The Challenge of Cheap Food

In the rush to insure cheap and plentiful food for our nation, we have inadvertently created a much greater problem and we are now experiencing a very high cost for our cheap food. The perception of many people is that “healthy food” is too expensive, so they don’t buy fruits and vegetables or much organic food of any kind.

There is a growing movement of farmers and scientists, doctors and entrepreneurs that are gathering around the idea that we need true cost accounting in our food supply to help consumers make choices that include the real costs of the way food is grown and how it affects our health. 

In other words if the price of the food included internalizing the externalities of its true cost of production, it would be easy to make the right choice at the supermarket as the cost of organic food would then appear cheap in comparison.

Bob Quinn is one of those farmers and scientists; he is highly educated and he works the soil. Read his comments in The Challenge of Cheap Food.


Peas and Love in the City

After spending 20 years with Seattle Tilth in a variety of posts, including everything from office and event manager to education program manager and children’s program manager, Lisa Taylor has moved on to concentrate on using her skills as urban farmer, garden educator, speaker and workshop organizer, and consultant.

Lisa has taught everyone from toddlers to oldsters to feel the soil, plant seeds, develop “relationships” with their plants, and grow their own food in spaces as small as a window box or as large as a city lot.

Now that she is independent and offering programs of all sorts, garden advice, and hands’ on education, don’t miss your opportunity to benefit from one of Puget Sound’s local treasures.

Reach out to Lisa for some advice or to schedule a program or workshop and pick up one of her books and get your hands dirty! And read more in Peas (and Love) in the City: Lisa Taylor’s Garden Books.


Beating Whole Foods at Its Own Game

An urban PCC Natural Market (left) and a suburban Whole Foods (right), in Seattle
(Click on either image for a larger view)

A major slow down at Whole Foods is no surprise. Last quarter’s sales growth for Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFM) slowed to 3.6 percent at stores nationwide, much lower than the 5.3 percent gain some analysts had predicted.

Neck in neck for some time with Puget Sound’s PCC Natural Markets (the largest and one of the oldest food cooperatives in the nation), the corporate structure of “whole” just couldn’t match the cooperative foundation of “real,” at least as far as good food principles.

Read how PCC is Beating Whole Foods at Its Own Game.


I Don’t Raise Beef, I Manage a Pasture and Raise Grass

Brian Goldhahn, ranch manager and owner of C-5 Organics, will tell you right out, “I don’t raise beef cattle, I manage a pasture and raise grass. Good grass makes good beef.” The assortment of grasses, legumes, and other plants Goldhahn raises looks like a cow’s idea of a gourmet salad bar.

By finishing his cattle that are ready for market on fields of especially sweet grass, C-5 grass-fed beef has just the right amount of fat and marbling to give it excellent flavor.

Brian not only nurtures his cattle, he nurtures the soil that feeds his pasture. And good grass makes good beef – and good soil!


If It Isn’t Broken, Don’t Try To Fix It!

As they say (more or less): “inquiring consumers want to know…” GoodFood World recently received a comment from a reader that made it clear consumers are concerned – and confused – about genetically engineered foods being developed and brought to market.

To help answer our reader’s questions, we spoke to Keith Mathews, CEO of FirstFruits of Washington, marketing arm of Broetje Orchards near Yakima WA.

He gives us details on how organic apples are grown, non-browning varieties of apples developed using traditional breeding methods that are already on the market, and the dedication of apple growers and breeders to bring the healthiest and best-tasting apples to market without genetic engineering. Read the whole story here and listen to our interview with Keith.


The Disconnect

Organically grown, local, whole, affordable, planetary stewardship, food justice, sustainably farmed, humanely raised and slaughtered, slow cooked and seasonally eaten, nutritionism, vegan, healthy lifestyle – these are just some of the words that come to mind around the conversation of How, What, When, and Where we eat these days. There is so much to talk about, and these words do not exist in isolation from one another.

In the aisles at Costco. (Photo credit: edeytan/flickr, used with permission under Creative Commons license.)

Many of them however seem light years away from these: obesity, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, fast food, 24/7 shopping, pre-packaged, fried, salted, supersized, processed, preserved, nutritionless, agrifarmed, food stamps, and subsidized school lunches.

After decades of bombarding us with advertisements for prepared, packaged, and processed food because it is quick, cheap, and tasty, the media is now telling us that we need to eat healthier, do our own cooking, eat a vegetarian diet, especially one that includes fish (Pescetarian?)… What’s a mom/dad/kid/cook to do?

Ina Denburg, our Healthy Eating contributor, has some help for us all: “The more each one of us unplugs from the mainstream highway of what our garbage culture wants to feed us, the faster it collapses as we build stronger alternative routes. We can do it, we must do it, for ourselves and for each other.”

In a day and age of being “connected,” we are ironically a disconnected society: our heads from our bodies, our bodies from our food, our food from its source – the source being our planet. Read these three critical pieces in which Ina offers a plan and a process for us to reconnect with good food and good health: The Disconnect, Tough Love for Good Food, and Oasis in Aisle 6.


Traveling the Lentil Underground

Lentil-UndergroundOne more stop on the Lentil Underground, Seattle’s Town Hall hosted Liz Carlisle, author of the book Lentil Underground, and farmer/businessman David Oien, CEO and co-owner of Timeless Seeds/Timeless Natural Food, as they work their way across the US introducing – and reintroducing – consumers and chefs to these amazing little seeds.

A struggling bunch of small farmers, the Timeless “boys” experimented with varieties of legumes that improve soil by making atmospheric nitrogen available to crop plants and settled on lentils as a plant that would not only improve the soil but would improve the livelihoods of the farmers growing it.

They investigated the wonders of lentils, and demonstrated to skeptics that they enrich the soil, create their own fertilizer, and thrive with little moisture. Today Timeless Seeds is a million dollar enterprise selling seed grown by dozens of farmers.

It’s all in Traveling the Lentil Underground.