LocalHarvest Newsletter, December 21, 2010

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

My husband spends his days teaching science to 150 seventh graders. If you remember your seventh grade science teacher, you know that one of the job requirements is being utterly unflappable. Check: virtually nothing fazes this man. So when he came home last week all worked up about a news story, I put down what I was doing and listened.

It seems that in this land of milk and honey, the home of the free and the brave, one in six children don't always have enough to eat.

If you are like me, it is difficult to take in statistics like this. It is hard to believe that our nation has to grapple with both a childhood obesity epidemic and millions of hungry kids. The issue is made more slippery by the irony that in some cases these are the same children - overweight because junkfood is cheap, and living in homes where they sometimes have to skip meals. But as my husband shook his head in disbelief, "One in SIX, Erin - here!" I knew he was thinking of his students. Five classes of 30 twelve year olds: statistically, 25 of his kids would fall into the "food insecure" category. That's not a lot of kids compared to the 17 million who sometimes go hungry, but five per class sure does make it real.

I went back to the CNN story that Ed had read about the "new hungry." The line that got me was this, "And, the winter school holidays add to the woes of families in financial despair. Many parents will need to find alternative ways to provide breakfasts and lunches." Right - when kids are home from school for a break, the grocery bill goes way up. So in addition to the incalculable internal pressure to do right by their kids in the Christmas gift department, millions of parents are also worrying about whether there will be enough in the fridge to make lunch over break.

That's just the quantity issue. Quality is another thing. It's no secret that the dominant food system is making us sicker and fatter than ever. I could go on and on about this, but let me give you a visual instead, an obesity animation from the Center for Disease Control. It is amazing.

The good news is that there is so much work to be done on this one that there's plenty of room for everyone to find something they can do to help. Last week I received two emails from representatives of food banks looking to work with local farmers to increase the amount of fresh produce they can offer their clients, and another email from someone working to encourage CSAs in her area to offer subsidized shares for low income people. These community based efforts give me hope that in 2011 we will make some progress toward feeding our children not only enough, but well.

We'd love to hear your thoughts. If you'd like to comment on this story, please do so here.

Here, with thanks to John Robbins, is my prayer for the New Year.

May all be fed.
May all be healed.
May all be loved.

Take good care,

Erin Barnett

From the LocalHarvest Store:

If winter's official arrival has you itching for a new project, LocalHarvest farmers offer oodles of yarn and fibers you can put to crafty purposes!

Still not finished with your holiday shopping? LocalHarvest e-gift cards make a great present. Your friends and family can browse through our entire catalog and find the thing that they like best. There truly is something for everyone.

I'm not sure it's possible to try Glad Corn and not go back for more. I certainly can't. Created and produced by one of LocalHarvest's members, Glad Corn comes in several flavors, and thanks to an ordering glitch, it's on sale now!

CSAware Hires Angel

There are some people that everyone would want to work with. They're friendly and optimistic, smart and competent, and best of all know how to get things done. We at LocalHarvest were lucky enough to hire one such person this month, and we couldn't be happier.

Angel Dobrow will be working closely with all the farmers who are signing up to use CSAware, helping them figure out how best to configure the software for their particular CSA. Angel has been a local food activist for years and works on a CSA farm two days a week. She, her husband, and their three nearly grown sons live in Northfield, MN.

If you've been meaning to take a tour of CSAware, just say the word! You're going to love Angel as much as we do.

Food from the Farm: Goat Feta Cheese Ball

Before this week, I had never in my life made a cheese ball. Never even considered it. But thanks to Emma Stout of Osage Lane Creamery in Pataskala, OH, my first cheese ball won't be my last. I plan to take this goat cheese treat to my sister's house this weekend, and if it goes over well there, I'll make it again for New Year's. What I love about this recipe is that it seems so flexible. Emma suggests flavoring the cheese ball with either garlic or onion. I used garlic, but I think fresh or sautéed leeks or shallot would also be good. And what's to keep a person from adding a little finely chopped parsley or re-hydrated sundried tomatoes? I like a good basic recipe that I can play with, and this is one. Thanks, Emma!