Monday, 02 June 2014 15:26
By Joe Romano,
Don't eat anything advertised on TV.
— Michael Pollan
In late November of 1953, the executives at C.A. Swanson & Sons had the biggest Thanksgiving leftover problem in history. The Omaha, Neb., frozen food company had overestimated the demand for its 1953 Thanksgiving turkey supply, to the tune of over half a million pounds of fresh turkey. With nowhere to store such an amount, the Swanson brothers, Gilbert and Clark, loaded the turkeys into ten refrigerated railroad cars, which had to keep rolling to stay cold.
As the turkeys rode the rails from Omaha to the East Coast and back again, the two brothers gave their staff a challenge — figure out what to do with the birds before they got back.
One of their salesmen, Gerry Thomas, had just returned from the Pan Am kitchens, where he had been given one of their new silver, multi-compartment, airline meal trays as a souvenir. He figured it might be just what the Swansons needed to sell off that turkey. Thomas mocked up a turkey dinner-filled tray and suggested marketing the meals by linking them to the national obsession, television. The box would look like a TV screen, complete with knobs and dials. By the time the turkeys arrived back in Omaha, the TV dinner, a meal that needed no preparation or cleanup, had been born. More important, home-cooked food had successfully been typecast in the role it plays across America today, the inconvenient, annoying, and unimportant sidekick who only earns his keep when he amuses us.
Friday, 02 May 2014 15:11
By Joe Romano,
What's Goin' On?
I just wanna ask a question
Who really cares?
To save a world in despair
Who really cares?
— Marvin Gaye
In 1971, the world seemed to be in a dangerous place. Richard Nixon was president, nuclear proliferation was on the rise, and the Pentagon Papers had been released, revealing corruption at the highest levels of government. Any leaders who had offered hope, like John and Bobby Kennedy, Malcolm X, or Martin Luther King, Jr., had come to shocking and violent ends. The Vietnam War had been raging for over ten years, and Lieutenant William Calley had been convicted of murder for leading the My Lai Massacre in which over 500 unarmed villagers, including many infants and children, were brutally massacred. Catastrophic oil spills off the California coast, smog clouds over our cities, and harmful additives to our foods were the dirty footprints of our path to the future. Protests and riots were commonplace in overcrowded, drug-ridden cities. To many, the future looked bleak.
That summer of 1971, Marvin Gaye released "What's Going On," an album that critics, artists, and public surveys worldwide consider one of the greatest ever made. He did so against the advice of his record company, which preferred that he continue writing love songs. To that, Gaye responded, "With the world exploding around me, how am I supposed to keep singing love songs?"
With very similar intentions, the earliest members of a burgeoning food co-op in Ithaca, NY were crafting their response to a world gone awry. Marvin Gaye would describe his motivations in creating a vision of change: "I didn't know how to fight before, but now I think I do. ... I'm not a painter. I'm not a poet. But I can do it with music." At GreenStar we have the same vision, and are fighting the same fight. We do it with food.
Friday, 02 May 2014 15:08
In February, GreenStar Community Projects (or GSCP, GreenStar's non-profit affiliate) hired Holly Payne as Coordinator. We conducted an interview with her in April about her role at GSCP and the organization's future. For more information about GSCP and its projects, visit greenstarcommunityprojects.org.
GreenLeaf: For those who aren't familiar with it, what is GSCP's mission?
Holly Payne: GSCP's mission is to help create a sustainable food system at local and regional levels that promotes health, equity, and community control of essential resources. GSCP is the non-profit, tax-exempt affiliate of GreenStar Co-op.
GL: What is the current focus of your work for GSCP?
HP: GSCP supports the growing movement for food justice and sustainability by connecting diverse initiatives across the community and region. Through networking we provide opportunities for engagement and collaboration. We run a Community Dinners Initiative in which local hosts offer small, informal dinners from their homes, to bring disenfranchised individuals together in a conversation about food access and equity.
We have built an active network that meets regularly to connect all players in our local food system — we have hosted eight sessions, each one addressing different focal building blocks of the food system. More than 200 participants have helped identify critical gaps that keep us from effectively moving ahead and one salient problem seems to be coordinated communication. Ongoing conversations (like those at the Community Dinners and during networking sessions) are critical to our success. We also need a forum to keep us connected in between sessions and dinners.
We're working on a new website to connect all players to a just, sustainable food system. This effort will help bridge the communication gap identified in our networking sessions, through interactive media that engages participants in the ongoing conversation.
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A New Documentary Shows How Food Co-ops Are a Force for Change
By Alexis Alexander,
If you attended the Annual Spring Member Meeting in April this year, you had the opportunity to watch the trailer for a powerful new documentary, Food for Change: The Story of Cooperation in America. This feature-length film shows how food co-ops are a force for dynamic...