, I interviewed two innovators in early childhood food service.Read More
Who wouldn't want to go to a "Joyful Food Market"? Episode 1 of Lunch Agenda's Food at School series introduces listeners to these free grocery pop-ups offered in DC elementary schools by the Capital Area Food Bank and Martha's Table.Read More
The final episode of the Groceries for All series offers hope of groceries coming to an underserved neighborhood in Ward 8. Philip Sambol discusses how his business Good Food Markets will soon offer an alternative to the traditional big box model.Read More
In Part 2 of the Groceries for All series, Kiko interviews Tony Lawson, a Ward 8 senior whose grocery commute is 45 minutes each way.Read More
In part 1 of Lunch Agenda's Groceries for All series, Kiko interviews Dominique Hazzard of DC Greens, who planned the Grocery March in Southeast DC last Fall.Read More
Learning and sharing Seylou's grain and bread philosophy.Read More
Feeling grateful for the deliciousness delivered after Anna-Mags came home.Read More
Anna-Magnolia made her TV debut in the Capital Area Food Bank's garden!Read More
What we learned from a comms campaign about the food bank's push towards wellness.Read More
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.
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:
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
Deb Eschmeyer, whose FoodCorps today places 200 service members into schools (including via my employer, the Capital Area Food Bank!) to promote healthier eating, has replaced Sam Kass as executive director of Let’s Move! and senior policy adviser for nutrition policy: (Politico)
Chipotle suspended purchases from a pork producer that ran afoul of its animal welfare rules, an admirable stake in the ground that bolsters its reputation with diners but threatens sales and profits: (Reuters)
Despite what Paleo-heads may say, the microbiome’s ability to respond to our diet is why our bodies can adapt to so many different ways of eating–regardless of how long it might take for our genes themselves to change: (Huffington Post)
From policing deceptive labeling to protecting food workers, here’s a roundup of last year’s legal victories for food issues, in honor of my legally minded fiancé! (Eat Drink Politics)
Studies showed that students who ate lunch after recess consumed 54% more fruits and veggies than those who ate before–maybe because they weren’t rushing to playtime, or maybe because movement stoked their appetite for the healthy foods: (NPR)
Who else is thirsty for radlers (beers made with citrus juice) and Lambrucha (part lambic beer and part kombucha)? Guess I’m one of those health-conscious women to whom US beverage makers are targeting their new low-alcohol drinks: (New York Times)
In 2015, if you’re not into fat you’d better leave the kitchen. So next time you’re left with a chicken carcass or beef bones, consider making the food trend and health silver bullet du jour: bone broth, which is like stock but with a higher proportion of bones to meat: (New York Times)
Similarly, schmaltz has long served as the backbone of Jewish cooking, but is making a comeback with home cooks who realize that lard isn't such a bad-for-you ingredient, after all: (Huffington Post)
How cool that a publisher exists to put out only children's books about healthy eating? Its latest title is Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious: (Civil Eats)
We knew gut bacteria was necessary for physical health, but a new Oxford study suggests that its presence dictates our mental health, too; prebiotics may have an anti-anxiety effect, as they alter the way that people process emotional information: (Huffington Post)
Yes the economy is improving, but this means about 1 million people will lose SNAP (food stamps) in the coming year as states re-impose the three-month limit on benefits to unemployed adults who are not disabled or raising children: (CNN)
An increasing number of food nonprofits are relying on Walmart to fund their programs, but this author encourages them to consider how what is good for one organization may not be good for the food movement as a whole: (Civil Eats)
While most of us had our eyes on the holiday prize, Senate cleared and Obama signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill; tucked within it was a provision prohibiting the government from requiring less salt in school lunches and allowing schools to obtain exemptions from whole-grain requirements: (New York Times)
Last week at a friend’s dinner table, we noticed the wine label said “contains milk and eggs”; hard to understand, until I came across this article: (Civil Eats)
Tech advances in tuna catching are a boon for commercial fishing, but without more regulation, they could end up killing off the stock: (The Guardian)
A UC Berkeley study showed how methods like crop rotation and polyculture are much more productive than bare-bones organic farming, testament to the fact that simply eliminating pesticides does not make a farming system agroecological: (Civil Eats)
And research demonstrated that we feel less full when we think food has less calories; the hormonal response to this perception can sabotage diet attempts:(Forbes)
Here’s proof that fast food chains can be profitable while paying workers $15 per hour: one burger group in Detroit expects all of its workers to be jacks-of-all-trades, which keeps them engaged enough to stay in their job and saves the company from losing money to employee turnover: (NPR)
Sam Kass, the White House chef and head of Michelle Obama’s Let's Move! initiative, is leaving his post to follow his new wife to New York City; I’m curious what private company he’ll join up with to promote cooking and health next: (Wall Street Journal)
Although cooks of centuries past knew that foods change over time, today an ingredient’s life is thought to have ended once time has altered it in any way; this article celebrates uses for chips, bread, milk, and more that are past their prime: (New York Times)
An alliance of six of the largest U.S. school districts announced that its members want antibiotic-free chicken to serve in their cafeterias; if suppliers can't meet the "no antibiotics ever" pledge, they’ll be required to write a plan for meeting the goal: (Natural Resources Defense Council)
Could American and European citizens’ individualism trace back to the wheat-based agrarian society of our forefathers, whereas Eastern cultural tendencies to think interdependently are rooted in a history of rice farming? (New York Times)
None of us want to consider that our parents could be malnourished, but a study found that 60% of patients age 65 and up were under-nourished when they checked into a hospital for other reasons; depression, immobility, and lack of income are factors that put the elderly at risk of not taking in adequate sustenance :-( (Next Avenue)
I don't think there's any sense in masking who we are. My friend Caroline pegged me as a "chouchou" (teacher's pet) back in middle school French class, and sure I like pleasing the chief. But I swear that's not why I wrote about my newish boss, Capital Area Food Bank's CEO Nancy Roman, in the recent issue of Edible DC.
Susan Able, the super fun publisher of Edible DC, has an eye towards including articles about the more challenging issues in our local food system. She liked my idea to create a column in each issue of the magazine called "Department of Homefood Security" to that end, and so allowed me to author the second piece for it.
Having worked at the Food Bank for half a year now, it's ever clear that people don't understand the difference between a food BANK, and the partners who receive food from the bank to distribute to neighbors in need. So in writing this I aimed to clarify that straight out of the gates. Nancy Roman is the kind of leader who has wisdom to spare--both about hunger work through the decades and about management in this field--and is worth a great profile. So I had fun interviewing her for this article.
Hopefully, the Edible team will let me write some more interviews for the Department of Homefood Security in future issues. I have my eye on Councilmember Mary Cheh, who has been a champion of healthy and local food on DC's city council thus far, and Imar Hutchins, who's using his historic Florida Avenue Grill to promote fair wages for food workers and a move towards healthier soul food. But the possibilities are endless!