Crispy days and cool nights, the heady aroma of roasting chile peppers, and the whiff of magic markers and double-sided sticky tape must mean that the fall workshop season is upon us. As you can see below I’ll be journeying to the South, the West, and my former homes of Hartford and New Jersey. I’m looking forward to some good work and good company.
But first, let me share a thought, a recognition, and a site.
Unless your spaceship just landed at O’Hare from Mars, you probably know we’re in the middle of a tumultuous election year. Even though our two Presidential candidates haven’t talked much about food, that shouldn’t mean that we food citizens don’t ask our local candidates what they think about the pressing food issues of the day. Your choice of topics should of course reflect your immediate concerns, but cities, counties, and states are grappling with urban agriculture ordinances, access to healthy and affordable food, local procurement by schools and other public institutions, supplementing federal food programs, and land use planning that supports your region’s agriculture. Attend candidate forums, and preferably in sync with local groups like a food policy council, prepare some questions for the candidates on topics that potentially have the broadest possible impact for your community or state. Speak up, get loud, and let them know there is a growing constituency for good food for all. To paraphrase Goethe, food democracy is something we have to fight for everyday!
A tip of the hat to friend and colleague Emily Broad Leib who was recently named by Time magazine as one of “The 5 Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink.” As Director of the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, she has led a mighty band of staff and law students to such diverse places as the hills of West Virginia, the Mississippi Delta, and the Navajo Nation to help reform the food-related laws, codes, ordinances, and regulations of those places. But what seized the attention of Time as well as Food and Wine Magazine, who put her in the top 20 list of Women in Food and Drink, was her work related to food date labeling and food waste. Through her discovery that food packaging expiration dates are not uniform, not based on law or regulation, and are generally meaningless, she has pushed the food industry toward more consistent labeling language that will probably result in reducing food waste by millions of tons. Though I’ve never known Emily to be a big eater or drinker, she is one heck of a nice person who, with her Harvard colleagues, uses her legal brilliance to achieve the most good for the most people. Congratulations, Emily!
And one more shout out for my pals at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. Through their Food Policy Networks Project, of which yours truly is a part time advisor, they have developed a website that does everything except heat up your cold pizza. At Food Policy Network you’ll find a directory of food policy councils, information about trainings and webinars, a listserv, and a resource database that is second to none. I dare anyone to tell me they couldn’t find what they need pertaining to food-related policies, assessments, economic development, production, food security, or waste!
October 3 – 5: Baltimore, Maryland – Working at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future
October 6: Virginia Food System Council Summit – Lynchburg, VA, 8:30 to 4:30. We will be leading a one-day conference on food issues in Virginia with the goal of setting an agenda for the Virginia Food System Coalition. There is still room so contact Allison Spain at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to attend.
October 8: New Brunswick, New Jersey – Giving keynote and providing facilitation for the New Brunswick Food Planning Roundtable. Participation in the event is by invitation only.
October 28 and 29: Boise, Idaho – Giving presentation to the Idaho Hunger Summit on October 28 and leading a workshop on food policy and food policy councils on October 29. For more information, contact Eileen Stachowski at email@example.com.
November 10 – 12: Hartford, Connecticut – Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Annual Conference (NESAWG). Presenting a half-day course on local and state food policy on November 10, and a workshop on food policy councils on November 11. For more information, contact Tracy Lerman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 15: Shawano, Wisconsin – Food system and food policy workshop for surrounding counties and tribal nations. For more information contact Dan Robinson at email@example.com
December 6 – 9: Baltimore and Frostburg, Maryland – Working with the Center for a Livable Future in Baltimore and conducting a workshop with representatives of a western Maryland food policy council in Frostburg.
April 5 and 6: Youngstown, Ohio – Speaking at community forums on food and working with local food policy groups. For more information, contact Karen Schubert at Karen.firstname.lastname@example.org.