Saturday, March 31, 2012

Local Food + 2012 Farm Bill

Free Farmers Byron, Stephen and I attended Thursday’s Local Food & 2012 Farm Bill program, organized by Food & Water Watch, at Richmond Branch Library. Every five years, the Farm Bill comes up for renewal and its funding determines what foods are grown (e.g., subsidies for grains to animal feedlots and corporate agri-business) and how they’re grown (e.g., subsidies support monoculture and conventional farming that harm the environment and public health). The current Farm Bill is set to expire September 30, 2012. Before the screening of Antonio Roman-Alcala’s “In Search of Good Food,” Stephen mentions to Eric that he is working with Antonio (Alemany Farmer and Getup grad) to develop a new farm near The Food Bank in Potrero Hill.Panelists: Eric Mar, Christopher Cook, Paula Jones, Susan Kuehn and Adam Scow. Paula and Susan are Getup grads!

District 1 Supervisor and Land Use Committee Chair Eric Mar said that his support of local food includes access to more urban farms like The Free Farm and Alemany Farm (see Find My Farm map at, which also create community. His office is reviewing vacant lots held by SF Unified School District and SF Public Utilities Commission for potential urban farm use. Eric also said he would like more accountability by food corporations and their role in childhood obesity. He provided statistics on food insecurity in the Richmond District, highlighting the numbers receiving SNAP (aka food stamps,

Diet for a Dead Planet: How the Food Industry is Killing Us author Christopher Cook noted that it’s not enough to DIY, but we need to DIT=Do It Together, because individually shopping local and organic will not solve the problem of a handful of corporations that control the bulk of the food supply that’s proliferating junk food and subsidies that pay for cheap food. Part of the solution is funding to farm locally and organically. (Christopher also recently shared his own experience obtaining food stamps at

Paula Jones, who heads SF Food Security Task Force (monthly meetings on first Wednesdays are open to public, see Public Service Announcement below), told us that 1 in 7 Americans use food stamps, but it’s underutilized especially by seniors and that seniors on SSI cannot access food stamps. She emphasized the importance of preserving food stamps as an entitlement program under the Farm Bill. In addition, she mentioned the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (also funded by Farm Bill) that distributes to 198 pantries in SF serving 110,000 households with 3 million pounds of food each month, of which over half is fresh food.

Susan Kuehn and Adam Scow of Food & Water Watch have been working with Eric and Paula on drafting a Resolution for a Fair Farm Bill that emphasizes local food and preserves SNAP as an entitlement program. Adam reminded us that two-thirds of Farm Bill spending goes to food and nutrition programs like SNAP. Eric explained that the SF Resolution is a symbolic message to our representatives in the Federal level. Susan urged us to support the Resolution by showing up at the Board of Supervisors meeting scheduled next month. More information at

Public Service Announcements:

Sun., Apr. 1, 2012, 1-2 pm The Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair talk
In the Café, SF County Fair Building, 9th Ave. & Lincoln Way in Golden Gate Park, SF
West Of Eden: Communes And Utopia in Northern California Panel, with Iain Boal, Jeff Lustig and Cal Winslow

Wed., Apr. 4, 2012, 1:30-3:30 pm SF Food Security Task Force
City Hall - 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Rm. 278, SF 94102

Thurs., Apr. 5, 2012, 7:30 pm What Does the New Jepson Manual Mean for California Floristics?
Recreation Room, SF County Fair Building, 9th Ave. & Lincoln Way in Golden Gate Park, SF
Served by Muni #71 & #44 lines, 1 block from N-Judah, 2 blocks from #6, #43 & #66 bus lines.
Great advances have been made in the understanding of plant evolution and the relationships among plant groups since publication of The Jepson Manual (1993). This necessitated a total revision of the book, which is now complete. Not merely have species been moved into different–or entirely new– genera, but similar radical shifts have been done at the level of families or orders. This may upset some; others will find the new alignments exciting and stimulating. Bruce Baldwin, Ph.D. will review some of the more conspicuous changes affecting our plants and provide some perspective on why these changes are important steps forward for California botany. He will also talk about new initiatives of the Jepson Flora Project and their effects on the California botanical community. Bruce Baldwin is Curator of the Jepson Herbarium and Professor of Integrative Biology at U.C. Berkeley. He is Convening Editor of the Jepson Flora Project, including The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California, Second Edition.
More information at visits California Poppy at SF Botanical Garden; Native Peoples used mashed stems and roots to relieve toothache.
Fri., Apr. 6, 2012 Celebrate California Poppy Day!

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