April 23rd, 2014
12:00 PM ET
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Eatocracy's Managing Editor Kat Kinsman attempts to vegetable garden on a roof deck in Brooklyn, NY in USDA Hardiness Zone 6b. Feel free to taunt, advise or encourage her efforts as this series progresses.

I have a rotten knack for turning any pleasurable pastime into an exhausting and pricey project and in doing so, sucking all the joy and fun out of it. Gardening is no different.

It started in college as a cheap, meditative hobby that kept me grounded in the midst of academic mayhem, and occasionally introduced a vitamin or two into my ramen-based body. The undertakings grew grandiose and far less calming as I got older and set down roots in futon-free apartments with my name actually on the lease.

What was once a matter of nestling dollar store seeds into soil-filled buckets on the roof, or poorly deer-proofing my $15-per-year community garden plot next to the town's sewage treatment plant, became an expensive indulgence. Then it became an obligation.
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Can you be an environmentalist and meat eater?
April 22nd, 2014
12:00 PM ET
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Editor's note: John D. Sutter is a columnist for CNN Opinion and creator of CNN's Change the List project. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. E-mail him at ctl@cnn.com. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Before we jump into a debate about the environmental costs of eating meat, here are three things you should know:

1. I've experimented with vegetarianism twice, but it's never really stuck. Round one ended when I had a dream about a spicy chicken sandwich from Wendy's, and then woke up to march zombie-style to that fast-food restaurant to order it. Round two may or may not have ended with the brunch I had Sunday, I'm still not sure.

2. I ate chicken chilaquiles for brunch on Sunday. It was delicious.

Therefore, 3. This is not an anti-meat polemic.

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Filed under: Animal Rights • Earth Day • Events • Food Politics


Clean, green dining for Earth Day and beyond
April 22nd, 2014
09:00 AM ET
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April 22 is Earth Day, and there's no better way to start celebrating and protecting the planet than by taking a closer look at what's on your plate.

We're challenging everyone we know to grow one thing - just one thing - that they can eat, and of course, we're putting our money where our mouth is and planting a garden, ourselves.

You could also consider joining a CSA (that's community supported agriculture), buying direct at a farmers market, staying as local as possible, keeping a close eye on the origins of your seafood or supporting chefs who are doing the right things for the environment.

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Filed under: Earth Day • Local Food • Sustainability


April 16th, 2014
10:30 AM ET
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The NCAA on Tuesday proposed that athletes receive unlimited meals and snacks, the collegiate sports organization said in a news release.

Member Division I schools could provide their athletes food in addition to the meal plan covered by the student's scholarship if the plan is approved, the release said.

The announcement comes not long after a University of Connecticut star told reporters covering the NCAA tournament that he sometimes goes to bed "starving" because he can't afford food. Shabazz Napier's remarks sparked a new discussion on what benefits athletes should receive. Napier, a senior, is a top NBA prospect.
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Filed under: Hunger • Sports


April 4th, 2014
12:05 AM ET
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In "the nation's salad bowl," as California's Central Valley is often called, fresh produce grows in abundance.

But for many area residents, healthy food is out of reach.

"Here we are in this agriculturally rich area and yet people who live here and work here are hungry, are impoverished," said Sarah Ramirez, an educator who grew up in the area.

"(Some) are working in the fields that feed the entire country and then they don't have the resources to support them and their health. It's heartbreaking."

For the last two years, Ramirez has been on a mission to build a healthier community in her impoverished hometown of Pixley.
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Filed under: Food Deserts • Food Politics • Human Rights • Hunger • Local Food • Local Heroes • Urban Gardening


Urban farmer: 'If I do not farm, I’ll get sick.'
April 2nd, 2014
01:00 AM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. In honor of the SFA's featured oral history project, Women Who Farm: Georgia, we’re sharing “She Spoke and I Listened” by Sara Wood, the group's oral historian.

The evening I met Haylene Green, an urban farmer in Atlanta, Georgia, rain mercilessly poured on midtown Atlanta—and on me. I squeaked across the lobby of Ms. Green’s apartment building and followed her to a small room in the basement. There, she opened a thick photo album with pages of fruits and vegetables from her West End community garden. And she started talking. I put the recording equipment together as fast as I’ve ever assembled it. My job was simple: She spoke, and I listened. All of her answers were stories.

Speaking of his book "The Storied South" on a radio program, folklorist Bill Ferris recently said something that stopped me in my kitchen: “When you ask a Southerner to answer a question, they will tell a story. And embedded in that story is the information that they feel is the answer to the question.”

Oral history, like the most satisfying literature, relies on listening and observation. The way people speak, how they tell stories, where they choose to pause and scratch their nose, to me, is the greatest part of listening. Being an oral historian or a writer requires you to listen as though your life depends on it. What seems like a simple acts is actually the heart of the work. To that end, I share an excerpt from my interview with a farmer who also happens to be a storyteller.

Haylene Green’s Story
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The CNN 10 Visionary Women: Saru Jayaraman
March 24th, 2014
09:30 AM ET
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This Women’s History Month, CNN set out to highlight the efforts of 10 women who are helping other women find success, self-esteem and sometimes a safe haven. The women represent diverse fields: technology, fashion design, policy, activism, literature and skilled labor. What they have in common is a mission to empower their fellow woman. See the full list at CNN Living.

Saru Jayaraman wants you to eat with your mind full. The 38-year-old co-founder and co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and author of “Behind the Kitchen Door” has spent her career fighting for service workers to get a fair wage in a respectful, safe environment. Most of those workers are women.

In an essay for Maria Shriver’s “The Shriver Report,” Jayaraman plainly laid out the facts: “Restaurant servers are three times as likely to live in poverty and use food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the U.S. work force. In a terrible irony, the women who put food on the tables of restaurant-goers everywhere are struggling to put it on their own.”
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March 12th, 2014
08:30 AM ET
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When you think about the images typically associated with hunger, a recreation of the Mad Hatter's tea party from "Alice in Wonderland" might not spring to mind.

But one Florida nonprofit is using recreated scenes from popular movies, musicals and TV shows to get people talking about poverty and hunger.
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Filed under: Charity • Food Politics • Hunger • iReport • Photography


'Local' is always on the menu in Okinawa
March 10th, 2014
01:45 PM ET
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When it comes to food movements, the word “local” is a rarity in Okinawa. That's because restaurants in Japan's southernmost prefecture have been doing the local thing long before it was trending - or even just trendy.

World-renowned for promoting health and longevity, traditional Okinawan cuisine uses primarily local ingredients. What's more, it's easy to find.
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Filed under: Asian • Japanese • Local Food


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