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.
Do you try to eat ethically? Do you only eat local produce, using nothing that’s been transported via air travel? Avoid certain products or grow your own?
The concepts of eating ethically and watching where our food comes from are hot topics in the food world.
CNN’s forthcoming Freedom Project documentary examines the cocoa industry and the work undertaken to combat exploitation of workers throughout the journey from “bean to chocolate bar,” shining a light on the often challenging issue of eating ethically.
Broadly speaking, eating ethically can cover anything from vegetarianism to eating only local produce and boycotting products which are considered wasteful or exploitative.
iReport asked CNN readers if they think about where their food comes from.
Brian Maloof knows it sounds crazy. Why would a small business build a chicken coop on its roof?
Maloof’s father, Manuel Maloof, opened his namesake watering hole in 1956. Manuel’s Tavern has been an Atlanta institution for decades, a place where journalists and cops rub elbows with legislators, carpenters and college students as they belly up to the wooden bar. The same portrait of JFK has hung over the bar since the days when “unaccompanied women” were not welcome. It's surrounded by pennants of Atlanta sports franchises, past and present
But things haven’t been easy lately. So Maloof “put it out there in prayer” and waited.
“I just said, ‘Father, I don’t know what it is that you want me to do, but it sure has been tough. I need some help here,’” said Maloof, who left his paramedic job in 2001 to work at Manuel’s.
The response he got back was "chickens.”
Dorothy Guy remembers when Braddock, Pennsylvania, was a thriving steel town humming with streetcars and commerce where her father, a foundry worker, and mother raised a happy family.
Every other Thursday - “steel mill payday” - her family went grocery shopping at the A&P or Kroger. For the occasional post-church treat, she recalls trips to Isaly’s for a skyscraper cone or a chipped ham BBQ sandwich.
“Braddock was really alive back then,” said Guy, 63, a lifelong resident who’s raising seven grandchildren there.
That was before the steel industry’s decline in the 1970s. Since then, the 20,000-person population of Braddock’s heyday has dried up to around 2,300, and this former metropolis on the Monongahela River east of Pittsburgh has fallen into urban decay. Save for a handful of markets, convenience stores and a cafe, there are no grocery stores or restaurants within the city limits of Braddock, Guy says.
But Braddock Mayor John Fetterman is hoping to change that with the help of Kevin Sousa, a Pittsburgh-area chef known for starting businesses in neighborhoods that have seen better days. And, they’re looking to Kickstarter to fund their big idea.
The partial government shutdown has left the White House garden overrun with weeds, with fewer gardeners to maintain first lady Michelle Obama's pride.
Regular maintenance has stopped on the garden and only periodic watering is being done, a White House official confirmed to CNN. That's consistent with landscaping being performed on all National Park Service areas crippled by the shutdown throughout the country.
Editor's note: Next year, the Southern Foodways Alliance will explore inclusion and exclusion at the Southern table in 2014. This theme is two-fold. It marks the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Southern restaurants. It also challenges us to take an honest look at ourselves today - for the sake of tomorrow. Who is included? Who is excluded? For the Southern table, what are the implications of obesity? Class, nationality, and sexuality? These are critical issues to ponder. Sustainable South hopes to draw your attention to agricultural groups tackling inclusion and exclusion from the field. Today's contributor is Emilie Dayan, a SFA project manager who blogs weekly about issues of nutrition, sustainability, and food policy in the South.
The VEGGI Farmer’s Cooperative challenges head-on problems of inclusion and exclusion in New Orleans, Louisiana. The cooperative, established following the effects of the BP oil spill on the Vietnamese community in New Orleans East, aims to provide the highest quality local produce and seafood to Crescent City and beyond.
The story of this community goes back to 1975 when, after the fall of Saigon, the Archdiocese of New Orleans invited many of the Christian Vietnamese who supported the U.S.-allied government to seek asylum in Louisiana. There, the Vietnamese found a familiar climate and jobs as fishermen, a trade many had practiced in Vietnam.
For more than a decade, Robin Emmons felt helpless as her older brother lived on the streets, eating out of garbage cans.
She tried repeatedly to get him help for his mental illness, but authorities told her there was nothing they could do.
After he was arrested in 2008 for damaging someone's car during a schizophrenic outburst, she was finally able to become his legal guardian and get him into a halfway house with psychiatric services.
But as she watched his mental health improve, she noticed his physical health getting worse.
"I learned that he was becoming borderline diabetic," she said. "He wasn't like that even when he was homeless."
She investigated and found out that the nonprofit facility was mainly feeding him packaged and canned foods because it couldn't afford fresh fruits and vegetables.
Editor's note: Darrin Nordahl is the author of "Public Produce: The New Urban Agriculture." Aiming to increase food literacy in America, Darrin also pens the daily food blog Today is...Fava Beans! Follow him on Twitter.
What's better than fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables? How about fresh, locally-grown, free fruits and vegetables, all within an easy walk of your home or office?
Such is the philosophy behind the growing movement of public produce.
5@5 is a food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
Say the name "Franny's" to any pizza-loving New Yorker, and they'll grow visibly excited. Francine Stephens and Andrew Feinberg, have developed a large and loyal following for their Brooklyn restaurant, due in large part to their commitment to using sustainable, in-season, locally-grown ingredients.
In their new book, "Franny’s Simple Seasonal Italian," the duo, along with food writer Melissa Clark, celebrate the fundamental pleasure of fresh food gotten straight from the men and women who grow, raise and craft it.
Creating those trusting relationships is an essential and enjoyable part of the process. It can also be a little intimidating for people who aren't used to coming face-to-face with the people who produce their food, or fruits and vegetables that don't come shrink-wrapped from the grocery store.
Feinberg and Stephens are here to help your confidence bloom.
Five Ways to Maximize Your Farmers Market Visit: Andrew Feinberg and Francine Stephens